Updated NBA Point Guard Rankings, Post All-Star Break

Stephen Fenech@Fenech2491Correspondent IFebruary 19, 2013

Updated NBA Point Guard Rankings, Post All-Star Break

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    Point guard is the deepest position in the NBA, which made it difficult to come up with a post-All-Star break hierarchy. 

    In recent years, the league has welcomed a handful of superstar point guards, each of whom enriched the game in their own way. 

    The NBA is a "what have you done for me recently" league, as past success does not guarantee anything. Thus, this list will focus on ranking the league's elite point guards based on recent form, rather than building a list based on reputation. 

    Injured players such as Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo will not make appearances on this list, as it is composed solely of active players. 

    Although the position is deep around the league, the best of the best are a couple levels above the rest. 

    *Stats accurate as of Feb.18, 2013.

10- Kemba Walker

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    Kemba Walker kicks off the list, as he has been one of the league's most improved players.

    After struggling through a terrible rookie season on a historically bad team, the pressure was on Walker to take a major step forward in year two. 

    Although the Bobcats are still terrible, Walker has answered the call and emerged as the team's best player. 

    Coming out of the All-Star break, Walker is averaging 17.2 points, 5.6 assists and 1.9 steals per contest. The ex-Connecticut Husky has the highest PER on the team, as he has posted a 18.76 thus far. 

    Walker is an explosive guard with a shoot-first mentality, which is well suited for this Bobcats team that lacks another scoring punch.  

    Walker has also improved his shooting efficiency, as he is converting on 42.5 percent of his attempts versus 36.6 percent last season. 

    According to the player rater on CBSSports.com, Walker is the 11th-highest-rated point guard, which puts him in the neighborhood of the top 10. 

    The Bobcats are in possession of the league's worst record, but Kemba shouldn't be blamed, as he is doing everything he can. In fact, I shudder to think about how bad Charlotte would be without Walker. 

9- Brandon Jennings

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    Brandon Jennings is set to be a restricted free agent this summer, which means the Milwaukee Bucks will have to evaluate just how much they value him. 

    In Jennings, the Bucks have a dynamic scoring threat. As evidenced by his career average of 15.7 shots per game, Jennings certainly doesn't mind taking his fair share of attempts. 

    So far this season, Jennings is averaging 18.5 points, 6.1 assists and 3.3 rebounds on 39.5 percent shooting. 

    According to CBSSports.com, Jennings is the seventh-highest-rated point guard. Considering that he has to share the ball with Monta Ellis, that ranking is impressive. 

    Not surprisingly, the performance of Jennings plays a big role in whether or not the Bucks win games. In victories, Jennings has averaged 21.3 points versus the 15.7 average he has posted in losses. 

    The next step for Jennings is finding a way to score the basketball more effectively, because shooting worse than 40 percent from the field just isn't going to cut it on a legitimate contender. 

    Still, Jennings is just 23 years old and has already proven to be a consistent scorer at point guard.

    With the motivation of a max contract in his future, it's safe to say that Jennings will be giving it his all for the remainder of the season.  

8- Deron Williams

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    You may be surprised to see Deron Williams ranked so low, but he simply hasn't played like a superstar this season. 

    Up to this point, Williams is averaging 16.7 points, 7.6 assists and just under one steal per game. That kind of production is not a fair return for the $17 million he is earning this season, with more money being due to him in each of the next four years.  

    After signing a max deal with the Brooklyn Nets in the offseason, Williams was supposed to be the team's best player and leader. The problem is that Williams has not been their best player; that distinction belongs to Brook Lopez. 

    Ironically, giving Lopez a max deal was viewed as the risk, while signing Williams to a lucrative long-term deal was viewed as a franchise-changing maneuver. 

    Amongst point guards, Williams is ranked 10th in scoring, seventh in assists and is ranked in ninth in CBSSports.com's player rater. 

    It wasn't so long ago that Williams was considered to be one of the league's best three point guards, but we haven't seen that player in a couple of seasons. 

    After a down year statistically in 2012, Williams was granted a reprieve due to the lack of talent around him. In the offseason, the Nets added talent in Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace, but that hasn't helped Williams re-find his "A" game. 

7- Damian Lillard

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    Damian Lillard is the heavy favorite to win Rookie of the Year, as he leads all rookies in minutes played and scoring.

    Coming out of the All-Star break, Lillard is averaging 18.3 points, 6.5 assists and 3.2 rebounds.

    When you compare Lillard to other point guards, he comes out looking favorably, which is a strong statement when made about a first-year player. 

    Lillard has not been intimidated by the speed and physicality of the NBA, which has made him an absolute joy to watch. 

    Like all rookies, Lillard has had a few off-games. Fortunately, they tend to be few and far between, which speaks to the maturity level of the Weber State product.  

    Lillard has been so good that ranking him seventh may be unjust. According to CBSSports.com's player rater, Lillard is the fifth-best point guard in the league. 

    There is no reason to think Lillard's numbers will drop off, as the Portland Trail Blazers need to play him a lot in order to win games. Head coach Terry Stotts has already given Lillard the keys to the offense and will only continue to lean on his young playmaker more in the coming weeks.

6- Jrue Holiday

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    The fourth year of Jrue Holiday's career has been his best by far, as he is averaging career highs in scoring, assists and shooting percentage. 

    Without Andrew Bynum in the lineup, Holiday has developed into the star player the Philadelphia 76ers need. Unfortunately, he hasn't had much help, and the team isn't likely to make the playoffs. 

    So far this season, Holiday has been asked to play almost five minutes more per game than last season.

    Considering that the extra playing time coincided with a more important role,  Doug Collins is lucky that  the UCLA product has responded so well. 

    Through the All-Star break, Holiday is averaging 19 points and 8.9 assists per game, both of which are well above his career high. 

    According to CBSSports.com, Holiday has been the fourth-best point guard in the league, behind only Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry and Tony Parker.  

    Bynum's injury is a shame for many reasons, with his inability to grow alongside Holiday being one of them. 

    Holiday has emerged as an elite point guard, which is one of the few positive things 76ers fans can take away from this season. 

5- Stephen Curry

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    If you're one of the people who doesn't take collegiate players from mid-majors seriously, it's time to change that opinion. 

    It's players like Stephen Curry, who played his college ball at Davidson, that continue to prove there are plenty of great players outside of the power conferences. 

    Since making the jump to the NBA, Curry has shown flashes of brilliance that were overshadowed by nagging injuries which forced him to miss an extended period of time on multiple occasions. 

    This season has been the best of Curry's career, due largely to the fact that he has stayed healthy. Exiting the All-Star break, Curry is averaging 21 points, 6.6 assists and four rebounds while posting a PER of 19.83. 

    Curry is one of the most lethal long-range shooters in the league, as opposing defenders cannot afford to give him any breathing room on the perimeter. 

    The Golden State Warriors are currently in sixth place in the Western Conference, with Curry's play being key in the 30-22 record the team has compiled. 

4- Tony Parker

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    Tony Parker is playing the best basketball of his career, which is saying something. The definition of reliable, Parker is often overlooked in conversations regarding the best point guards in the NBA.

    While most floor generals live to make flashy plays, Parker puts an emphasis on being a good teammate and making the smart play, which is the San Antonio Spurs way.

    That type of thinking has led to success for both the Spurs and Parker, and their championship window is not closed yet.  

    As a member of the Western Conference-leading Spurs, Parker is averaging 20.8 points, 7.6 assists and three rebounds while posting a PER of 24.53. Amongst point guards, Parker is ranked third in scoring, sixth in assists and is leading all point guards in shooting percentage by sinking 53.6 percent of his attempts. 

    While Tim Duncan will continue to be the face of the Spurs until he retires, it's been the play of Parker that has allowed the Spurs to claim the penthouse in the West. 

    Parker is the third-ranked point guard in the player rater at CBSSports.com, as the Frenchman has been extremely efficient on both ends of the court. 

    The Spurs will have to be flawless in order to win the title, with much of that pressure falling on Parker's shoulders. 

3- Kyrie Irving

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    LeBron James' decision to leave Cleveland in favor of the Miami Heat devastated the Cavs' future. Fortunately for the people of Cleveland, LeBron's departure indirectly brought them Kyrie Irving. 

    After winning Rookie of the Year in his first season, Irving has taken another major step forward. The Duke product has singlehandedly won the Cavs a few games down the stretch this season, as Irving is adept at taking games over in the fourth quarter. 

    Irving leads all point guards in scoring, averaging 23.5 points per game on 46.6 percent shooting. For a second-year point guard to be that efficient from the field is remarkable, but that just speaks to Irving's talent. 

    According to CBSSports.com's player rater, Irving is tied with Damian Lillard for fifth place among point guards. 

    Injuries have befallen Irving in the past year, as he has broken bones in his hand and face. Hopefully those injuries turn out to be fluke occurrences, because the Duke product has the potential to become one of the league's best players. 

2- Russell Westbrook

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    The conversation regarding whether or not Russell Westbrook is playing the point guard position correctly is stupid. The UCLA product is one of the most dynamic and athletic players in the league, and the Oklahoma City Thunder are fortunate to have him on the roster. 

    As he demonstrated in 43-point scoring outburst in Game 4 of the 2012 NBA Finals, Westbrook is also capable of taking over a game on the biggest stage in the sport. The ability to step up in a big game cannot be quantified, which only makes Westbrook more valuable and dangerous. 

    With the All-Star game in the rear-view mirror, Westbrook is averaging 22.6 points, 8.1 assists and 5.1 rebounds on 42.6 percent shooting. Compared to other point guards, Westbrook is second in points, fifth in assists and first among active players in rebounding. 

    In the absence of James Harden, Westbrook has taken it upon himself to become more of a facilitator, as evidenced by the 8.1 assists he is dishing out per game. Not only is that Westbrook's career high, but it has aided in OKC's second-ranked scoring offense. 

    According to CBSSports.com's player rater, Westbrook has been the best point guard in the league this season by a comfortable margin. 

    With Rajon Rondo and Derrick Rose out with injuries, Westbrook is the second-best point guard in the league. 

1- Chris Paul

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    What else is there to say about Chris Paul?

    He is the best floor general in the league and did the impossible when he made the Los Angeles Clippers relevant. 

    When Paul was sidelined with a knee injury, the Clippers lost six of the nine games their captain missed. Sure Eric Bledsoe is a good player, but no one can replicate what Paul can do on the court. 

    Through the All-Star break, Paul is averaging 16.6 points, 9.6 assists and 2.6 steals while shooting 48.2 percent from the field. Even better, the Clips are currently third in the standings out in the Western Conference, with the play of Paul being a chief reason for that success. 

    Paul can influence the game in a myriad of ways, as he is dominant on both ends of the court. In six of the last eight seasons, Paul has led the league in steals, which speaks to his quickness and basketball IQ. 

    Shockingly, Paul is ranked eighth in CBSSports.com's player rater. The low ranking can be attributed to the time Paul missed with injury and the amount of minutes he has played this season, as Vinny Del Negro has rested his star in-game more than last season. 

    In the competitive Western Conference, the Clips will need Paul to pull off a heroic performance to get to the finals.