Ranking the Top 10 Point Guards in the NBA

Michael DulkaContributor IAugust 23, 2012

Ranking the Top 10 Point Guards in the NBA

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    The NBA is currently loaded with talent at the point guard position. There are plenty of players that could qualify as top-10 players and a few that could be argued as the best in the game.

    Right now in the NBA, the point guard position is definitely one of the more important positions. With the exception of the Miami Heat, most teams at the top of the league benefit from great point guard play. Adding an elite point guard is a sure way to take a team from the lottery to the playoffs.

    As one of the most versatile positions on the court, point guards can do extremely different things for different teams, making it tough to compare—but let's try.

Honorable Mention: Ricky Rubio

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    Ricky Rubio burst onto the NBA scene last season with stellar play before tearing his ACL in the second half of the season. With just over half a season, albeit a shortened one, under his belt, Rubio has proven he is more than capable of playing at the NBA level.

    During his rookie season, Rubio averaged 10.6 points, 8.2 assists and 4.2 rebounds a game. While Rubio put up solid numbers, he also had some trouble with taking care of the basketball. Rubio average 3.2 turnovers a game, tied for 10th most in the league.

    One of the biggest reasons Rubio isn't on the list is that he hasn't proven he can maintain this level of play. If Rubio can come back healthy, he should be making his way up the list next season. 

    Rubio has every chance to improve next season and become one of the top 10 point guards in the list. The Timberwolves have added new weapons in Brandon Roy and Andrei Kirilenko for Rubio to play alongside.  

10. Brandon Jennings

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    Brandon Jennings is one of the most intriguing point guards in the NBA. As a score-first point guard, Jennings is one of top scoring point guards in the league. Outside of scoring the basketball, Jennings is fairly average at everything else. 

    After a very strong rookie season in 2009-10 in which Jennings averaged 15.5 points, 5.7 assists and 3.4 rebounds a game, he has failed to evolve his game as a whole to the next level. Jennings has improved his scoring output (19.1 points per game last season), but the rest of his game has stayed stagnant.

    One of the biggest question marks surrounding Jennings when he came into the league was his durability.

    At 6'1" and 169 pounds, Jennings is much smaller than most point guards. Despite being undersized, Jennings has played 211 games out of a possible 230 over the last three seasons, silencing those critics. 

    Jennings is definitely a threat scoring the basketball, but he needs to be a better all-around player to rise in the point guard rankings. To this end, Jennings needs to work better within the team framework. 

9. Kyrie Irving

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    Kyrie Irving is already one of the top point guards in the league after playing just one season.

    Despite being a rookie, Irving showed a ridiculous amount of control in the pro game. He was very good, finishing the year with 18.5 points, 5.4 assists and 3.7 assists per game, while shooting 46.9 percent from the field. 

    Irving helped take the Cavs from 19 wins in 2010-11 to 21 wins last year in the shortened season. In 2010-11, the Cavs' winning percentage was .232, while in 2011-12 it was up to .318. Outside of Irving, the rest of the team was mostly unchanged.

    While Irving was solid throughout last year, excitement is extremely high as Irving showed improvement as the year went on. The potential is definitely there, and if Irving can continue to improve his game he will be one of the best point guards and players in the league in a few seasons.

8. Ty Lawson

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    Ty Lawson has broken onto the scene as not only a solid starter for the Denver Nuggets, but as a force to be reckoned with around the league.

    While the Denver Nuggets' 2010-11 season will be mostly remembered for the trade that sent Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups to the New York Knicks, the emergence of Ty Lawson shouldn't be forgotten.

    Lawson is the only player remaining on the Nuggets from the Anthony era. The front office in Denver has rebuilt around Lawson. Since his rookie season in 2009-10, Lawson has improved his stats. His points, assists and rebounds per game have all increased each year. 

    The last two seasons, as a starter, Lawson has led the Nuggets to the playoffs. Not only did he help get the team there, Lawson also elevated his game to another level. While they lost both series, Lawson did what you'd expect out of a top point guard by improving his game.

    Lawson has a very good and talented Nuggets team around him this season. With a chance to be competitive in the crowded Western Conference, the Nuggets will need Lawson to once again improve his game. Based on the last three seasons, that's a fair bet.  

7. Tony Parker

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    Playing alongside Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili has made it seem that Tony Parker is an old man.

    At only 30 years old, Parker is far from slowing down and continues to be a top point guard in the NBA. Parker is now the leading force of the Spurs, leading them to the top seed in the Western Conference last season.

    Parker's top quality is his intelligence on the basketball court. This allows Parker to control a game with his tempo and decision-making. Another piece of this is that Parker knows exactly what his team needs from him and gives it every night.   

    Parker had a great season last year, averaging 18.3 points and a career-high 7.7 assists per game. With another year under Ginobili's and Duncan's veteran belts, the Spurs will rely on Parker more and more next season.  

6. Russell Westbrook

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    Pound for pound, there may not be a more athletic player in the league than Russell Westbrook. That athleticism has allowed Westbrook to become one of the best point guards in the game. 

    Another young point guard, Westbrook has also done a great job of improving his game each year. He has done a much better job scoring recently, but his decision-making still leaves much to be desired. If he can improve his decision-making and work more seamlessly with Kevin Durant, Westbrook has all the potential to climb this list in the near future.   

    One of the top qualities of Westbrook is his durability. As a driving point guard, Westbrook takes his fair amount of knocks throughout the season. Despite that fact, Westbrook hasn't missed a game in his four-year NBA career. He has played in 312 games and started 295 of those contests.

5. Steve Nash

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    Last season, Steve Nash was the victim of playing on a bad team. He was often forgot about when taking about the top point guards in the league. This season, Nash will be on a much better team, possibly one of the best in the league. 

    Many have pointed to Nash's age as to why the Phoenix Suns' play fell last year, when in fact that isn't the case. Last season, Nash averaged 12.5 points and 10.7 assists per game: both in line with his career numbers.

    One of Nash's top qualities is his ability to control a game. He does this better than most players in the league, regardless of position. The high basketball IQ, as well as the elite physical skills make Nash one of the best in the game.

    With the Los Angeles Lakers, Nash will have the opportunity to prove his age hasn't become that much of a factor. There is still plenty left in the tank for Nash, who gets to play alongside Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard.  

4. Deron Williams

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    Offensively, Deron Williams is one of the most versatile point guards in the league and likely one of the most annoying to guard. Offensively, he can beat opponents with his shot, off the dribble or with the pass.

    Also a pesky defender, Williams is definite a top-five point guard.  

    When necessary, Williams has proved he can score at will. Last season Williams had seven games with 30 or more points, including a 57-point outburst against the Charlotte Bobcats in March.

    Williams also had seven games where he finished with 14 or more assists, including 20 against the Golden State Warriors on March 30th.  

    Williams made a lackluster Nets team decent last season, playing quite well with 21 points and 8.7 assists per game. With some offseason additions, the now Brooklyn Nets will have a further opportunity to be competitive next season. 

3. Rajon Rondo

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    With the top three point guards, cases for the top spot could be made for all three players.

    Rajon Rondo has quickly become one of the best point guards in the league during his six years in the league. Rondo had his best season last year, averaging 11.9 points and 11.7 assists per game. 

    While Rondo was magnificent in the regular season, he had an unbelievable run during the playoffs. Rondo upped his game to the next level, averaging 17.3 points and 11.9 assists in the 19 playoff games the Boston Celtics played.

    Rondo especially shined in an Eastern Conference finals game against the Miami Heat, finishing the game with 44 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds. 

    If Rondo can carry that level of play into the regular season and maintain it throughout the year, Rondo may just be the best point guard in the league. The biggest knock on Rondo is his jumper, but even that has gotten better throughout the years. 

2. Derrick Rose

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    For the last few seasons, Derrick Rose has been the best point guard in the league. The Chicago Bulls have been great during that time with a record of 112-36. Despite playing in just 39 games last season, Rose averaged 21.8 points, 7.9 assists and 3.4 rebounds per game.

    Rose does it all for the Bulls. He is the floor general on both ends of the court, controlling the game with his offense and intense defense. As one of the most explosive players in the game, Rose has the ability to get into the lane and score or pass with ease.

    Rose is set to miss most the 2012-13 season after tearing his ACL in the first round of the playoffs. As most of Rose's game is based on his explosive nature, the biggest question mark will be whether or not Rose can fully regain that explosive ability. 

    When healthy, Rose isn't just one of the top two point guards in the league, but one of the best players. 

1. Chris Paul

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    Having to pick between Derrick Rose and Chris Paul is almost unfair.

    Both players do their jobs exceptionally well. A strong case could be made for either player. In many ways, it depends on what type of player you prefer, a more traditional point guard in Paul or a slashing, better defensive player in Rose. 

    The thing that sets Paul apart as the best point guard in the league is his ability to be whatever his team needs him to be. Paul can score off the dribble or with his shot. He can also feed his teammates and get them going. It all depends on what the team needs on that specific night. 

    In Chicago, Rose is relied on to do almost everything, every night. Part of the advantage for Paul may be playing with a better supporting cast. With the NBA landscape how it currently is with super teams, I would definitely take Paul because of his ability to switch between being the top guy or the second option almost seamlessly.

    Paul was spectacular in his first season with the Los Angeles Clippers, averaging 19.8 points, 9.1 assists and 3.5 rebounds a game. With a full offseason in L.A., Paul has every opportunity to be even better for the Clippers next season.

    Paul is also coming off leading Team USA to a gold medal at the Olympic Games. If he can carry that confidence over to the NBA regular season, watch out.