Last year

The Modern Point Guard Roll

Found this article by Boti Nagy an interesting read, thought I's share it for discussion.

While I like the article and especially the way it ends, I still often see old style coaching and players being pigeon holed, especially in junior ranks...

THE game of basketball is constantly changing. It evolves and the game now is moving towards being really a position-less one. Meaning each player must have multiple skills in order to be effective.

Bigger players need to have skills that previously were reserved for guards,(ball handling and deep shooting), and guards need to be able to post up and defend players in the post.

A lot of effective offences now post their guards up, and give their big position players, the Power Forward/Centre spots, the green light to shoot open threes. A total reversal from how the game was traditionally played.

Many coaches now play with multiple point guards on the court at the same time.

The most important position in basketball however remains the same. The playmaker or point guard.

There are many different types of point guards.

1. Pass First PG. Naturally unselfish. Looking to shoot and score as a last option. Controls the flow of game as a passer. Scores only when the game dictates they have to. Eg: John Stockton, Rajon Rondo.

2. Scoring PG. Possess a natural talent to score the ball. Look for their own shot first. Make the defence react to their ability to score, opening the game up for everyone else on the court. Eg: Stephen Curry. Russell Westbrook.

3. Big PG. A taller player who can handle the ball and make great decisions. A big PG can see over the defence and sees angles and opportunities that smaller players just cannot. He is as comfortable playing off a pick and roll as he is posting up. Eg: (Magic Johnson, Lebron James).

4. The Power Forward position in many effective offences has changed, the position now is a secondary or primary playmaking role. The position allows for players who get a defensive rebound to immediately push the ball on a fast break and let the guards sprint ahead of the ball and shoot open corner threes rather than wait on the big man to outlet the ball.

The 4-man is also a decision maker out of the screen that he sets on the screen and roll. He must be able to make good quick decisions when the guards throw him the ball. Who is open and where or should I shoot? Eg: (Draymond Green).

As you can see there are many different ways to play this position. It does not matter the personality of the player. Whether they are introverts or an extroverts or somewhere in between.

I have seen players of all personalities be great PGs. But no matter what the player's talent either passing, scoring or being able to see over the defence, a PG has to make the game EASIER for EVERYONE else.

They must allow the other players on their team to be in the flow of the game. They must be an extension of the coach on the floor, and innately understand where and when the other players need the ball.

They must be positive with the other players on the team. Give them confidence, talking to them and building more trust.

There is a popular saying in basketball that point guards are born, not made. That this position is reserved for players who have a sixth sense out there on the court. That Point Guards can see things that other players just cannot see. That they are thinking 1-2 plays ahead, and to everyone watching it seems that they have so much more time than the other players.

While I agree that there is some real truth in this, I believe that WE as coaches can do a number of things to help develop each player as a Point Guard.

1. For at least 30 minutes in each training, coaches should emphasise skill development, teaching fundamentals at the expense of team systems. The players must know that their individual development comes first.

2. No matter the player's height,speed or talent WE demand that each player plays a total floor game. Shooting,dribbling and passing.

3. WE encourage players to take risks. Players should learn how to play with real freedom. To make the right play that they see out there. As coaches WE cannot micromanage their decision making.

4. To record all practices and games that WE can and then clip up,(make a film) of the learning opportunities for each player. Then the day after the game and during the week, help them by showing each player what WE see on the court in each decision making situation. Thereby stretching their potential options on each play.

5. As coaches, not reacting on the sideline to turnovers or bad plays. This includes body language. By accepting that if WE are going to allow our players more freedom then there is the opportunity for the game to get messy due to turnovers. The question comes down to are we teaching them how to play or are we playing for them?

6. Running an offence that forces our players to read and react to the defence rather than running a regimented system. A structured offence effectively turns players into robots. How can you effectively scout a team when ALL of the players can read what the defence is doing out there?

The future of basketball will demand that each player needs to have PG skills. That each player should feel confident, relaxed and free on the court. I cannot wait to see where the game is 20 years from now, I just know that the Point Guard will still be the most important player in it.

Topic #43853 | Report this topic

The only thing I disagree with is, the future is in fact now.

The future, 10-15 years from now will be different.

Maybe positions will be more defined again.

Reply #703285 | Report this post

Last year

You are correct, in essence many teams are moving or have moved in this direction and we see it now, but we should see it more in coming years I feel, especially at the higher levels where the skill players are.

I see the counter to this being the officiating, more than the coaching, which wasn't necessarily addressed in the article.

The skilled big guy can go out and shoot the three ball but anyone trying to post up still has to be a wrestler rather than a baller!

Reply #703287 | Report this post

Duke Fan  
Last year


Reply #703292 | Report this post

Last year

Bob Knight in a coaching clinic at Albert Park (showing my age) said he felt with the size and athletic ability of players getting better and better each generation that game would evolve to 4 v 4 - now he thought it would be like a 4 out style offense with no post players and everyone can put the ball on the floor.

He figured this would happen by 2000, we all thought lots of things would happen when the clock stuck 2000 but anyway food for thought, I never forgot that statement as a coach and the game just keeps evolving.

Reply #703293 | Report this post

Last year

Plenty of players, even big guys who can put the ball down and use some skills, but my gripe here is the way they change their perception of the rules in the paint, compared with elsewhere on the court.

Easier to attack from outside where you at least don't have someone hanging onto you I guess. Until you enter the 'No Boys Allowed' zone that is!

Reply #703298 | Report this post

Last year

Great theoretical article by a coach who is clearly in denial about the reality of what coaches look for.

Look at the pg's being recruited by coaches at all levels for goodness sake and stop deluding yourselves Mark and Bear.

Reply #703303 | Report this post

Last year

Dafuq is a Point Guard Roll?

Reply #703312 | Report this post

Last year

It's an interesting perspective and has elements of truth to it but I don't think it's entirely correct. And the parts that are correct are old news, really.

One of the things that bothers me about an article like that is that it is entirely offensively oriented. More and more, positional limitations are being shown on the defensive side of the ball and they're about bigs who are too slow to switch, rather than guards who are too small to guard a post up. Though that possibly relates to Bear's point about contact in the paint.

The 'big point guard' is also not something that I would consider a real thing. Lebron is not a PG, though he's capable of it. Simmons is closer due to his limitations as a scorer. Lonzo is big for a PG, but really only SG-sized by NBA standards so certainly not into point-forward territory. Giannis can handle the ball but no one has shown an inclination to play him at the point for extended stretches. It remains to be seen whether Doncic has the quickness to serve as an NBA PG. These players simply don't exist outside the NBA because anyone with that sort of combo of size and skill is going to be able to carve out an NBA role, even if it's on the wing rather than at the point due to lack of quickness.

The duh/old news component is that we shouldn't pigeon-hole juniors and should focus on skill development and reading the game regardless of size and physical attributes. The 6'1" 13-year-old may well be done growing so if you stick him under the basket and teach him nothing but rebounding and finishing, of course he will give the game away as he gets older. But this is not a revolutionary concept.

Finally, I take issue with the idea that coaches shouldn't worry about mistakes/turnovers. It's absolutely true that as you encourage players into a system that allows them to make their own decisions, they will make the wrong ones sometimes. But decreasing the frequency of those errors is basically the difference between understanding the game and not. A player who creates a pass but can't see it so throws the wrong one, or sees the right one but lacks the technical ability to throw it so it can be received, is doing a great job early in the season. But if you don't acknowledge the mistake and why it's occurring, and expect the player to learn to avoid it, you're not teaching them anything.

Reply #703314 | Report this post

Last year

True, it should read role, shouldn't it.......Oh well!

Anon^ if you have something intelligent or an opinion to add feel free.

Reply #703315 | Report this post

Last year

Anon #703303 I was referring to.

Reply #703316 | Report this post

Last year

Only problem is I dont see anyway how the big man game gets back to where it was.

Shooters are probably only going to get better and that's scary when you think there are already teams who have the 3 points > 2 points mentality.

Crazy/left field idea: what if the rules were changed so that on a foul and continuation (not on 3s though) you got 2 shots plus the 2 counted. Possible 4 point play. And not just one extra shot. Would this open the game up on the interior? Would mean teams get pounded inside or they dont foul so they get a lot of post work done over them.

Reply #703336 | Report this post

Last year

5 guards on the court....all ranging in height.

Reply #703338 | Report this post

Last year

Macdub - what about first foul shot is worth 2 points and each subsequent one is worth 1 point? So in your continuation scenario, the and-1 foul shot is for 2 points and creates the 4 point play you want.

Doing this has the advantage of making it never worth fouling a player when they're shooting. At NBL foul shooting accuracy rates, players would average ~2.2 points per pair of shots and the better foul shooter would average ~2.6 points per pair. i.e., more than if you let them take the field shot and they score every time. Even Mika Vukona would average better than 1.5 points per pair of foul shots!

The problem is this would reduce fouling and probably close checking to the point that offence could become too dominant. As a result, the game might be too much like an All Stars game for many people's liking.

Reply #703346 | Report this post

Last year

Care needs to be taken to prevent coaches from pidgeonholing individuals and stunting their development with a rigid, formulaic approach to coaching.

This is the potential outcome from the sort of thinking that appears to behind Coach Dickel's piece.

Reply #703349 | Report this post

Last year

Yes, games evolve, revolve, devolve, and evolve again, but people looking for paradigm changes are usually looking in the wrong direction.

And its not just basketball, indeed not just sport. People have been arguing against specialisation since Adam was a boy, and it still works.

What's more, if anything, it would be the opposite to what is being proposed.
All other things equal, a taller player will always have an advantage over a shorter. Therefore a shorter player must be better in other area to offset this.

True, basketball allows less specialisation than many team sports, but that's nothing new. It's also offset by the fact that there are multiple avenues to the basket. If you're tall enough to reach over your opponent and stuff the ball in the basket, with one foot still on the floor, then you don't need to rely on your perimeter shooting.

Of course every coach would love to have a team of guys 7.5 feet tall, who can leap like a gazelle, and pirouette like a Ballerina. But then along will come the 6.5 guy who's faster, more agile, and can drain the ball from the perimeter. Specialisation occurs not because we demand it, but because it can.

So-called "pigeon-holing" is somewhat off a chestnut IMHO. A short kid, who's never going to beat 6ft, had better develop some skills as a guard if he wants to play and dreams of the big time.

Reply #703355 | Report this post

Last year

AD, I think it's a fair call that it's ok to 'pigeon-hole' a tiny kid who's going to end up 5'9". But that's mostly because there's no risk of pigeon-holing him incorrectly. So when it's talked about as an issue, we do mean that big pre-teen/early teens kid who is confined to the paint and not expected (or given the opportunity) to develop ball-handling, shooting or decision-making abilities.

But I don't think specialisation and pigeon-holing are the same thing. One is allowing players to develop relevant strengths for progression through to elite levels, the other is about limiting a player to the style of play that allows them to be most effective now, without regard for the future.

Reply #703370 | Report this post

Last year

Last couple of posts I agree with to a large degree. I have always advocated that if we see a problem with the sport we need to look at the causes and not the symptoms.

When it comes to the evolution of the game, it is strongly aligned with how the game is interpreted.

If we want it to get back to how it was to some degree, we need to officiate the rules the way they were intended.

Players will get bigger, stronger and faster, coaches will use them and employ tactics to win games, junior coaches hopefully to also develop talent, but if we don't address the elephant in the room and try to change rules without consideration for the actual cause, we are not making a difference...

Reply #703396 | Report this post

Last year

The thrust of the article is correct. Bigger players can no longer rely on playing in the paint and having no other skills. In todays game, an inability to shoot the outside ball and spread the floor is a killer.

The problem for younger kids is that many coaches right across the district scene think their job is to win games. They ignore development of players. You can see this in clubs that consistently run full court traps in younger levels, never teaching kids correct defensive movement. You also see many coaches at younger levels resorting to zones to try and win. It is sad.

Likewise many coaches will unwittingly pigeonhole players in to certain roles. Putting the big in the post helps structure the team. Getting offensive rebounds and scores helps a team win. So it is clear why it is done. Unfortunately it really is to the players detriment. They might feel good about winning games, but the player doesn't develop the skills they need long term.

I coached a dominant 'big' in junior years. They destroyed teams with size and strength. This player great of playing NBA. I encouraged the player to develop some new skills, gave him the ball to bring up the court etc..., but all he wanted to do was get in the paint and score. In the end he finished up 6 foot 6 and with his skill set needed to be about 7 foot 1.

At the moment I am a parent of a young big. We know he will be around 200cm tall, so biggish, but not big enough at the high levels to play centre (more of a 2-3 role). We have been very conscious of developing other skills and have been very fortunate to have coaches willing to assist in that. In this past season he has been a dominant big in terms of rebounding and defending the paint etc... but has played the point guard role for the team. It has been a very big learning year and a huge advantage that we know wouldn't happen at some other clubs.

The challenge coaches will often face is that if they push a big in to a ball carrying role, what do they do with the little guards? They can't exactly push them in to the post.

It means that coaches have to be willing to essentially play a 5 out read and react type of offence. It is not particularly sophisticated and will result in the team often finding it difficult to score as they learn. Of course it is exactly what coaches should be teaching though!

It really comes down to coaches being willing to put development and learning ahead of wins at the younger levels. Some clubs are better at doing this than others.

Reply #703413 | Report this post

Last year

@lo70, that makes sense for those who want to play at the higher or elite level, but that only covers about 5% of the juniors out there (at a guess).

The rest who are just happy to play the game and not pursue expanding their skill set beyond their level of ambition will of course continue to be coached accordingly.

Reply #703446 | Report this post

Last year

"So when it's talked about as an issue, we do mean that big pre-teen/early teens kid who is confined to the paint and not expected (or given the opportunity) to develop ball-handling, shooting or decision-making abilities."

Fair Point.

I don't think anybody (except a really shit coach) would tell a kid not to develop those skills. But its possibly not enough emphasis and opportunity is given.
The big problem there is kids (like myself) who by dint of being the biggest player in the squad, play their whole time as a forward, but have no opportunity to progress to higher levels because we're not so tall in an expanded pool, and my outside game was too shitty.

I also think that not enough (ie mostly none) analysis is done on a players "growth status" and likely future size. Early bloomers get put into the frontcourt (and KPP roles in AFL, etc) when in fact if they are to have a professional career it will be in the backcourt.

I remember reading the story of an NBA PG (IIRC the Rockets) who said that in high school he played as the Center.

Reply #703474 | Report this post

Duke Fan  
Last year

"It really comes down to coaches being willing to put development and learning ahead of wins at the younger levels. Some clubs are better at doing this than others."

It's a long way from being just an issue for coaches.

What's the thing (most) clubs focus on when appointing coaches? Win/loss record

What's the thing (most) parents focus on when club shopping? Successful clubs based on win/loss record

There are very few altruistic folk in the game whose sole focus is on development. For coaches, their ability to have the job they want mostly comes down to how many games they win. At all levels

Reply #703479 | Report this post

Last year

It's interesting that so many of us readily identify over-emphasis on winning games as a huge issue, yet it continues to persist.

I wonder to what extent it would be helped by also acknowledging clubs for improvement in performance. For example, and this is by no means a well-considered idea, but for argument's sake: What if at State Champs each year, they named a most improved club? Take a club's best placement in the age group below two years earlier, and award 5 points for each place of improvement. So if they finished 6th in u12 in 2018, then 3rd in u14 in 2020, that's 15 points. Then subtract 3 points for each player who had transferred into the team from another club (no penalty for new players, only transfer) since the previous result.

That's a fair bit of calculation, as opposed to the simplicity of overall champion clubs, but given the truth that we don't value what we don't measure, is this something worth measuring? I certainly think it would encourage clubs to consider more than win-loss record for their coaches, as when looking at u14 and u16 results, they would be more aware of how a team had previously performed.

And as Duke Fan points out, focus on results is not restricted to coaches. Clubs, parents and players all consider it important. But what other metric do we have to determine a good vs bad club or a good vs bad coach? Sturt and Forestville would struggle to win a most improved club award, because they simply have too few ladder places to advance. Their good work is acknowledged by being State Champions. Acknowledging that good work can be done without winning provides a piece of information that is currently not readily available, and a profile for smaller/less traditionally successful clubs to show that they have the right culture in place to allow players to develop, they just don't have the player base to win all the games.

Reply #703557 | Report this post

Mel Hoops  
Last year

Great article and well worth the read.

The PG role has always been diverse, imo it's more about whats between the ears, and more so what happens between the ears when the level of play increases. Skills are no doubt required, however only a certain mind can be successful at the PG.

Some of the comments above regarding pigeonholing kids when they are young are a little over the top. When your coaching juniors, putting your biggest kid in the PG position is rarely a viable option, so too having a tall play on the wing or in the corner in 5-Out, in fact it can be counter-productive to the player's development. Running a complete offensive system offers plenty of development opportunities for players, the modern flow offense for example provides players opportunities to use screens, hand-offs, high low options, post entries, extra passes and many read and react opportunities. It's up to the coach to ensure all players are exposed (at training) to ball handling, perimeter play and post play regardless of the players size or strength to ensure they develop consistent throughout junior years. I was at Dandenong on Friday night and saw very few teams running any offence at all, in fact I found most of the basketball very uninspiring to be honest. There were a couple of exceptions and these teams not only ran complex systems, but the athletes were clearly the ones with the most upside.

Anyway, back to my point, specialisation is not dead and imo the surest way for players to put themselves in a position to "make it". Here is a list of players that have made it on the back of specialisation........

Chris Paul (play making)
Ricky Rubio (play making)
Steph Curry (shot making)
Russell Westbrook (scoring)

Kyle Korver (shooting)
JJ Redick (shooting)
Klay Thompson (shooting/defense)
CJ McCollum (scoring)

Al Jefferson (post play/defense)
Marc Gasol (post play/defense)
Blake Griffin (dunking)
LeMarcus Aldridge (post play)

Clint Capela (defense)
Steven Adams (defense)
Rudy Gobert (defense)
DeAndre Jordan (defense/above the rim play)

Would you take Lebron, Durant or even Giannis over many of these guys? Sure, but is that because they were developed with all round games? No, they are simply freaks of nature!! Can an argument be made for the likes of Anthony Davis & Dirk Nowitzki's all round game and junior development? I guess so, but hey, we're taking about 7 footers here and they are a pretty rare commodity too just like Lebron and friends.

All in all, I think the shift of teaching junior athletes to play with a offensive mindset in all areas of the court is an obvious one and one that is taking place need only watch a high level U12 game in Australia to see the amount of 3 balls being put up with the support of the teams coach, this wasn't happening before Steph Curry!

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An Australian basketball forum covering NBL, WNBL, ABL, Juniors plus NBA, WNBA, NZ, Europe, etc | Forum time is: 6:19 am, Mon 22 Apr 2019 | Posts: 768,746 | Last 7 days: 703