Sunday, July 26, 2009

Brian McCormick on Point Guards

Here is another great blog by Brian McCormick on Points Guard play.

O.J. Mayo Playing Point Guard
July 24th, 2009 by Brian McCormick

"In Chris Mannix’s column about the USA Basketball mini-camp, he writes about O.J. Mayo’s desire to play point guard and off-season work in that direction:

Grizzlies shooting guard O.J. Mayo has made no secret of his desire to eventually be moved to point guard. To that end, Mayo said he has been working on point guard skills at USC with Memphis assistant coaches Johnny Davis and Henry Bibby. Improving his ball-handling is his top priority.

Last summer, Golden State’s Monta Ellis said something similar in an article about his desire to play point guard.

Ellis and Mayo handle the ball well enough to play point guard. Like anyone, they can improve their ball handling, and that will enhance their performance, but their ball handling skill is not their impediment to playing point guard.

Each player plays with a scoring mindset. While many great point guards score too - Steve Nash, Deron Williams, Chris Paul - point guards play with a different mindset. They score when it is the right play - they do not penetrate to score. It is a different thought-process.

Because of this thought process, a point guard sees the game differently. Most scorers tend to have a narrow-external concentration area: when they have the ball, they focus on the basket and the path to the basket. Point guards have a broad-external concentration area: they see the entire floor and do not focus on any one thing.

For a scorer to become a point guard, he needs to change the way that he reads the game. This has little to do with ball handling drills. Instead, if I trained Mayo as he attempted to make such a progression in his game, I would spend a lot of time breaking down videotape to see the visual progressions that great point guards use. Then, much of the feedback and instruction would occur in 5v5 settings: questioning Mayo on his decision-making process and trying to see how he views the game, what he sees on a particular play, why he made such a decision.

Almost any NBA player dribbles the ball well enough to play point guard. When we think about the point guard position, we grossly overestimate the technical skills (ball handling, passing) and underestimate the tactical skills, game awareness and mental aspect of the position, as these skills are harder to see and teach. However, Steve Nash is not a great point guard because he dribbles better than any other NBA player - he is a great point guard because he sees the game differently and anticipates the play based on his game awareness, percetptual skills and experience. "