Derrick Rose became the first point guard to win the MVP since Steve Nash in 2005-2006. In general, it’s a rarity for point guards not named Magic Johnson to be named MVPs. The game has changed, and the PG is the deepest position in the league, maybe the most influential as well, as it should be.
Rose isn’t alone in this elite group, with Rondo, Westbrook, D-Will and Chris Paul among the league’s best in our opinion, with other very good point guards left outside the top 5. We kick off our best by position for the third year in a row, as a preview to the 2011-2012 NBA season, with the five best point guard in the league.
Number 5 – Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics
Defensively, Rajon Rondo is probably the best point guard in the league. He made the All-Defensive first team for the second time, adding to his second All-Star game and a career high in assists, averaging 11.2 per game, finishing second in the league behind Steve Nash. There’s no doubt in most people’s mind about Rondo being the best player on the Celtics’ roster, despite scoring only 10.6 points per game.
And here lies the problem. Rondo is very hard to stop when driving inside. He gets most of his assists by these penetrations. But as it gets harder for Boston to have their offense rely on Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, Rondo’s terrible outside shooting keeps him from truly turning into an unstoppable force. During the season he shot %23.3 from three point.
In the playoffs? He did get injured in the Miami series, but he attempted only three shots from outside, not hitting any of them. A point guard that can’t shoot but does everything else. His free throw shooting remains terrible, finishing with a career low of %56.8 from the line.
Number 4 – Deron Williams, New Jersey Nets
The only player on this list to play consistent basketball during the lockout, Deron Williams might be teaming up with Dwight Howard in the Nets’ last season before moving to Brooklyn. Despite his Besiktas time, his Nets numbers last season and the injury/surgery he went through late last season brought him down in our rankings.
Williams struggled with the Nets, at least with his own scoring, and especially his outside shooting. He did average over 12 assists in those 12 games before being sidelines, but his scoring dropped to 15 points per game. His field goal percentage fell to %34.9 and %27.1 from the outside.
Williams’ commitment to the Nets is another thing to worry about. Being on a team that loses a lot doesn’t make All-Stars (two times for Williams) happy, and if the Nets don’t get Howard, they’ll be losing a lot. Williams’ contract ends in 2012.
Number 3 – Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
If Westbrook comes shooting out of the gates no one will be surprised this time. Russell Westbrook jumped into another stratosphere of basketball last season, being just as important to Oklahoma turning into favorites in the West. He averaged 21.9 points per game with his 8.2 assists and 1.9 steals per game. All career bests.
Westbrook made his first All-Star game and his first All-NBA team (2nd) inclusion. His incredible athletic abilities combined with his confidence and success in tight game situations, helping Kevin Durant share the load made Westbrook into one of the more unstoppable guards in the league.
Something went amiss in the playoffs against Dallas. It began earlier against Memphis. Westbrook wants to be the #1 guy, and with Durant on board, that isn’t easy. At times, he fails to realize he needs to give up on shots. He fails to realize he can’t take over the game every time. He fails to realize it might be better for Kevin Durant to take most of the shots. If he improves in that sense, I think the Thunder are favorites to win the West and even more.
Number 2 – Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers
Not all the execs in the NBA are happy with the way the whole Chris Paul trade saga went down, especially not those with the Lakers. Probably those with the Hornets and the Rockets aren’t too pleased. But David Stern is, and so is Donald Sterling, and so is Chris Paul.
As floor general, Paul might be the best in the league. Steve Nash is still right up there with him, but Paul is a better player in general. He averaged 15.9 points, 9.8 assists and a league high 2.4 steals per game. Paul simply shot much less than before, despite the fact the Hornets needed him to be the best at pretty much everything.
Things will be different with the Clippers, and the early signs are electrifying. With Paul, who’s always a candidate for MVP if things go well and smoothly from the start, injuries can be the only thing to hamper a potentially wonderful season.
Number 1 – Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls
Give respect to the 2011 NBA MVP, Derrick Rose. He fell off his feet in the final games against the Miami Heat, trying to win it all by himself, but he didn’t get much help when those games were on the line, with all the little helpers slowly fading away while LeBron James and Dwyane Wade took over.
Rose had an incredible season in 2010-2011, turning him from All-Star to Superstar. He averaged 25 points per game with 7.7 assists per game. He was pretty much unstoppable when driving to the basket and his three point shooting suddenly became something to be way of, with a respectable %33.2. He may not be a point guard in the most traditional sense, but being the best offensive player on the Bulls’ roster, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be a shoot first kind of guy.
Not all the time, but there have been few players as explosive as Rose in recent history at the point guard position. A few minor fixes to his game and those around him and the Bulls can take it one step further this season in the playoffs.