Arguably the most important position in basketball is the point guard. Having a point guard who understands the balance between being a scoring threat and helping the offense flow is essential for any team looking to become contenders.
Backup point guards are also extremely vital to the success of a team.
Diante Garrett, backup point guard for the Utah Jazz, has been a very pleasant surprise since being called up from the D-League in November, and has played well behind rookie Trey Burke. Burke exemplifies what it means to be a point guard – he’s a valid scoring threat with his three-point shot, but has killer court vision and quickness that allows him to beat defenses with deft passing.
“You just have to come in and know your role, do what you gotta do. Play defense, run the squad, look for open shots when you’re open. Just doing all the little things that bring the energy when you’re coming off the bench,” Garrett said in regards to his backup point guard role.
Garrett does a great job of backing up Burke as he averages 3.8 points and 1.8 assists per game. While those numbers may seem a little low to some, it’s important to note a few of the things Garrett does really well that aren’t traditionally measured or noted. His assist to turnover ratio isn’t phenomenal – 1.64 – but it’s nothing to scoff at either.
Garret does a good job of something that a lot of backup point guards for the Jazz failed at in recent years – he still manages to command some respect from defenses. While Earl Watson and Jamaal Tinsley were never legitimate offensive threats, Garrett has the skills and ability to make shots, which forces the opposing point guard to defend him.
Shooting a solid 40% from the field, 40.5% from three, and 83.3% from the free throw line is why Garrett makes defense pay attention to him. He doesn’t look to score that often – he only attempts 3.8 field goals in 15 minutes a night. When Garrett does try to score, though, he’s efficient with the ball.
Defensively, Garrett is solid as well. He’s 6’4”, which helps when he matches up against bigger guards, and he’s quick as well, which helps him to not get beat off the dribble as often. He definitely sees the benefits of playing defense aggressively.
“Defense sets the tone for the whole team, they seem you up there pressuring the ball and getting after it, most guys are gonna want to do the same thing. If you set the tone right, it can dictate the game,” Garrett said.
Garrett brings energy as well, another vital part to the bench unit. The unit of second stringers who come in to spell the starters are usually known for being energetic, and Garrett does a great job of energizing the second unit and getting the guys to play hard. Having a running mate such as Alec Burks helps a lot, as well.
“It’s your job, you just gotta do what you gotta do. You just gotta bring it every day, because there’s gonna be some other guys wanting to do the same thing you’re doing and try to bring it more,” Garrett said in regards to bringing energy.
Garrett shows not only through his words, but through his play, that he understands being a backup point guard in this league, and he’s proven that he has the skill set to stick around. After playing for Oklahoma City in the summer league, Garrett seems to have found a home here in Salt Lake City.