From 1990 to the present, championship point guards have averaged just 11.35 points and 4.52 assists per game. Amongst those point guards are a few sure fire Hall of Famers, a player who might make the Hall of Fame for simply being European, and a player who should make the Hall of Fame should his career continue at the current rate. But Rajon Rondo was still a young player trying to leave his mark on the league and Jason Kidd was well past his prime. And who cares about Tony Parker anyways? I mean he’s French!
Anyways, it would seem that the point guard position is relatively weak on championship teams, implying that point guards might not be as important as generally thought. But the last entry on the list was Isiah Thomas, leader of the Bad-Boy Pistons squad. As Royce Da 5’9 says in Welcome to Hell, “Anybody thinkin’ that the game don’t need the Bad and the Evil regime/that’s like saying that the Bad Boy Piston team didn’t need Isiah.” Thomas was an integral piece to that team, so maybe the further we delve in history, the stronger the point guard position will become. In fact, Thomas was the Finals MVP in 1990 and Magic Johnson was the regular season MVP. Though Johnson’s size puts him into another category from other point guards. What other point guard was as well balanced as Johnson statistically? Only Oscar Robertson, and he was an oversized point guard as well (triple doubles!).
Anyways, onto the point:
1988-1989 Detroit Pistons: Isiah Thomas started. he averaged 18.2 points, 8.3 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 1.7 steals.
1987-1988 Los Angeles Lakers: Ok we need to boycotte the NBA or something. Not because it’s ridiculous how many championships the Lakers and Celtics have won, but because of this: the Lakers averaged 112.8 points per game, good for 5th in the league that season. Tops was 116.7 by the Denver Nuggets. We’re getting screwed out of some awesome basketball! Anyways Magic Johnson obviously started. He averaged 19.6 points, 11.9 assists, 6.2 rebounds and 1.6 steals.
1986-1987 Los Angeles Lakers: On second thought, it is ridiculous how many Championships the Lakers and Celtics win. Where’s parity? Magic Johnson started again. He averaged 23.9 points, 12.2 assists, 6.3 rebounds and 1.7 steals. Remember that because of his height, Johnson is in his own category. He once played every position for the Lakers in a Finals game. Including starting at center for the opening tip.
1985-1986 Boston Celtics: The Celtics allowed 104.7 points per game this season, but that’s ok because they averaged 114.1 points per game. Seriously what happened? Teams struggle to average 100 points for a season now. In fact if a team does, it is usually a top 5 offense. The New York Knicks averaged 98.7 points per game and that was good for last in the league. Next to last? The Washington Bullets (now the Wizards) who averaged 103. Dennis Johnson started and he averaged 15.6 points and 5.8 assists.
1984-1985 Los Angeles Lakers: (118.2 points per game) Magic Johnson started (opponents scored 110.9 points per game). He averaged 18.3 points, 12.6 assists (it must have been so easy to rack up the assists when your team is averaging 118.2 per game! Now I’m actually disappointed in Magic and John Stockton. Of course it may have been because of the high assist numbers that other players were scoring so much). He also averaged 6.2 rebounds and 1.5 steals.
1983-1984 Boston Celtics: Gerald Henderson started. He averaged 11.6 points and 3.8 assists.
1982-1983 Philadelphia 76ers: Maurice Cheeks started. He averaged 12.5 points and 6.9 assists along with 2.3 steals.
1981-1982 Los Angeles Lakers: Magic Johnson started. At 22 years old he averaged 18.6 points, 9.5 assists, 9.6 rebounds and 2.7 steals.
1980-1981 Boston Celtics: Tiny Archibald started and averaged 13.8 points and 7.7 assists.
1979-1980 Los Angeles Lakers: Magic Johnson at 20 years of age. He averaged 18 points, 7.7 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 2.4 steals. Also my job gets harder now. They didn’t keep track of starts back this far. It was a simpler time.
1978-1979 Seattle Supersonics: Fred Brown started (super creative name!). He averaged 14 points and 3.5 assists.
1977-1978 Washington Bullets: Led by Wes Unseld, one of the few players to win Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season. He was Finals MVP this year. But he was the center at 6’7″. As a side note, did you know at one point super tall people (say 6’10” or 7′) didn’t dominate basketball? In fact these behemoths usually didn’t play basketball. It was a commonly held belief at the time that tall people were stupid and thus didn’t have the brains to play a complicated sport like basketball (hint: put it through the hoop!). Thus Wilt Chamberlain was able to score 100 points in a game and average 50.4 points and at another time 27.2 rebounds. He later decided to show that he knew how to pass too by averaging 7.8 assists and 8.6 in consecutive seasons. On yet another side note, Wilt Chamberlain is the only other player to be Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season and the legend goes that he could pick up his 200+ pound teammates like feathers. Tom Henderson started at point guard and averaged 11.4 points and 5.4 assists.
1976-1977 Portland Trail Blazers: Lionel Hollins started and averaged 14.7 points, 4.1 assists and 2.2 steals.
1975-1976 Boston Celtics: Jo Jo White started. He averaged 18.9 points and 5.4 assists.
1974-1975 Golden State Warriors: Butch Beard (now that’s a cool name) started. He averaged 12.8 points and 4.2 assists.
1973-1974 Boston Celtics: Jo Jo White started. He averaged 18.1 points and 5.5 assists.
1972-1973 New York Knicks: Walt Frazier started. he averaged 21.1 points, 7.3 rebounds and 5.9 assists. We’re also officially to the point where not only was there no three point line, but they didn’t even collect stats on steals, blocks, turnovers, nor even differentiate between offensive and defensive rebounds.
1971-1972 Los Angeles Lakers: ok the Lakers averaged 121 points per game this season. Did people just not know how to play defense? I mean 121 is ridiculous. And Jerry Sloan was in his prime at this point! The coach that had such a great reputation as a defensive coach, and as a player was known as a hard nosed, no jokes style of play and was one of the greatest defensive players in the game. What was he telling his teams as a coach? “Just keep them below 121! Below 121, that’s all I ask!” Jerry West and Gail Goodrich started at point guard and shooting guard respectively. Though West is more of a shooting guard himself (and also happens to be the logo! I mean who else gets to brag about that? “I’m Michael Jordan.” “I’m the logo!”). West averaged 25.8 points and 9.7 assists.
1970-1971 Milwaukee Bucks: Oscar Robertson started. This man was a walking triple double. He averaged 19.4 points, 8.2 assists and 5.7 rebounds this season, but in the 1961-1962 season he averaged a triple double with 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 assists. In fact over his first 5 years in the NBA he averaged a triple double.
1969-1970 New York Knicks: Walt Frazier started. He averaged 20.9 points, 8.2 assists and 6 rebounds.
And that takes us through the 1970’s. Next up: hippies, war, and the Boston Celtics winning the championship all but one year of the 1960’s. Not to mention a whole bunch in the 1950’s. We’re about halfway through the NBA’s history. so far it looks like point guards were very important throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s, but seem to have lost their value ever since the 1990’s. Sorry about all the weird tangents and side notes, but I can’t help myself. This stuff is fascinating! What have we learned? Defense was not an issue in this time period and a bunch of other stupid little facts.