Ball Don't Lie - NBA



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, 30-through-21. Click the jump for the run.

20. Jose Calderon(notes), Toronto Raptors (last year: ninth)

Calderon's defense, somehow, keeps getting worse and worse. And while I wouldn't call him the biggest reason behind Toronto's 30th-ranked defense last season, in a point guard-driven league, his lapses tilted the framework a bit. On offense, however, he remains a gem. Makes open shots, refuses to turn the ball over and hits the open man with the expert (if not especially daring) pass.

19. Mo Williams(notes), Cleveland Cavaliers (last year: 12th)

Along Calderon's lines, I just can't move forward with the idea of Mo Williams as a top-tier point guard until he at least attempts to move his feet defensively. Playing with a front court that included LeBron James(notes), Anderson Varejao(notes), Zydrunas Ilgauskas(notes) and Shaquille O'Neal(notes) may have helped mask (or even encourage) bad habits, but Mo has a lot of making up to do on that end. On offense he's a scorer and not a playmaker, but an efficient scorer to his credit.

18. Lou Williams, Philadelphia 76ers (last year: unranked)

Williams is in danger of eventually losing his starting slot to Jrue Holiday(notes), but this isn't some incumbent chump ready for a bench demotion. Williams can play, he turns 24 as the season starts and he's consistently getting better. Hardly a true point guard, but never enough of a hybrid backcourt runner that you'd feel uneasy with him manning the show.

17. John Wall(notes), Washington Wizards (last year: unranked)

It's all guesswork, at this point, isn't it? We've seen Wall's type before, and on some nights he'll look like the best point guard in the league. On other nights he'll look like a kid who should be suiting up against Mississippi State, and on others he'll look like exactly what he is: A young talent who makes up for the missteps with fine play, a sound contributor regardless of age.

16. Darren Collison(notes), Indiana Pacers (last year: unranked)

I'd usually hesitate with a per-minute wonder like Collison, giving him a year before throwing him a higher ranking until he can prove himself further to me. The problem with that is, for half a season, Collison wasn't a per-minute wonder. Far from it. He started 37 games, averaging about 40 minutes per, and he gave the Hornets about 19 points and nine assists as a rookie starter, with 43 percent shooting from behind the arc.


15
. Brandon Jennings(notes), Milwaukee Bucks (last year: unranked)

Kevin Pelton alerted us to Jennings' hot-shot defense as 2009-10 wound down, and after going back and looking at some bits and pieces this summer, I'm inclined to agree. I'm also inclined to tell you that Jennings outright shot Milwaukee out of so, so many games last season, though I concede he often had little other choice with Milwaukee's impotent offense. That said, take it to the hole, Brandon, and rely a little less on a jumper that forced you into a 37 percent (yikes) mark from the field.

14. Andre Miller(notes), Portland Trail Blazers (last year: 13th)

You kind of hate ranking a guy who dropped 52 in a game last season around the middle of the pack at his position, but if you watched that game, you'd know ... yeah, it was Dallas. Perhaps I've underrated Dre, worried about the drop-off that is bound to come at some point. Perhaps I'm wondering if he'll float through this season, like he did (in a contract year, no less) in 2008-09. Perhaps he could also be the guy who puts Greg Oden(notes) on the All-Star team in 2011. Everyone root for the third "perhaps." Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.


13
. Stephen Curry(notes), Golden State Warriors (last year: unranked)

Seeing as how Curry actually looked to find teammates as a consistent (and not last) option in his rookie year, I'm moving forward with him as point guard instead of Monta Ellis(notes). And the Warriors are quite chuffed moving forward with the Davidson product, because he seems to have a knack for knowing what wins in this league (despite all of Golden State's, um, non-wins). Wouldn't you love to see him dominate the ball on a team without Monta Ellis?


12
. Jason Kidd(notes), Dallas Mavericks (last year: 10th)

There's no doubting the idea that Jason Kidd basically gets things about basketball that we do not -- never so perfectly articulated in a random Washington setting as it was last season by Rob Mahoney -- but his defensive shortcomings (despite, Kidd's best efforts) push him down a notch. Still, the guy is shooting over 40 percent behind the arc, now. How nutty is that? How great is this Hall of Famer?

11. Jameer Nelson(notes), Orlando Magic (last year: seventh)

Nelson is entering his ostensible prime, and if last season's too-early Eastern Conference finals proved anything, it's that Nelson needs to put this Magic team on his surgically reconstructed shoulders. He's never going to be this team's best player, but a squad's most important player doesn't have to be its best player, and you'd think that Nelson can't help but understand that by now. Maybe I'm being too optimistic for my hopes with him, especially rating him over Kidd, but this is how we roll in summer, before the dyspepsia sets in.

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