Floor general. Heart and soul. Quarterback of the NBA. The point guard position has been hailed as the most important position in all of basketball. Basketball aficionados would have you believe that if you have a great point guard, you have a chance to win a championship. That's simply not true.
Over the next few slides I'm going to show you why having an elite point guard is a recipe for disaster instead of success. I'll prove how point guard is the most overrated position in the NBA.
Most everybody would agree that we are in a golden age of point guards.
Three of the five (Rose, Paul and Westbrook) and possibly Rondo are on teams that are expected to make some noise in the NBA playoffs. However, the starting point guard from the team that everybody expects to win it all is none other than...Mario Chalmers.
In order to win a championship, point guard is not a very important position. Of course, the position controls the pace and sets the tone. But in order to be elite, the last position that needs to have an elite talent is point guard. Don't believe me? Keep reading.
Just win, baby!
Win shares is the name of a metric that Bill James describes in his 2002 book Win Shares. It's a statistic that puts in context a player's contributions to his team's victories. It shows just how important a player is for his team.
Using a highly complicated formula from basketball-reference.com, I’ve found that since 1946 only three point guards have led the league in win shares in the regular season.
Most recently, it was Chris Paul who did it with the New Orleans Hornets in the 2007-08 season. Before that, you have to go all the way back to Jerry West in 1969-70 and Oscar Robertson in 1964-65.
In the same span, centers have led the league in win shares 36 times! And if you count guys who could play power forward and center, that number expands to 40.
As most basketball fans know, the NBA began giving out the finals MVP trophy in 1969.
In that title series, Hall of Fame point guard Jerry West averaged 37.9 points and won the trophy. However, his team lost, marking the first and only time that the MVP has been given to someone whose team lost.
In the subsequent 42 years, a point guard has only won the award seven times. That's only 18.6 percent of the time.
Here's a list of point-guard winners.
1969: Jerry West
1975: Jo Jo White
1980: Magic Johnson
1982: Magic Johnson
1987: Magic Johnson
1990: Isiah Thomas
2004: Chauncey Billups
2007: Tony Parker
Let's see how the best point guards of all time fared on the biggest stage.
Magic Johnson: Five championships in nine tries.
Jerry West: One championship in nine tries.
Oscar Robertson: One championship in two tries.
John Stockton: Zero championships in two tries.
Jason Kidd: One championship in three tries.
The five greatest points guards of all time have won eight championships in 25 tries, a winning percentage of 32 percent.
Not so great, is it?
Think the position has changed in the last 10 years and that to compete you need an elite point guard to compete? Think again.
The winning point guards of the last 10 years have a stat line of 12.6 points and 4.1 assists. The losing point guard has a stat line of 13.3 points and 4.9 assists. Yes, you read that right. The losing point guard has better numbers than the winner.
Still don't believe me? Well, here are the numbers. We all know they don't lie.
Winner: Dallas Mavericks—Jason Kidd, 7.7 points, 6.3 assists.
Loser: Miami Heat—Mario Chalmers 11.8 points, 3.5 assists.
Winner: Los Angeles Lakers—Derek Fisher 8.6 points, 2 assists.
Loser: Boston Celtics—Rajon Rondo 13.6 points, 7.6 assists.
Winner: Los Angeles Lakers—Derek Fisher 11 points, 1.8 assists.
Loser: Orlando Magic—Rafer Alston 10.6 points, 3 assists.
Winner: Boston Celtics- Rajon Rondo 9.3 points, 6.7 assists
Loser: Los Angeles Lakers- Derek Fisher 10.8 points, 3.2 assists
Winner: San Antonio Spurs- Tony Parker 24.5 points, 3.3 assists
Loser: Cleveland Cavaliers- Daniel Gibson 10.8 points 2.5 assists
Winner: Miami Heat- Jason Williams 8.8 points, 4.7 assists
Loser: Dallas Mavericks- 7.3 points, 2.8 assists
Winner: San Antonio Spurs- Tony Parker 13.9 points, 3.4 assists
Loser: Detroit Pistons- Chauncey Billups 20.4 points, 6.3 assists
Winner: Detroit Pistons- Chauncey Billups 21 points, 5.2 assists
Loser: Los Angeles Lakers- Derek Fisher 6.4 points, 1.8 assists
Winner: San Antonio Spurs- Tony Parker 14 points, 4.2 assists
Loser: New Jersey Nets- Jason Kidd 19.7 points, 7.8 assists
Winner: Los Angeles Lakers- Derek Fisher 12.8 points, 3.8 assists
Loser: New Jersey Nets- 20.8 points, 9.8 assists
Case and point- If you want to win it all, you don't need a great point guard. Just one good enough to bring the ball up the court and knock down a few shots.
If you want to win in the regular season and flame out in the playoffs, get a great point guard.
If you want to win it all, get a center and a scoring wing with some defensive pieces to surround them.
If not, well, there's always next year.