Ramifications are Regrets With Good PR
Given that I am now officially rooting for a Detroit-San Antonio finals, I choose to focus on the fact that draft season has officially started rather than the fact that Mike Brown's offense and the non-joke "You look like you should be floatin' on top of a parade" have made me dead inside. (Randomly: If you take the relevance of Woody Allen, the man, from Bananas to pre-Annie Hall and the relevance of Woody Allen's film's from the early-to-mid nineties, and factor in the obvious cultural divide, I think you have Tyler Perry. And Tyler Perry being more relevant than Spike Lee during the NBA Playoffs has to be the ultimate coup, right?)
Beasley/Rose is a great #1 debate, partly because Beasley is more established coming out of K-State while Rose is a question mark after running the point for a near-championship squad, that Beasley is a better player both now and down the road but Rose seems destined to play on better teams than Beasley in both cases, because of the constructive qualities of their respective talents. And before this draft is said and done, I'm pretty soon B-Easy is going to file a lawsuit against Derrick Coleman.
Now, I do not argue any of these specific points, but the general notion of him is, I believe, still a little off-center. Derrick Rose, the wisdom goes, is more than a set of hops, crossovers, and flat-footed jumpers, for HE IS A POINT GUARD. All the reports on him out of high school were that he was, indeed, a true point guard, and as he neither proved or disproved those notions in Memphis' offense, he is now pregnant with the possibility of being a psychotic hybrid of Jason Kidd and Devin Harris.
The one comparison I haven't heard for Rose amid the sea of Kidd, Harris, and young Steve Francis is the player he's most similar to, the best point guard still playing in these playoffs, last year's finals MVP, and the guy who absolutely cut the Lakers to shreds in the 1st half of tonight's game. (I know I'm breaking the unwritten rule of acting like every win in the playoffs was a direct result of the victorious' team's grand plan-last year, we were one miracle jumper short of hearing about how the Pistons had successfully kept LeBron James from getting his teammates involved down the stretch. Tony Parker was absolutely running amok in that first half, and it was awesome, so we're just going to pretend the second half never happened for the purposes of this post.) Parker operates the Spurs' offense within the happy medium of Duncan's consistent bland solidarity and Ginobili's sporadic dominance, and has won 3 championship rings, but is still denied the distinction of being a POINT GUARD, and thus exist as a suitable archetype for Derrick Rose.
In the past, the point guard position has been one of deception, both at the micro level, with a game built upon crossover dribbles and look-away passes, and at a macro level-somehow, the smallest player on the floor, the one furthest away from the basket and thus the highest difficulty of making a basket, must convince the defense that he is more dangerous than the behemoths who surround him and then quickly capitalize upon their mark's foolish dalliance with a deftly placed pass.
The brief and glorious age of the Iversonian scoring point was also built on games that depended on shifting the reality of the court to something more favorable to their talents, shifting the conventional straight angles of pick-and-roll drives and post-and-clear games for staunchly geometry-defying and improvisational crossover games of cat-and-mouse on the perimeter meant to give the defense the notion that Steve Francis was seriously about to drive straight into three defenders so that he could pull a quick fake back and pop a mid-range jumper.
But here's the thing-point guards no longer need subtlety in order to maintain a deadly arsenal. The best ones are the most dangerous scorers on the floor in conventional reality, and no longer need to use their talents to create an alternate reality in which the defense believes this to be true.
Nash and Paul, the two leading assist men in the league, show the bridging in the gap between the past and the future of the position. Nash is probably the weakest guy on the floor most nights, and would probably finish near last in a dead footrace with his man on a given night, but he makes offenses go through his ability to slip passes to Amare on pick-and-rolls and his ability to draw defenses to places they shouldn't possibly be and consequently chastise them-somehow Paul, on the other hand, operates not by fooling defenses but by putting the fear of god into them-if Chris Paul is getting set to drive the lane, emergency precautions must be taken, because he's either going to blow right by the 2nd defender or put a teardrop on his forehead. David West, Tyson Chandler, and Peja aren't left wide-open because of a defense that has been hoodwinked, but a defense left without a better option-with the exception of the Chandler lob, the "easy" 18-footers that David West and threes that Peja Stojakovic enjoy are given by a defense that is willing to accept them instead of letting CP3 take their lane.
Nash's passes are his acts of aggression, while Paul's passes are gifts of a defense begging for mercy, as evidenced by the fact that Nash throws a respectable 4 assists for every bad pass while Paul throws a filthy 10 assists for every bad pass. Obviously, both Nash and CP3 are special offensive players, and Paul is capable of creating passes and Nash is extremely capable of scoring for himself, but their games are based on fundamentally different principles. We've never really seen guys with Paul's combination of speed, the ability to put the ball in the hole, and decision-making; even Isiah never came remotely close to shooting the percentages CP3 shot this season.
We're seeing point guards who are dangerous in their own right replace those who create danger right in front of our eyes-witness Deron Williams realizing that him barreling through the lane or popping a three when they went under the screen was far more dangerous than Carlos Boozer trying to figure out how tough of a shot he could create from 6 feet out, Mehmet Okur trying to prove himself as the Turkish Rasheed Wallace, or Andrei Kirilenko trying to figure out his shooting range in preparation for the Olympics. (Quick note: There's "Hey, he's the next so-and-so!" and then there's Karl Malone and Carlos Boozer. Height, Position, Complexion, Draft Snubbing, mid-range catch-and-shoot game, vague unlikeability, and now propensity for imploding in the playoffs. If you could be described as a "little Mexican girl," stay away from Carlos Boozer. You do not want to discover the depths of this rabbit hole.)
Also, look at Rajon Rondo saying I AM A STARTING POINT GUARD ON A 66-WIN TEAM AND SHALL BE RESPECTED AS SUCH in game 5 of the Cavs series before being told to go back to his corner for the rest of the series. Witness guys who have speed and passing ability, as well as passable outside shots, like Sebastian Telfair, Sergio Rodriguez, Luke Ridnour, Steve Blake, Carlos Arroyo, and Raymond Felton experience pine because they can't finish inside like Parker, Paul, Williams, Nash, or Calderon.
Look, I love true point guards who handle with aplomb, throw gorgeous dimes to cutters who didn't even know they were open, and weave fearlessly through much larger men. Hell, I watch Brandon Jennings' YouTube video like 8 times a day and dream of a team attuned to the game their leader tells them is happening rather than one determined by the rote guidelines of reality. Great point guards are like great pitchers, creating their own reality through their skills in order to equalize their disadvantage against all those they face.
But whatever the impetus was for the little-man-finishing explosion (it could just be a rare confluence of special players, or the fact that everyone's so much more athletic now than even 10 years ago that the short guys are much closer to the rim than they were before, but put me down for the new rules on this one-in 2004-2005, LeBron broke out, Dwayne Wade absolutely exploded, and Allen Iverson's TS% went up by 5 percent. Oh, and Tony Parker's FG% went from 44.7% to 48.2%.) In any case, these new dangerous point guards have thrown the gauntlet to all others that the domain of the huge can be not only competed in, but conquered by those who are small and fast, and that deception is no longer necessary in order to achieve dominance.
Derrick Rose can absolutely shoulder a team from the point guard position and lead all to the promised land. But to do so, he will do so by being what those who he should supposedly aspire to follow could only effectively masquerade as-the most dangerous scorer on the floor. HOLY CRAP ROSE WADE WRIGHT MARION PHI SLAMMA JAMMA HATH RETURNED.