The instant Washington won the draft lottery in 2010, it prepared to turn the franchise over to John Wall.
The combination of handles, agility, speed and athleticism enabled the 6-foot-4 guard to become the franchise player the first time he ever put on a Wizards jersey.
Washington has slowly added pieces around him, but for the team to take the next step and truly become title contenders, Wall needs to elevate his game to an MVP caliber level.
After leading the NBA in total assists two years ago, the 25-year-old solidified himself as one of the premier play-makers in the league last season as he joined Chris Paul as the only other player in the league to average at least 10 assists per game.
Wall possesses very few weaknesses, as he was selected to his second consecutive All-Star appearance while averaging 17.6 points, 10 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game.
Washington just needs him to limit the amount of turnovers he commits.
Even though he didn’t lead the league in turnovers for the third time in his career, as James Harden gave the ball away 17 more times, Wall did set a career-high with 304 turnovers, the first time he has surpassed 300 in a single season.
Wall ranked second in total assists, setting up 792 scoring opportunities for Washington last season, but he managed just the 17th best assist/turnover ratio at 2.6.
Next season is vital to Washington’s future, as if Wall is able to elevate the Wizards into an attractive free agent destination, it might be enough to convince Kevin Durant to return home.
The Wizards have plenty of pieces, Wall just needs to put them all together.
30. Trey Burke– Utah Jazz
Utah lost Dante Exum for his sophomore season after he tore his ACL in an exhibition game for the Australian national team. For a time, Utah believed Burke could be the point guard of the future, but his shooting percentage of 38 percent from his rookie year dropped to 36.8 percent last season. Burke’s time in the starting lineup may be short lived, with Raul Neto likely pushing him for playing time throughout the year.
29. Langston Galloway– New York Knicks
The Knicks have a trio of guards vying for the lion-share of minutes, with Jose Calderon and rookie Jerian Grant chasing Galloway. A year ago, Galloway became the most consistent performer at the position after being called up from the NBA Developmental League midway through the season. Galloway proved himself to be a capable rebounder, a potent 3-point shooter and one of the few scoring threats on the team.
28. Jordan Clarkson– Los Angeles Lakers
Once he received some consistent playing time, Clarkson was able to flourish. Following the All-Star break, the 46th overall pick of the 2014 NBA Draft posted 16.7 points on 47 percent shooting from the field to go along with 5.4 assists and 4.6 rebounds per game. Los Angeles selected D’Angelo Russell with the second overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, leading to a possible three guard set, or perhaps Clarkson being sent to the bench.
27. Jarrett Jack– Brooklyn Nets
For the first time in five years, Jack won’t be attempting to integrate himself into a new franchise. The departure of Williams finally opens a starting position for Jack, a player capable of impressive performances. Last year against Toronto, he posted 35 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds, one of his 17 outings with at least seven assists. The only thing holding him back is his inconsistent shooting from beyond the arc.
26. Deron Williams– Dallas Mavericks
His debut in Dallas may have come three years later than expected, but it comes as a necessity. The scoring average of Williams has dropped each of the past four years and his shooting percentage of 38.7 percent was the worst of his 11-year career. By surrounding Williams with capable shooters in the perimeter, his assist numbers should top the 6.6 he managed a season ago, slightly increasing his value in fantasy basketball.
25. Ricky Rubio– Minnesota Timberwolves
A severe ankle injury limited Rubio to just 22 appearances and paved the way for a point guard controversy in Minnesota. Zach LaVine impressed during his rookie season, and while he may not be the pure passer Rubio is, there is some intrigue as to who will start on opening night. Rubio is a gifted passer, a pest on defense and posted a career-high 5.7 rebounds per game during his limited time on the court, but his terrible shooting is a liability. Rubio has never shot 39 percent from the field during one of his four years in the NBA.
24. Derrick Rose– Chicago Bulls
The uncertainty of Rose’s health is the reason for his plummeting stock among the league’s starting point guards. In 51 appearances last season, Rose averaged 17.7 points, 4.9 assists and 3.2 rebounds per game, but the toll of several knee surgeries has reduced his explosiveness, meaning each point he scores comes with additional labor. Chicago has reduced its reliance on Rose,
23. Rajon Rondo– Sacramento Kings
The most gifted passer in the league is hoping to prove himself on a new team. Rondo’s tenure in Dallas ended with his dismissal from the team. Throughout his nine-year career, Rondo has averaged 8.3 assists per game and the Kings are hoping he can be the facilitator the franchise has been seeking for years. Sacramento has cycled through numerous point guards, while Rondo has been seeking a home.
22. Isaiah Thomas– Boston Celtics
The shortest players in the NBA became an unstoppable scorer after he was shipped to Boston at the trade deadline. The 5-foot-9 guard scored 20 or more points in 11 of his 21 appearances off the bench for the Celtics last season, as he averaged 19 points per game during his brief time with the team. Boston will likely enter the season two players competing for minutes as the point guard, with Marcus Smart, the sixth overall selection of the 2014 NBA Draft, also expecting plenty of time as the facilitator of the offense.
21. Tony Wroten– Philadelphia 76ers
Wroten won’t be ready for the start of training camp, but the team believes he may be in the starting lineup on opening night. All of the numbers Wroten puts up are inflated, as his averages of 16.9 points and 5.2 assists per game before tearing his ACL in mid-January are worth take a late round flier. Only his awful shooting percentages and alarmingly high turnover rate are why he slips to a final round choice.
20. Emmanuel Mudiay– Denver Nuggets
From day one, Mudiay is going to be in command of the offense in Denver. The 6-foot-5 guard has exceptional handle, the innate ability to get to the rim and his passing ability should generate plenty of assist opportunities. The primary question is if his jumper will be a detriment, allowing defenders to play off of him, clogging his path to the rim and eliminating passing lanes.
19. Kemba Walker– Charlotte Hornets
Charlotte’s offense at times becomes disjointed, forcing Walker to take on the scoring load by himself. The scoring numbers are impressive, as he has poured in 17 points per game in each of the past three seasons, but his shooting percentage has dipped for three consecutive years. Unlike many of the other point guards in the league, Walker has been able to limit his turnovers, as his 1.6 turnover per game were the lowest of his career.
18. Tony Parker– San Antonio Spurs
The raw numbers may have decreased, with his scoring and assist numbers declining by a combined total of three per game, but Parker’s efficiency remains. During his 14th season in the league, Parker converted 48.6 percent of his attempts from the field and connected on 42.7 percent of his attempts from 3-point range, easily the highest percentage of his career. San Antonio offers severe limitations on minutes, but Parker is a proven commodity.
17. Jrue Holiday– New Orleans Pelicans
Many fantasy basketball mock drafts rank Holiday much higher, but the amount of time he has missed because of injuries is alarming. Since being dealt to New Orleans two years ago, the 25-year-old has sat out over 54 percent of the its regular season games. Last season, he managed to play in just 40 games, returning to play just three times after fracturing his left leg midway through January.
16. Michael Carter-Williams– Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks are counting on a full season with coach Jason Kidd will help Carter-Williams return to the level that propelled him to Rookie of the Year honors two seasons ago. There are glaring weaknesses in his game, as Carter-Williams made just 4-of-28 attempts from 3-point range since being acquired by Milwaukee at the trade deadline, but his exceptional passing skills and ability to force turnovers makes him a solid second point guard for a fantasy team.
15. George Hill– Indiana Pacers
After missing 39 of the first 45 games of the season with a strained groin, he went on to post the best season of his seven-year career. Hill averaged 16.1 points, 5.1 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game and shot 47.7 percent from the field. Hill was able to salvage a season that appeared bound to the draft lottery with his impressive performance in his 43 appearances. With Indiana pushing the tempo next season, Hill should produce a similar stat line.
14. Brandon Knight– Phoenix Suns
Not many lottery selections, especially promising point guards, are dealt twice before turning 24. Once he was traded to Milwaukee, Knight established himself as a reliable scorer, averaging 17.9 points per game in his 124 appearances with the team, and making the decision of the Suns to ditch two disgruntled point guards for him easier. Although he played just 11 times in a Phoenix uniform, a full training camp with the team should be enough for him to return to the player that was averaging 17.8 points, 5.4 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game during the first 52 games of the year.
13. Elfird Payton– Orlando Magic
Payton exhibited all the traits Orlando was looking for from its point guard. The rookie managed to play in all 82 games, established himself as an elite passer (he dished out 533 assists, eighth most in the NBA) and his 142 steals were the seventh most in the league. As he prepares for his sophomore season, Payton won’t have to play his way into the starting lineup, but will need to demonstrate he is a capable shooter for defenders to not simply clog the passing lanes.
12. Ty Lawson– Houston Rockets
Nearly one out of every three passes Lawson tossed out led to an assist opportunity for the Nuggets. His passing generated 22.7 points per game, the third most in the league of anyone that played more than 25 games. The move to Houston, and its numerous talented offensive players, could increase that number significantly, but Lawson’s role has yet to be defined. The 5-foot-11 point guard is still awaiting disciplinary action after he was arrested for suspicion of DUI in for the second time in this year, plus the Rockets haven’t named Lawson or Patrick Beverley the starter yet.
11. Goran Dragic– Miami Heat
In order for Dragic to return to an elite level, both in fantasy and among the talented point guards in the league, he needs to find a way to generate more trips to the free throw line. During his stint with the Suns last season — spanning 52 games before being traded to Miami — Dragic went to the foul line just 2.5 times per game. During his 26 appearances with the Heat, that figure jumped up to 4.0 per game. The more easy points he can score, the faster he will rise in the point guard rankings.
10. Jeff Teague– Atlanta Hawks
As one of just 12 players to dish out 500 or more assists last season, Teague was one of just three players to accomplish the feat will playing less than 31 minutes per game. While playing in an offense that features rapid ball movement, Teague is the catalyst, passing the ball over 54 times per game. Atlanta sent four players to the All-Star game, including Teague, and his nomination was propelled by the 15.9 points, 7.0 assists, 2.5 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game he averaged.
9. Reggie Jackson– Detroit Pistons
The move to Detroit was extremely beneficial to Jackson in numerous ways. In just 27 appearances, Jackson was able to swiftly establish himself as the best point guard on the Pistons roster for years. Once he was dealt to Detroit, Jackson managed to post 17.6 points, 9.2 assists and 4.7 rebounds per game and was immediately rewarded, as the team signed him to a five-year, $80 million contract extension this summer.
8. Mike Conley– Memphis Grizzlies
Conley is the embodiment of just how difficult it is for a point guard to earn an All-Star nomination in this era. While his resume may be lacking some recognition, aside from an appearance on the All-NBA Defensive Second team, Conley has been one of the most consistent performers in fantasy basketball. The steal figures Conley usually produces may have slipped a bit, but his improved 3-point shooting, as he knocked down 38.6 percent of his attempts, keeps him among the top options at the position.
7. Kyle Lowry– Toronto Raptors
Even though he regressed in a majority of statistical categories from his breakout campaign two years ago, Lowry still managed to secure his first All-Star selection. Lowry’s numbers in scoring, field goal percentage, 3-point shooting, assists and minutes all declined, but he remains a valuable fantasy point guard. For the Raptors to continue their climb in the Eastern Conference, Lowry needs to play at a similar level as he did during the 2013-14 season.
6. John Wall– Washington Wizards
The figures among all point guards are impressive, as Wall ranked second in assists per game (10), sixth in rebounding (4.6), sixth in total steals (138) and eighth in scoring (17.6 points per game). The lofty totals will likely continue, as Wall is almost guaranteed to log consistent minutes, as he has averaged 36 minutes per game since entering the league, the ninth highest average among all active players.
5. Damian Lillard– Portland Trail Blazers
It’s hard to imagine a player that attempted 1,360 shots will have even more of a green light next season. Portland relied heavily on Lillard last season, as he played the fourth most minutes (2,925), attempted the fourth most shots (1,360) and his 196 conversions from 3-point range ranked as the second most in the NBA. The excess number of shots may further decrease his efficiency from the field, but the sheer volume he will produce will be valuable in fantasy basketball.
4. Kyrie Irving– Cleveland Cavaliers
Just three months after fracturing his kneecap during the opening game of the NBA Finals, Irving is back on the court for the Cavaliers at their training camp. Even though he is in a limited capacity, the upside of Irving makes him a late first round pick. Irving’s 57-point effort was the highest scoring performance last season and his 55 point effort against the Trail Blazers was the second most anyone totaled.
3. Chris Paul– Los Angeles Clippers
One out of every seven passes from Paul led to an assist last season. His amazing ability to set up teammates for easy looks at the basket not only generated 23.8 points per game for the Clippers, the most any single player produced, but also led to Paul’s fourth career assist crown. Only Bob Cousy, Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson, Jason Kidd and Steve Nash have ever led the NBA in assists per game five times during their career.
2. Russell Westbrook– Oklahoma City Thunder
Nothing was able to slow down Westbrook, not even a dented face. In 16.4 percent of his appearance, Westbrook managed a triple-double and posted a double-double in 46.2 percent of his games played. The 6-foot-3 guard won his first career scoring crown last season, posting 28.1 point per game, but the return of Kevin Durant — a four-time scoring champion — will likely take away some of Westbrook’s scoring numbers next year.
1. Stephen Curry– Golden State Warriors
The remarkable efficiency of Curry has propelled him to the top back court prospect in all of fantasy basketball. Curry broke his own single season 3-point record, connecting 286 times from beyond the arc last season. Even though he launched 646 shots from 3-point range, Curry still shot 48.7 percent — the highest among all point guards last season — and led all players in free throw percentage (91.4 percent) and total steals (163).