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

. Leandro Barbosa(notes), Toronto Raptors (last year: 11th)

Injured and distracted for most of 2009-10, Barbosa fell and fell hard, shooting the worst percentages from the field and from behind the 3-point line for his career, and averaging less than double-figure points for the first time since his second season. A fresh start in Toronto will help, but Barbosa is a ball dominator who will have to contend with (as Hedo Turkoglu(notes) did last season) Toronto's motion attack, though we're rooting for him to bounce up another 19 slots.

. Thabo Sefolosha(notes), Oklahoma City Thunder (last year: unranked)

Thabo is often a liability on the offensive end, as the end result of many Thunder possessions usually sees him clanging an open corner 3-pointer while the defense loads up on all of his teammates. No matter, because Thabo causes problems on the other end. The long-armed Sefolosha might just be the best wing defender in the league, and only reputation and my possible (OK, definite) stubbornness stops him from being ranked higher.

28. Evan Turner(notes), Philadelphia 76ers (last year: unranked)

This was a struggle, because Turner is being billed as a sound rookie who won't come crashing out of the gates in his first year. Worse, he looked pretty terrible during the summer leagues, floating around the court without making much of an impact. Summer league play is never a great barometer when it comes to rookies, but I'd much prefer seeing a player overestimate his own athleticism or talent while being aggressive during SL play, than not know what to do without the ball. The latter is a harder trait to lose.

27. Mike Miller(notes), Miami Heat (last year: 19th)

Excuse what might look like laziness, but let me just quote what I wrote last year:

"Based on 2008-09 alone, Miller probably shouldn't be in the top 30 of this list, much less the top 20. He passed up a ridiculous amount of good shots for the Timberwolves, hurting the team as he tried a poor Jason Kidd(notes) imitation and offering nothing but snide remarks as explanation. Hopefully he gets his head straight this season."

Mike? It only worsened in Washington. And now you're on a Heat team with a whole lot of fun people to pass to. Doesn't matter. Shoot the ball.

26. Richard Hamilton(notes), Detroit Pistons (last year: 15th)

Turning 32 during the All-Star break, Hamilton's marks from the field and 3-point line dropped off considerably last season, though he still maintained an 18.1 points-per-game average. That doesn't smack of a lion going out gracefully -- still getting yours, even though your effectiveness has waned. This smacks of someone still trying to party like it's 2005, and Pistons coach John Kuester might have a problem on his hands, as a result.

25. Rodrigue Beaubois(notes), Dallas Mavericks (last year: unranked)

If you go with per-minute stats by themselves, Roddy should shoot way, way up this list. But a couple of things are working in his disfavor.

First, with players like Beaubois, they tend to get the baseball treatment their second time around the league. Teams will now know to back off him, force him to shoot, and they'll know to prevent him for going for tip-dunks on the baseline. People are aware. Second, Dallas coach Rick Carlisle could continue to play him less than half a game, and though he might do more per-minute than a whole lot of others that top him on this list, I can't fully commit to a per-minute appropriate ranking until I see him play for 35-plus minute stretches. Hopefully this will be corrected as the season moves along.

. Anthony Morrow(notes), New Jersey Nets (last year: 23rd)

There is no better shooter on this shooting guard list. It really isn't even that close, as Morrow has nailed a whopping 220 out of 491 3-pointers on his career, an astonishing 46 percent from long range. It's everything else, with Morrow, that is lacking. If he can somehow make the jump from bit role player (though nobody plays his role better) to someone who at least approximates starter-worthy all-around play, than New Jersey could have something here. Even if he stays the same, though, this is a good pick-up.

23. Vince Carter(notes), Orlando Magic (last year: sixth)

Yes, I had him sixth last season. Why? Ask any Nets fan who watched him in 2008-09: Carter was a borderline All-Star that season. Not last season, where he floated and occasionally helped and absolutely disappeared in the playoffs. Carter has an all-around game, he can still rebound and make the pass while working a screen-and-roll, and he's still a threat to shoot his way toward 37 points every so often. But he just never applied himself when the going got tough. Pity.

22. James Harden(notes), Oklahoma City Thunder (last year: unranked)

I fully submit this might be a stretch, but with so many Thunder playing completely healthy ball last season, and Kevin Durant(notes) playing in the world championships this summer, the odds are that someone is going to tweak something and be out for seven games, and that someone else is going to do the same and be out for 12. Enter Harden, who works a good all-around game off the bench.

. Eric Gordon(notes), Los Angeles Clippers (last year: 16th)

Gordon still seems like an odd duck to me. He can disappear for stretches, but also swipe and run his way toward fast-break lay-ins, or get hot from outside. I think he's a good defender despite his size, and because the Clippers struck out so terribly in the free-agent market (I'd laugh about it if I weren't so crestfallen that their fans still have to deal with this), he'll be relied upon to put up needed points.

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