CBS Sports Top 50 Point Guards: Who in the Pac-12 Was Snubbed?Posted by KDanna on October 24th, 2012
Earlier in the week, CBS Sports released a list of its top 50 point guards in the nation. Three Pac-12 players made the list with UCLA’s Kyle Anderson checking in at No. 6, Arizona’s Mark Lyons at No. 11, and Stanford’s Chasson Randle at No. 29. While this writer can’t claim to have watched all of the other 47 guys enough to discredit their merits, a case can be made for a few other Pac-12 guys, in particular Cal’s Justin Cobbs and Washington’s Abdul Gaddy, as addenda to this list.
Statistics aren’t the only indicator of how good a player is, nor are they the most reliable factor to make such determinations, but arguably the most important one to look at with respect to point guards is assist-to-turnover ratio. Neither Cobbs nor Gaddy were the sole ball-handlers for the Golden Bears or Huskies last year, but they were the top two in the conference (Cobbs first, Gaddy second) in that statistic and 25th and 26th nationally, well within that top-50 range. And, not that this is the best way of going about things, but for one comparison, Jake Odum (No. 49 on the list) finished last year at 179th in assist-to-turnover ratio with a lower assist average than either Cobbs or Gaddy and a scoring average that split the two (though Odum had more steals than the two combined).
Cobbs might not be the most explosive player you’ll ever see, but he is a guy who provides a collected presence, good court vision and the ability to spread out defenses with his three-point and mid-range shooting ability. As his assist-to-turnover ratio would tell you, he rarely made bad decisions with the basketball and thrived in his transfer from Minnesota to Mike Montgomery’s system. He’s not as flashy as former Pac-12 colleague Momo Jones (who checks in at No. 47); he just gets the job done. While Gaddy certainly hasn’t lived up to the hype of being the No. 2 point guard in the Class of 2009 behind John Wall, there is no denying how much he improved from his freshman season. And although he had a couple of shaky moments last year (the end of the Marquette game at Madison Square Garden comes to mind), he was overall a very steady hand for a team that partnered him with an explosive yet out-of-control Tony Wroten. His scoring stats won’t wow you, but how many guys on that top-50 list can say they played with two NBA first round draft picks last year? (Only three, actually — Brandon Triche, Shabazz Napier (Cobbs and Gaddy are certainly more consistent than this guy), and Michael Carter-Williams). Gaddy wasn’t even one of the Huskies’ three main options on offense but still found a way to average eight points in addition to his 5.2 assists per game that was good enough for second in the Pac-12 and 46th in the nation.
Although Cobbs has more offensive game from a scoring standpoint, both he and Gaddy do exactly what is asked of a point guard — handle the offense, find the open man, and make buckets when they present themselves. Defensively, neither guy is a liability and Gaddy especially has become a solid stay-in-front-of-your-man defender over the course of his years in Seattle while Cobbs averaged a steal per game last season. Stats aren’t everything, but going by the most important statistic for a point guard and some other key ones, Gaddy and Cobbs are deserving of top-50 recognition.
By the end of the year, Jahii Carson, Nick Johnson, Spencer Dinwiddie, Tyrone Wallace, Askia Booker, Jio Fontan and Aaron Bright might be making a case to be on that list. It’s easy to forget about Carson and Fontan, neither of whom played last year due to academic ineligibility (Carson) or injury (Fontan), but both of these guys have the skill set and quicks to do more than put up a fight against someone like Odum or Tray Woodall (No. 36) (I personally wouldn’t put Carson or any freshman down on any list until they have proven they can compete at a high level on the collegiate level, something this list doesn’t care about with guys like Marcus Smart (No. 5) and Kyle Anderson (No. 6), but that’s a philosophical difference I’m not arguing against). Johnson, Dinwiddie and Bright are three guys who have the potential of breaking into that top 50 or top 60 in the country sooner rather than later, and one more year of consistent play will certainly have more pundits typing their names in the near future.
Of course, it also wouldn’t hurt if the conference sent more than two teams to the NCAA Tournament this year — that’s the best way to get some recognition.