Golden Era of NBA Point Guards Upon Us

In the first game of the series, rookie point guard Derrick Rose was unstoppable, seemingly waltzing past the entire Boston defense at his leisure leading Chicago to the win. Monday night, point guard Rajon Rondo returned the favor for Boston, scoring 19 while adding 16 assists and 12 rebounds to help Boston win 118—115 in dramatic fashion and even the series.

San Antonio evened its series with Dallas because Tony Parker dominated the game, scoring 38 and taking charge whenever the Mavericks tried to make a run. If Utah or Portland are going to even their series they are going to do it because their star point guards — Deron Williams or Brandon Roy — have similar big games. Same goes for New Orleans led by their star Chris Paul, although to do that Paul will have to get past Chauncey Billups, who came in mid-season and turned Denver into contenders.

That is a stunning list of amazing, potential Hall of Fame caliber point guards who are leading their team in the NBA playoffs — never has the league had this depth of great point guards at one time. And those numbers are about to swell — Spain’s Ricky Rubio, who at 19 led Spain to the silver medal and almost helped upset the USA in the gold medal game — will enter the NBA next year. One year him is the sensation John Wall, currently the focus of intense recruiting from college coaches nationwide to have his services for one year.

All of those are young players who will be around for years (we’re not even counting great players like Steve Nash, who has just a few years remaining). This truly is the start of the golden age of point guards in the NBA.

It’s not a coincidence that this rise in the number of great point guards coincides with a change in the NBA rule interpretation on hand checking a few years ago. It used to be legal to place your hand on the man you were defending, which against speedy point guards meant subtle (or in the 1990s not so subtle) grabbing and clutching to slow those guards ad take away that advantage. But — after years of lobbying from Dallas owner Mark Cuban among others — the hand checking rule was interpreted differently. Any touch of a player, no matter how light, is a foul.

IF you can’t touch Chris Paul, you have no chance of covering him. Same with Tony Parker, just as the Mavericks. Or ask Boston about Rose. You get the idea.

But this is good for basketball — small guys (well, 6-4 and under, which is small by NBA standards) flying to the hoop is more entertaining than a center backing down his man on the low block and laying it in. Both get you two points, but one is al lot more entertaining.

And ultimately, the NBA is about entertainment. Which means we are in for a fantastic playoffs this year and for the next decade. A real golden age.

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