The point guard position is beyond vital in the NBA.
Having the wrong point guard could mean the difference between going to the playoffs, and hitting the wrong kind of lottery.
The point guard leads his team into battle every night. He's customarily the first person to touch the ball in each offensive possession, and the player the coach trusts most of all to conduct the offense toward a score each time down the court. The point guard can also be so much more than that.
Players like Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson, John Stockton and Derek Fisher have shown us that the point guard can also be the team's heart and soul. These legendary guards showed on a nightly basis that being a great point guard is more than just the stats they accumulate.
It's the ability to know your team better than they know themselves like Magic and Stockton. It's hitting the clutch shots all postseason long a la Fisher, even when people consider you to be nothing more than a liability. It's also being able to do a little bit of everything on the floor for your team, best shown by the Big O.
There have been many timeless point guards in the NBA's rich history, and there are some among the 30 starters today that will soon join them in their legend.
The others? Not so much.
The tough pill to swallow for most teams is that not everyone gets a legend. The majority of them have to settle for someone undeveloped, underachieving or just plain underwhelming.
Here are the power rankings for the NBA's starting point guards.
While his career is still very young, Augustine finds himself at the bottom of the starting heap this year.
While his amount of games started has been favorable in his first two seasons (72,80), that's looking like his only upside at this point. D.J.'s stats fell in just about every other category in his "sophomore slump" season.
His FG% dropped to an unacceptable 38 percent, his free throws suffered down to a meager 77 percent and his PPG dropped to a lousy 6.3 points per contest.
Augustine possesses a good three-point shot, but that alone will not make him an elite point guard in this league. I will be the first to admit that he can always rise numerous ranks in the future, but for now he doesn't have much going for him.
If I was in charge of the Bobcats, I would probably start Shaun Livingston.
Jrue Holiday may only be one season removed from UCLA, but he has already earned himself a starting gig for the Philadelphia 76ers.
With Philadelphia obviously underwhelmed with former starter Lou Williams, Holiday is getting the nod to lead the team into battle, at least for now. As more of a role player Holiday had a respectable average of 8.0 ppg and 44 percent shooting. Now that he has a starting position, it's only fair to assume that those numbers would climb.
Jrue does however have a few aspects of his game that he needs to work on. His free throw percentage of 75 percent is unacceptable for a guard, and he's going to have to prove he can handle the role of facilitating full time in order to be a suitable replacement.
Holiday does seem rather promising with a three-point percentage of 39 percent. If he can remain disciplined on the offensive end and not fire too many poor percentage looks, he could soon be a viable weapon for the Sixers starting five.
Jrue finds himself so far down the list simply because he has so much left to prove. He's only been in the league one year, and now faces his sophomore slump season at the same time he's been tapped to start. The 2010-2011 season will tell us much more about how Holiday will rank on this list in the coming years, but for now the jury is still out.
This spot may seem questionable for Mike Conley after he finished last season on a bit of a numbers hot streak, but there is a method to my placement madness.
In his three seasons with the Grizzlies Conley has proved he can shoot good percentages (44 percent field, 38 percent three-point), be a credible thief (1.1 spg) and a decent distributor averaging 4.7 assists per game. He has also shown that his level of play could be called anything but consistent.
On a good share of game nights Conley has proven he can cut the mustard at the one guard position, and even have a few stat stuffing nights ever once in a while. On the other share of nights, he appears to be invisible on the court.
Most teams can't excel without a point guard who goes to battle with them every night. The Grizzlies need even more than that. They need someone who along with Gay and Randolph can take Memphis to a level of NBA relevance.
Mike Conley is ranked so low on this list not just because he can't seem to do any one thing great, but also because he does everything else so inconsistently. To be in the ranks of the NBA's best, you must not only excel in certain areas of your game, but also bring it on a nightly basis.
Mario Chalmers will be looking to take back the starting job that he lost last year, and hopefully rebound his dipping numbers too.
His only problem in that quest will be his own team.
The depth chart may say that Chalmers is the starting point guard, but all basketball fans know his role will be cut to a minimum with how much Wade and LeBron will be handling the ball and setting up plays themselves.
Chalmers will still be able to create steals and hit the occasional three, but his production in terms of stat numbers will be limited as they were last year.
Chalmers is not defective; he just won't be able to shine properly under the system that has been created in Miami. I don't see his production rising much above his sophomore slump, as Chalmers will often find himself watching the action more than creating it.
Although Ridnour's stay at the starting point guard position may be short lived this season, with things being the way they are with Flynn's injury, Luke will start for the first month or so.
Ridnour has started 278 games in his career, averaging 10.9 ppg, 6.2 apg and 1.4 spg. Not bad numbers aside from the point average, Luke has been able to contribute well to the teams he's been part of in the past.
While his shooting will always be considered streaky, he can knock down a few triples if he starts to get hot. Minnesota is going to need Ridnour to step up and lead the teams offense while Flynn sits with a hip injury for the first month or so, and that's something Ridnour is capable of doing.
I would still opt to have Flynn at the starting position long term, but Luke is more that a suitable replacement while Johnny rehabs his injury.
Rodney Stuckey had an impressive season last year by most accounts, with averages of 16.6 ppg, 4.8 apg and 1.4 spg.
In a time where everything seems to be going downhill in Detroit, Stuckey is one thing to feel good about. He showed last year that he's going to continue to up his production in order to help get the Pistons out of their dark days.
Also keep in mind that his assist average per 48 minutes is slightly more impressive when you realize who he has to pass to on a nightly basis.
Stuckey now needs to continue his habit of improving each season, and take his shooting percentage to new heights. At 40.5 percent last season from the field, this goal should not be hard to meet.
Rodney Stuckey has the potential to be a premier guard if he can address his shooting concerns, and maybe develop a shot from beyond the arc as well. Until then however, he has too many weaknesses to be ranked higher than this.
Darren Collison shocked the Association last year when he took over for the injured Chris Paul in New Orleans, and put up some great numbers.
Using his incredible speed and court vision, Collision fit right in with the Hornets' system, and he put up great numbers to help New Orleans stay relevant. Now that he has moved to Indiana to head up the Pacers line up, Collision will have a chance to prove to everyone that he was not a one season wonder.
Darren's future looks bright in Indiana with the likes of Danny Granger and rising talent Roy Hibbert to pass to. He should have no problem finding his numbers at his new home, and he'll also have a chance to improve his game in a system where he knows who the clear starter is.
I predict we'll see a strong season from Collison, with his numbers from last year being matched, or added upon. Collison appears to be one of the quicker rising guards in the league going into this year, and he'll have a chance to continue that upward movement once this years campaign gets started.
True, this is not the Mike Bibby of yesterday.
He's a different player today than he was during his hay-day with the Kings, but that doesn't mean he has ceased to be useful. Mike Bibby can still effectively run the point for the Hawks, making shots and setting up his teammates for easy looks.
Bibby has always been a shot making guard. While his numbers have fallen in terms of points per game in the last few years, Bibby is still the guy who can hit big shots when you need him to. He's proven to be deadly beyond the arc, and I would expect that trend to continue until he retires.
I hate to rank him this low when I think about what he used to do in Sacramento, but that was then and this is now. While he has lost a step from his glory days, Bibby will continue to be a competent starting guard with the potential to ruin your night should he decide to catch fire.
Mo Williams has always been a capable point guard, but he's due to take a big hit this year.
Bad news Mo, no more LeBron. It's not like Williams was getting great assist numbers before, but imagine where those numbers will be without LeBron James to pass to.
My guess is down. Way down.
Mo has shown the ability to knock down jumpers and hit the occasional three, but what else does he bring to the table?
Blistering speed? I think not.
Magic-like court vision? Nope.
A thieving glove the likes of Payton? No sir.
Don't get me wrong, Mo is not a bad point guard. The harsh truth about him however is that without someone like LeBron he's not an elite point guard either. Adding to his mediocrity discussed so far is his knack for disappearing in the playoffs.
Not like the Cavaliers will have that issue this year, but it still shows that Mo is not the guy you want to count on with games on the line.
There are worse guys you could have at the helm of your squad, but Williams would not be on my list.
Calderon has always been a bit of a question mark in my book.
Some years he puts up very respectable numbers, and some years he seems to slump down to less than average stats. In a career filled with nagging injures, you couldn't expect more than that.
At his best Calderon has proven to be a three-point marksman, a valuable ball thief and a man that can run the offense in Toronto. Unfortunately he's also proven to be rather inconsistent due to his injuries that have limited his minutes on the floor.
One thing you can sure say about Calderon is that the man is a true wild card. Going into this season he has an equal chance of blowing us out of the water as he does slipping further down the list of guards. For my money I'd say Jose sees more minutes this year, and begins to rebound his numbers back to where they belong.
When I think of Aaron Brooks, I think of a microwave oven.
Not because I'm hungry, but because this point guard can heat up, and heat up fast.
While he leaves something to be desired in the assist column, Brooks more than makes up for that with his tendency to heat up and go berzerk from beyond the arc. Oh, and did I mention he's fast? When he's not stroking the three ball, you will often see Brooks cutting and slashing his way into the lane as he blows by his so called defenders.
The drawbacks with Brooks are that he's a bit undersized against most guards, and he does tend to turn the ball over when things aren't going his way. Also the flipside of the microwave coin is that Brooks will also take numerous shots trying to heat up, whether he's making them or not.
While most are predicting that Brooks will fall victim to the hype that surrounds a player after their first breakout season, I look for Brooks to continue his sharp shooting ways, and perhaps cut down on his mistakes as he continues to grow as a player.
Consider this to be Raymond Felton's year.
There will be many point guards who out-play him through the course of the year, but I doubt any one of them will have a bigger statistical increase. Felton is coming into a Knicks team that has recently acquired Amar'e Stoudemire, and has many other pieces like Danilo Gallinari to work with.
Raymond is coming to New York from a team called the Charlotte Bobcats. While they continue to remain the league's "Laker killers," the Bobcats really didn't have much else going for them. Any point guard would struggle to put up impressive numbers with a lack of superstars around them to go to.
Aside from having a number of capable players to pass to in New York, Felton will also benefit greatly from Mike D'Antoni's system. Felton will excel under his fast-paced style of play, as he will find teammates like Amar'e early and often.
Felton has always been able to connect the dots on offense, and has shown the ability to hit the three ball in spurts also. If he can find a way to make his jumper more consistent, you are looking at one dangerous guard.
Most casual viewers today don't know the name of Raymond Felton since he's been buried in Charlotte's small market, but they will get to know him better this year as he makes a new name for himself in New York City.
Jameer Nelson has been a talent in this league for some time now.
While Dwight Howard may be the captain of this Magic team, it's been Jameer's job to run the offense and connect the dots for his teammates. Jameer has proven to have a consistent jump shot, and has also shown the ability to knock down the three ball if left alone.
The problems with Jameer lie in his health, and the fact that he is undersized for his position. You will see him get blocked numerous times during a given season because it's that much easier for a defender to rise above him on the shot or the drive, and put it back in his grill.
Nelson has also has health concerns in the past that may have prevented his team from winning the NBA championship in 2009. The fact that Van Gundy decided to replace the red hot Alston with the injury-hindered Nelson will forever be one of the most questionable decisions in coaching history.
What we do know is that when Nelson is healthy, he is the obvious choice to run the Magic's offensive possessions. If you leave him open, he'll punish you with his shot. If you smother him, he'll dish it to the best center in the league today.
While Nelson may not be near the top of the point guard list, he'll make you regret it if you doubt his abilities.
How could I rank him above 13 point guards when he hasn't played a single game?
Because the kid is that good.
I've seen him play plenty in college, and have continued to watch him preseason. What I've learned is that John Wall is an NBA ready point guard ready to explode on the scene. He has great court vision for a youngster, and incredible speed getting to the basket.
He's already starting to cut down on his turnovers, and his jump shot is now his number one priority to be especially deadly on the floor. Wall has quite a task in front of him working with Arenas in Washington, but my guess is he'll find a way to keep himself away from the cursed one.
His first season in the league will be a learning experience, but believe me when I say that Wall is ahead of the curve.
Andre Miller may no longer be a spring chicken in this league, but the dude can still flat out get the job down.
After 10 seasons before last, he managed to put up 14 ppg and 5.4 apg in 2010. Along with his numbers, Millers value lies in his veteran presence out there on the floor. The Blazers are still a very young team, and need the insight of players like Miller and Roy to mature into the players they hope to be.
Andre Miller won't kill you with his speed, rather he hurts you more with his size and ability to knock down the mid-range jumper on a consistent basis. This helps the Blazers as it makes teams think twice about doubling Roy when he can knock down that shot.
In terms of being a complete player, Miller fits the definition well. He can score in bursts, rebound well for a guard, connect the dots for his team and consistently leave the game with a steal or two. Miller may be getting up in years, but his play has not declined enough to make me worry yet.
I know what you just screamed at me. HOW COULD YOU RANK FISHER THIS HIGH?
Slow, old, liability on defense Fisher? No.
Veteran, leader, dependable, clutch Fisher.
Fisher may not be as athletic or young as 80 percent of this list, but you have to agree that he finds a way to keep getting it done at the one spot. While his shooting percentage as of late has dipped, he still shoots great in the clutch. Add to this that he shoots excellent free throws, and constantly creates possessions for the Lakers by taking charges in crucial moments.
He has built a virtual library of basketball knowledge playing in more post seasons than even he can remember, and he uses each liner note to his advantage. He may not be faster than the other guard, but my money says he's probably smarter than him (besides the obvious CP3/D Will).
No other guard in the league right now is able to keep a cooler head in the face of danger than Fisher. He has broken countless hearts with his clutch shots over the years, and will always do what is necessary to pull out the W.
Brandon Jennings is coming off a spectacular rookie season, and is looking to make it routine business.
Not only did this kid score 55 points in a game last year, he established himself as a viable threat on the Milwaukee Bucks. His style of play has a flare to it that may cause some turnovers, but also does wonders for exciting the crowd.
While Jennings needs to work on his shooting percentage and cut down on turnovers, he's shown that he can really distribute the ball when motivated to. This becomes a deadly asset for an NBA guard when you have shown you can explode for huge point totals. He is lightning quick, and possesses a knack for getting steals by gambling in the passing lanes.
The productivity of Jennings will be effected by how much Andrew Bogut plays this coming season, but he also has no problem putting the team on his back as he showed us last season.
Many people are wondering how well Brandon will follow up his rookie year, but if he can prove that this wasn't a fluke year, he'll quickly climb the ranks of point guards in the NBA.
For anyone who hasn't seen Tyreke Evans play yet, this guy is the real deal.
When he's not doing 140 in his purple Mercedes, he's quickly becoming one of the most versatile point guards in the NBA today. When forced to give a comparison, I would land on Deron Williams every time. Evans has great size for rebounding, sees the court well in finding his teammates, and can get to the rack with the best of the one guards.
He shoots a solid 45 percent from the floor, and managed to get almost two steals per game in his rookie season. His biggest weakness so far besides reckless driving would have to be his three-point shooting. I'm sure his 25 percent mark will improve in coming seasons, but until he puts some work into that shot he would benefit from shying away.
No one yet knows the ceiling of Evans' game, but if he continues to work on his shooting game he'll be one of the deadlier guards heading into a new basketball generation.
While Davis has not quite looked himself since landing in Clipper Land, let's not forget who we're talking about here.
This is still the same guy who led the Warrior uprising against the Mavericks, and don't think he can't still do it. While he has been in a considerable funk since moving to Los Angeles, who wouldn't be in his position?
I mean he got moved to the "Brand-less" Clippers for Pete's sake. I would be more than a little off-put as well.
We all know what Davis is capable of in terms of scoring, being a three-ball threat, and pestering other guards into losing the ball. What some may be overlooking is his current stock, which is set to skyrocket.
In just a few days time, Davis will be playing with a fully healthy Blake Griffin AND rising star Eric Gordon. With a solid center in Kaman, and a string of role players in the wings, I would not be surprised to see Barron's numbers go up from last years efforts.
The soldiers are ready to go to town in Clipper Land, and Baron is the general that will lead them to their first respectable season in some time now.
Devin Harris currently ranks as one of the most underrated guards in the NBA.
Hampered by injuries for a good share of last season, Devin will have no problem returning to elite numbers this year if he can stay on the court. Harris is a lightning quick point guard who can break his opponent down, or create offense for his guys with ease.
Harris is often overlooked when ranking today's top guards because he plays in New Jersey. This is something that will change very soon. Not only does Harris now have a budding supporting cast behind him now, but his team will be relocated into the higher profile New York in just two years time.
Devin Harris is so valuable to the Nets because he is the complete package. He can score with abundance when needed, causes the other team to run the ball over and his speed allows him to orchestrate the fast break to perfection.
While he's still not able to crack the top 10 guards at this point, a slot may be in his near future if he can get added support from his teammates.
Another youngster who's quickly making a name for himself at the point position is Stephen Curry.
Curry may only be entering his second season, but he's already shooting the ball like a seasoned veteran. With a deadly mid-range and three ball, Curry will have plenty of options as the opposition won't be able to leave him open. Already averaging two steals per game, Curry has also developed into quite the pest on the defensive end.
The biggest upside to Curry thus far besides his shooting has to be his basketball intelligence. He already plays as if he sees many of the angles it takes other players years to catch on to, and it has greatly enhanced his versatility.
Stephen cracks the top 10 after only one year. This may leave a good number of people scratching their heads, but honestly, could I have ranked him lower?
Those familiar with his game would most likely say no.
Curry is already a potent force out on the hardwood, and he will continue to mold into an NBA elite player in the coming seasons.
There I was, mere inches away from ranking Curry above Tony Parker.
I just couldn't do it.
Parker is a proven veteran with multiple championships, so for now he must remain a step ahead of a hot shot coming off a rookie season (no matter how impressive that season actually was).
Tony Parker is a statistical head scratcher in my opinion, as there is no real category where he excels. His assist numbers are low for a point guard, he rarely scores more than twenty points, he shoots terribly from the stripe and possesses no three ball to speak of.
Yet, he's one of the league's elite guards.
To start with, he's always had the pleasure of playing with Hall of Famer teammate Tim Duncan. Playing with Timmy would bring the greatness out of most point guards that can dribble. Another reason has been his incredible quickness. His ability to get where he's going and stop on a dime has served him well at getting to the line, and finding his teammates for open looks.
While he's not considerably old at 28, Parker's game has seen a bit of decline in recent years. I feel he has a few more years left near elite status, but the numbers will most likely continue to slip.
What can I say that hasn't been said already about Jason Kidd?
The dude is a Grade A stat-stuffer. He's one of the only guards in the league today that is a triple double threat every night he steps out onto the hardwood. As Kidd has aged these past few years, he's also added to his arsenal. Now he shoots consistently from long range, ready to punish any defense that may think he's lost a step or two.
While he can at times be a liability on the defensive end of the ball, Kidd will always find a way to put his own stamp on the ball game. He's still exceptional on the glass, throwing no-look passes and taking the ball away from a lazy ball handler. What has kept Kidd at such an elite level at his age has to be his daunting intelligence level for the game.
Once he sizes you up and finds a weakness, he can set a game plan into action to hurt you. He can see the floor at an unmatched level, and practically has eyes in the back of his head when it comes to his passing game.
Many young guards may think they can just blow by Jason with their youth still in tact, but by the time the game is done they'll have learned a thing or two from Jason Kidd.
That's right. Checking in at number seven on this list is none other than Mr. Big Shot himself.
Billups is also a member of the aging guard group, but he still has so much to offer that he remains an elite level guard. He possesses a deadly jumper, an accurate eye for the three ball and a veteran intelligence for the game. Carmelo Anthony may or may not be a member of the Nuggets by season's end, but the presence of Billups would at least give the Nug's a fighting chance.
Like Jason Kidd, Billups has a variety of ways he can beat you. All he needs to do is adjust his game to his opponents strategy, and pick them apart. There's also this little rumor going around that he's a pretty clutch player. Wait, oh apparently he's an extremely clutch player
He may not be the Finals MVP from 2004 anymore, but Billups will remain a force on the court for the next few seasons.
Westbrook wins the award for biggest leap on this list.
Russell Westbrook may have been discovered by most people last year, but this year prepare for him to take the league by storm. This lightning quick, tough as nails one guard is no longer the Robin to Durant's caped crusader. He's ready to take the reigns and really make a name for himself.
In this league a point guard is usually fast or smart. Russell Westbrook is going to have the opportunity to be both for the majority of his career. He already rebounds the ball as well as most forwards, and creates havoc on the opponent while running the fast break. If he can manage to add a consistent jumper, and become some sort of an outside threat, there will be no defense able to contain him.
While there are still a few guards who best him when they square off, their days are numbered. Westbrook is going to continue adding weapons to his armament, and will most likely find himself cracking the top five next season.
Look out below when this guy storms the lane, because he's about to drop bombs.
Have you seen some of the flip up circus runners this guy makes on a regular basis?
Derrick Rose has quickly become one of the most lethal guards in the league, point or shooting. Rose has displayed an amazing ability to get out in transition, and seems to have an eye for big game moments. The deeper the Bulls continue to get, the better Rose will perform. He has a real knack for finding his teammates at just the right moment, and has become a regular thief out on the wing.
While Rose does lack a consistent jump shot at the moment, it has been improving. The moment he can combine his uncanny ability to get to the hoop with a knock down jumper, he will be one of the top three guards in the league. Until then he will remain a few spots behind the truly elite, but you better believe he'll be there soon.
Can someone tell me something Rondo can't do?
I know the joke, he can't shoot the ball well right?
The scary thing is he's improving, and fast. When Rondo came into this league not too long ago, all the talk was about the Big Three in Boston. When the Celtics won the championship in 2008, many claimed that Rondo merely "tagged along" on the ride with the Big Three. Then just last season Rondo was unquestionably the biggest reason the Celtics took the Lakers to seven games in the NBA finals.
People keep doubting him, and he just keeps getting better.
Rondo is a magnet for the ball on defense, and managed to average the most steals for a season in Celtic History last year. Not bad for such a storied franchise. He also manages to thread the needle better than most house wives at 9.8 apg last season. Sure his jump shot is nothing to write home about, but it used to be much worse.
Like it or not, Rondo will continue to improve. Every season he plays his shot will only get better. When he starts hitting the mid-range jumper at 47 percent, he puts himself in the conversation for best point guard in the league.
Steve Nash has been an elite point guard since he was traded to the Phoenix Suns.
Besides the tendency to disappear on the defensive end, Nash has no other weaknesses. He shoots an amazing percentage from three, from two, and from the line, and will punish you if he gets even a second of day light. He loves pushing the ball in transition, and thrives on completing impossible passes to men on the move.
Even with his amazing shooting touch, the best part of his game is how crafty he is with distribution. When you think of Nash's passing abilities, a name like Magic Johnson comes to mind. Sure they had to different builds, but both players have had the ability to dazzle the eye and confuse the opponent with their unbelievable passes.
Nash may not have many years left in the tank at this point, but I haven't seen much of a decline. With Amare now in New York, Nash will have to find a new favorite target in Phoenix. My money is on Turkoglu.
And here is where I get crucified.
There are many among you that will find this to be a mistake, but there is no mistake here. Until Chris Paul returns to full form, he's the number two point guard in the league. Frankly with the constant improvement and durability of Deron Williams, he may not regain his spot at all. It may be 1a and 1b next year.
But more on Chris Paul.
Chris Paul truly marks the return of the little guy. With his amazing array of guard skills he manages to elude defenses, and complete awe-inspiring passes on a nightly basis. He's an excellent ball thief on the defensive end, and is an above average rebounder for his size.
Some are acting quickly to label him as "injury prone," but i wouldn't get on that train just yet. Knee injuries are a scary thing, but my gut has Paul returning to elite form this year, and reminding the league that he is a player to be feared.
Standing tall at No. 1 is none other than Utah's Deron Williams.
Williams out ranks CP3 in this list because he can do virtually everything that Paul can. He does so with better strength, size and durability at the point position. Deron is in my opinion the most complete player at the point position, and most don't even come close to him.
He can stick a pass anywhere on the court, with any amount of coverage, without breaking a sweat. He can drive the lane with his size and strength, and also step outside for the three ball at a nice clip. His game intelligence is reaching at elite level, and his chemistry with teammates makes him lethal on the fast break. I would also give the clutch factor to Williams over Paul when the game is on the line.
The debate will rage on forever on who is truly the best point guard between Williams and Paul, but going into this season there is no debate. The Utah Jazz have without a doubt the best man to run their offense, and Deron Williams is that man.
All Hail the King of the point guards, for now at least.