So little is understood of the point guard position by those who’ve never played it, people think you just dribble the ball up the court and then start playing once you’re across half-court. The good PGs know that when they do the little things, their teammates play better.
Here are some other “little things” that the Wolves missed last night against the Warriors:
- Get below the free throw line extended before trying to make an entry pass to the post, unless the defense is not denying the high side (in other words, if you can see the defender’s hand across Darko’s numbers, your pass will be stolen)
- Beat your man and draw a second defender before passing so that your teammates can make easy plays with the advantage
- For the love of God and all that is Holy, do not pick your dribble up unless you have an obvious pass to make or are in a spot where you are a threat to score
- Don’t go baseline with the basketball if you aren’t big and strong enough to score over your opponent (Ridnour this means you- you got away with it a couple times last night but it will eventually cause you trouble)
- If your teammate stuffs someone on the other end, get him the ball on the other end- even if it means forcing the ball into a tough matchup
- Don’t jack shots before your best offensive players touch the ball, even if it just means swinging the ball through them on the perimeter. The only reason to shoot the ball without moving the ball through the offense is if they are denying everything else and daring you to shoot, and in that case you should get the closest and highest percentage shot possible.
- Know the time and the score. If you are down in a close game and the clock is starting to wind down, don’t rush the offense, but rush the ball across halfcourt before being patient in the offense and getting a good shot. Don’t get fancy in a close game. Don’t reward a hustle play with the ball in the closing minutes of a game, the win is the reward.
There are exceptions, obviously- if you can get to the basket and finish once in a while, no one will complain as long as it doesn’t become an Iverson thing where no one else ever sees the ball. Also, if you are one of the best scorers on the team, the balancing act is a little tougher, but as long as your teammates know to get you the ball in the half court game it still works. But as a general rule, these are the type of things you look for from good point guards and the mental aspect is the same in the NBA as it is in Europe as it is in High School.
Watching the last couple of games, my opinion of Ridnour has gone from generally positive to pretty much depressing. He plays decent defense, and he plays the pick and roll well on offense, but he can’t throw a post entry pass to save his life and there are points in every game where he just starts jacking up pull up shots like it’s required.
Rubio, on the other hand, doesn’t waste dribbles, doesn’t typically shoot without working the ball through his teammates first unless he can get to the rim, routinely beats his man and draws a second defender so he can make the pass that leads to the assist, and rarely gets his passes stolen. Barca runs a more pick & roll oriented offense so I have only seen a couple of post entry passes a game from Rubio but I haven’t seen him get them stolen often.
What gets lost on the National Media in their coverage of Rubio is that in addition to the flair, Rubio has a very advanced understanding of the game and doesn’t force things where they don’t belong.
Rubio also has a leg up on defense, where his height, wingspan and instincts give a definite advantage that makes up for some limitations in lateral quickness.
So while this year the guard play has been fairly frustrating, I think a major upgrade is coming next year, and it’s possible that we could see improvements from Ridnour and Flynn if they start to do the little things that help a team win.