As I watch the current NBA Finals with Miami Heat vs. Oklahoma City Thunder, most believe that the most interesting matchup has been the Miami “Big Three” vs. OKC’s “Big Three”. However, I have always been interested in the confrontation between the two starting guards, Russell Westbrook and Mario Chalmers. Most NBA fans and sports media would agree that Westbrook is better than Chalmers, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into an automatic series win for OKC. What is more intriguing is that the clash of positions is the real concept of the system guard and the undocumented success of these players in the NBA.
The definition of a system guard in the NBA is a player who is trained to manage the game, limit his turnovers, and play strong team defense. Often times, the player thrives on the system by benefiting from more scoring and assist opportunities that can inflate his reputation as an NBA player. However, skeptics often hypothesize that the player would be just as successful if he were on another team that deserves the “system point guard” label. When analyzing the value of a system guard, it can be said that their success largely depends on the lack of leadership they have in the team. The guard is most similar to the game manager quarterback on an NFL team. In the NFL, the game director is trained to limit his shots and mistakes and then let his running back or his defense win the game.
In the last twelve years of the NBA, only six different teams have won championship titles. During those years, the starting guards for those teams have been Avery Johnson, Brain Shaw, Derek Fisher, Tony Parker, Chauncey Billups, Jason Williams, Rajan Rondo and Jason Kidd. Of those players, Jason Kidd is the only player with Hall of Fame credentials, Parker, Rondo and Billups have had multiple star appearances, but for the most part these championship players are not considered superstars. During the 1980s and 1990s, the NBA was dominated by star guards such as Magic Johnson, Isaiah Thomas and John Stockton, who cultivated the leadership role. However, teams began to focus on developing their teams through a star player and role players, so the need for a dominant guard was not justified.
When comparing a system guard to a superstar guard, a good comparison would be Rajan Rondo and Chris Paul. Rajan Rondo has an overall career record of 273-111 as a starter in the NBA compared to Chris Paul’s record of 286-199 as a starter, on closer analysis Rondo has won 71% of his games compared to Paul winning only 59% of his matches. games. During his playoff careers, Paul has averaged 20 PPG, 10 APG, and 2 SPG compared to Rondo with an average of 14 PPG, 9 APG, and 2 SPG, yet Rondo has an NBA title on his resume, while that Paul’s playoff teams have never advanced beyond the second round. . Now again, most NBA fans and sports media would agree that Chris Paul is better than Rajan Rondo, but while Rondo has slightly lower numbers, he has a better overall resume than Paul.
In my opinion, the epitome of the system point guard is San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker. Parker has a career starting record of 626-170, which is a winning percentage of 806. His other accolades include 3 NBA titles, 4 all-star picks and Finals MVP, but some analysts and NBA fans They believe that they would not thrive in another system because of their skill set. Once, compared to Chris Paul, Baron Davis, and Deron Williams, he said, “They may have the awards, but I prefer my rings.” Before last season, Parker was known to be an average jump shooter who only flourished on the pick and roll or on the fast break. Coincidentally, Parker has improved his game, but the question has always been: does he have the leadership qualities to lead an average team to the playoffs? Also, does he possess the ability to progress from a System Guard to a Star Guard? No one knows what the future holds for Tony Parker, but he has been a successful point guard in a good system surrounded by good players. The fact is that the system guards are considered fringe players.
So what has the point guard system concept taught us? Are they more valuable than star guards? Is Rajan Rondo better than Chris Paul? Is Tony Parker the best point guard of the decade? You’d have to disagree with all of those questions at this point, however, if history continues to repeat itself, Mario Chalmers will continue the trend of a long list of successful system guards.