The NBA’s Top Point Guards
6th August, 2006 - 11:10 pm
By Aaron Bronsteter
A basketball team without a point guard is like an airplane without a pilot. Someone needs to get the plane up in the air, just like someone needs to lead the break up the court. While the world’s best airplane pilots are anyone’s guess, we have statistics, highlight reels and All-NBA Teams to prove who the best point guards are in the NBA.
10) Sam Cassell – Los Angeles Clippers
Players get older, they start to break down and they become a shell of their former self at around age 35, but don’t tell Sam Cassell that, because at almost 37 years of age, his 17.2 points-per-game and 6.3 assists-per-game will beg to differ.
Cassell did what no other point guard had done in 30 years; pilot the Clippers beyond the first round of the playoffs. Trading Marko Jaric for Cassell may be one of the most lopsided trades in a very long time.
The Clippers have so much faith in their elder statesman that they re-signed him for an additional two years in hopes that the Clippers can stay out of the NBA Lottery.
Choosing between Cassell and Baron Davis was a tough decision, but if we’re talking about who I would want on my team right now, with health and attitude questions in the mix, I’d take Cassell for this coming year.
9) Kirk Hinrich – Chicago Bulls
Statistically, Kirk Hinrich does not rank above Cassell, but unfortunately, the intangibles that Hinrich brings to his team cannot be measured numerically.
Hinrich is a force on both ends of the floor and averaged 6.4 assists-per-game despite often manning the shooting guard spot when playing alongside Chris Duhon. Bulls coach Scott Skiles once called Hinrich the team’s best player and don’t think that he didn’t mean it.
The Bulls had a great offseason by landing Ben Wallace in free agency and drafting Tyrus Thomas and Swiss stud Thabo Sefolosha. But don’t for a second think that this team’s success is not contingent on the play of Hinrich, because you will only be fooling yourself.
8) Mike Bibby – Sacramento Kings
The Kings had a reformation year in 2005-2006, but someone forgot to tell Mike Bibby who averaged a career high 21.1 points-per-game; the first time that he had broken the 20 point barrier.
With the unpredictability of Ron Artest, this team will look to Bibby for leadership and he will be expected to provide it. With Peja Stojakovic and Chris Webber being sent off, it is clear that Kings management is looking to Bibby as its franchise player.
Even with the team being restructured, they were still able to make the playoffs and challenge the Spurs, but this team will only go as far as Bibby takes them.
7) Jason Kidd – New Jersey Nets
Who would have ever thought that they would see Jason Kidd as number seven on a list of the league’s top point guards? But let’s face the facts, Kidd has slowed down at age 33. But even with his slowing down, Kidd is still a dynamic player who hooks his players up whenever he has the opportunity and is a true leader on the floor.
The next two years will define how Kidd is remembered, as he has a stellar supporting cast consisting of Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson in the league’s most superstar-laden backcourt.
With nine triple doubles this past season, Kidd remains the same threat that he always has. But after missing his first all-star game in a long while, Kidd’s career is showing signs of definite wear and tear.
6) Chris Paul – New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets
In his first NBA season, Chris Paul proved that he was the real deal after he fell to fourth pick in the NBA Draft and was selected one pick behind a point guard that will aspire to one day be as good as Paul was in his rookie season.
If Paul keeps it up, there is no doubt that he will be an all-star next year. In fact, there’s no way that he should have been left off of the team this past year after single-handedly making the rebuilding Hornets a consistent playoff threat in the stacked Western Conference all season long.
With the additions of Peja Stojakovic and Tyson Chandler, Paul will have a lot more to work with in the coming season, but there is absolutely no doubt that Paul has the potential to be the league’s best point guard in a few years from now.
5) Gilbert Arenas – Washington Wizards
At the rate that Gilbert Arenas improves year after year, he’s bound to burst into flames in a few years. This past year, Arenas stepped up his scoring game from 25.5 points-per-game, his previous career best, to 29.3 points-per-game.
While Arenas was unable to lead the Wizards past LeBron and the Cavaliers in the playoffs, he showed why he was All-NBA Third Team calibre with his ability to score on absolutely anybody. Arenas also showed that he was the real deal in the post-season, averaging 34 points-per-game during the team’s series with the Cavs.
All of this comes from a player who was drafted in the second round of the NBA draft.
4) Tony Parker – San Antonio Spurs
When you look at field goal percentage, one would expect that big men have a huge advantage over guards and that is usually the case. This year’s top-two players in terms of field goal percentage are Shaquille O’Neal and Eddy Curry, one of whom is over 300 pounds and the other is close. But who is the player with the third highest field goal percentage? The answer is Tony Parker. In fact, for much of the season, Parker lead the league in points in the paint, a statistic usually reserved for big centers to show that they can dominate inside.
On the topic of field goal percentage, if you only look at point guards, the only two names who register at above fifty per cent from the field: Parker (54.8%) and Nash (51.2%). If you exclude Nash from this list (which would be ludicrous), Parker’s percentage is more than ten per cent higher than any other point guard.
Parker’s ability to score baskets in the paint show how unique he is compared to any other point guard in NBA history. At 6’2” and 177 pounds, Parker weaves his way through opposing defenders like a NASCAR driver would be able to weave an economy vehicle through pylons. If that’s not enough to convince you that Parker is a top-5 point guard, he also managed to lead his team to the best record in a stacked Western Conference.
3) Allen Iverson – Philadelphia 76ers
Every year people say that Iverson will slow down and decline and every year he proves them wrong. This past season was no exception as Iverson posted averages of 33 points-per-game (second highest in the NBA) paired with 7.4 assists-per-game.
Despite rumors of being dealt in the offseason, Iverson is still the franchise player for the 76ers and general manager Billy King has declared “The Answer” to be off the market.
The 76ers failed to make the playoffs this past year and with few offseason moves, the same fate appears to await them once again unless King can muster some sort of miracle that actually puts quality players around Iverson. Either way, Iverson continues to remain in his prime, entering the 2006-2007 season at age 31 with no signs of slowing down.
2) Chauncey Billups – Detroit Pistons
Chauncey Billups or “Mr. Big Shot” had a breakout season at age 29 during his tenth NBA season. Billups shattered his previous points-per-game record with 18.5 points-per-game (previously 16.9 ppg) and 8.6 assists-per-game (previously 5.8 apg).
Billups was an early contender for the MVP award as he lead the Pistons to their best record in franchise history and head-to-head with Steve Nash statistically, he comes very close.
For Billups to be able to improve his statistics to such an extent, while keeping the rest of his team’s on par is a great feat for any point guard to accomplish.
1) Steve Nash – Phoenix Suns
Overrated or simply underappreciated? For the past two years, sceptics have denied Steve Nash of MVP legitimacy, saying that there are better choices out there. After 2004-2005, few could muster superior candidates for the award, but with LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki, Billups and Arenas having breakout years in 2005-2006, Nash’s back-to-back win was highly contentious.
But here is some food for thought: career highs in points-per-game, field goal and free throw percentage, minutes-per-game and rebounds-per-game and only eight fewer wins than the previous year when they had a healthy Amare Stoudemire for 80 games rather than three. Oh and one more thing, Nash is 32 years of age.
The voters have spoken and while many can contend whether or not Nash is the best player in the league, I doubt that anyone in their right mind will argue that he is not currently the league’s finest point guard.
Just missed the cut: Baron Davis (Golden State Warriors ), Jason Terry (Dallas Mavericks ), Stephon Marbury (New York Knicks )
Names for the future: Raymond Felton (Charlotte Bobcats ), T.J. Ford (Toronto Raptors ), Luke Ridnour (Seattle Sonics), Randy Foye (Minnesota Timberwolves )
I thought it would be interesting to compare what he thinks with the polls Hicks is running here on the Digest.
Hicks Poll.........................Aaron Bronsteter
#1 Steve Nash.................Steve Nash
#2 Allen Iverson...............Chauncey Billups
#3 Gilbert Arenas.............Allen Iverson
#4 Chris Paul..................Tony Parker
#5 Chauncey Billups.........Gilbert Arenas
#6 Jason Kidd.................Chris Paul
#7 Tony Parker...............Jason Kidd
#8 Kirk Hinrich................Mike Bibby
#9 Jason Terry................Kirk Hinrich
#10 Mike Bibby...............Sam Cassell
#11 Sam Cassell
#12 Baron Davis
#13 Andre Miller
#14 Stephon Marbury
#15 Steve Francis
#16 Mike James
#17 Jamaal Tinsley
I just got the idea after looking at the two lists that you can take the Digest list and most hard core fans will agree with where a player is on the list within 5 places. Of course there would be some bias in our Digest list but if you took a list from each teams best forum and added them together I think it would be accurate.