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Point guard

Point guard
Bob Cousy (left)
Point guard (PG), also called the one, is one of the standard positions
in a regulation basketball game. A point guard has perhaps the most
specialized role of any position. They are expected to run the team's
offense by controlling the ball and making sure that it gets to the right
players at the right time. Above all, the point guard must totally
understand and accept his coach's game plan; in this way, the position
can be compared to a quarterback in American football.
Point guards characteristics
A point guard, like other player positions in basketball, specializes in
certain skills. A point guard's job is to create scoring opportunities for
his/her team, or sometimes attack the basket. Lee Rose has described a
point guard as a coach on the floor, who can handle and distribute the ball to teammates. This involves setting up
plays on the court, getting the ball to the teammate in the best position to score, and controlling the tempo of the
game. A point guard should know when and how to instigate a fast break and when and how to initiate the more
deliberate sets. Point guards are expected to be vocal floor leaders. A point guard needs always to have in mind the
times on the shot clock and the game clock, the score, the numbers of remaining timeouts for both teams, etc.
After an opponent scores, it is typically the point guard who brings the ball down court to begin an offensive play.
Passing skills, ball handling, and court vision are crucial. Speed is important; a speedy point guard is better able to
create separation and space off the dribble, giving him/herself room to work. Point guards are often valued more for
their assist totals than for their scoring. Another major evaluation factor is Assist-to-Turnover ratio, which reflects
the decision-making skills of the player. Still, a first-rate point guard should also have a reasonably effective jump
Having above average size (height, muscle) is considered advantageous, although size is secondary to situational
awareness, speed, quickness, and ball handling skills. Shorter players tend to be better dribblers since they are closer
to the floor, and thus have better control of the ball while dribbling. So point guards tend to be short since dribbling
the ball is an essential skill for the position. Among the taller players who have enjoyed success at the position is
Magic Johnson, who was 6' 9" (2.06 m) and won the National Basketball Association Most Valuable Player Award
three times in his career. Other point guards who have been named NBA MVP include Derrick Rose, Bob Cousy,
Oscar Robertson (who somewhat foreshadowed Johnson in that he was 6' 5" (1.96 m), the height of many forwards
in his era), and two-time winner Steve Nash. In the NBA, point guards usually range from 6' 0" (1.83 m) to 6' 4"
(1.93 m).
Point guard
Styles of play
Steve Nash has led the NBA in assists five times
The point guard is positioned on the perimeter of the play, so as to
have the best view of the action. This is a necessity because of the
point guard's many leadership obligations. Many times, the point guard
is referred to by announcers as a "coach on the floor" or a "floor
general." In the past, this was particularly true, as several point guards
such as Lenny Wilkens served their teams as player-coaches. This is
not so common anymore, as most coaches are now solely specialized
in coaching and are non-players. Some point guards are still given a
great deal of leeway in the offense, such as Rajon Rondo of the Boston
Celtics, Jason Kidd (current coach of the Brooklyn Nets) or Ricky
Rubio of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Former Suns head coach Mike
D'Antoni had often allowed Steve Nash to freelance when leading the
Suns' offense, even letting him call his own plays at times. Even point
guards who are not given this much freedom, however, are still
extensions of their coach on the floor and must display good leadership
skills. John Stockton is widely considered to be the ideal point guard,
having amassed the most assists in NBA history.
Along with leadership and a general basketball acumen, ball-handling
is a skill of great importance to a point guard. Generally speaking, the
point guard is the player in possession of the ball for the most time
during a game and is responsible for maintaining possession of the ball
for his team in the face of any pressure from the opponents. Point guards must be able to maintain possession of the
ball in crowded spaces and in traffic and be able to advance the ball quickly. A point guard that has enough
ball-handling skill and quickness to be able to drive to the basket in a half-court set is also very valuable and
considered by some to be a must for a successful offense.
After ball-handling, passing and scoring are the most important areas of the game for a point guard. As the primary
decision-maker for a team, a point guard's passing ability determines how well a point guard is able to put his
decision into play. It is one thing to be able to recognize the player that is in a tactically advantageous position, but it
is another thing entirely to be able to deliver the ball to that player. For this reason, a point guard is usually, but not
always, more skilled and focused on passing than shooting. However, a good jump shot and the ability to score off a
drive to the basket are still valuable skills. A point guard will often use his ability to score in order to augment his
effectiveness as a decision maker and play maker.
In addition to the traditional role of the point guard, modern teams have found new ways to utilize the position.
Notably, several modern point guards have used a successful style of post play, a tactic usually practiced by much
larger centers and forwards. Working off of the fact that the opposing point guard is in all probability an undersized
player with limited strength, several modern point guards have developed games close to the basket that include
being able to utilize the drop step, spin move, and fade away jump shot. Former Knick and Pacer Mark Jackson, and
Piston Chauncey Billups are notable examples of players who frequently use this style of play.
Point guard
Derrick Rose is one of best scoring point guards
in the NBA.
In recent years, the sport's shift from a fundamental style of play to a
more athletic, scoring-orientated game resulted in the proliferation of
so-called combo guards at the point guard position. More explosive
and athletic point guards (e.g., Tony Parker, Brandon Jennings, Kyrie
Irving, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook) focus on scoring as opposed
to play-making, forgoing assists and ball-movement for higher scoring
numbers. Young players who are relatively short are now developing
the scoring aspects of their skill-sets, whereas previously these players
would find it difficult to enter the NBA without true point guard skills.
These combo point guards can surprise defenses. Instead of passing
after bringing up the ball they quickly drive to the basket or step back
for an outside shot. There are some disadvantages to this style of play.
A point guard is the only position that has the ability to take the ball
from one end of the court to the other causing teammates to never
touch the ball. This can cause other players to become dis-involved in
the offense. Even so, combo guards still require above-average passing
skill, but not as much as possessed by "pure" point guards (which is
what those in the traditional mold of a point guard are referred to).
Gary Payton, a point guard known for defensive
A point guard primarily defends on the perimeter, just as he primarily
plays on the perimeter on offense. On defense, the point guard is
tasked with making the opposing point guard as ineffective as possible.
A defensive point guard will try to accomplish this with constant
pressure on the ball, making it difficult to maintain possession. A
defensive point guard will also pressure opponents in passing lanes in
an attempt to generate steals and scoring opportunities for his own
Another important task for a point guard on the defensive end is to be a
help defender. Whenever the player that the point guard is tasked with
defending is away from the ball, a point guard will usually allow
distance to accumulate from his assignment in order to help his
teammates with their assignments. Walt Frazier and Gary Payton are
often considered among the greatest defensive point guards in NBA
The Basketball Handbook (pg 14) (2004). Lee H. Rose ISBN
[1] DAILY DIME: SPECIAL EDITION 10 greatest point guards ever (http:/ / sports. espn. go. com/ nba/
dailydime?page=dailydime-GreatestPointGuards), accessed 2008-02-09
Point guard
External links
Media related to Point guards at Wikimedia Commons - Best all-time point guards (https:/ / web. archive. org/ web/ 20050712004337/ http:/ / msn.
foxsports. com/ nba/ story/ 3734262) at the Wayback Machine (archived July 12, 2005), accessed 2008-02-09
Basketball positions
Guards 1. Point guard Combo guard
2. Shooting guard Guard-forward / Swingman
Forwards 3. Small forward Stretch forward / Cornerman
4. Power forward Point forward
Center 5. Center Forward-center / Bigman
Backcourt | Frontcourt | Captain | Head coach | Referees and officials
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Image Sources, Licenses and Contributors
Image:Bob Cousy NYWTS.jpg Source: License: Public Domain Contributors: New York World-Telegram and the
Sun staff photographer
File:SteveNash3.jpg Source: License: Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.0 Contributors: Keith Allison from Baltimore,
File:Derrick Rose.jpg Source: License: Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 2.0 Contributors: Keith Allison from
Baltimore, USA
File:PaytonHeat.jpg Source: License: Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 2.0 Contributors: Keith Allison
file:Commons-logo.svg Source: License: logo Contributors: Anomie
Image:Basketball Positions.png Source: License: Public Domain Contributors: Ayda, Crazy Ivan, Cwbm (commons),
Helius, Jafeluv, Manco Capac, Pieter Kuiper, 3 anonymous edits
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