The Point Guard vs. Big Man Draft Day Debate


There’s no denying the modern day NBA’s growing trend of little man dominance. Now more than ever before a point guard has control over his own destiny. He has the freedom to shoot at will (Russell Westbrook, Darren Collison), use the screen on a screen and roll with a single minded focus at attacking the basket (J.J. Barea, Derrick Rose), or completely dictate the entire game’s tempo (Rajon Rondo, Chris Paul). Point guards have replaced swingmen as the main draw. On most teams the two have parallel athleticism with the little guy squeezing ahead in some cases. But while the point guard is selling all the jerseys, winning MVP awards, and serving as a major headache for opposing defensive assistants, he’s yet to lead a team to the championship. In Rose’s case over in Chicago, the main reason for their success in these playoffs has been brick wall defense piloted by Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah. Memphis boasted talent and athleticism in their backcourt, but their big bodies down low—Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, and an emerging Darrell Arthur—remained the deciding factors in upsetting San Antonio and pushing Oklahoma City to seven games.

So who’s the more dominant force? The big guy, as it were for a majority of the league’s history, or the point guard? The answer is they compliment each other, and whichever position is more talented on whichever team we’re talking about is the more important piece. Unfortunately this answer isn’t the least bit helpful when talking about the Knicks touch decision on draft day. Do they go point guard, filling a position of increased importance? Or do they grab the best big body available and fill in their middle, solving, hands down the team’s largest weakness? My opinion on the issue is a simple one. No matter how many points Carmelo and Amar’e would score through the first three quarters, the Knicks lost just as many games as they won due to a non-existent interior defense. Forget about a furious shot blocker, the team drastically needs to stick a competent 6’10″-7′ lanky monster down low, have him take up space, occasionally score on energy buckets (tip-ins), and grab every possible rebound that comes near his arms on the defensive glass. The team most comparable with New York is Miami, and they seem to be doing just fine with a subpar point guard—although the playmaking of LeBron might be the main reason explaining this.

After the draft’s official order was set two nights ago, several adjusted mock drafts went up across the internet, and the results were anything but unified when it came to what New York should do. Some believe a big man (yay!) and others went with a point guard (boo?)

Fox Sports and NBAdraft.net both believe Michigan sophomore point guard Darius Morris is the best fit. Here’s what they had to say:

Morris could be the only “pure” PG in the entire draft. A big point with excellent floor general abilities, he lacks great quickness but shows the ability to run a team and make those around him better. The Knicks are looking to add a point guard here. Jimmer Fredette would be another option and could be deadly in D’Antoni’s system.

Given that the Knicks don’t need their point guard to score at all, the “pure” point guard mold is a positive statement here, but on the defensive end a lack of quickness could be a major problem. His primary duty would be, after setting up Amar’e and Carmelo, locking down guys like Rondo and Rose to the best of his ability. That requires incredibly fast lateral speed. As for the whole Jimmer thing, we talked about it last week, and, unsurprisingly, my thoughts haven’t changed.

On ESPN.com Chad Ford has Morris falling to the second round, but he goes with Kansas freshman Josh Selby staying with the point guard theme.

GM Donnie Walsh may have made the biggest mistake of his career when he passed on a number of terrific, young but unproven point guards in 2009 so he could draft Jordan Hill. Brandon Jennings, Ty Lawson and Jrue Holiday — and even Darren Collison, Eric Maynor and Jeff Teague — each appears to be on his way to a long NBA career. Don’t expect the Knicks to make the same mistake again. They’ve been looking long and hard at Selby for a while, thinking he’d thrive in Mike D’Antoni’s system, which allows guards much more freedom than they get at Kansas. Selby has lottery talent, but a shaky résumé. It may be a risk taking him this high, but he has a very high upside.

Selby’s a player I’m more familiar with and I like his athleticism and star pedigree, but I’m not sure how he fits into New York’s plans. He’s 20-years-old, played just one season in Kansas, and averaged 7.9 points, 2.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and two turnovers a game. The numbers don’t jump out at you, and the fact he’s somewhat of a project isn’t too attractive. Can he defend? Is he all that much more dynamic than Toney Douglas? Crucial questions.

CBS Sports’ Dave Del Grande probably has the most interesting mock draft (Derrick Williams going No. 1, the Celtics selecting a Slovenian small forward, and Nolan Smith being a mid-first rounder), and while his heart’s in the right place with New York’s selection, the reasoning doesn’t make too much sense. Florida State junior power forward Chris Singleton is the selection:

The Knicks are another team desperate for a defensive presence in the middle. Maybe Singleton can turn into a Tyson Chandler type. Then again, maybe not.

Yes, Singleton is one of the best defenders available. And yes, the Knicks need defensive talent. But sometimes 2+2 doesn’t equal 4. At 6’9″ he’s in between positions and would just be giving the Knicks a less experienced Ronny Turiaf (although Singleton did shoot 37% from deep last season). Singleton’s not terrible and could end up being a consistent rotation player for somebody, but grabbing him at No. 17 seems like a reach. And comparing him to Tyson Chandler is mind blowing incoherence.

The Yahoo! Sports/DraftExpress combination nails it right on the head. These guys have double double machine Kenneth Faried coming to New York, and the pick couldn’t make me happier.

With the likes of Amar’e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, and Chauncey Billups on the roster, there aren’t many shots to go around. But the Knicks lack toughness, rebounding and energy, something Kenneth Faried provides. He would be able to step in and get playing time right away for Mike D’Antoni’s squad, and is a good fit in his up-tempo system.

Faried’s just one of those guys who’s so intriguing, you remember where you were the first time you saw him play. The aggressiveness he has on the boards is something you can’t teach; he could crack the rotation on any team in the league tomorrow because of it. Like Singleton he’s 6’9″, but that’s where the similarities end—Faried’s been compared to Dennis Rodman and averaged two steals, 2.3 blocks, 14.5 rebounds, and 17.3 points per game last season. If Faried’s available when No. 17 rolls around, the Knicks would be silly not to grab him. Hopefully that answers the big man vs. point guard debate for the Knicks.

Twitter: @BucketsOverBway

Tags: Chris Singleton Darius Morris Josh Selby Kenneth Faried