New Orleans Hornets guard Greivis Vasquez (21) drives against Charlotte Bobcats center Byron Mullens (22) as the New Orleans Hornets take on the Charlotte Bobcats at the New Orleans Arena, Tuesday October 9, 2012. (Photo by Ted Jackson, Nola.com / The Times-Picayune)
It was an enjoyable conversation that I had recently with a small group of obvious "basketball junkies." The topic centered around the point guard position and the various differences their skill sets displayed.
Does a team (like the New Orleans Hornets) need a pure point guard to win big in the NBA?
The immediate response would be no really, didn't the Lakers do just fine with Derek Fisher as their point? Steve Nash is considered a pure point guard, and he doesn't have an NBA Title on his resume'.
Russell Westbrook isn't considered a play-making point guard, and OKC almost won the title.
All of the above are true, but let's not forget a few things.
1.) What is the caliber of talent surrounding your point guard?
2.) What style of play does his team play (uptempo or a more controlled tempo style)?
What are the job requirements?
I am a member of the school that believes you need a primary type of a guard that can be your playmaker. Does he hit the following points?
A.) Set up others to score/court vision.
B.) Execute the pick and roll properly.
C.) Advance the ball with quickness in the open floor with or without traffic.
D.) Run the half court sets/ball handling skills/takes care of the ball.
E.) The ability to get into the lane off the dribble.
F.) Deliver scoring passes.
G.) Awareness of time, score, and timeout situations.
H.) Strong personality.
I.) Reliable jump shooter.
J.) Decent enough defender.
Those precious late game situations require that you have someone on the floor who can manage and perform under pressure.
You would like your point guard to have enough quickness that allows him to make trapping defenses chase him. It's also significant to have the speed to break traps off the dribble and pass, as this puts the defense under pressure.
The first pass gets you out of trouble.
The second pass puts the defense in trouble.
The third pass gets you a score or a good shot.
This is what happens when you are in the attack mode.
What's the difference?
I always like to observe point guards to see how they operate when being pressured or chased at full- or three-quarter court.
A.) Can they maneuver in traffic with a change-of-direction game without losing quickness and speed?
B.) Do they have the acceleration to get from circle to circle and create numbers off the break?
It's easy to advance the ball with a pass or dribble without defensive obstruction to change your path to the basket.
The real test is handling defensive traffic and being able to make a play.
So how critical is this position for this Hornets team?
It's very important that the Hornets get reliable guard play. As a matter of fact, I was expressing to the group that the guard play will be the life line for this year's team.
The guard play will determine the overall efficiency of this basketball team.
Greivis Vasquez, Brian Roberts, and Austin Rivers are all entirely different players when it comes to point guard play.
I'll share why next time.