In the ever changing landscape of the NBA, the one and two guard positions have now become a premium commodity.
Guards possess the power to destroy a team’s season, or lead them to an NBA title.
Just ask Jason Terry. Or Kobe Bryant.
While you’re at it, check in with Wesley Johnson or Anthony Parker and find out how their disastrous play led to the demise of their respective teams in 2010-2011.
Today’s NBA guard holds in his hands the keys to his team’s destiny, and that is a privilege that should not be taken lightly.
With so much interest guaranteed to be surrounding this year’s free agent guards, let’s take a look at the top five available this summer.
Between the Orlando Magic and Phoenix Suns last season, Jason Richardson played in 80 games, his highest total since he appeared in 82 games in 2007-2008.
He's proven over the course of the past two years that his injuries are behind him, and he's ready to assume a starting role once again.
The only question facing Richardson this summer is whether he takes a big payday to play for a below-average team, or accepts a pay cut to join a contender.
Given his age, one would have to think Richardson would choose the latter.
For casual fans of the NBA, you're probably sitting there saying, "Nick who?"
Well, rest assured, Nick Young's appearance on this list is no mistake.
The Washington Wizards' first round pick out of USC in 2007, Young has quietly evolved into one of the more explosive scorers in the association.
He split time between the starting lineup and the Wizards' sixth man role in 2010-2011, but was a constant spark plug regardless of when he entered the game.
Expect teams with shooting troubles to be hot on Young's trail come this summer.
He's a restricted free agent and already said he won't give the Wizards a hometown discount, so this should be an entertaining free agent sweepstakes to keep an eye on.
Along with his ability to defend both guard positions, Rodney Stuckey can also score at will from the perimeter.
At only 25-years-old, he's still a raw talent that put in the right system can grow into a solid all-around point guard in the NBA.
He's a restricted free agent, meaning the Detroit Pistons can match any offer for him, but given their recent drafting of Brandon Knight it appears Stuckey's days in Motown are numbered.
After putting together a breakout campaign in Houston in 2009-2010, Brooks once again found himself relegated to a back-up role in Phoenix in 2010-2011.
Backing up Steve Nash is hardly a slap in the face, but Brooks has the ability to be a solid starting point guard in the NBA.
Brooks is impressively quick off the dribble, and makes smart decisions once he penetrates the lane. He can kick the ball out or finish at the rim himself.
However, the 2010 Most Improved Player is a restricted free agent, and given Nash's age one would imagine the Suns would be hard-pressed to let him leave.
One of the best pure scorers in the NBA, Jamal Crawford may be the most sought after free agent in this year's class.
He has the ability to score from nearly anywhere on the court, and that's a commodity any team would love to have.
Crawford will undoubtedly come with a high price tag, but the 2010 Sixth Man of the Year is well worth the investment. He hasn't shown any signs of slowing down his torrid shooting pace, and if anything, he's just becoming the complete player that many hoped he'd evolve into in his early years in the league.