Style of Play of Point Guards

I’m interrupting the series on the Draft’s top prospects, which will continue tomorrow, with a piece from our newest writer, Carlos Chalhoub. Enjoy!

People don’t agree on what constitutes a PG. Some want the PG to constantly attack the defense and score. Others want the PG to simply create for his teammates and take the shots that the defense affords him. There is no easy answer.

What most people agree on is that the Point Guard is the most important player on the floor. He has the ball in his hands the most and by his actions and decisions can influence what happens with the other 4 teammates and the reaction of the defense. The best point guards make the best decision for their team given their own abilities and those of their teammates. For example, since Jose Calderon is the 4th most efficient shooter in the NBA (0.649 TS%), it’s likely that the best decision for the team is for him to shoot. But that is not the case, since his Usage Rate is 25th best among starting PGs.

How can we characterize style of play of Point Guards?
I have adapted the following classification ( to divide the current starting Point Guards crop in the NBA into 4 prototypes:

Pure Facilitator

To separate them, I started first by calculating the average stats for a starting PG in the NBA:

Average Assist Ratio: 30.25
Average Usage Rate: 20.68
Average PPR (Pure Point Rating, based on assists and turnovers): 5.30

First, let’s look at the different stats for the 30 starting Point Guards in the NBA:

Assist Ratio:
Chris Paul - 54.1
Deron Williams - 46.6
Steve Nash - 42.3
Jose Calderon - 40.5
Rajon Rondo - 39.3
Baron Davis - 38.7
Tony Parker - 38.6
Jason Kidd - 33.6
Devin Harris - 33.4
Jameer Nelson - 31.3
Raymond Felton - 30.4
Chauncey Billups - 30.2
Chris Duhon - 30.2
Luke Ridnour - 29.2
Derrick Rose - 29.1
Rodney Stuckey - 29
Andre Miller - 28.9
Mike Bibby - 27
Russell Westbrook - 26.5
Sebastian Telfair - 26.3
Rafer Alston - 25.8
Steve Blake - 25.3
Beno Udrih - 25
Mario Chalmers - 22.8
Maurice Williams - 21
Mike Conley - 20.7
Jarrett Jack - 19.2
Mike James - 19.2
Derek Fisher - 17.6
Monta Ellis - 17.5

Usage Rate:
Tony Parker - 30.7
Devin Harris - 28.4
Monta Ellis - 26.7
Baron Davis - 26.3
Chris Paul - 26.3
Russell Westbrook - 24.9
Deron Williams - 24.1
Rodney Stuckey - 23.8
Maurice Williams - 23.7
Jameer Nelson - 23.2
Derrick Rose - 23.0
Chauncey Billups - 22.9
Andre Miller - 21.4
Mike Bibby - 21.2
Steve Nash - 20.2
Raymond Felton - 21.1
Rafer Alston - 19.3
Beno Udrih - 19.2
Sebastian Telfair - 19.0
Mike James - 18.8
Rajon Rondo - 18.3
Luke Ridnour - 18.2
Steve Blake - 17.8
Jarret Jack - 17.5
Jose Calderon - 16.8
Mike Conley - 16.2
Mario Chalmers - 16.1
Derek Fisher - 15.5
Chris Duhon - 15.2
Jason Kidd - 13.8

Chris Paul - 11.7
Jose Calderon - 10.7
Deron Williams - 9.7
Jason Kidd - 8.7
Rajon Rondo - 8.4
Steve Nash - 7.4
Baron Davis - 7.4
Chris Duhon - 6.3
Chauncey Billups - 6.2
Luke Ridnour - 5.8
Mike Bibby - 5.6
Tony Parker - 5.5
Steve Blake - 5.2
Jameer Nelson - 5.1
Rafer Alston - 4.9
Andre Miller - 4.8
Derek Fisher - 4.7
Raymond Felton - 4.3
Derrick Rose - 4.2
Devin Harris - 4.1
Rodney Stuckey - 3.9
Sebastian Telfair - 3.6
Mario Chalmers - 3.4
Mike Conley - 2.9
Beno Udrih - 2.1
Jarrett Jack - 1.4
Maurice Williams - 1.0
Russell Westbrook - 0.7
Monta Ellis - 0.0
Mike James - -0.8

Now, we can look at the different styles:

Initiator: the basic function of any point guard – comes down the court and gets the team into the offense. They are likely players who just get the job done without taking risks. This type of point guard probably has an average to below average usage rate, average assist ratio, and average to below-average pure point rating.

The following PGs fall under this category:
Rafer Alston, Beno Udrih, Sebastian Telfair, Mike James, Steve Blake, Jarrett Jack, Mike Conley, Mario Chalmers, Derek Fisher, Luke Ridnour, Mike Bibby

Distributor: These are the players who have the court vision and ability to find players in scoring position and get them the ball to pick up the assist. They might take a few more risks than an initiator, but also limit egregious mistakes. This type of point guard is characterized by a below average usage rate, an above average assist ratio, and an above average pure point rating.

The following PGs fall under this category:
Steve Nash, Jose Calderon, Rajon Rondo, Jason Kidd, Chris Duhon

Pure Facilitator: These are the players who will make the highlight film passes that make you think they have “eyes in the back of their heads”. They take considerably more risks and might have more turnovers, but also have the ability to break down a defense and create scoring opportunities by forcing the defense to shift. This type of point guard is characterized by an above average usage rate, an above average assist ratio, and above average pure point rating.

The following PGs fall under this category:
Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Baron Davis, Tony Parker, Chauncey Billups, Jameer Nelson

Scorer: These are point guards who can break down a defense and score for themselves more effectively than the pure facilitator. They have a scorer’s mindset, but also have the skill to initiate or distribute. These types are characterized by at or above average usage rates, below average assist ratios, and at or below average pure point ratings.

The following PGs fall under this category:
Andre Miller, Derrick Rose, Rodney Stuckey, Maurice Williams, Russell Westbrook, Monta Ellis, Devin Harris, Raymond Felton

Did you enjoy this post? Why not leave a comment below and continue the conversation, or subscribe to my feed and get articles like this delivered automatically to your feed reader.


No comments yet.

Leave a comment