In defense of star point guards and title hopes

October, 15, 2010
10/15/10
10:29
AM ET
Harper By Zach Harper
ESPN.com
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Yesterday, I wrote about the caution that should be used when building a franchise around a star point guard. After it was posted I decided to enter a bomb shelter and avoid the barbs and vitriol sure to come from Hornets, Jazz and Bulls fans.

Instead, I was happy to find a nice retort from Joe Gerrity of Hornets 24/7, in which he claims it has more to do with star point guard-led franchises not winning titles, rather than the idea of building around those remarkable floor generals.
First off, most great point guards of the past 20 years haven’t been that historically great. Of those that arguably have been (Paul, Williams, Stockton, Kidd, Payton, Nash), two have been in the league for less time than it took MJ to win a title, two made the finals, and one never got enough help*. As for Nash, he took some tough breaks against the Spurs, and his defense is awful. That’s all I have to say about him.

Of the three best point guards in the past twenty years that have finished playing, two have been painfully close to winning titles. Stockton was Jordan-ed for God’s sake!

It’s also hard to include Chris Paul and Deron Williams in the category of great point guards of the past two decades not to win titles because their teams have thus far been almost entirely unwilling to spend over the luxury tax line. If you’re looking for the reason Paul and Williams aren’t contending, that may be the more likely culprit.

On another note, there really hasn’t been a player on par with the pure basketball skills of Chris Paul since Isiah, who was also the last point guard to lead his team to a title. Sure, some people are going to claim Williams, Stockton, or Jason Kidd are up there, but get real. If you’re going to choose the best player of that bunch (when healthy) it’s going to be Paul.

I’m not going to sit here and predict what would have happened in 2007-2008 if somehow Pau Gasol had wound up on the Hornets instead of the Lakers, but it’s possible that there could be discussion taking place about how well building around a star point guard works. It would only have taken one strange deal being a little more strange to change the way we view the NBA. Butterfly effect, baby!

There's a lot more to the article and I highly recommend reading the entire piece.

If anything, it's an interesting debate to bring up and kick around with other basketball junkies. Can you build around a franchise point guard and win titles? Does the tempting idea of trying to surround them with role-playing shooters and athletic bigs take away from the acquisition and style of having tougher interior players and lockdown perimeter defenders?

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