The 2011-12 NBL season is almost at a close and there is no doubt that this year has been the season of the point guard. It started with the media frenzy that surrounded the Patty Mills signing by the Melbourne Tigers and provided the opportunity to see Australia’s best point guard in action.
It continued throughout the season with Cedric Jackson coolly walking into the Breakers camp minus the league’s best player, Kirk Penny, and quietly leading New Zealand to the top of the ladder whilst leading the league in steals and assists. Eddie Gill’s 30 points in 21 minutes (all in the second half) against Mills and the Tigers was undoubtedly the best performance by a point guard this year. Only four players won the NBL player of the week award twice, three of them were point guards (Eddie Gill, Jamar Wilson, Adris Deleon and Shawn Redhage). Point Guards were so important to the league this year that the Gold Coast Blaze felt it needed two starting point guards in the team (Adam Gibson and Adris Deleon).
2011-12 was truly the year of the point guard. But with the season almost over, I asked a number of guys around the NBL who have to deal with these Houdini’s of the hardwood every game about who was the best of the best?
Perth Wildcat’s and Australian Boomers point guard Damian Martin agreed this year’s crop of point guards is one of the NBL’s best. “I think it has been the strongest caliber of point guards in the league in my 5 seasons. I think Cedric Jackson and Jamar Wilson were the two best, although when Deleon is on with his shot, he is impressive. In saying that Eddie Gill is tough, Andrew Warren is super quick and Ayinde Ubaka can be a game changer.”
The New Zealand Breaker’s Daryl Corletto had the unique opportunity to train and play against both Patty Mills and Cedric Jackson this season. So I asked him which point guard was the ‘cream of the crop’ in this year’s NBL. “I think Cedric Jackson or Jamar Wilson from cairns. They are both great players. Both of them make big plays when their team needs them and they make their team mates better”.
Wollongong Hawks Glen Saville who has made a career out of playing lock down defence on the best guards in the NBL for 17 seasons who he thought. “Cedric Jackson. He rebounds, plays ‘D’, and he can get to the rim. He has a good all-round game and creates well for some talented teammates”.
“2 Hard 2 Guard” aka Adris Deleon made a huge impact in the league, despite being a mid-season addition for the Gold Coast Blaze. Since he was one of the guys having to face this talent group of point guards every game we asked him what he thought. “To tell you the truth every import point guard I play has been real good. Eddie Gill is a veteran and impacts the game in different ways. Cedric Jackson is the same. He’s such a strong passer and can get to the rack anytime he wants. Jamar Wilson, with his quickness and the way he moves the ball is amazing and Chris Warren, he’s a tough little cookie, fast and quick and he can shoot the ball. Then there’s Damian Martin from Perth, he plays some tough ‘D’. It’s hard to tell you who has been the hardest to guard in the league but to tell you the truth and it may surprise you it may have been Chris Warren from Adelaide, that kid is freaking fast and can really shoot the ball, so I think if he gets hot against anybody it’s over cause he can shoot and can go to the rack. But every guard I’ve mentioned is hard to guard on any giving night so u have to come ready every night in this league. Oh and then there is me. I don’t think I could guard myself. [laughs]. I’m messing around!”
With so many great guards in the league with so much talent and the ability to change the game in so many different ways after talking to a number of guards from around the league the answer had become no clearer.
Perhaps the best person to ask is arguably the best point guard to ever play in the NBL, Daryl McDonald or “D-Mac” as he is more commonly known. The man is currently first in steals and second in assists all-time, so if anyone’s opinion on point guards meant something, it would probably be this man. “It’s really hard to say who’s the best, they’re all different in their own way. But you know I’m biased to the pass first guards because I was a pass first point guard. I also played defence as well… or gambled as some would have you believe [laughs]. But you can’t sepeate them because every point guard in the league does what’s required of them for their team”.
So even the point guard of point guards found it difficult to determine which player was clearly the best floor general in the NBL this year. But I wanted an answer, so I tried to force the a definitive answer from him. So D-Mac put it this way. “To decide who the best is, all you can do is put them in order of record”. I couldn’t have put it better myself.
Even the Golden State Warriors Andrew Bogut, the best basketball player Australia has to offer agreed that Cedric Jackson was the best playmaker in the NBL this year. “I’d say Cedric Jackson, the best record and the best numbers!”
The point guard class in the NBL this season has been off the charts, but winning is what counts and in basketball championships will always be the measuring stick of greatness.
By Dan Boyce
Dan Boyce is a die-hard Sydney Kings fan who grew up in Melbourne during the roaring 90’s of Australian Basketball and spent far too much time collecting Futera NBL Basketball cards.