In today's NBA, the point guard plays the most crucial role in the success of any team. While the size and versatility of forwards and centers are essential, there is no replacement for the value and vision created by the floor general.
Currently, the point guard position in the NBA is at a crossroads. Top point men of the last decade such as Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, or Chauncey Billups are giving way to a younger, more athletic generation that includes budding stars such as Rajon Rondo, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, and Derrick Rose.
How do the aging veterans compare to the emerging young stars?
Here are the top ten floor generals for the 2010 NBA season.
Brooks's quickness with the ball in his hand makes it difficult to stay in front of him.
Last year's emergence of Aaron Brooks made the complete deterioration of Tracy McGrady a little easier for Rocket fans to take. In the 2009-2010 season, Brooks tied with Danny Granger for tops in the NBA in 3-pointers made per game with 2.6 per game. While Brooks may not be developed completely as a passer, his quickness and ability as a threat from downtown makes him exceedingly difficult to guard.
Despite his smaller stature (Brooks is generously listed at 6 feet even), the former Oregon Duck progressed significantly and was named 2010's Most Improved Player. If Brooks is able to improve on his shot selection as well as his court vision, he could easily move into the top five point guards in the league next season.
In his rookie season, the collegiate star known for his clutch performances for Davidson in the NCAA tournament certainly made a splash. Curry put up huge numbers averaging over 17.5 points a game and almost six assists, while shooting over 43% from downtown. Perhaps even more impressive was Curry's defense as he averaged almost two steals a game.
As Curry enters his sophomore season, the Warriors hope that Curry's sharpshooting and defensive mindset can combine with Monta Ellis's explosiveness to create one of the top backcourt tandems in the league.
Despite turning 34 this month, Billups did an excellent job helping to lead the USA to a gold in Turkey this year clinching a spot in the 2012 Olympics. Unfortunately, it would be surprising to see Billups on the 2012 team as the veteran point guard will probably be replaced.
Nevertheless, Billups continues to play on a high level for the Denver Nuggets. A natural scorer who can also dish the ball, the veteran who is actually a Denver native was a better fit in George Karl's offense than his predecessor Allen Iverson. While Billups does not always have the greatest shot selection, his experience and court vision put him at number eight on this list.
Another member of the Team USA at the 2010 World Championships, Westbrook brings a new dimension to the traditional NBA point guard. An incredible athlete with great court vision, Westbrook will lead Oklahoma City into the 2010-2011 season with one of the most promising lineups in the NBA.
Westbrook still needs improvement as a shooter and will have to work to develop a three point shot; however, after averaging eight assists as a sophomore, it would not be a surprise to see the former Bruin develop into a double digit assist machine. Playing with Kevin Durant should provide number zero with easy opportunities for open shots and effortless assists.
The 2009-2010 Rookie of the Year made quite an impression last year. Some might question Evans placement on this list as a point guard. Evans is not a natural point guard and at 6'6'', he clearly doesn't look the part; however, since John Calipari made Evans into a point guard at Memphis, he has really flourished.
With his all-around game, it is possible that Evans could rack up some more awards in the near future. A naturally gifted scorer, passer, and athlete, next year Evans could join the top echelon of players in his sophomore season.
As Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen continue their decline, Rajon Rondo has turned the "Boston Three Party" into an all-out bash. Rondo not only progressed to become the top defender at his position in the NBA, but he also developed offensively shooting over 50% for the second year in a row while still averaging almost ten assists a game.
The only knack on Rondo is that he is not a great shooter; however, he more than makes up for it with his alien-like arms and stylish headband. It would not be surprising to see the former Wildcat to move further up on this list as he continues to progress.
The two-time MVP continues to defy logic. Despite turning 36 this past year, Nash led the league in assists averaging eleven per game. Nash falls out of the top three this year because of the departure of Amare Stoudemire and the expected decline that comes with age.
Still, Nash's court vision is unparalleled, and his heart, as evidenced by his postseason play, cannot be questioned. One aspect of Nash's game that cannot be measured by statistics is his ability to improve the game of those around him. Surely, Amare Stoudemire's stats will suffer from running the pick and roll with Raymond Felton rather than Nash. When Nash finally calls it quits there is no doubt that he is a first ballot Hall-of-Famer, eh?
Rose makes two of John Calipari's point guards to make this list. With ridiculous athleticism and a crossover that puts the ball on a string, Rose is part of an elite few that can get to the basket essentially at will. Although the former Memphis Tiger has yet to develop as a threat from downtown, Rose has been able to shoot consistently well from the field at a pace of 49%.
With Carlos Boozer joining the Bulls this offseason, Rose will have a new pick and roll partner that can actually hit a jumper (a.k.a not Joakim Noah). As the best player on the Bulls this season, Rose's continued development is essential to the Chicago's effort to get home-court advantage in the first round of the 2011 playoffs.
Williams has emerged as a top-flight point guard over the past three seasons. Since 2007, the former Illinois standout has averaged almost nineteen points and well over ten assists per game. A strong shooter and terrific ball-handler, Williams excels at the pick and roll; however, it remains to be seen if newly acquired Al Jefferson can replaced the departed Carlos Boozer.
On the other end, Williams is a good on-ball defender and has decent athleticism. Additionally, Williams has had the advantage of been coached by Jerry Sloan. While it is difficult for anyone to replace John Stockton it Utah, Williams has certainly developed into a perennial all-star and is part of the top echelon of point guards in the NBA.
Despite an injury that held Paul to 45 games last season, he is number one on this list. Paul clearly has the talent to be an undisputed top ten player and arguably a top five player in the NBA. The fourth overall pick in the 2005 draft, Paul has excelled in New Orleans averaging a double-double of 19.3 points and 10.0 assists per game for his career.
Not only does Paul possess great offensive talents, but he also is a top defender at his position. With 2.4 steals per game over his five seasons, Paul has demonstrated his defensive acumen shutting down virtually all opposing point guards. New Orleans will have to do something over the next two years to improve Paul's supporting cast, or they will lose the top point guard in the game to free agency.