Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Year of the Point Guard

By Buddy Grizzard

A few years back, in an NBA draft rich with point guard prospects, the Atlanta Hawks made a selection that would dramatically impact the team's fortunes to the present day. You know which draft I'm talking about. No, not the 2005 NBA draft when the Hawks selected Marvin Williams ahead of Deron Williams and Chris Paul. I'm talking about the 2009 NBA draft when each of 8 NBA teams (including the Hawks) drafted its current starting point guard.

The Hawks were looking to add depth behind Mike Bibby, and this was the draft to do it. There was so much potential at the point guard position that Minnesota Timberwolves president of basketball operations David Kahn couldn't help himself; He drafted three of them, starting with Ricky Rubio at #5, followed immediatly by Jonny Flynn at #6. Rubio has exceeded expectations and become a sensation in his rookie campaign while Flynn is considered possibly the biggest bust of this draft (and has since been traded to Houston). Kahn's third selection was the #18 pick, just ahead of where the Hawks would select at #19. More on that in a moment.

At #4, prior to Rubio's selection, the Sacramento Kings selected Tyreke Evans, who is actually a shooting guard but starts for the Kings at point guard (John Salmons starts at two guard). The Golden State Warriors followed by drafting future starter Stephen Curry at #7, the Milwaukee Bucks selected Brandon Jennings at #10 and the Philadelphia 76ers grabbed Jrue Holiday at #17. With those players off the board, plenty of point guard prospects remained for Kahn's third selection of the first round. Wake Forest's Jeff Teague, North Carolina's Ty Lawson and UCLA's Darren Collison all remained available. Would Kahn go 3-for-3 on point guards?

Lawson was my sleeper pick for that draft. ESPN's Chad Ford had Teague more highly rated, but I had a feeling Lawson would make his mark in the league. Sure enough, Denver executed a draft-day trade, sending a future first round pick to the T-Wolves for the rights to Lawson. Rick Sund followed by drafting Teague for the Hawks and the rest, as they say, is history. Teague and Lawson have both emerged from what was considered a weak draft (aside from Blake Griffin) to become legitimate starters.

Collison ended up going at #21 to the New Orleans Hornets to back up Chris Paul before being traded to the Indiana Pacers, where he presently starts. Honorable mention goes to Jonesboro native Toney Douglas, drafted at #29, who briefly started for the Knicks this year before giving way to Iman Shumpert. I thought it would be interesting to compare the current stats and positional ranks for these '09 draftees from "The Year of the Point Guard."


Lawson is having himself a nice career but Jeff Teague is making Rick Sund look smarter by the minute.

Buddy Grizzard formerly toiled as the sports editor for several small, local newspapers, has been a producer for CBS and Clear Channel radio and worked as a videographer for CBS Sports website

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