NBA’s Best – Part 1 Point Guards
In today’s NBA no position may have changed more in the past decade then that of the point guard. Use to be the small little guys would bring the ball up the floor, set up the offence, and only shot when someone else got doubled teamed. Today most point guards are bigger, gotta score, and handle the ball much less. With so much one-on-one play and big guys who are very proficient at handling the ball big assist years have become a thing of the past. Here we take a look at the floor generals in the league and see how they stack up. (Included are their points,assists,and turnovers per game numbers)
BEST OF THE BEST
Jason Kidd (18.7-8.9-3.7) may not be the greatest shooter around but he sure knows how to run a fast break. Leading the Nets to back-to-back Eastern Conference titles, Kidd has secured himself as one of the best overall players in the game. Gary Payton (20.4-8.3-2.3) has long been know for his smothering defence, receiving the nickname “The Glove”. Payton has also been the most complete scoring point guard the past five years, utilizing his quick first step and improved jump shot to average over 20 PPG over that span. Some may say Payton is getting old, he still managed over 40 minutes per game (second among PG’s). John Stockton(10.8-7.7-2.2) in his farewell season didn’t put up any great numbers but will always be recognized as one of the best point guards to ever play, with more assists and steals then anyone in NBA history (but good riddance to those shorts).
These are the guys that 2-3 years from now will be the best of the best. Stephon Marbury (22.3-8.1-3.3) long known as a me first type player in Minnesota and New Jersey finally started to make the Kidd trade look even, having a monster season that included a playoff trip and a game winning shot against the Spurs. Steve Francis (21.0-6.2-3.7) finally was able to put his migraine headache problem behind him and have himself a career type year. Now teamed with Yao and new coach Van Gundy, Stevie Franchise is set to make the leap to NBA megastar. Canadian born Steve Nash (17.7-7.3-2.3) led the run-n-gun Mavericks to the Western Finals and a 60 win season. Nash took a couple years before he came into his own in Dallas, but now has the leadership and shot making ability to lead Finley, Nowitski and the bunch to a NBA title.
Players who have made themselves known but are still unproven. The Frenchman Tony Parker (15.5-5.3-2.4) helped the Spurs win an NBA title this past season, but still was worried about losing his job if San Antonio could have gotten Kidd. Parker was spectacular one minute and down right horrible the next, a common characteristic among these young guards. Gilbert Arenas (18.3-6.3-3.5) made himself known this season leading the Warriors to a unexpectedly productive season. As with most breakout young players who are free agents, Arenas left the Bay Area and headed to D.C. to see if he can continue his great play for the Wizards. Andre Miller (13.6-6.7-2.6) had 2 very good years in Cleveland before being traded to the Clipp Show for Darius Miles. Like most Clippers last year , he stunk, but now after signing on with the Nuggets he hopes to rejuvenate his career.
Players who get the job done night in night out without much attention or fan-fare. The Detroit Pistons made it to the Eastern Conference Finals and may have won if their top playmaker, Chauncey Billups (16.2-3.9-1.8), not been hampered by a bad ankle. Billups signed as a free agent from Minnesota the previous off-season and paid immediate dividends for the Pistons helping them win the Central division and get another 50 win season. With all the attention given to the Gary Payton trade, Sam Cassell (19.7-5.8-2.3) quietly put to together another great year, and after the Bucks drafted T.J. Ford from Texas, Cassell got shipped out to Minnesota. After being run out of Sacramento used as a scape goat, Jason Williams (12.1-8.3-2.2), continues to become of one the top point guards in the game. Williams can do a little of everything from big scoring nights, to the spectacular pass, also is a very good foul shooter (84%). Allen Iverson gets all the headlines, Eric Snow (12.8-6.6-2.4) continues to get the job done. Snow has always been one of the better defenders in the NBA, and now has worked on his scoring and become a very dependable shooter. In Toronto everyone complains about or praises Vince Carter, but their most consistent player continues to be Alvin Williams (13.2-5.3-1.6). Williams has not only increased his scoring average every year north of the border, but he also has only missed 4 games the last 3 years.
Players near the end of their career who are just for the most part back-ups. Rod Strickland (6.8-4.6-1.6) still is one of the smartest point guards in the game, also plays with the same physical style he did as a rookie in 1988. Kenny Anderson (6.1-3.3-1.2) has bounced around the last couple years (Portland, Boston, Seattle, New Orleans) but can still be counted on to keep the mistakes to a minimum and bury some big jumpers. Travis Best (8.4-3.5-1.5) had his run-ins with Pat Riley, but still managed to get into 72 games, and shoot 33% from downtown.
Players who have had success, but have been limited by injuries. Mike Bibby (15.9-5.2-2.3) got national attention when he dominated for the Kings against the Lakers in the 2001-2002 Western Conference finals only to see L.A. win it in 7 games. Last season Bibby battled injuries missing a good part of the regular season, then put up very average numbers in the playoffs (12.7-5.0-1.5). Baron Davis (17.1-6.4-2.8) exploded on the scene in the playoffs a year ago, outdueling Tracy McGrady. Coming out of UCLA there were health concerns after Baron had major knee surgery, and now has missed significant time in the NBA with a multitude of injuries. When healthy Davis still has the scoring and leaping ability to be one of the more exciting players in the NBA.
ON THE EDGE
Players at a point where they could turn into regulars, or be playing in Europe. Jamaal Tinsley (7.8-7.5-2.6) while only in the league for 2 years, has not shown the consistent play making or shot making a championship minded team like the Pacers are looking for. The hope is under the teaching of former point guard great, Isiah Thomas, Tinsley with grown into a star. Jamal Crawford (10.7-4.2-1.7) had his beast season, last year, thanks to the ineffectiveness of Jay Williams, and now with Williams out at least all of next season, Crawford will be given every opportunity to lead the Baby Bulls. Rafer Alston (7.8-4.1-1.8) better know as street legend “Skip to my Lou” finally got a chance to play serious minutes in Toronto last season, and contributed very nicely. The big question is whether the Raptors will stick with Alston or let him go as the Bucks did. Kevin Ollie (6.5-3.5-0.9) had the best turnover to assist ratio last year, but that was while only playing back-up minutes. The Cavaliers deemed that enough to give Ollie a big time contract, time will tell if the Cavs overpaid or if Ollie is really more then a journeyman point guard.