We decided to pit the legends of the NBA against the current stars in a fictional five versus five game of hoops to see who the real All-Stars are. Our first selection dilemma concerned the point guard for the All-Stars. After much deliberation, there was only one winner.
Which iconic legends of the past would suit up against modern day superstars in a 5 on 5 basketball match? Which team would be better suited to beat the other in a best of seven playoff series? Who would win the bragging rights? The legends team must consist of retired players, and we are assuming they play at the level they did during their best three year span in the league. Similarly the current day players must still be playing, and we assume they play at their best three-year span level. Both teams consist of a Point Guard, Shooting Guard, Small Forward, Power Forward and Centre. Let’s first choose the teams, then analyse the match ups.
Current Players: Point Guard:
As with every selection on both of these rosters there are many eligible candidates. After careful consideration I have narrowed the field down to three, Chris Paul, Steve Nash and Tony Parker (honourable mentions to Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook and Rajon Rondo).
Chris Paul has shown time and again since he came into the league that he can be the driving force of an offence. There is a reason both LA teams wanted to secure his services once the Hornets (now Pelicans) were letting him go. Paul’s best three seasons in the league came from the start of the ‘07/’08 season to the end of the ‘09/10 season where he averaged 21PPG, 11APG and 4RPG. Paul has shown multiple times that he is not just an offensive weapon, but that he can play defence too, most recently guarding current NBA MVP Kevin Durant for large stretches during their Western Conference playoff showdown. At 6’0” Paul was giving up 10 inches to the 6’10” Durant. This shows he is the type of player who is always willing to guard the opposition’s best player.
Although Nash has had a difficult experience in LA with the Lakers, in his performances, health and most recently his refusal to retire for financial reasons, it would be short sighted of us not to remember the many years when Nash consistently delivered in MVP fashion for the Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks. Nash is one of the greatest shooters of all time with career numbers of .490 FG%, .428 3PT% and .904% from the free throw line. Nash’s greatest three-year stretch includes his back to back MVP awards in ‘05 and ‘06. Through the ‘04/’05, ‘05/’06, and ‘06/’07 seasons Nash put up numbers of 18PPG, 11APG and 3.6RPG, but it his incredible shooting percentages and the way he so perfectly ran Mike D’Antoni’s Pick and Roll offence that made Nash stand out.
Tony Parker is one of those rare players who know exactly how to win. Parker has spent his entire career in San Antonio with the Spurs, and most notably with Gregg Popovich as coach and Tim Duncan as teammate. Since Parker joined, San Antonio has won three championships (and was a Ray Allen miracle 3 pointer away from winning a fourth). These Spurs have made the playoffs in all of Parkers 13 years in the league. Parker knows everything there is to know about playoff basketball. Parkers best three year span (statistically) was from ‘06/’07 – ‘08/’09. During these years he averaged 20PPG, 6.1APG, 3.2RPG. During this run Parker was named MVP of the NBA finals when his Spurs team swept the Cleveland Cavaliers in ‘07. Parker’s numbers may not seem as impressive as the other two candidates but this may be in part to Popovich’s policy of resting and rotating players as well as San Antonio’s philosophy of moving the ball until an open player, any player, gets a good look. Parker has continually excelled in this system at the expense of his stat line, which is something every coach and teammate looks for.
As the numbers show these are three different types of Point Guard. In a series like this one there is going to be plenty of offense provided from every position. The Point Guard is going to be responsible mainly for controlling the offensive tempo, and will also be required to play defence against the opposing PG. While all three can contribute offensively, the tie breaker is who is more reliable defensively. For this reason I choose Chris Paul as the starting PG for the Current All-Stars. Paul has featured on NBA all Defensive teams 5 times in his career. Nash is a defensive liability and Parker is not much better. Parker’s playoffs experience will be missed, but there are four other players to come who know all about winning playoff series. Nash is a true creative PG who can shoot the lights out, but he is too much of a weakness on defence. Paul can run an offense, score, create his own shot or shots for others and play defence. For this reason Chris Paul gets the selection.
Come back tomorrow to see who will be playing Point Guard for the Legends team.
Eoin Purcell, Pundit Arena.