Position Primer: Point Guard

Position Primers: PG | SG | SF | FC

They’ll go fast and they’ll go early, and if you wait too long to stake your claim on an elite point guard then there’s a good chance you’ll come to regret it later. As many as 15 point guards will come off the board by the end of Round 4, and from there the drop-off in talent is considerable. When planning out your draft just keep in mind that you’ll more than likely end up reaching for one at some point, and stretching a bit for Jrue Holiday or Ty Lawson in the fourth round is far more preferable than being cornered into Brandon Jennings or Darren Collison in the eighth.

Those in head-to-head leagues might want to approach this situation differently. With almost every manager forced to reach early and often or risk losing out on point guard, the position gets vastly overvalued in the process. This makes punting assists (and/or steals) an optimal strategy, one that doesn’t force you to choose between overall value and positional scarcity. As managers look to satisfy their positional needs, a lot of value is left on the board over the course of the draft, and this approach gives you the added flexibility to take full advantage and capitalize on it.

By way of Basketball Monster, here’s a projection of the value distribution for the top 30 point guards this season:

Position averages, top 25 point guards in year-end Yahoo! rank
10-11 - 45% FG, 84% FT, 1.1 3PM, 15.9 PTS, 3.6 REB, 7.0 AST, 2.6 TO, 1.4 STL, 0.3 BLK
09-10 - 45% FG, 81% FT, 1.3 3PM, 16.4 PTS, 3.6 REB, 6.3 AST, 2.5 TO, 1.3 STL, 0.3 BLK

The rankings below are for nine-category roto leagues. “ADP” numbers are as of 12/19 and “10-11” denotes a player’s year-end rank from the 2010-11 season

Tier 1 10-11 ADP NOTES
Chris Paul 2 3.7 The setup in Lob City with Griffin/Jordan doesn't get much better
Dwyane Wade 14 6.1 Could be argued over CP3; was flat out dominant down the stretch
Derrick Rose 6 5.3 Made major strides across the board, but is 86% FT sustainable?
Stephen Curry 17 10.9 Top-10 in first two seasons; limitless range, potential; ankle a concern
Deron Williams 40 14.5 Stint with Besiktas put to bed concerns about lingering wrist injury
Tier 2 10-11 ADP NOTES
Russell Westbrook 19 12.8 Secures spot in top -10 if he adds a three-point shot; TO's still an issue
Monta Ellis 13 16.8 GS recklessly played him 3200+ minutes; how much more can he take?
Tier 3 10-11 ADP NOTES
Jrue Holiday 41 45.3 Have yet to see what he's fully capable of; true breakout on horizon
Steve Nash 43 32.7 Condensed schedule increases risk of fatigue, injury; great sell-high
John Wall 109 35.0 Knee tendinitis only thing standing in way to Westbrook-sized jump
Ty Lawson 83 67.7 Andre Miller looms, but make no mistake: this is Lawson's team
Kyle Lowry 49 46.4 Cautiously buying, but expect some regression; ideal at a bargain
Rajon Rondo 77 25.2 Two-category specialist; has finished in top-50 once in last five yrs
Tier 4 10-11 ADP NOTES
Chauncey Billups 30 43.2 CP3 made Belinelli appear competent; imagine what he'll do now
Tyreke Evans 165 54.4 Plantar fasciitis sapped explosiveness, ability to finish in basket area
Mike Conley 48 59.2 Finally put it all together last yr; 1.8 steals are key to sustaining value
Tier 5 10-11 ADP NOTES
Raymond Felton 45 50.5 Cupcake king expected to lead revamped, uptempo Blazers offense
Jason Kidd 31 62.1 38 and still going strong; just don't expect much by way of scoring
Kyrie Irving N/A 97.2 Will get plenty of run with Baron amnestied, more than up to the task
Tony Parker 57 71.6 Burden shifts to Spurs backcourt to carry load as Duncan declines
Jeff Teague 234 137.1 Well worth the gamble to see if he can build on impressive playoff run
Tier 6 10-11 ADP NOTES
Rodney Stuckey 92 104.6 Had his easily most efficient year yet; still room for growth at 25
Jason Terry 56 72.5 Too much of everything, not enough of one thing; clear lack of upside
Tier 7 10-11 ADP NOTES
Toney Douglas 75 116.5 Addition of Baron Davis not ideal, but will get plenty of run regardless
Jarrett Jack 196 98.2 Full-time starter now, but 283rd in per-minute value; could be FG% killer
Darren Collison 90 89.3 Not buying the post-hype; iffy range, poor court vision still problematic
Tier 8 10-11 ADP NOTES
Jameer Nelson 91 108.6 Production has leveled off, but a solid PG3; has looked great in camp
Devin Harris 120 97.9 Injury-prone; spike in assist rate promising, already draws plenty of fouls
George Hill 88 135.3 Will have to create his own offense in Indiana now - is he up to the task?
Brandon Jennings 112 74.8 63rd in assist ratio (PG's), sub-35% jump-shooter, last in FG% at basket
Andre Miller 58 130.2 Minutes will be harder to come by now in bench role behind Lawson
Jose Calderon 89 103.4 Dealing with leg injuries, has to fend off Bayless; one-trick pony (dimes)
Ben Gordon 145 132.5 Departure of Rip opens up opportunity; has clearly lost a step though

Ricky Rubio, Kemba Walker, Jerryd Bayless, Rodrigue Beaubois, Daniel Gibson, Mo Williams

Beno Udrih, Jamal Crawford, Louis Williams, Ramon Sessions, Jimmer Fredette, Jordan Crawford, Tracy McGrady

Players to Target

Jrue Holiday – Expectations were heightened after he closed out his rookie year on such a high note, and he certainly didn’t disappoint in his first year as a full-time starter. There was plenty to be optimistic about from his age-20 season – he shot 48 percent in isolation situations and cut his turnover rate by five percent – but at the same time, there remains plenty for him to improve upon. Take that as a positive sign and an indicator of how high a ceiling he actually possesses. Next on the docket: convert those long twos into threes and find a way to get to the line more often.

Ty Lawson – Denver barely missed a beat on offense after sending Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups to New York in a deadline deal, transitioning from a isolation-heavy approach to a more balanced attack that had Lawson’s name written all over it. He upped his assist rate by more than five percent over the final two months, and remained as hyper-efficient as ever with added volume. We got a glimpse of his potential with starter’s minutes after the All-Star break – top-30 value over the final 25 games – and with the starting job his to lose, all signs point to a full breakout.

John Wall – Perhaps the biggest gripe about Wall is that he turns the ball over too much, to which I say: good. Here’s a list of rookies who averaged 3.5 turnovers per game and played a minimum of 2,500 minutes. Wall finds himself in elite company there, and not because he’s reckless or haphazard. He’s merely being aggressive out there, and the fact that he isn’t afraid to make mistakes (and learn from them) is encouraging. Consider Wall played most of his rookie season at 65 percent due to knee tendinitis, and the thought of what he can do at close to 100 percent is frightening.

Players to Avoid

Raymond Felton – While some used the lockout as an opportunity to slim down, others, well, you get the idea. This rather gratuitous shot taken just over a month ago at the Rip City Classic will more or less fill you in on what Felton’s been up to over the offseason. Concerns about his figure are nothing new and usually little cause for concern, but with a shortened offseason, he won’t have the requisite time to play himself into shape. Tasked with running an offense that will make a concerted effort to get out and run, his conditioning could prove to be more problematic than usual.

Steve Nash – To be fair, this has very little to do with declining skill or ability. Nash was masterful as usual last season, leading the league in pure point rating and posting a 60-plus true shooting percentage for the seventh straight season. The concerns come with a condensed schedule that will see Phoenix play 22 back-to-backs, three games in four days 14 times, and four games in five days twice. The potential for fatigue and injury will be heightened, especially for this 37- year old guard whose performance fell off a cliff late in the season due to an accumulation of injuries.

Rajon Rondo – What’s concerning is how an off-hand comment had the potential to wreck his jump shot after the All-Star break – a stretch that saw him hit just 43 percent of his attempts and one three-pointer over the final 25 games. Or how he threw a bottle that shattered a video screen when his errors were being pointed out during a video session. He’s sensitive to criticism and known for being emotional, which can cause for some volatility in his production. How will he now respond to seeing his name constantly thrown around in trade rumors? Psychoanalyses aside, he’s devolved into a two-category specialist and major efficiency drag, and unless he manages to rediscover his jump shot, simply won’t cut it at his current ADP (25.2).

Upside Picks

Toney Douglas – With the bulk of their cap space committed to Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler, New York had little choice but turn to Douglas to man the point. While questionable off the dribble and as a distributor, he’ll fit just fine into the Knicks’ offensive scheme otherwise as a floor spacer and spot-up shooter who will free things up for Melo and Amar’e. It’s a role he’s familiar with and one he’s excelled at in the past, shooting 37 percent from beyond the arc and averaging 17.4 points per 40 minutes. The question is: can he do it consistently?

Kyrie Irving – If there’s a future star to be had in this draft class, Irving is it. His ability to finish with his left hand at the rim is second to none (72 percent rate), and his knack for drawing fouls almost at will (9.4 free throw attempts per 40 minutes) ensures a steady stream of easy points. More than 30 percent of Irving’s points at Duke came at the line, and his free-throw rate of 68 percent ranked third among drafted prospects. An ultra-efficient scorer in his own right (62- percent true shooting), he’ll have to carry much of the offensive burden on a Cavs team clearly in rebuild mode.

Jeff Teague – Consider him this year’s Jrue Holiday. If you watched the Bulls-Hawks series, you’ll get what all the preseason hype is about. He’ll finally get his crack at a full-time starting job with Mike Bibby gone and Kirk Hinrich sidelined for at least a month after undergoing shoulder surgery. Teague stymied an elite Bulls defensive unit with a collection of runners and floaters, but he’ll have to develop some sort of mid-range game to keep defenses honest and prevent them from sagging off to clog the paint, a la Rondo. He shot just 32 percent from beyond 15 feet last season, a mark that will need to improve for him to take that next step in his developmental progression.

Deep-League Flyer

Rodrigue Beaubois – The issue with Roddy has never been with his talent level. He possesses top-end scoring ability, and still managed to average 19 points per 40 minutes despite a precipitous drop-off in efficiency last season. The problem is that he has yet to move beyond these sporadic moments of brilliance and consistently put it all together over a full season. Patience is beginning to run thin within the Mavs organization, and you get the sense that this is a make or break season that will decide whether he’ll remain in the team’s long-term plans. He’s just one season removed from posting top-15 per-minute value, so he could pay off big dividends if given the opportunity.


Justin Phan on twitter @jphanned | Matt Buser on twitter @busersports | Roto Arcade hoops posts