5 Best NBA Players at Every Position

John Friel@@JohnFtheheatgodAnalyst IJanuary 16, 2012

5 Best NBA Players at Every Position

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    In the NBA, if you didn't already know, there are five positions that one player must fulfill on each team.

    The point guard has the responsibility and duty of leading the team. On offense, they're usually the primary ball-handler who dictates the tone and leads the facilitation of the game. They're usually the ones racking up all of the assists as a result of holding the ball the longest and being the smartest player on the court when it comes to making wise passing decisions.

    The shooting guard will usually be the primary scorer. They sometimes handle the ball like a point guard but usually thrive off the point guard getting them open and finding them in their places. Shooting guards are usually the most multidimensional players on the court as they're usually the best shooters and slashers.

    Small forwards are usually the most athletic player on the court. They're usually the ones in highlight reels as a result of their athleticism. Small forwards tend to be the primary slashers on account of them being able to perfectly blend strength and speed. They're usually not the best shooter on the court, but they should be solid shooters.

    Power forwards are the players who may appear to be centers but serve more of a purpose on the court outside of the painted area. They can play with their back-to-the-basket, shoot from within the perimeter, and can drive if they have the speed to beat out their defender.

    Next to point guards, centers are arguably the most significant part of a lineup. This is the last line of defense as they hold down the painted area and have the last say on any opposing player who attempts to drive into the lane. Centers usually aren't shooters but rather play with their back-to-the-basket and score off dunks, hook shots and jumpers out to 15 feet.

    With that being said and clarified, let's take a look at the five best players at each position

Center 5. Al Horford

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    Al Horford may have the characteristics of your typical power forward, but the Atlanta Hawks continue to play him at center so we'll have to label him as such.

    The fact that he can play both of those positions effectively is why the Hawks will be in trouble for the next three months.

    It was recently announced that Horford has a torn pectoral muscle that will keep him out for the next three months. With the likes of Zaza Pachulia, Ivan Johnson and Vladimir Radmanovic set to replace Horford, they may be in a bit of trouble in the frontcourt.

    Horford, 25, was coming off a stellar 2010-11 season where he racked up career highs in points at 15 per, shooting percentage at 56 percent and assists per at four.

    His stats regressed this year with Jeff Teague and Marvin Williams attempting to integrate themselves in the offense, but it didn't diminish his offensive and defensive work in the post and on the boards.

    He was averaging only seven rebounds per but has averaged at least nine in every year he's been in the NBA. Maybe we can tack that stat to the down time he and every NBA player faced during the lockout.

4. Andrew Bogut

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    Once again, injuries are skewing us from viewing a healthy Andrew Bogut.

    Playing in only six out of the first 11 Milwaukee Buck games, Bogut is already dealing with injuries for the fourth consecutive year. He hasn't played in 70 or more games since the 2007-'08 season and has already missed five. In the six seasons he has played in, Bogut has played in 70 games or better only two times.

    When healthy, Bogut is one of the league's most dominant centers on the defensive end. He's got the body at 7', 245 pounds and knows how to use it. He's smart enough of a defender to play defense without fouling, especially at his size and is recognized as a premier shot-blocker on account of the league-leading three blocks per he posted last season.

    Bogut also happens to be an excellent rebounder and has averaged 10 or better for the past three seasons.

3. Marc Gasol

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    Exploding on the scene last year during the Memphis Grizzlies historic playoff run, Marc Gasol has quickly shot up the ranks as one of the league's top centers.

    In only his third NBA season and his first playoff appearance, Gasol averaged 15 points, 11 boards, two assists, and two blocks per in 13 games against the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder, two teams with formidable front courts. Gasol's size was a huge contribution, but it was his footwork that really caught the attention of first-time viewers of the Spaniard.

    In a league where centers with offensive skills come so few, Gasol is a diamond in the rough. He can score from upwards of 15 feet thanks to a solid mid-range game but is mostly skilled with his back-to-the-basket. Even though he's ranked third amongst the league's centers, he may have the best footwork of any other center.

    Gasol is currently averaging 14 points, 11 boards and three blocks per as he attempts to make up for the extended absence of Zach Randolph.

2. Andrew Bynum

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    Could this finally be the year that Andrew Bynum breaks out of his shell?

    If we were to judge him on his first 10 games, then there definitely is reason to believe that he is set to accept a larger role in the Los Angeles Lakers offense.

    After sitting out the first four games due to a suspension stemming from last year's playoffs, Bynum is averaging 16 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks per.

    Of course, this year also happens to be one of the first seasons that he has been healthy. He's played in 65 or fewer games in five of his first six seasons with the only exception being when he played the full 82 in his second year. Since that season, however, Bynum has yet to remain healthy and constantly finds himself sidelined due to knee issues.

    Now that he's 100 percent, Bynum may be showing off what we've been missing out on. He certainly knows how to use his size and length when it comes to rebounding and shot-blocking and is skilled enough to score thanks to simplistic post moves.

    Without Lamar Odom in the rotation, Bynum has been taking more shots than ever at 13 per game. Only twice before was he taking 10 or more shots per game.

1. Dwight Howard

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    Still the best center in the NBA, and it's not even close, Dwight Howard has continued to assert his authority even at the center of constant trade rumors.

    Whether he's been halfway to New Jersey or Dallas or sticking with Orlando, Howard hasn't let anything outside the game affect him in anyway. He's still the league's most dominant post threat, and no other NBA player is going to take that title away from him for a long time.

    Barring Andrew Bynum becoming the 20-10 threat that everyone in L.A. has dreamed of, Howard will continue to be the league's top center.

    After showing off the teachings of Hakeem Olajuwon last year when he averaged a career-high 23 points per game, Howard is currently averaging 21 points per but is also taking less shots than he was last season as his Magic continue to force the issue from the perimeter.

    His other totals haven't dipped in the slightest, however, as Howard currently leads the league in rebounds at 15 per. He's also averaging a career-high two assists per to go along with his usual two blocks per.

    The only downside to the start of the season for Howard has been his free-throw shooting which is currently at 46 percent. It seems as if he's assuming the role of Shaquille O'Neal.

Power Forward 5. Blake Griffin

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    Picking up right where he left off after taking home his Rookie of the Year award, Blake Griffin has continued his onslaught on rims across the country but with a much better team and floor leader.

    Since picking up Chris Paul, Chauncey Billups and Caron Butler over the offseason, the Clippers have rocketed out to a quick start. Even with all of those proven superstars, Griffin has no means of letting go of the reigns to the team that all of those players came to. He's still leading the team in points per at 23 but has seen his rebounding numbers decline to a modest 11 per.

    Griffin has continued his aerial assaults and above-the-rim acrobatics, but we have yet to see too much of an improvement to his defense and his offensive game outside of 15 feet. He's taking more jump shots and is hitting more than last season, but it's nowhere near consistent, and defenders will sag off of him. If Griffin can't drive, he becomes useless.

    His defense also has yet to show any improvement as well. He's still getting beat off the dribble, committing too many fouls and not blocking enough shots. A player with his size and athleticism should not be currently averaging .4 blocks per game.

    At only 22 years old though, Griffin's game will not be limited for too long.

4. Amar'e Stoudemire

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    Hampered by injuries to start the season and attempting to coexist with Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire is off to one of the worst starts of his career.

    Averaging 22 points and shooting 53 percent for his career and usually being recognized as one of the game's most lethal scorers, Stoudemire is currently averaging only 19 points per on a disappointing 41 percent from the field.

    In his first season without Steve Nash, Raymond Felton or Chauncey Billups leading the way, Stoudemire has been finding a little trouble scoring at a high percentage.

    However, it's early on and injuries have been taking a toll on Stoudemire yet again, so we'll let this slow start slide. In reality, Amar'e is one of the league's best finishers around the rim, can drive thanks to his strength and has developed a mid-range jumper that can extend out to as far as 20 feet.

    In his first season with the Knicks last year, Stoudemire averaged 25 points per on 50 percent shooting to go along with a career-low eight rebounds per, and that's not including the five per he had in the 2005-06 season when he only played in three games.

    Currently, Stoudemire is attempting to become more of a teammate rather than playing as an individual.

    Perhaps with Baron Davis leading the way in the future, Amar'e can get back to the top of his game and begin turning the Knicks into the contender that they were predicted to become.

3. Dirk Nowitzki

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    Coming off a season where he finally broke through and led the Dallas Mavericks to their first NBA title, Dirk Nowitzki happens to find himself struggling to start off the 2011-12 season.

    It seems as if the lockout has taken a toll on everyone, including Nowitzki who's averaging only 18 points on 47 percent shooting to go along with only five boards per as well as 20 percent shooting from beyond the arc. The slow start, however, hasn't corresponded with his Mavericks as they currently find themselves at 8-5 and in the middle of a five game winning streak.

    Nowitzki isn't going to slow down for awhile. He's not a physical player so his likelihood of getting injured is slim, and he's a jump shooter which means that he can play with his style for many more years. Obviously, shooters are more likely to last in the NBA rather than a slasher who's constantly putting their body at risk.

    Dirk has yet to slow down. Equipped with a silky smooth, rainbow jumper that can be hit from anywhere on any type of defender, Nowitzki is going to continue decimating and frustrating opposing defenses for many years to come.

    At the age of 32 last season, the German averaged 23 points per on a career-high 52 percent shooting.

2. LaMarcus Aldridge

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    It's time to begin recognizing that LaMarcus Aldridge as one of the league's most dominant power forwards.

    I know he's all the way in Portland, but it's worth watching him as he has one of the best all-around games you'll see out of a big man today.

    When it comes to scoring, Aldridge has got it down to perfection. He has the stellar post game and footwork to thrive in the low post. If teams want to sag off him and allow him to take a jumper, that would also be the wrong way of playing him as he can hit from anywhere within the perimeter. Outside of being unable to shoot three-pointers, Aldridge is a force on the offensive end.

    His defense doesn't happen to be too bad either. He's averaged a block per in four of his first five seasons and knows how to use his size and strength when it comes to playing individual defense.

    Perhaps, his most redeeming quality is his leadership. After Brandon Roy went down with another devastating injury and hope was deemed to be lost for the Trail Blazers, Aldridge assumed control of the team and quietly led them to the postseason, while averaging career-highs in 22 points and nine boards per game. 

    There's no doubt that he'll be leading them back to the playoffs once again by the end of this season.

1. Kevin Love

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    After receiving some speculation as to whether or not he's the league's top power forward near the end of the 2010-11 campaign, Kevin Love decided to take matters into his own hands for the start of the 2011-12 season.

    Currently residing in the top five in scoring, Love is averaging 25 points per and has shown no signs of regressing after a stellar year last season when he averaged 20 points and led the league in rebounds per at 15. He's currently second in the league in rebounding with a little below 15 per game.

    He's not athletic like Blake Griffin, although his weight loss has certainly helped, and he doesn't have a strong driving game like Amar'e Stoudemire, yet Love finds himself as one of the league's top scorers, thanks to other aspects of the game.

    Love's ability to rebound and finish around the rim is nearly impossible to contain. He's too wide, too strong and has a tremendous knowledge of timing his jumps on rebounds. Averaging five offensive boards per, Love has had no trouble in establishing his authority around the rim once again.

    What many don't know about Love is that he also happens to be an excellent three-point shooter. After shooting 42 percent and hitting a three-pointer per game last year, Love is hitting two three-pointers per game at a 38 percent clip.

    Aside from some weak defense at times, Love has established himself as the league's top power forward in only four years time.

Small Forward 5. Danny Granger

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    Danny Granger may be off to a slow start, but you couldn't tell by how well his Indiana Pacers are playing. At 9-3, the Pacers are off to their best start in awhile and are looking to follow up their surprising performance last year with a second consecutive playoff appearance.

    Usually a consistent shooter, Granger has been playing well below expectations to start off the 2011-12 season. It seems as if the lockout has taken away Granger's ability to shoot as he currently averages 15 points per on 34 percent shooting from the field.

    His three-point shooting has also been down as he's currently averaging a three-pointer per game on 33 percent shooting.

    Granger has averaged two three-pointers per or better in the past four years and has shot better than 36 percent in each season. Even though he contains the ability to drive thanks to his length, Granger instead decides to live on the perimeter where he has made a decent living for himself.

    He has averaged as much as 26 points per game and has averaged 20 points or better in the past three years but could see that streak come to an end with David West, Roy Hibbert and Darren Collison all taking up some of the scoring load.

4. Rudy Gay

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    It was actually believed that Rudy Gay should be traded following the completion of the Memphis Grizzlies 2011 postseason run.

    Since Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol had led them all the way to the semifinals, it was believed by a select few that it would be better if the team traded Gay in order to bring in stronger members to bolster the backcourt.

    It's a good thing that the Grizzlies organization wasn't insane because they would have ended up trading one of the league's top small forwards. In only five seasons, Gay has emerged as a feared offensive threat on account of his athleticism and mid-range game. Because of how lengthy he is, Gay is able to finish from spots where not many other players can.

    Averaging 19 points or better for the past four seasons, Gay has become a consistent offensive threat from anywhere within the perimeter.

    His assist totals could be a little higher, he's averaging two per for his career, and he could improve his overall defense, but it certainly doesn't diminish how strong of a player Gay is on the offensive end and in late-game situations.

3. Carmelo Anthony

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    Teammate Amar'e Stoudemire may be struggling to start off the season, but Carmelo Anthony hasn't let adjusting to his new surroundings get in the way of his individual achievements on the court.

    Perhaps, the most surprising stat of the early season has been the four assists per game Anthony is currently averaging. Coach Mike D'Antoni announced prior to the start of the season that Carmelo would be facilitating the offense, and it's been nothing less than a delight to see him playing the role of facilitator for the first time in his career.

    He's averaging three assists per for his career and has never averaged better than four assists per for a full season.

    Carmelo isn't a notable passer or defender, but he can rebound well for a player of his size and he's arguably the league's top pure scorer. Anthony can score from anywhere at any time, especially in the clutch, and it's translated to him averaging 25 points per for his career and as much as 29 per game.

    Anthony is averaging 26 points per on 44 percent shooting, as well as two three-pointers per on 38 percent shooting. Unlike Amar'e who might need a point guard to truly thrive in an offense, Anthony has no problem in creating his own shot as shown by his high-scoring total this season.

2. Kevin Durant

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    He's attempting to break through as the league's top small forward, but too many concerns on his defense, and his ability to drive don't allow him.

    Even though he's got an excellent jump shot and is one of the league's top scorers, Durant still needs to find a way to constantly attack the rim. He can't limit himself to being a jump shooter. He's not strong, but his length, speed and athleticism should allow him to drive at will against any type of small forward.

    Still, he's 23 years old. I know that's extremely difficult to believe, but Kevin Durant is actually only 23 years of age. He's played in only four seasons prior to this season and is already at the center of being a possible MVP recipient, has his Oklahoma City Thunder on the journey to winning a title and has won two scoring titles, becoming the youngest player in NBA history to win the scoring crown.

    He hasn't stopped either on the scoring end. Durant isn't leading the league in scoring, yet, but is averaging 26 points per on a career-high 51 percent from the field. He also happens to be converting on two three-pointers per game on 41 percent shooting.

    To go along with those 26 points per, Durant is also averaging seven boards and a career-high three assists per.

    It seems that Russell Westbrook's offensive influence and James Harden's growing presence has been cutting into Durant's offensive production.

1. LeBron James

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    Still far and away the NBA's best small forward, LeBron James is once again attempting to shed some embarrassing media attention.

    After dealing with a tumultuous 2010-11 season where he was at the center of ESPN's microscope, James is once again the talk of the town with his Miami Heat in the middle of a three-game losing streak. The main reason the fall is coming on James is due to the fact that he came up a little short in the fourth quarter.

    Even though the Heat haven't hit a free throw in the fourth quarter and Dwyane Wade has been hurt since the third game of the season, the blame is being put on LeBron once again simply because he has been the media's favorite target.

    Aside from the fourth-quarter struggles, James is having another terrific season with the Heat. He's not taking three-pointers as much as he did in previous years, and it's resulting in absurdly high numbers across the board. His new found ability to post up has translated to James averaging 30 points per on 58 percent shooting.

    To go along with eight boards, seven assists, and two steals per, James is well on his way to winning a third MVP if he can turn the Heat into the juggernaut that they were predicted to be at the start of the season.

Shooting Guard 5. Manu Ginobili

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    Currently spending his time on the bench due to a broken hand that will sideline him at least for the next few months, Manu Ginobili continues to reign at the top of the league's most gifted and talented shooting guards.

    The three-time champion and former Sixth Man of the Year has been nearing the end of his playing career, but he hasn't let his stats take any significant hit. At the age of 33 last season, Ginobili had one of the most impressive statistical seasons of his career when he averaged 17 points, five assists, and four boards per.

    In the five games before he broke his hand, Manu was averaging 17 points at an absurd 59 percent clip. He also happened to making three three-pointers per game, while converting on 52 percent of his three-point opportunities.

    Ginobili is a shooting guard who can do it all when healthy. He's a gifted defensive talent who has no problem taking on difficult assignments and has averaged at least a steal per game in every year of his NBA career, which started in 2002 when he was drafted by the Spurs at 57th overall.

    His offensive game is extremely impressive as well. Ginobili can score on drives, from the mid-range, and from deep. His craftiness with the ball allows him to make sick dimes as well as highlight reel worthy slashes to the rim.

4. Ray Allen

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    Manu Ginobili isn't the only social security candidate amongst the league's top shooting guards.

    Ray Allen also happens to be a player who enjoys defying the odds, as he has even shown improvement in his shot over the past few seasons with the Boston Celtics.

    Take for instance last season when a 35-year-old Allen averaged two three-pointers per game on a career-high of 44 percent from beyond the arc. Ray has been playing since the age of 21 in 1996 but has managed to create his career high in three-point percentage at the age of 35 which is nothing less than incredible.

    Think it was just a fluke? Take note that Allen happens to be averaging three three-pointers per game at a 58 percent clip this season through 10 games. I seriously doubt those numbers will persist, but it's impressive nonetheless that a 36-year-old is still one of the NBA's most-feared players. Not since Shaquille O'Neal has a player of that age been more feared.

    What makes it all the more staggering is that Allen's play has continued. Allen isn't the slasher he was in his days with Milwaukee and Seattle, but he's still an excellent shooter. In order to get open on all of those three-pointers, Allen whirls through a series of screens and weaves in and out of his teammates and defenders alike in order to lose his assignment.

    Once he's lost you, the Celtics may as well just tack three points on the board.

3. Monta Ellis

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    He's still a poor defender, and he's in the middle of an embarrassing allegation, yet Monta Ellis still finds himself as the league's No. 3 shooting guard for so many reasons.

    For one, he can flat-out score. Even though he's lacking on his three-point shot and is attempting to make it a large part of his game, Ellis can do it all from anywhere within the perimeter. He's extremely dangerous from the mid-range when he's hot and is an excellent slasher for a player of his size at 6'3", 175 pounds.

    Ellis is able to drive so well because of that stature. He recognizes he's not the biggest shooting guard, so he utilizes other strengths of his game such as his speed and agility. Since he's lightning quick and is an explosive finisher, Ellis is able to attack the rim at will and usually comes away with two points near the rim or at the free-throw line, where he's a 77 percent career free-throw shooter.

    Since injuring himself in a moped accident that hampered him in the 2008-09 season, Ellis has been playing outstanding basketball and has exceeded the expectations of being a 40th overall pick. He has averaged 26 and 24 points per over the past two seasons, has led the league in minutes per over the past two seasons and has improved his assists total.

    He's gotten off to a slow start this year averaging 23 points per on only 41 percent from the field, but the eight assists he's dishing out per game is definitely encouraging to a team that can't seem to get Stephen Curry healthy.

2. Kobe Bryant

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    I'm going to get a lot of grief for these next two placements. However, it's the right choice, even if Kobe Bryant has been playing insane over the past four games.

    Scoring 40 points or better in four consecutive games, Bryant hasn't let his age, health or an increased workload deter him at any aspect of the game. Taking over 10 shots per game for the first time since 2007, Bryant is averaging a league-leading 32 points per game on 46 percent shooting. He's scoring from outside and inside, and it's currently keeping the Lakers afloat.

    With Lamar Odom being traded away for nothing more than a trade exception, Bryant realized that the team was going to have depend more on him. Since Pau Gasol joined the team alongside Odom and himself, Bryant has been able to take a more relaxed approach to every game and doesn't strain and test himself as much as he did during the post-Shaq and pre-Gasol days.

    In fact, Bryant averaged only 34 minutes per game last season. It was the lowest amount of minutes per Bryant has played in since the 1997-98 season when he was still coming off the bench. The 25 points per he averaged was also his lowest total output in that category since the 2003-04 campaign.

    Averaging 32 points, six rebounds and five assists per, Bryant is playing some of the best basketball of his career. However, we can't expect this trend to continue. This season is going to be extraneous, and it creates a large effect on players like Bryant who are aging and dealing with injuries.

    Age may only be a number, but 33-year-olds simply can't continue to average 30 points per game for another 50 games.

1. Dwyane Wade

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    Do not compare the careers of Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade.

    It's a hollow argument with no point. Obviously, Bryant is going to have a lot more achievements than Wade has when considering that Kobe has been playing for twice as long and has not dealt with any serious injuries.

    We're talking about today, and in today's NBA Dwyane Wade is a better player than Kobe Bryant.

    Even if Bryant is spouting off for 40 points in four consecutive games and is currently leading the league in rebounds per, Wade is still the player that Bryant is with more athleticism, stronger defense and a greater ability to attack the rim. Three years younger than Kobe, Wade has the advantage of age on his size.

    It's just a disappointment that injuries have continued to put a damper on Wade's start to the 2011-12 season. This is the first time since the 2007-08 season that Wade has dealt with injuries, as he has played in 76 or more games over the previous three years after playing in only 51 games apiece in the two previous seasons. He's only played in nine games this year, with more games to be missed.

    Not focusing too much on his injuries, but rather his game, Wade is the best shooting guard, and arguably the best player in the NBA. He scores at a high level at a terrific shooting percentage (48 percent for his career), can break through any type of defense, has the athleticism to outrun, outjump and outmuscle any defender in the back or frontcourt and can keep up on defense with any player playing from the one to three.

    Set to turn 30 on Tuesday, we'll see just how ready Wade is for the second half of his career and if he can maintain a good standing of health.

Point Guard 5. Steve Nash

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    In a young man's league, Steve Nash has continued to defy the odds even at the age of 37.

    Even though he's been constantly nagged by back injuries that force him to lie down when he's out of the game, Nash has played in at least 70 games since the 2000-'01 season. He's dealt with countless bumps and bruises to his 6'3", 195-pound frame, but has never let that diminish his knack for playing the game of basketball.

    Because when it comes to playing basketball as a point guard, there aren't many players in the history of the game who have done it better than Steve Nash.

    A recipient of two MVP's, Nash continues to be one of the league's most effective floor generals, especially in his later years. Since joining the Suns for the second time at the age of 30, Nash has led the league in assists per five times, including the past two seasons. He has averaged 11 assists per or better five times and nearly set a career high last season when he averaged 11.4.

    Don't forget that the 11.4 assists per he was averaging last season were coming off dimes to the likes of a 38-year-old Grant Hill, Marcin Gortat and Channing Frye.

    Even without Amar'e Stoudemire and Shawn Marion, Nash continues to make the Suns relevant and a possible playoff contender.

    As a shooter, Nash is unbelievably consistent. He's a 43 percent three-point shooter and has shot below 40 percent only twice in his career—the first time in 1999 when he shot a career-low 37 percent and the second time coming when he shot 39.5 percent, which can still be regarded as 40 percent.

    He's also shot 49 percent from the field and 90 percent from the foul line for his career.

    If it wasn't for his defense, Nash would be ranked near the top.

4. Russell Westbrook

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    Don't blame him if Oklahoma City struggles.

    Sometimes a player who knows he's good enough to be a first option on 95 percent of the NBA's teams feels a little off about playing the role of sidekick to someone his age.

    You can continue criticizing Russell Westbrook for all of his faults and his attitude, but don't fault his game for being the reason why the Thunder didn't end up making it to the NBA Finals last season. The dynamic point guard is nearly equivalent in playing style to MVP Derrick Rose besides his range being far more limited and his mentality being far more weaker.

    In three seasons, Westbrook has skyrocketed up the charts and currently finds himself as one of the league's top five point guards. His ability to facilitate the Thunder's offense as a scorer and passer is what has allowed him to shoot up the ranks in such a short amount of time.

    He's unbelievably athletic and strong for a point guard, and that gives him a tremendous advantage over a number of defenders that play his position.

    Averaging 22 points, eight assists and five boards per last season, Westbrook had his breakout year and helped to lead the Thunder to within three games of their first title appearance since 1996, when the idea of a team being located in Oklahoma City was thought of as far-fetched.

    Now with Westbrook and Durant leading the way, the Thunder are looking forward to the extremely high chance of making it to the NBA Finals.

3. Deron Williams

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    Please somebody, save Deron Williams from New Jersey.

    I remember watching Dwyane Wade struggle with Michael Beasley and Jermaine O'Neal, as well as Kobe Bryant playing with Chris Mihm and Smush Parker, but Deron Williams in New Jersey is simply embarrassing.

    He has no business playing on a team with absolutely no scoring threats outside of a center who's dealing with a broken foot.

    Aside from Brook Lopez and Williams, the Nets are absolutely abysmal. Williams is doing all he can, averaging 18 points and eight assists per, while also converting on two three-pointers per game, but it's simply not enough for a team that currently employs the likes of Kris Humphries, Anthony Morrow and MarShon Brooks as legitimate scoring options.

    It's sad too. Williams was once a part of a legitimate team in the Utah Jazz before eventually departing for New Jersey. During his time there, he led the Jazz to heights that they had only see during the days of Karl Malone and John Stockton. After getting drafted in 2005, it took Williams only one full season before he brought the Jazz to the conference finals.

    Williams would then lead the Jazz to three more playoff appearances and two more seasons of 50-plus wins.

    Deron finds so much success as a point guard because of how strong he is. To go along with the fact that he's an excellent shooter, defender and has excellent court awareness and vision, Williams utilizes his strength and athleticism to post up and drive on the smaller, weaker point guards around the league.

    There's a reason why he usually triumphs Chris Paul's stats in their meetings. Williams utilizes his strength to beat out the smaller, weaker Paul.

2. Derrick Rose

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    It took some time to determine whether or not to place Derrick Rose second or third, but after analyzing just how much more of a point guard he's become this year, it only felt right to place him over Deron Williams.

    Rose has seen his point output from last year drop from 25 to 21 points per game, but it's only because he's passing the rock more, nearly nine assists per, and because he's allowing his teammates to shoulder more of the scoring load. With a newcomer like Richard Hamilton taking some shots, Rose doesn't have to work like he had to last season.

    The reigning MVP is coming off a historic 2010-11 campaign where he actually became the youngest recipient of the award in NBA history. At 22 years old and only in his third year, Rose averaged 25 points, eight assists and four boards per, while leading the Chicago Bulls to an NBA-best 62-20 record. He'd then lead them to the conference finals for the first time since 1998.

    Simply put, Rose is phenomenal. He's a small forward in the body of a point guard in terms of his athleticism, as he utilizes his size, strength and speed to either maneuver around or finish over the much taller members of the frontcourt. You would have no idea he was 6'3", if no one told you in the first place as Rose displays a fearless attitude whenever he drives.

    Rose doesn't have many faults outside of attempting too many perimeter shots. He's not a pure point guard like Steve Nash or Rajon Rondo, but he knows how to win games and that's all that should matter when it comes to finding a player to build around.

1. Chris Paul

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    For a second there, we thought that injuries might have actually ended Chris Paul's reign at the top of the NBA's best point guards.

    Face it, Paul is still the league's best guard and he has been for some time now. Even with knee injuries attempting to derail his game over the past two years, CP3 has yet to let that deter him in anyway as he continues to facilitate an offense better than just about any other point guard, or player for that matter, in the game.

    The best part about Paul's game is that he knows how to facilitate at the right time. What separates Paul from every other point guard in the league is that he's extremely effective as a scorer and as a passer.

    Unlike other point guards who will favor either or, Paul is comfortable in his own as a point guard that can help his team as someone who can score from inside and out or a passer who can continue to set his teammates up.

    Whether it's with the New Orleans Hornets or Los Angeles Clippers, Paul knows how to lead any team to victory. He led an awful Hornets team to 56 wins and a division title in 2008 and was the sole reason why they remained relevant for his entire time there.

    Just compare the Clippers and the Hornets to what they were last year and you'll see just how much of an influence Paul carries.

    There's only one Western Conference team with double-digit losses, and it happens to be the team that Chris Paul was playing for last year. Even with a terrific scorer in Eric Gordon and a solid center in Chris Kaman, the Hornets have gone from a championship contender to a lottery team overnight.

    That's what Paul can do to you.