There are no more reasons to overlook Kyle Lowry.
Not only was Toronto’s point guard snubbed from the Eastern Conference All-Star squad, he was left off each of the three All-NBA teams even after leading the Raptors to a division title, 48 victories and boasting incredible numbers.
Lowry averaged a career-high 17.9 points, 7.4 assists (eighth most in the NBA) and his 4.7 rebounds per game was the second most among all point guards. The 6-foot point guard had the third highest win share total in franchise history at 11.7, a figure only surpassed by seven players during the 2013-14 campaign.
Along with his offensive output, Lowry remained one of the most dominant perimeter defenders in the league, matching the total steals LeBron James had last season.
During his first seven years in the league, Lowry was in a timeshare for the starting point guard position, given his first opportunity to be the primary playmaker, he excelled, registering seven games with at least 20 points and 10 assists and logging three triple-doubles.
Fantasy owners are hoping to benefit from the continuity.
30. George Hill– Indiana Pacers
The Pacers offense scored the sixth fewest points in the NBA last season, but even in a suddenly expanded role, it’s going to be difficult for Hill to produce. Indiana lost Lance Stephenson to Charlotte in free agency and Paul George for the season due to the devastating leg injury he suffered during Team USA’s first scrimmage this summer. Hill averaged just 3.5 assists per game, tied for 34th among all point guards in the league with Pablo Prigioni.
29. Mario Chalmers– Miami Heat
Chalmers admitted he lost his confidence against San Antonio in the Finals and following the departure of LeBron James, he looks to take a more prominent role in the offense for Miami. Last season, the 6-foot-1 guard matched his career-high by averaging 4.9 assists and the 1.6 steals he posted were the most since his rookie campaign. The Heat may expect him to be a more consistent point scorer, a tough proposition as he scored less than 10 points on 36 occasions and 10 or more points 37 times last year.
28. Jeremy Lin– Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers will likely employ a time share at the point guard position depending on the health of Steve Nash. Lin turned in respectable shooting numbers, converting 49.2 percent of his shots from inside the 2-point field goals and shooting a career-high 35.8 percent from 3-point range, but his assist/turnover ratio of 1.67 served as the lowest amount for any full time point guard a year ago. If Lin can reduce his turnover margin, he is worth a late round pick.
27. Elfrid Payton– Orlando Magic
Orlando dealt away its longest tenured player, point guard Jameer Nelson in order to turn the offense over to the 10th overall pick of the 2014 NBA Draft. Payton saw his stock rose in the days leading up to the draft because of his 6-foot-8 wingspan, his defensive ability and his knack for getting to the foul line, he led the NCAA by averaging 8.6 free throws a game. The 20-year-old can drastically improve his fantasy outlooks if he can develop a reliable jump shot. The Magic signed Luke Ridnour to provide a safety net in case Payton struggles.
26. Trey Burke– Utah Jazz
Burke closed out his rookie year with his most impressive outing, torching Minnesota for 32 points, nine assists, four rebounds and a steal. The former Michigan star was forced to miss the first nine games of the year because of a broken finger and it took him a while to find his shooting touch, as he made 50 percent of his attempts from the field just six times in his first 25 appearances. He showed a knack for setting up his teammates, dishing out 10 or more assists on seven occasions and first year coach Quin Snyder will look to feature him in the offense.
25. Darren Collison– Sacramento Kings
Sacramento is hoping Collison’s struggles as the starting point guard in Indiana and Dallas won’t carry over. The Kings signed him to a three-year $16 million contract to once again leave the comforts of being the backup to Chris Paul. Collison is hoping to turn back into the productive player he was during his rookie season, when he filled in for Paul by averaging 12.4 points, 5.7 assists, 2.5 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game, figures he has yet to replicate over past four years.
24. Jameer Nelson– Dallas Mavericks
For each of the past two seasons Nelson has been able to average at least seven assists a game, even on an Orlando team in the midst of a massive rebuild. His move to Dallas and ability to pass to Dirk Nowitzki should keep his lofty assist totals while also creating some easy looks at the basket he wasn’t getting with the Magic. Nelson has shot below 40 percent from the field each of the past two seasons, if he can regain his marksman ship, he is worth a late round selection.
23. Patrick Beverley– Houston Rockets
Beverley was forced to claw his way into the NBA and he is now the unquestioned starting point guard in Houston. The path to a starting job was an arduous one for Beverley, as he was drafted by the Lakers, dealt to Miami and then signed with Houston without ever playing a game. Playing in the second most explosive offense in the league last season, the 26-year-old posted just 2.7 assists, a number that should significantly increase now that he is no longer splitting time with Jeremy Lin.
22. Brandon Jennings– Detroit Pistons
Lost amid the chaos in Detroit and overshadowed by his horrendous shooting was the fact Jennings became a reliable distributor. In his first season with the Pistons, Jennings posted 22 games with 10 or more assists, including an 18 assist effort to help his team defeat the Suns. Fantasy owners just have to be cautious with his jump shot, as he converted 37.3 percent of his attempts ranking him the lowest of 124 players to shoot enough shots to qualify among the league leaders.
21. Jose Calderon– New York Knicks
If there is any indication of just how deep the point guard position is, Calderon falling this far is proof. Calderon posted the third highest assist/turnover ratio in the league last season at 3.6 and ranked second in 3-point field goal percentage, knocking down 44.9 percent of his attempts. The low number of assists the 32-year-old logged last season, at 4.7 per game, was nearly two below his career average. New York needs him to take command of the offense and continue his efficient shooting.
20. Brandon Knight– Milwaukee Bucks
In his first season with Milwaukee, Knight served as the player with the most explosive scoring ability, pouring in 20 or more points in 33 of his 72 appearances. The 8th overall pick of the 2012 NBA Draft quietly had a bounce back season with the Bucks, leading the team in scoring at 17.9 points and assists along with 3.5 rebounds, tying him for 12th most among all point guards. This season, with rookie Jabari Parker in the fold, Knight can improve on the 4.9 assists he averaged.
19. Ricky Rubio– Minnesota Timberwovles
Rubio proved to be the most pesky perimeter defender, leading the NBA in total steals with 191. The loss of Kevin Love will have a dramatic impact on his assist total, as he ranked fifth in the league as 8.6 per game. Minnesota will need Rubio to ingrain himself more in the offense, as he attempted just 8.2 shots a night, the lowest of his three-year career. The Timberwolves no longer have an All-Star on the team and Rubio, entering the final guaranteed year of his contract, will have to prove he is capable of being a franchise cornerstone if he wants to sign the five-year contact the team has reserved for him.
18. Jeff Teague– Atlanta Hawks
Even after a productive year, the Hawks were shopping Teague at the trade deadline. Atlanta opted to keep him around for its unexpected playoff run and Teague continued to deliver, posting 16.5 points, 6.7 assists and 1.1 steals per game. Teague has yet to prove himself as a reliable long range shooter, converting 34 percent of his attempts from 3-point range during his career. The 6-foot-2 guard finished with 13 double-doubles in 79 games.
17. Rajon Rondo– Boston Celtics
Recovery from a torn ACL forced Rondo to miss half the season, but once he came back, he quickly proved he is still an elite play maker. The 21st overall pick of the 2006 NBA Draft finished with 10 or more assists 17 times, a figure more impressive considering it took him six games to tally his first double-digit assist total. As Boston continues its rebuilding efforts, there is uncertainty how long Rondo will still be on the team.
16. Jrue Holiday– New Orleans Pelicans
A stress fracture in his right tibia limited Holiday to just 34 games during his first year in New Orleans. During his brief stint with the team, the 24-year-old guard averaged 14.3 points, 7.9 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.6 steals a game. The Pelicans are hoping their point guard will be available opening night and Holiday participated in his first full contact drills and has been working out against his teammates during off-season volunteer sessions.
15. Derrick Rose– Chicago Bulls
After playing just 10 games in the past two seasons, Rose helped Team USA clinch a second consecutive gold medal at the 2014 FIBA World Cup of Basketball. At times, Chicago’s point guard looked explosive, showing a knack for getting to the rim, but he struggled to finish. Rose shot just 25.4 percent from the field during the tournament and converted just 1-of-19 shots from 3-point range. Rose shot a combined 1-of-12 in the final two games in Spain, something he will need to develop when he returns to the Bulls.
14. Deron Williams– Brooklyn Nets
Brooklyn trotted out one of the most impressive and expensive starting lineups in league history, but the team never truly gelled. Another busy off-season has once again revamped the Nets and the team is hoping Williams can return to a more prominent leadership role. Williams attempted just 11.2 shots and dished out 6.1 assists, both figures his fewest since his rookie year, as a series of ankle injuries limited him to just 32 minuets a night in 64 appearances. Since moving to Brooklyn two years ago, Williams has yet to earn an All-Star nomination.
13. Mike Conley– Memphis Grizzlies
The career-year Conley had scoring the ball, averaging 17.2 points, took away from the defensive intensity he usually brings in Memphis. After leading the league in total steals during the 2012-13 season, swiping the ball away 174 times, Conley remained effective on the defensive end, but his 110 steals tied him for 20th most in the league. As Conley begins his eighth season in the NBA, he quietly has become one of the most complete point guards in the league, averaging 6.0 assists, 2.9 rebounds, 1.5 steals and converting over 100 3-point field goals for the second straight year.
12. Kemba Walker– Charlotte Hornets
Charlotte’s run to the playoffs was fueled by the explosive play of Walker. In his third season, the former Connecticut star averaged 17.7 points, 6.1 assists, 4.2 rebounds, 1.2 steals and shot 83.7 percent at the foul line. The only drawback to his game is his erratic shooting, Walker converted just 39.3 percent of his attempts from the field and 33.3 percent of his shots from beyond the arc. The Hornets bolstered their roster in free agency and added some depth through the draft, giving Walker more capable scorers on the roster which could lead to another massive jump in assists.
11. Tony Parker– San Antonio Spurs
The complete team domination of San Antonio forced the selection committee to send at least one player on the roster to the All-Star game and Parker earned the nomination, even with some numbers that were less impressive than some other players at the position. The 32-year-old still was effective, averaging 16.7 points, 5.7 assists and 2.3 rebounds, but the complete lack of a dominant player in the offense makes him a bit of a question mark, as he failed to register a single 20 point, 10 assist effort last year.
10. Ty Lawson– Denver Nuggets
The 8.8 assists per game averaged by Lawson tied him for the second most in the NBA last season. Along with the massive jump in assists, two more a night than his previous career high, Lawson poured in 17.6 points and despite his 5-foot-11 frame, pulled down the 12th mos rebounds among all point guards. A trend to watch for is Lawson’s shooting percentage has dropped each of his five seasons, resulting in a 43.1 percent average from the field.
9. Michael Carter-Williams– Philadelphia 76ers
The 2014 NBA Rookie of the Year had one of the most complete games of any point guard last season, averaging 16.7 points, 6.3 assists, 6.2 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game. As the season progressed, Carter-Williams began to press and his shooting percentages dropped. Philadelphia has once again made deals emphasizing on potential, leading to an even less talented team that won just 19 games a year ago. The 76ers will rely heavily on the sophomore guard and fantasy owners are hoping he can once again deliver.
8. Goran Dragic– Phoenix Suns
The Suns made an unexpected playoff push, remaining in contention until the final week of the regular season, because of the massive improvements Dragic mad with his jumper. Not only did the 6-foot-4 guard pour in 20.3 points per game, nearly a seven point increase from the previous season, he converted 50.5 percent of his attempts from the field and shot 40.8 percent from 3-point range. Dragic was one of just five point guards to average over 20 points a game and the only one to convert over half of his field goal attempts.
7. Kyle Lowry– Toronto Raptors
The biggest challenge Lowry has faced throughout his entire NBA career has been consistency. During his tenures with Memphis and Houston, he showed flashes of being a dominant point guard, but struggled to put together a consistent season. The biggest difference last year was Lowry didn’t have to spend his summer rehabilitating from an injury, showing up to Toronto’s training camp in shape and ready to dominate. As the unquestioned starter for the Raptors, Lowry averaged career-highs in scoring, rebounding, assists and 3-point shooting and was one shot away from knocking out Brooklyn in the opening round of the playoffs.
6. John Wall– Washington Wizards
As one of the first three players cast off Team USA this summer, after receiving a belated invitation to try out for the team, Wall is hoping to establish himself as one of the premier point guards in the NBA. Coming off his first All-Star appearance and a season in which he led the league in assists, dishing out 721 last season, the main goal for him this season is to take care of the ball. In his four seasons, Wall has led the league in turnovers twice and is averaging 3.6 turnovers a game for his career. Washington has pinned its hopes on the back court, with the former Kentucky star leading the team in scoring, assists, steals and ranking fourth in rebounding.
5. Damian Lillard– Portland Trail Blazers
The most unexpected roster causality for Team USA this summer, Lillard, a dominant long range shooter, is once again looking to find a way to improve for Portland. After capturing Rookie of the Year honors in 2013, Lillard earned his first All-Star selection after ranking third in the league in 3-point field goals made, knocking down 218 attempts from beyond the arc. The Trail Blazers are hoping Lillard can maintain his lofty scoring numbers, as he posted 20.7 points a game, while setting up his teammates even more than the 5.6 assists he averaged.
4. Kyrie Irving– Cleveland Cavaliers
A 26 point performance against Serbia in the gold medal game of the FIBA World Cup of Basketball, including a 6-for-6 shooting effort from 3-point range, led to Irving’s selection as MVP for the tournament. Any time he has played alongside quality players, Irving has been able to excel, as evidenced by the MVP award he won at the 2014 NBA All-Star game. Cleveland signed LeBron James and then traded for Kevin Love, giving Irving the most talented teammates he has ever played, which will result in much more assist opportunities for a player that has averaged 5.8 per game during his career.
3. Russell Westbrook– Oklahoma City Thunder
Westbrook is the most dominant rebounding guard in the NBA and the combination of athleticism, defensive instincts and explosive scoring is enough to negate any concerns about his shot selection. Limited to just 46 games because of a series of knee injuries a year ago, the 25-year-old still managed to average 21.8 points, 6.9 assists, 5.7 rebounds and 1.9 steals a game. After declining a spot on Team USA this summer, Westbrook is expected to be fully healthy entering the seventh year of his career, he may be poised for another stellar campaign.
2. Stephen Curry– Golden State Warriors
In his fifth season with the Warriors, Curry was able to put everything together, as he averaged 24 points, 8.5 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game. As the most dangerous long range shooter in the NBA, knocking down 533 shots from 3-point range in the past two years. Along with the massive number of 3-pointers made, Curry is one of the precise shooters the league has ever seen, if he retired today, the 6-foot-3 guard would be the third most accurate 3-point shooter in league history and ranks 96th in NBA history for 3-point field goals made.
1. Chris Paul– Los Angeles Clippers
For the third time in his career, Paul was the league leader in steals and assists. All of the attention on Paul is centered around his terrific passing ability, but he is much more dominant as a perimeter defender. The fourth overall selection of the 2005 NBA Draft has led the league in total steals five times during his career and steals average six of the past seven years, including each of the past four years. Last season, Paul failed to steal at least one pass just six times in 62 appearances.