It’s no coincidence eight of the top-10 players on this list guided their teams to the playoffs a season ago. Over the past few years, no position in the NBA has been infused with more talent than the point guard. Last season, the top two scoring performances came from points guards. This summer when Team USA competed for the FIBA World Championship, five of the 15 players on the team were point guards. The position is so stacked, 12 of the players on this list have at least one career All-Star selection on their resumes, and six more will likely get the nod in the next two seasons.
30. D.J. Augustin– Charlotte Bobcats
Entering his first season as the starter in Charlotte, D.J. Augustin will be on a short leash, like all point guards, in Larry Brown’s slow paced offense. With just 14 games started in his career, Augustin had to prove he’s ready for the big step. A prolific scorer in college, Augustin has shown flashes in the NBA (12 games with 20 or more points) but in 80 games played last season, he never had a double-digit assist effort.
29. Mario Chalmers– Miami Heat
As the only player on the Heat roster on July 1, Mario Chalmers saw the rest of the roster shape up just fine. The only problem is Chalmers isn’t guaranteed the starting job and his participation in training camp is questionable after spraining his ankle in July. Fan-favorite Carlos Arroyo has made a push to send Chalmers to the bench.
28. Mike Conley– Memphis Grizzlies
Expected to become a star point guard coming out of Ohio State, the Grizzlies used their fourth overall selection in the 2007 NBA Draft on Mike Conley. Flanked by four starters that each averaged at least 14.5 points per game last season, Conley still only managed 5.3 assists per game. If Memphis brought in a better passer and used Conley as a reserve, the Grizzlies could become one of the top teams in the Western Conference.
27. Derek Fisher– Los Angeles Lakers
The starting point guard on the all-time insanely clutch squad, Fisher will likely see a diminished role this season. He might be the starter, but look for Steve Blake will likely receive the majority of minutes to save Fisher and his heroics for the playoffs.
26. Raymond Felton– New York Knicks
Simply for having a different point guard, the Knicks will be a better team this season. The only problem is, Raymond Felton is a difficult player to trust. Having spent all five years of his career in Charlotte, and their deliberate, agonizingly slow offense, Felton still boasts an average of 2.6 turnovers per game. The Knicks are always looking to run, which means more possessions and, most likely, more turnovers from Felton.
25. Jonny Flynn- Minnesota Timberwolves
No question Jonny Flynn can light up the scoreboard on any given night, the only problem for the Timberwolves is they are expecting him to direct the complex triangle offense. Flynn’s game isn’t creating for his teammates (4.4 assists per game last season) and he is so careless with the ball (2.9 turnovers per game) that it hurts the team. He would be much better served being the energy scorer off the bench, much like Nate Robinson in Boston.
24. Rodney Stuckey– Detroit Pistons
The Pistons turned their team over to Rodney Stucky hoping he would become the new face of the franchise. The talented scorer could, just not as the point guard. Stucky didn’t advance the way Detroit had hoped. While he did score 16 points per game, it was on 40 percent shooting from the field. The Pistons would be wise to start Will Bynum at point and shift Stucky to shooting guard.
23. Jose Calderon– Toronto Raptors
Jose Calderon has Steve Nash’s defensive game, just without the exceptional offensive talent to make up for it. The reluctant scorer (career average 9.8 points per game) has never lived up to the five-year $45 million contract he signed in 2008. Calderon missed the FIBA World Championship after tearing his hamstring but is expected to be ready for training camp. Too bad he returns to a team that really doesn’t want him.
22. Mike Bibby– Atlanta Hawks
Mike Bibby’s career took a nosedive last season and came to a horrible crash as Jameer Nelson and the Magic steamrolled the Hawks out of the playoffs. Bibby averaged career lows in points, rebounds, assists and as a result, minutes per game. If Bibby continues to struggle, look for Jeff Teague to start.
21. Jameer Nelson– Orlando Magic
The problem with Jameer Nelson is his production is so inconsistent. If you look at his stats, Nelson increased his scoring average in the playoffs (a team high 19 points per game) from the 12 points per game in the regular season. During the regular season, he had five games of 20 or more points, and five games with 10 or more assists as the Magic finished the regular season 59-23. In the playoffs, Nelson scored 20 or more points on six occasions and had zero games with 10 or more assists. Against Boston, Nelson had two games with five or more assists, both wins for Orlando and three games with 20 or more points, all Magic losses.
20. Mo Williams– Cleveland Cavaliers
The definition of a solid point guard, Mo Williams inherits the worst title anyone can ask for, the best Cavalier now that LeBron James is in Miami. His scoring numbers are likely to increase, but there really isn’t much Williams can do on his own to make Cleveland a respectable team.
19. Andre Miller– Portland Trail Blazers
Individually, Andre Miller is a solid starting point guard, the only question is where does he really fit in with this Portland team? The Trail Blazers are at their best when shooting guard Brandon Roy is controlling the offense and Miller was really a non-factor until Roy went down with a knee injury. Once he was in control of the offense, Miller exploded for 52 points against Dallas last season, the second highest total of the year. Portland must establish who is going to distribute the ball and who is going to finish the play.
18. Darren Collison– Indiana Pacers
Any production from the point guard position would be an improvement in Indiana, but Darren Collison is a player Pacer fans will quickly claim as one of their favorites. In 37 games as a starter, Collison averaged 18.8 points, 9.1 assists and 1.4 steals per game. As long as he can cut down his turnovers (4.1 per game as a starter) he will jump up this list in a hurry.
17. John Wall– Washington Wizards
The savior in Washington, John Wall has the skills necessary to become an impact player immediately. Looking to become the third consecutive point guard to capture Rookie of the Year honors, the Wizards have given complete control to Wall.
16. Jrue Holiday– Philadelphia 76ers
After lighting up the summer league, Jrue Holiday is looking to make the leap during his sophomore campaign. Already with a reliable three-point shot, speed to get to the basket and tremendous handle, Holiday will improve his numbers from last year, when he was a great late season fantasy pick up, and continue those numbers in reality.
15. Baron Davis– Los Angeles Clippers
Like so many players before him, Baron Davis signed with the Los Angeles Clippers and saw his career go into the toilet. It’s never a good sign when your point guard has to deny reports that he’s gained 45 pounds in the off season, hopefully Davis can return to the player he was while in Golden State.
14. Jason Kidd– Dallas Mavericks
The elder statesman in the point guard hierarchy, Jason Kidd, who turns 38 in March, remains one of the premier distributors on the floor. For the first time in his career, Kidd finished the season with a higher shooting percentage three point range than total field goal percentage.
13. Tony Parker– San Antonio Spurs
As the Spurs finally embark on their rebuilding years, the first piece from their championship run likely to be moved is Tony Parker. With George Hill slated as the point guard of the future, San Antonio will likely deal Parker prior to the deadline and try and make a title run this season.
12. Tyreke Evans– Sacramento Kings
The question is can he do it again? Tyreke Evans’ consistency earned him Rookie of the Year honors a year ago, becoming just the fourth player to average at least 20 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists in their debut season. With a more talented cast around him, Evans is looking to prove last year was no fluke.
11. Aaron Brooks– Houston Rockets
The reigning Most Improved Player in the league will be even more valuable this season by taking a back seat with the return of Yao Ming. Brooks took over the offense, averaging a career high 19.6 points per game. With the Rockets fully healthy, Brooks can return to distributor and the team knows he can take over the scoring load when necessary.
10. Devin Harris– New Jersey Nets
Reunited with coach Avery Johnson, Devin Harris is looking to return to his All-Star form from two seasons ago. As the Nets struggled, Harris’ own production slipped by five points per game. The revamped offense will be tailed for Harris and New Jersey’s turnaround all begins with their point guard
9. Brandon Jennings– Milwaukee Bucks
Brandon Jennings took a team expected to win 30 games onto his back and into the playoffs last season. Not an efficient shooter (37 percent from the field) Jennings never hesitated to take the big shots Milwaukee needed to win. As the main scoring option for the Bucks once post season play began, Jennings nearly pushed out the Atlanta Hawks with just his will.
8. Stephen Curry– Golden State Warriors
The leading candidate to one day replace Ray Allen as the best pure jump shooter in the league, Stephen Curry’s jump shot became unstoppable towards the end of the season. Curry made a strong push for Rookie of the Year, closing out the season by scoring 20 or more in six of the final seven contests, including a 47 point performance against Portland.
7. Chauncey Billups– Denver Nuggets
The 34-year-old Chauncey Billups has proven he can adjust to any style of offense during the course of his 13-year career. Winning a championship in Detroit with its half court set or advancing to the Western Conference Finals with an offensive juggernaut in Denver, Billups has been the catalyst at both stops.
6. Russell Westbrook– Oklahoma City Thunder
Every challenge presented to him, Russell Westbrook has exceeded expectations. The days leading up to the NBA Draft, Westbrook seemed more like a shooting guard but in his two seasons, he has proven he is a star at point. Averaging 16 points and eight assists last season was just the beginning, Westbrook became a 20 point per game scorer in the playoffs and was instant offense coming off the bench for Team USA this summer in the FIBA World Championship.
5. Rajon Rondo– Boston Celtics
The only reason Rajon Rondo is ranked this low is because of his abysmal free throw shooting. There is no reason a point guard should be a Dwight Howard-type liability in the fourth quarter. Once Rondo gets over his jitters at the charity stripe, he’ll climb this list.
4. Derrick Rose– Chicago Bulls
If Derrick Rose can knockdown 35 percent of his three-point attempts, he will be one of the most unstoppable players in the league. Already blessed with the ability to get to the basket whenever he wants, Rose spent most of the summer refining his jump shot. As one of the leaders for Team USA this summer, his success in pressure packed games overseas will only make him stronger in NBA competition.
3. Steve Nash– Phoenix Suns
Still the best passer in the league at age 36, Steve Nash faces his toughest task this season after losing his favorite target, Amar’e Stoudemire to free agency. Without a talented post player to run the pick-and-roll with, Nash must find a new way to create for Phoenix’s usually high powered offense. If not, Nash needs to develop chemistry quickly with a roster filled with skilled perimeter players.
2. Chris Paul– New Orleans Hornets
Without Chris Paul on the floor for nearly half of the regular season, New Orleans saw its playoff hopes quickly vanish. When Paul was sidelined, the Hornets lost their top scorer, passer and defensive player. For all the attention he’s garnered for his ability on offense, Paul may be even better on the other side of the floor, as he set an NBA record with 108 consecutive games with at least one steal. Fully healthy for the upcoming season, Paul is once again an MVP candidate and the Hornets will return to the playoffs.
1. Deron Williams– Utah Jazz
The constant see-saw battle for point guard supremacy titled in the favor of Deron Williams last season as he capped of an impressive regular season with an amazing playoff run. Like Paul, he can drive to the basket whenever he wants, knockdown the long range shots, finds open teammates and plays excellent defense. The only difference is, Williams has only missed 14 games in his entire career.
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