The Golden Age: The Rise Of Point Guards
Throughout the history of the NBA, there have been 5 different positions. The center position dominated the early years of the NBA, with monsters like Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, and George Mikan. The funny thing is, all four center greats were either a Laker or a Celtic. In the 70's, Julius Erving made guards well-known. Then in the 80's, the Laker vs. Celtic war began when forwards Larry Bird and Magic Johnson came along. Yes Magic is listed as a point, but he stands as a forward in size. Then came that UNC G.O.A.T. that revolutionized the game and changed the game into a slasher's game. Even then, the league was pretty much flooded with towers like Shaquille O'Neal, David Robinson, Hakeem Olajuwon, Dikembe Mutombo, etc. The 2000's brought in athletic specimens like LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose, and so on. In this age however, where speed and athleticism is taking over, the fastest will only survive. This age promises us young offensive generals that lead their team. Point guards are slowly on the rise. In this league, we have MANY all-star level point guards, and many future stars that twinkle radiantly, and I list them all...
Stephen Curry ended last season with a blazing path, and has continued that path this season. Curry is quietly dropping down 20 points per game on 46% shooting. Oh, and if that doesn’t amaze you, he’s 40% from downtown. He’ll find his perfect rhythm soon and get back to last year’s form, when he was 44% from the arc. He’s also getting 2.2 steals, 6.3 assists, and 4 rebounds. The sharpshooter is a great defender, especially for a Warrior, where offense is the only mindset. The league sure is looking bright with these amazing youngsters huh?
The sophomore Brandon Jennings created huge media buzz when he unleashed 55 points of fury on Golden State last year. He’s cooled down to earth ever since, but is still creating problems for the opposing defense. The Young Buck is making 17 points per game while giving out 6 assists and grabbing 5 rebounds. The 21-year old youngster brought life back to Milwaukee and resurrected the franchise and took it to it’s first playoff birth in years. Expect Jennings to become an elite in the future, and tear the NBA up.
To me, Chris Paul is the best point guard in the league right now. He's a running MVP candidate, and currently leading his New Orleans Hornets to a stellar 11-1 start. The Hornet's Mighty Mouse has come back from a horrid season derailed by injuries and lost hopes and turned this season into a strong run. Exactly how good is he right now? Well, he’s getting teammates involved with 10 assists per game, pulling down 5 boards, and scoring 18 on 52% shooting. Maybe not as great as his post-injury seasons, but still very good. His surrounding cast isn’t as great as Rondo’s or Rose’s, but he’s making it work because he is a true All-Time great. Paul is only 25 and is only going to get better. With excellent dedication and determination to improve and win, he can only go higher in the ranks.
Benjamin Button is getting it done this season even without Amare Stoudemire. Oops, sorry I meant Steve Nash. The man gets younger and younger every time he steps on the court. Speaking of steps, the 2-Time MVP has tremendous footwork and coordination. Steve Nash has perfected every offensive arsenal there is. He’s dropping a great 19 points per game on 50% shooting. He’s 42% from downtown, and he’s setting his teammates up with 9 assists per game. Nash doesn’t even seem like he’s getting older. The man’s turning 37 this February, and if he keeps this up, he’ll be playing until he’s 76. The ageless wonder continues to do work, keep it up Steve.
The blinding speed of Raymond Felton amazes me. The facilitator for the New York Knicks is showing signs of growth in the Big Apple. Felton is averaging 18 baskets, setting up 8 assists, hustling for 4 boards, and 2 steals per game. His field goal percentage is at a career high 47%. After being trapped in Larry Brown's defensive system, Felton has unleashed his true potential in New York, and he's thriving in Mike D'Antoni's up-tempo offensive style of play. He's only 26, and has alot of room for improvement ahead. Watch out for Felton, he'll be an all-star one day.
In my opinion, the Utah Jazz have the second best point guard in the league in Deron Williams. He has everything you want in a point guard. He has size, speed, lateral agility, great vision, bullish strength, and the ability to score. Weather it's from far behind the 3-point line, or driving in towards the bucket, Williams is a lethal threat. Deron contains a deadly crossover that burns even the smallest defenders. His excellence on the court cannot be denied, as he continues to run the Jazz as a perennial playoff squad. His age? Scarily he's only 26. 22 points and 10 dimes aren't bad numbers.
Former all-star Maurice "Mo" Williams gets it done, and gets it done well. Injuries have slowed him down lately this year, but Mo always finds a way to get back into tip-top shape. Last year however, Mo saw a great year with 16 points per game, 5 assists, and 43% from behind the arc playing alongside LeBron James. The Cavalier's sharpshooter was nicknamed "The Silent Assassin" due to his great scoring and performances being overshadowed by LeBron's cast. It's pretty ludicrous how this man was taken in the 2nd round, with the 47th pick in the 2003 draft pick.
The steady journeyman Chauncey Billups enjoyed a great year last year as a member of the Denver Nuggets. Last year, the then 33-year old saw a career high in points (20). The former Finals MVP is another ageless wonder as he plays with great consistency. Billups brings to the locker room great leadership skills and playoff experience. Billups is a great point guard with good size and fundamentals. His strength puts him in the ranks of the top defensive guards in the league, being a 5-time All-Star and 2 time All-NBA selection. Mr. Big Shot cashes in like no other from the arc. Billups is an intelligent player who distinctively uses his advantages in success. He also uses his strength and size to post up smaller guards.
The two year man who exploded on the scene when he had to replace Chris Paul, Darren Collison is a future elite of the Indiana Pacers. Gathered alongside rising star Roy Hibbert and star Danny Granger, the Pacers will become a formidable team. Darren enjoyed a 12 points / 6 assists career in New Orleans, and now he is averaging 14 points with 4 assists. Not much of an improvement, but when Darren finds his groove, watch out. Want to see his potential? As a starter, Darren averaged 18 ppg and 9 apg. Crazy kid. His timing and patience has clearly improved and so has his tremendous vision. Last year, he improved his 29% 3-point shooting to a whopping 44% over the season. With his skills and tenacious agility, there's no stopping this kid's cielings at age 23.
The 4th leaf of the Boston Celtic's clover, Rajon Rondo has come alive. The quick, speedy, and witty ball wizard has rejuvenated the aging Celtic's squad. The skilled guard doesn't only have talent, but he is physically gifted. With his wide wingspan and oversized hands, the agile Rondo is one of the best man-to-man defensive stoppers in the league. He averages about 2.2 steals a game with those characteristics. He's able to score at 11.4 points each night, but he is most lethal in the offensive-facilitating area. His great vision allows him to produce a mind-blowing 13.8 assists per game. The deadly Celtic can also go off for triple doubles by grabbing a 4.5 average on the boards, on a stacked frontcourt team. Rondo can only get better at age 24. Just imagine if he grows a consistent jumpshot... That is all he needs to make a huge stride.
The savvy French bullet of San Antonio is back. Tony Parker has returned from injuries to play on a high level on a nightly basis. The little Spur is dishing out 8 assists per game, while dropping 19 points on 54% shooting. He’s not bad on defense too, grabbing about 2 steals per game. These numbers are all-star testament, and don’t be surprised if you see Parker at L.A. soon. Nobody is faster when driving to the rim than Tony. His excellent speed is boosted by his skill and elegance when getting to the rim. He attacks the basket with such reckless abandon, and usually gets it in. Even when Duncan is slowly aging, Parker is just in his prime at the ripe age of 28. Expect to see some great seasons from these few years
UCLA's fine product, Russell Westbrook is slowly emerging as a rising star in the league. In the year that was supposed to be Kevin Durant's, Westbrook has slowly been playing at higher level. His efficiency rating is actually much higher than Kevin Durant's. The 22 year old has averaged 24 points, 5 rebounds, and 9 assists per game. Yeah he's amazing on offense, but his defense is also excellent. Not only is it outstanding, but it's also versatile. His athleticism, strength, and length gives him the nod over most guards. He brings intensity and energy to Oklahoma, especially with his freakish athleticism. The poster-maker can posterize any defender by getting past his man with his lightning quick first-step. Westbrook isn't close to a finished product, the Thunder is a team that is getting dangerous as the years go by.
What else can I say about Derrick Rose? Amazing. The Chicago Bulls selected him with the first pick, and they didn't miss out one bit. In his third year, he's averaging 26 points, 5 rebounds, and 8 assists per game. Rose has the mind of a pit bull, but is still a high character kid. His game has SUPERSTAR written all over it. He has marvelous speed, quickness, and ability to finish around the rim. He's an athletic monster who can be considered as the most explosive finisher above the rim. Rose has superior strength that he uses along with his mind-blowing quickness to get to the rim at ease. He's a hard worker who has improved his 3 point shot. Derrick has great vision and passing ability. Rose is definitely a future MVP candidate. He's half Jason Kidd half Dwyane Wade. This kid is remarkable in every view, and he's just getting started...
The sophomore Jrue Holiday has been a silent storm brewing in Philadelphia. Overlooked because of the team's blemishes, Holiday has blossomed into a steady point guard. At age 20, the 76er is averaging about 14 points with 7 dimes to go along with that. The former UCLA product has grabbed national attention during his tenure there. Holiday is a point guard that can score, pass, and defend. He is also a high character guy who is very coachable. His defensive skills and agility to slash earns him many comparisons to Dwyane Wade. Savvy and smart, Holiday is going to be a star one day.
One of the older, veteran point guards in the league, Andre Miller is still in good shape. The NBA ironman has never completed a season with less than 80 games. Reliable and consistent, Miller can score and make plays for his teammates. With a grounded game, he never excites you with his athleticism, but he makes up for it with his great post game. He is able to post up smaller defenders and get his way with them. At the ancient age of 34, Miller will be in the league for years to come. With a steady effort night in and night out, he will stay as an important piece to any team he plays for.
The unbelievable rookie sensation of the Washington Wizards, John Wall has arrived. Currently, he's averaging 18 savage points, 9 masterful assists, and 4 boards per night. Oh, on the defensive side, Wall is committing 3 steals a night, which is an extremely wonderful stat for a rookie point. Why is Wall so craved for? First and foremost, he has great size at 6'4' and 195 pounds. He has long arms and is a gifted defender. Wall possesses brilliant speed and agility, in which he uses to drive to the hoop like no other. John plays excellent vision, and has an excellent feel for the game. Last and not the least, the 21 year old is an astounding athletic specimen. His explosive finishing ability flourishes on the court where fans adore his type of play. A superstar in the making, Wall has drawn comparisons to Rajon Rondo's craftiness/defense, and Derrick Rose's explosiveness, size, and strength. He also has the speed, quickness, and vision of both players.
Who is 6' flat and can flat out play? Jameer Nelson of the Orlando Magics. At the ripe age of 28, he's averaging 15 points per game and 7 assists per game on a highly stacked Magic team. He's shooting a stellar 50% from the field and an even greater 41% from behind the arc. Scary numbers for a team with a post nightmare like Howard. The former all-star shoots 3's and gets to the basket with ease using his NBA strength and speed. He is a proven defender even at his short stature. Let's hope for the best for Nelson and his Magics squad.
The athletic combo-guard who has the strength, speed, and skill to play both poistions, Rodney Stuckey is an impactful player. He's a great finisher around the rim, and gets to the charity stripe effectively. Stuckey possesses a lethal mid-ranged jumpshot, and is streaky behind the 3-point strip. Even so, 50 Cent; I mean Rodney Stuckey, averages 16 points and 5 dimes on a less than average Detroit group. The dangerous Piston is most effective at the point, being an X-factor for most games. He's only 24, and will get so much better than we've seen. Don't sleep on Detroit now...
Agent Zero of the Washington Wizards, Gilbert Arenas is still an elite player today. Now before I start, let me defend Gilbert. He made a huge mistake. Nobody is perfect. It was a pure mistake that needs to be forgotten. Off court, he is one of the classiest stars in the NBA who cares deeply about the fans and knows how important philanthrophy is. Arenas brothers a 10 year old who lost his family and treats him as his own. And that compassionate fellow has had to go through this heated criticism? On behalf of the ridiculously stupid media, I apologize Gilbert.
His 2006 season which marked his superstar birth was an exciting time. 30 points and 6 assists from a man who can fire the 3 from miles behind the arc. Gilbert's career has been derailed by controversy and tragic injuries that have kept him off the court for ages. Still, he is only 28 and can still make huge impacts on the court. Hibachi is averaging 17 points and 5 assists a game. A mere shadow of his former self, but still good numbers.
Another former superstar who has rotten from age and injuries, Baron Davis can still explode for amazing games. Although his 8 points, 2 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2 steals a game from this season is nothing compared to his 22 points, 5 rebounds, 8 assists, and 2.3 steals a game from three years ago, you can't deny his mark. Davis is an all around point who can score, dish, and crash boards. The 31 year old veteran. With his 6'3, and 215 pound frame, there's nothing that can stop this man from getting to the rim. He's athletic and can finish with the best of them, often ending up in explosive slams. Hopefully Davis can get back to normal so we can see his Clipper's squad actually improve.
Tyreke Evan's numbers have slightly dipped from last year's 20/5/6 performance to 17 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists a game. Still, those aren't too shabby. The skilled Evans is a very strong guard at 6'5, 210 pounds, and a 7'3 wingspan. His defense isn't bad, using his long arms to collect any passes through the lane. He has a fatal first step; combine that with his speed and insurmountable strength, and he is unstoppable getting to the rim. A great finisher with a good jumpshot, the rookie of the year is only 21 and will improve as time goes on.
The scoring machine, Aaron Brooks is a perfect example of a point guard that can flat out score. His three-point shot seems to have no limit. He is a diminutive point guard who comes up in the clutch consistently. Last year, Brooks averaged 20 points and 5 assists per game. The Houston Rockets use their sharpshooter to blast by defenders with his excellent agility. He can get to the free throw line, and makes it more than he doesn't. At the age of 25, Brooks seems like he's on a path to an all-star appearance.
After Raymond Felton left Charlotte for the promising city of New York, D.J Augustine was chosen to step up, and he has. The 23 year old is averaging 14 points and 7 assists per game as a starting Bobcat. He has the tools for a great point guard; Strength, Speed, and Skill. The talented cat has loads of potential, as he is great at making decisions passing-wise, but can score when needed. His 3-point stroke is steady, and his handles let him crossover any defense. DJ finishes quite well around the rim, but lacks the athleticism and explosiveness needed for the next step. Talented and young, DJ is on the way to becoming extremely dangerous.
His father was an olympian, and you can't run away from DNA. Mike Conley of the Memphis Grizzlies is an unbelievable competitor. His intense and passionate play every night makes him one of the best out there. He orchestrates the Memphis offense effectively, averaging 7 dimes a night. He's unselfish, but he can also score when required. He's dropping 16 points every night he's on the floor. On defense, he ain't too shabby either. Conley is gathering a grand 2.3 steals a game. Mike is also ambidextrous and can finish with either hands. He's tough-minded and from a winning pedigree, he'll improve over time. He's only 23 guys, watch out for the Grizzlies in the west... If there are any there.
The passionate youngster of the San Antonio Spurs, George Hill is an athletic combo guard who is effective at both slots. He's averaging 11 points and 3 dishes on 26 minutes a night. Not numbers that blow you away, but his passion and flare for the game is seen every game. The 24 year old exploded on the scene last year with his shooting stroke and finishing ability. He has a solid frame gifted with agility and athleticism, he plays at a poised style. Hill may never fill his full potential in the San Antonio style of play, but let's keep hoping this kid continues to improve to maximum size.
The sophomore from the tradition-rich University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Ty Lawson is quite overlooked. Coming off the bench for superstar Chauncey Billups, Lawson has averaged 10 points and 4 assists on 47% FG percentage in just 23 minutes a night. The short yet speedy guard has the blinding speed and quickness that can be compared to Raymond Felton's. He's a capable play-maker and scorer, and finishes extremely well around the basket. Ty is not afraid of big shots, and shows the maturity and intensity to play well in big moments. Every game you will see Ty Lawson play with vigorous passion for the game. Expect the Billups-Lawson tandem to become a dangerous front court for teams to play.
Another UCLA product turned Clipper, Eric Bledsoe is having a great rookie year. His 48% FG percentage, 9 baskets, 4 boards, 5 assists, and 1 theft a game won't blow you away, but it's only a matter of time before Bledsoe matures and becomes lethal. With his 21-year old strong body, Eric isn't afraid of contact while getting to the rim. Add to that a lightning quick first step and the explosive finishing talent he has, and you have a great prospect. Eric's growth will be determined with where Baron Davis goes, so let's just hope Clipper's management actually do something right for once.