I was watching the Rockets vs. Clippers game the other night, and I was thinking – would I rather build a team around a guy like Dwight Howard, or a guy like Chris Paul? They are the two best players at their respective positions. I haven’t come to a definite answer yet. As I see it, there are pros and cons to building around either.
The examples I want to touch on are the late 2000 Orlando Magic and the late 90’s Utah Jazz. When I think about the Jazz, John Stockton comes to mind. On top of being one of the best floor generals of all time, he made everybody around him better – even with having the shortest shorts of all time. When I think about Dwight Howard dominating the paint and the glass on both ends of the floor; the entire team was built around Dwight and his inside production.
If you think about it, would Karl Malone really have as many points as he did without a player like Stockton supporting him? Would he be the player that we all know he is now? I’m not bashing Malone by any means, but you have to admit, Stockton had a big role in Malone’s dominance. Malone is arguably the best power forward of all time. But if he had Raymond Felton feeding him the ball rather than Stockton would he have as many points as he did? No, of course not. On the other hand, if Howard didn’t have all that floor spacing would he be as dominant? Probably not. For example, if Reggie Evans was replaced for Ryan Anderson, Ronnie Brewer for Hedo Turkoglu, and so on and so forth, would the level of play and the numbers he put up be as high? Probably not. It’s a double standard in that sense.
As far as my opinion goes, I would rather build around a point guard than a centre – especially in today’s NBA. If this was 80’s or 90’s it would probably be different as the game was vastly different. The reasoning being this is that I like grind it out basketball; where your point guard gets the vast majority of the touches and looks to set other players up for easy buckets. John Stockton definitely did that. He averaged 10.5 assists per 36 minutes in 97-98. He made the game easy for his team. When the ball was in his hands good things happened. That’s all you can ask for as a coach.
The reason why I wouldn’t take a defensive centre is because, in most cases, centres are high turnover players. I’m not a fan of turnovers. I like efficiency and smart players that are multi-talented. Howard is a high turnover, inefficient player. People who say he is not, in his most successful year in 2008-09 Howard averaged 3 turnovers a game and shot 59% from the line. Yes, he shot 57% from the field, but considering most of his attempts are tip ins and unchallenged dunks, it should be that high. Not only is there a premium on defense in the league, the amount of money paid for that is high. Unless you’re going go deep into the luxury tax, have fun getting another producer around your big man.
The fact of the matter is this: I love efficient players. Most pure point guards are very efficient and multi-talented. Thus, I would rather build around a pure point guard than a defensive centre.
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