George Mason's Marquise Moore Is a One-of-a-Kind PG and Rebounding Machine

Kerry Miller@@kerrancejamesCollege Basketball National AnalystFebruary 20, 2017

Marquise Moore is revolutionizing his position.
Marquise Moore is revolutionizing his position.Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

George Mason's Marquise Moore is rewriting the definition of a point guard.

The senior leader for the Patriots is averaging 17.9 points and 3.7 assists, but Moore's 10.5 rebounds per game are breaking the mold of a primary ball-handler.

The point guard is the heart and soul of a basketball team. A team can get by without a center, a wing-forward or any other position, but it's almost impossible to consistently win without a quality point guard. He calls the plays, runs the offense, drives the lane, passes the rock, shoots the three, spearheads the defense, breaks the press, sets the tempo, etc.

The only thing a point guard doesn't do is crash the glass.

Until now.

"If you don't fit the quintessential stereotype of how a position is played, you have to be elite at something," George Mason head coach Dave Paulsen told Bleacher Report. "Marquise is elite in his ability to get to the rim, to get to the foul line and to get to the defensive glass."

Despite standing just 6'2", Moore's 8.74 defensive rebounds per game rank third in the nation, according to NCAA.com. The only other player shorter than 6'6" who is averaging at least 6.8 per game is Notre Dame's 6'5" frontcourt wrecking ball, Bonzie Colson.

According to KenPom.com, Moore is corralling 26.4 percent of possible defensive rebounds while on the court, which puts him in uncharted territory for his size.

Dating back to 2006-07, there have been just two other players shorter than 6'5" with a defensive rebounding percentage of 24.5 or greaterGardner-Webb's 6'3" Joshua Henley and Radford's 6'4" Javonte Green. Neither of those Big South players was a point guard. Rather, they were the de facto power forwards in four-guard starting lineups who ranked among the shortest in the nation in average height in their respective seasons.

But even taller point guards have been unable to match what Moore is doing. BYU's 6'6" Kyle Collinsworth had six triple-doubles in 2014-15, and he only grabbed 22.4 percent of available defensive rebounds that year. UCLA's 6'6" Lonzo Ball has been lauded as the next Jason Kidd because of his triple-double potential, but his DR% is merely 14.1.

No matter how you slice it, Moore is one of a kinda shrink 1 in the golden age of the stretch 5. And he might be just the catalyst we need in order to fully embrace positionless basketball.

Marquise Moore rises up for a defensive rebound.
Marquise Moore rises up for a defensive rebound.Courtesy of George Mason Athletics

If anything, Moore is being generously listed at 6'2". I'm a flat 6'0" on a good day, and I was standing shoulder to shoulder with him following his 16 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, two steals and one block in a recent win over Davidson.

He spent the majority of the night chasing Jack Gibbs around the perimeter, limiting Davidson's star scorer to just 12 points and two three-point attemptshis fewest numbers of attempts in a game since December 2015.

But even when ball screens forced him to switch onto 6'8" Peyton Aldridge, Moore kept fighting. During one Davidson possession in the first half, he repeatedly denied an entry pass to Aldridge in the paint, spun around and boxed out the man half a foot taller than him and snagged one of his 10 defensive rebounds.

"I'm a 6'0" guard, but I'm pretty strong," Moore told Bleacher Report. "I just try to use my strength, try to make them work for it. It's not that easy to post me up."

Moore has recorded a double-double in each of his last four games and now has 16 on the season. He has at least 10 points and eight rebounds in all but one game since the beginning of January, and the lone outlier in those 13 contests was due to a stomach virus.

It's hard to believe this is the same guy who was held without a single rebound (or assist) in the season-opening loss to Towson.

"After the first game this year, I'm like, '''Quise, we're not going to win if you don't rebound,'" Paulsen said. "Since then, he's had a greater level of focus on the need to get on the glass."

That's an understatement. Less than one month later, he had a triple-double (17 points, 16 rebounds, 10 assists) in a win over Penn.

Despite the rebounds, Marquise Moore is a point guard at heart.
Despite the rebounds, Marquise Moore is a point guard at heart.Courtesy of George Mason Athletics

Consistently drawing the opposing team's best perimeter player has been both a blessing and a curse.

On the one hand, it's exhausting. Moore is already expending a ton of energy on offense as George Mason's primary ball-handler, averaging 7.3 free-throw attempts per game as one of the most aggressive, driving guards in the country. Playing through contact on one end of the floor before tailing three-point shooters like Gibbs at the other end is something of a CrossFit workout that Moore endures for 34.9 minutes per game.

Moreover, guarding the player who generally takes the most shots might be the worst possible formula for getting into position for defensive rebounds. Save for the occasional bizarre ricochet off the rim, it's almost impossible to contest a three-point attempt and be the one to get the rebound from it.

But the best perimeter shooters tend to be the least interested in crashing the offensive glass. As a result, for the majority of possessions on which Moore's guy isn't the one taking the shot, he can seek out the ball without worrying about boxing anyone out.

Focus your eyes on Moore during defensive possessions, and it feels like you're watching a free safety rather than a point guard. His head is always on a swivelwhich he credits to his days of playing cornerback and running back. From the day you start playing organized basketball, you're taught on defense to always keep an eye on your man and an eye on the ball. But Moore takes that principle to an admirable extreme.

"You need to really know when the ball is going to go up," Moore said. "Having to guard their best player is hard sometimes. You gotta chase him around, and then after that you don't really feel like crashing. But I just try to make an effort every possession just when the ball goes up, just go after it."

Sounds simple enough, and yet he's the only one doing it with any semblance of regularity.

Marquise Moore put on a show against Davidson.
Marquise Moore put on a show against Davidson.Courtesy of Tim Cowie

Because of his commitment to crashing the defensive glass, Moore is on a short list with some of the greatest power forwards of the past quarter-century.

According to Sports-Reference, only five players in the last 24 years have averaged at least 17 points, 10 rebounds and three assists per game in a season. Three of those five players are 6'11" 1997 AP Player of the Year Tim Duncan, 6'9" 2003 AP Player of the Year David West and 6'10" 2016 No. 1 overall draft pick Ben Simmons.

Moore will need to keep up this pace for another couple of weeks to officially join those CBB legends, but his nightly contribution through the first 27 games has been almost unfathomable.

"I don't know in 23 years of coaching if I've had as physically as dominant a player in a guard's body," Paulsen said. "Never did I know that he would put up the numbers that he has on the defensive glass. But he's strong. He's tough. He's got a nose for the ball, and he's obviously really athletic, and he has embraced that."

Perhaps the only thing that kept him from putting up numbers like these in previous years was the presence of 6'11" center Shevon Thompson. Mason's big man from Jamaica averaged 16.6 rebounds per 40 minutes over the course of the past two seasons, ranking top 12 in the nation in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage each year.

Moore did record three double-doubles last season, but there weren't that many rebounds to be had. With Thompson now out of the picture, the Patriots have been thriving with a four-guard lineup that Moore's presence on the defensive end allows them to play.

Marquise Moore's jumper has come a long way.
Marquise Moore's jumper has come a long way.Courtesy of George Mason Athletics

This past Tuesday, The Ringer's Jason Concepcion published an article titled "We'll Never See Another Rajon Rondo." Concepcion notes that while some may try to play the same style, "Three-point shooting is simply too important. A perimeter player who can't space the floor is a liability."

But (early-career) Rondo is exactly the player Paulsen told Moore he can become.

"When I talked to 'Quise at the beginning of the year, I asked him, 'Do you have an NBA jump shot?' He looks at me and he's like, 'Well...' And I said, 'No, you don't. Neither did Rajon Rondo. Neither did Elfrid Payton. But don't focus on the things you're not good at yet. Be the dominant attack-rim guy. Be the guy who gets to the foul line. Be the guy who brings the motor every single possession defensively on the glass. Then the NBA people can figure out on their own terms what to make of you.'"

Here's the thing, though: Moore is starting to make perimeter shots.

He entered February 0-of-20 from three-point range in his previous 46 games, but he is 8-of-16 from downtown in his last six contests.

It's not the prettiest jumper you'll see, but that's never going to be his primary source of offense. It just needs to be effective enough to keep the defense honestto reopen the lanes that opponents have been trying to clog.

"Teams have been sagging off me, but I've got a lot of confidence in my shot right now," Moore said. "I've been working on it. I don't know if teams are going to adjust. Right now, they're still playing me down in the paint, but I'm going to keeping shooting it if it's there."

He was already an anomaly before he was making three-pointers.

Now he's the 6'2" total package.

Whether you want to consider Moore a point forward, a power guard or something else altogether, he's a versatile stud who has George Mason playing its best basketball since Jim Larranaga left for Miami six years ago. And as the NBA continues to embrace small ball, his unique combination of skills and drive could be a valuable commodity.

That isn't to say he's likely to be drafted in June, but George Mason does know a thing or two about Cinderella stories.

All quotes and information obtained firsthand, unless otherwise noted.

Stats are courtesy of KenPom.com, NCAA.com and Sports-Reference.com.

Kerry Miller covers college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter: @kerrancejames.

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