UCLA denies admission to former Colorado State point guard Jon Octeus

What his next course of action is remains unclear.

      
 

 

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5-Star 2016 Point Guard Mustapha Heron Talks Signature Move, Greatest Compliment

Mustapha Heron, a 5-star point guard in the 2016 class, per 247 Sports, took some time to talk with Bleacher Report about everything from his step-back jumper to his best attribute.

At 6’4″, 200 pounds, the Connecticut native (Sacred Heart High School in Waterbury) has the ability to dominate defenders as a junior.

How do you think Heron will do at the next level with the University of Pittsburgh? Watch the video and let us know.

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Illinois loses point guard Abrams to ACL tear (Yahoo Sports)

Illinois guard Tracy Abrams drives the ball in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Indiana in the first round of the Big Ten Conference tournament Thursday, March 13, 2014, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)

Illinois starting point guard Tracy Abrams is out for the season with an anterior cruciate ligament tear, coach Jon Groce confirmed Thursday. The team is deep at guard, though most of those players have little experience playing point guard in college.


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5-Star 2017 Point Guard Troy Brown: Meet the Next Magic Johnson

The top point guard in the 2017 class, Troy Brown, took some time to talk with Bleacher Report about everything from his signature move to his NBA comparison. At 6’5″, Brown has the ability to go up and slam on opponents as a sophomore. 

How well do you think this stud will do at the next level?

Watch the video and let us know.

 

Rankings courtesy of 247Sports composite.

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Austin Peay point guard Damarius Smith suspended (Yahoo Sports)

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Austin Peay point guard Damarius Smith has been suspended for the first half of the 2014-15 season over what the school is describing as a violation of athletic department policy.

View full post on Yahoo Sports – NCAA Men’s Hoops News

Jose Calderon Is Upgrade for NY Knicks, but Is He Long-Term Point Guard?

The New York Knicks had arguably the worst starting point guard in the NBA last season in the form of Raymond Felton, but the arrival of Jose Calderon should help solidify the position for 2014-15.

In a league now dominated by point guards, it was essential that New York found a way to upgrade the position, and they certainly did with Calderon, who even at age 32 is a worthy starter in the NBA.

What’s more, Calderon is also a perfect fit for the triangle offense that Derek Fisher and Phil Jackson will establish this season, due to his pass-first mentality and ability to hit the three (he’s a career 41 percent shooter from beyond the arc).

Any way you look at it, Calderon is a short-term upgrade over Felton. The only major red flag is his defense, but even in that area it will be difficult for him to be worse for Felton, who had been routinely lit up by opposing 1′s since returning to the Knicks.

Still, Calderon is under contract until 2017, and while he’s definitely a good fit for now, you have to wonder whether he’s really the long-term point guard for the Knicks.

On the one hand, Calderon managed to play a career-high 81 games last season and his per game production has been almost identical for the past three seasons. Despite his age, he doesn’t seem to be declining and his slow style of play certainly lends itself to that.

For a player like Calderon, whose game is built around vision and shooting rather than athleticism, it’s definitely possible for him to still be a starting-quality point guard for another two or three years. 

At the same time, though, the league continues to flood with talented point guards, and it’s not ideal to be left with a defensive liability who doesn’t meet the league’s high standards for athleticism at the position.

This is why we should see the Knicks focus a lot of attention on developing Shane Larkin over the coming years. He’s one of the faster players in the NBA, and if developed properly, could be the player New York needs in order to keep up with this influx of point guards.

Surrounded by Fisher, Calderon and Pablo Prigioni, he isn’t exactly short of mentors and should learn a lot over the next couple of years if he’s willing.

Larkin is undersized at 5’11″, but Fisher wasn’t much taller at 6’1″ and still managed to put together an 18-year career, earning five titles as a starter.

if the Knicks want to look elsewhere for a potential long-term starter, their best opportunity will come in free agency next year, where they have the contracts of Amar’e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani coming off the books.

Rajon Rondo, Goran Dragic and Jeremy Lin—all of whom are younger than Calderon and more polished than Larkin—should be available, although they will take a significant chunk out of the Knicks’ cap space.

Ideally, given that the triangle offense doesn’t necessarily require a star point guard, the Knicks will look to spend their money elsewhere.

These players may be upgrades over Calderon and Larkin, but overall the team may be better off holding onto them and instead making a run for the likes of Marc Gasol and Paul Millsap, who could be game-changing additions to the frontcourt. 

It’s possible that Calderon, as a fellow Spaniard, may be able to convince Gasol to come to New York, which is potentially just as valuable as anything he can provide on the court.

Defense is the biggest issue for the Knicks, and it may make sense to look to pick up a defensive specialist on the cheap to cover for Calderon and Larkin against All-Star opponents. In fact, they may even have that already in the form of Prigioni and Iman Shumpert.

For the time being, the Knicks have every reason to be happy with their point guard situation. Calderon is a great short-term option and could still be playing at the same level in a few years’ time, while Larkin has the potential to grow into the starting role if and when Calderon declines.

An upgrade would be welcome, but if New York makes the right moves elsewhere on the court, they should be able to succeed with Calderon until his contract expires and he nears the end of his career.

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Ranking the Best ‘Pass-First’ Point Guards in College Basketball in 2014-15

With pressure increasing to become super-scorers like Chris Paul or Derrick Rose, college basketball point guards can too easily get overlooked if they don’t put tons of points on the board. The best floor generals, though, can control the game even if their own shots aren’t falling, and there’s an impressive supply of high-level distributors in this season’s college ranks.

One of the best, for at least one more year, will be Wichita State stalwart Fred VanVleet. The stars of the Shockers offense keep changing, but the cerebral VanVleet is the constant that keeps his team playing at a top-25 level on both ends of the floor.

Read on for more on WSU’s junior standout and the rest of the top playmakers to watch next season. The rankings are based primarily on passing productivity, efficiency and leadership of a winning team, but other factors do play a role.

Note that if a returning player finished second or better on his team in scoring, he was automatically excluded from consideration here.

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Ranking the 10 Best Sacramento Kings Point Guards of All Time

The Sacramento Kings have a rich tradition of top-class point guards comprised of deadly scorers, ball-handling magicians and pinpoint passers. Some will likely be remembered only by true Kings fans, while others will dominate the record books for decades.

The ranking system includes players who represented the Kings at any time during franchise history, including when the team was known as the Rochester Royals, Cincinnati Royals or Kansas City Kings.

Players were evaluated by what they did while members of the Kings organization, not the accomplishments they had with teams around the league. They also had to play point for most of their tenure with the Kings, so hybrid guards like Tyreke Evans weren’t considered.

Those who stuck around for longer were rewarded, even if their long-term stats fell a little short of others’ spurts of brilliance.

Begin Slideshow

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Who Should Be Milwaukee Bucks’ Starting Point Guard Next Season?

With a summer of activity behind them, the Milwaukee Bucks now find themselves with a surplus at the point guard position, which poses a legitimate question: Who should the starter be?

And when one looks at it, that’s not the easiest question to answer.

Brandon Knight and Kendall Marshall are the clear front runners, but Nate Wolters put together a solid rookie season, and head coach Jason Kidd experimented with Giannis Antetokounmpo at point during the Las Vegas Summer League.

But with all that said, Knight should hold onto the starting gig for the time being.

Here’s why.

 

Scoring

Despite drafting Jabari Parker, the Bucks will still have a lot of trouble scoring in 2014-15.

Outside of the rookie, Knight is the only consistent scoring option the team has on the roster. 

While some might suggest moving Knight to shooting guard, it’s not fair to him. At least not to begin the season, that is.

The 22-year-old improved across the board a season ago and showed signs of becoming a respectable distributor. 

On a team that had tremendous woes offensively—the Bucks scored just 95.5 points per game and shot 43.8 percent from the floor—Knight still managed to average 4.9 assists. And while that isn’t remarkable, it showed his willingness to distribute, even when much of the burden to score was placed on his shoulders.

In his increased role, Knight showed a much more aggressive nature and didn’t think twice about attacking the rim. In turn, he was able to get to the foul line 4.5 times per game.

There’s no doubt the Bucks need someone to efficiently run their offense, but scoring is more important at this juncture.

Depending on how O.J. Mayo bounces back from his lackluster 2013-14 season, Knight may very well end up playing the 2 at some point, but he has earned every opportunity to prove he is the team’s point guard moving forward.

That, along with Knight’s scoring prowess, is one big reason he is the best option.

 

Leadership

The youngster may still be developing as a point guard, but his leadership skills span well beyond his age.

In fact, as Andrew Gruman of FOX Sports Wisconsin pointed out, Knight is well aware of the improvements he needs to make as both a player and a teammate.

Still, reading quotes like the following one proves that his line of thinking is right where it should be:

‘Going through what we went through this year, as far as lack of respect from officials, teams — who wants to go through that?’ Knight said. ‘I take it as kind of a slap in the face. I think we can use it as motivation. I’ll constantly remind guys of what happened this year. We’re going to get better.’

That’s the kind of attitude the team and organization must have.

There’s no time to sulk in the misery of a dreadful 2014-15 season.

Instead, everyone must come together and realize that what the Bucks are building is a work in progress and won’t change overnight.

It seems as though Knight understands that and has been conveying that attitude to his teammates.

And this isn’t the first time his leadership qualities are emerging.

A few years ago, when both were with the Detroit Pistons, veteran Corey Maggette spoke highly of Knight (per David Mayo of MLive.com):

I consider him the leader…He’s the point guard. He’s the leader of our team. He’s the one who’s going to have the ball in his hands, making the calls, reading defenses, reading offensive plays. He can do that. He has the ability to be the leader on this team.

Clearly those people making the decisions for the Pistons didn’t feel the same way, but after a 2013-14 season that marked Knight’s first major stride, we’re one step closer to saying they were wrong.

Whether or not he continues making progress has yet to be seen. 

However, with his scoring, leadership and respectable defense—not to mention a very good 2013-14—Knight has earned every right to be the starting point guard for the Bucks this coming season.

He’s not the distributor Marshall is and won’t attract the attention Antetokounmpo would playing point, but he is a former top-10 pick who is beginning to come into his own.

And the Bucks must allow him to continue doing that, at least for now.

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How Can You Really Know Which NBA Point Guards Are Succeeding?

What constitutes a good point guard? Is he in the traditional, “pass-first” mold or the new type who also looks to score? And can Passer Rating illuminate anything on the conversation?

What is Passer Rating you ask? In the simplest terms, it should be understood as an estimate of the number of points a player provides for his team through passing. 

Passing has always been a difficult thing to measure. The primary method is assists, which are recorded when a player passes the ball to a teammate who then shoots and scores. That is woefully insufficient, but it’s all that’s been available.

Assists are a lot like paper money. There’s a certain kind of commonality to them, but they can be very different. American bills all have identical size, are made from the same paper and have a uniform texture. But hand a blind man a stack of varying denominations, and he won’t know one from the other.

That’s the same sort of issue we’ve been dealing with in using the traditional box-score number. All assists have been treated the same, and conclusions about passers, primarily point guards, have been derived from them.

What my Bleacher Report colleague, Adam Fromal, and I set out to do, is come up with a way to metaphorically write denominations on assists. Our result was Passer Rating. 

His ranking of the best passing point guards was already posted. My purpose here is to discuss how we got Passer Rating and what we can learn from it that we don’t see in assists.

 

The Inherent Problems with Assists

Assists are not all the same and they don’t count everything. There are six fundamental problems with them:

  1. Assists don’t credit three-pointers differently.
  2. They don’t count secondary (hockey) assists either, meaning a second pass results in the basket.
  3. They don’t recognize when a player gets fouled on the shot and makes his free throws. Those points were effectively helped by the passer, but not awarded to him.
  4. They only factor in successful passes, not bad ones. Assist-to-turnover ratio attempts to resolve that, but it treats all turnovers the same whether they’re from passing, dribbling or offensive fouls.
  5. They don’t factor in pace. A team that plays faster gives a passer an inherent advantage.
  6. They don’t factor in team dynamics, which influence how an assist was obtained.

The last of those reasons requires more explanation.

Consider a hypothetical scenario where Player A catches the ball, sees a teammate cutting to the basket and lobs it up to him for an easy alley-oop. In another situation, Player B is driving to the hoop, collapses the defense and kicks it out to the three-point line for an open shooter.

Both are assists, but they varied in terms of how the points were generated. In the first play, the scorer set himself up for the bucket by cutting through the lane. However, the passer set up the second opportunity by drawing the shooter’s defender away from him.

So, is there a way of determining when the passer isn’t just getting the ball to his teammate to score, but actually doing the work to get him open, too? That’s the final thing we wanted to address. 

 

How Passer Rating Resolves These Problems

Happily, with the addition of the SportVU tracking data at NBA.com, we can know more than we did before and answer these questions.

  1. We can know how many points are created by assist, including threes.
  2. We know how many secondary assists a player has.
  3. We can determine how many free throws come from would-be assists.
  4. Using data provided at Basketball-Reference on each player profile page, we were able to determine passing turnovers.
  5. We also used Basketball-Reference to get the pace for each team.
  6. The formula is as follows: Assists divided by assist opportunities and then subtracted by teammate field-goal percentage. Using this, we were able to derive how much a player impacted the field-goal percentage of his comrades. 

Once again, that last bit requires a bit more explanation.

Dividing assists by assist opportunities told us the field-goal percentage that a passer’s teammates had when he distributed he ball.

Then, using the on/off data supplied at NBA.com/STATS, we determined the team’s shooting percentages when he was on the court (minus the passer’s shots). The difference in those two gave us “field-goal percentage impact,” which is how much a player raises or lowers his teammates’ field-goal percentage when he passes the ball.

Then we put the whole thing in the magic spreadsheet machine and “Passer Rating” popped out. The full formula is here if you want to see it. 

 

The 95-Percent Test and Trends

When compiling a new metric, there are three things I look for: the “95-percent test,” trends and warts.

The 95-percent test means it looks about 95 percent right. Does it tell me basically, but not exactly, what I expect to see? If the results are too unorthodox, there’s something wrong with the formula or methodology. If there’s nothing new, there’s no point to it.

Below is the Passer Rating for every player who met the minimum qualification of 20 games played and averaged a minimum of four assists. You can mouse over the dots to see the individual data of all 135 qualifying players.

As demonstrated by the chart, we passed the test. The slope shows there’s a consistency with assists, but the spread reveals enough disparity to prove the metric is worthwhile.

The next thing we wanted to see is if there were any trends. After playing with the results, something started to become apparent: The so-called “shooting” point guards seemed to benefit more from Passer Rating.

To get a better visualization, I compared our metric with assists*2 (the conventional value assigned to them) side by side:

John Wall, Ricky Rubio, Ty Lawson and Kendall Marshall are grouped fairly tightly in assists, but Wall has a decisive edge in Passer Rating.

Stephen Curry, Kyle Lowry, Mike Conley, Jeff Teague and Kyrie Irving also seemed to receive better treatment. 

They all have a fairly high usage rate in common. Lowry is the lowest at 22.9 percent. Most of them are above 25 percent. That goes against the conventional wisdom that point guards who shoot a lot are hurting their teams. 

There’s a logical reason this would happen: High-usage players tend to draw more defensive attention and double teams. Those who have good court vision are also likely to find their open teammates on those occasions. 

As a result, theoretically, the more a player shoots, the greater the chance he’ll have a positive impact on his teammates’ field-goal percentage when he passes.

I tested this theory with the supposition that the greater the ratio of field-goal attempts to assist opportunities a player has, the greater his impact on teammate field-goal percentage should be. The chart below demonstrates how the theory holds.

As indicated by the trendline, as the ratio goes up, so does the impact on team field-goal percentage. While the pattern isn’t definitive enough to argue that “scoring point guards” are better than “passing point guards,” it’s enough to discredit the argument that the latter is the way that the position is “supposed” to be played.

For example, Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder is notoriously labeled as an inefficient scorer, but when he passes to a shooter, his teammates have an effective field-goal percentage of 64.5. When either he or whomever he passes to shoots, the Thunder boast a collectively effective field-goal percentage of 55.0, and that’s very efficient. 

By adjusting for the increase in field-goal percentage off a player’s passes, we’re able to credit the passer for when he creates shots for his teammates.

Finally, adding average points to the Passer Rating gives us the total impact made by the point guard, and the results feel right:

The chart shows what seems to be a pretty accurate point guard ranking, sans defense. This underscores the strength of Passer Rating. 

 

Nuggets

The next thing I always look for are the nuggets—the fun things that make you go “hmmmm.” Here are some juicy tidbits in no particular order: 

  • Chris Paul is actually underrated as a passer, which I didn’t think was possible. He is pretty clearly in a league of his own. His Passer Rating reveals that he crates a league-high 7.2 more points than suggested by his assists, which considering he led the league in that category, is phenomenal.
  • Eric Bledsoe had the smallest impact among point guards, gaining just two points in Passer Rating. That could be influenced by his Phoenix Suns essentially running two floor generals most of the time. It’s also worth considering as he pursues a max contract.
  • LeBron James, with a Passer Rating of 17.3, fared the best among non-point guards.
  • Joakim Noah had the greatest impact on his teammates’ shooting, boosting their field-goal percentage by an otherworldly 9.54 percent.
  • Marshall, with 8.52 percent led the quarterbacks.
  • Tony Parker’s team shot 1.27 percent better when he wasn’t passing the ball. We’ll have more on that later.
  • When Marshall passed the ball, his teammates made 56.4 percent of their shots, best in the league.
  • Andre Iguodala had the highest effective field-goal percentage off passes: a ridiculous 72.8! It helps when you’re passing to the Splash Brothers, Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry.
  • The point guard who affected the best effective field-goal percentage was Russell Westbrook, whose teammates knocked down a cool 64.5 percent.
  • Two players in the league averaged five assists, made more than half their shots and had their teammates hit better than 50 percent off their passes: LeBron James and Kevin Durant. Those guys are pretty good. In other news, the sun rose today.
  • By adding together field goals and assists and dividing that by the sum of field-goal attempts and assist opportunities, we can get a kind of “total field-goal percentage.” James led the NBA at 55.3 percent.

And, just for fun, here’s the “NBA All-Passing Team:”

 

Warts

While we’re generally pleased with how things look, two anomalies jump out: The first is that Westbrook is not among the point guards with a heavy impact on his teammates’ shooting. He does have a positive impact, but just 3.73 percent. That places him behind 73 players, and he’s obviously better than that. The other is Parker had a negative impact, as we mentioned earlier.

With both players, the problem is a large percentage of their assist opportunities are out to the three-point line, which lowers their overall field-goal percentage impact. It’s the same as if a player attempts a large number of threes; the field-goal percentage will seem artificially low. In evaluating shooting, this is compensated for with effective field-goal percentage. 

It wasn’t until writing this article, though, that we figured out how to derive effective field-goal percentage off passes from the available data. Once we did, it boosted both players’ numbers considerably. 

Parker’s effective field-goal percentage off passes is actually 56.4, an improvement of nearly 10 percent over the conventional field-goal percentage. And Westbrook’s leaps from 53.9 to 64.5, more than 10 percent.

It was too late in the game to overhaul the whole stat this time around, but we intend to make that adjustment going forward. I expect that doing so will only reinforce the trends we’re already seeing, as both Westbrook and Parker are premier scoring point guards. 

There are still a couple of other problems that we know about, but the data to resolve the problem still isn’t available. 

The biggest one is that there is an apples-to-oranges comparison involved. Assist opportunities are always going to be off passes, and we’re comparing those with general field-goal attempts, whether they’re off the pass or off the bounce.

The former are more likely to go in, but since we don’t have a way of seeing what the numbers are for missed shots, we have to use what is available to us. Ideally, we’d be consistent, but this is the best we can do for now.

Another aspect that influences the numbers was pointed out by Seth Partnow of Nylon Calculus: Not all assist opportunities are counted the same. An assist, generously given, may not have counted as an assist opportunity if the ensuing shot were missed. However, as there’s no reason to believe that would skew in any person’s favor, it’s a minor factor.

Warts are why this metric, like any, should be viewed as a tool in the tool chest. This is not Dr. Who’s screwdriver, it’s another way of looking at passing. We feel it’s a better way to view passing, but it’s still not the perfect way. So, if you see a way to improve it, feel free to make suggestions.

We view this as a work in progress. 

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