Friday, January 9, 2009

Raptor Mating Bull

Check the news. Larry Hughes wants to play.

Unfortunately for him, if there’s one asset the Bulls have, it’s a glut of guard/wings. Go a bit northeast and the Toronto Raptors find themselves in the position of direly needing a capable wing player who can create his own shot. If there’s one thing Hughes can do…See where I’m going with this?

Larry Hughes, Drew Gooden, Joakim Noah for Jermaine O’Neal and Anthony Parker.

Okay, the marriage is by no means perfect. Hughes has been a cancer every year and on every team since he departed DC, but he’s only 29, was playing exceptionally well during a stretch from mid-November to mid-December, and still kind of has the rep, though its rapidly fading, as a solid defender.

His 3-point shot is at a pleasant 37 percent and he made his money (got his big contract) due to his slashing abilities. Ideally, the assets that he supposedly embodies are exactly what the Raptors lack.

Throw in Gooden and Noah and the deal starts to make sense for both squads. I’ll get to why for the Bulls in a second. Adding three for two helps with the Raptors rice paper thin depth. While Gooden isn’t the most ideal fit, he’s a good to very good rebounder and can score some. Noah, on the other hand, well, the hustling-keeping-his-mouth-closed Noah, he’s exactly what Bosh needs—a rebounding banging, energy 5 who can ignite a fire under this sleeping team’s ass.

Hughes has played some point guard in his time, and can help with the ball handling when rook Roko Ukic or quasi-talent Will Solomon come in.

The Raptors had big hopes for this season and O’Neal has not panned out at all. Instead of trading Adrea Bargnani for either a risky project or a middling player, why not trade O’Neal, who isn’t even playing right now? The Raps will have to pay $12 million next season for Hughes, but his contract will come off the books in time to ensure they re-sign Bosh in 2010, or it can be used as a powerful trading chip next season (think Szczerbiak this year) to acquire one or two useful players.

Also, scanning the 2009 free agent class reveals that the Raps won’t be able to find a player like Noah. O’Neal was supposed to be that kind of player for Bosh, and while Noah is nowhere near the caliber of defender that O’Neal at one time was, he has a top 20 rebound rate in the entire Association and is only 23 years old.

For the Bulls, getting rid of a cancer (Hughes) and a disruptive annoyance teetering on cancerdom (Noah), will be a plus plus regardless of who they get back. Getting rid of Hughes’ contract is Hughes aircraft huge.

I realize that it’s highly likely that Jermaine O’Neal will not contribute much this season (if at all). However, if he can come back relatively healthy, even at this depleted point in his career, JO instantly becomes the best lowpost player the team has had since Elton Brand. But, whatever about JO. This is all about the future, the immediate future in fact. a

Due to O’Neal’s and Parker’s expiring deals, the Bulls will free up nearly $26 million next season. That’ll give them enough money to re-sign Gordon (if that’s what they want) AND pursue Carlos Boozer or even Lamar Odom in the offseason. Others they might have interest in: Zaza Pachulia, Brandon Bass, Anderson Varejao, AI, Rasheed, or even a project big like Robert Swift. If none of those prospects or combos of free agents tickle their fancy, they can always sit on their cap space until 2010 and go hard after Lebron, Wade, Amare, etc.

The Bulls aren’t really going to do anything this year anyway. An 8th or 7th seed in the playoffs is possible, but it won't prove anything and they will get crushed in the first round. This deal allows them to obtain assets that will help them rebuild their team on the fly in the next two years.

On the other side, the Raptors need something to hang their hats on this season. Getting three players under 30 who will instantly help this squad make a strong push for the playoffs in exchange for one player and an expiring deal (my apologies to soon-to-be uncle Anthony) while still freeing up a ton of cap space for 2010 (and some for 2009 as well) seems like a win-win situation for them considering their circumstances.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Nash Off the Bench

Christmas brought with it some great games. If you want to read about my thoughts on the Lakers/Celtics matchup, check here.

As for the Tony Parker, Steve Nash matchup that ended with the Suns going home disappointed, here are some thoughts.

TP missed at least 5 shots he normally always makes. 10-23 is not good, though 15 for 23 would have been. Even still, he killed Nash. Along with his 27 points, he had 8 dimes and only 1 turnover along with 4 steals. Nashty? 8 dimes, 6 turnovers, 1 steal, 13 points. Nashty indeed.

Which brings me to my larger point. Is Shaq’s 16 points and 8.6 rebounds and 22.79 PER really worth the downfall of Nash? The Canadian’s assists have plummeted while his turnovers have gone way up. In fact, his assists are the lowest they've been in 5 years while his turnover percentage (23.3) is by far the highest its ever been since his rookie season (24.2). In his other 10 seasons, he's never broken 22, let alone 23. Check is stats.

Can somebody please explain how bringing Nash off the bench wouldn’t be the best thing for the Suns? O’Neal kills Nash’s value. He kills J-Rich’s value too. I know, I know, I know. The thought of benching a two-time-MVP is ludicrous, but the Suns got popular and very, very good off of going against traditional thought.

This notion of trying to be the Spurs, who are always going to be better than anybody at being the Spurs, is a stupid game plan. Blame Kerr, blame Shaq, whatever. Now that that game plan has forced Shaq onto the team, why not allocate the assets the team does have into something more useful?

The best teams in the league have the best benches: Celtics, Lakers, Denver, Portland, Houston, and even the Cavs (the lone exception being the Magic, who, recently have been bringing Pietrus off the bench as a means to boost their second unit). If the Suns brought Nash off the bench, they could have a starting lineup of Barbosa, Richardson, Hill, Amare and Shaq.

If Porter brought Nash in when O’Neal and Hill sit, he could have a crazy running group that would rival the SSOL squad: Nash at point, Barbosa at shooting guard, J-Rich at small, Barnes at power and Stoudemire in the middle. While Barnes ain’t no Marion, he’s a better 3-point shooter and has played the PF position before and can act as a poor-man’s version.

That team could run, run, run, and pick and roll other tired starters and/or not nearly as good second units to literal exhaustion. Amare would get to do his offensive thing, put up his gaudy O STATS, and Nash would be able to run free. His best defense has always been his tireless, breakneck offense.

Porter could then bring back in Shaq, Hill, Amundson and/or Lopez to spell Amare and any combination of Nash, Barbosa, and/or J-Rich.

With Shaq back on the court, that squad would go back to feeding the big guy (while Amundson/Lopez works to block shots and grab rebounds, something Amare refuses to do) and Hill facilitates the offense. This lets Barbosa play 30 plus minutes a game and utilizes his talents. It lets J-Rich have more time in the offense and utilizes his full range of offensive talents. And it also rests Shaq, Nash and Hill by cutting down their minutes while maximizing their skills.

Other teams wouldn't know how to prepare for the Suns. It would be like playing two completely different teams and it would establish a concrete Phoenix Suns playing style by having both. It would also let Shaq and Amare acrue fouls on the other team early, so that when the second group is in there, they, the far superior freethrow shooting team, would be the ones to benefit from being in the penalty.

No matter what one thinks of Phil Jackson's coaching style, with his deep team, he has established clearly defined minutes for his starters and bench mob. Except for last night (and what will probably continue due to Farmar's injury) where Kobe played extended minutes, the Lakers have utilized two different squads. All of the talk of how poorly they have been playing doesn't dismisss their 24-5 record. Porter should implement the same strategy with his team, only his second unit would be fortified by a guy who actually is experienced at running a team (unlike Odom and Farmar).

It’s a win, win, win situation, and it could have produced a win last night.

Speaking of which, having Raja Bell could have also helped. J-Rich leaving his man (Roger Mason) and running and then jumping to try and block TP’s layup attempt over a much taller and in great defensive position Grant Hill that at worst would have tied the game, was the reason the Suns lost.

By the way, is somebody going to try and guard Mason at the end of games? How many buzzer beaters is that? He’s the guard version of Big shot Rob.

Oh yeah, Spurs are dangerous…duh.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Pointing Towards the All-Star Game: East

The top of the East’s point guard All-star list has to begin with Devin Harris.

His superstar 26.2 PER is heads, shoulders, knees and toes ahead of any point guard out East. He’s scoring 24 a night and dishing 6.6 dimes. Newschool G.P.? Maybe, though, his lockdown D has taken a backseat to his scoring this season. I won’t rehash how crazy it is to be the only point guard in NBA history to win the defensive player of the year award and still average 9 dimes a game, but that’s G.P.’s story, and he’s currently working Tuesday nights with C-Webb doing commentary (funny as hell by the way).

So, no, Harris ain't G.P., but he has stepped up to G.P. -level, in some of the Nets bigger games to boot. Who can forget his 47-point, 8-assist, 7-rebound night against Phoenix or his 34 and 6 against Utah or his 41 and 13 against Dallas?

Those are some Herculean efforts, but none of those teams are elite. Who have the Nets really played? They’ve beaten Atlanta twice, but both games were without Josh Smith. Against the elite teams, they’ve lost by 24 to the Cavs, 27 to the Lakers, and 22 to the Rockets. And, that Utah game, Kirilenko left early in the second quarter with an injury, which allowed Devin to have his way with the Jazz interior defenders.

In the here and now, Harris’ team, though an early surprise, has regressed to the mean and is currently tied for the seventh seed in the East with Chicago.

Windy City fanatics will try to sell Derrick Rose as an all-star. While that’s kind of a nice thought to think about, D-Rose should concentrate on trying to take back the ROY lead from O.J. Mayo who’s playing in the toughest division in the league, with 2 other rookies starting besides him, on a team who’s best player is a third year dude. If I had to bet, I’d say D-Rose will eventually be the better player, but right now, there’s no question Mayo’s the ROY.

So, all-star? Maybe next season.

Mo Williams has really boosted the Cavs, but Big Z and that other dude on their team have been the All-star level talents. Of course, that 23-4 record is sparkling and the fact that the Cavs lead the league in Offensive efficiency and point differential after being nowhere near that mark last season, well, something’s changed. That something is the addition of Mo.

But point differential and wins an all-star does not make, and that’s why all this talk about Rajon Rondo making the all-star team is ludicrous.

Sure he leads the team in assists. Sure, that team just so happens to be the best team in the league, and on pace to be the best team in history. Sure the rest of the numbers are quite nice, especially that 20.6 PER, the 5 rebounds from the point guard position and those 2.4 steals per game.

But the kid is playing with three all-stars. Ray Ray is shooting 49.5 percent and leads the team in scoring. Paul Pierce is the self-proclaimed best player in the L. And KG is the trash-talking-but-only-to-himself, getting down-on-all-fours, finger-wagging-for-30-plus seconds-right-in-Calderon’s-face, heart-and-soul and emotional leader of the Green men.

Rondo’s a talent for sure. But he’s playing with the defensive player of the year (which allows him to gamble), one of the purest shooters in league history (assists?), and, again, the best player in the L. How can anyone not thrive in that environment? In fact, of all the stats that don’t rely on the excellence of those around him, Rondo is shooting a pitiful 64 percent from the line.

Everyone else on the Potential Eastern Point Guard All-Star list (PEPGAS for short), only Rose, a rookie, is shooting less than 85 percent.

Hey, I'm not an idiot. Freethrows, should never be the deciding factor for an all-star game, but as far as skill-wise, it does show where a player is at. So while that crazy 16, 17 and 13 game with 3 steals was, uh, CRAZY, and while his December numbers are Jason Kidd-like, I can’t put Rondo on the all-star team.

Rondo survives on his athleticism and getting to the hole. If he were asked to score like Devin Harris, or create like D-Rose, or space the floor like Jameer Nelson, he wouldn’t be close to the same caliber of player.

All this to say that I’m not saying Jameer Nelson should make the All-Star team, but, if we’re talking about which point guards are playing the best in the East right now, he’s no question been top dog.

For the month of December he’s shooting 59 percent. That’s 10 percentage points higher than his 7-foot, 270-lb teammate who plays down on the block. Jam’s been even better from beyond the arc drilling 26 of 43 treys. That’s 60 percent. This month, he's leading the team in scoring (tied with Rashard), assists and shooting percentage.

Besides the 21 points, 6 assists, 3.4 rebounds, and the 1.8 steals is that stellar 8-9 record the Magic have accumulated while he’s suited up (Jam missed the first two games of the month). And they haven’t just beaten up on scrubs. They handily defeated Utah, crushed San Antonio, eked by Portland and outplayed the Lakers. Their only loss was a 1-point defeat to the Suns.

Of the guards mentioned, Jam’s got the second highest PER, the second highest shooting percentage (by a tenth of a percentage point), and the third highest scoring average.

Over the past month, he’s killing every single one of the other point guards in both overall production and efficiency. All of them accept Rondo.

Jam plays with one All-star, Dwight Howard, while his other teammates, Lewis and Turk, are having down years across the board. Yet, the Magic are still the third best team in the East. Top five in the league.

On the other hand, Rondo plays with three all-stars on the best team in the league.

Who’s more important to their team?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sam-I-Am for the Hall of Fame

I did a piece on Gary Payton being in the top five point guards of all time.

For that 2 part piece visit here and for part 2

In terms of greatest point guards of all time, I had GP right behind Magic, Oscar and Stockton, so, my feelings on him being a surefire hall of famer are pretty obvious.

I know there are still a whole host of people who do not nor ever will agree with that assessment, I continue to believe I made a solid case. I know my case for Sam Cassell is a bit weaker considering as a scoring point he never averaged more than 20 a game (got close 4 different seasons at 19.7) and never had a season as a double digit assist man.

Still, numbers can speak volumes.

These are the career PERs of the top three point guards of all time. Most sane people would agree. In this order too:

Magic Johnson: 24.11 (11th all time)
Oscar Robertson: 23.18 (20th all time)
John Stockton: 21.83 (28th all time)

Now, let’s compare those with a few other point guards who made the top 100 players (and one hall of famer who didn’t). Two are in the hall already and the rest are in the discussion to follow.

Steve Nash: 20.03 (65th all time)
Sam Cassell: 19.48 (71st all time)
Walt Frazier: 19.12 (86th all time)
Gary Payton: 18.88 (96th all time)
Jason Kidd: 18.86 (99th all time)
Isiah Thomas: 18.10 (not in top 100)

What name jumps out at you? Yup, my boy Sam I Am. Look at the guards Sammy is ahead of. 9 spots higher than Walt, 21 slots higher than G.P., 24 slots higher than Kidd. And Isaiah isn’t even in the top 100 despite being in the hall of fame.

Some may trash the PERs relevance, but it is a means at taking statistics and quantifying them. It shows a players efficiency in the games that he’s played, and is at the forefront of the newschool stats that GM’s like Daryl Morey are utilizing.

PER is nowhere near perfect and it’s by no means the end-all be-all, but it’s very useful in gauging players overall contributions on the floor. Of course, defense is not taken into account, but a lack of defense didn’t stop Nash from winning back-to-back MVPs, and it won’t hinder Nash getting into the hall and it shouldn’t stop Sammy either. Besides, Sammy, in his youth, was a better athlete and defender than Nash will ever be or has ever been. Even in Sam’s old age, he used cheap tricks to create turnovers and over his career has averaged more steals than Nash. But I’m get a bit ahead of myself.

In my G.P. blog, I took Nash and Kidd and figured their prime 7 consecutive years then I compared Payton’s numbers to the holy triumvirate of Magic, Oscar and Stock, using 8 years. I’m not saying Cassell is on par with any of those 3. That would be foolish and misguided. If only Magic, Stock and Oscar were elected to the hall, then this whole argument is moot. But considering players with lesser careers have already been enshrined, it is only fair to make the case that Sammy is better than some in the Hall and others expected to be there in the near future.

Here are the respective 8-year prime career PERs of some of who I’m talking about.

GP: 22.12
Nash: 20.75
Sam: 20.71
Kidd: 20.0
Walt: 19.8
Zeke: 19.32

GP : 24.2__8.9__6.5__2.0__2.7__3.33__45__23.6
Sam: 18.6__9.0__3.7__1.3__3.3__2.72__46__22.8
Kidd: 18.0__8.6__6.1__2.2__3.6__2.38__41__22.2

G.P.: 16.3__6.7__3.9__1.8__2.3__2.95__46.6__18.9
Sam: 15.7__6.0__3.2__1.1__2.4__2.50__45.4__19.5
Kidd: 13.7__8.9__6.5__1.9__3.1__2.87__40.2__18.5

G.P. : 21.5__8.0__5.3__2.5__2.75__2.9__46.0__21.9
Sam: 18.2__7.0__3.6__1.15__3.13__2.2__46.3__20.7
Kidd: 15.5__9.5__6.7__2.06__3.27__2.9__40.8__19.6

Nash: 01-07
Kidd: 98-05
G.P.: 95-02
Sam: 97-06

Career Numbers compared to other HOF
Cous: 18.4__7.5__5.2_______________37.5__19.7
Sam: 15.7__6.0__3.2__1.1__2.4__2.50__45.4__19.5
Walt: 18.1__6.1__5.9__1.9___________49.0__19.1
Isiah: 19.2__9.3__3.6__1.9__3.8__2.44__45.2__18.1
Tiny: 18.8__7.4__2.3__1.1____________46.7__18.0

The numbers speak for themselves really. Sammy’s PER is consistently in the top half of all of the point guards mentioned. His prime numbers and career averages are right in line with Payton, Nash and Kidd. As for the HOFers, Sammy’s career averages are less, but his efficiency is better than Walt Frazier, Isiah Thomas and Nate Tiny Archibald. And he’s played longer than any of them. He’s nearly 40 years old and still in the league.

But for those who don’t like the PER, we can also compare career win shares. (For a more in depth look at what a win share is, check here.

Gary Payton: 145.93 (15th all time)
Jason Kidd: 109.57 (35th all time)
Steve Nash: 99.46 (45th all time)
Sam Cassell: 87.15 (69th all time)
Joe Dumars: 83.07 (79th all time)
Isiah Thomas: 80.33 (89th all time)

Here are the Prime win shares and best individual season (prime win shares takes the best 8 consecutive seasons average win shares)

GP: 11.92 (best 14)
Nash: 11.02 (best twice at 13.1)
Kidd: 9.03 (11.4)
Sam: 8.41 (11.9)
Zeke: 8.18 (11.5)

Of course, guys like Isiah and Walt made their names in the playoffs—a great place to do so. Zeke averaged 20.4, 8.9, 4.5, 44% for his career in the playoffs. Walt averaged 20.7, 6.4, 7.2, on 51%.

Sammy’s career playoff numbers aren’t as good as those two, but he does have 3 rings. Zeke and Walt have two each. And, Cassell has a chance for a fourth ring this season, pulling a Bill Russell as player/coach of sorts. Career, efficiency and results-wise, he’s right there with Frazier and Isiah, never (before last season) playing with nearly as much talent as either. Both Frazier and Isiah played with some greats in their primes. Sammy played with greats as a rookie/somphore and then in his twilight. When he did play with an all-time great (Kevin Garnett) he took that team as far as it had ever been before and potentially could have taken it further if not for injury.

After Houston, Sammy bounced from Phoenix to Dallas to finally New Jersey where he helped that team make the playoffs. His best teammates? Kerry Kittles, Keith Van Horn and Kendall Gill.

Then Sam was traded to Milwaukee. For two years the “Big Three” made the playoffs but lost in the first round. The next year, Cassell got Big Dog and Jesus out of the first round and into the Eastern Conference finals where they lost to AI’s Sixers in 7 games.

When he joined KG and Sprewell in the 03-04 season, it was because of his injury that the Malone/Payton/Shaq/Kobe Lakers were able to advance to the finals. Cassell had been on fire before getting hurt. His injury probably cost KG his best shot at winning a title up until last year. It must be noted that Sammy’s presence and play was one of the main reasons that KG had that shot in the first place.

When the brilliance that is McHale traded for Marko Jaric in exchange of Cassell AND a pick to the Clippers, Sammy did nothing but lead the previously woeful Clippers squad to within one game of the Western Conference finals.

Every team that Cassell has been traded to except for his brief stints with Phoenix and Dallas, has done better and made it farther in the playoffs then they ever had before. He’s done it in the East and the West. With good teams and bad teams.

To emphasize that very point, over the past decade, Cassell has been the driving force behind some of the NBA’s best offensive squads. In terms of offensive efficiency in the entire league:

1997-98 the Nets were 5th
1999-00 the Bucks were 2nd
2000-01 the Bucks were 1st
2001-02 the Bucks were 8th
2002-03 the Bucks were 2nd
2003-04 the Wolves were 5th
2004-05 the Wolves were 6th

That’s at least top 8 every single year with three different teams.

It was only when he came to the Clippers that his team dropped out of the top 10. In light of how the Clips have struggled under Mike Dunleavy, this could be an indictment on Dunleavy’s coaching style (highly possible considering that he now has Baron Davis and is still struggling) or, in light of how poorly the Sixers have been playing this year as opposed to last, could definitely be an indictment on Elton Brand.

Speaking of Elton Brand, Brand played like an MVP in 05-06, where the Clips had their best season (47-35) as a franchise since they were the Buffalo Braves in 1973-74 (49-33).

As for the bigs that have had excellent to MVP-caliber seasons while playing with Cassell:

Elton Brand
YEAR Ppg_Rpg_Apg_Bpg_Spg_FG%_PER_WS
05-06: 24.7_10.0_2.6_2.5_1.0__52.7_26.5__15
06-07: 20.5_9.3__2.9_2.2_1.0__53.3_23.1_11.4

Kevin Garnett
YEAR Ppg_Rpg_Apg_Bpg_Spg_FG%_PER_WS
03-04: 24.2_13.9_5.0_2.2_1.5__49.9_29.4_18.1
04-05: 22.2_13.5_5.7_1.4_1.5__50.2__28.2_15.8

Glenn Robinson
YEAR Ppg_Rpg_Apg_Bpg_Spg_FG%_PER_WS
99-00: 20.9_6.0_2.4_0.5_1.0__47.2__17.8_4.8
00-01: 22.0_6.9_3.3_0.8_1.1__ 46.8__20.1_6.8
01-02: 20.7_6.2_2.5_0.6_1.5__ 46.7__19.1_4.7

Playing with Sammy, Big Dog put up his three best years (outside of the lockout season) in terms of PER and win shares and made the all-star team twice. Plus he was part of the best offense in the league in 2000-01.

A full year with Cassell and KG won his one and only MVP, got as far as he had ever gotten in the playoffs (before moving in with Pierce and Allen), put up his best PER, one that he has not come close to before or since, and also posted career best in win shares. The second year, where he played 3/4ths of a season with Cassell, he put up his second best numbers of his career.

A full year with Cassell and Brand played like an MVP, finishing 7th (never before closer than 16th) in the MVP voting, got into the all-star game despite playing in a conference that had Duncan, Garnett, Shawn Marion and Dirk Nowitzki, and put up the best season of his career by a mile—a season he never came close to in any of his other 8 seasons, and based on early returns from his knee surgery, will likely never come close to again.

Sure, Kevin Garnett is a primo talent, but he never lived up to his full potential until he played with Cassell. His numbers were always elite, but they were never supreme until he met Cassell. Same can be said for a mediocre talent in Big Dog, and a good, but not great talent in Elton Brand. Each of them reached their full potential playing with Sam Cassell. If that’s not the mark of a great point guard, then I have no idea what is.

Sammy’s a winner plain and simple. He’s consistently hit big shots on the biggest of stages. He’s done the things that help teams win.

He talks to the refs. Maybe the best negotiator in the game. He fights for his teammates. He jaws at the opposition. He outsmarts, outthinks and outwits the opposing team. He’s a true floor coach. I mean, this season, without having played a single minute of actual game time, he’s amassed two technicals and one ejection.

Though known as a loud mouth, malcontent, and sometimes trigger-happy guard, Sam Cassell has never put anything above his love for the game. As he has gotten older, he has developed into a mentor for the younger kids (look at how well Rondo, Livingston, even Rafer Alston have played after playing with Sammy).

His career numbers, his championships rings, his intangibles…None of those things make for a HOF career by themselves, but added together, there is certainly a strong case.

His game wasn’t as flashy as Isiah’s. He wasn’t nearly the defender Walt was. Doesn’t have the gaudy stats of Gary Payton. Not as great a passer as Kidd or Nash. But he has elements of all of their games, and he’s got more rings than Walt and Isiah and more than Kidd, Nash and GP have combined.

Whatever your preconceived notions of who or what Sam Cassell is and represents, it is important, especially with the new school of thinking that emphasizes efficiency over raw numbers, to look at the man through a clear lens. Look at the player who has accomplished all that he has, and who has never gotten the proper recognition for his talents and the results he has produced.

For hoops fans who like bball and can look past the flash and the sizzle, it’s important for the integrity of the sport that players like Sam Cassell be recognized for their greatness.

Sam Cassell HOF 2014

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


I’m Japanese American, which means I’m short. So my affinity for the point guard position probably found its roots somewhere in my 5-7 frame.

Growing up height-challenged, also meant my basketball playing career was going to be a limited one. High school, check. Rec leagues, check. And of course, for those in the Asian American community, there’s the popular J-Leagues.

I’ve always loved to pass. Dai Tanaka was a dude I used to play with, who at this moment is probably somewhere in some gym, working on his J. Dai was a wizard with the ball. Boy could pass. I always tried to mold my game after his.

Scoring was never that big of a deal for me. I always wanted to make a sweet no-look dish. Drop a dime. I guess that love also comes from my Lakers roots, growing up watching the best passer to ever play the game.

It’s a great time right now in the NBA, especially if you enjoy the point guard position. The play of Chris Paul and Tony Parker has been out-of-this-world. And Devin Harris has stepped up his game in a huge way. Deron Williams has struggled due to his ankle injury, but he’s still second in the league in assists. Rajon Rondo has transformed the Boston Three Party into the Fantastic Four. And Chauncey Billups (a darkhorse MVP candidate) has the Nugs looking like a scary, scary first round opponent.

Then there are the points who have helped their team take the next step. On a bigger scale, Mo Williams has helped boost Cleveland into elite status. Ditto for Jameer Nelson and Orlando. Mike Bibby has the Hawks flying high.

On a smaller scale, the tandem of Steve Blake and Sergio Rodriguez have the Blazers stabilized at the one. The dynamic duo of Derek Fisher and Jordan Farmar, while surprisingly a lot less dynamic than last season, still have the Lakers sitting on a 20-3 record. And while perhaps not the ideal fit for a team supposedly looking to run-and-gun, Jose Calderon is still the epitome of efficiency.

Of course, the influx of the rookie class cannot be overlooked, especially since the cream of the crop, Derrick Rose, has made a Lebron-esque impact on his team in his maiden campaign. DJ Augustin’s play and mere presence has lit some sort of fire inside Raymond Felton. Mario Chalmers is 8th in the league in steals and has stepped right into a starting role. Mike Taylor’s lightning in a bottle. And Russell Westbrook, though taking his rookie lumps, has shown flashes of a future all-star.

As for the older guard (excuse the pun) Jason Kidd has brushed aside reports of his early demise perhaps energized by the play of Jose Juan Barea. Baron Davis has finally got his team rolling in the right direction. And though he’s missing Mike D like a tweaker misses meth, Steve Nash has played pretty well despite the massive overhaul of the roster and the change in offensive philosophy.

Even the losing teams have flickers of hope. Chris Duhon is dishing a career best 8.5 dimes a game. Beno Udrih’s played decent despite the horrific record. Mike Conley’s taken a liking to coming off the bench. And Ramon Sessions, if ever given the chance, will show people the triple-double threat he can be.

The point guard position is perhaps the most vital spot in basketball. Floor general. Assist man. Playmaker. Play caller. Creator. Distributor. Ballhandler.

This is what Dimes of Wisdom is all about. The best position in basketball.