Derrick Rose and the Rest of the NBA's 10 Best Point Guards
The point guard position today is full of some of the game's youngest and most exciting players, and it is also one of the most deep positions in the league. Not only are their the young, dynamic point guards, but also still relevant in the league are the wise and savvy veterans who are not in their prime anymore, yet still very positively contributing to their teams.
My rankings reflect on the following:
- Stats such as PPG, APG, SPG, FG%, 3P%, etc
- The effect the players have on the record/success of their teams
- Their ability to play defense
- How clutch they are at the end of games
- Features that define a PG such as decision making, ball handling, passing ability
Point Guard Honorable Mention List
Jason Kidd: You've been on this list for the majority of your career, and now that you finally won your title, you are one of the 10 best point guards in the history of the game. He still has a great impact on the floor, but it's nothing near what it used to be.
Chauncey Billups: He's a very good shooter from deep, and he has the surrounding cast on his team to help his assists totals. At age 34, he's reached his peak and is on his way down.
Ty Lawson: He's a really young and quick point guard, and he's a perfect fit for the young Denver Nuggets team that likes to push the ball up to floor. He shoots 40% from deep and 50% overall. He needs to be more of a facilitator on offense by getting his teammates involved more. In a few years, he could find his name in the top 10.
Devin Harris: In my opinion, Devin Harris is one of the most underrated point guards in the league. He has continuously been on an awful team throughout his career, so it has had an effect on his stats. This year I see him being a 16 PPG and 7 APG player on a bad team, so he will most likely be overshadowed again.
Jrue Holiday: He could lead a surprising 76ers team this year as a threat to upset a higher seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. He's still only 21 years old, and he has the tools to be an elite defender and an above average shooter.
Point Guard #10: Raymond Felton
This might seem like a surprising pick considering the guy who started over him in Denver, Ty Lawson, is on the honorable mention list. However, Felton will be on a new team this Fall as he takes his talents to Portland. After what seemed to be the likes of a breakout year in New York while he was averaging 17.1 PPG and 9 APG, he was traded to the Nuggets after 54 games with the Knicks. While with the Nuggets, Felton did not start a single game as Ty Lawson won the starting spot shortly after Chauncey Billups moved to the Knicks. During his short tenure with the Nuggets, Felton averaged 11.5 PPG and 6.5 PPG and shot an amazing 46% from long range.
With a new look this year, I see Felton obtaining stats close to what they were like in New York, as their rosters are pretty similar except the Trailblazers have a bit more talent. With Aldridge, Oden(if healthy) Wallace, and either Brandon Roy or Wes Matthews, there is no doubt that Felton will have the talent around him to have a great season offensively. Look for Raymond Felton to have a surprising year folks.
Point Guard #9: John Wall
After a stellar Rookie campaign, Wall was overshadowed because of one Blake Griffin. John Wall averaged 16.4 PPG and 8.3 APG, which was a better rookie year than both Derrick Rose and Chris Paul. John Wall is already the face of the Washington Wizards, and he should be. He's going to be a superstar one day, I really don't think you can deny it. However, he has a few things to work on for him to move up the ladder.
The first thing he needs to improve on is his turnovers. He was 2nd worst in the league in terms of turnovers per game with 3.8. Now, I get that he was a rookie and he still has a lot of time to adjust to the NBA game, but that needs to go down throughout his career. The next thing he needs to work on is his outside shooting. He shot just a hair below 30% from 3-point range. He is already know for his ability to make it to the hole, but for him to be considered elite he needs an outside game much like Derrick Rose does.
Wall is already a great defender, and he's only getting better. This kid could be in the top 5 for point guards in only a few years. He reminds me of a mix between Derrick Rose and Chris Paul, and you know that combination could be deadly.
Point Guard #8: Stephen Curry
Stephen Curry is one of the best shooters in the game, but what he doesn't get credit for is his knowledge of the game. Over the past two seasons, the tandem of Curry and Ellis in the backcourt for the Warriors has truly been their bright spot in two rather lackluster seasons.
Curry last year averaged 18.6 PPG and 5.8 APG while shooting a great 44% from long range. Curry might have the most beautiful shot in the game today, and the results of his fundamental driven shot pay off. Steph Curry is also a pretty good defender, showing above-average hands on defense by averaging 1.5 SPG. He also has some things to work on as well.
Curry, like Wall needs to hold on to the ball better as he averaged 3.1 turnovers per game. I think overall he has great decision making skills, but the fast paced offense that the Warriors run might have a small effect on his turnovers but he can still bring it down. Also, I think he could work on drawing more fouls. Curry might be the best free throw shooter in the game, last year averaging over 93%.
If Monta Ellis gets traded, I think it might be good news for Curry and the Warriors. They have a more than capable rookie in Klay Thompson who can shoot the long ball and kind of reminds me of a taller Curry. Also, in return of Ellis they could receive a player like Andre Iguodala that would improve Curry's assist production.
Point Guard #7: Tony Parker
After somewhat of a down year in 2009, Parker had a great season during the Spurs 2010-2011 campaign. Averaging 17.5 PPG and 6.6 APG, Parker still showed that he can play the game at a high level. Tony Parker has never been a pure point guard by not being a distributor first and instead being a better scorer. Tony Parker has not been the best 3-point shooter in his career, but last year he shot a great 36% from deep. The best feat in his game by far is his ability driving to the hoop. He has the greatest floater in the game and he still is able to blow by defenders and create space for a lay-up.
Tony Parker could have another great year as long as he stays healthy or isn't traumatized by his break-up with hottie Eva Longoria. In all seriousness though, Parker has had a history of plantar fasciitis and for a point guard who relies on his speed to score, it could create a problem for him as he ages.
Point Guard #6: Rajon Rondo
Rajon Rondo is an unusual point guard in the fact that he has great court vision but he lacks the shooting ability of most point guards. John Hollinger says it best when he said, "Rondo's dreadful shooting remains his Achilles' heel. He shot 62.1 percent from the line, the worst of any point guard, and 35.3 percent on long 2s. On 3s, he's hopeless: 24.4 percent career. If he ever shoots straight he'll be a superstar; as it is, he's merely an All-Star." Rondo is purely awful from long range, and I get that he has somewhat improved, but he still has a long way to go until he proves himself as a scoring threat on offense. With that said, Rondo is one of the best passers in the game. His court vision is truly fantastic and it shows with his 11.2 APG.
Rondo is also an elite defender with his freakishly long arms. Averaging 2.3 SPG, Rondo made the NBA's All Defensive Team for the third consecutive year.
Rondo is capable of dishing out 20 assists on any given night, as he is truly an unselfish player and has a great ability to pass on offense. However, I think as the original "Big 3" in Pierce, Garnett, and Allen begin to wear down like they already have, Rondo's stats might flatten a little bit.
Rondo falls just outside the top 5 here because if I wanted a true passer, I would pick the next guy as he can score a bit easier.
Point Guard #5: Steve Nash
Steve Nash is the John Stockton of this generation, as he simply is not getting much worse as he ages. Nash just might be the best "old player" to ever play this game. The reason I pick him over Rondo is not because of his defense, but instead because he is a great outside shooter and in my opinion a better passer than Rondo.
Nash last year averaged 14.7 PPG and 11.4 APG, marking the 6th time in his career in which he has averaged a double-double. Even though Nash is one of the most accurate shooters in the game, he looks to pass first instead of shooting. The unselfishness is what truly makes him one of the best point guards in the league. Nash belongs in a fast-paced offense and if he was traded to the Knicks this year, it pains me to say the impact he would have there. If he can average over 11 APG with a bad team, imagine what he could do with a playoff team.
Steve Nash, let's be honest, truly lacks the speed and quickness to guard opposing point guards. He might be one of the worst defensive players in the league, but what he does give the defense is the will to give up his body. What he lacks in perimeter defense, he gives back in his ability to draw the offensive charge.
Also, don't foul this guy because he's a career 90% free-throw shooter.
Point Guard #4: Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook is a physically gifted point guard, in fact I might say that Westbrook, Rose, Paul, and Wall are the most athletic point guards to ever play the game. At UCLA, Westbrook was a shooting guard, but coming into the NBA he made the transition to point guard and it has been a rather successful one.
Last season, Westbrook averaged 21.9 PPG and 8.2 APG. He also made great strides in improving his 3-point shooting as he shot 33% from deep compared to the 22% the year before.
He is still adjusting to the life as a point guard, and I think he has great potential to become one of the top 3 point guards in the next few years. The athleticism is there, the only thing that needs to be improved is his decision making as he had 3.9 turnovers per game. Also, he needs to decide what his role on the team is. The Thunder can't take more competing for the ball between Westbrook and Durant. Westbrook needs to learn to give the ball to his superstar and to shoot when he's both open and if it's a shot that he can make. A major plus for him is that he knows how to get to the free-throw line. Not only can he get there, but he can also shoot 84% from the free-throw line which is a major plus to his team.
Westbrook has all the physical tools and determination to be an elite defender, and he has the size and speed to guard both guard spots.
If his playoff performance this year taught me anything, it's that he has the chance to be the best point guard in the league if his decision making drastically improves.
Point Guard #3: Deron Williams
Deron Williams is pretty much a perennial 19 PPG and 10 APG player and that makes him a superstar in the NBA. He might have the most balanced offensive game in the NBA, as he can shoot the 3 (36% career average), he has one of the best mid-range jumpers, he is a great ball handler, and he can get to the rim with his deadly crossover and somewhat surprising speed.
Williams is not the most athletically gifted point guard in the league, but frankly he gets the job done. He is one of the best passers in the game, as he showed when he averaged 12.8 APG during his tenure with the Nets at the end of last season.
He's not the greatest defender in the league, but once again he gets the job done. He's capable of guarding both guards on a given team, and he's strong enough that they can't back him down and quick enough for most guards to not be able to blow by him.
Williams has been overshadowed over the years as he has played in a smaller market on an average team. However, as the Nets get better in the coming years, I think you'll see some great production coming out of Deron Williams.
Point Guard #2: Chris Paul
Now I know this will cause some outrage because Chris Paul is not #1 on my list. First off, this is my opinion, and I will do my best to back up my case for his positioning in the next slide. You yourself are also entitled to your opinion, so if you would like to make your case hit me up with a comment below.
Chris Paul is a superstar point guard, and he certainly has been number 1 most people's list for the past 2-3 seasons. It's not that he has gotten worse, but instead someone has gotten better.
Chris Paul last year averaged 15.9 PPG and 9.8 APG in a down year for him. Chris Paul next year will more likely average in the range of 19-21 PPG and 9-11 APG. Paul, like Williams, has a very complete offensive game. However, where Williams is good at each element of offense, Paul is better. Paul is arguably the league's best passer, with a great court vision. Don't ever let this man get involved in a pick and roll because he's by far the best pick and roll player in the NBA. He has impeccable timing and has the perfect passing ability to get the ball to the rolling big man for the easy dunk.
Not only is Paul excellent on offense, but he's also great on the defensive end. He averaged 2.4 SPG and he might have the quickest hands in the league. He also has great strength for his size. However, his size also hurts him a little on defense. At only 6'0", Paul at times can't challenge shots of taller opposing guards.
Chris Paul is one of the league's best players, especially in clutch time. His series against the Lakers in the playoffs proved that he is one of the league's best players, but on this list he has been passed.
Point Guard #1: Derrick Rose
At the end of the season, I might've still told you that Chris Paul was the best point guard in the NBA. Even in the time of making this slideshow, I might've change my mind a few times. However, I think this is the year that Derrick Rose takes over the top spot for point guards. If I needed a player to run the offense and dish it out to an all star lineup while still averaging around 19 PPG, I would pick Paul in a heartbeat. However, if I needed a true leader and a player to truly score while still being unselfish on offensive I would pick Rose in a heartbeat. These are two completely different players and they have two completely different roles for their team, which made it incredibly hard to pick the best. With that said, this was a close battle, but it is one I think Rose will win next year for the following reasons.
First, Rose is coming off his best season yet, averaging 25 PPG and 7.7 APG. Paul on the other hand averaged 16.4 PPG and 9.8 APG during one of his worst seasons in the NBA. I agree that Paul played a lot better in the playoffs, but he was also going up against Derek Fisher. Here are the stats from every time the two have played each other. You can see for yourself, that other than the first meeting, when Rose was in his Rookie season, they have been competitive with each other until this season when Rose held Paul to a 30% FG% and outscored him 23 to 15 while holding the same assists as him.
The head to head stats can be seen at http://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/h2h_finder.cgi?request=1&p1=paulch01&p2=rosede01
The head to head stats for Derrick Rose against the top point guards are shown here
My second reason for placing him higher than Paul is that he harder to guard defensively. Derrick Rose is double-teamed far more often than Chris Paul because he is faster, stronger, and bigger. Derrick is simply more athletic than Paul.
My 3rd reason is that even though Paul is one of the league's most clutch players, Derrick Rose averaged more points in the clutch than any other player in the entire NBA by averaging 47.8 points per 48 minutes of clutch time. In a last play scenario, I would much rather have the ball in Rose's hands because I think he can get to the whole faster, and when they double him he has the court vision that is able to pass it off to an open player.
Derrick Rose most do these 3 things to prove my point this season:
1. He must improve his 3-point jumper. If he wants to be simply unguardable, he needs his 3-point % to be around 38% like Paul's.
2. He must improve his assist totals, which I think is very possible. Derrick Rose has the unselfishness and passing ability to average 10 APG, which I think he will due to the fact that teams will double him constantly forcing him to give the ball up to an open player for "free" points.
3. He must become a better individual defender. He needs to average more SPG than 1 if he wants to be considered more than a tool in Thibodeau's defensive scheme.
At this point in time I think Rose and Paul could be the best point guard on a given night. However, I'm giving the nod to Rose here because he's simply a better scorer than Paul and is coming off a better year than Paul, and I think that Rose will improve more next year widening the gap between the two.