NBA Power Rankings: Derrick Rose and the 10 Best Floor Generals

Will Leivenberg@@will_leivenbergFeatured ColumnistMarch 7, 2011

NBA Power Rankings: Derrick Rose and the 10 Best Floor Generals

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    Did you know that John Stockton, the NBA’s all-time assist leader (15,806), averaged only 13 points per game for his career? Yet, like any exceptional point guard, he was involved in the majority of the scoring.

    The point guard is the facilitator, the NBA’s version of the quarterback, whose vision and bold play sparks the momentum of the team.

    For these guys, the court is their canvas.

    What distinguishes the point guard from every other player on the floor is their ability to create: to create viable scoring opportunities, to create dialogue amongst the players, and ultimately to create an effective rhythm for the team.

    As basketball legend and famed sportscaster Bill Walton recently said, currently, “The NBA is on fire.”

    A bevy of determined teams are proving night after night, game after game, why they can contend for the coveted NBA title. Amidst this challenging environment, 10 point guards have separated themselves from the rest, fueled by their insatiable appetite for victory.

Raymond Felton

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Raymond Felton is having, by far, his best season yet in the NBA and has become one of the standout point guards in the league.

    Recently traded to the Denver Nuggets as part of the dramatic Carmelo Anthony deal, Felton is averaging 16.4 pts and 8.8 assists per game, ranking him seventh in assists leaders. Like a true point guard, he’s contributing on all cylinders, especially with assists. Felton is by no means a selfish player, always searching for the open man, finding a passing lane, or ready to drive and dish.

    At 6’1, 205 pounds, Felton's strength lies in his agility, swiveling around massive defenders and always following his shot, making for a dynamic presence on the court.

Stephen Curry

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    There is a plethora of young talent in the NBA, but few have developed as rapidly as 22-year-old Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors.

    Curry was a stud as college player for Davidson, leading the nation with 28.6 points per game and anchoring the Wildcats to two consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances.

    He has found his niche as a Warrior, averaging 18 points and 5.8 assists per game and found a role model in standout teammate Monta Ellis. Curry has solid ball-handling skills and phenomenal speed, making him a threat in the open court. Also, as his jump-shot continues to improve, the real danger Curry poses to his opponents is behind the three-point line, where he can go on a tear if he finds his rhythm.

Steve Nash

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Did you know that other than Magic Johnson, Steve Nash is only the second point guard to win back-to-back NBA MVP titles?

    Nash is also the fourth player in NBA history to shoot 50 percent or better from the field, 40 percent from three-point range (43.9), and 90 percent from the line, joining Larry Bird, Reggie Miller and Mark Price in the 50-40-90 Club.

    At age 37, Nash is still one of the most threatening point guards in the NBA, renowned for his playmaking and reliable ball-handling skills. The pick and roll is really the bread and butter of Nash’s game. Whether it was with Dirk Nowitzki on the Dallas Mavericks or Amar’e Stoudemire and Shawn Marion on the Phoenix Suns, defenders always stumbled when Nash set that play in motion.

    Nash is up to his same old tricks this season, ranked second in assists per game with 11.2, paired with 16.2 pts. What ultimately separates Nash from his peers is his versatility. When he brings the ball up the court, he has more options than a Burger King menu. He can beat you off the dribble, drain the the three-pointer, drive down the lane and pass at the last second, or initiate the deadly pick and roll.

Deron Williams

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    As the NBA trade deadlines came to a resounding halt just a few weeks ago, the New Jersey Nets were instantly deemed of the prime "winners" for picking up Deron Williams from the Utah Jazz. Why?

    This guy has become, without question, a franchise player.

    At just 26 years old, Williams has the displayed the confidence of a seasoned vet, driving down the lane into a sea of defenders, taking the game-winning shot, and creating a cohesive presence on the floor with his teammates.

    At 10.2 assists (third in the NBA) and 20.8 points per game this season, Williams has demonstrated his dependability as the team leader. Though he’s still in the midst of recovering from a wrist injury, Williams dished out 18 assists in two of his last three games. While the Nets have struggled throughout the season, currently 19-43, and are not projected to have much of a presence in the playoffs, you can bet that Williams will make a tremendous impact with his new team.

Tony Parker

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    The San Antonio Spurs have the best record in the NBA (51-11) because they have blended their fundamental “Hoosiers-like” strategy with a veteran squad that features Tony Parker at its head.

    The three-time NBA Champion always seems to be one step ahead of his defender. Parker never looks like he's in a hurry, and instead projects a kind of collected patience, like a lion about to attack its prey. This may be a product of being on a team with players he trusts and understands, like Manu Ginobli and Tim Duncan, who help to make his no look passes as difficult to detect as his quick, pull-up jump shot.

    With 6.6 assists and 17.1 pts per game, Parker has not just become an integral force for the Spurs, but one of the most shrewd players in the NBA today.

Dwyane Wade

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Drive to the hoop for a reverse lay-up? Too easy.

    Fade-away jumper on the baseline over two defenders? Why not?

    Three-pointer with the shot-clock winding down? Piece of cake.

    You name it, Dwyane Wade has it in his repertoire.

    There’s no doubt Wade is ecstatic to have LeBron James’ talents in South Beach, as well as Chris Bosh’s powerful presence in the key, but he’s definitely holding up his end of the bargain. Wade is averaging 25.2 points (fourth) in the NBA), alongside 4.3 assists and 6.8 rebounds per game.

    At the beginning of the season, Wade seemed to be struggling to find his piece in the Miami puzzle. However, Wade took control as team arbiter, turning around the Heat from their 9-8 record at week five in the season to go 30-9 by week 11.

    You win as a team and lose as a team, but whether or not the Heat are real contenders for the NBA Championship will be contingent upon whether Wade can rise to the occasion against the best teams on the biggest stages.

Chris Paul

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    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    Unfortunately, Chris Paul has been receiving more hype this season for his supposed desire to leave the New Orleans Hornets than for his prowess on the court.

    Paul remains one of the premiere point guards in the NBA, scoring 15.9 pts per game and currently ranked fourth in assists with 9.6 as well as second in steals with 2.4 per game.

    As the Hornets (36-28) have struggled through injuries and a lack of team chemistry, Paul has emerged as their mast through the storm.

Russell Westbrook

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    One of the most impressive feats of any athlete is their ability to adapt from one season to the next.

    Enter Russell Westbrook.

    The former UCLA Bruin is no longer letting the “Durantula” run the show, but has made a formidable impact upon the NBA this season as an exceptional ball-handler, terrific passer, and consistent scorer.

    Whereas Westbrook averaged 16.1 pts per game in the 2009-10 season, he’s leapt to 22 pts per game this season. He entered the season with a refined pull-up jump shot around the key and a newfound touch behind the three-point line, jumping from a .221 three-point percentage to .304 this season.

    Most importantly, he’s earned a more substantial role on his team and has risen to the occasion, transforming the Thunder into a legitimate threat throughout the NBA.

Rajon Rondo

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    Elsa/Getty Images

     Rajon Rondo averages more assists per game than he does points. Whether or not that appears bizarre is a question of opinion, but the Eastern Conference leading Boston Celtics (44-15) don’t seem to mind.

    Rondo is a special talent primarily because he has learned to fuse his impeccable court vision with "Magic-esque" passing skills, making for a nearly untouchable point guard. At 25, he’s never posed a threat as an outside shooter, averaging just 11 points per game, but that's primarily because he accepts his role on the Celtics.

    Rondo has nearly perfected the "drive-and-dish". He’s honed his skills to provide an option when driving down the lane—go up with it for the score and potentially get fouled, or as his momentum charges towards the basket, he finds the open man with a sensational, often no-look pass. That option has made him deadly to defensemen, who, without telepathy, continuously struggle to cut-off Rondo’s patented, drive-and-dish strategy.

Derrick Rose

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    The real sign that Derrick Rose is the most talented point guard in the NBA is that in addition to being a phenomenal scorer and fierce defender, he’s making his teammates better, resurrecting the Chicago Bulls into a powerhouse.

    Rose has led the Bulls (41-18) to the top of the Central standings and has shown no signs of letting up.

    His offensive prowess is defined by his resourcefulness, hitting the deep three-pointer as often as he weaves through a sea of defenders for the reverse lay-up. Rose is averaging 24.6 pts per game (eighth in NBA), 8.2 assist per game (10th), and has 19 double-doubles this season ranking him in to the top-25 in the league.  

     What’s both scary and totally enrapturing about the 22-year-old is that we haven’t even seen all that he’s capable of.

Which Floor General Do You Think Is Missing?

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Chauncey Billups?

    Brandon Jennings?

    Aaron Brooks?

    John Wall?