Who’s better? A question asked every year. This season seems to have another general question: Who’s the best point guard in the NBA? The question is expanded into: Who’s the top 5 point guards in the NBA? Top 10 in the NBA? As someone who loves the NBA, I feel intrigued and discouraged by the answers I’ve seen. The reason? I value many different things from a point guard. The last point guards to lead thier teams to a NBA Championship as the main player? Chauncey Billups in 2004, Isiah Thomas in 1989. Before jumping off the deep end, yes there were some players who got really close ( Gary Payton in 1996, Mark Price in 1991) but didn’t win. My ideal point guard is a player who could lead a team. I don’t like my point guard to be a reliable scorer, just set up the scorers, play good defense and get out the way.
With that being said: Here is my top 10 point guards in the game today.
Brandon Jennings, Stephen Curry, Devin Harris, John Wall ( Yup, you read that right) and Steve Nash.
10. Devin Harris
I ripped Devin Harris in the past, he never played in the playoffs as a member of the Nets, he hasn’t played 70 games in a season since 2006 and he cannot shoot ( 30% from 3 in his career). Yet, Devin Harris is a difference maker. Harris makes up his lack of shooting ability with his speed and his ability to attack the basket. I’ll ask this: If New Jersey offered Harris to Orlando for Jameer Nelson, would Orlando say yes? I think so.
9. Brandon Jennings
As a Knicks fan, it still aches me that Jennings was not our 8th pick ( even though I really wanted Jrue Holiday). Brandon Jennings has alot of potential but he’s also not ready to be “let loose” yet. In Jennings’ rookie season, he was often dispelled by Luke Ridnour. I feel Brandon Jennings is also smarter as a player based on the first 6 games of the 2010 season, he seems more of a leader and beginning to get that pass first mentality.
I like Brandon Jennings as a player. I think the fact that he started all 82 games last season was overlooked. What overshadowed it? Jennings’ shooting percentage looked like he was a all star baseball player ( last season had a 37% FG)
8. John Wall
It’s very early but I wrote this on twitter: John Wall could become the best point guard in the East within 27 months
Right now, Wall is legit to me. For one, he will be getting tons of free throws early. That will inflate his scoring. His passing is insane. The turnovers are pretty high but a part of that is Andrey Blatche and Javale McGee having hands of stone. At this point, Wall is still improving with his jumpshot and (at least to me) hasn’t developed that “Jordan Mode” yet where he takes over games. He’s shown to have that mode in the Philadelphia and Houston.
Another reason to as why he is so high on the ranking? Wall should be a elite defender in this league. At 6-4, Wall has shown me the ability to handle some shooting guards as well as point guards in the NBA. His fast hands also allow him to get plenty of steal attempts ( averaging 3.2 steals per game this season)
Overall, Wall has tons of skills. He reminds me of Russell Westbrook and Rajon Rondo combined. His size and speed should separate him from the pack very soon.
Also, last night, Wall became the 3rd youngest player to record a triple double. His stat line: 19 points, 10 rebounds, 13 assists and 6 steals.
7. Stephen Curry
Where to begin on Steph Curry?
I’ll admit, I wasn’t high on him coming out the draft. I thought he was a great shooter, nothing more. 90 games into his career, I was wrong. I’ll be honest, Stephen Curry is underrated. He’s very comparable to the #6 overall point guard on this list. Curry’s a score first point guard with the ability to pass. In Golden State’s high tempo offensive, he will get plenty of chances to put up numbers and this season, Keith Smart is actually having them play a little bit more defense.
Besides being one of the best shooters in the game, Curry is also one of the smartest. Why is that important? Curry will never be a elite defender. I doubt Curry will ever be a above average defender but his intelligence will allow him to play passing lanes well, allows him to be able to defend someone without leaving too much space for a blow by or a jump shot.
6. Steve Nash
Nash is still in my top 6. At 36, Nash is still one of the best passers right now. Nash is still a great shooter, providing solid scoring for the Suns. There are some negatives for Steve Nash however:
Defense: At this point, Nash is an below average defender. In a league full of point guards who can just blow by you and/or attack you on almost every possession, that’s not good. Similar to Steph Curry, Nash is a very smart player who passing lanes well.
Can You Win With Him? I ask this, with Nash’s current contract and the way the top NBA teams are being built on now ( strong interior and a strong 2nd unit) can you win a title with Steve Nash? I have my wonders because a superstar point guard isn’t really what a team needs to win.
5. Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook get a slight edge over Steve Nash for a couple reasons. For one, Westbrook is on the verge of become a elite defender and at 6-4, that’s something not too many teams have. Westbrook also is a better rebounder then Nash ( unfair but it’s true) and I didn’t even mention the fact Westbrook is only 21 ( turns 22 in 5 days) so the upside is there. My question about Westbrook is: How much better can he become? With Kevin Durant overshadowing him, he might never be seen as a superstar but he plays like it. Last season, he averaged 16ppg, 8rpg and 4 rpg. In his 3rd season, it’s possible Westbrook jump into top 3 status with a 20-8-6 season.
4. Derrick Rose
Some have Rose as #2, I don’t for a couple reasons. First, Rose really doesn’t get to the free throw line alot ( 3.1 FTA in rookie season and 4.1 in 2nd season) and for a slashing point guard, that’s interesting. Derrick Rose also doesn’t average alot of assists ( never averaged 7 apg over a full season) which could be justified with the fact he never played with a legit #2 scoring option. Not to mention, Rose jumper is improving, but not completely there yet.
( At this point, your thinking: Why is he #4 then?)
Rose is a warrior. He’s too fast and big to defend, he wants the ball late and at 21, he controls the Chicago Bulls. If you watched the Detroit- Chicago game early last week, Rose went into ” Jordan Mode” and gave Chicago the win. Rose literary put that team on his back and carried them to a win. You cannot teach nor develop that. The weaknesses I laid out before? You can fix that.
3. Deron Williams
Last season, he was 2nd. Now he’s 3rd. I picked Deron Williams to help lead Utah to the finals but now, I’m not to sure about that. It’s not his numbers that dropped him ( 20p, 9a, 1.2s so far) but rather the fact, Utah looks like a average team. Is this a potential 45 win, 7 seed team? Could be. It’s not his hair ( even though many people including Bill Simmons have ripped on him for it)
Williams is still putting up some great games (22-14-8 vs Toronto and 30-8-7 vs L. Clippers) but right now, I think something is up in Utah and Williams, might be a piece in the issue.
2. Rajon Rondo
If I was building a team today: I want Rajon Rondo as my point guard.
I was high on him since the Chicago series in 09. Can we just agree, he’s the best point guard in the East? No? Alright, let me sell Rajon Rondo:
He’s this era Jason Kidd. Rondo CANNOT shoot the basketball. We know this but, you have to respect him because he can blow right past you for a convenient lay up. He sets his teammates up like no other point guard in the NBA. The biggest thing I LOVE about Rondo? He doesn’t force shots. If you watch a certain team, you know the one player on the team who cannot shoot who always shoots. Rondo, looks around and decides to pass first. To Rondo, a jumpshot to him seems like a failed possession. In terms of defense, Rondo is top notch ( up there with the #1 point guard) plus Rondo has a nice contract. Consider this
Rondo: 5 years, 50 million
Rudy Gay: 6 years, 80 million
Joe Johnson: 6 years, 120 million
Amar’e Stoudemire: 5 years, 100 million
Who would you take at thier prices? I would go Rondo and it’s not even close. Also, the crazy experience. He averaged 10p, 4r and 6a in 2008, 16p, 9r and 9a in 2009 and 15p, 5r and 9a in 2010. He played at least 16 playoff games in all 3 years as well. The numbers speak for himself and the only thing he cannot do? Shoot.
1. Chris Paul
What to make about this fantastic start by New Orleans? Chris Paul is healthy. This is another ” Hurt superstar costs team a season BUT he gets rest” beginning. To me, no other point guard can lead this team to wins over teams like Miami other then Chris Paul. In my predictions in the summer, I had New Orleans winning 33 games. I even said:
“Yes, Chris Paul should be healthy but other then that? New Orleans took a huge step back to me in exchanging Darren Collison for Trevor Ariza. The Hornets have a new coach and still are looking to run. I question if this team could be even worse. If Chris Paul and David West can create the magic, they should live up to this ranking”
What does Chris Paul do? He helps David West become the 2 time all star he was, Emaka Okafor has become a decent offensive player on some nights, the other nights? He gets dirty in the post ( Chris Paul had a 16 assists game, Okafor didn’t score in that game but had 9 rebounds and played fantastic defense), Trevor Ariza is allowed his attacks to the basket, Marco Belinelli has become respectable next to him plus the bench players are being helped as well (Jason Smith, Marcus Thornton and Willie Green are bench players next to him)
All in all, Rajon Rondo is playing out of his mind right now, but Chris Paul is still the number one point guard in the NBA and has New Orleans look good in the first two weeks of the season.