|Little known fact about this picture...there was another basketball under his left arm, but Baron ate it before the picture.|
We're only a quarter of the way through the NBA season and the craziness has already started. Huge winning streaks by Boston, Miami, and New York, as well as our first mega trade (2 trades actually) in which Orlando essentially remakes its team on the fly...and we aren't even to Christmas yet!
All of that said, the level of play/talent has gone up significantly over the last few seasons, culminating in what seems to be the most entertaining and compelling start to an NBA season since the Jordan era. The reason? Point guards. I don't have to tell you that a good point guard makes a team infinitely better. They bring out the best in their teammates and lift the level of play. This current crop of point guards is perhaps the most talented since the Magic, Isaiah era...and you could even argue that it is the most talented ever! With that in mind, I figured it would be interesting to rank them.
There is one interesting twist in these power rankings. I am ranking them as if you were starting a franchise and picking a point guard to lead your franchise for the future. Age, current performance, past performance, potential, and contract all factor into these rankings. As always, discussion is encouraged.
30. Mike Bibby - 10.3ppg, 2.2rpg, 4.0apg, 2.0 3pt, 47.7 FG%, 52.3 3PT%
32 years, 2 years $11,782,384
29. Jose Calderon - 9.6ppg, 2.4rpg, 6.7apg, 1.2 spg 0.9 3pt, 47.3 FG%, 44.4 3PT%
29 years, 3 years $29,342,978
28. Baron Davis - 8.7ppg, 2.4rpg, 5.9apg, 1.2spg, 0.6 3pt, 36.4 FG%, 21.1 3PT%
31 years, 3 years $41,850,000
Let's get this group out of the way and then forget we talked about them. Observation #1...Baron Davis is really fat. Observation #2...How is Bibby only 32? Hasn't he been in the league for 28 years now? Honestly, you could have arranged these three any way you wanted, they are just horrible and their contracts are ridiculous.
27. Chauncey Billups - 14.4ppg, 2.0rpg, 5.4apg, 1.2spg, 1.6 3pt, 35.1 FG%, 35.4 3PT%
34 years, 1 year $13,150,000 *Team Option for $14,120,000
26. Jason Kidd - 7.8ppg, 4.2rpg, 8.7apg, 1.7spg, 1.6 3pt, 36.6 FG%, 34.7 3PT%
38 years (in March), 2 years $17,000,000
25. Andre Miller - 13.2ppg, 3.7rpg, 7.2apg, 1.9spg, 45.5 FG%
35 years (in March), 1 year $7,269,264 *Team Option for $7,807,728
Not sure if I should post this particular comment on my blog or send it in to the obituary section of their respective newspapers. Billups and Kidd have had tremendous staying power but all good things must come to an end. Anybody who watched the World Championships this past summer could have seen this coming with Billups, who simply can't shoot anymore. He isn't as old as Kidd, so perhaps he will bounce back. Of course, perhaps Baron Davis will lose some weight and commit to defense...
24. Jonny Flynn - Injured
21 years, 2 years $6,606,720 *Team Option for $4,329,864
23. Darren Collison - 13.1 ppg, 2.8rpg, 4.2apg, 1.0spg, 45.6 FG%, 37.5 3PT%
23 years, 2 years $2,817,000 *Team Option for $2,319,344
22. Eric Bledsoe - 8.0ppg, 3.3rpg, 4.7apg, 1.0spg, 45.6 FG%, 29.7 3PT%
21 years, 2 years $3,081,360 *2 year Team Option for $4,334,193
21. Mike Conley - 14.4ppg, 3.1rpg, 7.0apg, 2.1spg, 1.0 3pt, 45.2 FG%, 35.0 3PT%
23 years, 6 years $44,933,007
20. Kyle Lowry - 11.0ppg, 4.0rpg, 7.3apg, 2.1spg, 1.1 3pt, 42 FG%, 38.5 3PT%
24 years, 4 years $23,460,000
19. Ty Lawson - 10.7ppg, 2.3rpg, 4.3apg, 0.7spg, 0.8 3pt, 49.8 FG%, 37.5 3PT%
23 years, 2 years $3,201,000 *Team Option $2,544,528
18. DJ Augustin - 12.9ppg, 3.4rpg, 6.3apg, 0.7spg, 1.3 3pt, 42.2 FG%, 34.7 3PT%
23 years, 2 years $5,776,869
You can debate where these seven rank among themselves, but I grouped them together because, while they are nice young PG's with palatable contracts (with one giant exception), I'm just not sure any of these guys are ever going to be All-Star's. Conley might be the best among this group (he might even belong in the next group), but his contract is so incredibly bad. What in the world was Memphis thinking?! The dumbest thing about it was the deal was that Conley would have been a RFA after the season, meaning that Memphis had the right to match any offers he received. Did they really think that Conley was going to get MORE? Prediction: Within two years the Grizzlies front office asks Zach Randolph to eat Conley so they won't have to pay out.
Don't ask me about the Ty Lawson thing. I don't know why, but I like him a lot and I think he is going to be a very good player once they remove Billups' corpse and hand him the team. He, more than anyone else in this tier, may end up proving me wrong on my All-Star prediction.
17. Rodney Stuckey - 16.5ppg, 3.3rpg, 5.5apg, 1.0spg, 43.2 FG%, 22.6 3PT%
24 years, 1 year $2,767,126
16. Jameer Nelson - 14.5ppg, 3.0rpg, 7.3apg, 0.9spg, 1.6 3pt, 45.1 FG%, 39.1 3PT%
28 years, 3 years $21,916,665
15. Mo Williams - 15.1 ppg, 3.0rpg, 6.7apg, 0.9spg, 1.1 3pt, 41.1 FG%, 27.9 3PT%
27 years, 1 year $9,300,000 *2 year Player Option $17,000,000
The fact that Nelson and Williams are ranked at this level tells you how deep the PG position is in the NBA right now. Both are proven, near All-Star level point guards that have led their teams deep in the playoffs. Truth be told, however, I'm not a huge Jameer Nelson fan. His size limits his ability greatly as he struggles to execute simple pick and roll passes and post entry passes.
Quick note: Somebody needs to punch Mo Williams in the face. Right now. I've never seen a player so messed up about another player leaving the team. He's like a teenage girl whose prom date ditched her at the last minute for the quarterback of the football team. WAKE UP MO! YOU'RE STILL GETTING PAID!
14. Aaron Brooks - Injured
26 years (in January) 1 year $2,016,691
13. Devin Harris - 16.9ppg, 2.8rpg, 6.8apg, 1.1spg, 0.7 3pt, 43.9 FG%, 29.7 3PT%
27 years, 3 years $26,800,000
12. Tony Parker - 17.9ppg, 3.2rpg, 7.2apg, 1.5spg, 52 FG%, 38.5 3PT%
28 years, 5 years $63,500,000
Parker gets the nod as the best of these three because of his track record. He's been a key cog on multiple championship teams and he would rank even higher on this list if the Spurs hadn't given him a ridiculous $50 million contract extension. Also, negative points for cheating on Eva Longoria...who does that? A couple years ago, Devin Harris would have been thought of much higher, but injuries and a lack of development has settled him right in the middle of the pack. Brooks could move up on this list, but he is on the smallish side (bite size for Baron Davis in fact) and he isn't the best defender. Also, I guarantee someone is going to go nuts and give him a massive contract, thus plunging him down this list. On to the rest of Tier 3...
11. Jrue Holiday - 13.3ppg, 3.9rpg, 6.6apg, 1.4spg, 1.0 3pt, 41.6 FG%, 34.2 3PT%
20 years, 2 years $3,369,360 *Team Option for $2,674,851
10. Ray Felton - 18.4ppg, 3.8rpg, 9.0apg, 1.9spg, 1.8 3pt, 45.8 FG%, 36.7 3PT%
26 years, 2 years $15,000,000
Let's be honest about Ray Felton, his stats are definitely inflated by D'Antoni's system. He is, however, a very good young guard with a terrific contract. I think you could definitely win a championship with a guy like Felton running the team, but his size and defense certainly preclude him from being "elite." Holiday's placement may seem odd, but I absolutely love him. He's only 20, and he has the skill set and athleticism to take the leap into elite point guard status. If only Evan Turner wouldn't have passed away before the season...
9. Steve Nash - 17.6ppg, 3.5rpg, 10.2apg, 0.7spg, 0.8 3pt, 52.2 FG%, 35.1 3PT%
37 years (in February), 2 years $22,000,000
8. Brandon Jennings - 17.9ppg, 4.0rpg, 5.5apg, 1.2spg, 1.9 3pt, 39.1 FG%, 36.7 3PT%
21 years, 2 years $4,824,840 *Team Option $3,179,493
7. Stephen Curry - 20.1ppg, 3.3rpg, 5.6apg, 2.2spg, 1.7 3pt, 48.9 FG%, 43.6 3PT%
22 years, 2 years $6,030,960 *Team Option $3,958,742
Quite a second tier right? Despite being 37, Nash still belongs amongst the best, and would anybody be surprised if he was still making stiffs like Hakim Warrick look good at age 40? Jennings has the physical tools to be one of the best, but he's shooting under 40% from the field. Apparently playing with Jerry Stackhouse last year didn't help his shot selection. Can you picture them in practice yelling "I GOTTA GET MINE!" As for Curry, my man crush on him made it difficult to keep him in the second tier. His size and injury history are the biggest issues here, but I also wonder if he is a pure point guard or if he is more of a combo. Time will tell, and if we were doing these ranking based on NBA 2K10 then Curry would easily be in my top 5. Of course, Roy Hibbert would be the number one player in the NBA so...
6. Chris Paul - 16.3ppg, 4.4rog, 9.9apg, 2.9spg, 1.1 3pt, 49 FG%, 47.5 3PT%
25 years, 2 years $31,299,957 *Player Option $17,779,457
Go ahead and freak out that I have Paul 6th. Serious injury concerns have really dropped Paul's stock long term. Obviously, any team would love to "take a chance" on him, even at the max contract he will command two years from now, but would you rather start your team with a maxed out Paul, giant knee brace and all, or a more durable player like Deron Williams (durable or fat?) or Derrick Rose? My thoughts exactly!
5. Russell Westbrook - 23.1ppg, 5.0rpg, 8.5apg, 2.0spg, 44.6 FG%, 26.5 3PT%
22 years, 2 years $9,100,135
Westbrook has taken a huge leap forward this year and vaulted himself not only into top PG status, but top 15 overall player status. Really, the only thing separating Westbrook from the rest of the guys on this list is a reliable perimeter jump shot. Well, that and a playoff track record.
4. Rajon Rondo - 11.2ppg, 4.6rpg, 13.8apg, 2.4spg, 52.9 FG%
24 years, 5 years $55,000,000
So remember when I mentioned something about a jump shot? Yeah, don't worry about that. I could put Rondo higher on this list and not feel bad about it. He might be the best pure passer/playmaker in the game at this point as evidenced by his gaudy assist totals. Oh, don't forget that he is a lockdown defender as well. And while you're at it, remember the fact that he has one championship ring, has been a couple minutes from getting another, and has a history of playing his best ball come playoff time. Sure, his jump shot is a bit spotty...to say the least, but it would be tough to pass up a playmaker like Rondo, especially at a bargain price of $11,000,000 a year for the next five years!
3. Deron Williams - 22.5ppg, 3.9rpg, 9.7apg, 1.3spg, 1.6 3pt, 47.4 FG%, 35.4 3PT%
26 years, 2 years $31,299,957 *Player Option $17,779,457
2. John Wall - 16.7ppg, 3.5rpg, 8.9apg, 2.3spg, 0.9 3pt, 40.7 FG%, 33.3 3PT%
20 years, 4 years $24,050,164
1. Derrick Rose - 24.3ppg, 4.4rpg, 8.4apg, 1.0spg, 1.8 3pt, 46 FG%, 41.7 3PT%
22 years, 2 years $12,539,867
So, I feel like I have to defend putting Williams at #3 instead of #1. First of all, he's a bit older than Wall and Rose. Second, you still have a couple years of cheap rookie salary with both Wall and Rose. Third, and most important, HAVE YOU SEEN WALL AND ROSE? Look, I love me some Deron Williams. All of my fat jokes aside (and hair jokes) he and Rose are the two best PG's in the NBA this year, but there is a definite ceiling to Williams' game. He isn't terribly athletic and he isn't a great defender and, most important, he has come up short in the playoffs time and time again. Sure, neither Wall nor Rose has done anything in the playoffs yet, but they haven't had the opportunities that Williams has. To put it simply, this is the best that Williams will ever be and I think that the ceiling of Wall and Rose are higher. Sure, I am completely biased about Wall (UK fan), but he is the most breathtaking athlete I have ever seen at the PG position and he has an instinct for making plays, getting his teammates involved, and most importantly, for winning.
And then there is Rose. Going into the season, he would have been in the Russell Westbrook position. Incredible athlete and playmaker, poor shooter. Rose, however, has put in the work necessary to elevate his game and he is shooting a career best 41.7% from 3 point range. That has made Rose completely unguardable and that is why he is my #1.
I'm sure there will be disagreements, so please, discuss!