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Floor leaders in high demand

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With the NFL playoffs nearing, it’s a natural time to remember that a great point guard is like a great quarterback. He’s the player who decides who gets the ball and when and where they get it.

A point guard isn’t measured just by his points, rebounds or assists. He is measured by his decisions.

To become a great team it’s almost imperative to have an above-average floor leader as your point guard. Yes, there are situations where this hasn’t been the case – the Chicago Bulls of Michael Jordan are one example – but there aren’t many.

Think of the great teams. The Boston Celtics with Bob Cousy, Tiny Archibald and the late Dennis Johnson. The Los Angeles Lakers with Magic Johnson. The Utah Jazz with John Stockton. The Detroit Pistons with Isiah Thomas.

Among present-day teams, the San Antonio Spurs have Tony Parker. The Phoenix Suns have Steve Nash. These guys make or break you. They can change the game with their leadership and tempo – the two components that give a team its style of play.

With that being said, let’s take a look at my top 10 point guards for this season.

1. Steve Nash: The best in the game. His ability to get the Suns into their fast-paced tempo every night is uncanny. Every team’s defensive emphasis is to slow the Suns down. Most fail. Credit Nash for that.

1a. Jason Kidd: If Nash is No. 1, Kidd is 1a. And if you put Kidd on the Suns running Mike D’Antoni’s offense, we might be calling him the best.

3. Tony Parker: Not the most dominant point guard left, but he makes the best decisions. The Spurs have become a dynasty and Parker is one of the reasons why.

4. Baron Davis: “The Body Guard” overpowers most of his peers. Davis’ ability to fuel the Golden State Warriors’ run-run-run offense puts him near the top. If his shot selection gets better he’ll move up the list.

5. Chauncey Billups: Billups is often overlooked in “best of” debates. But his leadership skills and his ability to get the Pistons into their halfcourt sets makes him a keeper for this list. Mr. Big Shot’s clutch shooting also might rank at the top of all the point guards.

6. Deron Williams: Williams leads the next generation of point guards. Jerry Sloan and the Utah Jazz's pick-and-roll offense may have helped Williams improve his decision-making more than any third-year guy around.

7. Chris Paul: The possible second coming of Isiah Thomas. Once his jump shot improves, he’ll move up the list with a bullet.

8. Andre Miller: Very underrated and underappreciated. His weight fluctuation from season to season is a knock against him. But when he’s in great shape, he’s among the better point guards.

9. T.J. Ford: His lack of size hurts and keeps him from being a better defender and having a more dominant presence on the floor.

10. Raymond Felton: My sleeper pick and a diamond in the rough. Playing with so many other young players could somewhat stunt his development. He needs a couple of fundamentally sound vets lining up next to him.