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Chris Paul, Kyrie Irving in Top 10 NBA PGs to Watch in Season's 2nd Half

Morgan ChalfantContributor IIIFebruary 6, 2013

Chris Paul, Kyrie Irving in Top 10 NBA PGs to Watch in Season's 2nd Half

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    Everyone recognizes Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and other seasoned guards as some of the best in the league. However, younger point guards like Damian Lillard and Ricky Rubio are making an impact on the court, especially offensively.

    The point guard position is one of the most valuable and coveted in the NBA, one that requires a leader to fulfill it. Let’s examine 10 of the most consistent and improving point guards in the league this season.

Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

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    The Golden State Warriors point guard is impressing more than just Oakland fans. Recently, Dallas Mavericks coach Rich Carlisle said of the young guard, “He’s a terrific young player and he’s had a terrific season to this point.”

    Indeed, he has. After three years of experience in the league, Curry is averaging 21.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 1.6 steals in 38.0 minutes each game this season. And, he’s getting better. On Saturday against Phoenix, Curry lead the Warriors to a 113-93 win and registered 29 points, two rebounds, eight assists and two steals. The point guard’s statistics speak for themselves; he is a player to watch for the second half of the season.

Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers

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    Chris Paul is arguably the Los Angeles Clippers’ best weapon and the team is anxiously awaiting his return from a knee injury. According to ESPN, Paul will hopefully return by the week’s end.

    Paul can shoot, pass and rebound. He’s fast and creates his own offense. For the 2012-13 season, Paul is averaging 16.6 points, 3.5 rebounds, 9.7 assists and 2.6 steals in 33.5 minutes per game. When he returns, the 27-year-old point guard will undoubtedly be back at work, continuing to prove himself as one of the most effective playmakers in the league.

Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder

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    It’s hard not to become overshadowed by the greatness of Kevin Durant, but Westbrook manages to shine at the point. On Monday, the guard contributed to Oklahoma City’s 112-91 win over Dallas. He played 29 minutes, racking up 24 points, three rebounds, seven assists and three steals.

    And, his averages are pretty consistent with his game on Monday. Even though Westbrook can sometimes lose his temper, he channels his energy and aggression into fast, consistent game play.

Deron Williams, Brooklyn Nets

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    Even though Deron Williams has battled a nagging ankle injury, he played last night against the Lakers and tallied 15 points, five rebounds and six assists in 38 minutes, despite the Nets loss. Moreover, Williams is extremely close to breaking the 5,000-assist mark.

    During one of his best games, Williams led the Nets to a 97-77 win over Orlando, getting an impressive 20 points and nine assists. Yet, Williams’ assists are slowing down and he needs to keep up the effective passing in order to boost the Nets’ ranking. 

Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers

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    The young Irving has been extremely effective for the Cleveland Cavaliers. He’s only 20 years old, but this season he is averaging 24 points, 3.5 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 1.8 steals in 35.6 minutes each game.

    Cavaliers coach Byron Scott recently said of the point guard, “He definitely has something, there’s no doubt about that. I think he’s getting used to and really kind of enjoying big moments.” Clearly, Irving’s coach has confidence in him, and he’s sure to continue improving throughout the rest of the season.

Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Another young point guard, Ricky Rubio is making a name for himself as a huge part of the Minnesota Timberwolves. The 22-year-old is averaging 6.0 points, 2.2 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.6 steals in 24.1 minutes of game play for the 2012-13 season.

    What’s more, his statistics have clearly been improving. For February, Rubio has 11 points, 3.0 rebounds and 9.3 assists in 28.3 minutes. However, he may need to step up into a more prominent leadership role in order to lead the Timberwolves to a better record.

Steve Nash, Los Angeles Lakers

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    It’s no surprise that Steve Nash is a point guard to watch for the rest of this season. Even though he’s with the Lakers now and has 16 years in the NBA under his belt, he still puts up consistent numbers and plays an average of 33.5 minutes per game.

    Nash has been even more impressive recently as the Lakers are starting to jive, despite center Dwight Howard’s absence. On Sunday, Nash helped the Lakers defeat Detroit 98-97, playing 34 minutes and tallying 11 points, five rebounds and 10 assists. Nevertheless, the 38-year-old will need to watch his minutes in order to avoid injury and remain powerful through the season’s end. 

Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs

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    Tony Parker has 11 years in the NBA and he’s as strong as ever. For the 2012-13 season, he is averaging a field-goal percentage of .534 with 20.1 points, 3.0 rebounds and 7.6 assists in 32.7 minutes each game.

    Furthermore, Parker and the Spurs have ascended to five straight wins recently. In particular, San Antonio throttled the Charlotte Bobcats on January 30, 102-78. Parker had an astounding field-goal percentage of .900 and picked up two rebounds, seven assists and three steals. With Parker leading the pack, San Antonio will surely continue to improve their record during the second half of the season. 

Damian Lillard, Portland Trailblazers

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    Damian Lillard is one of the most impressive rookies of this season and he’s absolutely a contender for the Rookie of the Year award. On Monday, he led the Trailblazers to a 100-98 win over Minnesota. He had 21 points, four rebounds, six assists and three steals in 38 minutes during the game, improving upon his averages for the 2012-13 season.

    Portland selected Lillard sixth overall during the 2012 NBA Draft and the Trailblazers obviously chose the right leader to fit into the guard position and create effective offense. As the season progresses, Lillard will most likely continue to improve and solidify himself as a clear contender for the top rookie prize. 

Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls

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    Returning from an ACL injury is tough and Derrick Rose has been out a long time. According to ESPN, Rose is taking “full contact” during practice time in order to get himself prepared for games when he finally returns in full capacity.

    The Bulls have been playing well and fans are waiting with baited breath for Rose’s return to assess exactly how successful his recovery has been. Even if the powerful point guard takes some time to get back into the game, he will undoubtedly be a force on the court. During the 2011-12 season, Rose averaged 21.8 points, 3.4 rebounds and 7.9 assists in 35.3 minutes of game play. If the 24-year-old guard returns at full force, he could give any other guard in the league a run for their money. 

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