NBA

Player profiles: Point guards

This is the first of a five-part series about specific basketball positions. We will show you some examples of players to watch at each position, starting with point guard.

Point guards have long been described as "floor generals" on the basketball court. They are in charge of bringing the ball up the court to initiate offense. Typically, the point guard will determine which plays are to be run, or the coach will relay the plays through the point guard. Some of the best point guards are the equivalent of another coach on the floor.

In player profiles, we will give you a few examples of players to watch if you are a point guard or would like to become one. There are dozens of players that set great examples on the floor, especially in the pros (which this series will primarily focus on). We will pick out a few of the best in the game, or maybe some older players if there is adequate footage.

Let's open up with the more traditional point guard style:

Pass-first point guards

In the age of the three point shot, perimeter players are often attempting to emulate the likes of Steph Curry. Historically, point guards have been less scoring-oriented and more concerned with facilitation and assist-to-turnover ratio.

Many of the best pass-first point guards have retired, such as Jason Kidd or Steve Nash. Their highlights are still worth watching as well as more general game footage. Their ability to keep their head up while dribbling allows them to see every passing angle available on the floor.

There are still a few pass-first PG's left in the NBA. Mike Conely of the Memphis Grizzlies has come into his own as a scorer, but is still defensive and passing-minded. Future Hall of Famer, Chris Paul is a pass-first guy that is a terrific example if you are on a team that plays at a fast pace.

 Another example is Rajon Rondo. Rondo has had an up-and-down career, but when he is locked-in, he may be the best example of a pass-first PG you can learn from in today's game.

Scoring point guards

Being a point guard means you will have the ball in your hands a lot. When you have a lot of touches and can score, it is a great benefit for your team. You will naturally get assists as well, but scoring guards are typically relied on by their team more for points.

There are many examples of scoring guards in today's game. Steph Curry, Kyrie Irving, and the combo guard James Harden are some big-name examples. An often underrated theme between these guards is their ball-handling ability that allows them to shake defenders on the perimeter and get to the rim at will.

Another great example to watch is Damien Lillard. Dame "Dolla" is a no-nonsense scorer that leads his team with a competitive fire.

Somewhere in-between

Not everything is black and white in terms of labeling a point guard's style. If you are interested in being a facilitating point guard that is also a capable scorer, there are plenty of those options as well.

The ultimate do it all guard today is Russell Westbrook. Coming off of his third season averaging a triple-double, Russ is a great one to watch as he overcomes his point guard size to ferociously attack the glass, the defense, and anything that stands in his way. Despite his tenacity, he always has his eyes open for teammates as one of the league's top assist men.

Reminder: Keep your cell phone away from the court

Even with some upsets, one of the oddest takeaways from day one of the NBA Playoffs was a player on the bench looking at his cell phone.

In the very first game of the 2019 NBA Playoffs, there was a strange moment in which the camera captured Joel Embiid and Amir Johnson looking down at Johnson’s cell phone. This didn’t happen pre or postgame, or even in the locker room. This occurred on the bench during the game with their 76ers squad trailing the lower-ranked Nets.

Amir Johnson was listed as “inactive” for the game. Embiid was “doubtful” to play, but still showed up and had some decent numbers despite poor shooting. The Nets did go on to upset the Sixers in Philly, taking game one.

Whether he was active or not, Johnson violated the NBA Operations Manual for “Use of Technology”. After the game, Joel Embiid stated that he looked at Johnson’s phone because his daughter was extremely sick. That makes the situation more understandable, but Johnson clearly didn’t alert the team, which fined him for having his phone after the incident.

No-matter the circumstances, this incident serves as a good reminder for our squads that cell phones have no business around a basketball court. During practice or games, attention needs to be on the task at hand. There may be instances that a phone is necessary to have a link for important things happening off the court. In those situations, a coach needs to made aware of the necessity.

In the age of social media and tech, phones and other devices are ubiquitous. They have become an unavoidable part of society. That said, there must still be boundaries and a basketball court is certainly one of those.

It is okay to be plugged in, but not at the expense of a team or moments that demand full attention.