Jeremy Lin: Where Does New York Knick Rank Amongst NBA's 50 Best PGs?

Bleacher ReportSenior Writer IMarch 7, 2012

Jeremy Lin: Where Does New York Knick Rank Amongst NBA's 50 Best PGs?

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    Jeremy Lin is not the best point guard in the NBA; in fact, he's not particularly close to that honor.

    If that's news to you, I hate to burst the ESPN-inflated bubble. As good as Lin is, the Linsanity phenomenon has been aided by off-the-court factors.

    That sports media outlets have all taken notice of the New York Knicks go-to floor general is natural. American audiences tend to perk up when the story revolves around an undrafted underdog from a basketball wasteland who bucks the traditional NBA narrative, with the Mecca of the sport as his backdrop.

    But the self-proclaimed "sports leader" has gone straight Tim Tebow with its coverage.

    It's essentially handed itself over to the Knickerbocker and said, "do with us what you will, youngster." Actually, given the myriad of missteps the sporting monolith has made, that's an insult to the Harvard grad—an Ivy Leaguer would've done better.

    Regardless, with that sort of hype amplifying his already considerable exploits, Lin's legend is threatening to outpace his reality. Let's be honest—he's been the New York Knicks' starting point guard for less than half a real season. It's been an entertaining run to be sure and the 23-year-old has flashed some serious skill, but we're still talking about a limited sample size.

    Nobody establishes himself as the Association's best at anything in so short a span.

    Not even with influential co-conspirators.

    What Lin has done, however, is establish himself as the Knicks' savior, one of the league's better point guards and possibly even an elite one. With the improvement that comes with experience, Linsanity might eventually reign over a ranking of the best players at the position.

    For now, though, he'll have to settle for a lesser rung on that ladder. The question is: which rung?

The Rules of Engagement

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    Let's get the ugliness out of the way (until the comments) and discuss the criteria by which the point guards are judged.

    In my world, the ideal point guard can do more than score points, but he absolutely has to be an offensive threat and a dangerous one as the initiator of the offense. That means points per game, assists per game, turnovers per game, shooting percentage and free-throw percentage are all important considerations. I also need my floor general to actually be on the floor so games played and minutes per game are key.

    Toss in steals and rebounds as a proxy for defensive efficacy and the recipe is almost complete.

    But there's the little matter of the man pictured above.

    Earvin Johnson didn't become Magic or the gold-standard of point guard play in the Association for reasons entirely reflected by a stat sheet. Call it competitiveness, call it the clutch factor, call it will, call it whatever you want, but Magic had that "extra" ability to recognize and do whatever was necessary, whenever necessary, to give his team its best chance to win.

    So we have to account for that intangible factor.

    And, yes, I'm aware that such a subjective category essentially gives me free reign to rate as I see fit.

    Coincidence, pure coincidence.

No. 50—Jimmer Fredette, PG, Sacramento Kings

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    What can I say?

    The Jimmer's transition from the college to the professional ranks hasn't gone that smoothly. Fredette is shooting a nifty percentage from behind the 3-point arc (.391), but the other numbers are quite a bit messier.

    Lots of pros have had a rough first rodeo before bouncing back, though, so keep the faith.

No. 49—Steve Blake, PG, Los Angeles Lakers

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    Steve Blake is 32 and never really was a star, which means his career is winding down. I can think of worse ways to do that than as an occupant of Kobe Bryant's coattails in La La Land. Those numbers aren't the stuff of legend, but they're not terrible as backup contributions.

    The problem is the guy who's starting...

No. 48—Derek Fisher, PG, Los Angeles Lakers

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    This guy.

    That's no shot at Derek Fisher...well, yes, it is. But it's meant to be a bigger shot at the Laker organization. It's one of the premier franchises in all of sports and, while D-Fish isn't quite an embarrassment, he's not far from that dubious territory.

    He can still hit big shots and uses his court intelligence to save a step here or there, but if the rumblings about the NBA being a point guard driven league are true, then it's tough to take the Lake Show seriously as long as the 37-year-old Fisher runs the point.

    Kobe notwithstanding...

No. 47—Jerryd Bayless, PG, Toronto Raptors

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    With more run, Jerryd Bayless might join his Toronto Raptor teammate higher up this list. The 23-year-old is crazy athletic and is at an age/maturity where he should improve by leaps and bounds. However, the simple fact is he's lost considerable time thus far in '11-12 and is still finding his sea legs.

    It will be interesting to see what Bayless can do once he hits his stride.

No. 46—Jose Juan Barea, PG, Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

    If he'd stayed J.J. Barea of the Dallas Mavericks instead of going all Jose Juan Barea with the Minnesota Timberwolves, maybe he's not wallowing down here in the nether regions of NBA point guards. Instead, Barea took the money and ran—can't totally blame him there—relocated and got hurt.

    Needless to say, the '11-12 season has been an uneven affair for last year's playoff hero.

    On the bright side for Jose Juan, his girlfriend is still smokin'.

No. 45—Norris Cole, PG, Miami Heat

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    Norris Cole didn't waste much time to announce himself during his rookie season, exploding for 20 points in just his second game and momentarily stealing the spotlight from his glitterati teammates. Things have calmed down a bit in South Beach with Dwyane Wade and LeBron James playing tug-o-war with MVP accolades and the rest of the fellas getting in where they can fit in.

    The 23-year-old from Cleveland State has popped up to remind everyone he's still making progress in Miami, but he's got miles to go before he's a finished product.

No. 44—Shaun Livingston, PG, Milwaukee Bucks

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    There are a few sentimental picks scattered throughout and Shaun Livingston probably fits that bill. His numbers alone don't justify much excitement and it's not like the Milwaukee Bucks are overachieving so there's not much heart-warming material on the surface.

    Those with a little longer memory, however, will recall when Livingston was the next big thing coming out of high school with the Los Angeles Clippers. Then a freak thing with his kneecap happened and that was that, game over.

    Yet here is the 26-year-old still plying his trade and doing so with decent results. Shoot, he's still young enough that, if his body allows it, we might see Livingston live up to a fraction of his original hype, which seemed impossible five years ago.

No. 43—Isaiah Thomas, PG, Sacramento Kings

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    The Sacramento Kings have a 23-year-old rookie from Washington who is single-handedly returning the basketball luster to the name Isaiah Thomas.

    Okay, that's a massive exaggeration at the moment, but the former Huskie has shown flashes of the brilliance that captivated Pac-12 (then Pac-10) audiences during his collegiate days. Thomas has even managed to crack the Kings' starting lineup on a handful of occasions and emerged as a substantial contributor.

    Like most of Sac-town's assets, the mighty might needs some work, but this is only his first year.

No. 42—Gary Neal, PG, San Antonio Spurs

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    Looking at that stat line, you could probably guess Gary Neal plays for Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs. There's no outward reason to justify 22.1 minutes per game in those numbers other than the line is basically all positive. The field goal percentage isn't stunning, but it's not horrible and the turnovers can be stomached so long as the player in questions D's up, which Neal does.

    He's not setting anyone's hair afire, but he's bringing things to the table without taking them off, just the way Pop likes it.

No. 41—C.J. Watson, PG, Chicago Bulls

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    When you back up Derrick Rose, you're not gonna get many chances to shine. Such is the plight of C.J. Watson who is, by all appearances, a highly capable point guard with a good natural feel for ball distribution and a decent (if currently AWOL) shooting touch.

    Alas, he's buried behind D-Rose so he doesn't get much premium run to prove it.

No. 40—Greivis Vasquez, PG, New Orleans Hornets

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    Greivis Vasquez seems to be a changed man after swapping Memphis digs for a new zip code in New Orleans while hooping for the Hornets. He's bolted forward in all the key metrics, not the least of which is a twofold increase in minutes played per game.

    The Hornets haven't had much to smile about, but Vasquez has been one reason for cheer.

No. 39—Jordan Farmar, PG, New Jersey Nets

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    Jordan Farmar might prefer to be back in Los Angeles slumming it for the Lakers. Although his numbers and playing time have steadily increased since leaving Hollywood, he's been forced to toil near the bottom of the Eastern Conference, which is already the watered-down conference.

    That's quite a price to pay for more run, but for a fierce competitor, the cost is probably worth it.

No. 38—Devin Harris, PG, Utah Jazz

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    Man, what's happened to Devin Harris?

    This dude was shredding it up in Dallas and then in New Jersey, but his numbers have fallen off the proverbial cliff this year in Utah with the Jazz. That's tough to explain considering Harris' blatant athleticism and demonstrated prowess.

    Something is definitely off, though, as his field goal percentage is about the only thing that hasn't cratered in '11-12.

No. 37—Ramon Sessions, PG, Cleveland Cavaliers

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    With all the LeBron prattle constantly swirling around Cleveland and the Kyrie Irving legend building momentum, Ramon Sessions gets lost in the crowd easily. The 25-year-old is putting together a nice little career and this season is another in a line of useful campaigns. Like many of his fellow point guards in this area of the rankings, he could stand to see his field goal percentage increase and his turnovers decrease. That said, he's making contributions at the basket, via the pass and off the glass.

    Which makes Sessions a versatile and effective asset.

No. 36—Iman Shumpert, PG, New York Knicks

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    Sure, Iman Shumpert had his very own audition as the starting point guard for the New York Knicks before Linsanity struck and it didn't go well. Or, to be perfectly accurate, it didn't go well enough for him to keep the gig.

    Even so, Shumpert is a dazzling physical talent who drips defensive suffocation as evidenced by his two steals per game. The finer points of his game like shooting touch and ball security will hopefully and theoretically come with age and experience.

    Iman is only 21 and in his first NBA stint; gotta like what you've seen so far if you're a Knick fan.

No. 35—Jameer Nelson, PG, Orlando Magic

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    It's tough to say much in praise of a guy who plays with the best big man in basketball and still can't leverage that talent into bigger numbers and better success. More problematic for Jameer Nelson is that he, like Devin Harris before him, has suffered a setback as far as his career progression is concerned.

    The current season has seen a marked decline in Nelson's numbers almost across the board. The most troubling being a 50-point drop in Jameer's field goal percentage.

    That's rough.

No. 34—Kemba Walker, PG, Charlotte Bobcats

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    Every time I look at his stat line, I want to bump Kemba Walker up the ladder and find a loftier spot, but then I get caught up on the field goal percentage and the Charlotte Bobcats' record. Shooting less than 37 percent from the field is unacceptable in the NBA and there's just no logical way to slather superlative praise on a dude whose team only has four wins.

    So Kemba will have to settle for the No. 34 slot and focus on improving that shooting accuracy. If he can get that up to a respectable level, his points per game will also swell and an already juicy line will look even better.

No. 33—Mario Chalmers, PG, Miami Heat

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    You can argue Mario Chalmers should have more assists because of the all-world cast of three with whom he plays. Granted, you would be ignoring the fact that the ball is almost always going to be in Dwyane Wade's or LeBron James' hands, from start to finish.

    It's tough to live up to the point guard billing when you don't initiate the offense and don't handle the ball.

    Viewed through the Miami Heat's prism, Chalmers' field goal and free throw percentages are probably more important. Which is good news for Mario.

No. 32—Andre Miller, PG, Denver Nuggets

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    Although he's not starting anymore, Andre Miller is still going relatively strong. He's still shooting a decent percentage and has that natural feel for finding the open man. Blessed with above average size compared to his fellow point guards, Miller has managed to chip in on the glass as well.

    At 35, Andre shouldn't have a whole lotta run left in him, but his performance argues otherwise.

No. 31—Jason Kidd, PG, Dallas Mavericks

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    Based on stats, this one's a total leap, but it's a Hall of Famer we're talking about in Jason Kidd. That must count for something. And while the scoring totals are totally underwhelming, his assist-to-turnover ratio isn't too shabby.

    Kidd is probably the smartest player in the NBA, an asset that allows him to survive despite the steps lost to birthdays on the way to his 38 years of age.

    Even so, it's tough to justify placing him much higher; I mean, intangibles can only count for so much, right?

No. 30—Brandon Knight, PG, Detroit Pistons

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    Say hello to the first of two Detroit Piston point guards.

    Rookie Brandon Knight gets the lower billing because he's played like a rookie at times and his stat line reflects that fact. One day, he figures to take complete control of the offense and he's off to a good start toward fulfilling that legacy. If and when that happens, the Detroit Pistons might rise from the ashes.

    But a resurgence doesn't appear to be in the cards this season.

No. 29—Rodney Stuckey, PG, Detroit Pistons

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    The Detroit Pistons thoroughly support the idea that the NBA has become a point guard driven league. Rodney Stuckey might be an effective player, but he's no great shakes at the point. Stuckey is far more adept at putting the ball through the hoop (pictured) than facilitating the offense.

    For now, Rodney's the man for the job, but Brandon Knight must be the plan for the future.

No. 28—D.J. Augustin, PG, Charlotte Bobcats

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    At last count, the Charlotte Bobcats had won a total of 5 games.

    Given that landslide of losses, it's hard to make a case for D.J. Augustin deserving better placement on a list of the NBA's best point guards. He's posting some shiny numbers, but the field goal percentage and the putridity of his ball club prevent further advancement.

    For now.

    The 24-year-old former Texas Longhorn has time to improve, which he must if he wants to stay in Charlotte (not a given by any means assuming D.J. is sane) with Kemba Walker lurking.

No. 27—Luke Ridnour, PG, Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Luke Ridnour did a nice job keeping the machine running until Ricky Rubio was ready to take over his share of the reins. The ex-Oregon Duck continues to be an able mentor/sidekick for the Spanish sensation, scoring in the double figures, shooting a decent percentage and capably-if-unspectacularly spreading the offensive love.

    Ridnour's also a feasible end-game option as the 31-year-old has always boasted the proverbial ice water in the veins.

No. 26—Raymond Felton, PG, Portland Trailblazers

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    Raymond Felton plays a large role for a Portland Trailblazers team sitting at .500 in the Western Conference and on the fringe of playoff contention. This despite losing important players to injury and premature retirement in the case of Brandon Roy.

    So you've gotta give the former UNC Tarheel some credit for that.

    On the other hand, he's got a plethora of options around him in LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, Gerald Wallace and company so Felton doesn't get that much.

No. 25—Lou Williams, PG, Philadelphia 76ers

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    Philadelphia 76er fans shouldn't go anywhere because their guys are coming in rapid succession here.

    Lou Williams is the backup in Philly so it's only natural that he comes first. You could argue he's a more effective scorer than his starting counterpart Jrue Holiday given his minutes per game and scoring average. Still, there's a reason he's coming off the bench—that field goal percentage needs some polish and the rest of his numbers need a boost as well (except for his turnovers).

    At only 25, Williams could surely accomplish all those missions.

No. 24—Mo Williams, PG, Los Angeles Clippers

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    Mo Williams has spent his career playing the second fiddle, which obscures his true worth as a player because the first fiddles have been monsters like LeBron James and Chris Paul. He's one of those so-called point guards because he's got more of a scorer's mentality, but he's posting competitive numbers at the position while spelling or complementing CP3 in LA.

    He might not be elite, but Williams is good enough to start at the point for more than a few NBA teams.

No. 23—Jeff Teague, PG, Atlanta Hawks

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    If the casual fan has read this far, he/she is asking: "Who is Jeff Teague?"

    Assuming this casual fan is not from ACC territory, of course.

    The one-time Wake Forest Demon Deacon can't really be called a revelation at point guard for the Atlanta Hawks this season because those numbers don't justify such hyperbole. Additionally, the Hawks have been one of the larger disappointments thus far in the season.

    Nevertheless, Teague has been quite affective manning the point in the ATL while making individual strides in his game. He's doubled on most of his career highs and managed to improve his accuracy. Neither is a small feat so to do both is impressive.

No. 22—Darren Collison, PG, Indiana Pacers

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    Danny Granger, David West and the slam-dunking Paul George get more hype than Darren Collison, but the point guard has had plenty to do with the Indiana Pacers' burst from the gates. He's not testing the limits of scoreboard lights and nobody's doing backflips over 5+ assists per game.

    That said, the former UCLA Bruin is registering double digits in the points per game column and has an assist-to-turnover ratio nearing three.

    Most important, of course, is the 22-12 record next to Indy's name.

No. 21—Jrue Holiday, PG, Philadelphia 76ers

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    Jrue Holiday gives the Philadelphia 76ers two point guards in the top 25, that's the good news. The bad news is we still have 20 stallions to go and the Sixers are tapped out.

    Of course, we didn't exhaust the good news. Jrue is only 21 and, although this year isn't much of an improvement on his 2010-11 campaign, a talent that young should improve absent character issues. Holiday seems to have escaped the UCLA mini-scandal unscathed, so no flags there.

    In other words, don't be surprised if the Sixers' starting PG finishes this season strong and helps turn Philly into a perennial contender.

    But that's still in the future; this year, he has plenty on which to improve.

No. 20—Jarrett Jack, PG, New Orleans Hornets

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    The New Orleans Hornets aren't quite the worst team in the NBA, but they're pretty close. That sort of thing happens when you lose one of the best players in the game for cents on the dollar.

    Regardless, Jarrett Jack has been one of the bright-ish spots in an otherwise dreary season down in the Big Easy. Aside from the field goal and free throw percentages, those are all career-best numbers for the former Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket.

    I wish I could give him points for being born on the same day as I (five years later), alas, I cannot.

No. 19—Tyreke Evans, PG, Sacramento Kings

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    Tyreke Evans gives John Calipari three point guards in the NBA's top 20 by my estimation, although calling Evans a point guard might be a bit of a stretch. The 22-year-old wild card certainly prefers to get his rather than line the hoop up for others. Even so, he's managing to dish more than five dimes a game to go with an equal number of rebounds.

    The mercurial PG comes with a bit of personal baggage, too, which adds a risky tinge to Evans' profile.

No. 18—Brandon Jennings, PG, Milwaukee Bucks

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    It's understandable if Brandon Jennings' basketball maturity lags a bit behind his tender 22 years given his circuitous route to the NBA, one that avoided college basketball altogether. Judging from his game and the sputtering Milwaukee Bucks, that seems to be the case.

    Almost 18 points per game is nothing to sneeze at, but it comes at the cost of a poor field goal percentage. Similarly, the assist-to-turnover ratio is nice, though it would be nicer if it came with more assists per game.

    All in all, though, Jennings looks to have a bright future.

No. 17—Monta Ellis, PG, Golden State Warriors

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    Ranked as a pure basketball player or as just a guard, Monta Ellis would be amongst much loftier company. As a point guard, though, Monta is a work in progress because he's not a PG by trade. Truth be told, he's better suited to be and more effective as an attacking two guard who finishes around the basket than as an offense initiator/distributor.

    His nature is shoot first and it serves him well.

    Even so, Ellis has done a nice job when pressed into the floor general's duties.

No. 16—Ricky Rubio, PG, Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Ricky Rubio's been on the NBA radar for a while now so it's a bit jarring to see the Spaniard is a green 21 years of age. Combine that maturational inexperience with the basketball version (Rubio's less than 50 games into his maiden NBA voyage), and a lot of his warts can be forgiven.

    Once the kid settles down, I'm betting that ugly field goal percentage will climb. When that happens, look out because Rubio's already filling up the rest of the stat sheet with gusto and has flashed a flair for the dramatic as well.

No. 15—Jose Calderon, PG, Toronto Raptors

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    There's not much to say about Jose Calderon that's terribly interesting.

    In a lot of ways, he's the definition of a rock-solid point guard. He doesn't jack it up all that much, but he shoots a good percentage from the field when he does. He's nails from the charity strip, his assist-to-turnover ratio is outstanding despite a gaudy total in the dime column and he makes his presence felt on the boards.

    At 30, he's not exactly aging, but he ain't part of the youth brigade either.

    In other words, Calderon's not sexy, but he's effective and that makes him perfect for the Toronto Raptors.

    "Effective, not sexy" is their aspirational motto, isn't it?

No. 14—Stephen Curry, PG, Golden State Warriors

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    If Stephen Curry could stay healthy for long stretches, he'd have to be higher in the point guard pecking order. Even so, I might be dropping him too low, but aside from his injury-plagued ankles, you must also account for his defensive deficiencies. Though Curry is improving like any gifted 23-year-old tends to do, he's vulnerable on D even when healthy.

    On the other hand, there's no disputing his prowess handling the ball when he's on the court for Golden State.

    Steph isn't a natural point guard and he still doesn't look like one, but his impersonation is getting pretty good.

No. 13—Jeremy Lin, PG, New York Knicks

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    Here he is, the man of the moment, Jeremy Lin.

    It's tough to know where to put the Lincredible New York Knick sensation because you can't simply clock him by his season totals.

    Those numbers aren't too shabby, but check his month of February—otherwise known as the first month in which he saw significant playing time—14 games, 35.1 minutes per game, 20.9 points per game, .472 field-goal percentage, .758 free-throw percentage, 8.4 assists per game, five turnovers per game (ouch!), four rebounds per game and 2.1 steals per game.

    Aside from handing the ball to the other team five times every night, those February numbers would put Lin in the top tier of point guards if he extends them for the duration of the season.

    Of course, that's an enormous "if" so you can't judge him solely by his February numbers.

    You've also gotta account for Mike D'Antoni. While Lin deserves every bit of congratulations he's getting, you'd be foolish to argue D'Antoni's system has played no role whatsoever in his story.

No. 12—Ty Lawson, PG, Denver Nuggets

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    Ty Lawson's reputation doesn't seem to match up with his numbers or with the Denver Nuggets' travails in '11-12. There is little-to-no buzz around him, which is odd considering he's got the pedigree (UNC), he's young (only 24), he's making significant improvement from last season and his team is winning.

    Despite Carmelo Anthony's exodus, the Nuggets are scuffling for one of the last few Western Conference playoffs spots and look like a good bet to keep fighting for the rest of the second half.

    He does get a nice boost from fellow triggerman Andre Miller off the bench, but even so, the former Tar Heel seems to be one of the biggest blips that the radar's missing.

No. 11—John Wall, PG, Washington Wizards

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    John Wall barely misses out on making John Calipari the proud poppa of two top 10 NBA point guards, instead the Teflon John will have to settle for two in the top 11.

    Wall's got all the right stuff on the surface. He's playing huge minutes, going for 17+ points and 7+ assists a night, registering over a steal a game and grabbing five rebounds to boot. His field goal percentage is decent (especially considering John is a ripe old 21) and his turnovers need to come down, but my main gripe isn't in his numbers.

    It's in the Washington Wizards' 7-28 record.

    Holy lord, that's awful. So bad that everyone on the squad must share some of the blame, including Wall.

No. 10—Kyrie Irving, PG, Cleveland Cavaliers

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    A rookie in the top 10?

    Hey, I thought the Cleveland Cavaliers should've taken Derrick Williams and either Kemba Walker or Brandon Knight in the 2011 NBA Draft. If there were a way to avoid including Kyrie Irving here, I would've found it, but the rook from Duke deserves it.

    Look at those numbers—Irving is playing big minutes in almost every game, he's shooting a tidy percentage from the field and at the line, he's tossing in almost 20 points and five assists per game plus he's chipping in over three boards each contest.

    Most impressive of all, the first overall pick is delivering on the considerable hype that comes with such a distinction and has the Cavs on the uptick. They're still pretty bad, but it's essentially the same crew from last season's deer-in-the-headlights campaign and yet they're threatening to climb out of the bottom third of the league.

    That's progress.

    It's borderline insane that Irving isn't yet 20.

No. 9—Mike Conley, PG, Memphis Grizzlies

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    That Greg Oden and Mike Conley played together in high school, college and were both members of the 2007 NBA Draft class will go down as one of sports' greatest ironies. If you had told anyone in the basketball world at any point prior to the '07 draft that Conley would have the better NBA career, he/she would've replied, "you're crazy."

    Granted, when Oden was selected by the Portland Trailblazers, that reply would've changed to, "yep, seems reasonable."

    That's a long-winded way of saying that Conley is emerging as a real stud in the Association. The 24-year-old continues to improve and is already tallying impressive numbers distributing the rock and swiping it from the other side.

    On top of which, he's played a large part in keeping the Memphis Grizzlies in the thick of the Western Conference playoff conversation despite the loss of Zach Randolph.

No. 8—Kyle Lowry, PG, Houston Rockets

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    If you're surprised to see Kyle Lowry this high, so am I.

    That said, his numbers bear out the ranking and a quick look at the NBA standings only reinforces the perception. The Houston Rockets, left for dead in the aftermath of the Chris Paul Trade-No-Trade disaster, are sitting pretty at 21-15 and firmly in the ultra-competitive Western Conference playoff picture. Lowry doesn't get all the credit for that feat, but he deserves a heapin' spoonful of it.

    After things went sideways in Memphis, the Villanova grad has caught fire in Houston and is contributing across the board. He leads the team in assists and steals while doing his part to keep the scoring attack balanced.

    At only 25, it's safe to say the best is yet to come.

No. 7—Steve Nash, PG, Phoenix Suns

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    Before anyone accuses this of being a purely sentimental pick, let's consider a couple things. First, Phoenix is not the fun and gun Suns of old, having undergone personnel and philosophy changes since Steve Nash's MVP glory days. With less talent diluting defensive focus, more of it can be narrowed on Nash. That and the inevitable decline that comes with Nash's 38 years of age go a long way toward explaining the diminished points per game.

    But that leads me to the second point—the future Hall of Famer is still posting fantastic numbers if you look deeper than points.

    His shooting percentages are off the charts, he's leading the NBA in assists per game and he's posting a strong assist-to-turnover ratio.

    And, yes, he gets bonus points for performing at such a level given he's a decade older than everyone around him on the point guard ladder.

No. 6—Rajon Rondo, PG, Boston Celtics

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    It's tough to know what to make of Rajon Rondo—early in his career and at the height of the Boston Celtics' recent success, Rondo was embraced like a little brother by the veteran stars. Nowadays, that warm, fuzzy feeling seems to have evaporated as Father Time stalks closer to Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. There are even rumors circulating that strife with coach Doc Rivers has Boston shopping the sometimes-spectacular 26-year-old.

    So what's the truth?

    There has to be some legitimacy to the Yahoo report; it's not like it's the only outlet reporting the same story. Even if there's more smoke than fire, it's a strike against are his points per game and free throw percentage (yikes).

    But Rondo is probably the best defender you'll find on this list, chips in with a healthy 5+ rebounds per game and, oh yeah, he has that ring...

No. 5—Tony Parker, PG, San Antonio Spurs

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    I guess it's his age that keeps Tony Parker from all the hype that his more junior brethren enjoy. At 29 years of age, he's got considerably more years and mileage working against him than the fellows you'll find around him on this list. But remember we're talking about the best point guards this year—so age isn't a deal-breaker.

    Takeaway that frailty and Parker leaps ahead of a guy like Rajon Rondo, who you'd most certainly take over Tony in any hypothetical "if you could start a team with point guard X" conversations.

    With the sights narrowed to '11-12, the San Antonio Spur stalwart will probably get some votes for higher placement—that assist-to-turnover ratio is gnarly alongside a sterling 8+ assists per game. Additionally, the "old man" is playing more than his share of minutes.

    If Parker were scoring more points per game, he might've made his placement even harder.

No. 4—Russell Westbrook, PG, Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Russell Westbrook likes to shoot; there's no denying that.

    Consequently, his assist totals don't measure up with the other elite point guards and his turnovers are clearly too high. There's also the reported tension between the 23-year-old emerging star and Kevin Durant's already blinding one, not something you love seeing in the man who has his hands all over the ball.

    But there's also a ton to love about the Thunder's electrifying superfreak—he puts points on the board and shoots a very nice percentage from the field. Toss in almost two steals per game and five rebounds, and you've got one of the NBA's most versatile threats.

    With a few more years of experience and maturity, Westbrook could be unrivaled at the position.

No. 3—Deron Williams, PG, New Jersey Nets

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    Deron Williams has his warts, not the least of which is his exit from Utah. That spectacular fiasco even managed to bring down NBA legend and Jazz fixture Jerry Sloan, but you can only hold that against D-Will so much. For one thing, I don't think many people outside that locker room can say they know precisely how it went down. I certainly cannot.

    Nevertheless, you don't want your floor leader to be a slight away from mutiny. You want him to be a coach's dream and there's, at a minimum, a slight tarnish on that aspect of Williams' reputation.

    Other than that, however, there's not much to gripe about—the turnovers are a bit on the high side, but few point guards distribute the ball while filling the hoop as well as Deron. Frankly, there's an argument here for him being higher on this list.

    But I won't make it.

No. 2—Derrick Rose, PG, Chicago Bulls

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    It's tough to complain about those numbers or Derrick Rose's leadership credentials. Not to mention the 2010-11 MVP Award he has on his figurative (maybe literal) mantel; it's obvious the youngster can hoop and is one of the league's truly elite point guards.

    The 23-year-old has already emerged as the heart and soul of a perennially dangerous Chicago Bulls team. He took an otherwise uninspiring Bulls team all the way to the Eastern Conference finals last year before getting blown out of the water by the deeper Miami Heat. With a stronger supporting cast around him, who knows what Rose and his Bulls will be able to do?

    If you were picking a point guard to build a team around, the only thing to give you pause about tabbing the Memphis product is his injury history, but it wouldn't be a long pause.

    And yet, if you're talking about the best PG in the Association this season, it ain't D-Rose.

No. 1—Chris Paul, PG, Los Angeles Clippers

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    You'd be hard-pressed to find a bigger fan of what Derrick Rose is doing in Chicago than I, but Chris Paul is simply outplaying him this season. D-Rose has more points and then the rest of the numbers go to CP3, including the impressive distinction of being the only top tier point guard who neutralizes his turnovers with his steals. Respect must also be given to his defensive chops which include an All-Defensive First Team selection as well as two All-Defensive Second Team selections.

    It's true that Paul has a better supporting cast around him in LA, but we've all seen him take over games single-handedly with lesser players around him in New Orleans. So while he lacks the individual hardware that Rose owns, the Clipper point guard has the stones to put a team on his back in crunch time.

    As one final finger on the scale in favor of 26-year-old dynamo—he's got a longer track record than the man at No. 2 yet is still on the young side.

    It's a razor-thin margin, but I'm taking still taking Chris Paul at numero uno.

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