Firstly, what is it?
Well, right off the bat, we can identify this: a combo guard is an alternative to a point guard. 6'6" shooting guards never fake the funk like they're secretly point guards - its purely a small man position. Often times, it is a shooting guard whose height is irreparably shorter than what is acceptable for an NBA starting 2 - somewhere between 6'0 and 6'3".
Is there a real difference?
Absolutely, and the fundamental splitting point lies within one simple question: 'does he look to pass?' The difference between Russell Westbrook, Jeremy Lin, Nate Robinson, and somebody like, say, Chris Paul illustrates the difference in styles. A point guard is a maestro; an orchestrator of the offense on a higher level than anyone else (including the coach) - think of Mark Jackson. A combo guard is an especially gifted slasher or shooter; as most players their size couldn't hope to be scorers at the NBA level - think of Steve Kerr.
So, if there is a difference, can a team win with a "combo" guard instead of a point guard?
Depending on how heavily a team relies on their combo guard, its definitely possible. The Bulls were a dynasty that platooned the 1 with Ron Harper, Michael Jordan, and Steve Kerr en route to multiple NBA titles after losing their true point (John Paxon). Aside from Jordan, their combo guards were little more than role players. The Allen Iverson 76ers, however, got to the NBA Finals but came up short; as did the Thunder with Russell Westbrook. It appears the perfect winning balance has been struck by Tony Parker in San Antonio.
So, would NBA teams benefit by embracing a lack of a true point guard, rather than trying to disguise it?
Personally, I believe that sanctioning the combo guard position at an official level, so that coaches can declare their starting 1's to be shoot-first options, takes an immense amount of pressure off of the combo guard in question. Even now, guards don't want to label themselves as a passer or a scorer; embracing the combo guard would put an additional emphasis on the value of both players; pass-first point guards or bucket-dropping combo guards. At the end of the day, the Bulls - and, this year, the Heat - proved that winning NBA titles with your wing players playmaking and your point guards spotting up is a tangible option that the vast majority of basketball fans are currently ignorant to.
What do you guys think?
Talk about anything general in the NBA here.
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