Positional Previews 2015 – The Point Guards


For Minnesota as it stands right now, the point guard core is basically Ricky Rubio and those trying to nab minutes behind him. I wrote about it for Sporting News over the summer, others have echoed it on several occasions. That’s not to insult the high basketball IQs of Tyus Jones, Andre Miller, or Lorenzo Brown, but this is still Ricky Rubio’s team, positions not considered (unless you argue it’s Kevin Garnett’s team, which to some extent is also true).  The players and coaches know it, and everyone is seemingly good with it.

As time has passed as these previews have come out, it looks like once-starting shooting guard Zach LaVine may actually belong on this list this season. Sam Mitchell has come out and said he now likes LaVine next to Kevin Martin off the bench, so it’s possible we may see more Point LaVine, for better or (likely) for worse. But, again, that’s a story for another day.

For now, we’ll focus on the true point guards, one of whom is fighting to keep his Timberwolves uniform past Friday’s final preseason game. These are the floor generals.


Ricky Rubio
Last season: 22 gp, 10.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 8.8 apg, .356 FG%, .255 3PT%

Okay, we all know what Ricky Rubio needs to get better at to take the next step as a starting NBA point guard. He needs to work on shooting from mid-range and finishing (despite his numbers last year, he’s a fairly competent 3-point shooter historically). We don’t need to rehash what has become public knowledge to a degree.

What worries me more than his on-court production is his health. He has missed time every year but one, and that is problematic. It’s not fair to tell a guy he needs to be more healthy, because that’s not really something you can work on, but having 82 games of Ricky Rubio this season is paramount if the Wolves want to improve their win total from a year ago. He’s their guy. He needs to be out there.


Andre Miller
Last season (w/ Wizards-Kings): 81 gp, 4.4 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 3.5 apg, 15.5 mpg

Andre Miller is one of the highest IQ NBA players on a roster this year, but he’s fallen off quite a bit over the past 3 years. To be fair, Miller is 39. And it should also be noted that, once he left Washington, where he struggled to find a groove, he did re-discover his game (and playing time) a bit with the Sacramento Kings.

Miller can pass, run an offense, and is a legendary point guard post scorer. He struggles to stay in front of his man defensively and isn’t the greatest in terms of speed for his position. His highlight of last season actually came against the Wolves. Watch here. 

Tyus Jones
Last season (Duke): 39 gp, 11.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 5.6 apg, 33.8 mpg

There was some overreaction to the Tyus Jones pick on both ends. On one hand, you had your Minnesota sports diehards that saw Jones win Duke a national title (and dominate at Apple Valley), as the point guard of the Wolves future. On the other hand, there are/were those that saw his limitations as a prospect and know that’s not the case.

All bias or non-bias aside, Jones is a decent pick in the late first round. He knows how to play point guard better than just about anyone at his age, and his some offensive game to work with. He knows how to pass, how to run an offense, and even has some scoring game. He has obvious limitations (size, shooting stroke, defensive potential), but for a late first, the Wolves could have done much worse.

Lorenzo Brown
Last season: 29 gp, 4.2 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 3.1 apg, 18.9 mpg

It could be argued that Lorenzo Brown is the second best point guard RIGHT NOW on this list, but he probably still won’t make this team. His fate with the Wolves was in question when they drafted Jones, and it may have been cemented when they went out and signed Andre Miller. The front office isn’t letting Andre Miller or Tyus Jones go this quickly.

But don’t get it twisted: Lorenzo Brown is an NBA-quality point guard. Whether he makes this team or not, some team should, and probably will, have him on their roster at some point in the regular season. He plays high-quality defense, runs the offense well, and finishes pretty well around the rim. He saved the Wolves when their point guard core all went down with injury, and may have solidified himself as a steady backup NBA point guard. I’m a fan of his, for sure.

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4 Responsesso far.

  1. gjk says:

    At a recent family gathering, the first thing a bunch of my relatives said regarding the Wolves was, “They finally got a point guard!” Yikes. That epitomizes why I loathe fans who don’t watch the details of the game but have strong opinions. I really want to like Tyus as a backup PG, but that’s going to be a challenge.

    If LaVine gets a single PG minute this season, 3 of the 4 mentioned above either need to not be on the team or injured. At least as a SG he’s just hurting himself. They’d have a better +/- playing 3-on-5 with 2 guys staying back on D if LaVine is playing PG.

  2. pyrrol says:

    I was silly enough to defend Mitchell for penciling in LaVine as the starting SG at letting him lose it. Maybe he should have never been penciled in if he’s lost it before preseason is even over in spectacular fashion. Scary response: Sam had him at point a lot in last nights preseason affair in Madison. And he looked bad. I kept saying ‘when are they going to put a real point guard in?’. More generally, we’ve been running impractical and experimental lineups more than most teams we’ve faced all preseason, and it seems like we aren’t moving out of that phase as we play the last preseason games and settle on practical options we should use in the regular season. Exhibit A in this is messing around again with LaVine PG minutes (apparently because he failed so totally at SG).

    I was not a huge fan of the Tyus pick, although it is neat. He looks better than I thought he would. He’s not having a massive problem translating to NBA shooting. He can shoot decent already, pass and move the ball with competence, and even occasional flair. His floater is a good weapon and I predict Ricky will have some version of that by season’s end. He is physically overmatched, but his IQ and instincts help mitigate that some. Still, I’m looking at a good back up future for him.

    Miller is a legend. Hope he can continue contributing some with us.

    I like Brown, I’ve sort of had a weakness for him all along, but he’s not that good. His calling card will probably be good PG defense, but he’s not even above average in this one aspect. He sort of does most things OK, and isn’t a LaVine type drain when he’s out there, but that’s it. I find myself thinking maybe it would be best to keep Rudez and hope Brown is available in case of injuries (likely with Miller). Not sure how viable this is. Brown is hardworking and somewhat useful, but he’s not improving at a very strong rate, and he’s a lifetime 3rd or shaky 2nd string PG in my mind now.

    • farnorth says:

      Pyrrol, I could not agree more with the Mitchell take and announcing lineups in freaking preseason. So far he has shown 0 maturity for the head coaching decision. LaVine needs to sit until he is ready at the 2. He is jacking up three pointers from 3′ behind the arc and 14 seconds on the clock.. C’mon man he needs to sit. He is not a PG, and he is barely a SG.

      Martin should be the 2 guard Wiggins the 3 this is flat out ridiculous.

  3. Tim says:

    We got a long look at Brown last season because of injuries. Then we promptly drafted a PG and signed a veteran PG. Nothing against Brown, but that probably doesn’t happen if he was seen as a regular contributor. And if he isn’t, why keep stringing him along? Time to make a final decision either way than remain half-interested (see relationships.) If he is cut it will be interesting to see if anyone without injury problems picks him up.

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