Point Well Taken
Posted Dec 19 2006 8:53AM
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 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
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
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
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
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
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:
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.