Often times people feel like the person playing the point guard position should be the most selfless player on the court. That’s wrong! The point guard should be selfish. It’s when we understand the variations of selfishness that we understand how a point guard could and should be selfish. If players don’t think the point guard will shoot the ball, why would they close out? If players don’t think the point guard will attack the basket, why play honest defense? If players don’t think the point guard has the ability to, not just pass or rotate the ball, but to distribute the gift of open and easy shots, why rotate for help defense? The point guard is the leader on the team. As the leader, he/she needs to be a threat at all times! And to be a threat, you must show it.
Allow me to be Captain Obvious as I review the overall idea of offense and defense. Offensively, the #1 goal is to score points. Defensively, the #1 goal is to protect (defend) your basket, so that the opponent does not score points. Whoever has the most tallied points win! How players and coaches go about these two goals to ensure the victory will vary. Nevertheless, the game of basketball is really that simple.
With that being said, if the leader (the point guard) does not demonstrate (through action) that scoring is important, the team is in trouble. If the leader is not aggressive, leaving the bulk of the work for other players to do, the team is in trouble. The point guard needs to do it; there’s a need to be selfish. The point guard needs to take on the “I’ll make it happen” mentality. That doesn’t mean shoot every time, but that does mean it’s up to the point guard to get it done! The point guard, essentially, is the star and the other players are the supporting cast! So leaving the bulk of the work for the others to take care of is relinquishing one’s influence as a leader, therefore leaving the other players to fend for themselves. Keeping in mind that scoring is the goal, how can the leader of the team not make that a priority but still call himself/herself a leader?
Somewhere along the line, we all got confused and started thinking that the point guard should simply distribute the ball. We started believing that the “other players” were the ones to score. We believed that it was ok for the shooting guard, small forward, power forward and center to focus on scoring points, and it was the point guard’s job to “get everyone involved.” We act as if the only column the point guard should post stats in is the Assists or Steals columns. That is absolutely wrong! A good leader gets on the front line and shows people what should be happening. A good leader helps people make those things happen. A good leader is a visionary and sees the entire picture. A good leader is aggressive towards the cause. So there must be a great deal of ownership present in the point guard. He/She is the leader.
On every level of basketball, ranging from YMCA to professional, if the point guard doesn’t demonstrate his/her ability to be a threat in multiple ways, the team can only go so far. While the point guard doesn’t need to be the best player on the team, this position does need to be filled with a player who is a serious threat!
Imagine, for a second, having an offensive play that needs to be executed. This play starts with an entry pass to the wing. The defense is sagging off (playing far) the point guard because there’s no fear of scoring. The guards are being heavily denied a pass with no hopes of receiving the ball. What can the point guard do now? If the point guard had a shot that was actually a threat, he/she would shoot it. At the same time, if that were the case, the defense wouldn’t be sagging off, barely playing defense. The only thing the point guard can do is choose a side of the court, send the guard to the opposite side, and dribble over to the wing to replace that guard. Now… if there is supposed to be a post entry, how can the point guard pass the ball to the post player if the defense is still sagging off so far? He/She can’t! The defense will intercept the ball. It’s almost like a double team on the post player. Is this player helping the team?
This scenario may seem like a long shot, but it happens so many times a day. When the point guard is not a threat, he/she can not even run the offense, let alone, the team. The defense has no respect for this player and is able to, essentially, abandon their defensive assignment and do another task. The point guard must be selfish in it’s approach, in order to make the defense play honest thereby allowing the team to get into their offense and ultimately create scoring opportunities that might not otherwise have been there. The point guard is the catalyst that gets the job done. Without developing the “Olivia Pope mentality” to handle business yourself, the team is being let down.
Typically, being selfish to most means that a player only shoots the ball and never willingly passes the ball to teammates. Typically, those players showboat, and are only concerned with making themselves look good. But that’s not the selfishness I’m referring to when it comes to being a selfish point guard. Marriam Webster defines selfishness as being “concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself: seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others.” You may be thinking, “Yes! That’s selfish behavior and that has NO PLACE on my team!” But watch this… The leader; the person who sees the full picture; the person with the vision; the player who is the extension of the coach; the player who is supposed to lead by example; the one who is supposed always have the ultimate goal in mind; the one put in place to execute the plan: This person should be “excessively concerned” with his/her agenda as it impacts the team’s agenda and outcome; the win. This player’s job isn’t to shoot 3 pointers. This player’s job isn’t to penetrate to the basket. This player’s job isn’t to block shots and get rebounds. This player’s job is to do whatever it takes. Make no mistake; it is a pleasure to make the defense look silly. It is a pleasure to have a nice stat line. But, the biggest pleasure for a leader (i.e. point guard) is to make sure that you lead your followers (i.e. teammates) in a way that as a unit, the goal is met (to meet the goal as a unit)! That is the responsibility!
If the point guard does not have a selfish mentality in?about his/her responsibility in taking the team to the Promise Land… the team is in trouble!