The Need for a New Point Guard

[Fixed the formatting. -BiM]

This is a topic I've been meaning to post about for a while now.

Last season, we all witnessed (sorry, Lebron) the rise of a new MVP in Derrick Rose. But, almost as important, is the fact he has helped usher in a new era and next evolution of the point guard position. Rose, along with guys like Westbrook and Wall (maybe not there yet) represent a new crop of PGs who are capable of going for 30 or 40 points on any given night. While this kind of offensive capability and explosiveness is an amazing asset to have in your primary ballhandler, I'm here to discuss a notion often mentioned here but I feel not truly dissected: moving Rose to shooting guard.

As a comparison to this theory, I'll use the career path of Dwyane Wade. Wade came into the league and played PG for the Heat as a rookie. As we all know, Wade had a remarkable rookie campaign, capped by a spectacular performance in the playoffs where he single-handedly beat the Hornets in the first round, and then almost did the same to the Indiana Pacers in the conference semis before the Heat lost the series in Game 6. The following season, the Heat brass made the crucial decision to move Wade to shooting guard. That year, as the Heat made a run to the conference finals before losing to Detroit in 7, we saw Wade distinguish himself as one of the top SGs in the league. Now, obviously, as it turns out, Wade is a great player and was sure to develop into a star regardless, but I believe this move to SG played a crucial part.

Here's the thing: there is an inherent disadvantage to being the primary ballhandler AND primary wing threat on a team. We all know Rose is one of the fastest players in the league end-to-end, even with the ball in his hand. But in the half-court, the ballhandler is slowed by the mere fact he has the ball in his hand. He is easier to guard and keep track of. This is a crucial point. With the ball in his hand, it makes it easier for the defense to key in on Rose. This is why it's my opinion the Bulls should eventually (hopefully sooner rather than later) move Rose to SG. This move helps in several ways. For one, it allows Rose the ability to roam around a bit more in the half-court where he can use his speed and quickness to his advantage and perhaps have the defense lose track of him on the floor. This can lead to more uncontested midrange jumpers and weak-side cuts to the rim. Also, this will allow him to preserve some energy over the course of the game/season as we will not be burdened with the responsibility of bringing the ball up the court on every single possession. We saw last season how this eventually took a toll on D-Rose and the truth is at the end of games in the conference finals he just didn't have his legs under him. (I think overall the team suffered from the fatigue of pushing it all year to get the league-best record and just didn't have another gear to kick it into once the playoffs came around, thus the struggles against Indy and ATL.) Allowing Rose to play off the ball will hopefully lead to fresher legs for our star player and leader at the end of the long haul when it really counts.

Financially, this also makes sense since I believe it's easier and cheaper to acquire an adequate starting PG than to find an elite SG. Any cheap option at SG is going to come with his own warts. So why not put our best player at SG where he can perhaps truly maximize his potential and then find a good floor general-type PG who can get the offense into position quickly.

This last point is something where I also thought the Bulls suffered some last season. I recall too many times where Rose was barely getting the ball across the timeline into the frontcourt and by that point, you're down to about 14 seconds to get into and execute your offensive set, and this can also lead to brushes with a shot-clock violation, as we saw several times versus the Pacers (if I recall correctly. Damn lockout makes the playoffs feel like eons ago) and the Heat. With the ball constantly in Derrick's hands, you're almost giving the defense help in containing him. We saw defenses gameplan for Rose all season last year, and to his credit, he still succeeded 90% of the time in shredding them apart. I believe a move to SG will make it a bit tougher to gameplan against him as an off-the-ball wing player and might lend itself to setting up Rose for a few post-ups a game as he develops that part of his game.

Maybe this is something Bulls brass has already considered, but I thought the subject to be timely given all the talk of acquiring a SG to pair with Rose once business resumes (if ever!).


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