Rondo Or Paul? NBA's Best Point Guards During the Position's Golden Age
The NBA is experiencing a golden age of the point guard. For a member of a younger generation that has only been able to hang its hat on Kidd, Nash, Stockton, and Payton over the last twenty or so years, it is almost unfathomable to have Derrick Rose, John Wall, Chris Paul, and Rajon Rondo all entering their prime around the same time.
The point guard position has never been as flashy as the rest of the floor as unselfishness reigns supreme, but this season may be the best showcase of point guard talent ever, and for basketball purists, it is absolutely glorious to watch.
This unusual depth at the position makes declaring the game's best a surprisingly difficult feat, but since America loves knowing who's number one, let's take a look.
5. John Wall
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The Washington Wizards have so far gotten everything they could have hoped for when they selected John Wall with the first pick in the draft. Wall has been a scorer and a distributor while playing for one of the worst teams in basketball.
Wall's line for the season has been 18.1 points, 9.8 assists, 4 rebounds, and 3.3 steals per game. Wall accounts for over half of the Wizards' assists this season and about 20% of their points per game. He is already a dominant force on his team only six games into the young season.
How does Wall stack up against the rest of the league? Among point guards, he ranks fifth in assists per game and seventh in points per game.
He also leads the league in steals per game. Numbers like this would have the rookie phenomenon ranked higher on the list, but his 4.4 turnovers per game are worst among point guards.
Give Wall some time to mesh with his teammates and develop more discipline with the ball and he could very well find himself in the number one spot.
4. Deron Williams
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Deron Williams may be the most underrated player in the NBA. Williams consistently manages to keep his Jazz in the running with the top teams in the league, while playing in a smaller market with less talent around him than some of the other players on this list.
Williams is averaging 10.1 assists per contest this season, which is good enough to place him at fourth in the league. He is also averaging 21.3 points per game, which also ranks him third in the league at the point guard position.
Williams is unquestionably a talented player and the leader of the Jazz, which makes him ever more valuable. While his game lacks some of the flash and buzz that revolves around the Chris Pauls and Rajon Rondos of the league, his ability to score and shoot the basketball make him well deserving of a spot on this list.
3. Derrick Rose
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Derrick Rose has been a force for the Chicago Bulls virtually since he entered the NBA. This season, Rose's production and his star power has continued to rise. Rose is one of the most complete point guards in the game, with an exceptional ability to both share the ball and score points.
Rose has only experienced limited success in the postseason and needs to lead an improved Bulls squad further into the playoffs this season if he hopes to see his stock rise any higher. Point guards are the epitome of the team concept and thus are judged in large part on the success and failures of the team as a whole.
Rose is averaging 23.6 points and 9.5 assists per game, which are good for second and seventh in the league respectively. He is averaging almost a double double per game and is still ranked seventh in one of the statistical categories, which illustrates just how deep the point guard position is.
In the end, it is Rose's ability to score points and his room to grow that place him near the top of the list.
2. Chris Paul
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Many basketball fans will not be pleased with Chris Paul, the man often labeled as the quintessential point guard, being any lower than number one on this list. However, success is not solely determined by statistical measures, but also through team success.
Paul's line is 17 points, 10.3 assists, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.8 steals per game which represents one of the most complete stat lines at the point guard position in the game today. Paul is carrying the currently undefeated Hornets to unheard of heights this season, but the sample size is simply too small to put significant stock in the season.
Seasons are judged not on their beginnings, but on their ends. Paul may not have had the most talent surrounding him as of late, but the results have simply not been there. For a position that revolves around facilitating the rest of the teams' success, Paul has put up impressive numbers, yet accomplished very little.
Paul has all of the tools to be unquestionably the best point guard in the league and seems to have embraced that role this season. If his run of successes continues until the end of the year, then there will be no keeping him out of the number one spot.
1. Rajon Rondo
Rajon Rondo has been evolving and growing at a faster pace than any player in the league since he entered the NBA. He has evolved from a role player on a 2008 title winning Celtics club to a premier player in the NBA and the most important player on a roster that includes four potential Hall of Famers.
Rondo is the ultimate facilitator in the league today, which makes him the league's number one overall point guard. Rondo plays alongside four of the game's legends, all of whom willingly defer to him on every possession when determining who should bring the ball up the floor. He is also one of the league's best defensive point guards, as he has adopted the Celtics' team defensive mentality and contributed with his lightning quick hands and long arms.
As Rondo goes, the Celtics go and as the Heat have already found out twice this season, you can play off of Rondo as much as you'd like and he's still going to find openings. Rondo is averaging an astronomical 15.1 assists per game thus far, which is about 1 assist less than the league's worst passing team, the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Rondo also has a winning pedigree as he has already won a ring as a rookie role player and has been the driving force behind the Celtics' last two playoff runs. Rondo had the Celtics within one quarter, and potentially one Kendrick Perkins injury, of an NBA title last season, in a series that would certainly have seen him named the NBA Finals MVP.
Rondo is the number one point guard in the game because of his ability as a creator, both on the drive and with his passing, and because of his intangibles as a winner and leader. However, the scariest part about Rajon Rondo is the fact that he is still developing as a player and especially as a shooter. If Rondo continues to improve his shot, the conversation may switch gears from the best point guards at the moment to the best point guards of all time.
Bonus Slide: Others Receiving Votes
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Steve Nash: Nash is one of the best point guards to play in the NBA, as far as offensive proficiency is concerned. He is having another memorable season, but is absent from this list due to his age and defensive play. Nash has always played in high octane offenses that have made a great point guard appear legendary, so some of his numbers must be accepted as inflated. Nash is certainly in the conversation for the top five, but fell just short in this ranking.
Russell Westbrook: Westbrook may be the most glaring omission from this top five. He ranks number one overall in points per game at the point guard position, but comes in at eight overall in assists. Westbrook's numbers are more akin to team first shooting guard's than a dominant point guard.
Tyreke Evans: Evans is a certified scoring threat from any spot on the floor, but has yet to develop as a real facilitator. His lack of assists this season reflect room for growth which could eventually land him on lists like these.
Jason Kidd: Kidd was once the greatest point guard of his generation and while his mastery of the passing game has remained high, the rest of his skills have fallen off. Nothing against Kidd's career, but his time as one of the greats is coming to an end.