Point guards are often looked at as the conductor of the team. In sync with the coach while orchestrating everything that occurs on the court. The 1 position plays an important role in the game of basketball and a major element of playing the position well is understanding pace.
Pace predicts how fast a team plays and how efficient a team plays as well. The pace has to be predicated on the construction and style of a roster. For example, if you have a lineup of big and slow players, pushing the ball may not be in the best interest.
Also with the speed of the game, a point guard has to recognize the situation he or she is in. Do you have numbers on a fast break? Has the defense recovered? Should you bring the ball back out and get into the secondary break? Whats the score and how much time is on the clock? All these questions are key things that a point guard must be aware of.
With the point guard position, comes a lot of responsibility. Understanding the pace of the game and when to push things separates the good point guards from the bad ones.
While understanding pace is important, another key ingredient to the point guard position is change of pace. When I watch some of the great point guards in the game today like Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, and Kyrie Irving, they use changes of pace to their advantage. Changing speed with the ball takes the defender out of rhythm and makes it difficult for them to keep up. It creates space and keeps defenders off balance. A player with this style of play essentially becomes unpredictable giving him the leverage in each match-up.
Check out a few examples of elite point guards using a change of pace to get to the basket.
Russell Westbrook uses a burst of speed mixed with a little misdirection to leave his defender in the mud!
Jrue Holiday didn't stand a chance against the Brodie in transition. ☹️ pic.twitter.com/gKdrbeBx1R
— Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) December 22, 2016
This move by Chris Paul is a lethal one. When he turns his back to his defender, it acts as a hesitation causing the defender to relax and that’s when Paul attacks for the easy layup.
Here’s a move by Kyrie Irving where he attacks the basket and gives his defender a slight hesitation. As he rises, Kyrie takes off and gets to the basket.