PG’s in Their First Playoff Games

The Hornets first playoff game in the Western Conference has arrived, and they’ve been understandably swarmed by questions. Will the bench hold its own? Will the team’s defense regain top form? Will experience play any role? And on and on… I gave my feelings about that last question a couple weeks ago, but with the season over, I thought it might be good to extend my ideas to individual performance.

We haven’t seen a playoff debut by a PG of CP’s caliber in a long time (excluding Deron Williams last year, whom I also consider an elite PG and will talk about later in this post). This is simple, of course, but also fun to look at: how did other premier point guards do in their first playoff games? We start with CP3’s first round opponent, Jason Kidd.

Jason Kidd (PHX, April 25th 1997, @SEA)

FG%

3P%

FT%

RPG

APG

TOPG

PPG

Season

40.3

37.0

69.2

4.5

9.0

3.2

10.9

Game 1

27.3

28.6

50.0

5

10

3

11

As a 22 year old rookie, Jason Kidd had been part of a midseason trade from Dallas to Phoenix. Not only did he have to adjust to his new team, he was also going head to head with “The Glove” Gary Payton. Kidd’s shot wasn’t falling, but at night’s end he had reached his season averages. Of course, he had the services of former Hornet sharpshooter Rex Chapman- Chapman led the Suns to a Game 1 upset of the #2 seed Suns with 42 points on 9 three point shots. Hmmmm… 22 year old rookie point guard… sharp-shooting, veteran three point gunner… Hey, if a certain Serb puts up 50, you know who called it.

Steve Nash (DAL, April 21st 2001, @UTA)

FG%

3P%

FT%

RPG

APG

TOPG

PPG

Season

48.7

40.6

89.5

3.2

7.3

2.9

15.6

Game 1

54.5

50.0

100.0

3

7

5

20

Ironically enough, Steve Nash made his own playoff debut in Game 2 of the same playoff series mentioned above. Nash, though, was an unheralded bench warmer who played fewer minutes in that series combined than Kidd played in Game 1. 2001 was his first spot in the limelight, after toiling through 2 non-playoff seasons (hmm, sound familiar?). He and a baby-faced Dirk Nowitzki took on the youthful combo of Stockton and Malone, only to fall in Game 1. While the pair played a great game, it wasn’t enough to overcome Nash’s 5 turnovers or Dirk’s 2-9 night from 3.

Tony Parker (SAS, April 20th 2002, SEA)

FG%

3P%

FT%

RPG

APG

TOPG

PPG

Season

41.9

32.3

67.5

2.6

4.3

2.0

9.0

Game 1

75.0

100.0

N/A

1

3

1

21

While Nash and Kidd weren’t necessarily expected to do too much in their first games, Tony Parker had some big expectations to fulfill. The team had won a title as recently as 2000, but with the Lakers’ dynasty underway, some felt that the rest of Duncan’s years could be wasted without a good point guard. Parker went through a decent rookie campaign, but didn’t silence all the critics. Of course, since then, he’s made a living of dominating the postseason, and it all started on his first Game 1- a win against Gary Payton’s pesky Seattle SuperSonics.

Baron Davis (CHH, April 21st 2001, @MIA)

FG%

3P%

FT%

RPG

APG

TOPG

PPG

Season

42.7

31.0

67.7

5.0

7.3

2.8

13.8

Game 1

80.0

66.7

83.3

5

8

6

23

And now we come to the man who quarterbacked this Hornets team last time we were in the playoffs. My favorite player for almost a 5 year span, Baron Davis almost single-handedly excited an entire fan-base with his first starting campaign. The guy could do it all- drive, score, pass, rebound, you name it. He was like the first coming of Chris Paul, bigger, more athletic, stronger… and much, much worse. But he was good, and I still remember his first game and playoff series very vividly. Mashburn and Davis combined for 51 points this game, and Davis had a nasty fast break slam on Tim Hardaway.

By the way, this was the year we could’ve advanced to the Conference Finals in Game 6 at home, but instead lost on the road in Game 7. And this is the year I judge every Hornets season by, because it was the peak. This was truly the first time I thought the Hornets would win the East.

Finally, if you’ve got an eye for detail, you might have noticed that Baron Davis and Steve Nash both made their playoff debuts on the exact same day. Interesting stuff.

Deron Williams (UTA, April 21st 2007, @HOU)

FG%

3P%

FT%

RPG

APG

TOPG

PPG

Season

45.6

32.2

76.7

3.3

9.3

3.1

16.2

Game 1

36.8

0.0

50.0

9

9

4

18

Deron Williams has to be one of the most overlooked players this year. Statistically, he’s light-years behind Chris Paul, but he puts up the second best numbers from the point guard position, in a dead heat with Steve Nash. Williams made his playoff debut last year, in a hostile Houston environment, and against an underrated defender in Rafer Alston. All in all, he played some very solid minutes, despite his team’s 9 point defeat. Of all the players on this list, Deron’s season stats in his first playoff year look the most similar to CP’s stats this year.

I would’ve included Chauncey Billups, but he played heavy minutes in a playoff series before going to Detroit. I made this list as something to read for fun, instead of analytically (which is why I included such stats as PPG, and FG% instead of eFG%, etc). No real analysis can be done of single game sample sizes anyway. It’s just cool to see how these five point guards did their first times out there.

That said, I still find the first game turnover figures interesting. Granted three of the guys made their debuts against outstanding defenders (the Glove twice, and Stockton), but the high turnover figure might just signify something. How will Chris Paul do? Only time will tell.

About these ads

One Response

  1. Intersting stats. I think we can expect CP to perform above board here. He’s an MVP contender for a reason. He’s not going to just lie down and die because it is the playoffs. Especially against a guard who has been ineffectual all season (in NJ, All-Star game, and Dal), until the final game, where, let’s just say the Hornets effort was…suspect.

    Also, it’s interesting that CP is the only starter (and Bonzi, Pargo, and Ely off the bench have it) without playoff experience. Yet all we here is that okay, okay, but these guys have never played together.

    Yet no one talks about this for the Celtics. These guys have never played together in the postseason. Ever. And I don’t think Rondo or Perkins have played in the NBA postseason. But what? They’re better coached? Doubtful. They have a better record? Barely (they finished 1 seed, Bees 2 seed).

    I expect both CP and the Hornets to come out hot Saturday and play like the team they’ve been all year long.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: