Point Well Taken
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NOT MILWAUKEE, Dec. 12 -- When it comes to Central Division point guards, Mo Williams comes up short.

Bucks fans: Gasp!

Easy, Bucks fans, I'm not trying to get my M'waukee card revoked. (Damn, I'd miss Kopp's frozen custard.) I'm just merely stating a physical fact. At 6-1, Mo Williams is the shortest starting point guard in the division. In an interesting coincidence, Chicago's Kirk Hinrich, Cleveland's Eric Snow, Detroit's Chauncey Billups and Indiana's Jamaal Tinsley all top out at 6-3.

That's all I'm sayin'.

Bucks fans: Actually, what are you trying to say?

Oh, right, let me get to the point. Or more specifically, the point guards. There's been a lot of talk about point guards lately.

In a league once dominated -- and some would say built -- by giants like Mikan, Russell, Wilt, Kareem, Hakeem and Shaq, NBA fans now find themselves loving this game in the golden age of the point guard.

Just take a look at the recent evidence (via a link dump):

A point guard is the reigning two-time MVP. He's the most recent Western Conference Player of the Week as well. Oh, and he just played the leading role in one of the most exciting games in NBA history.

Then, you have the point guard who's the Eastern Conference Player of the Week and the hottest player-blogger on this little blue marble.

Finally, you have another point guard who tied Wilt Chamberlain for third on the all-time triple-doubles list in one of the most exciting games in NBA history and then passed the Big Dipper with his 79th.

Then you have the near-unanimous Rookie of the Year, the other point guard from the Class of 2005, who was the only other rookie to garner a first-place vote and the third point guard from that class, who won the final three Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month awards.

And we haven't even yet mentioned Mike Bibby, Baron Davis, Jason Terry, Luke Ridnour, T.J. Ford or Jameer Nelson, point guards who have proven they can more than hold their own in this league.

But what of the Central Division's starting point guards? What does CI think of them? We asked an Eastern Conference scout to talk about the five hardwood floor generals.

Kirk Hinrich, Chicago
Eastern Conference scout: He's the best defensive point guard in the division ... He turns the ball over too much whenever he gets trapped. They're trying to put him in situations where he doesn't get trapped ... He's a good outside shooter ... He's a little taller, so he can see over the defense ... he's a good floor leader, he runs the team very well.

CI: We like Hinrich. He's in the Billups mold (see below) or the Scott Skiles mold: solid, no-nonsense point guard who can drill in your grille when he needs to, but prefers to set up his teammates. The one thing that's missing so far is his ability to assert his will on a game on a consistent basis, whether it's taking over in the clutch or controlling the tempo. Still, I think we've yet to see Hinrich's best.

Eric Snow, Cleveland
Eastern Conference scout: His game has dropped off considerably ... He's still a decent defender. His shooting, which was always suspect, has gotten worse. The reason he's survived is he's always been able to play defense and because he's with LeBron ... late in the game, defenders will sit back on him because they want him to take the shot ... He's a great guy and he runs the team well, but when they need to run the offense late in the game or someone to distribute the ball, they give it to LeBron.

CI: Bucks fans may remember that their squad drafted Snow in the second round of the 1995 Draft. Or how he terrorized the Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals when he was with the Sixers and every Sixers player had at least three broken bones somewhere and the flu (at least that's what Larry Brown said). Snow can run the point and he's one of the best on-the-ball defenders at the position, but his outside shot reminds me of Quinn Buckner's.

Chauncey Billups, Detroit
Eastern Conference scout: He distributes the ball very well and became a better floor leader under Larry Brown ... Every once in a while he can revert into looking for his own shot first, that's the only negative. He's solid. He's a solid defender, he's a solid distributor of the ball, he's the best point guard in the division.

CI: We agree with our scout's assessment. He controls the tempo of a game as well as any point guard in the NBA, and that includes Nash, Kidd and Paul. Is he flashy? Is he spectacular? No, but he's like a grist mill; over 48 minutes, he'll grind the opposing point guard into flour. He's also clutch. Need proof? See, also 2004 Finals.

Jamaal Tinsley, Indiana
Eastern Conference scout: The biggest thing with Tinsley is he's inconsistent, you think he's turned the corner and become a decent point guard, then it's right back to his struggles. He's like Mo Williams: he's an adequate defender and he's not a bad floor leader, though he doesn't always seem to have the team in synch. He has good shooting games and bad shooting games, he's all over the map. He's not consistent day-in and day-out. I think one of the reasons Indiana is so up and down is he's up and down.

CI: Tinsley's inconsistencies stem from his injuries. He hasn't played more than 52 games in a season since he played in 73 in 2002-03. To paraphrase another great point guard, Walt Frazier, "Tinsley's talent is tantalizing." And it is. He may be the most talented point guard in the Central. We just wish he could stay on the court and prove it.

Mo Williams, Milwaukee
Eastern Conference scout: I don't see him as a starting point guard ... I think he's an adequate point guard, he'd be a great two guard or the second point guard off the bench. He's a decent shooter, he does a lot of things well, but nothing great. He's not a great ballhandler, a great defender, not a great distributor. He does everything adequately.

CI: We happen to think Mo's a more than adequate shooter. Certain nights he can be lights out, and at 15.6 points per game and 6.2 assists, Williams is having his best season yet. Still, there are nights when you can tell he's also learning the point guard role, like the night the Bucks beat the Lakers in L.A. (Yes, I love bringing that up.) He has 22 points and six dimes in that game, but as the Bucks were trying to put that game away, Williams committed four of his six turnovers in the fourth quarter. Your floor leader needs to protect the rock better than that, especially on the road late in the game.

So, they're you have it: the Central Division's point guards. I would rank them thusly:

1. Billups
2. Hinrich
3. Williams
4. Tinsley
5. Snow

I place Williams ahead of Tinsley based on Tinsley's injury history which, as we noted above, is not good.

So, who do you think is the best point guard in the division? Also, I've been pondering this one for a while: Are point guards born and not made? These are questions that vex me.

We'll address your e-mail in the next CI. Also, we're headed to the Meadowlands on Wednesday to see the Nets and Bucks. As our own John Schuhmann said, "Go to the Meadowlands, see history."

I have my fingers crossed.