NBA Playoffs 2011: Ranking Every Point Guard in the NBA Playoffs
The NBA playoffs are finally upon us. The best talent from across the NBA will be clashing starting on Saturday, April 16th. The Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics and Western Conference champion Los Angeles Lakers from last year have once again made it into the playoffs. Many opponents from each conference have been hungry all year to dethrone the champs, but only a few have earned the right to compete in the postseason.
Each team has multiple factors that have contributed to them making the playoffs this year. We can't be certain that those factors which helped each squad make the playoffs will also contribute to or create postseason success. Nevertheless, one thing is certain—every team in the NBA playoffs this year seems to have a reliable, quality point guard.
To determine who is the best point guard of all those stars, we must not only look at their statistics but also analyze which point guard is most valuable to their respective team. Without further ado, here is the 2011 NBA Playoff point guards ranking/list.
No. 16 Miami Heat: Mike Bibby
It's been a busy year for the newly acquired Mike Bibby. First he was traded to the Washington Wizards as part of the Kirk Hinrich deal. He played only two games as a Wizard before making the stunning decision, on Feb. 28, to give back his entire $6.2 salary for the 2011-12 season in order to become a free agent. That is when the Heat scooped him up.
He isn't the answer for the Miami Heat, but he is part of the solution—at least that is what they are hoping. The Heat decided that Carlos Arroyo simply wasn't cutting it and bought out his contract to sign the "Bibbynator."
Bibby is a wily veteran player who has eight years of playoff experience and is a terrific three-point shooter. However, being a scorer is not primarily what Miami needs Bibby to be. A point guard needs to run the offense by sharing the basketball. Scoring should be secondary for Mike Bibby, especially since Miami has Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and oh yeah LeBron James. Here is a look at Bibby's stat line this year (from top to bottom ATL, MIA, WSH).
No. 15 Memphis Grizzlies: Mike Conley
Who would have thought that he would have had a more productive career than his college teammate Greg Oden year-to-date. Mike Conley and the Memphis Grizzlies cannot be overlooked in this years playoffs.
In the first round, they square off against the veteran and talented one seed of the Western Conference, the San Antonio Spurs. Conley has come of age in 2011 and is a big reason why the Grizzlies are even in the playoffs.
If Conley can take his game to the next level this postseason, then the Grizzlies could surprise the basketball world and upset the Spurs.
No. 14 Los Angeles Lakers: Derek Fisher
Fisher has a nose for smelling his way into the playoffs. Including this year, he has been to the post-season 13 out of the last 15 years. That is an impressive feat. Fisher is not much of a contributor statistically, but he doesn't need to be with teammates like Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Ron Artest. However, be sure to watch for Fisher launching and making a couple of shots from beyond the arc at key moments during the playoffs.
Derek Fisher now has five championship rings after winning the NBA Championship in 2010. Not bad for a mediocre point guard. Mediocre or not, Fisher knows his roll and is a great team player. He gives the Lakers what they need when they need it. Here's a peek at what "D-Fish" has accomplished in the 2011 regular season.
No. 13 Denver Nuggets: Ty Lawson
Ty Lawson is best known in his young career for sinking 10 of 11 three-point field goal attempts in a game earlier this year versus the Minnesota Timberwolves on his way to a career high 37 points. This was just a sample of what he is capable of as an NBA point guard.
He is currently ailing from a sprained ankle that he suffered in the Nuggets' season finale, but he expects to be ready for game one. If he cannot play, then there is not much cause for concern as the Nuggets have a more than capable backup in Raymond Felton to take his place. For this reason Lawson drops down the rankings to No. 13 out of 16 point guards.
No. 12 Philadelphia 76ers: Jrue Holiday
Right now is not the time to take a holiday, but the 2009 NBA draft was. With their top draft pick (17th-overall pick), the Sixers drafted former UCLA point guard Jrue Holiday. He had played just one season of college basketball, but they were absolutely thrilled to get him.
"We're ecstatic," Sixers Senior Vice President, Tony DiLeo, said shortly after the pick. "He's exactly what we wanted. He's 6'4'' and a big guard. He can play a lot of different combinations."
Holiday became the first player born in the 1990s to play in the NBA. He has never been to the postseason before, but as the 76ers point guard, he has brought them to the playoffs in only his second year as a pro.
Holiday saw a huge jump in minutes this year and he had a career year as a result. Nevertheless, this youngster can be even better than he has shown us so far. How good? We can't be certain but this year's playoff matchup versus the Miami Heat just might enlighten us.
No. 11 Portland Trail Blazers: Andre Miller
Andre Miller is a true point guard. He looks to pass first and shoot second. His mid-range jump-shot is superb, and he has a knack for successfully driving past defenders to the basket to score as well. He is going to have to get his fellow Blazers involved—and often—if they are going to stand a chance of dethroning the defending NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers in their first-round matchup.
Miller is an experienced veteran who has seen the postseason six of the past seven years, and the Trail Blazers will look to him for leadership throughout the playoffs.
No. 10 Atlanta Hawks: Kirk Hinrich
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Kirk Hinrich is a feisty individual. No one can ever accuse him of not having heart. Every game he plays with it on his sleeve for everyone to see. That is exactly the reason the struggling Atlanta Hawks acquired guard Kirk Hinrich from Washington in a five-player trade earlier this year, upgrading their backcourt for the playoff run.
Hinrich isn't much of an offensive threat, but he can make it rain threes if he gets his stroke going. His defense is solid and that is his strongest asset that he brings to the table for the Atlanta Hawks in the playoffs. Below are Kirk Hinrich's statistics for the 2010-2011 season (the top line is his Atlanta Hawks statistics).
No. 9 Orlando Magic: Jameer Nelson
Jameer Nelson—yes he is the starting point guard for Orlando, not Gilbert Arenas, but what a backup to have in your arsenal. If you are the Orlando Magic, you have to feel pretty good heading into this year's playoffs with guys for Jameer Nelson to pass the ball off to like, Dwight Howard, Jason Richardson, Gilbert Arenas (at times) and Hedo Turkoglu. However, Nelson has been to the post season before and can't seem to get his team to their ultimate goal, thanks to teams who are once again in the playoffs themselves such as the Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat. Will this year be different? It's the playoffs and anything can happen!
No. 8 Indiana Pacers: Darren Collison
Darren Collison has underachieved in his first year as a Pacer. Expectations were higher for him in a starting roll than he has delivered results for. With that being said, the Pacers could have given him more minutes this year. The Pacers still squeaked by the Milwaukee Bucks, making the playoffs for the first time since the 2006 season. If this team can make the playoffs with young talents such as Collison and Hibbert not peaking yet, imagine where this franchise will be two to three years down the road when they mature and pick up other contributors.
No. 7 New York Knicks: Chauncey Billups
"Mr. Big Shot," Chauncey Billups, is looking to make his mark once again in the 2011 NBA Playoffs but this year with the New York Knicks. Billups is a former finals MVP during his playing days with the Pistons and should be the X-factor in the Knicks/Celtics Round 1 matchup. Check out Billups statistics this year between the Denver Nuggets and the New York Knicks.
No. 6 Dallas Mavericks: Jason Kidd
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"J-Kidd" makes Dallas' offense tick. Yes, he is getting older but all the more reason why he and Dirk will be motivated to make a strong push in the West to get back to the finals and win. This could be Kidd's last, or one of his last years, in the NBA. If Dallas can't win this year, then you may see Jason Kidd call it a career.
No. 5 San Antonio Spurs: Tony Parker
Tony P. in the place to be—the playoffs. He and his fellow Spurs teammates are hoping to get back to their glory days and win another championship. If they don't, we may see this great Spurs team broken up.
No. 4 Oklahoma City Thunder: Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook has emerged as a superstar in 2011—his consistently dominant play is the reason why. Westbrook finished the regular season fourth in the NBA in steals per game (1.89). He may have not been in the top five in other major categories, but there is no denying that this was his breakout season and he will have many other great seasons in years to come.
The Thunder are serious championship contenders this year. They have played the Lakers in recent years in the playoffs and although they lost, they put up a great fight. This year they finally have a force down low, in Kendrick Perkins, who has rivaled the Lakers in past years during his stay in Boston as a Celtic. If the Lakers and Thunder do end up advancing past the first two rounds of the playoffs, then they would meet in the Western Conference finals and what a matchup that would make!
No. 3 New Orleans Hornets: Chris Paul
"CP3" is really the Hornets only hope of advancing in the playoffs. This is especially true because David West's season ending ACL surgery. If you are a Hornets fans, having Chris Paul as your only hope isn't bad. He is one of the best point guards and best players in the NBA after all.
No. 2 Boston Celtics: Rajon Rondo
Many have been wondering if the Celtics' luck has run out and if they are too old to get back to the NBA Finals. Only time will tell. Time is a luxury that "Rajondo" has. You see, he is not one of those elder players on the Celtics. He is young and has sprouted to be one of the best point guards in the NBA (No. 2 on this list). Rondo does it all from finishing second in the NBA in assists per game (11.2) to finishing second in the NBA in steals per game (2.25).
Rondo makes the Celtics' world go round. As the Celtics go, Rondo goes. When he walks up the court the Celtics walk. When he pushes the ball up the court the Celtics run with him. If he is playing strong, then they can be better than all the rest. If he is having an off game, then the Celtics are beatable and, at times, a sub-playoff team.
No. 1 Chicago Bulls: Derrick Rose
Derrick Rose is considered by many to be this years MVP. He is a pure leader, and when he drives to the basket it is like a bull running. You can try to stop him or get in his way but either way that Bull is going to get to where he wants to go. Where Rose and the other Bulls want to go is to the top.
The Bulls seem to be on a mission. They are not alone but they are arguably favorites of the Eastern Conference to go to the NBA Finals. Chicago finished with the best record in the NBA in 2011. This is the fifth time in the franchise's history the Bulls have finished with the top-overall record in the league. The other four times they accomplished the feat ('91-92, '95-96, '96-97 and '97-98) they went on to win a title.
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