The point is ... Farmar's the right leader

Originally Published: December 29, 2005
By Doug Gottlieb | Special to ESPN Insider
Editor's note: From Tuesday to Friday this week, we are featuring one of our experts revealing how he would build his prototype team from the groupings provided in the inline below. On Friday, SportsNation will help decide which team is best.

When putting together a team, I truly believe it begins with the guard play. In a true team setting, I would always have another guard, be it a combo or pure point, to play alongside my point guard in games with extreme defensive pressure.

Based on this format, however, I believe I have assembled four starters who will be professional perimeter players and therefore I went with the best available scenario for my bench.

I like consistent lunch-pail types of guys who grind and know how to win. Every one of these guys is the leader -- not just in scoring, but in stature -- on their college teams. Most, coincidentally, are playing with teams that are probably one starter away from being a national championship team, so they would actually perform better with a full complement of parts (see Farmar, Davis, Foye and Morrison).

Nonetheless, this squad can score, handle pressure, rebound and guard -- and it is up to my point guard to keep them all together.

1. Adam Morrison, Gonzaga
Is there any way he can not hurt an opponent offensively? Remember that Morrison is not surrounded with athletes who break down a defense and create for him, so at times he is left to his own devices, which leads to ill-timed shots and errant passes.

Morrison has a nice post-up game and he constantly moves, even if it is not truly in the offense for him to do so. His shot-making in the lane is unmatched and his perimeter jump shot, which once was a weakness, has become one of his strengths.

As previously stated, he likes to take and make the big shot, even though he might not be called on to do it as much with this team, as he is with the Zags.

2. Paul Davis, Michigan State
He has been through every conceivable battle a big man can face, and not only has survived, but flourished.

Solid in the low post and a quality rebounder, Davis has displayed a variety of offense in the last four years. He is a good, not great, low-post scorer, but he can catch and finish in transition, he can shoot to 17 feet on the pick-and-pop, is skilled facing up and is a more than adequate high-low post feeder.

With all of his experience and willingness to play a secondary role offensively, ego will not be a problem. In addition, Davis is a smart and effective defensive big man who seems to be able to stay out of foul trouble.

3. Randy Foye, Villanova
Dribble penetration is the death knell to pressure defenses and there is not a better two-guard in the country at breaking down a defense off the dribble than Foye.

He stretches the defense with his range (42 percent from 3), yet he closes gaps quickly with his ability to slash and pull up for a midrange jump shot (50 percent shooting overall).

Foye is a bit undersized to be considered a lock to be a lottery pick, but like Rashad McCants last year, his game is fairly complete -- and we don't see that at the college level very often. Foye really can get out and defend and he is strong, mature and willing to take the big shot.

4. Steven Smith, La Salle
Quite frankly, he can play. From 17 feet and in, he might be the best all-around scoring big man in the country. Also a bit undersized to play inside at the pro level (he is maybe 6-foot-8), he has stretched his range to 20 feet this year and fits perfectly with the post-up games of Morrison and my center.

Just because you have not seen Smith play does not mean you can dismiss his consistent production over the last four years (he has scored in double figures in 100 of 107 career games). He is too quick for big men and too strong for guards, and although he is undersized for a pro four, he will be drafted as a three.

Smith is a willing defender and a tenacious rebounder who competes every game he plays, and with that big-time motor, he can only help my multidimensional team.

5. Jordan Farmar, UCLA
What have the last five NCAA champions all had at the point? At least one, if not two, true point guards leading them into March. Think back ... Raymond Felton (UNC), Talik Brown (UConn), Billy Edelin (Syracuse), Steve Blake (Maryland) and Chris Duhon (Duke). If we break all of these guards down, they all have deficiencies in terms of being big-time scorers, yet they led, they defended and most important, they won.

I think Farmar is more talented as a scorer than all of those guards, but he is truly at his best when he is running his team first and looking to score second. Farmar excels in transition as a scorer and can stretch the defense with his perimeter jump shot in the half court. He might not have the blow-by-you speed of a Dee Brown, but he is much more of a true one-guard. He is not the defender that Rajon Rondo is, but he is a much better shooter.

Solid at both ends and sound with the ball, surround Farmar with this kind of talent and he will win.

6. Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina
Most teams have a young pup who comes off their bench and gives them quality minutes. At 20, Hansborough actually is not that young, but he's still a frosh (who is incredibly skilled).

He plays two positions, scores well in the post and seems comfortable facing up, as well. Watch him really work for position on the boards or call for the ball while posting up. He is a strong, decisive rebounder who will provide depth and skill off the bench.

7. Vincent Grier, Minnesota
He is an absolute killer. There is not a better perimeter player in the country from 17 feet and in. He has a lethal first step, a wide array of midrange floaters and jumpers, and a drive that singlehandedly put the Gophers in the Tourney last year. Grier's game has an unconventional look to it, but ask any coach in the Big Ten about his heart, skill or defensive toughness, and they glow about Grier's game.

Bring him off the bench to score or even just defend; either way, I want him on my side.

Doug Gottlieb, an analyst for ESPN and the cohost of GameNight for ESPN Radio, played point guard at Notre Dame (1995-96) and Oklahoma State (1997-2000). He is a regular contributor to Insider.

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