This premise got hijacked slightly with my decision to start posting tips, a great move in hindsight, thanks to my superb NFL season, but less of a journalistic adventure, more a fun way to pass the time and hopefully make you slightly richer along the way. With the NFL season gone, it’s time to get serious on the NBA. Kinda. What follows is in-depth knowledge, spiteful grudges, and lots and lots of words. Only, in From The Carpark tradition, I’m going to go to my tried and true rankings – ranking the generals who run the show in the association. We’re going thirty deep, split into two posts, the top thirty point guards in the NBA. Injured players are included, as leaving the opinion-dividing Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo would just be a cop-out. Let’s get this show on the road.
Because some franchises are fortunate enough to have two high calibre point guards, some starters couldn’t crack the top thirty. Apologies to Isaiah Thomas, Mario Chalmers, Nate Robinson and the Jamaal Tinsley/Mo Williams bullfighter-like combo in Utah, you came up short – as did you Jason Kidd and Luke Ridnour.
Did you know – Ramon Sessions averages more points than Jameer Nelson, Raymond Felton, John Wall, Kyle Lowry and Steve Nash. I sure didn’t. But I guess the Bobcats are terrible, and definitely have to be the shocker in managing to get two point guards in the top 30. People may forget, but Sessions used to be a dynamic back-up in Milwaukee and Cleveland, before he got tossed into the Lakers pressure-cooker (currently devouring Steve Nash and Dwight Howard) and was forced to play alongside the anti-point guard Kobe Bryant. It’s laughable how bad the Lakers were that the Bobcats’ sixth man was a Laker starter last season.
However, Sessions is included partly due to the complete atrocity that is the Bobcat frontcourt, meaning he can shoot whatever shot he likes, especially when coming in with the bench unit. His shooting percentages are below-par, but he rebounds well per minute for his position, and drops four assists per game.
I just had to include him for my obligatory barb at the Lakers. Onto the top 30!
30: Eric Bledsoe
One of the freakiest athletes in the league and possibly the point guard involved in the most trade rumours, Bledsoe will definitely be higher if I attempt a similar list next season. Being mentored by Chris Paul has done wonders for his game, and while a recent stretch proved he wasn’t quite the top-20 commodity many were suggesting, the lightning-quick dunk contest participant will be getting quite a hefty contract come free agency. While most people are aware of his abilities as basically a younger, taller, more consistent Nate Rob, his three-point percentage really surprised me, shooting at a terrific 43% clip. Keep that up and we are probably seeing him getting 35 minutes a game on a new team sometime soon.
29: Andre Miller
Or, as Grantland’s Zach Lowe aptly puts it: Professor Andre Miller, PHD: Basketball. The best lob thrower in the league, Miller is getting old, but still gets in done off the bench, averaging six dimes a game. Although his defence is stagnant (common for most point guards), and his three point shooting as awful as ever, he remains one of the league’s best passers and is a perfect fit for the league’s most high-flying offence. How he scored 50 points in a game back in the day is a mystery to me, but old man Miller could still throw lobs in the rest home, and I love him for it.
28: Ricky Rubio
I sense you are confused to see Rubio so low on this list, right? One of the best, flashiest passers in the game, a player who makes the Timberwolves infinitely more exciting to watch, and supposedly key to the Timberwolves’ now invisible playoff chances. The truth is, if we were doing this list on numbers, and you’ll find out soon enough that this is not the case, Rubio probably wouldn’t even crack the top 45. Here’s the ugly truth: eight points per game, six assists, shooting absolutely awful percentages (34% from the field, 13% from three). Sure, he has had a minutes limitation, plays above-average defence and has had to come back from injury, but this is basically what he did last year as well. So while you’ll see him on all the highlight reels, in reality, he’s the fourth best player on the Timberwolves at the moment, and my 28th ranked point guard. In a season or two? He’ll be much improved.
27: Darren Collison
Darren Collison is the epitome of “okay”. Given a starting point guard’s role in Dallas (after being dumped in Indiana), Collison averages an okay 13 points per game, an okay five and half assists per game and plays okay defence. With the Mavs trying out everyone in an attempt to find someone better, including two near-fourty year olds in Derek Fisher and Mike James, Collison could be one of those guys who ends up playing for seven or so teams during his NBA career. On the plus side, he’s a good shooter (49/39/90) and loves playing the Thunder. So yeah, it’ll be fun watching him earn a ring on the Heat next season.
26: Jameer Nelson
If Darren Collison is the epitome of “okay”, then Jameer Nelson has to be cast as “forgotten”. Once a high-volume scorer, Nelson has struggled with injuries on this mess of a Magic team, and as a result is shooting 39% from the field, by far the worst of his career. With JJ Redick shoved out the door on trade deadline day, Nelson might see more opportunity to take over like he did a few years ago, but this former All-Star will be wanting to get out of this horrid Magic situation. What pushes him into 26th spot on this list however is his solid passing, with 7.4 assists per game putting him eighth in the league despite being forced to play with a bunch of ragtags. Expect more from him next season.
25: George Hill
A virtual unknown out of college, Hill is another Spur product who has far exceeded expectations from draft day. An above-average defender, Hill received a slightly-excessive contract handed to him by Indiana, but has performed decently in his time there, being roughly league-average in all of his statistical categories while rebounding exceptionally well for a point guard. With the Pacers looking like a big contender come playoff time, Hill’s contract could pay itself if he comes up big defensively on some of the big-name Eastern Conference guards.
24: Kemba Walker
I'm not his biggest fan, but Kemba Walker has been the one shining light during this dark Bobcats season. Hugely improved on his rookie season, Walker is averaging 17 a game while also getting his teammates involved, with five and a half assists. The biggest improvement in his game has come via his shooting, going from 37% on 12 shots per game last season to now shooting a respectable 43% on 15 shots. His deep shooting has also improved, going from 30% to 35%. For that, Kemba gets respect from me, and the 24th spot on this ranking.
23: Jeremy Lin
Yep, Linsanity isn’t so Linsane anymore. While he’s not the terrible player some thought he would be, he’s not the superstar every Asian fan thinks he is either. As you should well know, he can get hot, really hot, but when looking at the full picture, his shooting stats are below-average, and his defence is always risky, jumping the passing lane for steals and continually losing his man. Still, he can pass – six assists a game, and although New York probably made the right decision in not matching Houston’s offer sheet, the amount of Asian money coming into Houston must be massive. One thing is for sure, Lin will never be at the end of the bench and sleeping on a couch for the rest of his life.
22: Goran Dragic
The next man up is the player Lin replaced in Houston. Poor Goran has lost some of the “Nash Replacement” momentum this season, and part of it isn’t his fault as he’s stuck on an absolutely atrocious Suns team with very few offensive options. Unfortunately for the Slovenian, he isn’t even performing that well individually after a superb run with the Rockets, shooting 44% from the field and 31% from deep, which perhaps showcases his struggles in being forced to carry this team. A good basket attacker, Dragic isn’t shooting well from the line either, but his seven dimes per game show that he’s still a competent starter in the NBA, and sadly - possibly the Suns best player.
21: Raymond Felton
There are two reasons why Felton has been overrated by NBA fans this season. Firstly, he’s in much better shape than last season’s horror show in Portland, meaning the good things that he’s done are much more pleasant for Knicks fans. Secondly, the Knicks point guard woes were well-documented last season, until Linsanity came along, and Felton is a huge upgrade over the Baron Davis/Mike Bibby combo. So while those factors are true, Felton is shooting a Jameer Nelson-like 40% from the floor, and a strangely decent 36% from three. 6.3 assists per game is handy, and he would accumulate a lot more if it wasn’t for Iso-Melo.
Can the Knicks win the title with Ray Felton as their second option on offence? Probably not. But it’s nice to see him back contributing.
20: Jarrett Jack
Your 2012-2013 Sixth Man of the Year. If Jack doesn’t get this award, I will be angry and stunned. Let’s just look at his resume for the award.
- Averages 13 a game off the bench, being the first player to put up 30 points and 10 assists off the bench since Magic Johnson.
- Shoots a terrific 48% from the field and an even more terrific 41% from three.
- Pulls down three ballboards a game along with six dimes, plays crunch-time minutes and is the go-to man when the game gets close.
- Is incredibly clutch, and one of the best mid-range games in the league.
- Isn’t a complete ball-hog and volume shooter like JR Smith or Jamal Crawford.
Expect a 12,000 word angst-filled post when Jamal Crawford beats him out for the title.
19: Brandon Jennings
You don’t know how tempted I was to put Jack (and many others) ahead of Jennings. A petulant gunner, Jennings is self-centred and delusional, believing he is much better than the likes of Ty Lawson and Stephen Curry, while also claiming he would be an All-Star if not in Milwaukee.
If you’ve been reading the blog from the beginning, you probably know that I hate inefficient ball-hogs more than anyone, and Jennings fits right into that category. Casual NBA fans see some of the shots he hits and look at his points per game (19) and think he’s superb, without really noticing the shots he misses (60% of them), his god-awful defence, and the way he shoots his team out of many winnable games alongside Monta Ellis in one of the most overrated backcourts of all time.
Put simply, there’s hundreds of basketball players out there who could score 19 points per game if they shot 17 times a game like Jennings. Unfortunately, I reluctantly admit Jennings a decent creator when he wants to be, getting six assists per game, and is a competent three-point shooter. All-Star material? He’s not even close.
18: Jose Calderon
Damn straight Jose Calderon is a better point guard than Brandon Jennings! Jose has become underrated of late, with the Raptors ditching him due to his hefty contract, but he is one of the most efficient offensive players, let alone point guards, in the game. The strangest member of the 50/40/90 club, Calderon is threatening that elite status again, shooting a remarkable 48/45/90 despite being on teams without a big scorer who can take attention away from him. That also hasn’t stopped him from averaging 7.3 assists per game (remember he was a back-up for half the year), and only Rajon Rondo has more triple-doubles than him. Holder of the best free-throw shooting season ever, he’s going to be highly sought-after in free agency this offseason.
17: Kyle Lowry
Lowry bounced up and down on original drafts of this list before I decided to place him here, as he’s a bit of an enigma. Ditched from Houston after playing high-level ball, it’s clear that he’s not exactly a coach’s favourite, but he’s a three-point threat who rebounds superbly and passes well too. In the end, I had to agree with Dwyane Casey, and place him slightly ahead of my man Calderon, as Lowry beat him out for the starter’s role. A player capable of taking over quarters, I still see untapped potential, if Lowry can stop taking some low-percentage shots then he could be a real force in this league.
16: Jeff Teague
Now known as “The Guy Who Missed The Lay-Up in the Skills Challenge”, Teague is one of the more underrated players in the league, at least by people who love his game (probably just me). With Joe Johnson being shipped out of Atlanta and Lou Williams getting injured, Teague has been forced to take on a bigger scoring role, and has performed pretty admirably, shooting good percentages and upping his assist numbers to seven a game. A decent defensive guard as well, Teague is only going to get better, and could be a bargain buy when he becomes a free agent.
15: Steve Nash
I originally was sad to find myself putting one of the greats of the game at 15th on this list. Then I reminded myself he plays for the Lakers, and was completely fine with it.
In all honesty, playing for the Lakers is a definite reason for why Steve finds himself in this lowly position. With Kobe being such a massive ball hog, Steve continually finds himself giving Kobe the ball as he crosses halfcourt, then retreating to the corner and shooting it when he gets open. Nice way to utilise one of the best passers of all time, Mike D’Antoni. Nash’s numbers, along with his defence (at least he tries, unlike several Lakers…) are very average, but he’s still one of the best shooters in the game (52/42/92) and stills pulls out some sublime passes, it’s just his role on the team is very limited – either give the ball to Kobe, or throw it into Dwight.
Unfortunately, it seems like Steve is washed up, and if not, the Lakers are quickly making him become washed up. Let’s hope he can see out his two remains years in a place that respects his talents.
So, that's 30-15 done in under 3,000 words, hopefully it's not too rambly, come back in a few days time for the final fourteen elite point guards who make the league so entertaining.