NBA 2010-2011: Power Ranking The 30 Starting Point Guards
There isn't a position more chock-full of talent in professional sports than NBA point guard.
Established stars, aging veterans and young upstarts all have a say in determining the league's top floor generals.
Some players have distinguished themselves as the league's best, some have reached their full potential and even more have room to improve. As a result, this list is certainly subject to change.
Following is a ranking of the NBA's 30 starting PGs in 2010-2011.
Note: Projected starters based off of ESPN's team previews.
No. 30: Carlos Arroyo, Miami Heat
Present: Partially due to third year pro Mario Chalmers' injured ankle in training camp, Arroyo seems to have won the job as Miami's starting PG. Unfortunately for the Heat, he doesn't fit in with Dwyane Wade and LeBron James as well as Chalmers does, as Arroyo is a poor long range shooter and lacks the quickness to effectively defend opposing PGs. He offers a positive that Chalmers doesn't, though, in the fact that he achieved the second-lowest turnover ratio among all PGs in the league last season.
Future: Arroyo has clearly topped out as a player. He's a gifted ballhandler and slick passer that drastically cut down on his mistakes last season. Still, as Chalmers gets back into playing shape expect him to take over in the Heat's starting lineup. Ideally, Chalmers would develop into a dependable long range threat that is comfortable playing off the ball, as well as a solid defender that helps the injury-prone Wade conserve his energy on that end of the floor.
If Chalmers emerges as the longterm starter and plays to his ability, the Heat will have an ideal PG for the reign of the Three Kings.
No. 29: Shaun Livingston, Charlotte Bobcats
Present: Livingston has a rare combination of size and court vision at PG. He stands 6'7'' and is one of the most naturally gifted passers in the league. Livingston is chronically injured, however, having suffered one of the most ghastly knee injuries in sports history in 2007. He is no longer the athlete he was before multiple knee surgeries, and as a result has developed an effective post-up game. Defensively, not even his extreme length can make up for his lack of quickness defending PGs.
Future: Once considered one of the sport's best prospects, Livingston looks to have topped out as a player, with his jumper proving ineffective time and time again.
2008 first round pick DJ Augustin is on the roster, and he looks to be the longterm answer for HC Larry Brown in Charlotte.
No. 28: Beno Udrih, Sacramento Kings
Present: Similar to the situation in Miami, the Kings PG is not expected to do much ballhandling or playmaking due to the presence of second year G/F Tyreke Evans. Udrih is not a gifted long range shooter, but is very effective in shorter and middle ranges. He is a shoot-first player, and rarely makes plays for others. He thrives in pick and roll situations, though, utilizing an extremely effective pull up jumper. Defensively, Udrih is only average as his above average size limits his foot speed.
Future: Udrih is currently a good fit on the Sacramento roster, as he has no problem allowing Evans to handle the ball the vast majority of the time. The Kings figure to challenge for a playoff spot as early as next season, and it is plausible to think that Udrih will remain their starting PG until then at least.
No. 27: Jeff Teague, Atlanta Hawks
Present: Teague has apparently finally pushed veteran Mike Bibby out of the starting lineup in Atlanta. The first round pick has a good combination of athleticism and skill on both ends of the floor. He is extremely quick, and is able to create shots for himself and easily stay with his man on defense as a result. Teague doesn't see the floor well, though, and is clearly a shoot-first PG, a problem because he possesses limited range on his jumper.
Future: Expect the Hawks to give Teague this season and the next to prove his worth as the team's starter. However, the odds seem stacked against him as he is not a good fit with SG Joe Johnson. As his career advances, he will probably be best suited as a backup, shoot-first, energy PG in the mold of former Sacramento Star Bobby Jackson.
No. 26: Luke Ridnour, Minnesota Timberwolves
Present: Ridnour was acquired in free agency by Minnesota over the off-season. He had his best year as a pro last season in Milwaukee, as he shot the ball better than he ever had in his career. While it is unrealistic to expect him to duplicate that performance, Ridnour offers value as a pick and roll operator and effective spot up shooter. Additionally, he gives good effort on defense despite his diminutive size, using his quick feet to frustrate opponents.
Future: If Minnesota plans on making an impact in the league in the future, they won't do so with Ridnour starting at PG. He is clearly best suited as the leader of a second unit. Unfortunately, 2009 first round pick Johnny Flynn is a horrible fit in HC Kurt Rambis' triangle offense, and he too appears destined to be a backup.
If Spanish sensation Ricky Rubio ever makes good on his promise to come to Minnesota, the Wolves have nothing to worry about here. If he doesn't, this is a position in need of serious upgrade in the future.
No. 25: Derek Fisher, Los Angeles Lakers
Present: After a dismal regular season last year, Fisher took his play to another level in the playoffs, perhaps saving his job in the process. Obviously, he is a proven winner and crunch time marksmen, consistently nailing shot after shot in route to five championships with the Lakers. He does not do much ballhandling for LA these days, as Kobe Bryant is the initiator of Phil Jackson's triangle offense. Fisher has superior strength and uses it to his advantage as a defender. However, he is prone to getting beat off the dribble by quicker PGs.
Future: The Lakers signed veteran Steve Blake in the off-season, and it appears that he and Fisher will split minutes at PG almost equally. Blake is a better passer than Fisher, though not as consistent of a spot up shooter. Which of them plays down the stretch will likely come down to matchups and which one of them has the hot hand.
Going forward, the Lakers won't be able to count on Fisher. In fact, if LA wins another title this season there is a very good chance he will retire. If that happens, Blake will take over,and there should be no drop-off in terms of production.
No. 24: Jarrett Jack, Toronto Raptors
Present: Jack is a combo guard in every sense of the word. He has great size at PG, though is shorter and stockier than most SGs. Offensively, Jack is only an average shooter, but is a willing penetrator and finisher at the rim. His passing ability and court sense has improved over the years, though it is still below average for an NBA starter. On the defensive side of the ball, Jack offers value in being able to effectively guard both opposing backcourt positions.
Future: Jack is a solid NBA player, but not good enough to be starter. He is a classic backup guard, a player capable of coming off the bench and playing both slots in the backcourt. Jose Calderon was once considered a good NBA PG, but has regressed since his eye-opening season a few years ago. Ideally, each of these players will come off the bench as Toronto gets on the track back to respectability after trading Chris Bosh.
No 23: Mike Conley, Memphis Grizzlies
Present: The 2007 first round pick has been underwhelming thus far in his young NBA career. Conley is undersized, but makes up for it with excellent quickness and fluidity. He is only average as a shooter, and has proven to be a limited creator and playmaker despite his deft ballhandling skills. Defensively, Conley uses his foot speed to stay in front of his man, though is easily over-powered.
Future: The 2010-2011 season is clearly a make-or-break one for Conley. He's yet to deliver on the considerable potential he showed as a collegian at Ohio State, and the Grizzlies are becoming impatient, as evidenced by SG OJ Mayo being tried out on the ball in Summer League play. Conley has the ability to develop into a Tony Parker-like player, but may lack the requisite feel and awareness to do so.
No. 22: Raymond Felton, New York Knicks
Present: At first glance, Felton seems like an ideal fit in Coach Mike D'Antoni's up-tempo offensive scheme. He is very fast with the ball in his hands and adept at pushing the ball up the floor and making decisions in transition. In the halfcourt, however, Felton will struggle under D'Antoni, as he is a bad pick and roll player and poor finisher around the rim. He's also only a mediocre outside shooter. Felton is a good defender, though, an ability that won't get utilized while playing for the Knicks.
Future: D'Antoni's offensive scheme calls for a creator and playmaker at PG, something Felton clearly isn't. He's a solid stopgap in New York, but hardly an effective longterm solution. When his short contract runs out, Felton will presumably go elsewhere as the Knicks look to add a player (Chris Paul?) better suited to D'Antoni's style.
No. 21: Rodney Stuckey, Detroit Pistons
Present: Like Jack, Stucky is the quintessential NBA combo guard. He possesses adequate size at either spot in the backcourt, and is a good ballhandler. As a PG, though, Stuckey lacks the necessary court sense and creativity. He is a very good penetrator, though, and consistently draws fouls in the paint. On the other side of the ball, Stuckey offers value defending both 1s and 2s, where his combination of strength and quick feet prove very effective.
Future: In the right system, Stuckey could absolutely start for a good team. He's lost in Detroit, though, as he's asked to do too much ballhandling and make plays for others, something he struggles to do. He certainly has value in the league going forward, though, as a solid combo guard who can get to the basket and defend.
Currently, Detroit doesn't have a true PG on the roster, instead several shorter, shoot-first players. This is an area in dire need of a change after the season.
No. 20: Devin Harris, New Jersey Nets
Present: In 2008 - his first year in New Jersey - Harris was considered one of the league's brightest young PGs. After a disappointing, injury-filled 2009, expectations have been tempered. Harris relies on his great quickness to get to the rim and draw fouls, an area in which he struggled last season. He's a good mid-range shooter, but lacks deep range on his jumper. He is a score-first PG, but doesn't have bad passing ability. Defensively, Harris has all the tools to be an elite defender, though he exhibited terrible, terrible effort last season.
Future: This is a huge year for Harris, as New Jersey's new ownership wants immediate success out of his franchise. If Harris plays like he did in 2008-2009, there's no reason why he can't be the Nets PG of the future and rise way up this list. But, given his injury history and inconsistent effort, the odds may be stacked against him.
No. 19: Jrue Holiday, Philadelphia 76ers
Present: A first round pick in 2009, Holiday was the league's youngest player last season. It makes sense, then, that his play drastically improved after the All-Star break last year. Holiday is one of the league's biggest PGs, and combines that with great feet and quick hands. Defensively, he is already solid, and has the potential to be one of the NBA's best defenders. On the other end of the floor is where his game needs refinement. Holiday is a good ballhandler but possesses only average court sense, an area that will be key in his development as a floor general. He is a good penetrator, but must improve his outside shot to keep defenders honest.
Future: Holiday will be one of the most interesting players to watch this season, as he could take a major step in his development into one of the league's better PGs. Due to his age and inexperience, though, it may be another year before he is the impact player his natural talent suggests he'll be. Regardless, he looks like a fixture of the Philadelphia backcourt for years to come.
No. 18: Mo Williams, Cleveland Cavaliers
Present: Williams was miscast in his role as second banana to LeBron James the past few seasons in Cleveland. A combo guard, he is best suited as a fourth offensive option that thrives off of open looks. Williams is a shoot-first PG with poor court sense and only average ballhandling ability. He is one of the league's best shooters in spot-up situations as well as off the dribble, capable of putting up points in a hurry. Defensively, Williams is only average, as he is not particularly fleet of foot or physical.
Future: Williams has the offensive talent to be a good team's starting PG as long as he isn't asked to do too much. In Cleveland this season Williams looks like the team's second option on offense, a role he is not well-suited for. Going forward, it looks like Williams is destined to play elsewhere, as a re-building team like the Cavs is not a good fit for him.
The Cavs brought in third-year pro Ramon Sessions over the off-season, and will presumably give him every opportunity to win the status of "PG of the future."
No. 17: Baron Davis, Los Angeles Clippers
Present: Davis is one of the league's most frustrating players, as he has the talent to be elite, but rarely capitalizes on his ability due to conditioning, attitude and injury problems. He has outstanding size at PG, possessing good height with rare bulk. He couples that with quick feet and good speed, as well as deft ballhandling skills. Davis is a good shooter, but utilizes horrible shot-selection which results in poor shooting percentages. Defensively, Davis can be outstanding when in shape and motivated - a rare combination for him.
Future: The Clippers finally look to be heading in the right direction, as they've stockpiled lots of young talent and seem willing to spend on the free agent market. This season will be vital in determining whether or not Davis will be part of the organization's resurgence. Certainly, Los Angeles is better of if Davis is committed and playing well, as very few possess his natural ability.
If Davis proves to be underwhelming yet again this season, the Clippers will hand the reigns to rookie PG Eric Bledsoe, a great athlete with a developing skill-set. The former Kentucky star will be a major part of plans in Los Angeles going forward, whether Davis is there or not.
No. 16: Andre Miller, Portland Trail Blazers
Present: Miller is extremely fun to watch, as he possesses a very unique set of skills at PG. He has good size and uses it to his advantage, as he is an unusually gifted post player. Additionally, Miller loves to push the tempo and get in fast break, where he is one of the league's most creative players. A very good ballhandler, he is only an average outside shooter and passer, despite his flair for the dramatic. Miller uses his size to get lots of rebounds, but is only average as a one-on-one defender.
Future: Unfortunately for the Blazers, Miller is not a good fit with star SG Brandon Roy, as each of them needs the ball in their hands to thrive. Due to this, he is clearly not in the team's longterm plans, though will remain an important part of Portland's rotation this season.
Third-year pro Jerryd Bayless is the team's longterm answer at PG. He is a 2 stuck in the body of a 1, not a bad thing considering Roy's playmaking prowess.
No. 15: Aaron Brooks, Houston Rockets
Present: Tiny even by PG standards, Brooks is one of the league's best pure scorers. He has deep range on his jumper, and easily explodes by defenders to score in the paint where he is a good finisher for his size. Brooks, however, is not just a shoot-first player, he's a shoot-only player. He rarely makes plays for others and has a tendency to over dribble on offense. He gives good effort on defense but his size is a constant liability.
Future: Brooks looks to be a centerpiece of Houston's plans going forward. He and SG Kevin Martin form one of the league's best young backcourt tandems. Whether or not his style of play suits a championship team remains to be seen, but he will almost certainly be a focal point of the Rockets for the foreseeable future.
No. 14: Jameer Nelson, Orlando Magic
Present: Nelson is short for a PG, but has excellent bulk and strength. He is a very good outside shooter, a necessary skill in playing with C Dwight Howard. Nelson is also an effective penetrator, where he uses his muscular build to absorb contact. Though by no means a black hole on offense, Nelson does not have great court vision nor garner many assists. Additionally, he is only average as a defender, lack of height being his biggest detriment.
Future: Though Nelson's game isn't irreplaceable, he is extremely important to Orlando. He is his team's unquestioned leader, and serves a vital role in helping contain the emotions of Howard. Nelson is a fixture of the Magic organization, and will remain so in the coming years.
No. 13: Chauncey Billups, Denver Nuggets
Present: Billups has been one of the league's most consistent players over the last decade. He has great size for a PG, and uses it to his advantage in the post against smaller defenders. An excellent outside shooter, Billups sets up defenders with shot fakes to drive to the basket, where he only looks to score. He isn't a good distributor, but also not a ball-stopper on the offensive end. Defensively, Billups struggles to defend quick PGs, but has the height and bulk to check opposing wings.
Future: Despite the moniker "Mr. Big Shot," Billups has yet to deliver on that nickname in the playoffs for Denver. With star SF Carmelo Anthony unhappy, the Nuggets may be forced to re-build, and it could potentially begin with dealing Billups. Until then, he'll remain one of the league's best leaders for Denver.
Second-year pro Ty Lawson showed major ability in his rookie season, as he shot well from the field and proved an effective penetrator despite his size. Longterm, he may be the answer at PG for the Nuggets.
No. 12: Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs
Present: A shoot-first PG, Parker was the 2007 NBA Finals MVP. Though his overall play falls short of that lofty status, he is certainly no slouch. Parker is extremely quick and excels at drawing fouls and converting tough shots in the paint. He is a middling shooter, but is good enough to keep defenses honest. On the other end of the floor, Parker uses his height and foot speed to pester opponents.
Future: Parker has been injury prone over the last couple of seasons, and it showed in his play in 2009-2010. He is not the player he was just a couple years ago, but remains one of the league's better PGs nonetheless.
Parker and third-year man George Hill have been surprisingly effective when paired together. If the former leaves via free agency, Hill is a very good replacement.
No. 11: Darren Collison, Indiana Pacers
Present: Filling in for the injured Chris Paul, Collison was a revelation in his rookie year. Traded to Indianapolis in the off-season, he is lightning quick and easily creates shots for himself off the dribble. A blur in the open floor, Collison is a decent shooter but must improve his court vision. He also needs to add to his repertoire of shots around the basket. Defensively, Collison is very good, using his long arms and quick feet to pressure opponents.
Future: In trading for Collison, Indianapolis made a great decision in naming him their PG of the future. There isn't a reason why Collison won't continue to improve, and rank among the best at his position every year going forward.
No. 10: Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
Present: Considered a combo guard coming out of Davidson, Curry flashed every skill you'd want out of a PG in his rookie season. An underrated athlete with good height, he is one of the league's deadliest shooters and possesses unlimited range on his jumper. Curry is also a slick ballhandler, and thrives in pick and roll situations. He must cut down on his turnovers, but has an initial skill-set resembling that of Steve Nash. He has good quickness on defense, but must add bulk to avoid getting over-powered.
Future: Curry is clearly one of the league's best young players. Going forward, he appears poised to become one of the league's most devastating and consistent offensive forces, as his combination of shooting ability, court sense and overall feel is very, very rare.
No. 9: Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee Bucks
Present: Jennings ranks this high on the list mainly because he led his team to the playoffs as a rookie PG last year, a rare and impressive feat. That isn't to say he lacks talent, though. Jennings is a small player with incredible quickness and ballhandling ability. He is adept at changing pace, and possesses a solid short-range floater. He must improve his jumper and his shot selection, as he shot very poorly from the field last season. Jennings shows enough effort has the hands and feet to be a good defender, but is sometimes exploited due to his lack of strength.
Future: After a very promising rookie season last year, Jennings has all the makings of an impact PG in the league. If he improves his jumper and shot selection and learns to better involve his teammates, Jennings will be a fixture amongst the league's best floor generals for the next decade.
No. 8: Jason Kidd, Dallas Mavericks
Present: After all these years, Kidd is still one of the league's most effective players. He's lost most of his quickness and some of his speed, but none of his ballhandling or keen sense of awareness. Kidd remains an elite passer, and is an effective post-up player. He's made incredible strides shooting the ball, having developed into a very good spot-up shooter from three point range. Kidd doesn't defend opposing PGs nearly as well as he once did, but his size allows him to check SGs and remain a rare rebounder for his position.
Future: As Kidd's athleticism began to deteriorate, most assumed he'd lose his spot as one of the league's best PGs. However, due to his established skills, newfound shooting ability and outstanding size, he is still a great player.
Kidd is obviously nearing the end of his career, and the Mavs have a replacement in mind with second year pro Rodrigue Beaubois. Though he is not a pure PG, Beaubois has the potential to develop into a very good shoot-first floor leader.
No. 7: John Wall, Washington Wizards
Present: Most will say this is too high for the number one pick of June's draft. Some will argue that its too low. The fact that it is even a discussion speaks volume about Wall's natural ability. He has incredible length for a PG, and couples it with world-class speed with the ball in his hands. Wall also has very quick feet and is an explosive leaper. By all accounts, he is already one of the league's best athletes. Skill wise, Wall is no slouch. He is a great ballhandler, has developing court sense and is a fantastic finisher around the basket. He must improve his shooting range, but is already capable from mid-range. On defense is where Wall will be best his rookie season, as he shows great effort on that end of the floor to go along with amazing physical traits.
Future: Wall has all the physical makings of a franchise player, and given that he was recently named one of Washington's captains, it appears he has the necessary emotional makeup, as well. If in two years he isn't clearly one of the NBA's best players, the vast majority will be very, very surprised.
No. 6: Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
Present: Perhaps no player did more to improve his stock over the course of the last year than Westbrook, who over the summer helped Oklahoma City to a playoff berth and was one of Team USA's best players. He has great size at PG, possessing ideal height with a terrific wingspan and a solid frame. Athletically, there are few that equal Westbrook. He is one of the league's fastest players, has very quick feet and is arguably the league's most explosive leaper. Westbrook is a good ballhandler and underrated passer, having averaged eight assists per game last season. An unstoppable penetrator, defenders lay off of him and dare him to shoot. Given his major struggles shooting from the outside, that strategy is a smart one. Westbrook is already one of the league's best defenders, and should garner consideration for first team all-defense this season.
Future: If Westbrook ever develops a consistent jumper, he'll challenge for the title of the league's best PG. Even if he doesn't, he has enough to learn about the game that he stands a good chance to enjoy considerable improvement. Oklahoma City's second banana to Kevin Durant, Westbrook is an absolutely vital part of his team's championship aspirations, and one of the league's brightest young stars.
No. 5: Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns
Present: Nash has proven time and time again to be one of the league's best offensive players. However, few realize just what kind of force he really is on that end of the floor. Unrivaled by any player in terms of skill, Nash is a fantastic shooter, dribbler and passer. He has world-class court vision and is incredibly creative, proving to be one of the NBA's most exciting players despite his limitations athletically. Additionally, Nash is arguably the best pick and roll player of all time, knowing exactly when and where to either pass, shoot or something else. However, he is flat out bad on the other end of the floor, though he willingly gives up his body to draw offensive fouls.
Future: People have been expecting Nash to decline for the past four seasons. By now, it is evident that he will be a devastating offensive force as long as he is healthy.
The Suns clearly need to start planning for life post-Nash. They possess a promising player in third-year PG Goran Dragic, who scored 23 points in the fourth quarter of a May playoff game.
No. 4: Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics
Present: Rondo is perhaps the league's most unique player. He doesn't have great size, as he isn't particularly tall and is very thin, but has some of the longest arms in the league that help him thrive on both ends of the floor. Rondo is an elite athlete, as he is lightning quick, amazingly fast and wiry strong. Also, he is arguably the NBA's best ballhandler, no doubt in part due to his enormous hands. A true PG in every sense of the word, Rondo is a very creative passer, as well as shot-maker around the basket. His game's only major deficiency is his extreme lack of anything resembling a respectable jumper. He is extremely, extremely poor in that respect. Rondo was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team last season, led the league in steals and had multiple games of double-digit rebounds. He's an elite defender to say the least.
Future: Many believe that Rondo is Boston's best player, and given his major improvements last season, it is a tough point to argue. The only part of his game that is missing is his jumpshot. Unfortunately, that appears a lost cause. Regardless, Rondo will be in the conversation as the league's best PG for the next several seasons.
No. 3: Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls
Present: Rose is the leader of the NBA's new breed of PGs. He possesses ideal size and world-class athleticism, and appears totally capable of being an organization's franchise player. Rose gets to the rim at will, where he is a devastating finisher, routinely completing an extremely tough array of floaters, layups and dunks. He has been chided for his lack of a jumper throughout his career, though last season he was one of the league's best mid-range shooters. Though he is a scorer first, Rose is a good passer and looks to get his teammates involved. He has underwhelmed defensively in his young career, but has the necessary tools to be very good on that end of the floor.
Future: Many are calling Rose a dark-horse MVP candidate this season, and he clearly has that type of talent. Though he may not win the award this season, he should be in the running for league MVP for the remainder of his career.
No. 2: Deron Williams, Utah Jazz
Present: Quite simply, Williams is one of the NBA's best players. He has good height and a very strong frame to go along with underrated athleticism. Williams is very fast with the ball in his hands, and has a strong crossover that he uses to beat his opponent and finish strong in the paint. He is one of the league's best pick and roll operators on the drive or pass, and is a very good mid-range shooter. A very consistent player, Williams shows solid ability from three point range. Defensively, Williams effectively guards both PGs and SGs, and is an underrated rebounder.
Future: Some call Williams the NBA's best PG. While he falls just short on this list, his game has no glaring weakness. As a result, Williams is a potential Hall-of-Famer.
No. 1: Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets
Present: Standing just 6'0'' (on a good day), Paul is the league's smallest star. In terms of impact, however, there is arguably not a bigger player in the game today. He is a great athlete, possessing superb speed and quickness with the ball in his hands. Perhaps the game's most gifted dribbler, Paul is devastating in the pick and roll and has an uncanny knack at changing pace. He is Nash-like in his creativity with the basketball, routinely making passes that no one else can see. Though not an elite shooter, Paul is very good in that respect. He is an elite rebounder for his size, and likes to push the tempo and start fast breaks himself. Additionally, Paul is a complete disruptor on defense, using the game's fastest hands to pester opponents.
Future: Mark it down - Chris Paul is a future HOFer. Injuries have prevented him from getting the recognition he deserves, but he seems primed to show the world just how good he is in 2010-2011. When he hangs it up, Paul may reign supreme as the NBA's best 6'0'' and under player of all time.