Let’s take a look at the five best point guards to lace ’em up for the Texas Tech basketball program.
Most of us grew up playing a watching basketball when the game had defined positions and roles for each player on the court. And no player was as crucial as the point guard. Fortunately, over the years, the Texas Tech basketball program has had its share of excellent players at that position.
But more and more, the position is changing. Players like James Harden of the Houston Rockets, Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors, and Kyrie Irving now of the Brooklyn Nets, have led the trend of point guards that are now not only their team’s primary ball-handlers, but they are also their team’s go-to offensive weapons like shooting guards were in the 1990s.
In fact, we saw the 2018-19 Red Raiders nearly win the national title without a true point guard. With three players that would typically be characterized as shooting guards, Jarrett Culver, Davide Moretti, and Matt Mooney, sharing the chore of handling the ball and initiating the offense, Chris Beard’s team did not play with a standard point guard.
In fact, Culver, who will be a shooting guard in the NBA after being taken No. 6 overall by the Phoenix Suns which then traded him to Minnesota, led the team in both scoring (18.5), assists (3.7) and, rebounds (6.4). It was another step in the game’s movement away from a classic point guard and towards a do-it-all hybrid style of guard that does everything the offense asks of him.
This has been a new trend in the game over the past decade and now it is trickling its way down to all levels. Two years ago, our friend Brian Sampson over at Hoops Habit examined how Harden was revolutionizing the point guard position but the evolution of the position has been underway since the 1980s when legends like Magic Johnson and Isaiah Thomas redefined what point guards could do for a team and a franchise.
Then, in the 1990s and 2000s, Allen Iverson again changed the game as a 6-foot-tall player who had the build of a point but played the game like a shooting guard. Dominating the ball on most possessions and initiating the offense for his team while also carrying the lion’s share of the scoring burden, the former Georgetown Hoya who knocked Texas Tech out of the NCAA Tournament in the1996 Sweet 16 blurred the lines between a point guard and a shooting guard like no one before.
A generation later, the point guard position is as abstract as ever. With most payers now growing up playing the game like guards regardless of their size, we have players of all sizes capable of handling the rock and distributing it to their teammates like the classic point guards of old while shooting with incredible efficiency.
For instance, 6-foot-10 Philadelphia 76ers’ star Ben Simmons is considered a “point-forward” who initiates the offense for his team and has averaged 7.9 assists per game during his career. There was a time not long ago when every coach in the world would have demanded that a player of that size go park himself on the low block and post up.
But the game has changed and we are not likely to see it revert to the old ways. While the days of the true point guard seem to be in the past, there will always be a need for players that can handle the ball, get their team in the right sets, and create opportunities for others while also being a primary scorer.
Next season, the Texas Tech basketball team likely will not have a defined point guard again. With Moretti back as well as Kyler Edwards and newcomers like freshman signee Jahmius Ramsey and grad transfer Chris Clarke, all of whom are considered both scorers and ball-handlers, Beard again is not going to have his team flow through just one player.
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But over the course of the history of Red Raider hoops, there have been some terrific point guards that better fit the mold of what the position has typically been; a team leader who is the on-court conductor of the orchestra. Let’s take a look back at the best to come through Lubbock during the decades when the point guard position has changed the most.