Yesterday we took a look at my top five guards (you can find the link on the right), and your feedback was mixed. Some of you felt I’d done A.I. wrong by ranking him fifth. Others saw LeBron as being another year or two from taking the top spot. A couple suggested that Baron Davis deserved a place on the list, and a surprising number saw T-Mac as having no right to be there.
However controversial my first part was, I’ve a feeling the second is going to ruffle even more feathers. You’ll need to read The NBA’s Top Guards: Part One for the ranking criteria. Without those in mind, some of these picks may seem a little off.
With the formalities aside, let’s not waste any more time.
The NBA’s Top Ten Guards: Part Two
6. Gilbert Arenas
As possibly the most underrated player in the league, Arenas is one of those who gets it done without getting the love, and it’s for this reason that some of you will already be composing angry emails headed for my inbox ([email protected], by the way). Take a look at the numbers and you’ll see a player who averaged more points, rebounds and assists than Ray Allen last season, and all of that at a mere 6’3’’. Having finally managed to suppress the nutty streak that previously kept him from truly excelling, Arenas is now one of the best all-round talents in the NBA.
7. Ray Allen
Given that I’ve rated the guards on their ability to take a team all the way, Mr. Shuttlesworth now has to be considered one of the strongest backcourt players around. He may not have had his best outing statistically, but last season saw him lead the Sonics far further than they had any right to go. Another player whose name is rarely mentioned alongside that of the elite, Walter Ray will be back in Seattle next year to show the world why he belongs in the lofty company of LeBron, Kobe, Tracy and the other one-namers.
8. Jason Kidd
Uh-oh. Did he just say that Kidd was the best pure point in the league? Did he just put the man known as “Ason” ahead of the reigning MVP? Did he just start referring to himself in the third person? Yes, yes and yes, he did. I’ll catch heat for saying it, but there’s not a player in the league better at running a team than Joumana’s husband. While he may not have the most consistent of jumpshots, he still has an uncanny ability to pick out the open man, and he orchestrates the fastbreak as well as anyone since Magic. New Jersey may not have been at their strongest last year, but once Vince and R.J. are both healthy and running the floor, the triple-double factory will reclaim his reputation as the top point man in the L.
9. Steve Nash
Please, folks, hear me out before you release the hounds. I remind you all once more that the question below was that on which my rankings were based.
“Which player would you take with your first pick if you had one season to win a championship?”
Is Steve Nash really the sort of player you’d want as the face of your franchise if you had aspirations of taking the title? Of course, I’m not denying that he’d be an asset to just about any team on the planet (after all, he made this list), but I am questioning his ability to win games by himself. He may have done so once or twice, but his primary function is to bring the best out of his teammates. As well as he did that last year, it still didn’t change the fact that he has no hope of ever winning a championship unless he’s partnered with another MVP-calibre player.
10. Stephon Marbury
Criticize the man all you want, but you can’t deny his numbers. Twenty points and eight assists a game put him in a class of two (the other player is Oscar Robertson), and that’s something you can’t ignore. For some, he has a reputation as a loser, but you only have to look at his circumstances to see that he’s not the reason his teams have struggled in the past. Put him in the right situation and you have yourselves a genuine superstar. However, since he looks likely to finish his career at home, I wouldn’t count on that ever happening, which is a damn shame for a player with as much natural talent as he has.
As always, I invite you to email me at [email protected] with your comments and questions. Alternatively, you can voice your opinions by using the box below. Check back tomorrow for the first part of my forward rankings. Until then, take it easy.