Category Archives: Top 10 Shooting Guards

4. Mitch Richmond

mitch-richmond-sacramento

Mitchell James Richmond (born June 30, 1965 at Fort Lauderdale, Florida)

Mitch Richmond was drafted by the Golden State Warriors at number 5 overall in 1988 NBA Draft. His first season (1988-89) as an NBA player Richmond averaged 22ppg., 5.9rpg., 4.2apg. and was selected as the NBA’s Rookie of the Year. His special scoring ability alongside Chris Mullin’s (26.5ppg. in 1988-89) made the Warriors a play-offs team immediately. He was a perfect fit for Don Nelson’s offense that involved a lot of fast breaks and quick shooting. That year, the last season of the 80s, Warriors made it to the Western Conference Semi-finals, where they lost 4-1 to the Phoenix Suns.

Unfortunately, Western Conference Semi-finals would be the furthest Richmond would reach into the play-offs throughout the 90s (Warrios 90-91)and this is something that definitely hurt him personally as well as his reputation. I believe that even in the ranking of this blog he would have been higher if he had achieved more things on a team-level. However, individually Richmond was definitely one of the finest stars the 90s had to offer and probably one of the most underrated players ever. Personally, I have underestimated him as a player, when he was active, and only felt his presence when he won the MVP award at the 1995 All-Star Game.

Richmond will always be remembered as a member of the trio of the run n’ gun offense Don Nelson employed at the Warriors’ team during 1990-1991, aka Run TMC. The trio was composed of Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond and Chris Mullin and made to the Western Conference Semi-finals in 1991. All three members of the Run TMC averaged over 20 points per game in 1990-91; Tim 22.9, Mitch 23.9 and Chris 25.7. This team despite the fact that it didn’t accomplish anything big, will always be remembered by those witnessed it as it played an up-tempo, high scoring and spectacular game.

The Run-TMC era lasted only two years as the 1991-92 season found Mitch Richmond in Sacramento; traded for Billy Owens. This was something like the beginning of a nightmare for him. This is how he described his years at Sacramento:

“I was trying to get out of there every year—I tell you the truth. I tried to play a mental game with myself. Don’t even look at the score. Try to go out every night and just play hard and don’t worry about the score. Just get the respect of your peers.” (SLAM)

I remember watching him striving every year, to achieve team goals all by himself. I always thought that David Robinson did not have the necessary help to win a championship but looking back now, I think Richmond was in the worst position comparing with the other superstars of the 90s. I wish the Spurs had traded for him and paired him with Robinson…imagine that. I think a Richmond-Robinson duo probably in 1994 would have changed the NBA-history of the 90s. Unfortunately this is something I can only dream of.

The more I think about it the more I am convinced that the best characterization for Richmond is that of a superstar an unlucky superstar; if MJ identifies you as the toughest opponent he had faced then I think you must be at the superstar level. Their duels were a special treatment for us NBA fans of the 90s (whenever they were televised and broadcasted in Greece…) What made Richmond so special is that he had very few weaknesses in his game, he was a great shooter and he was really strong and competent in both ends of the floor.

He only made it once to the play-offs, with the Kings, in 1996 as the 8th team of the West and played against the powerful Seattle Supersonics that defeated them 3-1 and advanced all the way to the NBA Finals to lose 4-2 to the Chicago Bulls. Statistically his best season was the one that followed; in 1996-97 he averaged a career high 25.9ppg. (5th overall). During the summer of 1996 he was also selected as a member of what it was known as Dream Team III and won the Gold Medal at Atlanta’s Olympic Games. Even in this case there were many that thought of him as an unexpected selection – just for the record, I did not belong to that group of people.

Richmond, or ‘the Rock’, as his nickname was, participated in 6 consecutive all-star games during the 90s (from 1993 to 1998), but he was a starter only in 1994. He was also selected three times in the all-NBA second team (1994,1995,1997) and two times in the all-NBA third team (1996, 1998). He finally left Sacramento at the end of 1997-98 season as he got traded to Washington for Chris Webber. His fate, however, unlike that of the Kings, did not change after the trade. During the last season of the 90s he averaged below 20ppg. (19.7) for the first time in his NBA career. Richmond was basically at the end of his career when he got traded to the Wizards and he was lucky enough to win a championship in his last year as a member of the Lakers (2001-02), even though not in the fashion he would wanted it to be (he was a bench warmer in that Lakers team).

Points Rebounds Assists Steals Blocks
Career 21.0 3.9 3.5 1.2 0.3
1996-97 25.9 3.9 4.2 1.5 0.3
1990-1999 23.0 4.0 3.8 1.3 0.3

http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/r/richmmi01.html

Leave a comment

Filed under Top 10 Shooting Guards, Top players of the 90s

5. Joe Dumars

Dumars

Joe Dumars III (born May 24, 1963, at Shreveport, Louisiana).

Dumars was drafted at number 18 of the 1985 NBA Draft by the Detroit Pistons, the team that he played for his whole NBA career. If I had to describe Dumars with one word, I would choose; tough. This is what Dumars was; a tough player, a player that was ready to do whatever it takes to get the job done in both ends of the floor, but what distinguished him from the rest of the tough guys of the NBA is that he was never considered as such. He was the gentle guy in a bad-boys team. He played tough within the limits of the game and that is why he was widely respected. He possessed a great knowledge of the game and he was able to turn his disadvantages into advantages. He helped the Pistons win two NBA titles in row, one of them in the 90s, while winning the NBA Finals MVP award in 1989. But, all of us that had the opportunity to watch him play will always remember the way he guarded MJ in the legendary Pistons-Bulls rivalry (1,2).

Dumars joined a mediocre Pistons’ team that under the guidance of Chuck Daily was collecting the right pieces to become a legendary NBA team. Dumars had a good, but not a special, year as a rookie and was selected in the all-rookie team of 1986. He increased his scoring averages in each of the following years in the 80s and alongside Isiah Thomas, Bill Laimbeer, Dennis Rodman, Mark Aguire, Rick Mahorn, James Edwards, John Salley, and Vinnie Johnson formed Detroit’s Bad Boys that played in two NBA Finals (1988, 1989) during the 80s winning one of them (1989); 4-0 against the Los Angeles Lakers. In 1989 he was recognized as the MVP of the NBA Finals with 27.3ppg., 1.8rpg. and 6apg.

In the first year of the 90s Pistons were the favourites to win the title again and Dumars was already recognized and accepted as a centre piece of the team, even though Isiah Thomas was considered the superstar of the team. In the two previous seasons Pistons had eliminated in the play-offs the young and emerging central-division rivals Chicago Bulls. Their rivalry reached another level as the Bulls accused the Pistons of employing a defensive strategy that has been known as the “Jordan Rules” to defeat them. This higher level of rivalry made the 1989-90 season really interesting. Joe Dumars did his job as usual, scoring 17.8ppg. in the regular season, while making his first appearance in an all-star game, as a reserve for the Eastern Conference. He was also selected as a member of the NBA’s all-defensive team for the second consecutive time in his career.

During, the play-offs he played again according to his standards scoring 18.2ppg., while providing first-class defending for his team. The Pistons beat the Bulls again 4-3 in the Eastern Conference Finals. Dumars was the man that was guarding MJ and at the same time he was the first scorer of his team in the series with 20ppg. Pistons advanced to the NBA Finals and won their second consecutive title by defeating Portland Trail Blazers 4-1. Dumars guarded the arguably second-best shooting guard of the 90s, Clyde Drexler, and posted some great numbers in the offense as well with 20.6ppg. and 5.6apg.

Next year Dumars led the Pistons in scoring with 20.4ppg. in the regular season and in the play-offs with 20.6ppg. But this was the last time that Dumars was going to go so far in the play-offs. Pistons lost 4-0 to their rivals Bulls in Eastern Conference Finals and this was the beginning of the end for Detroit’s Bad Boys. Later, after the end of his career as a player, Dumars, as the president of basketball operations at the Pistons’ organization was able to create a second version of the Bad Boys that won an NBA title in 2004 and had several good years as a top team in the Eastern Conference.

Dumars led the Pistons in scoring in the next three years (1992, 1993, 1994), with 1993 being his best ever season in terms of point per game: 23.5ppg. He appeared in  6 all-star games for the Eastern Conference, 5 of them in a raw (1990-1995) and the other one in 1997. He was a starter only in 1991. He was a member of the NBA All-Defensive team 3 times (1990, 1992, 1993) and one time he was included in NBA’s second All-Defensive team (1991). He was a member of the NBA’s second All-NBA team in 1993 and was voted two times in NBA’s third All-NBA team (1990, 1991).

In the summer of 1994 he participated in the World Basketball Championship as a member of Dream Team II. Since, the arrival of Grant Hill at the 1994-95 season he took a second role in the team behind the young star. From 1996 until the end of his career at 1999  he also played some point guard in a Piston’s starting line-up that included Allan Houston or Jerry Stackhouse at the two-spot. Dumars will always be remembered as the best defender that MJ has ever faced, according to MJ’s words. But, he was far more than just a good defender, his career numbers show that he was a great offensive player as well as a great facilitator. Dumars was a real combo-guard that could play both guard positions efficiently.

Points Rebounds Assists Steals Blocks
Career 16.1 2.2 4.5 0.9 0.1
1992-93 23.5 1.9 4.0 1.0 0.1
1990-1999 17.5 2.2 4.4 0.9 0.1

http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/d/dumarjo01.html

Joe Dumars

Leave a comment

Filed under Top 10 Shooting Guards, Top players of the 90s

6. Latrell Sprewell

latrell-sprewell1

Latrell Fontaine Sprewell (born September 8, 1970, at Milwaukee, Wisconsin).

Latrell Sprewell was selected at number 24 overall, in the 1992 NBA Draft, by the Golden State Warriors. He played for almost six consecutive seasons for the Warriors and I say ‘almost’ because he was fined by the NBA during the 1997-98 season – his last as a warrior – after an incident with his coach P.J. Carlesimo at one of the team’s training sessions. The incident stigmatized Sprewell’s career and followed him everywhere. He was able, however, to remain a top player in his new home at New York where he played for the last season of the 90s. He played at New York until 2003 and then finished his career playing two seasons as a member of the best Minnesota Timberwolves team I have ever seen, alongside Kevin Garnett and Sam Cassell.

‘Spree’ made his presence felt from his first season, in which he averaged 15.4ppg. in a talented Warriors team, with Chris Mullin and Tim Hardaway in its roster, that did not make to the play-offs. In the 1993-94 season, Hardaway’s injury, made the Warriors Sprewell’s team. He averaged more than 20 points for the first time in his career during the 1993-94 season (21ppg, 4.9rpg, 4.7apg.). He was named all-star for the Western Conference, a member of the all-NBA second defensive team, and a member of the the all-NBA first team. That was his best year as a Warrior, in which he played alongside the rookie Chris Webber and led the team to a 50-32 regular-season record and a first-round elimination, 3-0, in the play-offs against the Phoenix Suns, after a short but heated series of great basketball.

Sprewell’s rivalry with Hardaway resulted in Hardaway being transferred to Miami in the middle of the 1995-96 season. Warriors continued playing as a mediocre team and could not reach the play-offs neither in 1996 nor in 1997, which was Sprewell’s more fruitful year (24.2ppg, 4.6rpg.,6.3apg.). The next season (1997-98) was meant to be his worse. He tried to choke his coach and was banned by the NBA. He played only 14 games that season averaging 21.4ppg. At that time, as a fan of Sprewell’s game, explosive and impressive, I thought that the NBA was very harsh and I thought it was Carlesimo’s fault that I was not going to be able to watch one the most spectacular players. Of course Sprewell’s behaviour was unacceptable and especially for the conservative NBA environment of the 90s.

But, the result of the whole incident turned out to be a pleasant surprise, as Sprewell got transferred to a Knicks team that was moving from the Ewing-era with a team filled with talent (Allan Houston, Larry Johnson, Marcus Camby). This is where ‘Spree’ had his chance to advance into the play-offs, coming mostly from the bench in the short 50-games regular season. He averaged 16.4ppg. during the regular season but he exploded to 20.4ppg. during the play-offs and led the eight-seeded Knicks to the NBA Finals. I believed, back then, that the Knicks could be the first eight seed that could make it to the NBA Finals and they did.

In 1998-99 the Knicks upset a great Miami team 3-2 in one of the ‘ugliest’ series ever, they destroyed, 4-0, a good Atlanta Hawks team that once more was not equipped for the next step, and surprised, 4-2, their 90s rivals, Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals. Patrick Ewing was injured in game-2 of the Conference Finals and the Knicks went to play against the team with the best frontline of the 90s, the San Antonio Spurs of David Robinson and Tim Duncan, without their best big man. They lost 4-1 to the Spurs but Sprewell was their best player in that series, scoring 26 points per game and he came one shot short of winning the last game of the series by himself, while scoring 35 points.

Sprewell played in three all-star games during the 90s and in four throughout his career. He was one of my favourite players and because of his spectacular game I had initially ranked him higher, in number 5. A comment from a fan of the blog made me realize that I was indeed overestimating him and was letting my personal preferences stand in the way of objective judgement. I believe he deserves to be the 6th best shooting that played during the 90s and I think if he had a more disciplined approach to the game he could have been an even better team-player. But then again if he was more disciplined he would not have been the player that we loved. I wish that we will have the chance see more players like Sprewell in the future.

Points Rebounds Assists Steals Blocks
Career 18.3 4.1 4.0 1.4 0.4
1996-97 24.2 4.6 6.3 1.7 0.6
1992-1999 19.8 4.3 4.5 1.7 0.6

http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/s/sprewla01.html

Latrell Sprewell

Leave a comment

Filed under Top 10 Shooting Guards, Top players of the 90s