When Steve Rivera posed the Mustafa Shakur or Nic Wise question over a beverage or two Tuesday night, my first reaction was that I would have rather have Wise as the point guard of my team.
On second thought … well, I’m sticking with Wise.
(Make your vote at Rivera’s blog.)
Some of this just might be personal preference — I’m always going to identify with the short point guard — but I crunched a few numbers upon returning home, and I think the numbers favor Wise.
We know that neither of these guys is at the top of the list at the basketball program sometimes known as Point Guard U., but they were the best option at the position for much of the past seven seasons, with a one-year break when Jerryd Bayless was the lead dog in the backcourt.
The Wildcats leaned heavily on Shakur, who started 129 of his 131 games from the 2003-04 season to the 2006-07 season. Wise was a starter for the past 2 1/2 years, starting every game for the past two seasons.
Let’s break it down:
Wise was the better scorer, averaging 15.7 points as a junior and 14.4 this season. Shakur’s best scoring season came as a senior, when he averaged 11.9 points.
(I think those numbers are a bit misleading because Wise had no choice but to be a scorer in the past two years, given his supporting cast, while Shakur could defer to the likes of Salim Stoudamire, Channing Frye, Hassan Adams, Andre Iguodala and Marcus Williams, among others over the course of his career. Still, I’m not convinced Shakur could have handled a more important scoring role).
Wise was the better 3-point shooter, hitting 160 of 405 attempts (39.5 percent).
Shakur, whose shooting form never appeared to improve through four seasons, actually had decreasing 3-point percentages — from 39.6 as a freshman to 37.8 to 33.3 to 32.5 Career accuracy: 35.4 (100 of 282).
Shakur played more total minutes (4,066 to 3,267), but Wise actually had more steals (167 to 156).
Shakur was the more creative passer but had only a modestly better assist-to-turnover ratio. He had 1.73 assists for every turnover. Wise’s ratio was 1.6.
Both were very good from the free throw line, but Wise has the edge. He hit 83.9 percent (329 of 392). Shakur made 78.6 percent (324 of 412).
I have to grant that Shakur, at least five inches taller, was the better rebounder.
And, there is no way of knowing, but what if Wise had been the point guard for the 2005 regional final game against Illinois? Could he have prevented Arizona’s late turnover-filled collapse?
In any case, in this debate, I’ll take my chances with Wise.
Speaking of Shakur, he was called up Tuesday from the NBA’s Development League, signing a 10-day contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder.