The little man is suddenly starting to dominate a big man’s game.
“The point guard position has changed the game and turned it back around to the exciting game that we were seeing some time ago, back when I was playing with all the great point guards,” said Magic Johnson, who won three most valuable player awards and five NBA championships from 1979 to 1991 as a point guard with the Los Angeles Lakers. “You think about that time and that era, and that’s when the ball was moving. That’s when the teams were scoring. Now we return back to that. . . .The game is healthy now because of the point guard position.”
Evidence can be found on the rosters for this Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game in Orlando, where seven of the 24 players selected are point guards.
Point guards, whose primary job is to run the offense, have more responsibility than just passing and taking the occasional open jump shot.This NBA season, 12 point guards are averaging at least 15 points, five assists and three rebounds per game — all-stars Westbrook, Williams, Rose and Paul and also Wall, Evans, Irving, Golden State’s Stephen Curry, Milwaukee’s Brandon Jennings, Houston’s Kyle Lowry, Denver’s Ty Lawson and New Orleans’s Jarrett Jack.
That list doesn’t include all-star Rondo, who is averaging 14.8 points, 9.5 assists and 4.9 rebounds, or recent sensation Lin, who averaged 22.4 points, 8.8 assists and 4.0 rebounds in his first 11 starts for the New York Knicks.
“It’s the deepest the position has ever been,” said Nash, a 16th-year veteran who leads the league at 10.9 assists per game. “The supply is there. I think it’s always been an important position, but the game has definitely shifted a little bit.”
The resurgence has been building for some time and can be traced to rule changes before the 2004-05 season, which called for stricter enforcement of hand and forearm checking on defense. Three years earlier, the NBA loosened rules on zone defenses, which also created more space to operate on offense while removing the stagnant isolation and two-man games that bogged down scoring. Smaller, quicker players can now move without impediment, whereas they were once bullied out of the lane.