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Point Guard

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Point guard (PG), also called the one or "the ball-handler", is one of the standard positions in a regulation basketball game. Point guards are often the smallest players on the court (with a notable exception being 6'9" Magic Johnson). A point guard has perhaps the most specialized role of any position -- essentially, he/she is 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 guard characteristics

A point guard, like all player positions in basketball, has specific characteristics that are essential for them to help guide their team to a victory. The Basketball Handbook by Lee Rose describes a point guard as a coach on the floor, who can handle and distribute the ball to teammates. It also states that the more speed a point guard has, the more likely he will be able to create separation and space off the dribble, which allows the point guard room to work. Point guards should also be vocal floor leaders, and should discuss rule interpretations with officials. A point guard must always know the time on both the shot clock and the game clock, the score, the number of timeouts for both teams, and whom to foul late in the game.

A true point guard's job is to create scoring opportunities for his team. The role includes passing and running the offense: setting up plays on the court, getting the ball to the teammate that he feels is in the best position to score, and dictating the tempo of the game. This also means knowing when and how to instigate a fast break and when and how to initiate the more deliberate sets.[1]

After an opponent scores, it is typically the point guard who brings the ball down court to begin an offensive play. For this reason, passing skills, ball handling, and court vision are pivotal. Point guards are often evaluated more on their assist totals than on their scoring. John Stockton, who is considered one of the greatest point guards of all time, is the league's all time leader in assists. Still, a first-rate point guard should also have a reasonably effective jump shot.

If a point guard has more size (height, muscle) compared to the prototypical point guard, it is considered a plus, but size is only secondary to awareness and ball skills. Among the taller players who have enjoyed success at the position is Magic Johnson, who was 6' 9" and won the National Basketball Association Most Valuable Player Award three times in his career. Other point guards who have been named the NBA MVP include Bob Cousy, Oscar Robertson, Allen Iverson, and Steve Nash.

References

  1. Fox Sports' Charley Rosen article on a point guard's job, accessed 2008-02-09

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