Many claim the point guard position is the toughest to learn on any level of play, but the general feeling by most NBA analysts is that it takes a point guard longer to adjust to life as a professional athlete.
There are a handful who are given the keys to the franchise as early as their rookie season, and in some cases, are asked to both run the offense and take on a second role as his team’s primary scoring option.
If the young guard is less fortunate, he’ll also find himself defending the best backcourt opponents, maximizing the pressure and stress earned by being one of the top college players in the nation.
The 2009-10 NBA season is filled with talented guards worthy of a top 10 mention, but only half can be considered for the Fab Five.
1. Deron Williams, Utah Jazz (18.4 PPG on .473 FG, 4.1 RPG, 10.1 APG)
Williams has been the catalyst on a team that has gone 21-5 since starting the season 19-17.
Going from a bubble playoff team in the rugged Western Conference to a top four seed, the Jazz now look to snag home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, and possibly further beyond that.
While forward Carlos Boozer has played a significant role as well, Williams executes plays as good, if not better, than every point guard in the league. There’s no doubt he has a hand in Boozer’s impressive offensive play, not to mention defending his assignment each night, giving his frontcourt teammates reason to stay put in the paint.
2. Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets (20.4 PPG on .504 FG, 4.6 RPG, 11.2 APG)
You can’t argue against Paul’s numbers. Statistically, he is better than Williams.
However, with the recent injuries and the Hornets’ struggles with him in the starting five (21-17, on pace for a 45-win season), Paul gently slides to the second spot in the ranking.
CP3 may have just as much help as Williams does in Utah, and rookie guard Darren Collison is filling the stat sheet with surprising numbers in the points and assists columns.
The Hornets are still having problems without Paul, though, and the numbers speak for themselves: 11-15 without the franchise superstar, fighting for the eighth seed in the West.
Should I use a coin flip to determine the top point guard?
It crossed my mind.
3. Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns (17.0 PPG on .506 FG, 3.3 RPG, 11.2 APG)
During the first month of the season, many believed that Nash would be a top candidate for the MVP award, and rightfully so.
The Suns tore through the league, playing 11 of their first 17 on the road and going 14-3 in the process. Phoenix then took a spill, dropping out of the playoffs after losing 18 of the following 30 games.
Playing through his ongoing back problems, Nash and a rejuvenated Amare Stoudemire, put together two win streaks of five games a piece, and the Suns are now holding onto a comfortable fifth seed in the playoffs.
If Nash wasn’t such a bad defensive player, he would easily top the point guard ranks every season.
4. Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics (14.1 PPG on .515 FG, 4.5 RPG, 9.9 APG)
It may not be the popular decision, but let’s take a look at the Boston Celtics for a moment: they are currently the sixth best team in the NBA record-wise, and with old age and injuries taking a toll on Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Rasheed Wallace, and even Paul Pierce, it’s Rondo who has proven to be the most consistent and highly-effective player in Boston.
Offensively, he is getting the job done, and there’s no question he’s a good defensive player, averaging 2.5 steals per game and containing his opponent most of the time.
His first All-Star appearance was well-deserved, and among the three future Hall of Fame teammates he shares the ball with, one can debate that he has shined the brightest.
5. Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls (20.6 PPG on .486 FG, 3.7 RPG, 5.7 APG)
Seeing Rose round out the top five may come as a surprise to many. The fact is, Rose has been more consistent, and more dominant, than both Tony Parker and Chauncey Billups this season.
The Chicago Bulls were steamrolling top teams on the road at one point in January, including the Celtics, Hornets, Suns, Spurs, Rockets, and Thunder. The Chicago native shot below .500 in just one of those six road wins that month.
Despite losing a solid teammate and stellar defensive player in Joakim Noah, and battling a knee injury, Rose has shot .529 in his last 10 games, including a 34-point, eight-assist performance against a surging Dallas Mavericks team on Saturday.
Billups’ inconsistent play sticks him behind Rose, while Parker seems to be relying on Tim Duncan more than Rose does on any of his teammates.
That Other Five (in no particular order):
Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs (16.5 PPG on .491 FG, 2.4 RPG, 5.7 APG)
Chauncey Billups, Denver Nuggets (20.0 PPG on .436 FG, 3.1 RPG, 5.9 APG)
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder (16.7 PPG on .417 FG, 5.1 RPG, 7.9 APG)
Jason Kidd, Dallas Mavericks (10.0 PPG on .427 FG, 5.5 RPG, 9.4 APG)
Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors (16.0 PPG on .455 FG, 4.2 RPG, 5.4 APG)
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