Top 6 NBA Point Guards In 2013-14
Just as we did last year, HOOPSWORLD writers are going to spend this week going through every major position and determining who will be the best at each of them.
We’ll start once again with the point guards, which is arguably the deepest position in the NBA. Narrowing this list down to only six players was extremely challenging this season, with so many players making the leap last season from “burgeoning upstart” to “full-blow stud,” and getting Derrick Rose back into the pool doesn’t hurt the position’s depth, either.
In any event, these rankings are completely subjective, but the opinions of the writers are based pretty heavily on statistical evidence. And just so there aren’t too many upset readers, we’ll be including honorable mentions, as well.
Today is point guards, but we’ll spend the rest of the week dissecting the other positions, one day at a time. For now though, here are our top floor generals in the NBA for next season:
The Top 6:
#6 – Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
2012-2013 Stats: 22.9 ppg, 6.9 apg, 4.0 rpg, 1.6 spg, 21.3 PER
While Curry isn’t a traditional point guard, he does play the position in Golden State better than anyone thought he would when he was first drafted. Just last season, Curry broke the single-season record for three-point field goals made, but numbers don’t even begin to encapsulate the level of excitement this young man brings to the table. He also averaged a career-high 6.9 assists per game, which shows how far he’s come as a facilitator and distributor, as well. Nobody made a bigger leap towards superstardom in last year’s playoffs than Curry, which makes it an even bigger shame that he wasn’t named an All-Star last year. Of course, as we’ll see, breaking into the Western Conference All-Star guard rotation is an undeniably challenging thing to accomplish.
#5 – Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers
2012-2013 Stats: 22.5 ppg, 5.9 apg, 3.7 rpg, 1.5 spg, 21.4 PER
While Irving has a long way to go as both a distributor and a defender, at age 21 he’s already arguably the most explosive scoring point guard in the league. It’s absolutely frightening to think what this young man could be in another couple of years, because he’s already well on his way to becoming a perennial All-Star for the rest of his career. It would help his stock to lead the Cavaliers back to the postseason, and with a whole lot of talent added to the Cavs’ roster, that looks like a real possibility, but he’s already accomplished an incredible amount for only having played only two seasons in the league. His third season looks to be even better.
#4 – Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
2012-2013 Stats: 23.2 ppg, 7.4 apg, 5.2 rpg, 1.8 spg, 23.9 PER
No point guard had more double-doubles last season than Westbrook, who finished with 31 of them, but we don’t need statistical analyses to prove that this guy is one of the most valuable point guards in the NBA. All one needs to do is look at what happened to Oklahoma City the minute Westbrook injured his knee and was forced to miss the rest of the postseason. Of course, if stats are your thing, the fact that he was the leading scorer among point guards last season should be plenty persuasive. Both he and Kevin Durant are better players when they’re on the floor together, and both are dying for another crack at a title they thought they’d have this past June. In other words, Westbrook is going to have plenty of motivation to have another great season.
#3 – Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls
2011-2012 Stats (Missed 2012-13 season): 21.8 ppg, 7.9 apg, 3.4 rpg, 0.9 spg, 23.0 PER
If Rose comes back as strong (or stronger) than he was before his injury, he’ll probably end up higher on this list than third, but there’s no way to know what kind of player he’ll be when he finally suits up again this fall. Even if he’s not as explosive as he used to be, Rose has added a lot of upper body strength and has improved his jump shot, which suggests his game will evolve no matter what kind of condition his athleticism is in. With the athleticism, though, Rose remains one of the league’s elite point guards and most valuable players. Everything depends on how healthy the young man actually is, but everything we’ve heard so far is that he’ll be ready to go. Very few people seem skeptical that Rose will not be the player he was before the injury.
#2 – Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs
2012-2013 Stats: 20.3 ppg, 7.6 apg, 3.0 rpg, 0.8 spg, 23.0 PER
Without knowing much about Parker’s career statistics, it would be easy to feel amazed that, as a point guard, he could shoot 52.2 percent from the field last season. But here’s the thing: that wasn’t even a career-high for Parker, who has shot over 50 percent from the field in five of the last eight seasons, and in all eight seasons, he’s never shot below 48 percent. Those are insanely efficient offensive numbers for any position, let alone point guard, and the fact Parker is also a really solid passer, defender, and leader makes him all the more valuable. He may not be flashy, but Parker has been better for longer than anyone else on this list except for one guy. There’s no reason to think he won’t continue that trend this coming season.
#1 – Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers
2012-2013 Stats: 16.9 ppg, 9.7 apg, 3.7 rpg, 2.4 spg, 26.4 PER
Paul’s postseason PER last season was just a shade shy of 30, which is an incredible number for a player whose game isn’t based around athleticism or explosiveness. Only Rondo can hang with Paul as a distributor, but unlike Rondo, Paul has the ability to score the ball whenever he wants to. Oftentimes, late in games, he’ll do precisely that, but the only reason he doesn’t average 20+ ppg is because he chooses to get everyone else involved instead. He’s the smartest point guard in the league today, and with improved talent and an improved coach in L.A., he (and therefore, the Clippers) should be even better than last season.
Mike Conley, Jr., Memphis Grizzlies
2012-2013 Stats: 14.6 ppg, 6.1 apg, 2.8 rpg, 2.2 spg, 18.3 PER
After finishing top-three in the league in steals last season, Conley has firmly established himself as one of the league’s best defensive point guards. On a great defensive team like Memphis, he really has helped establish a hard-nosed identity for his team.
Kemba Walker, Charlotte Bobcats
2012-2013 Stats: 17.1 ppg, 5.7 apg, 3.5 rpg, 2.0 spg, 18.8 PER
Not only has Walker played all 164 games of his pro career so far, but he also put together the seventh-highest PER among all point guards last season. Those who were concerned his college talents wouldn’t translate to the pro level were clearly wrong, and it will be fun to see him get even better this coming season.
Ty Lawson, Denver Nuggets
2012-2013 Stats: 16.7 ppg, 6.9 apg, 2.7 rpg, 1.5 spg, 17.9 PER
One of the NBA’s speediest players, Lawson took his offensive game to a new level last season and will be relied upon even more heavily this year now that Andre Iguodala has headed to Golden State. Lawson has arrived, but he’s still not quite on the same elite level as some of the other point guards in the league.
Jrue Holiday, New Orleans Pelicans
2012-2013 Stats: 17.7 ppg, 8.0 apg, 4.2 rpg, 1.6 spg, 16.7 PER
Holiday actually made the Top 6 last summer, a harbinger of things to come for a player that would later be added to his first career All-Star team. He’s still very young, but he’ll be in a new system in New Orleans that may take some getting used to. Plus, with Derrick Rose healthy and in the ranks again this year, keeping that final spot always was going to prove challenging.
Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics
2012-2013 Stats: 13.7 ppg, 11.1 apg, 5.6 rpg, 1.8 spg, 18.1 PER
Obviously the best assist man in the league, Rondo is going have a rough season without last year’s two leading Celtic scorers in Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. He’s a heck of a point guard, but we’ll see how he does with so little talent surrounding him.
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
2012-2013 Stats: 19 ppg, 6.5 apg, 3.1 rpg, 0.9 spg, 16.4 PER
In Summer League last season, it was obvious Lillard was going to be a special scorer, but his development as a distributor shouldn’t be ignored, either. He never averaged five assists per game in four years of college ball, but he got to 6.5 apg as a rookie in Portland last season. In another couple of years, he could be one of the best all-around point guards in the league.
Deron Williams, Brooklyn Nets
2012-2013 Stats: 18.9 ppg, 7.7 apg, 3.0 rpg, 1.0 spg, 20.3 PER
After starting last season slowly, Williams really came on in the second half of the season. His role in getting yet another coach fired, as well as his inability to lead the Nets out of the first round of the playoffs against a severely undermanned Bulls team is what keeps him out of the Top 6. Hopefully having loads of veteran talent around him this year will help turn things around.
John Wall, Washington Wizards
2012-2013 Stats: 18.5 ppg, 7.6 apg, 4.0 rpg, 1.3 spg, 20.8 PER
The former No. 1 overall pick battled injuries last year, as did several of his most important teammates, making it hard for Wall to establish any sort of continuity. He’s better than his team’s record showed, though, and this should be the year he finally makes the jump to elite status.
And there you have it—the top point guards for the upcoming 2013-2014 NBA season. Feel free to voice your disapproval and disagreements either in the comments section below or on Twitter, and stay plugged into HOOPSWORLD all week for the Top 6 shooting guards, small forwards, power forward, and centers.