NBA Playoffs 2011: The Best and Worst Point Guards in This Year's Playoffs
The point guard is one of the most pivotal positions for any team that is looking to be successful. On most teams he's the guy who handles the ball more than anyone else and starts the offense in motion.
Of course depending on the team and the other players around them, a point guard's success often goes beyond the stat line. Lighting up the scoreboards and breaking down defenders with killer crossovers may excite the fans, but a point guard can be successful without doing those things.
With that in mind, going from worst to first, let's take a look at the 16 point guards who will be leading their teams into the playoffs.
16. Mike Bibby
Season Stats: 8.6 PPG, 3.3 APG, 2.4 RPG, 0.6 STLPG, 1.3 TOPG, .431FG%, .440 3P%
I've got Mike Bibby bringing up the rear because not only has his game fallen off, as witnessed by his awful stats, but he hardly even touches the ball for the Miami Heat. Remember this is the third different team he has played for just this season.
Now I might be willing to overlook the stats if Bibby at least brought the ball up court and started the offense in motion, but he doesn't even do that. Those duties usually fall into the hands of Dwayne Wade.
The only real positive that I see with Bibby's game is his long-range abilities. He shoots .441 percent from three-point range and makes about two a game. Within the Heat offense, when defenses are focused on stopping Wade and LeBron James, Bibby can spot up and hit some big shots.
15. Kirk Hinrich
Season Stats: 10.2 PPG, 4.0 APG, 2.5 RPG, 1.0 STLPG, 1.7 TOPG, .446 FG%, .399 3P%
Kirk Hinrich is another guy who has changed teams this year, playing the first three months of this season with the Washington Wizards. In this case you could look at it as a positive since a playoff-caliber team acquired him as an upgrade, but then again the Hawks started this year with the previously mentioned Mike Bibby at the point, so that's not saying much.
Oddly enough his stats have actually gotten worse since joining the Hawks, but maybe that is just due to him trying to find his role on a new team.
The only real positive that I see with Hinrich's game is the fact that he is a smart veteran who won't turn the ball over much. While he may not do any one thing great, he's a serviceable guard who can handle the ball and set the offense in motion.
14. Darren Collison
Season Stats: 13.2 PPG, 5.1 APG, 2.8 RPG, 1.1 STLPG, 2.5 TOPG, .457 FG%, .331 3P%
This is Darren Collison's second year in the league and this will be his first appearance in the playoffs. It's not the most enviable position having his Indiana Pacers face off against the top-seeded Chicago Bulls, which means going head-to-head with Derrick Rose.
To be honest I haven't seen much of Darren Collison this year so it's tough for me to really point out what he does well. I remember last year as a rookie he stepped in for an injured Chris Paul and showed a real knack for scoring, but that doesn't seem to be his role with this team since they have Danny Granger.
13. Mike Conley
Season Stats: 13.7 PPG, 6.5 APG, 3.0 RPG, 1.8 STLPG, 2.2 TOPG, .444 FG%, .369 3P%
Some people have called Mike Conley a bust as the fourth overall pick by the Memphis Grizzlies in 2007. While he may not be a superstar, the guy is still only 23 years old so I wouldn't be so quick to label him just yet.
There is nothing eye-popping about his stats but they have slightly increased each year so he's at least showing some progression.
His best asset is his quickness and the fact that he's left-handed, however his average ball-handling skills don't allow him take advantage of that quickness.
12. Jrue Holiday
Season Stats: 14.0 PPG, 6.5 APG, 4.0 RPG, 1.5 STLPG, 2.7 TOPG, .446 FG%, .365 3P%
Jrue Holiday is another one of the young guards who is making his first appearance in the playoffs. It's his second year in the league and he's only 20 years old, but the strides he's made in his game have been impressive.
At 6'4" he has great size for a point guard and when you combine that with his length, it gives him the tools to be a great defender.
It's his offensive abilities that keep Jrue from being higher on this list. While he has improved his shooting touch, his long-range game could still use some work and he should probably attack the rim more. He's also had issues with turnovers, which are a serious no-no in the playoffs when every possession counts.
11. Ty Lawson
Season Stats: 11.7 PPG, 4.7 APG, 2.6 RPG, 1.0 STLPG, 1.7 TOPG, .503 FG%, .404 3P%
Continuing with the theme of young guards we have Ty Lawson in his second year out of North Carolina. Now based on those above stats you would think I should have had him behind Holiday and Conley but those stats are somewhat deceiving. Let me explain.
16.3 PPG, 7.5 APG, 3.3 RPG, 1.5 STLPG, 1.8 TOPG, .530 FG%, .400 3P%
Now these are Lawson's stats in the month of March when he fully integrated himself with the Denver Nuggets after he had been traded from the New York Knicks.
Every part of his game improved with his move to Denver and that's because he's the perfect fit for that team. While quickness is a term that's synonymous with point guards, Lawson's speed is almost unrivaled. With George Karl having his team get out and run to take advantage of that Denver altitude, Lawson has flourished. He's also an excellent three-point shooter, evident by the fact that he made 10 in a row in a game just last week.
Lawson sprained his left ankle in the last game of the regular season, so sadly he may not get to show off his skills at 100 percent.
10. Jameer Nelson
Season Stats: 13.1 PPG, 6.0 APG, 3.0 RPG, 1.0 STLPG, 2.6 TOPG, .446 FG%, .401 3P%
Jameer Nelson may actually be a little too high on this list, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt because he has a little more experience in the playoffs than the previous three players on the countdown.
While Nelson may lack any serious height advantages he is strong and his toughness helps him on defense, as well as his ability to absorb contact when he drives to the hole.
However, I think he really has to step it up this year in the playoffs if the Magic hope to make a serious run. Another quick exit from the playoffs may spell the end of his run with Orlando.
9. Derek Fisher
Season Stats: 6.8 PPG, 2.7 APG, 1.9 RPG, 1.2 STLPG, 0.9 TOPG, .389 FG%, .396 3P%
I can almost guarantee that this will be the biggest problem that most people will have with this list. Derek Fisher being ranked this high on the list may seem ridiculous, but as I stated in the intro, sometimes the stats don't tell the whole story.
Remember that this man has five championship rings, and has hit countless clutch shots over the years to help his team win those titles. When you look up "crafty veteran player" in the dictionary don't be surprised if you're looking at Fisher's picture. He's also a smart defender and takes charges with the best of them.
Has his play fallen off over the last few years? Absolutely. But when playoff time rolls around the man always steps up his game.
8. Jason Kidd
Season Stats: 7.9 PPG, 8.2 APG, 4.4 RPG, 1.7 STLPG, 2.2 TOPG, .361 FG%, .340 3P%
Jason Kidd is one of my all-time favorite guards and a future Hall of Famer. So maybe I'm a little biased (my initials are J. Kidd), but the man was a threat to put up triple-doubles on any given night. Again, I can see how some people will say that he's not that player anymore, which is somewhat true, but I think he still has enough left to really help the Dallas Mavericks.
His court vision and passing skills are still top-notch and if he's spotted up he can hit open threes. Also his size at 6'4", 210 lbs., allows him to be a decent rebounder for the point guard position.
The problem with Kidd is the fact that his defense is almost nonexistent. He'll get a steal or two a game because his court vision actually helps him jump passing lanes but that's about it.
Kidd may not be the player he once was, but I think he might have one last run in him.
7. Andre Miller
Season Stats: 12.7 PPG, 7.0 APG, 3.7 RPG, 1.4 STLPG, 2.4 TOPG, .460 FG%, .108 3P%
We've gone on a run of crafty veteran guards with these last three spots, but I don't think you can overlook experience when the playoffs roll around.
Andre Miller has the most left out of the three veterans, and also has a bigger role on his team than the other two players.
While he was never a prolific scorer, I've seen numerous occasions where his team really needed a basket and he was the man to get it. Miller is such a well-rounded player that I'm not sure you could really point out any glaring weaknesses.
6. Chauncey Billups
Season Stats: 16.8 PPG, 5.4 APG, 2.6 RPG, 1.0 STLPG, 2.5 TOPG, .427 FG%, .402 3P%
Even though it was almost seven years ago, Chauncey Billups was the starting point guard for the Detroit Pistons when they won the 2004 NBA championship.
Now he finds himself as the third option on the New York Knicks, but he still plays an integral role in that team's success. Billups has impressive size for a point guard, which allows him to post up smaller guards and often draw fouls, where he shot an impressive .916 percent from the foul line this season.
The only real question mark with Billups' game is that he lacks the speed and quickness to defend a lot of other point guards.
5. Tony Parker
Season Stats: 17.5 PPG, 6.6 APG, 3.1 RPG, 1.2 STLPG, 2.6 TOPG, .519 FG%, .357 3P%
Sometimes I think Tony Parker gets overlooked when people are talking about the best point guards in the league, which is surprising when you consider that he played a major role in winning three championship rings with the San Antonio Spurs.
Parker isn't much of a three-point threat, but his quickness allows him to get in the lane and he has a real knack for using floaters and scoops to finish at the rim.
He's also a solid defender who, like most of the Spurs, is excellent at taking a charge. Parker may not have the wow factor that some of the top few guards possess, but he has every tool necessary to help his team make another run at a championship.
4. Russell Westbrook
Season Stats: 21.9 PPG, 8.2 APG, 4.6 RPG, 1.9 STLPG, 3.9 TOPG, .442 FG%, .330 3P%
Russell Westbrook has only been in the league for three years and this will be just his second trip to the playoffs, but there should be little doubt that he is one of the best point guards in the entire NBA.
Last year in his first playoff appearance in the league, he averaged 20.5 PPG, six APG and six RPG. He helped his team push the eventual champs, the Los Angeles Lakers, to the brink of a Game 7.
Westbrook's elite athleticism not only allows him to get to the rim at will, but it also makes him one of the best defenders in the league.
The only real weakness that he has is in the turnover department. He can be way too sloppy with his ball-handling and throws a number of errant passes. He certainly needs to address those issues if the Thunder hope to advance far in the postseason.
3. Chris Paul
Season Stats: 15.9 PPG, 9.8 APG, 4.1 RPG, 2.4 STLPG, 2.2 TOPG, .463 FG%, .388 3P%
It was only two years ago that Chris Paul was considered hands down the best point guard in the NBA. But after he tore his meniscus and they removed it entirely so he could return from injury quicker, some have questioned if he will ever be the same player again.
Even if Paul has lost a step or two due to injury, there is no question that he can still run the pick-and-roll better than just about anyone in the NBA. His ball-handling skills are second to none, and those quick hands also help him snatch enough steals that he led the league in steals per game for the third year in a row.
Paul's weakness would be that he has no outside game, which allows defenders to play off of him when he's beyond the three-point line.
2. Rajon Rondo
Season Stats: 10.6 PPG, 11.2 APG, 4.4 RPG, 2.3 STLPG, 3.4 TOPG, .475 FG%, .233 3P%
While the Boston Celtics were often referred to as the Big Three, that quickly became the Big Four as Rajon Rondo developed into one of the best point guards in the league while helping the Celtics win an NBA championship.
What's even more impressive was the next year, even though the Celtics didn't make the Finals, Rondo averaged 16.9 PPG, 9.8 APG and 9.7 RPG. He basically averaged a triple-double over 14 games in the '09 playoffs.
Rondo seemingly has the ability to find the open man and make a great pass no matter where he is on the court. Also, his disruptive defense and ability to jump into passing lanes often creates easy buckets in transition.
Rajon has one glaring weakness and everyone knows it—he's a terrible shooter. Not only is his three-point game basically nonexistent, he's also an awful free-throw shooter. To his credit he too is well aware of it and in most cases he avoids taking those shots.
1. Derrick Rose
Season Stats: 25.0 PPG, 7.7 APG, 4.1 RPG, 1.0 STLPG, 3.4 TOPG, .445 FG%, .332 3P%
This may be the year that Derrick Rose goes from just being a star, to being a superstar. He has gotten a lot of consideration for MVP and it's easy to see why.
This will be his third playoff appearance, though he has yet to advance past the first round in the previous two. Not that those failures were his fault as he's averaged 22.7 PPG, 6.8 APG and 5.1 RPG in those series.
This year there were multiple stretches of the season where Rose singlehandedly carried the Chicago Bulls to victory and ultimately led the team to the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
One of the most impressive things about Rose is that he can score at will from just about anywhere on the floor. His three-point percentage could use some improvement, but when he's hot you have to cover him out there.
While his defense might not be in the same caliber of Rondo's or Paul's, he has concentrated a lot more on it this year and he puts forth a ton of effort.
So that's it, from worst to first that's how I would stack up the point guards in this year's playoffs. Feel free to leave me a comment and let me know who's to low, who's to high or if I got it just right.