NBA: Power-Ranking Point Guards Using Pitcher-Type Stats

Charles BennettSenior Analyst IApril 22, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 03:  Russell 
Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder controls the ball against Chris Paul #3 and Blake Griffin #32 of of the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on March 3, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

NBA point guards are often floor leaders of their teams. I find them somewhat analogous to baseball pitchers.  As such, I've worked to develop a stat for point guards that mirrors a pitcher stat that combines elements of performance and victory: the quality start.  

My stat is predicated not only on the fact that point guards have a good game if they rack up a decent number of points or assists, but also that point guards are effective if they captain their teams to victory.

Out of these assumptions comes the stat "quality performance."  A point guard receives a quality performance if he scores 10 points and has five dishes in a victory.  A victory is pretty much the best single simplistic stat that accounts for not only playmaking, but also defense and turnovers.  

I had thought about requiring 30 or more minutes for a quality performance, but I have relented on that as a requirement, in part because, unlike in baseball, basketball players are pulled in blowouts and may not get the requisite 30 minutes in those games.

This is a stat that is helped by the number of games your team has won.

Here's how various point guard stack up in that stat.  Also included are each player's games, points and assists for the season.  Ties are broken by fewest games played.            

Russell Westbrook, Thunder  82  1903 607 52
Tony Parker, Spurs  66 1341 499 44
Chris Paul, Clippers 70 1186 678 44
Deron Williams, Nets  78  1476  604 39
Stephen Curry, Warriors 78 1786 539 38
Ty Lawson, Nuggets  73 1216 501 37
Mike Conley, Grizzlies  80  1168  487  34
Jeff Teague, Hawks  80  1166  579  31
Jrue Holiday, 76ers   78 1383 625 30
Brandon Jennings, Bucks 80 1397 521 30
Jeremy Lin, Rockets  82  1095  497  27
Damien Lillard, Blazers 82  1562  531  26
John Wall, Wizards  49  906  373  22
George Hill, Pacers 76 1076 355 22
Greivis Vasquez, Hornets  78  1083  704  22
Raymond Felton, Knicks 68 948 374 20
Goran Dragic, Suns 77 1134 569 20
Darren Collison, Mavericks  81  972  415  17
Steve Nash, Lakers 50 636 333 16
Kemba Walker, Bobcats  82  1455  471  16
Mo Williams, Jazz  46  592  285  14
Rajon Rondo, Celtics  38  522  420  13
Jose Calderon, Raptors/Pistons 73 826 518 13
Nate Robinson, Bulls 82 1074 358 13
Kyrie Irving, Cavaliers 59 1325 350 12
Jameer Nelson, Magic  56 822  413  11
Ricky Rubio, Timberwolves 57  608  418  11
Kyle Lowry, Raptors 68 435 791 11
Isaiah Thomas, Kings 79 1100 316 11
Kirk Hinrich, Bulls 60 459 314 10
Brandon Knight, Pistons 75 999 303 10
Jason Kidd, Knicks  76  458  249  5
Mario Chalmers, Heat 
77  666  273  5


A cursory look at this stat is that it roughly parallels a consensus ranking of the best point guards in the NBA this season.  Of particular note is that Russell Westbrook is ahead of Paul and Parker, largely on the strength of playing a dozen more games than either.

Also of note is that the top eight point guards in this stat are all still playing, i.e. their teams are in the playoffs.  Holiday and Lillard have the highest number of quality performances on a non-playoff team, despite finishing near the top in assists. Hornets point Greivis Vasquez was in the middle of the pack in terms of quality performances, though I doubt that anyone would seriously argue that Vasquez is one of the 10 best point guards in the NBA, in spite of his assist numbers.

This stat is actually good at weeding out bad point guards on good teams.  Of the 33 point guards I looked at, Mario Chalmers finished dead last in the stat, ironically tied with Jason Kidd.  The Suns' Goran Dragic had more quality performances than both point guards in Chicago's platoon replacement for the injured Derrick Rose.    

Also, for kicks, here are a few players who are not point guards who I expected to do well in this stat.  I threw in Gasol because he's leading all centers in assists, and I wanted to see how high a center might go with this stat.  

LeBron James, Heat 76 2036 551 55
Kobe Bryant, Lakers 78 2133 469 33
Kevin Durant, Thunder 81 2280 374 26
Marc Gasol, Grizzlies  80  1127  318 19
Carmelo Anthony, Knicks 67 1920 171 4

To put it in perspective, that means LeBron would be the best point guard in the NBA if he was a point guard, making this yet another stat that proves LeBron's dominance.   Then again, he did lead all non-guards in assists.   

Kobe and KD have more quality performances than the majority of NBA points, but Carmelo Anthony has fewer quality performances than even Chalmers, largely due to the fact that he averages fewer than three assists a game.

Quality performances: The real way to find out who is a good point guard.

Advanced stats and game logs courtesy of