Anderson's third-place finish is almost as surprising as Brandon's top ranking. The consistency of the Trail Blazers' floor leader this season has gone largely unnoticed, overshadowed by the play of some of his flashier colleagues at the point, but Anderson—who was traded from the New Jersey Nets to the Charlotte Hornets last season and then signed with Portland as a free agent—has gone a long way toward reestablishing his place among the game's top playmakers. The other major surprise is the disappointing showing of the highly regarded Kidd. He finished 14th, due mostly to his abysmal shooting (37.5% from the field, 64.8% from the foul line), suggesting that despite his remarkable talents in other areas, Kidd's ineffectiveness as a scoring threat badly hinders his game. "You cannot have a point guard anymore who can't shoot the ball," says Trail Blazers president and general manager Bob Whitsitt. "It's a more challenging role now because he has to dial himself into the equation too."
The question is, Are a majority of today's point guards dialing their own number too often? Stoudamire is an example of the new "scoring point." He has a high scoring average (19.9 through Sunday) and low field goal percentage (39.0), and he takes more shots than any other Raptor. "But that's not because of selfishness," says Atlanta vice president and general manager Pete Babcock. "It's because he's playing the way they encourage him to play. But I think he would be a more typical point guard if [Toronto] wanted." Iverson has a style similar to Stoudamire's—shoot first, pass second—but for apparently different reasons. "Iverson's mentality is to be a point producer, not necessarily to make the offense run a little better," Dallas Mavericks assistant coach Lanny Van Eman says of the 76ers rookie. "The good point guards, the smart ones, get their points, but they realize that getting their teammates involved is their responsibility too. Iverson doesn't seem to have really learned that yet, but in time he probably will."
He had better. In fact, anyone who hopes to play the point successfully in today's NBA had better be a fast learner, because he will be tested every night.