The point guard (PG), also called the one or point, is one of the five
positions in a regulation basketball game. A point guard has perhaps
the most specialized role of any position. Point guards are expected
to run the team's offense by controlling the ball and making sure that
it gets to the right players at the right time. Above all, the point
guard must totally understand and accept their coach's game plan; in
this way, the position can be compared to a quarterback in American
football or a playmaker in association football (soccer). While the
guard must understand and accept the coach's gameplan, he must also be
able to adapt to what the defense is allowing, and he also must
control the pace of the game.
A point guard, like other player positions in basketball, specializes
in certain skills. A point guard's primary job is to facilitate
scoring opportunities for his/her team, or sometimes for themselves.
Lee Rose has described a point guard as a coach on the floor, who can
handle and distribute the ball to teammates. This involves setting up
plays on the court, getting the ball to the teammate in the best
position to score, and controlling the tempo of the game. A point
guard should know when and how to instigate a fast break and when and
how to initiate the more deliberate sets. Point guards are expected to
be vocal floor leaders. A point guard needs always to have in mind the
times on the shot clock and the game clock, the score, the numbers of
remaining timeouts for both teams, etc.
Among the taller players who have enjoyed success at the position is
Magic Johnson, who was 6' 9" (2.06 m) and won the National Basketball
Association Most Valuable Player Award three times in his career.
Other point guards who have been named
NBA MVP include Russell
Westbrook, Bob Cousy, Oscar Robertson,
Derrick Rose and two-time
Steve Nash and Stephen Curry. In the NBA, point guards are
usually about 6' 4" (1.93 m) or shorter, and average about 6' 2" (1.88
m) whereas in the WNBA, point guards are usually 5' 9" (1.75 m) or
shorter. Having above-average size (height, muscle) is considered
advantageous, although size is secondary to situational awareness,
speed, quickness, and ball handling skills. Shorter players tend to be
better dribblers since they are closer to the floor, and thus have
better control of the ball while dribbling.
After an opponent scores, it is typically the point guard who brings
the ball down court to begin an offensive play. Passing skills, ball
handling, and court vision are crucial. Speed is important; a speedy
point guard is better able to create separation and space off the
dribble, giving him/herself room to work. Point guards are often
valued more for their assist totals than for their scoring. Another
major evaluation factor is Assist-to-Turnover ratio, which reflects
the decision-making skills of the player. Still, a first-rate point
guard should also have a reasonably effective jump shot.
2 See also
4 External links
Steve Nash led the
NBA in assists five times.
The point guard is positioned on the perimeter of the play, so as to
have the best view of the action. This is a necessity because of the
point guard's many leadership obligations. Many times, the point guard
is referred to by announcers as a "coach on the floor" or a "floor
general". In the past, this was particularly true, as several point
guards such as
Lenny Wilkens served their teams as player-coaches.
This is not so common anymore, as most coaches are now solely
specialized in coaching and are non-players. Some point guards are
still given a great deal of leeway in the offense. Even point guards
who are not given this much freedom, however, are still extensions of
their coach on the floor and must display good leadership skills.
Along with leadership and a general basketball acumen, ball-handling
is a skill of great importance to a point guard. Generally speaking,
the point guard is the player in possession of the ball for the most
time during a game and is responsible for maintaining possession of
the ball for his team in the face of any pressure from the opponents.
Point guards must be able to maintain possession of the ball in
crowded spaces and in traffic and be able to advance the ball quickly.
A point guard that has enough ball-handling skill and quickness to be
able to drive to the basket in a half-court set is also very valuable
and considered by some to be a must for a successful offense.
After ball-handling, passing and scoring are the most important areas
of the game for a point guard. As the primary decision-maker for a
team, a point guard's passing ability determines how well a point
guard is able to put his decision into play. It is one thing to be
able to recognize the player that is in a tactically advantageous
position, but it is another thing entirely to be able to deliver the
ball to that player. For this reason, a point guard is usually, but
not always, more skilled and focused on passing than shooting.
However, a good jump shot and the ability to score off a drive to the
basket are still valuable skills. A point guard will often use his
ability to score in order to augment his effectiveness as a decision
maker and play maker.
In addition to the traditional role of the point guard, modern teams
have found new ways to utilize the position. Notably, several modern
point guards have used a successful style of post play, a tactic
usually practiced by much larger centers and forwards. Working off of
the fact that the opposing point guard is in all probability an
undersized player with limited strength, several modern point guards
have developed games close to the basket that include being able to
utilize the drop step, spin move, and fade away jump shot.
Stephen Curry is one of the best scoring point guards in the NBA.
In recent years, the sport's shift from a fundamental style of play to
a more athletic, scoring-oriented game resulted in the proliferation
of so-called combo guards at the point guard position. More explosive
and athletic point guards focus on scoring as opposed to play-making,
forgoing assists and ball-movement, and often defense, for higher
scoring numbers. Young players who are relatively short are now
developing the scoring aspects of their skill-sets, whereas previously
these players would find it difficult to enter the
NBA without true
point guard skills. These combo point guards can surprise defenses.
Instead of passing after bringing up the ball they quickly drive to
the basket or step back for an outside shot. There are some
disadvantages to this style of play. A point guard often controls the
offense and he also controls who gets the ball and who doesn't, as
this type of controlling style of play is necessary to control the
tempo of a game. Scoring point guards typically look to score first,
thus preventing teammates from getting the ball. This can cause other
players to become dis-involved in the offense. Even so, combo guards
still require above-average passing skill, but not as much as
possessed by "pure" point guards (which is what those in the
traditional mold of a point guard are referred to).
Gary Payton, a point guard known for defensive prowess.
A point guard primarily defends on the perimeter, just as he primarily
plays on the perimeter on offense. On defense, the point guard is
tasked with making the opposing point guard as ineffective as
possible. A defensive point guard will try to accomplish this with
constant pressure on the ball, making it difficult to maintain
possession. A defensive point guard will also pressure opponents in
passing lanes in an attempt to generate steals and scoring
opportunities for his own team.
Bob Cousy Award – An annual award given to the nation's top NCAA
male point guard
Nancy Lieberman Award
Nancy Lieberman Award – The counterpart to the Cousy Award; given to
NCAA female point guard
Basketball Handbook (pg 14) (2004). Lee H. Rose
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Point guards.
FOXSports.com - Best all-time point guards at the Wayback Machine
(archived July 12, 2005), accessed 2008-02-09
1 (Floor general)
Point guard (PG)
Combo guard (PG/SG)
Shooting guard (SG)
Swingman / Wing (SG/SF)
Small forward (SF)
Point forward (PG/SF or PG/PF)
Power forward (PF)
Combo forward / Cornerman /
Stretch four (SF/PF)
Forward-center / Bigman / Big (PF/C)