25 May 2011


Well, that was somewhat anticlimactic.

Yes, both Conference Finals Game 4's went into overtime, but the results mean our Finals matchup is virtually locked in.

Teams up 3-1 in the NBA playoffs have won 96% of the time. And nothing I've seen from either Oklahoma City or Chicago makes me feel they can win three games in a row against Dallas/Miami.

Honestly, I feel that a lot of this boils down to poor point guard play. I know I've ranted about this before, but Westbrook and Rose are shoot-first point guards who have no ability/desire to actually run an offense, especially in late-game situations.

The one game OKC has won in the conference finals, Westbrook sat the entire fourth quarter. Coincidence? He's shooting 34% from the field, 28% from deep and has 21 turnovers to 19 assists. That is absolutely horrific. Yet, in a late-game situation when the Thunder need a bucket, he insists on driving on 5 players and/or attempting a difficult jumper. It's maddening.

Same story for the reigning MVP. Rose is shooting 39% from the field, 22% from the 3-point line and has a vaguely not-terrible assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.6. Last night, in a must-win for his team, he shot 8-27 overall, 1-9 from deep with 7 turnovers and only 6 assists. Poor decision making abounds.

For example, here's Derrick Rose's attempt at a game-winning shot last night.

Seriously? You come out of a timeout, come back to the court with 8 seconds on the clock, and that's what you run? Isolation of your 6'3" point guard against the 6'9" freak of nature that is LeBron James? What were you expecting to happen, Tom?

Now, neither player's supporting cast has been lights out. For all the love Kevin Durant gets, he's shooting 43% in this series, and has hit only 4 of his 25 shots from long range. Meanwhile, in Rose Land, shooting specialist (translation: he can't do anything else) Kyle Korver has hit 27% of his shots and 3 of his 11 attempts from deep, while center Joakim Noah is hitting at a 29% clip... an egregious failing considering he never wanders farther than four feet from the hoop.

So the fact that the Thunder and Bulls are each staring at the precipice of failure isn't all on the heads of their young point guards, but their performances grate on me more than Boozer's (continued) lack of defense or Mike Bibby's lack of lateral quickness.

If neither OKC or Chicago make it to the Finals, this will be yet another year that a team featuring a non-elite point guard wins the title. Outside of Rajon Rondo and possibly Chauncey Billups, no elite point guard has won an NBA championship in the last 20 years. The Lakers did it with Derek Fisher. Spurs with Tony Parker. The Heat with Gary Payton, and the Bulls with Derek Harper. The Rockets used Sam Cassell and Kenny Smith.

Not since the 1990 title went to the Pistons, and point guard Isiah Thomas, has an all-time great at that position won it all.

No Steve Nash. No John Stockton. No Chris Paul. No Deron Williams.

This year, either Mike Bibby or Jason Kidd will get a ring. And while Kidd is definitely one of the all-time greats at the point, he's also definitely on the tail end of the tail end of his career.

Looking back at the assist leaders for the last 10 NBA regular seasons, it's a list of never-won-it-all players. Andre Miller. Baron Davis. Stephon Marbury.

This is an interesting phenomenon. Should NBA GM's avoid drafting or trading for serviceable point guards, and look for elite big men and wings instead?

Are the Jazz better off with Favors and Harris rather than Deron? Will Chicago ever get it done with Rose? Is facilitating your team's offense well really that important?

It bears watching in the coming seasons, in my opinion.


Nick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nick said...

The thing is for the Thunder, there really aren't any boundaries for them. Scott Brooks is letting Russell Westbrook run wild. Kevin Durant isn't getting in the Dirk Nowitzki-kind of rhythm that his team needs him to be in. The Thunder need some structure. It won't work out if Westbrook is taking more shots than Durant is; they need him to be the point guard.