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February Point Guard Power Rankings

February 10, 2012

By Ross Mitchell

The NBA is a Point Guard driven league. It simply is. You cannot win a championship without steady play at the point guard position. Offenses depend too much of facilitating the ball and consistent continuity in this wide-open, point-manufacturing driven league. That’s why Derrick Rose is the reigning MVP. That’s why there was such a premium on Chris Paul. Can the case be made that one doesn’t need a “Point Guard” as much as it does a distributor of the ball? Absolutely, LeBron James comes to mind. But ultimately plays like King James do not grow on trees. And in most cases asking a small forward or shooting guard (or whomever a team’s predominate scorer is) to distribute the ball when their best asset is attacking the rim only stymies their development and the success of the team. Nothing ruins a player’s confidence than asking them to do something they are not comfortable (and probably not that good at) with. So here is my current NBA Point Guard Power Rankings. So who is number one? Hint: his rank matches his jersey.

1. Derrick Rose- No surprise here. Arguably the best player in the league. Watching him game in and game out is truly special. He continues to defy both expectations and gravity. The best aspect of his game isn’t his talent, it is his desire. It’s only natural that in the Stadium Michael Jordan built a native son of Chicago displays his unrelenting will to win. Durability is not a question, neither is “Clutch Gene”. He always rises to the occasion. Though I do wonder what he could do should he be stricken with flu-like symptoms?

2. Chris Paul- There are those who argue Chris Paul is a better “Point Guard” in the league, better than even Rose. It is not an outrageous argument, though I do not agree. Paul is a very good defender and perhaps the best in the league at getting his teammates involved with the offense. There are no flaws in his game. However, I rank Rose above him simply based on head-to-head match-ups. Look at the tape; Rose torches Paul. When everything else is too close to call, what one did against the other is a good way to determine supremacy. But in no way am I knocking Paul. If Rose is off the board you’d be hard-pressed to find ten players in the league I would start a franchise before selecting Paul.

3. Deron Williams- The gap between Rose and Paul is miniscule at it’s greatest point. The gap between Deron Williams and Russell Westbrook is even less. I almost ranked them 3 and 3a, but felt that would be too much of a copout. I went with Williams for two reasons; A) he has absolutely no talent around him. He is literally making the best of a horrid situation. Think of all the weapons Westbrook has around him; Kevin Durant, James Harden, Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka. And yet he only averages 5.9 points per game. Williams a shade over eight and a half (8.6 to be exact). Yes Westbrook scores slightly more, and he is easily the quicker of the two, but I would rank Williams as the better defender. Also, Williams, to me, seems like he has no ego, which Westbrook is one of Westbrook’s greatest criticisms. Playing alongside a player like Kevin Durant (or possibly Dwight Howard?) would only amp Williams production.

4. Russell Westbrook- No suspense here. As I touched on above, Westbrook’s biggest criticism is his inability to defer to the other superstar on his team (Kevin Durant). I don’t where to stand on this issue. Is it that big of a deal? The Oklahoma City Thunder made it to the Western Conference finals last season. They are the top seed in the West thus far this season. But at the same time, whenever I watch him play, he seems to think that he needs to attack the rim instead of giving the ball to the best scorer in the NBA. He should rarely, if ever have more shot attempts than Durant and should have no trouble deferring to him in crunch time. But he does, constantly. And it’s a shame that I have to spend an entire paragraph discussing his transgressions more than his achievements. He’s too good to waste this much time theorizing on “what’s wrong with him”. But I am, go figure. Everything else aside, the guy is a stud and if I had to bet, I’d wager he and Durant find a way to coexist.

5. Rajon Rondo- The best defending Point Guard in the Association, probably the toughest. Dislocating your elbow, having it popped back into place in the locker room and returning to the same game is either crazy or gusty or both. You have to love a guy who is willing to endure that kind of torment for his teammates. You also have to love a guy who is second in the NBA in assists (9.8). He doesn’t have the greatest jump shot in the world (to say it is mediocre is accurate), but he can attack the rim and has a knack for playing his best in the biggest situations. Say what you will about Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett, I think there is a fairly strong argument that the best player in a Celtics uniform post-championship has been Rondo (or Sasha Pavlovic).

6. Tony Parker- Injuries aside he is still “elite” (I hate that “elite” is now a pop-culture buzzword. Joel Blumenfeld, Vince Fuentes, Jack Maloney, Michael Beller, Chris Bryant, and Mike Moreau, along with myself have been using that term for the better part of a decade. Shout-outs aplenty). Now, at age 29, he is both carrying the San Antonio Spurs, and playing his best basketball in four years. I still can’t get over the fact that Tony Parker isn’t 30 yet and won’t be until May. He’s like the Andruw Jones of the NBA; early individual and team success before he turned twenty, plenty of gaudy stats, highlight real play-after-highlight real play, followed by a decade of consistency and occasional dominance. I think without question he is the best player on the current Spurs roster. I also think it‘s fair to say we have been blinded by the new influx of talent at his position (the sheer athleticism of Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook, the unflappability of Rose, Chris Paul, and Williams) and we overlook just how good Parker has been. We also overlook that ever point-guard listen above him has a total of one ring (Rondo). And how many of them have won Finals MVP? Again, advantage Parker.

7. Steve Nash- I have to put Nash here. He’s still the best passer in the game. He can’t guard anyone and he’s Canadian but he’s as dangerous as he has ever been. He’s a double-double guy (the only double-double Point Guard in the NBA) and can still shoot the rock. There is no one who runs their offense better than Nash, no one who continues to defy the odds the same way he does. He’s barely over six-feet tall (despite being listed at 6’3”) and weighs less than the computer I’m typing on. He’s very similar to Peyton Manning in that he knows his offense as well as anyone. He is a coach on the court and best when given free-reign to create and distribute. Nash losing Amar’e Stoudemire hasn’t been nearly as detrimental as Stoudemire losing Nash. It will be interesting to see what Nash does when his contract expires. And I still miss the days when he and Nowitzki teamed up in Dallas.

8. Kyrie Irving- Two surprises here: 1. I have Irving ranked this high. 2. “Kyrie” is apparently an acceptable word according to spell-check. Names that did show up on spell check: Jawad, Jimmer, D’Brickashaw, Metta, Xhibit, Diddy, Kemba, and Evgeni. Irving is spectacular. He is one of the reasons I feel the Cavaliers will be returning to the playoffs sooner-rather-than-later. Already he averages 18.0 points-per-game. Already he is over five assists (5.1, and 3.5 rebounds) per-game. And he is nineteen years old. When I was nineteen I was trying to figure out just how far Rex Grossman would have taken the Chicago Bears had he just stayed healthy (the answer of course is “all the way”). Irving is putting-up Rookie-of-the-Year numbers. Irving might surprise you being eight (and I acknowledge he does need to get better positioning on the perimeter and gain upper-body strength), but don’t be surprised if he skyrockets up this list within the next two-to-three years.

9. Kyle Lowry- He should have been an All-Star. Unfortunately he plays in the wrong conference. I’m sorry, you cannot convince me Paul Pierce has been better than Lowry. You cannot convince me that Dirk is more deserving of a trip to Orlando than Lowry. I understand why they are there. They have had great careers and been vital components on teams which have made deep playoff runs. Dirk is the reigning Finals MVP, he cinched his All-Star appearance in July. I also understand that no All-Star team can have five point guards. But Lowry has been the spark behind an upstart Houston Rockets team. Sadly he will likely fall in the category of “very good, but not quite an All-Star” for years to come. An appearance here-and-there might sprout up, but ultimately he will be lost in the shuffle.

10. Lou Williams- Speaking of “should have made the All-Star team”… His stats don’t make you stare. He isn’t as eye-popping as the other point guards on the list. But he is having a fine year. And when you are considered the best Point Guard on your team and you split playing time at the position with Jru Holiday, you’re in high company. The 76ers are a good team. They are a dynamic team, all the way around. No one really stands out. Because of continuity? Because of consistency? Because of team play? Because of cliché? Yes.

If I may point out that the Eastern Conference first round as of now (2/10/12) features the following match-ups:

1. Chicago vs. 8. Milwaukee (with New York ½ game out)
2. Miami vs. 7. Boston
3. Philadelphia vs. 6. Orlando
4. Indiana vs. 5. Atlanta.

Those are all absolutely absurd series! The worst of course is Chicago v. Milwaukee, but even that has intriguing storylines (even more so if that turns into the Knicks). But those other three series are electric. Anyone who discredits the Pacers, the 76ers, or the Hawks chances of pushing the favorite Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls to a six or seven game classic series needs to get their head checked. As bad as the lockout was at times, this season so far, and what could be (in the regular season and the playoffs) has been better than expected. I almost can’t wait to update this list next month. But I will, because, that my readers, is what we in the industry call “a tease”. Also I’m tired and I want to eat something.

Honorable Mention: Brandon Jennings, Jru Holiday, Ty Lawson, Darren Collison (Most Improved Player of the Year?), Jeff Teague, John Wall, Mo Williams, Ricky Rubio, Tyreke Evans (free-throw percentage is too low, yet still very much on the rise).

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Todd permalink
    February 21, 2012 9:31 pm

    When was the last time (before Rose and Nash) the NBA had two active point guards who owned MVP trophies?

    http://polentical.com/2012/02/17/lin-part-of-an-overrepresented-demographic/

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