Beginning our best-by-position preview for the 2010-2011 season with the little guys (usually), the five best point guards in the NBA heading into the new season. For last year’s list, go here.
Number 5 – Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls
Rose was number 5 last season, but didn’t play like a Top 5 guard when 2009-2010 began – He carried a pre season injury for the first month and looked like his Sophomore NBA season won’t live up to his rookie campaign, earning him rookie of the year awards. But it was a mistake to doubt his talent and potential. Rose had a fantastic 2009-2010, leading the Bulls to another playoff while averaging 20.8 points and 6.8 assists per game. He got picked to play in the 2010 All-Star game, the first Chicago Bulls player to play in the AS game since… Michael Jordan in 1998. Rose still is a horrible outside shooter (26.7% from the outside, taking less than a shot per game) and I think his defense could be better (0.7 steals per game, not enough for an athletic and physical PG like him) but he’s a superstar, or on his way to be one. True leader, explosive when coming to the inside and a guy you can count on to lead your team.
Number 4 – Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics
As every year goes by, it gets clearer and clearer how big of a steal Rondo was when coming out of Kentucky at the age of 20, getting picked 21st by the Suns and traded to the Celtics. I don’t know at what point it happened, but Rondo became the Boston Celtics’ best player. Maybe it was last season, maybe it was the 2008-2009 playoffs, but there’s no doubt now who’s the real Boston MVP. Regular season – 13.7 points, 9.8 assists and 2.3 steals (led the league), all career highs, while averaging 15.8 points and 9.3 assists in the playoffs, leading Boston to Game 7 of the finals. Rondo was exceptional against the Cavs averaging 20.7 points and 11.8 assists during that series, but weakened as the run deepened, and was a bit disappointing against the Lakers, who put a lot of emphasis on him during the series. Like Rose, Rondo made his first All-Star game in 2010 and suffers from the same problem – outside shooting (21.3% during the regular season, an improved 36% in the playoffs). An excellent defender, maybe the best among point guards (2010 All-defensive first team), who might be ranked 1 or 2 if he didn’t pull a disappearing act once in a while during big games.
Number 3 – Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns
Will turn 37 in 5 months, but is still lightning fast, still makes the best fast break point guard in the NBA, still a very bad defender and still one of the more enjoyable players to watch in this league. Nash, along with Phoenix, had a “back-to-basics” season in 2009-2010 with the Suns, averaging 16.5 points and 11 assists (league high, fourth time in his career), leading Phoenix to the Western Conference Finals, bowing out against the Lakers after 6, while finally beating the Spurs in a clean sweep, with Nash being very aggressive and “selfish” averaging 22 points in the San Antonio series with “only” 7.8 assists per game. Can he keep up with the same run and gun pace for another year? Hopefully yes. The two time MVP will probably retire without a title, but it’ll be sad when his decline will become obvious, cause he is one of a kind in today’s NBA.
Number 2 – Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets
Last year he was our number 1, and if he didn’t miss half of 2009-2010 due to numerous injuries, he’d probably still be our top choice. But D-Will had an amazing season last year, plus he was omitted last time, huge mistake by me, yes I know, so he deserved the number 1 pre-season spot. Will it change during the year? If Paul is at full health, I believe so. He is just a better player. Can score, pass, rebound, guard – he does it all – 18.7 points, 10.7 assists, 4.2 rebounds, 2.1 steals per game while shooting 49.3% from the field and over 40% from the outside. He deserves a better crew around him, considering his future-hall-of-fame like talents. With him, the Hornets are a playoff team, but Paul should be competing for titles and rings.
Number 1 – Deron Williams, Utah Jazz
So who’s better? Deron or CP-3? I believe Paul is the better point guard, but until we see him back in action, Deron deserves the number one spot. He had his third consecutive double-double season, averaging 18.7 points and 10.5 assists per game, making his first All-Star game and making the All-NBA second team for the second time. He was even better in the playoffs, averaging 24.3 points and 10.3 assists, stunning Denver and getting swept, as usual, by the Lakers. Williams became the first player in NBA history to have five consecutive 20-10 games in a playoff series during the win over the Nuggets, and became only the second player in Jazz history to have a 30-10 game in the playoffs, doing it twice in the series against Denver. Sadly for Williams, his team is probably weaker going into the new season than it was last year, with Boozer leaving to Chicago and the fragile but talented Al Jefferson joining the team.