The fall of the NBA big man

The league's guards are great, but they're excelling because of a lack of quality bigs

Originally Published: March 7, 2012
By Chris Broussard | ESPN Insider
HowardAndrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty ImagesBynum and Howard are the NBA's top two bigs, but where would they have ranked 20 years ago?

Last Sunday, NBA fans were treated to a point guard extravaganza. Rajon Rondo posted a triple-double (18 points, 20 assists, 17 rebounds) that only Wilt Chamberlain and Oscar Robertson could match. Deron Williams went Air Jordan on Michael Jordan's squad, dropping 57 points on the hapless Charlotte Bobcats. Derrick Rose scored 35 while giving out eight assists in a victory over the Philadelphia 76ers, and Chris Paul sank the game-winning shot in overtime while posting 28 points and 10 assists against the Houston Rockets. And that's not to mention the 22-point, 11-assist, nine-rebound effort the Denver Nuggets' Ty Lawson had against Tony Parker, who himself recorded 25 points and seven dimes.

There's no denying it: Point guard has become the most prolific position in the NBA.

Some have declared this the Era of the Point Guard, and in many ways it certainly is. Kyrie Irving is on his way to becoming the third point guard in the past four seasons to be named Rookie of the Year. Eight point guards currently lead their teams in scoring, marking the first time in NBA history so many clubs have been led by their points. And while it used to be virtually unheard of for point guards to win the MVP award -- Magic Johnson, Bob Cousy and Robertson were the only PGs named MVP through the league's first 49 years -- three of the last seven MVPs have been points.

But are the point guards of today, on the whole, really better than those of yesteryear? Are all these guys who put up All-Star numbers truly All-Star caliber? Has play at the position improved by leaps and bounds, or at all?

I think not. The biggest trend in professional basketball today doesn't have to do with the rise of the point guard; instead, it's the fall of the big man.