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, 20-through-11. Click the jump for the run.

. Jason Terry(notes), Dallas Mavericks (last year: 15th, but as a point guard) doesn't have Terry playing a single second at point guard last season, and with Dallas' guard rotation (where 5-10 Jose Juan Barea(notes) sometimes acts as a small forward offensively, alongside Terry and Jason Kidd(notes)), who knows? What we do know is that JET's scoring efficiency drags him far beyond the type of players who are ranked below him, though his percentages dropped a bit at age 32 last year. He's got another year, and then the list you read earlier this morning takes over.

. O.J. Mayo(notes), Memphis Grizzlies (last year: 17th)

A lot of people took Mayo's failed (miserably failed, if we're honest) attempt at playing point guard during the summer leagues as a desperation move. Going with the glass-half-full approach, I'm wondering if Mayo just took the crash course in order to become a better-handling off-guard, rather than a full-on backup point man. Mayo has stagnated since his rookie year, but if his confidence and driving improves he could have a significantly better season than the players ranked below him on this list (ones that were, admittedly, better than him last season).

. J.R. Smith(notes), Denver Nuggets (last year: 14th)

Speaking of optimism ...

Smith was awful last season. His stats dipped for the second straight year, and he launched over six 3-pointers a game (while coming off the bench, no less) despite shooting just 33.8 percent. Maybe it's because this is a contract year. Maybe his very tradeable contract could be moved in a deal for both its expiring merits, its affordability and resemblance to other MLE-styled deals (Smith's at $6.7 million this year), or because he's always a threat to drop 30 in no time at all.

Or, perhaps I'm a fool for ranking him this high. Only J.R. can give us an answer.

17. J.J. Redick(notes), Orlando Magic (last year: unranked)

If Redick starts, his all-around game (you heard me) could be the salve that puts Orlando back into the Finals. Because as great as Miami can be, guarding four 3-point shooters and an all-world center at once is a pretty tough task, and Redick's passing and driving ability after the close out (something Mickael Pietrus(notes) is wholly uninterested in) could be a difference-maker. Or, Stan Van Gundy could continue to treat him like Dana Barros. Stan's call.

. Ray Allen(notes), Boston Celtics (last year: seventh)

Allen is a struggle, because for all his white-hot nights (or months, like when he dropped over 20 a game last February despite making "only" 35 percent of his 3-pointers), he still rounds out to pretty average. Allen isn't exactly some flighty youngster, but he'll look unworthy of a top 30 selection on some nights, and drop a quick 25, no worries, the next time out.

. John Salmons(notes), Milwaukee Bucks (last year: 14th, but as a small forward)

I've been warning people about John Salmons' age for years, and I think he has one good John Salmons-ish year left in him. Turning 31 in December, Salmons should benefit from a full season of screens from Andrew Bogut(notes), and his low-intensity scoring should translate for a little while. And on a team like the Bucks that struggles to score, John will be handed all the shots he can handle.

. Ben Gordon(notes), Detroit Pistons (last year: 12th)

Everything about Gordon's 2009-10 run screamed "fluke." A career 41.5 percent 3-point shooter entering the season, Gordon's average dipped to 32.1 percent in his first year with Detroit. Now, you can blame Detroit's terrible offense or all the new players he had to work with, but Gordon spent years in Chicago working in a terrible offense on a team that was constantly turning over rotation spots 4-through-12. I say he bounces back, and though he doesn't contribute much in other areas, his scoring efficiency could have him keeping the Pistons close in games they have no business being in.

. Gilbert Arenas(notes), Washington Wizards (last year: unranked)

We had no idea what to expect from Arenas heading into 2009-10, after playing in just 15 of a possible 164 games the previous two years. We couldn't have expected his felony gun possession charge, of course, which led to another long layoff and more question marks as John Wall(notes) comes to town and Arenas slides over to the shooting guard position. Washington, desperate to trade him, will no doubt feature Gilbert for big minutes. But despite his big per-game scoring numbers last year (20.6 a game), Arenas overall was pretty average, especially when you factor in his potentially league-worst defense.

. Jamal Crawford(notes), Atlanta Hawks (last year: unranked)

Though Crawford's game has made you cringe for years, it was still great to see this veteran of the rebuilding process finally take to a role that suited him, win the Sixth Man Award and make the playoffs for the first time in his 10-year career. Crawford can make the jump pass (not the most fundamentally sound dish), and he tries to use his length defensively, but his best skill is still getting really, really, really hot from long range and firing in a defender's face after a crossover that fools nobody into thinking he's driving. More of the same, please.

. Monta Ellis(notes), Golden State Warriors (last year: 18th, but as a point guard)

The guy dropped over 25 points a game, and he's not even in the 10 best at his position?

Well, yeah. Did you see those games?

Monta was an on-court cancer last season, consistently looking off teammates better suited to work their way to an easy score. He drove and shot with abandon, and killed as many Warrior runs as he positively contributed to. Yes, he averaged 25.5 points, but if you play 41.4 minutes a contest on the fastest team in the league, and put up 22 shots? You better be scoring 25.5 points per game. At least.

Sadly, I don't think Ellis moves away from this - what would you call it, 'determined?' - play until he's traded out of Golden State. Even an owner/GM/coach whitewash probably won't help.

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