Can Dexter Strickland Be the Backup Point Guard (Again)?

Now that Larry Drew has ridden off into the sunset, life is going to change for at least two Carolina players. Kendall Marshall, of course, is going to see his playing time ratcheted up. But Marshall's not going to be expected to go forty minutes, which means barring any hidden talents for the position Reggie Bullock might have, Dexter Strickland is going to be back at the point.

Strickland isn't a stranger to the point, having backed up Drew there last season. He was recruited as a shooting guard, though, and one of the big points of excitement in the preseason was that Marshall's arrival would finally free him up to be a shooting guard. He hasn't done much shooting however, at least from behind the arc. Strickland's taken 15 threes this season, and has sunk five. He's more likely to pass up the three in favor of slashing drives to the bucket; he creates his own shot more often than not.

That's a pretty good talent for a point guard to have; frequent turnovers are not. Strickland had a 28.3% turnover rate last season. Now, Drew and Marshall have turned the ball over at rates of 28.8% and 32.9% this season, so that's not a deal breaker, but the other two guards also produce a lot more assists than Strickland did last season. Dexter has reduced his turnover rate sharply this year now that distributing the ball isn't his primary job, but it will probably rise in his new role. Still, Strickland is among the quickest players on the team, and possibly the best perimeter defender. He should be able to shoulder a good deal of Drew's workload.

There's one other benefit. With Strickland spending more time at the point, that's going to free up more time at the shooting guard for Leslie McDonald and Reggie Bullock. McDonald is the best perimeter shooter on the team, and Bullock has had tremendous performances of late, most prominent his solo 9-0 run against Boston College. So even if the team gives up a little in having Strickland at the point is a small step back from Drew, the increased perimeter shooting without sacrificing Strickland's defensive skills could be a net positive. We'll see.

UPDATE: There's a fair amount of concern about the return of the poor defensive start, especially if Strickland no longer starts. First of all, I'm not entirely sure he won't start; Williams has moved away from the two distinct teams of five, first because of McDonald's injury and then Justin Watts. I'd expect Strickland to start, and his and Marshall's time on the bench to be staggered.

And don't forget, those early horrible defensive starts came with both Drew and Strickland, the two best perimeter defenders on the floor. 

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