Bucks Diary

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Point is, take good shots

I keep hearing local radiocasters proclaim Mo Williams an unfit point guard because "he shoots too much." That's wrong. He is an unfit point guard because he shoots without the proper discrimination.

Reduced to absurdity (reductio ad absurdum), the radiocasters' argument stands for the proposition that even in the highly unlikely case that the opposition decides to leave Mo Williams completely uncovered on every single possession (for whatever inconceivable purpose), it is nevertheless Mo's duty as a responsible point guard to limit himself to only a certain percentage of the Milwaukee Bucks' field goal attempts.

That's ludicrous. If Mo is consistently presented with the most makeable shots afforded to any member of the Bucks, (as my hypothetical assumes), then it is not only his right, it is his duty to continue shooting.

What I hope the radiocasters mean to argue is that, as the team' point guard, Mo Williams has a special duty to exercise shot discretion. After all, in his role as primary ballhandler, he touches the basketball on a disproportionate number of possessions (after all, he brings the ball up the court most every time). Therefore, if he wanted to, he could really screw the Bucks by firing at will. That would be irresponsible. Especially given the fact that on the commencement of most possessions, when the point guard is most likely to handle the ball, the point guard is normally afforded the worst shot opportunity of any member of his team because the point guard will normally be (a) the furthest from the basket, (b) with a man directly covering him, and, (c) four other defenders behind the primary defender and between himself and the basket. Thus, it is most important for a point guard to be particularly savvy when it comes to what is and is not a good basketball shot.

But that should not be confused with the idea that he has an automatic shot maximum. That's absurd. Nor does he have any special obligation to make "create" easy shots for his mates as many who make the preceding argument add as a corollary argument.

Sure, If the point guard sees a clear opportunity to deliver a pass to a cutting teammate that leads to a layup, take it. But that doesn't mean the point guard is under any special obligation to force the issue. In fact, that's the worst mistake a point guard can make. After all, a possession that results in a turnover without a shot attempt is the worst possible outcome a point guard can create. And trying too hard to "get your teammates involved" or "create shots for them" will lead to a disproporitionate number of such "worst possible outcomes". I've seen it happen. In fact, I've played with point guards who have made it happen.

Instead, a good point guard will keep his head up, see the court, anticipate his teammates moves, and wait for them to free themselves up for a high percentage opportunity. Then he will deliver the safe pass, and count on them to do their duty by converting the shot. That's what the good point guard does.


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