Underrated NBA Point Guards Who Need Better Shooters to Become Stars
Rajon Rondo is a talented point guard, but he's always been surrounded by talented shooters. This has made his status among point guards to be an often hypothetical point of contention. Is he really that good, or do surrounding shooters enable his lack of a shot? Would Rondo be the same guy if his frontcourt was stocked by non-shooting bigs like Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan?
It's hard to decide these questions because we can't place Rajon Rondo into every hypothetical scenario and find out what happens. We can, however, take stock of the good PGs in the league and assess how they'd be so much better in a different system, flanked by better talent.
5. Deron Williams
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Deron Williams actually is one of the shooters who must become better. The max-deal superstar is shooting .388 from the field and .299 from three-point land.
That's on Williams, but Brooklyn should help their foundational piece out with more shooters. It's a tall order because Brook Lopez cannot handle the rebounding and defense duties without the help of another lumbering big man. This is why we so often see lineups that involve both Kris Humphries and Lopez.
If Gerald Wallace could rebound a bit better this season, more time at the 4-spot would come in handy for Williams. Also, Brooklyn needs better shooting from Joe Johnson and his $100 million contract.
4. Goran Dragic
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Did you know that Goran Dragic is seventh in point guard PER (via ESPN)? A few of the guys ahead of him (Kyrie Irving, Kyle Lowry and Eric Bledsoe) haven't played nearly as much. He's been ignored because the Suns have little talent, but it's quite possible that Phoenix actually upgraded in effectively trading Steve Nash for Goran Dragic's services.
Dragic has been roughly as productive offensively and can guard both backcourt positions. Now the slashing PG just needs some surrounding shooters. The Suns are only shooting 34 percent from three-point range. Imagine how much better Dragic might do if he were running Mike D'Antoni's old, three-friendly offensive system?
3. Ty Lawson
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Some of this is just me, looking for excuses after speaking so well of Ty Lawson in the offseason. The speedy point guard has disappointed after signing a hefty new contract. The normally efficient scorer is managing only .427 from the field and Denver has struggled in the early season.
Still, the situation is not ideal. The Nuggets have a lack of shooters and tend to play two bigs at once. Danilo Gallinari used to be a marksman, but now he's only hitting .311 of his deep shots. This makes it tough on a player like Lawson, who relies on space for his drive and kicks. If the defense isn't respecting Denver's shooting, Lawson can't do what he does best: Get to the rim.
2. Chris Paul
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How can the game's best point guard (First-Team All NBA) possibly be underrated? How can the game's best point guard possible be any better?
Believe it or not, Chris Paul is working at a slight disadvantage. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan create some awesome highlights, but neither can space the floor. If you recall, Paul used David West's shot as a threat in pick-and-roll by which to find other, open shooters.
He has no such help in Los Angeles, but he's managing anyway. Still, imagine if Paul was surrounded by four shooters. It's not inconceivable to think he could submit the greatest point guard season of all time. Maybe there's a reason why Blake Griffin keeps trying (and clanking) those 15-footers.
1. Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving is a wonderful talent and he's especially adept at dribbling to the rim. What he lacks is almost any semblance of shooting help. Anderson Varejao is having a great season, but he's more of a help in the rebounding and defense department. The other surrounding "talent" is meager at best.
Could you imagine Kyrie Irving in a Knicks-style four-out (i.e. four three-point shooters) offensive attack? He's already so fantastic at getting to the hoop and finding space for his deadly three-point shot. In a spread pick-and-roll attack, I'd imagine that Kyrie Irving would be even better.
When flanked by Anderson Varejao and Tristan Thompson, it's hard to scare a defense on pick-and-rolls. It's also difficult to get assists when you're kicking out to Alonzo Gee and Dion Waiters.