San Antonio Spurs Deep Point Guard Rotation Can Carry Them to Repeat
The NBA is a league based on star power. We talk about the importance of team, but what we really care about are the individual stars, right? Rarely do we have a fan base in the NBA that is more concerned with the logo on the front of the jersey than the name on the back. Compare that to the NFL where we see generations of fans passionately rooting for a singular team as if they were a part of it since the team’s inception.
So, if we are only concerned with stars, the guy who brings the ball up the court and sets up each play should be the most important player on the team. The point guard should be a star, and generally they are.
We have one of those star point guards here in San Antonio in the form of Tony Parker.
Across the Association we have guys like Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Derrick Rose, and Russell Westbrook, who are all stars on their respective teams. And they get paid like stars. Paul, Williams, Rose, and Westbrook all earn over $15 million a year. As an aside, Parker is the eighth highest paid point-man at $12.5 million- which is criminally $2.5 million less than Jeremy Lin. The NBA pays the point guard as a star, regardless of how loosely bestowed that title may be. See the last comment on Linsanity.
Let me play devil’s advocate and challenge the notion that the point guard is the most vital component of the team. I’m not even looking at the coveted big man, or a swing-guard to take the title of team-MVP. I don’t even have to change positions. Consider a team’s backup point guard as the vital role on a championship-ready roster.
In 2011 JJ Barea proved instrumental to the Dallas Mavericks capturing their first franchise title. His stat line was impressive, but it was his hustle on defense and ability to get to the hoop that propelled the Mavs to the championship. If you recall, future NBA Hall of Fame point guard, Jason Kidd, was the starter for that team.
Barea capitalized on his success by signing a multi-year deal with Minnesota, and has now logged eight years in the league.
San Antonio has its own version of Barea in 5’11” in Patty Mills. In 2014, Mills pushed the ball at a blistering pace, backing up Parker, on his way to his first championship with the Spurs. In San Antonio, Spurs fans can attest that while his stat-line was impressive, he too should be considered vital to the championship success for the hustle.
So similar was the intangible-contribution of Barea and Mills that I wanted to run a quick production review during the year of their title. What I found was virtually the same statistical performance.
In fact, Mills’ production should look very familiar to another champion Spur. In 1998-1999, Avery Johnson hit 47% of his field goals, on his way to 9.74 PPG.
The back-up point guard role should be a coveted one. A strong performance from this role, more than any other non-starter can spark a team to victory. In the past 10-years, the NBA champion has featured an above-average back-up point guard (aside from the 2009-2010 Lakers- due to the ‘Kobe Bryant- effect’). Remember what Eddie House did for the 2008 Celtics? Or Jason Williams for the 2006 Miami Heat?
By extending the trend line we naturally arrive at the question of what team to expect success from this season. How will Boston fare with Marcus Smart backing up Rajon Rondo? Lest we forget the duo of Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole in Miami.
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And of course, Patty Mills will be back for the San Antonio Spurs by mid-season after recovering from injury. As the Spurs make another playoff push, we should expect his influence to be great, and his production to increase while spelling Parker.
If nothing else, we know that the Spurs are the deepest team in the league. The drop off from starter to back-up at any position is not enormous, and certainly not as significant as on other teams vying for the title. Quick, who is the back-up point guard for Cleveland, and don’t say LeBron? See, I’m just saying.
What do you think of the Spurs deep point guard rotation? Can it bring a repeat? Let us know in the comments!
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