Monday , Nov , 21 , 2011 Paul Eide

Would Muggsy Bogues Be “Overlooked” In Today’s NBA?

Would it even be possible for a player like Muggsy Bogues to have any type of success in today’s NBA? Would he have even made a roster? Or, would he have had even more success thanks to the allowance of zone defense?

Bogues was a once in a lifetime type of player and it’s amazing he carved out a 15 year pro career for himself. At 5-3, he made Spud Webb look tall at 5-7. Bogues is a player who did all of the “little” things well. His lack of height made him excel in areas that other players with more height overlooked.

From 1989-90 to 1994-95, Bogues finished in the top five in assists per game each year, with a career high of 10.7 in 89-90.  His career average of 7.6 is 16th best in NBA history. In that period of time only John Stockton had more total assists. Bogues was also an underrated shooter, maybe the most forgotten aspect of his game. For his career he shot 82% from the line and constantly had the ball in crunch time. For as much of a facilitator as he was, he averaged double figures in PPG for three years in a row even though he never averaged more than nine shots per game. Check out this article for a great breakdown of where Muggsy stacked up against some of the greatest point guards in NBA history. It’s pretty surprising.

For as short as he was, he wasn’t a liability on defense. He finished in the top 10 in steals for three seasons and accumulated the 48th most in NBA history. If anything his relentlessness on defense gave opposing offenses fits because he was impossible to prepare for. He was all over the place at all times and caused a young Doc Rivers to remark once, “It felt like there were five Muggsy Bogues’ out there.”

But just numbers alone don’t do Bogues any justice. They give you an indication of how productive he was, but don’t paint the entire picture. In my opinion he is the quickest point guard I have ever seen, perhaps rivaled by a young Damon Stoudamire. And even though he was insanely quick, he was rarely out of control as his career 4.69 assist to turnover ratio would indicate. The amount of energy alone he brought to the floor every night made the Hornets a better team.

While Bogues was in Charlotte, the team went from expansion squad to playoff contender, becoming one of the most popular teams in the league mostly because they were so fun to watch. Bogues was always pushing the ball on the break, dishing off to a Alonzo Mourning and Larry Johnson who would usually finish with monster dunks.

So back to my original question; with 6-7 being the average height of today’s NBA player, and fundamentals as underappreciated as they have ever been, would Muggsy Bogues, the shortest player in NBA history, even get a look?