Our Warriors all-time starting five is coming close to completion. At shooting guard, we went with a player that played both the guard and forwards positions but that just shot the lights out, selecting Chris Mullin. At small forward, we went with the gifted passing and scoring forward Rick Barry while at center we easily selected the most dominant player the league has ever seen in Wilt Chamberlain.
With such a talented trio on board, the team needs a point guard to handle the ball, get the stars their looks, break down defenders, score late in the shot clock, but more importantly, fit in.
Philadelphia native Guy Rodgers seems to fit the bill perfectly. He was a brilliant playmaker that thrived during the 1960’s on the Philadelphia Warriors that eventually moved to San Francisco. Never one to look to score much, given the fact that he played alongside Wilt for several years, he was more than happy to get the ball to his teammates. Indeed, in Chamberlain’s infamous 100-point game, Rodgers handed out 20 assists.
Despite playing in a league that was home to players such as Bob Cousy and Oscar Robertson, Rodgers managed to lead the NBA in assists (825) and assists per game (10.4) in the 1962-63 season.
The one knock on Rodgers though was his shooting. Granted, it was the norm at the time, however it would be hard to have a starting point guard competing against other great floor generals while shooting less than 40 percent from the field.
As a Warrior, Rodgers’ best shooting season came in 1958-59 as a rookie, when he shot 39.4 percent from the field. His worst season as far as shooting goes was during the 1961-92 campaign, in which he converted 35.6 percent of his field goal attempts. And really, that’s as good as it got with the former Temple player; somewhere in between 35 and 39 percent shooting. Consequently, we have to look elsewhere.
One my personal favorites for this spot would be the California native himself: Baron Davis. As a Warrior, he was crafty with the ball, flashy, explosive and at times unstoppable. Davis made highlights reels with his breathtaking crossovers and forays to the hoop. He was even complete enough as a ball player to go down the low block and take advantage of smaller guards despite only standing 6’3.
Baron was so good in the Bay that his name appears in the franchise’ record books (franchise rank in parentheses):
- 434 3-point field goals made (5th)
- 1,346 3-point field goal attempts (5th)
- 36.9 minutes per game (10th)
- 20.1 points per game (10th)
- 8.1 assists per game (3rd)
- 2.0 steals per game (2nd)
- 19.8 PER (5th)
So the former UCLA Bruin has to be our guy right? Not quite. The one reason that Davis does not make the cut is his injuries. And really, if we look closer, we will notice that coincidentally or not, the closer he got to being in a contract year, the more games he played and minutes he played. Have a look:
|Season||Games played||Minutes per game|
His minutes increased from 2004-05 to 2005-06 and then decreased in 2006-07 but then took a big jump in 2007-08 as he played in all 82 games in a contract year. It’s a tough omission, but Davis cannot be the Dubs all time guard.
Some might even have Sleepy Floyd in the discussion, but he was a scoring point guard that developed later into a more prototypical floor general that sought to set up teammates.
That leaves us with one man: the inventor of the killer crossover.
When Tim Hardaway played in the Bay, he was one of the best point guards in the NBA. He handled the ball exceptionally well, got by his defender with ease, scored when needed and got the team into the offense and set up teammates. Also, he was an assassin with the ball in his hands and the shot clock ticking down because of his blow by ability as well as his shooting prowess.
His performances in a Warrior uniform led to three All-Star selections as well as two playoff appearances. Indeed, Hardaway understood the point guard’s role better than most; the delicate balance between putting the ball in the hands of teammates and knowing when to take over. That explains why the former UTEP player is one of a very select few players to average at least 20 points and 10 assists for a whole season more than once. Here’s the list (listed alphabetically):
- Chris Paul
- Isiah Thomas
- Kevin Johnson
- Magic Johnson
- Oscar Robertson
- Tim Hardaway
Although there are tons of other great point guards that have blessed the NBA, that list does not have one scrub on it. The fact that Hardaway appears on it is somewhat a testament to just how talented he was during those Run TMC days. Let’s have a look at the various places his name shows up in Warriors record books (franchise rank in parentheses):
- 8,337 points (10th)
- 602 3-point field goals made (2nd)
- 1,697 3-point field goals attempted (2nd)
- 3,926 assists (2nd)
- 821 steals (3rd)
- 1,356 turnovers (4th)
- 37.0 minutes per game (9th)
- 9.3 assists per game (1st)
- 1.9 steals per game (3rd)
- 18.8 PER (10th)
Hardaway was a terrific player in his time in Golden State and thus left his imprints on the franchise. The best way to describe the former Warrior is simply by looking at his teammates: early on, when he played with Mitch Richmond and Chris Mullin, the team needed for him to be a distributor and occasional scorer, which he did brilliantly. However, once Richmond left the team, Hardaway had to keep feeding players and step up his scoring; which he executed.
He still had Mullin as a scoring partner, but also helped the likes of Sarunas Marciulionis and Billy Owens get their scoring opportunities.
However, when Latrell Sprewell joined the team, Hardaway’s scoring decreased, but he continued to pile on the assists, just like a point guard should.
And in order to be the Warriors all-time starting point guard, it is of utmost importance that the floor general is capable of asserting himself when needed, but also to figure out when to blend in the background; and that’s what makes Tim Hardaway the starting point guard for our Warriors al-time team.