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The Point Guard Problem

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Lackluster play at the point has been a weakness all season for the Jackets

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Eight games into the season, a lot is starting to come into focus for Georgia Tech.  The major problems with the team are starting to become clear, and the biggest problem has been the lack of production from the point guards.  Both Josh Heath and Travis Jorgensen have played significant minutes, but neither has performed well enough to push to dominate the point guard minutes.  Both have struggled to provide any offensive production and have left much to desired on the defensive end of the floor.

So far, Jorgensen and Heath are scoring 7.3 points per game COMBINED.  This is a result of both a lack of shooting volume and efficiency.  When Josh Heath is on the floor he takes less than 10% of the shots, the lowest on the team, accounting for only 26 shots so far this year.  He has done pretty well from inside the arc, but is only 1-8 from three and teams barely even bother guarding him on the perimeter any more.  Travis Jorgensen is slightly more trigger happy, shooting 14% of the shots when he's on the floor, lower than anybody other than Heath and about the same as Lammers.  Most of this difference comes from three pointers.  Jorgensen has shot 22 threes this year, but has only made five of them for 22.7% from three.  He has only taken 9 (9!!) two point field goals this year.  Neither of the point guards get to the free throw line.  Combined they have taken 9 free throws all season (Heath is 6-6 and Jorgensen is 0-3).  In a year when the refs are really cracking down on contact on the perimeter, this is unacceptable for point guards to be providing so little offensive production.  Both guards best attribute offensively is their passing.  Both of them assist around 25% of shots while they're on the floor, which is decent for a point guard.

Defensively point guard has been an issue too.  Opposing guards have been destroying Tech all season and while that is certainly not all the fault of the point guards, they share in the blame.  Heath has definitely been better in this regard, and is probably the reason that he is starting over Jorgensen, but he has just been good defensively, not great.  The biggest defensive issue with both of them is just staying in front of their men.  Jorgensen in particular is consistently beat off the dribble.  Guards from small teams, like Cornell, ETSU, and Tulane, have found success against this team, so what are ACC point guards going to do?  Brian Gregory has been doing a mini-press of just the point guard, with a big man guarding the inbounder, and it has not been very successful.  Quite often the opposing point guard just beats his man off the dribble and beats him up the court which defeats the purpose of the press.

Right now, Heath is playing 21 minutes a game while Jorgensen is playing 17.  Hopefully one of them takes off in the remainder of non-conference play and has the reins going into conference play.  Jorgensen seems to have the green light from three which probably means Gregory thinks he has the ability to be a positive three point shooter and just needs to find a rhythm.  If he starts hitting threes regularly, his usefulness in the offense increases greatly and he could start to take more of Heath's minutes.  If Jorgensen continues to struggle shooting the ball, I expect to see Brian Gregory just go with whoever seems to be playing better that day.  But there is another option to consider.  Moving Adam Smith to point guard makes some sense.  Adam Smith is a better player than either Jorgensen or Heath and although he is not a pure point guard, pretty much any lineup with him at point guard would be an improvement offensively.  The team has played a little bit with Smith at the point and Smith sometimes brings the ball up the floor even when a point guard is on the floor.  The main issue with moving Smith is that Georgia Tech be running only three players on the wing unless James White is played as both a wing and a big.

This team is unlikely to move Adam Smith to point guard full time, but if Heath and Jorgensen don't provide some sort of threat offensively, we might just see more sets with neither of them on the floor.