Columnist

Paul, Parker resume guard domination; is Rose next?

 
 
Published: 8/10/2009 12:04 AM

While doing some research, an interesting fact was uncovered that might suggest the NBA is headed into a new era of point guard domination.

This is relevant, obviously, because the Bulls are counting on Derrick Rose to be the primary scorer next season, now that Ben Gordon will make his points for the Pistons.

New Orleans' Chris Paul and San Antonio's Tony Parker aren't as tall as Rose, but probably qualify as role models for the Bulls' reigning rookie of the year. Last season, Paul averaged 22.9 points and shot 50.3 percent from the field. Parker produced 22.0 points while shooting 50.6 percent.

The question is, how often does an NBA guard accomplish such a feat - average at least 22 points and shoot better than 50 percent from the field?

Go ahead and think about it. You have to go back more than 10 years and the answer is not Michael Jordan.

Actually, it was the late Drazen Petrovic, who scored 22.3 points and shot .518 for the Nets in 1992-93, his final season before he was killed in a car accident.

What's interesting is during the 1990-91 season, four guards reached that milestone - Jordan, Chris Mullin, Reggie Miller and Kevin Johnson - while two others barely missed. Ricky Pierce averaged 22.5 points and shot .499, with Mitch Richmond at 23.9 points and .494.

Paging through career stats of the all-time great players listed in the NBA Register, it's easy to spot 22-50 seasons. Besides the names listed above, I counted 12 others who have done it, including Sidney Moncrief, Rolando Blackman, Dale Ellis, Magic Johnson and Clyde Drexler in the 1980s. Jordan did it four times, Mullin five.

So why is it something that used to be fairly common didn't happen at all for 15 seasons?

Well, 50 percent shooting should be an indication that a guard is getting to the basket frequently. A case could be made that 1993 was when hand-checking became a dominant defensive tactic.

Many have blamed the "Bad Boy" Pistons for the introduction of stifling, physical defense. But in 1988-89, the year they won their first title, the Pistons allowed 100.8 points per game.

By 1993-94, 10 teams averaged less than 100 points allowed. The Pistons might have set an example, but Pat Riley's Knicks were probably more responsible for the NBA's descent into rugged, low-scoring games.

A few years ago, the league tried to outlaw hand checks and last season's efficiency by Paul and Parker might be proof that the new rules are starting to take hold.

That could be great news for the Bulls. Rose shot 47.5 percent while scoring 16.8 points as a rookie, and he should be ready to make a significant jump in his second season.

Big Ben back in Detroit: Ben Wallace agreed to rejoin the Pistons this week, returning three years after signing the $60 million free-agent deal with the Bulls. This would have been Wallace's final season with that contract, but he agreed to a buyout with Phoenix.

I doubt if Wallace ever wanted to leave Detroit in the first place, but he was encouraged by relatives to take the bigger payday. Once he got here, I think Wallace tried his best, but he was clearly uncomfortable in the spotlight. Then he just couldn't keep up the pace of being a high-energy, undersized center and his body broke down.

Wallace doesn't figure to spend much time on the court this season. Will his mentoring help turn Charlie Villanueva and Chris Wilcox into all-stars? I doubt the Bulls should be worried.

LeBron puts down pen: At a function to introduce his newest sneaker, LeBron James suggested he won't sign an extension with the Cavs this summer.

"I signed a contract in 2006 with an option, and it would make no sense for me to sign that contract if I didn't keep my options open," he said. "I'll let you fill in the blanks."

There shouldn't be much haggling involved when it comes to a maximum contract extension. So it's definitely a good sign for the Bulls and their impending cap room that none of next year's major free agents have signed an extension so far. There might even be another good power forward candidate on the market if New York's David Lee ends up taking a one-year deal.