Introduction to Player Comments

Rating players is quite a bit more difficult than rating offenses or defenses. With offenses and defenses, it's possible to define certain goals independent of the teams involved. An offense wants to score as many points as possible before going on defense. A defense wants to get the ball without giving up points.

With players, there are no such universal goals. Players have roles to play so that the team offense can do its job well. Point guards generally have to deliver the ball to the best scorers and have to hit the open shot. Shooting guards (or off guards, as you like) normally have to get open for good long range shots or be able to create their own shot, also needing the ability to lead the break or to have some ability to distribute the ball. The job of small forwards is to score from inside or medium range, getting some rebounds as well. The power forward position has developed into one with the roles of getting lots of rebounds and scoring some points (probably 15 points per game). Traditionally, the center should be a good rebounder, a good back-to-the-basket scorer, a good defender, and a good passer when double-teamed.

The evolution of NBA Basketball has twisted some of these roles from what they formerly were. The players now commonly referred to as the best are ones who can score very well, rebound well, and pass well. Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Clyde Drexler, Fat Lever, and Alvin Robertson are all examples of the versatile player who is good enough in everything that he's outgrown the expectations of his position.

As players have continued to improve, overall offensive and defensive philosophies have changed. What comprised the best offense ten years ago is not the same now. Point guards weren't widely accepted then as being good for offenses. One player whose main job was to pass the ball wasn't viewed as very efficient; coaches wanted all their players to be able to pass the ball well and to shoot. Because players' roles have changed and are always changing, it's difficult to say who is best at any one position.

When it came down to rating players by position, I decided on using two methods. One method was to look at team offenses and defenses and to try to identify how much of a part each player had in making the offense and defense good or bad. The other method was to look at how each player performed his expected role and to combine that with how much he did on the side. For example, Fat Lever was nowhere near as good as Magic Johnson, John Stockton, or Terry Porter at spreading the ball around, but his rebounding and defense helped to make up some of the difference. Nate McMillan isn't a great shooter or rebounder, but he does his primary job of delivering the ball to scorers with some of the best in the NBA, giving him a pretty good rating.

Something you'll notice about the ratings right away is that they are not ranked first, second, third, etc., to 23rd. Instead, I've sorted players into classes where each class contains players of roughly equal value. Some may call this a cop out, but, many times, differences between players are so slight that they are disguised by the quality of the personnel surrounding them. Also, players at the same position can be so different that ranking one above another is both unfair and unrealistic.


The formulas for individual floor % and points created that were introduced earlier will be used fairly extensively in the player comments. The applicable formulas are given below for reference.

Scoring possessions= FG - 0.37*FG*Q/R + 0.37*AST + 0.5*FT
Possessions= FGA-(FGA-FG)*OR%+0.37*AST-0.37*FG*Q/R+TO+0.4*FTA
Floor %= Scoring possessions/Possessions
Points created= 2*Scoring possessions
Q= TMAST/TMMIN*5*PLYRMIN - AST
R= TMFG/TMMIN*5*PLYRMIN - AST
OR%= TMOR/(TMFGA-TMFG)

FG= Player's field goals made AST= Player's total assists
FT= Player's free throws made TMAST= Team's total assists
TMMIN= Total minutes played by team (i.e. 19755 in a season)
PLYRMIN= Total minutes played by player (i.e. 2600 in a season)
TMFG= Total field goals made by team
TMOR= Total team offensive rebounds
TMFGA= Total field goals attempted by the team


Point Guards

The role of the point guard is to get the ball to the top scorers or to the open man. The point guard decides what the best option is in attacking a defense and is supposed to execute that option. The point guard should be able to hit an open jump shot or draw the defense on a drive, being able to dish off because he's usually at a disadvantage among taller players. Additional skills that make point guards more valuable are rebounding and, of course, good defense.

First Class

Magic Johnson (Los Angeles Lakers): He's been the leader of some of the best offenses ever seen. He does what a point guard is supposed to do, does it well, and puts on a great show doing it. He also gets the rebounds and plays average defense, which are both aided by his height advantage. Enough facts.

The other day, Magic Johnson was at Pauley Pavilion playing with some other pros and several UCLA players. When he was done, a group of about fifty kids averaging about five years old went up to him for autographs. Magic stood there for 25 minutes signing shirts, shoes, slips of paper and anything else handed to him. He was still sweaty from playing, but he kept smiling and signing until every kid was satisfied. Among the other pros in the building were Kiki Vandeweghe, Reggie Theus, Mike McGee, and John Williams (WASH). An occasional kid would recognize them and ask for an autograph, but there was never a line like there was in front of Magic. Steve Kerr and Pooh Richardson were also there and were never asked for an autograph.

On the court, Magic was the man. Everyone looked to him. When the ball was on one side of the court and Magic was on the other, many eyes were still turned toward Magic. Some people have said that if Magic didn't have Worthy and Scott filling the lanes on the Lakers, he wouldn't be as good a player. On this day, Magic had Steve Kerr, Kenny Fields, Mike McGee, and assorted others filling the lanes. And Magic was still magic.

Magic will always be mentioned in discussions of the Best Player of All Time. But, that really doesn't matter to the kids who got autographs or to the young players he played with. To the kids, Magic is the Best Player of Their Time. To the younger players, Magic is the player they're trying to become.

John Stockton (Utah Jazz): A year ago, Stockton wasn't on anyone's top ten list of point guards. Now, there is no doubt he deserves a spot with the best.

Stockton takes over for Magic (temporarily) as the Point Guard of the Future. No 6'9" point guards have come out of college in the last eight years, so we have to look at a player of a more traditional stature to be the next premier point guard. Stockton's style is different than Magic's because of the height difference, but he is as good a passer as Magic. He might actually be better because he has to find openings where Magic can go over people. Stockton was fourth in the league in field goal percentage, so he hits the open jump shots with the best. He's no asset as a rebounder, but his defense is top notch. Try to watch Stockton's hands for a while and count the number of times they're going to fast for your eyes to follow. Bet it's pretty high.

Stockton's individual floor % of .654 last year is the highest I have ever seen. In '86-87, Magic had a floor % of .628, which is the second best I've found, but is quite a distant second. Stockton broke the old record for assists in a season, set by Isiah Thomas in '84-85, but Thomas' floor % of .593 wasn't nearly as high as Stockton's. It's amazing that Utah's team floor % was only .531 and its adjusted points per game was only 107.1, both lower than league averages. This is true because none of his teammates are particularly efficient scorers, either because they turned the ball over or shot poorly. Mark Eaton's .402 floor % was a big offensive problem. Karl Malone's league leading 325 turnovers weren't helpful either. Can you imagine this guy with the Blazers? Can you say 'dynamite'?

Second Class

Maurice Cheeks (Philadelphia 76ers): He is still very good. He's never been flashy, but has been a silent and solid part of the Philadelphia offense, keeping it above average his entire career. A friend suggested that he should go to the Hall of Fame, but he doesn't seem to have the numbers or the awards typical of Hall of Famers. He has never led the league in anything though he has been in the top ten in assists and steals a few times. He's also been in the top ten in field goal percentage once. His rebounding and scoring have been nothing outstanding. He has never been named to the All-NBA Teams at the end of the season. He's played in four All-Star Games and has been named to six All-Defensive Teams. All this is fairly impressive, but is not what has been typical of Hall of Famers. The best thing going for him may be that he was a top point guard on a championship team, but that won't get him into the Hall. . .Had almost a 4-to-1 assist-to- turnover ratio, which was second in the league to Stockton.

Mark Jackson (New York Knicks): Why did the Knicks draft Rod Strickland? Why, why, why? Playing Jackson and Strickland in the same backcourt is a strange approach to improving the offense or defense. Strickland was touted by many as the best point guard in the draft, so he probably won't accept a backup role to Jackson for long. The question is which one is going to be bait and which one is going to be the prize catch.

It seemed that many of last year's rookies had serious problems shooting. Jackson shot only 43.2%. Winston Garland shot 43.9%. Dennis Hopson shot 40.4%. Reggie Williams shot 35.6%. Armon Gilliam shot 47.5%. Scottie Pippen shot 46.3%. Mugsy Bogues shot 39.0%. Kevin Johnson shot 46.1%. Only six of last year's first round picks Derrick McKey, Horace Grant, Reggie Miller, Chris Welp (in only 132 minutes), Ken Norman, and Greg Anderson shot better than the league average 48.0%. For the last two years, actually, rookies have had a hard time shooting. In '86-87, the first round picks shot a composite 46.9% from the field. In '87-88, they were even worse, shooting 45.3%. In general, rookies do shoot poorly, but not much more poorly than the league. In '84-85, the season Jordan and Olajuwon entered the league, the first round picks actually shot better than the rest of the league, shooting almost 50%. Last season's poor performance by the rookies makes you wonder where the league is going. Is the league headed for a period of poor offense (good defense)? What are the rookies of this coming year going to do? For the most part, rookies don't make very large immediate impacts on the league, but three years of bad rookies would have a quite obvious effect on the league. The NBA had better hope that this year's crop is good.

Completely subjectively, I don't think Mark Jackson should be up in the second class of point guards, but his stats are undeniably pretty good. His steals and assists were very good, better than Cheeks'. He was also a tremendous leader for the Knicks. Not many rookies take charge as he did in the late parts of close games. He would take clutch shots and make key passes when the Knicks needed them, leading them to a league high 11 wins in games decided by three points or less. Figuring that the Knicks have about an even chance of slipping a little next year, he may not have a very good sophomore season, but the indications are that he'll be a good one when he's done.

Fat Lever (Denver Nuggets): Lever was the inspiration for the triple-double figure (a.k.a. the 32 figure) when he was having so many triple-doubles in '86-87. The 32 figure is designed to show a player's ability to score, rebound, and hand out assists. Players who only do one or two of these things well don't have very high 32 figures; all three must be done well. The formula is

32 Figure= SQRT(3*PTS*REB*AST/(PTS+REB+AST))/GAMES

where SQRT is the square root of the quantity in parentheses.

A player who averages 10 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists per game would have a 32 figure of 10.0. A player who averages 19 points, 10 rebounds, and one assist per game would have a 32 figure of 4.4. A player who averages 28 points, 1 rebound, and 1 assist per game would have a 32 figure of 1.7.

Last season, there were only three players with 32 figures above 10: Magic Johnson, 10.8; Larry Bird, 10.6; and Lever, 10.1. Most players who score high are guards. Clyde Drexler, Michael Jordan, Alvin Robertson, Mark Jackson, and Terry Porter were guards all among the best in the NBA. The top ten last year are listed below.

		------------------Per Game------------------
Player		Points		Rebounds	Assists 	32 Figure
Magic		19.6		  6.2		 11.9		 10.8
Bird		29.9		  9.2		  6.1		 10.6
Lever		18.9		  8.1		  7.8		 10.1
Drexler		27.0		  6.6		  5.8 		  8.8
Barkley		28.3	  	 11.9		  3.2		  8.6
Jordan		35.0		  5.5		  5.9		  8.6
Robertson	19.6		  6.1		  6.8		  8.6
Jackson		13.6		  4.8		 10.6		  8.5
Porter		14.9		  4.6		 10.1		  8.4
Daugherty	18.7		  8.4		  4.2		  8.0
Rivers		14.2		  4.6		  9.3		  8.0

The top career 32 figure belongs to Oscar Robertson with 11.3. But that's a lie. Wilt Chamberlain so dominated the scoring and rebounding categories that he actually has the best career 32 figure with 12.6. The Big Dipper did actually lead the league in assists once (the year he shot 38% from the line), but he was never the triple threat that Robertson was. Following closely behind Robertson is Magic with a career 32 figure of 11.1. Lever got involved in this game a little late, so his career 32 figure is a modest 7.7.

I should emphasize that the 32 figure is not a tool for studies, but just a fun stat to look at if you care about such things.

Terry Porter (Portland Trail Blazers): Probably the best of this second class. A good assist man who shoots well, too. He had tremendous offensive players around him last year in Clyde Drexler, Jerome Kersey, and, occasionally, Kiki Vandeweghe, possibly inflating his assist total. Next year, he'll have a healthy Kiki Vandeweghe and a possibly improved Kevin Duckworth as well. Vandeweghe and Drexler are two of the very best scorers in the NBA and they will make Porter look even better next year...Contrast Porter with Derek Harper, who was billed as a future great by some after '87. Porter has more assists and turnovers than Harper, indicating he tries to spread the ball around more. Before '88, they were equivalent shooters from the field (with a slight edge to Harper), but last year, Harper went the way of a three point specialist (his FG% took a dive) and Porter established an edge. In a few years, Porter likely will be recognized as substantially better than Harper and the rest of the league. Now, he's in the shadows of Magic and Stockton... Talk about improvement, look at what Porter has done in three years: His field goal percentage has gone from 47.4% to 48.8% to 51.9%. He's made more field goals each year, from 212 to 376 to 462. His free throw percentage has improved from 80.6% to 83.8% to 84.6. His rebounds have gone from 117 to 337 to 378. His assists have gone from 198 to 715 to 831. And his scoring average has shot up from 7.1 to 13.1 to 14.9.

Glenn Rivers (Atlanta Hawks): The Atlanta Hawks' offense has been somewhat of a mystery the last two years. It has been very good, but the two leading offensive contributors - Rivers and Dominique Wilkins - have shot only 46%. The team has done very well on the offensive boards and no one turns the ball over very much, especially Wilkins, which means they grind out their good offense, unlike typical good offenses like Boston's or the Lakers'. Acquiring Moses Malone may not actually improve the offense, but he will provide much-needed successful playoff experience. Rivers has had off-and-on problems with hitting open jumpers, allowing defenses to lay off him on occasion. That could hurt the team in crunch time next year, but with Wilkins and newcomers Reggie Theus and Malone, he shouldn't have to shoot too often with the game on the line...I read somewhere that he got his nickname 'Doc' because his play resembled Julius Erving's. I don't see family resemblances very well and I definitely don't see much resemblance between Doc the Great and Doc the Hawk.

Isiah Thomas (Detroit Pistons): His assist average last season (8.4 per game) was his lowest since '83, his second year in the league. Adrian Dantley takes a lot of assists away from Thomas because his one-on-one-drive-by-the-man-or-shoot-the-fade-away style isn't conducive to many assists. The bum rap Isiah has been taking lately for shooting so much is unfounded. He has shot less often the last two years than in those years when he was handing out over 11 assists per game. Expect him to shoot somewhat less often again next season and watch his assist total go back up, too. Dennis Rodman and John Salley will get more playing time next year and they are the type of players who score best off a good pass, rather than creating their own offense. Isiah will be there giving them good passes. Come to think of it, though, maybe Isiah won't shoot less often next year. Isiah really likes to shoot.

Third Class

Johnny Dawkins/Alvin Robertson (San Antonio Spurs): Which one is the point guard? Some say that Robertson is, but Dawkins looks like he should be because Robertson has an itchy trigger finger. The individual floor %'s of both players (.578 for Dawkins and .526 for Robertson) aren't particularly high for point guards, but the Spur team offense was average last year, so they couldn't have been hurting the team that badly. But where was the efficient offense coming from? The team floor % was .545, but there were only two players who played over 1000 minutes and had individual floor %'s higher than that. (Mike Mitchell's floor % was .546; Brickowski, Berry, and Sundvold were all around .540.) The Spurs backcourt of Dawkins and Robertson is a sort of poor man's Trail Blazer backcourt. Dawkins will never be as good as Porter and Robertson will never be as good as Drexler, but they may not have to be if David Robinson and Greg Anderson develop... First round draft pick Willie Anderson has a good chance to take Dawkins' place in the backcourt in two years. Anderson is 6'7" and will give the Spurs good height and two Olympians at the guard spots. Larry Brown picked a good team to coach, didn't he?

Vern Fleming (Indiana Pacers): Really picked his game up last year, increasing his assist total and field goal percentage. Why doesn't he take a bigger part in the Indiana offense, though? He used only 1154 possessions last year, compared to 1539 for Magic, 1427 for Stockton, 1440 for Jackson, 1587 for Lever, 1349 for Porter, , 1323 for Rivers, and 1685 for Thomas. Chuck Person, Wayman Tisdale, and Steve Stipanovich could really use more assists because none are particularly good creators of their own shots. With Rik Smits joining the group this year, Fleming could have a potent half-court offensive weapon to drop the ball to. Person's role will probably be smaller next year, which may help Fleming's numbers and the team on a whole, but if Person could learn to play off a more active Fleming, everyone would be better off. Coach Jack Ramsay's offenses never have had a dominant point guard, but Fleming should be the first...In the '84 Olympics, the three players who impressed me the most were Michael Jordan, Pat Ewing, and Vern Fleming. Jordan and Ewing are doing very well now. Fleming has been somewhat of a disappointment, but it looks like he'll make more noise next year.

Sleepy Floyd (Houston Rockets): After a tremendous '87 season, when he scored 19 points per game, handed out over 10 assists per game, and blazed for 51 points in single-handedly beating the Lakers in the playoffs, Sleepy came out playing in '87-88 as though he were asleep. It was as if he spent the off-season reminiscing about his 51 point game and couldn't wait to get back out to show he could do it again. When the Warriors got off to a 3-15 start with no offense or defense, Don Nelson said enough was too much and shipped Sleepy to that place where all unsatisfactory Warriors go - Houston. There, he got complaints from Akeem Olajuwon about not doing his job of distributing the ball. The stats supported Olajuwon and so did anyone who had to look him in the eye. For most of the season, the offense in Houston seemed strained and out of sync. By the end of the season, Sleepy had 59 games of playing experience with the Rockets, but still didn't seem to fit in. In the playoffs, Sleepy had one great game, but couldn't help at all when he wasn't shooting well. In the end, Sleepy had played on two poor offensive teams and only showed signs that he was once an All-Star. He still has the ability, but he's got troubles in his head and possibly with his teammates.

Derek Harper (Dallas Mavericks): His field goal percentage really dropped last year, but his free throw percentage was a career high. He has traditionally had a low number of turnovers. These are all signs of a three point bomber, which Harper is, but he's not real good at it. Harper has a lot of offensive weapons around him to pass to, but he hasn't really done it yet. Dallas' offense dropped considerably last year from previous years and some of that can be blamed on Harper. He scored on 728 of 1216 possessions in '86-87 for an impressive .599 floor %. That dropped to 812 of 1416 possessions last year for a floor % of .573, which isn't especially good for point guards. If he hadn't shot any three pointers, he'd have been better off. He shot two pointers at 48.8%, which, projected over his 1167 shots, would have given him a floor % almost as high as it was in '86-87. Though some were calling him a future great after his '87 season, his numbers weren't typical of great point guards. His low assist and turnover figures were abnormal and indicated that he wasn't making as many passes as a point guard should...He gets a lot of credit for his defense, but if the other areas of his game don't improve, he is just another point guard.

Dennis Johnson (Boston Celtics): He's lost some of it. It can't be denied any longer. A friend of mine who's an adamant Celtic fan (Is there any other kind?) said it at the beginning of last season and never stopped saying it. D.J. didn't really raise his game in the playoffs as he has been noted for and my friend kissed him off as a lost cause, "Bye, D.J. It was fun while it lasted. But now, you stink! Make way for Minniefield!" Actually, Johnson isn't dead yet and he is certainly still better than Dirk Minniefield, especially with the Celtic type of offense. Johnson still may lose his job next year because the Celtics drafted a point guard named Brian Shaw out of Santa Barbara. Shaw was the last cut from the Olympic team, cut long after Steve Kerr and Rex Chapman were dismissed. Shaw is supposed to be an excellent defender and, offensively, a player cut out for the point guard spot on a half-court team. In short, Shaw looks like a very good replacement for Johnson.

Nate McMillan (Seattle SuperSonics): McMillan looks like he could end up as a good point guard. He has been keeping three shooters happy for a season and a half and isn't a bad shooter himself. He probably will never score more than about 12 points per game, but should be a consistent 8 to 10 assist per game type. His floor % of .588 is second to only Fleming's in this class, but his defense is as good as anyone's in the class, including Harper's and Johnson's. Other than Steve Colter, McMillan was the lowest scoring starting point guard in the league, scoring only 7.6 per game. He definitely cannot create his own shots very well, scoring a lot on breakaway layups or on assists. Coach Bickerstaff may ask McMillan to score more next year, which may mean that his floor % will go down. The departure of Chambers may also hurt his numbers, but if Derrick McKey continues to improve and if Cage returns to his '86-87 form, McMillan will probably look better.

In the one Seattle game I went to this year, I found that McMillan brings the ball up the court more than many point guards I've seen. McMillan was in the game for 73 possessions and brought the ball up on 59 of those (80.8%). Maybe that doesn't seem high to you, but Magic Johnson doesn't come close to that, generally bringing the ball up about 65 to 75% of the time. The Celtics don't have any one player bringing the ball up all the time. Terry Porter in Portland comes close to McMillan, but Drexler sometimes shares it with him. I haven't scored enough games of some other teams to know for sure, but I don't believe that more than a couple point guards ever bring the ball up as much as 80% of the time they're in the game. There is usually a ball-handling off guard or small forward who brings it up on occasion. Because McMillan gets his hands on the ball so often, he should take more part in the scoring, but only used 902 possessions last year, which is exceptionally low. If he can take better advantage of the number of times he has the ball, he'll be creating 20 points a game, instead of 13.

Paul Pressey (Milwaukee Bucks): I almost didn't realize that he was the point guard in Milwaukee, thinking he was still the small forward and that John Lucas and Sidney Moncrief were masquerading at point guard. Pressey can do a better job than he did last year by having a set backcourt partner to work with. Moncrief appears to be in pretty bad shape. Ricky Pierce is an unknown. Whether Pierce wants to start is a good question. Jerry Reynolds is never going to shoot. Jeff Grayer appears to be the best hope, but it will probably take him a while to adjust to the pros. By the time he does, Pressey (and Sikma) will be a few years past their primes...In '85- 86, the Bucks did especially well when Pressey was handing out lots of assists. When he had 6 or more in a game, the Bucks won 50 of 63. Such a relationship no longer exists as the offense isn't as keyed to moving the ball around as much. Pressey's job at point guard is tougher now because it's not a quick team that relies on good ball movement. The half court offense stymies some of Pressey's effectiveness. Ideally, the addition of Grayer will give him the option to quicken the pace more. Pressey's defense is the kind that could force that quick pace and another runner would help take advantage of it.

Fourth Class

Winston Garland (Golden State Warriors): He got a lot of press near the end of last year as one of the top rookies in the league. He has a long way to go to become one of the top point guards in the league, though. The quality of players around him may force him to shoot more, which isn't one of his strong points, shooting only 43.9% last year. That should improve somewhat, possibly to about 48% in future years. He's an outstanding free throw shooter; if he can learn to draw more fouls, he would be a more impressive scorer and may not have to shoot better than 46%. I haven't heard much about his defense, but he had 116 steals, which isn't bad, but will never get him into the top ten. He doesn't distribute the ball especially well and his floor % was a very poor .521. If he was improving near the end of the season, he still doesn't appear to be anything special.

Kevin Johnson (Phoenix Suns): Johnson looks like a considerably better prospect than Garland, though he didn't get any headlines. The young team Phoenix has should help his development, growing to know his style as he grows to know theirs. His shooting was questioned coming out of Cal, but shot better than several rookie guards. He shot only 47.7% in his four years in college, which isn't good, especially coming out of the Pac-10, where the quality of team he faced wasn't as good as if he were in the SEC or Big East. That may not be as much of a problem because he draws fouls pretty well and shoots well from the foul line. He had more assists and fewer turnovers than Garland did, resulting in a floor % of .563, .042 better than Garland's. One of the questions in Phoenix, though, is who is going to be playing what positions. The only spot that seems wrapped up is forward, where Armon Gilliam and Tom Chambers will be starting. Rookie Steve Kerr will challenge for a spot somewhere and it might be at point guard. It might also be on another team.

Mark Price (Cleveland Cavaliers): The Cavaliers really gambled on him when they traded Kevin Johnson away, but it seemed to pay off last season. Price was one of the best shooting point guards in the league with an adjusted field goal percentage of 54.3%. After shooting only an adjusted 43.5% his rookie year, his shooting was a big surprise. He shot around 50% in college and jump shooters of his size usually don't shoot quite as well in the pros. I would figure that he'll shoot about 47% in the NBA, but his three point proficiency may make that a very valuable 47%. If his shooting stays at that level, he'll keep his spot and grow into distributing the ball a little better. He will never average ten assists a game, but should be as productive as Dennis Johnson has been with limited assists in Boston. If the Cavaliers are going to win a Championship, Price is going to be a key leader. He's going to have to improve, but not by very much.

Kenny Smith (Sacramento Kings): He's quick, but he doesn't seem to change directions that well. He didn't get as many steals as I expected him to get. With Sacramento's defensive problems, any steals Smith can contribute would be very welcome.

Now that Reggie Theus is gone, his job is going to be even tougher. The only established offensive threat he'll have to go to is Otis Thorpe. If some of the potentially good scorers - Randy Wittman, Ricky Berry, Joe Kleine, Derek Smith, Mike McGee -don't score well early in the season, Smith may try to pick up the slack by shooting more. He's best suited to become a 15 point per game, 10 assist per game point guard job and shooting much more than he did last season will slow his development.

Sam Vincent (Chicago Bulls): Someone classified him with Michael Adams, John Stockton, and Johnny Dawkins as "quick transition players. All teams will have one in a few years." They went on to say, "Vincent's made Chicago a much better offensive team." In Vincent's 29 games with Chicago, the Bulls' offense did in fact improve, but the improvement was slight, indicating that it might have been due to playing weaker defensive teams or to just random fluctuations in the quality of offense. Regarding 'quick transition players', there's nothing new about them. Only their names have changed. Formerly, they were John Lucas, Norm Nixon, Charlie Criss, or Kelvin Ransey.

Fifth Class

John Bagley (New Jersey Nets): He's hung around for six years, getting lots of minutes by playing for bad teams. He's shot 44% and never been much of a passer. He's only slightly above replacement value, but the Nets seem happy with him...His stats look similar to Winston Garland's, but aren't as good... Pearl Washington, in all his flash, was even worse than Bagley. Point guards as bad as these are what kept New Jersey from even scoring a point per possession and gave them a floor % of only .512.

Steve Colter (Washington Bullets): The Bullets have no idea what to do. Colter shouldn't be running a team. They must know that. A team led by Colter won't be much better offensively than Golden State. Oh, wait. Washington wasn't much better offensively than Golden State anyway. The combination of Mugsy Bogues and Frank Johnson was actually worse. Bringing in Colter to save an offense must be a first...If Ed Davender gets over his health problems, it's hard to believe he won't at least be splitting time with Colter.

Larry Drew (Los Angeles Clippers): Drew scored 20 points per game in '83, but has gone steadily downhill since. On a better team he wouldn't look so bad, but he's on the worst. He should have a better offensive team next year, so he'll have to show he has something left...With Gary Grant around and Reggie Williams getting a second chance, what the exact guard lineup for the Clippers will be is uncertain. Coach Gene Shue likes to teach young players and may actually let Grant and Williams start together. If Grant decides to be a passer instead of a shooter his rookie year, he should be a great one. Shooting doesn't come easily to rookie guards, but passing sometimes does.

Others

Charlotte Hornets: Rickey Green is the most likely candidate for the job and he's been a fair to average point guard his whole career. Mugsy Bogues is the other possibility, but with an offense without many scorers, the Hornets are going to want some points out of this spot and Bogues isn't going to give them any.

Miami Heat: Point guard is a weak position on this team. Pearl Washington, Jon Sundvold, and Andre Turner are the possibilities. Take your pick, cross your fingers, and close your eyes. None of them will be comparable to Dallas' expansion selection of Brad Davis.


		--Per 48 minutes--	Points		Scoring
Player		AST	REB	STL	Per Game  Possessions	Floor % 

Magic		15.6	  8.2	2.08	19.6	   932		.606
J. Stockton	19.1	  4.0	4.09	14.7	   934		.654
M. Cheeks	10.6	  4.2	2.79	13.7	   708		.614
M. Jackson	12.8	  5.9	3.03	13.6	   795		.552
L. Lever	10.0	 10.4	3.50	18.9	   884		.557
T. Porter	13.3	  6.1	2.41	14.9	   826		.612
G. Rivers	14.3	  7.0	2.69	14.2	   781		.590
I. Thomas	11.1	  4.6	2.31	19.5	   926		.549 
J. Dawkins	10.6	  4.5	1.94	15.8 	   604 		.578
V. Fleming	10.0	  6.4	2.02	13.9	   693		.601
E. Floyd	10.4	  5.7	1.81	15.0	   707		.544
D. Harper	10.0	  3.9	2.66	17.0	   812		.573
D. Johnson	10.8	  4.3	1.67	12.6	   626		.551
N. McMillan	13.7	  6.6	3.31	 7.6	   531		.588
P. Pressey	10.1	  7.2	2.16	13.1	   612		.578
W. Garland	 9.7	  5.1	2.62	12.4	   511		.521
K. Johnson	10.9	  4.8	2.58	 9.2	   473		.563
M. Price	 8.8	  3.3	1.81	16.0	   686		.572
K. Smith	 9.6	  3.1	2.04	13.8	   514		.545
S. Vincent	12.2	  4.9	1.76	 8.0	   385		.563
J. Bagley	 8.3	  4.4	1.90	12.0	   580		.512
S. Colter	 8.3	  5.5	1.97	 7.1	   304		.549
L. Drew	  	 9.1	  2.8	1.54	10.3	   455		.514

Basketball Hoopla, 1988, L. Dean Oliver