Ben Simmons is going to be the Philadelphia 76ers point guard next season.* Sixers coach Brett Brown went on The Vertical podcast this week and explained to Adrian Wojnarowski what that meant.
This begs the question – who gives a f—? Ben Simmons is an incredible passer and people have been talking about him playing point guard since he was in college. Last week there were rumors that Simmons had grown two inches and was now 7-feet tall. Brett Brown denied this. Too bad, because that would have made Simmons the tallest point guard ever! Or not.
Kevin Durant is 6’11”. Or 7-feet tall. He played some point guard in OKC and shares ball-handling duties with 6’7″ small/power forward Draymond Green and more traditional 6’3″ point guard Stephen Curry. Yes, the traditional point guard who scored 30 points a game last season.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is the Milwaukee Bucks’ 6’11” point guard. ESPN has Giannis listed as a small forward. Wikipedia calls him a small forward / guard. Basketball-Reference has him at small forward and point guard and shooting guard. Giannis, like LeBron James, does not have a “traditional position.” He is the main ball-handler and ball-distributor. He is the straw that stirs the drink. LeBron does it in Karl Malone’s body. Giannis does it in Gumby’s.
James Harden brings the ball up the floor, runs every single facet of the Rockets offense, and led the NBA in assists this season with 11.2 a game. ESPN still lists him as a shooting guard in box scores.
Scottie Pippen (SF) and Michael Jordan (SG) brought the ball up the court pretty often for the Chicago Bulls in the 90s. But, here’s a Sam Smith column from 1994 pleading with the Bulls to play 6’10” (or 6’11”) Toni Kukoc more at his best position – point guard.
Positions on a basketball court are fluid. Players of all shapes and sizes do everything. Back to the basket big men have seemed antiquated for years, though they do still exist. As do “true point guards.” None of that matters once the ball is in play. We need to stop trying to label players in a slightly different way just to look innovative. Running an offense through your best player is not new, it’s just smart.
*if healthy, and what with the Sixers’ training staff’s resume of getting players on the floor and keeping them there, who knows?