Point Guard Driven League? Maybe, Maybe Not

One of the common arguments I've heard from people who advocate taking Ricky Rubio is that the NBA is becoming more and more of a point guard driven league so it makes sense to get the best floor general available.

Certainly the level of talent at point guard has risen in recent years thanks to influx of talented players at the 1 spot like Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Derrick Rose.  That. combined with the slow extinction of the traditional big man has people clamoring that it's time to start building around the point guard rather than the big man.  It's a nice idea, but as you take a look at the champions over the last decade, the argument loses a little steam.

Champion Starting PG Best Big Man
1999 Spurs Avery Johnson Tim Duncan
2000 Lakers Ron Harper Shaquile O'Neal
2001 Lakers Derek Fisher Shaquile O'Neal
2002 Lakers Derek Fisher Shaquile O'Neal
2003 Spurs Tony Parker Tim Duncan
2004 Pistons Chauncey Billups Ben Wallace
2005 Spurs Tony Parker Tim Duncan
2006 Heat Jason Williams Shaquile O'Neal
2007 Spurs Tony Parker Tim Duncan
2008 Celtics Rajon Rondo Kevin Garnett

The point guards on that list certainly aren't terrible, but Tony Parker is the only PG on that list who made it to the All-Star Game in the same year that he also won the championship, and that was only in the 2007 season.  On the other hand, every big man on that list played in the All-Star Game with the exception of Duncan in '99, since there was no game because of the lockout.  Furthermore, the top 3 big men of the decade (Shaq, Duncan, and Garnett) all have titles to their name, whereas the only one of the three best point guards of the decade (Kidd, Nash, and Billups) has won a championship.

Recent history shows strong support for putting more importance on an elite big man rather than top point guard, but this year may start to turn those tides a little bit.  More likely than not, this year's champion is either going to be the Cavaliers or the Lakers.  If that's the case, the best big man on those two teams are Zydrunas Ilgauskas or Pau Gasol.  Both solid big men but neither is on the same level as Shaq, Duncan, or Garnett.  Then again, just because it doesn't look like an elite big man will walk away with a title this year doesn't mean that the elite point guards are starting to make the NBA a point guard driven league since the most likely candidates to win a title this year are Mo Williams and Derek Fisher.  Again, both are nice players, but neither would be mistaken for an elite point guard.

This isn't to say that anyone should pass on Rubio because there's not a great track record of elite point guards winning titles over the last decade.  Rubio is still a rare talent that teams would be foolish to pass on just so they can gamble on someone like Hasheem Thabeet or Jordan Hill.  However, we should also be cautious not to crown him as the latest revolutionary in a revolution that hasn't even begun yet.

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