The Nevada Wolf Pack has had an incredible run of point guards over the past nine seasons.
Ramon Sessions (2005-07), Armon Johnson (2007-09) and Deonte Burton (2009-present) have led the Wolf Pack to a record of 197-101 and seven postseason tournaments over the past nine seasons.
But now that they all have three seasons under the point guard belt (Burton will likely return for a fourth season in 2013-14), which one was the best?
It's a matter of opinion. And you can't go wrong with any of the three.
Before we begin comparing Sessions, Johnson and Burton, it is important as you look at the numbers to always keep in mind how much each played and who was on the court with them:
- GAMES, MINUTES PLAYED
- SESSIONS: 97 games, 2,835 minutes
- JOHNSON: 101 games, 3,299 minutes
- BURTON: 98 games, 3,157 minutes
What it means: Johnson and Burton spent considerably more time on the court than Sessions. Keep that in mind when looking at the stats. Johnson played over 1,000 minutes in each of his three seasons, Burton went over 1,000 minutes twice in three years and Sessions only surpassed 1,000 minutes his final year. Johnson, technically, only played four more games than Sessions in his career but he played 464 more minutes, which, in reality, is like playing about 15 more games.
- THEIR TEAMMATES
- SESSIONS: Nick Fazekas, Mo Charlo, Marcelus Kemp, Kyle Shiloh, Denis Ikovlev, Javale McGee, David Ellis, Brandon Fields, Lyndale Burleson, Matt LaGrone, Tyrone Hanson, Curry Lynch, Richie Phillips, DeMarshay Johnson, Seth Taylor, Kevinn Pinkney, Jermaine Washington.
- JOHNSON: Luke Babbitt, Marcelus Kemp, Brandon Fields, Lyndale Burleson, David Ellis, Malik Cooke, Matt LaGrone, Ray Kraemer, Richie Phillips, Curry Lynch, Adam Carp, Joey Shaw, Dario Hunt, Ahyaro Phillips, London Giles, Marko Cukic, Keith Olson, Keith Fuetsch, Patrick Nyeko.
- BURTON: Malik Story, Dario Hunt, Olek Czyz, Derrell Conner, Illiwa Baldwin, Jordan Burris, Kevin Panzer, Jordan Finn, Devonte Elliott, Adam Carp, Patrick Nyeko, Keith Fuetsch, Marko Cukic, Brice Crook, Richard Bell, Marqueze Colemn, Cole Huff, Ali Fall.
What it means: Sessions had Fazekas and Johnson had Babbitt. Burton had Story. Fazekas was a WAC Player of the Year. Babbitt was a WAC Player of the Year. Burton had to become his own WAC Player of the Year.
- SESSIONS: 850 points, 8.8 average
- JOHNSON: 1,441 points, 14.3 average
- BURTON: 1,459 points, 14.9 average
What it means: All it really means is that Sessions had more help than Johnson and certainly Burton. Johnson was the best shooter. He shot .467 from the floor, Burton is at .424 and Sessions shot just .417. Burton, though, is the best 3-point shooter among the three. He has made 135-of-390 (.346) for his career). Johnson got worse from beyond the arc every year and finished 70-of-242 (.289) and Sessions finally became competent from long distance as a junior and finished his career at 25-of-80 (.313). It must be noted that Johnson was the best scorer inside the arc, shooting a very efficient .514. Burton is at .472 on 2-point attempts and Sessions was .430. All three were good from the line (Sessions shot .740, Johnson .750 and Burton .754). Burton, though, probably because he hasn't had a Fazekas, Babbitt or McGee in the paint, has been asked to attack the basket a lot more. He's gone to the line (605 times), almost as much as Sessions and Johnson combined (660).
How they rank: 1. Burton. 2. Johnson. 3. Sessions. Edge to Burton because of his ability to shoot the three, get to the free throw line and score from anywhere on the floor.
- MAKING TEAMMATES BETTER
- SESSIONS: 478 assists, 4.9 a game
- JOHNSON: 445 assists, 4.4 a game
- BURTON: 373 assists, 3.8 a game
What it means: Sessions and Johnson had a lot more options to go to than Burton. And they had a couple of guys -- Fazekas and Babbitt -- who were like assist banks. Deposit the ball in their hands and they paid interest in assists. The one year Burton had a consistent threat inside to dump the ball into -- Dario Hunt and Olek Czyz in 2011-12 -- he averaged 4.2 assists a game. This year, with nobody to pass to except an inconsistent Malik Story, his assists plummeted to 3.6 a game.
How they rank: 1. Sessions. 2. Johnson. 3. Burton. Sessions got an assist every 5.9 minutes he was on the court. Johnson got one assist every 7.4 minutes and Burton gets one every 8.5 minutes.
- PROTECTING THE BALL
- SESSIONS: 248 turnovers, 2.6 a game
- JOHNSON: 276 turnovers, 2.7 a game
- BURTON: 215 turnovers, 2.2 a game
What it means: It means that Burton is a better ball handler than most people give him credit for. Burton's numbers are even more impressive when you consider that he is double teamed every time he takes a step toward the basket. Sessions turned the ball over once every 11.4 minutes, Johnson every 12.0 minutes and Burton every 14.7 minutes.
How they rank: 1. Burton, 2. Sessions, Johnson (tied).
- SESSIONS: 113 steals, 14 blocks
- JOHNSON: 83 steals, 25 blocks
- BURTON: 121 steals, 37 blocks,
What it means: Burton has averaged 1.23 steals a game in his career. Johnson was at 0.82 and Sessions was at 1.16. Burton is by far the most physical of the three.
How they rank: 1. Burton. 2. Sessions. 3. Johnson.
- SESSIONS: 410, 4.2 a game
- JOHNSON: 345, 3.4 a game
- BURTON: 224, 2.3 a game
What it means: Sessions was an incredible rebounder for a point guard, a stat that always got overlooked on those great Pack teams during his era. He had 97 offensive rebounds in his career (Johnson had 78). It is even more remarkable when you consider that he played on the floor with solid rebounders that pulled down everything (Fazekas, Pinkney, Washington, McGee, Johnson, Bell, Ikovlev, Ellis, Kemp, etc.). Johnson was also a solid rebounder and he played with Babbitt, McGee, Kemp, Johnson, Hunt, LaGrone, Ahyaro Phillips, Ellis and Cooke, guys who lived off grabbing offensive rebounds. Burton's one true weakness is crashing the boards. He only has 42 offensive rebounds in three years so he's leaving a lot of points out there on the floor.
How they rank: 1. Sessions. 2. Johnson. 3. Burton.
- SUCCESSFUL RATE
- SESSIONS: The Pack was 81-18 in Sessions career and went to three NCAA Tournaments in three years.
- JOHNSON: The Wolf Pack was 63-38 in Johnson's era and went o the NIT once and College Basketball Invitational twice.
- BURTON: The Pack was 53-45 in Burton's first three years and has only been to one postseason tournament (NIT in 2012).
What it means: It means that Sessions and Johnson had better teammates. Give Burton a Fazekas or a Babbitt, not to mention a Marcelus Kemp, Kevinn Pinkney, Javale McGee, Mo Charlo, Kyle Shiloh, Brandon Fields, etc., and you can bet he'd have 10 more victories and two more postseason appearances by now. Sessions' teams (25-7, 27-6, 29-5) were very consistent as were Johnson's (21-12, 21-13, 21-13). But that just means their teammates were more consistent. They certainly had more help as far as leadership was concerned. Burton's career has been a roller coaster (13-19, 28-7, 12-19) but so has the Pack locker room during his era.
How they rank: 1. Sessions. 2. Johnson. 3. Burton.
- OVERALL RANKING
- 1. BURTON
- 2. SESSIONS
- 3. JOHNSON
It's close. It's very close.
But the one guy out of the three who won the least and who didn't go to the NBA (as of now) after his junior year is the best.
Again, you could make the final ranking six different ways and still not be wrong. All were (are) great point guards. All served the program well. All had their strengths. All fit what the Pack needed at the time. All will end up in the Wolf Pack Hall of Fame.
But Burton gets the nod because he is simply the best all-around player of the three.
He can shoot inside and outside the paint as well as inside and outside the 3-point line. He can get to the free throw line. He takes care of the ball. He's the best offensive player and the best defensive player of the three. Sessions is the best pure point guard but the teams that Burton has played on can't afford a point guard to simply be a point guard.
Burton also has handled the burden of being his team's best player, something Sessions and Johnson did not have to do. He's been asked to win games by himself. He's been asked to be his team's leader on and off the court.
Burton has been remarkably consistent all three years despite a revolving door roster around him. He also had to change conferences in the middle of his career, losing all of his comfort zone. And the roster -- he's losing Story, his No 1 option -- is going to change again going into his senior year.
He's simply had to deal with the most adversity out of three.