Is E'Twaun Moore a point guard? Does it even matter?

Spruce Derden-US PRESSWIRE

E'Twaun Moore is a natural shooting guard whom Orlando hopes to convert to point guard. Have the Magic erred in trusting their second-unit offense to him?

E'Twaun Moore had been enjoying a pretty solid preseason, but then the Memphis Grizzlies happened.

The second-year guard, who signed with the Orlando Magic as a free agent in September, missed all five of his shot attempts and committed six turnovers against three assists in Orlando's loss on Wednesday. In some ways, he's in good company: 65 different players have had five-plus turnover games against the ball-hawking Grizzlies over the last three seasons, with Steve Nash recording seven such games.

During the flight home from Memphis, John Denton answered questions from fans in a mailbag feature for OrlandoMagic.com and had the following to say about Moore:

Moore has shown plenty of flashes this preseason that he can finally solve the Magic mystery at point guard [....] But there are also plenty of questions surrounding Moore’s ability to run a team from the point. Too often he resembles a shoot-first, pass-second shooting guard trying to morph into a point guard.

Denton goes on to say that Ish Smith, who has missed all of the preseason to date in order to rehabilitate from offseason shoulder surgery, "might ultimately get the nod [at backup point guard] because of his knack as a true point guard and his ball-pressure skills."

This criticism of Moore isn't at all new, and in fact Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel wrote about it earlier in the week. Robbins asked Jameer Nelson, the nine-year veteran Moore and Smith are battling for the right to back up, if Moore is a pure point guard.

"Are there true point guards in our league anymore?" Nelson said. "Just about all of them can score."

Nelson's not wrong, which is why the hand-wringing over Moore's "true" position is misguided.

Not every point guard need be John Stockton: so long as he can dribble past midcourt without tripping over his shoelaces, Moore can play point guard at the NBA level. As it happens, advancing the ball across the timeline without incident was a bit of a problem for the Magic in 2011/12, given Chris Duhon's inability to handle the slightest bit of on-ball pressure.

The facts are these: Moore's preseason Pure Point Rating of 3.5 isn't stellar, but it's respectable enough. And there's more to running an NBA offense than assists and turnovers anyway. Moore can space the floor with his three-point shooting. He can create for himself off the dribble, particularly in the pick-and-roll. He's useful.

Moreover, Moore need not initiate the offense for Orlando on every trip. He can bring the ball up, dish to a teammate, and then get the heck out of the way. So long as Orlando has another ballhandler on the floor with Moore, it'll be okay. And, as it happens, Moore is likely to share the floor plenty with J.J. Redick in the coming season.

It's certainly possible Moore'll turn into a pumpkin by the time the regular season starts, and that coach Jacque Vaughn will have to turn to Smith whenever Nelson needs a breather. But let us not fret over whether or not Moore's a "true" point guard. It wasn't too terribly long ago that Keyon Dooling--who was, by no one's definition, a "true" point guard--capably ran Orlando's second unit and used the threat of his own offense to set up his teammates. Moore would do well to study Dooling's game, but ultimately, he has to play to his own strengths.

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