Point to Point

Wall’s Palace debut comes amid great era for NBA point guards

Point guard Wall is in excellent company already.
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It’s no secret this has been a difficult season for the Pistons on a number of fronts, but it struck me as I was calling the game with Minnesota – a team that’s really struggled ever since they traded away Kevin Garnett – that this is what the NBA is all about: great players on rosters everywhere.

You look at that Minnesota team – which I am convinced will win at least 10 more games next season than they’ll wind up winning this year, and is an incredibly fun team to watch – and consider what their point guards did at The Palace. Luke Ridnour played flawlessly and didn’t wind up missing a shot, and then Jonny Flynn – the No. 6 pick in the 2009 draft – came in and did what he does best. He found every open man in the free world. Those two are both very talented. If you put them together, you have Steve Nash – one of the all-time greats.

And that got me to thinking further that this is maybe the golden age of point guards. It very well could be the best group of point guards I’ve ever seen. Dick Motta, who used to broadcast with me and I believe will one day be in the Hall of Fame and should be already, said when he came into the league there were five great centers and five great point guards and that’s the way it would stay.

Well, we’re still having problems collecting the five great true post men, but we’re starting to blow by that number when it comes to point guards.

I think one of them could wind up being John Wall, the tremendous rookie taken No. 1 overall by Washington last summer. He missed the game when the Wizards came to The Palace in November due to a minor injury, but we caught a glimpse of him in the preseason and what they say about him is true. The guy is an absolute blur when he wants to be.

When guys are that fast, they can make things happen. The game eventually has to slow down for them. Mentally, sometimes they’ll run right through plays. His turnovers are relatively high, but so are his assists. He’s got to be fun to watch and I’m looking forward to Sunday’s game at The Palace to see John Wall.

When I look at the point guards in the league now, I start with three veterans who can still play at or near the top of their games. Steve Nash is one and Chauncey Billups and Jason Kidd are the others. We all know about Chauncey because of everything he did here. He’s just a gamer who keeps his cool. Guys like playing with him because of his even-keeled personality coupled with his competitive fire.

When you talk about Steve Nash, you’re talking about an all-time great. Watching him play is a privilege. It’s like going to the symphony. He can get anywhere he wants on the court, he can get anybody a shot anytime they want and he gets himself shots and knocks them down. He’s really one of a kind and I believe we’ll never see another one quite like him.

Jason Kidd is also a unique player. He’s in the top handful who’ve ever played for producing triple-doubles, a superstar stat. He’s a hard-working player who has size and skill and speed and toughness, but he’s always been a bright guy who finds a way to help his team win. He’s on his way to the Hall of Fame, as well.

Then we go to the young veteran point guards, topped by Chris Paul and Deron Williams. You can never be sure – that’s why they call them careers and not just years – but in both cases, I believe we’re looking at two more Hall of Fame talents.

Chris Paul reminds you on many nights of Isiah Thomas. He can do whatever is necessary and is so quick with the ball and so quick taking it from you. And Deron Williams is his own man. Like so many of these point guards, he is a handler, a scorer, a shooting, a distributor and he has excellent size and strength. He’s the kind of guy who makes more shots with the game on the line than he does in the first quarter. That’s what makes him special.

Then, finally, you turn the page to the young guys. I think we’ll be talking about John Wall with that group as soon as next season, but for now I think about Rajon Rondo and Derrick Rose.

If I were going to vote today, I would vote Derrick Rose for MVP. When you’re talking about the MVP of the greatest league in the world, you’re a great, great player who makes his team better.

Chicago might be a darkhorse to a certain degree, but I think the Bulls have a legitimate chance in the postseason and Rose is the reason. We could see flashes in his rookie year when he got to the basket whenever he wanted. Now his jump shot is better and so is his decision-making, but his competitive fire is just compelling. He has great toughness, as all winners do. It’s a joy to watch him play and we get to watch him at The Palace next month on Dennis Rodman Night.

The Pistons also will see Rajon Rondo again in Boston next month and the Celtics, even after the trade of Kendrick Perkins, in my opinion are the favorites to win it all again this year. That team includes three first-ballot Hall of Famers in Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, but they might all tell you – and I think a lot of coaches would agree – that Rajon Rondo is their MVP. Before it’s all said and done, he probably will have another NBA title and many All-Star appearances and any number of All-Defensive team honors bestowed upon him.

On any given night, any one of these guys might be the best point guard in the world. In another time, any one of them might have been the best point guard in the world every night. There’s just so many of them right now that it’s hard for any one of them to consistently dominate the rest.