Do you need a point guard? With so many little guys infiltrating the NBA these days, you’d think many teams would be aching to ship off some of their smaller contributors. But for every five me-first, get-my-own, shoot-’till-my-arm-is-numb lil’ guys, we might have one legit point guard left. They’re a dying breed, even as teams line their benches with quick-hitting spark plugs. At this point, there are a few guys available, and you take what you can get – shoot-first or not – as long as they can run an offense.
Andre Miller isn’t totally happy in Denver playing second fiddle to Ty Lawson, whose grip on the job is as tight as Vader‘s. We all know Mo Williams‘ situation in Los Angeles. The Clippers like him, but how much can you like him when he’s spending over half the game in warm-ups? Deron Williams will be somewhat available, if for only a few teams. And there will likely be others as well. For now, at least we know two of my top backup point guards in the entire NBA want to be moved.
So who needs a new conductor? We have 10 teams right here that could use one.
Last in offensive efficiency (90) and second-to-last in assists despite being an uptempo team that’s No. 10 in the league in pace, the Wizards desperately need a veteran or two to stabilize that team. John Wall had the best game of his career on MLK day, but even that can’t hide how disappointing his start to the year has been. I’m willing to bet a lot of that has to do with having an entire team on his shoulders.
We’ve blown our lids at the Wizards enough through the first few weeks of the season, and it remains to be seen whether they can salvage anything out of this train wreck. At worst, Wall picks up some bad habits along the way (taking too many jumpers, trying for spectacular plays) without improving his weaknesses (pick-n-rolls, midrange game, controlling the tempo). Picking up another guard, specifically a vet, would help Wall. When you’re surrounded by one-on-one gunners, and you aren’t exactly Chris Paul with the rock as it is, you need all the help you can get. The Wizards shouldn’t be moving backwards. A lot of that has to do with a pathetic offense.
Milwaukee has one of the worst offenses in the league in every sense of the word. Their true shooting percentage is barely 50, the fifth-worst in the NBA. The team is averaging just 91.8 points through the season’s first 13 games. And their offensive efficiency is No. 24 in the league, and the only teams behind them are possibly the six worst teams in the NBA.
Everyone knows the Dime crew are big fans of Brandon Jennings, and he’s really improved this season. He’s no longer launching off-balance threes late in games (or he’s at least cut them down), and against Denver last night, he dropped 30, many of them on those hard-to-finish floaters and in-between shots in the lane that he’s always had trouble finishing. He wanted to be an All-Star this year. If the team was winning more often, a young player averaging 18.7 points on 45 percent shooting with 5.1 assists a night would have a shot.
However, the Bucks have two shoot-first point guards (with Beno Udrih being the other). They could do a lot worse than finding someone who’ll put more pressure on defenses with the pass. They don’t need someone to replace Jennings; They might pump up that offense with finding someone who can allow Jennings to play off the ball more at some points.
As a soon-to-be 39-year-old, Jason Kidd is slowing down. In less than 29 minutes a game this season, he’s averaging 4.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.4 dimes while shooting â€“ this isn’t an exaggeration â€“ exactly 30 percent from the field and from behind the arc. We know many of his minutes are now being taken up by Roddy Beaubois and Delonte West, but still, part of Dallas’ problem is an offense that is disgustingly bad for a team that has Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry and Lamar Odom (or whatever’s left of him).
Dallas’ offense is tied with New York for No. 22 in the league in efficiency (97.6), ahead of stalwarts such as Charlotte, Detroit and Milwaukee. Part of the problem is their reliance on isolation situations and long jumpers. They don’t have a post scorer â€“ unless you count Dirk â€“ and Odom is floating more often these days than in even his wilderness years back with the Clippers. Dallas needs a playmaking point guard. Someone. Anyone.
Using 82games.com’s simple rating â€“ sort of like PER in the sense that it’s supposed to measure a player’s overall contributions â€“ Kidd is a minus-13, which would be dead last on the team if it wasn’t for the immortal Yi Jianlian, a minus-65.4 (No wonder he was in the D-League). Kidd was always known for being a fabulous defender but this stat tells it all: The Mavs are an insane 25 points per 100 possessions better defensively when he’s on the pine.
As we said last night in Smack, we found out Jameer Nelson was alive last night. Nelson went 5-for-8 for 17 points, and added four assists in Orlando’s fifth-straight win. But His PER is a John Crotty-esque 11.05, awful for a player that was chosen in 2009 as an All-Star. When you’re having a worse impact on the floor than you’re backup â€“ Chris Duhon â€“ then something is up.
Nelson can still hoop. He isn’t bad in the pick-n-roll, and always plays hard. He’s a good dude too. But something happened this year, and even as the season continues, Nelson is having a hard time rediscovering what made him an underrated beast. Or maybe, I just became too infatuated with Orlando’s two-year Eastern Conference Finals run to realize he’s shot under 45 percent in three straight seasons. His two-year run became the staple of who he is rather than the other six seasons.
Duhon gets a lot of hate. But ever since I ran into the man out in a random club on the Jersey Shore, I figured he was all right. On the court, he gets criticized even more. The Orlando offense is virtually the same with him in there, but the defense is actually over 11 points per 100 possessions better when No. 25 is running around. His 9.09 PER kinda outweights that though.
When Nelson first came out of St. Joe’s, I thought he’d be one of the better backup point guard in the league, a sixth or seventh man capable of coming in and dominating for stretches in the second and fourth quarters. Instead, they turned him into a starter long ago. Duhon is most definitely a backup. If Orlando wants to keep Howard happy, they could probably do a lot worse than grabbing another lead guard.
Start up the “Iman Shumpert is a future All-Star” chants. As I’ve pointed out before, I don’t know if Knick fans are more entertaining when they completely suck or when they’re in their current position: decent…giving fans just enough hope to call them contenders…while everyone else agrees wholeheartedly: they really aren’t that good. Whatever you think of Shumpert â€“ solid role player, future star, the man to take New York to the promised land â€“ it remains to be seen whether he’s even a point guard at all. Any rookie who takes 20 shots in one game and makes five of them, all while playing with two multiple-time All-Stars either has massive balls or a vision-impaired helmet on. Or both.
There are some who believe Baron Davis will walk into New York once his injury vacation is over and revitalize that offense and his career. He’s returning to practice next week, but what will come back with him? His handle? Vision? Shot? Leadership? His gut? Reports are saying Davis actually appears to be in pretty good shape, and we all know how he loves to thrill a desperate crowd. He could still give the Garden another year and a half of playoff-worthy basketball. But the pieces still don’t completely fit in New York.
Of course, this is still the Knicks we’re talking about, and instead of going after another floor general who’s consistent, thinks pass first and doesn’t do anything stupid, they’re reportedly going after J.R. Smith.
This one’s easy. We’ve been riding Devin Harris into the ground all year because for possibly the first time since he was shipped out of Mark Cuban‘s Wonderland, the Wisconsin product has a very good team… and he’s been terrible. The other night in a win over Denver, he had 10 points, seven dimes and a couple of timely threes. I remember raving that night about his 25 minutes: “He made a positive impact. He hit shots… and he only turned it over once.” Damn, this is the same guy who was an All-Star not too long ago right? The same guy who averaged over 21 points a game barely two years ago, right? Now he’s 28, and the wheels are breaking off.
Some Toronto papers have prophesized perhaps a Harris-for-Jose Calderon swap. Both players are in the final year of their contract, both would make better fits on other teams and both salaries would work. Whatever happens with Harris, it’s apparently this already-surprising Utah team would be even better with someone else. The team scores just over 97 points per 100 possessions when he’s out there, 106 when he’s not. His game (dribble, penetration) doesn’t sit well in Salt Lake City.
Another easy one. While everyone is quick to refrigerate Derek Fisher, the Pres still offers a few things you can’t teach: clutch shooting, a calming presence and the best leadership skills in the NBA for a player who basically sucks. As a backup playing 10-15 minutes a night, I love him. But as a starter? The Lakers have a few gaping holes in their lineup, but the point guard spot might be the largest one.
Even though he’s now out with a rib injury, Steve Blake is taking and hitting more shots this season. But still, the team is 4.5 points per 100 possessions better with the player who most resembles a hit man on the bench. That’s actually worse than Fisher, something you almost have to try to do. And the third point? Darius Morris? I thought he was teetering on the edge of Smush Parker territory against Dallas on Monday night.
Going from Chris Paul to Jarrett Jack is like going to a new middle school, telling everyone your dad is a famous guitarist, getting down with the baddest chick there, everyone finding out you were lying, and then you end up with a six: a chick that likes art and plays kickball with the fellas at recess. At the end of the day, you can say “Okay, at least I have a girl.” But at the same time, now you’re stuck in the corner at dances, kicking yourself over your own stupidity.
But the larger problem in the Bayou is that going from Jack to whatever’s behind him is even worse. You’d assume Jack is a solid defender right? Most longtime backup points can D up. He’s also a team guy, energetic and has his expectations in the right places. So it’s hard to explain how the Hornets are a whopping 9.6 points per 100 possessions worse defensively with Jack on the floor. He’s averaging career-high numbers across the board (15.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, 7.3 assists) in over 38 minutes a game, but the man can’t make a shot and can’t shoot threes at all.
Greivis Vasquez is a Dime favorite, but he’s all over the place. New Orleans is infinitively better defensively when he’s out there, but grotesquely worse on the other end. He always plays hard, can body up smaller guards and seems to actually give a s—, but he is what he is: a backup point. The Hornets aren’t going anywhere this year, but until they actually get a starting point guard, rather than two backup ones, they aren’t going anywhere ever.
I was looking forward to checking the Kings out this year. I expected a big comeback season from Tyreke Evans, lots of shots from Marcus Thornton and Jimmer Fredette getting announcers excited at least once a night. Evans might be having an even worse season than last year and Fredette hasn’t really done anything noteworthy, averaging only 23 minutes and 7.6 points. The only thing going strong – outside of our guy Isaiah Thomas – is Thornton’s inner Vernon Maxwell (over 15 shots a night).
When I look at this lineup, I can’t even find a point guard to nitpick because there’s nothing there. Evans handles the ball most often. He also can’t go three or four possessions in a row without forcing a spin move into the lane. Thornton is definitely a two guard. Same for Fredette. John Salmons, Donte Greene, DeMarcus Cousins and all the rest always think shoot first. When you combine all that with no legit point guard or at least someone to say “Calm down guys. I’ll get everyone their shots” (where are you Beno?), of course there will be problems. The Kings are 4-10 and No. 27 in our Power Rankings. Their point differential is a minus-11.6. and even with all of that individual offensive talent, they’re No. 28 in offensive efficiency at 93.5. They don’t need a big-time point guard. They need ANY lead guard.
How can a team with so many little guys need another one? Well let’s go down the list:
Rodney Stuckey: Has missed time with a groin injury this season, and even when he has played, he’s 27th in the league in PER among point guards
Will Bynum: My man, but he’s better value as a spark off the bench
Brandon Knight: I’ve been saying this since back when Knight had braids, but I don’t think he’s a point guard. His assist rate (17.4) is eighth-worst among all lead guards in the league, and the only ones below him (Bynum, Gary Neal, Tyreke Evans, Jimmer, Keyon Dooling, J.J. Barea, Toney Douglas) are part-time 1s at best.
Some teams need a new point guard because the ones they have on their team are so bad, running a set all the way through is impossible. Others need one to get them over the hump from middling playoff contender to actual threat. The Pistons are 3-11, and haven’t been much of a threat since D12 was popping. But they need a legitimate point guard, if for no other reason than Greg Monroe deserves some help. He is balling. Monroe was sneaky good last season as a rookie, coming on strong during the second half of the season. But this year, even as the Pistons are dropping deeper into the lottery box, Monroe is putting in 16.3 points and 9.2 rebounds a night. His PER is No. 10 in the entire NBA (24.65). All-Star? It won’t happen as long as the team continues to lose and score less than Andy the 40-year-old virgin.
But as good as Monroe is turning out to be â€“ imagine if the Pistons had the gall to originally choose the Hoya over Evan Turner back in the 2010 Draft? â€“ Detroit can’t win by running the offense through their biggest player. This ain’t 2002, and these guys damn sure ain’t the Sacramento Kings. Right now, Detroit has nothing to look forward to outside of Monroe and a new locker room. They need a floor general.
What are some other teams that could use another point guard?
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