Wed Aug 18 10:15am EDT
As summer winds down and the day-to-day "news" falls flat, BDL will be ranking each NBA position, 1-through-30. Or, more accurately, 30-through-1. Here's an explanation.
In this post, we take on the point guards, 10-through-1. Click the jump for the run.
A jump from 21st to 10th shouldn't really give anyone room for pause. It has less to do with how improved Baron was in 2009-10 (though he was) than how ruddy awful he was in 2008-09. Last season, the man's defense came and went, his shot selection from behind the arc (3.9 attempts per game while shooting just 27.7 percent) was terrible, and he still seemed to coast when the Clippers needed him most. Still, 15.3 points and eight assists and why did I rank him this high, again? Blake Griffin's(notes) in town, Baron, let's get this together.
This ranking is purely on the hopes that Parker will have a bounce-back year after a terrible 2009-10. Because if he plays the same this season as he did the last? Then there's no real difference between him and Aaron Brooks(notes), save for the part about Aaron Brooks being slightly better. Tony turned 28 last May and dealt with injuries last season, but man was 2009-10 a bad turn for him. Parker has top-five potential on this list, but he has quite a bit of work to do.
The hits keep coming with the guys we think (or hope?) will find a way to stop the bleeding. Harris was alternately injured and unenthused last season, playing for a team that threatened to earn the worst record in the history of the NBA. He didn't cut or drive hard, his defense was poor and it was obvious he was just playing out the string. This season, with improved depth and more hands to pass to, Harris has the chance to get it right if he changes his attitude.
I hesitated putting him this high for a good reason -- Russell is still figuring this game out, and he shot the Thunder out of some games last season. But his defense keeps him in the mix, consistently. Westbrook can defend and contribute in other areas (rebounding, even screen setting) that a litany of other point man just cannot. He averaged 16 points, eight assists and five rebounds last season, and the guy doesn't even turn 22 until mid-November.
There's a real chance that Chauncey could fall off the face of the earth this season; he turns 34 next month and is on a team that could be in flux. Billups actually posted a career high in points per game last season (19.5), and it's not as if he uses his athleticism to get where he's going. But 34 (for point guards, especially) is 34. This is an optimistic placement, but I believe it also to be an appropriate one.
I take in quite a bit of noise for Bulls fans for pointing out Rose's bad defense, his inability to consistently get to the line and his so-so passing. But I also saw him hit a 3-pointer a few days ago -- it had arc, rotation, follow-through; the whole schmear -- and I can't help but bump the guy up. Especially with a screening-and-finishing partner in Carlos Boozer(notes) waltzing into town.
Without Amar'e Stoudemire(notes) in town, Nash could fall, hard. Sure, he won a pretty dodgy (to put it nicely) MVP in 2005-06 with Stoudemire out for almost the entire season, but that was a half-decade ago, and Steve will turn 37 before the All-Star break. Still, it's Steve Nash. The guy was playing nearly as good a brand of basketball last season as we've ever seen from him, and while the Suns might be a bit low on off-pass finishers ... it's Steve Nash.
A big jump for Rajon, who could be incredibly overrated or playing the role of the point guard at a level that my tiny brain just can't understand. I'll split the difference, and hand him the top-five spot. Some Celtics fans were a little upset at the way Rondo let a good group of point men fly past him last season, but that's the way the position works in this era, with no hand checking to help stop these flyweights. Rondo is just 24, he nearly cracked double-figure assists last season, and he led the league in steals as well.
Deron had the most consistently brilliant season of any point man last season, though in actuality his scoring average dropped a bit and his turnover rate shot up compared to 2008-09. He still averaged 18.7 points and 10.5 assists with an improved rebound mark (four per game). The 26-year-old will probably take on an increased load this season with Carlos Boozer gone and Al Jefferson(notes) taking a little while to acclimate himself to the Jazz system.
Paul ran through a frustrating 2009-10, losing significant time to injury and a head coach he liked (Byron Scott) to the firing line. He then topped missing out on the playoffs with an embarrassing trade-demand-that-he-swears-really-wasn't in the offseason. Healthy in 2010-11, with a new coach (Monty Williams) and a new finishing partner on the break in Trevor Ariza(notes), one can only hope that Paul can work his way out of this funk and lead the Hornets back to the playoffs.
Even if New Orleans makes another lottery appearance, it hardly matters. Paul is the cream of this crop.