2010-2011 RotoRob NBA Draft Kit: Point Guard Rankings
We’re taking a wild guess that Darren Collison will be a more valuable addition to the Pacers than James Posey.
Like a tsunami, the 2010-11 RotoRob NBA Draft Kit rolls on. So while you wonder if the Lakers will 3-peat, let’s feast our eyes on the top point guards in Fantasy basketball.
Point guard has traditionally been a tough position for Fantasy owners to fill, but this season there seems to be more depth than there’s been in a long time, partially because some of the stud combo guards like Tyreke Evans, Monta Ellis and Gilbert Arenas qualify here, but won’t actually play the position much, if at all. Combine the old guard with young guns like uber rookie John Wall and super sophs like Stephen Curry, Darren Collison and Brandon Jennings and you have the makings of a banner year for point guards.
1. Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets: There’s little doubt that, when healthy, Paul is the NBA’s most dynamic point guard. The Wake Forest product averaged 21.9 points and 11.3 assists per game while shooting a cool 49.5 per cent from the field during the ‘07-08 and ‘08-09 seasons — he’s even a capable rebounder for his size (4.7 RPG over his career). Of course, the concern with Paul is his durability coming off a season in which he played just 45 games and underwent knee surgery. With Paul, though, the rewards outweigh the risks… substantially.
2. Deron Williams, Utah Jazz: He may not be as flashy as some of the league’s other table setters, but Williams is a steady producer. In fact, he has averaged at least 18.7 points and 10.5 assists per contest for three seasons running. Where he struggles to match Paul is in the peripheral categories like rebounds and steals. Plus, it’ll be interesting to see how well he meshes with Al Jefferson and Gordon Hayward, the replacements for longtime running mates Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver. We’re sure D-Will will still get his points and dimes, but it’s the other areas like field goal percentage where carrying a larger burden could show up.
3. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors: The son of a former NBA player, Curry made a name for himself during Davidson’s memorable NCAA tournament run in 2008 with his lights-out shooting. He didn’t miss a beat making the jump to the NBA last season, knocking down 166 three-pointers and finishing with an eye-popping 17.5-4.5-5.9 line. Of course, that production should be taken with a grain of salt given the presence of run-and-gun coach Don Nelson. New head man Keith Smart has said he’ll keep the pace up tempo, but that remains to be seen. Curry isn’t a true point guard, either, so it’s unclear where his assist ceiling is.
4. Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics: One of the top all-around players in the NBA, Rondo would be higher on this list if not for his relatively low scoring average and poor shooting percentages beyond the arc and from the stripe. Much of what Rondo contributes doesn’t show up in the box score, either, though the fact that he came within an eyelash of averaging a double-double (13.7 PPG, 9.8 APG) last season tells us his game is still on the rise. There should be some lingering concern about the presence of Nate Robinson for a full season as it seems unlikely that Rondo will play 36-plus minutes per game again in 2010-11. And history tells us fewer minutes equate to less production.
5. Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns: Even at age 36, Nash continues to play at an elite level. The two-time MVP shot over 50 per cent from the field and 88 per cent from the line for the sixth consecutive season in 2009-10 while also notching his fourth campaign of at least 11 assists per game in that span. On the flip side, only Monta Ellis turned the ball over more times per game than Nash (3.6). His scoring has also trailed off a bit recently, and his back troubles are always looming, but even with Amare Stoudemire gone, Nash rates as one of the safer choices at the position.
6. Chauncey Billups, Denver Nuggets: Even if Billups’s moniker as “Mr. Big Shot” seems about as appropriate as calling 300-pound Keith Gallon “Tiny,” the veteran still finds a way to get his points. He averaged a career-high 19.6 per game last season, and with Carmelo Anthony’s status in flux, Billups could be counted on to carry even more of the scoring load in 2010-11. However, Billups’s increased scoring came at a price, namely a disappointing 5.6 assists per game — a number that looks even worse when you consider the amount of firepower in Denver. Draft Billups for his scoring, three-point exploits and foul shooting, and then just roll with the rest.
7. Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls: While the last two players on our list have been dealing with people leaving, Rose will be getting to know several new teammates, including the aforementioned Boozer (when the powder puff returns from his latest injury, that is) and Korver. Rose has been somewhat of a shoot-first point guard the past two seasons, which is reflected in his middling 6.2 APG career average, but we’d expect fewer shots and more assists this season with an improved supporting cast. Rose has his share of flaws — terrible three-point shooter (24.2 per cent), average rebounder (3.8 RPG), poor defensive instincts (0.8 SPG) — but still has room to grow with 20-10 potential.
8. Tyreke Evans, PG/SG, Sacramento Kings: Evans won the NBA Rookie of the Year Award after being one of just three players to average more than 20 points, five rebounds and five assists per game last season. The others: LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. About the only chink in Evans’s proverbial armour from a fantasy perspective is his porous three-point shooting (25.5 per cent), and now with an improved supporting cast we could see another jump in production from the second-year man. Don’t let his well-publicized reckless driving incident dissuade you from landing him early on.
9. Monta Ellis, PG/SG, Golden State Warriors: When Ellis missed the start of last season, Curry took over the offense and never relinquished it. Ellis is more suited to be a two-guard anyways, but the fact that he qualifies as a PG is gravy for Fantasy owners as once he returned last season, he racked up a career high 25.5 PPG. Ellis is a serious volume shooter, so any reduction in his touches will hurt his production, but last season he also added a much more deft touch from downtown, and that was a huge bonus for his owners. The debate rages as to whether Curry and Ellis can co-exist in the Warrior backcourt, but for as long as he remains part of Golden State’s run-and-gun offense, Ellis is a great bet.
10. Darren Collison, Indiana Pacers: Collison proved he’s the real deal last season when he stepped up for an injured Chris Paul and became one of the year’s best waiver wire additions. The trade to Indiana, where he can now run his own offense, solidifies Collison’s place as a top 10 point guard. When he was starting, he was a beast: in February, Collison averaged 21.6 points, 8.3 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.1 treys per game. The following month, he jacked the dimes per game up to 9.1 while shooting almost 51 per cent from the field. This kid is going to make a big difference to a Pacer squad that has struggled through four straight losing seasons.
11. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder: After making a splash his rookie season, Westbrook stagnated a bit and fell deeper into the shadow of Kevin Durant. The UCLA alum posted very similar numbers in his sophomore season with the exception of a nice bump in assists (5.3 to 8.0 per game). That’s a concern given his continued poor shooting (41.8 per cent from the field, 22.1 per cent from long range) and high turnover numbers (3.3 per game). Entering his third season, there’s still plenty of upside for Westbrook, particularly if Durant continues his ascent and demands even more attention from defenses around the league.
12. Jason Kidd, Dallas Mavericks: The veteran has been around long enough that his strengths (ball distribution, rebounding, steals) and weaknesses (scoring, field goal percentage) are well known to hoops aficionados. Kidd did add one new wrinkle last year, dropping a career-best 176 treys at a 42.5 per cent clip, but he’s not a volume shooter and — at age 37 — is in the twilight of his career. Look to pair Kidd with a younger point guard so you’ve got upside on your roster.
13. Aaron Brooks, Houston Rockets: Listed at just 6-foot, 161 pounds, Brooks has the dimensions of an evolutionary Spud Webb or Earl Boykins. However, his play on the court defies his diminutive size as he emerged as one of the position’s toughest covers last season. Like many of his contemporaries, Brooks shoots first and passes second, which helps account for his Billups-like numbers (19.6 PPG, 5.3 APG). He’s also a non-factor on the glass and surprisingly ineffective at getting into passing lanes with only 69 steals in 82 games. The Rockets have more options offensively this season, but Brooks still rates as their toughest player to check one-on-one, meaning his scoring should stay up.
14. Devin Harris, New Jersey Nets: After appearing to be on the verge of stardom following his work in 2008-09, last season Harris stumbled out of the gate with an injury and, outside of a strong February, never lived up the hype as his numbers fell across the board. He has been mentioned in several possible trades, but remains in New Jersey where he should continue to be one of the team’s focal points offensively. If Harris can stay healthy — he’s played in less than 70 games for three straight seasons — the explosive playmaker has bounce back potential.
15. Mo Williams, Cleveland Cavaliers: There may be no bigger wild card at the position this season than Williams, who will shoulder more of the offensive load in Cleveland now that LBJ has taken his talents to South Beach. He’s still technically the Cavs’ starting point guard, but look for him to fill a hybrid role with Ramon Sessions handling the ball while Williams serves as an undersized two. Expect more points and fewer assists out of Williams, whose three-point percentage should also take a hit without James around to draw and kick for open looks.
16. Baron Davis, Los Angeles Clippers: Davis’s numbers in 2007-08: 21.8 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 7.6 APG and 2.3 SPG. His numbers in two seasons since signing with the Clippers: 15.1 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 7.9 APG and 1.7 SPG. Can you say “buyer’s remorse?” The oft-injured B-Dizzle is further deep sixing his value by shooting a cringe inducing 38.9 per cent in those two seasons. There’s always upside associated with a player of Davis’s caliber, but he’s best suited as your backup.
17. Jason Terry, PG/SG, Dallas Mavericks: Terry rates among the top bench players in the NBA, averaging better than 16.5 points per game in four of the last five seasons. That ability to fill it up is his primary attribute for Fantasy owners as his secondary numbers (3.8 APG, 1.8 RPG) are mediocre at best. He’s a good choice if you’re looking to shore up your scoring or free throw shooting categories.
18. Gilbert Arenas, PG/SG, Washington Wizards: Thanks to super rookie John Wall, many are forgetting about Agent Zero (although now that he’s switched numbers, do we still call him that?), who still qualifies as a PG. Don’t make that mistake. With Arenas shifting to the two-guard slot, you can expect less assists, but the scoring and treys will be there, while Wall will be the guard with the heavy turnover numbers. When Arenas finally returned from injury last season, he was able to log 36.5 MPG without incident, unless, of course, you consider his gun toting which led to his suspension for the remainder of the season an incident. Oh right…that. Arenas may not be getting to the charity stripe as often as a two, but the steals, treys, points and decent rebounding will all be welcome for Fantasy owners.
19. Jamal Crawford, PG/SG, Atlanta Hawks: Last season’s Sixth Man of the Year, Crawford qualifies as a PG, but plays like a SG: lots of touches and relatively few dimes. But the fact that he’ll help you in scoring, 3-pointers and FT percentage makes him someone to consider. Obviously, there are far better PG options, but the added versatility of being able to use him in this slot is valuable. The wild card here: Crawford is entering the final season of his contract and has made no secret of the fact that he wants a big-money, long-term deal from the Hawks, who have thus far done nothing in this regard. A motivated Crawford is a productive Crawford.
20. John Wall, Washington Wizards: The No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, Wall is the centrepiece of the ongoing rebuilding efforts in Washington. The rookie is a freakish and amazingly fast athlete that can penetrate and finish at the rim. His outside shot still needs work, however, and it remains to be seen how well he co-exists with Arenas, who is a volume shooter that’s used to having the ball in his hands. Wall has the potential to post numbers in the 18-5-5 range — just be wary of a low shooting percentage and lots of turnovers.
21. Raymond Felton, PG/SG, New York Knicks: Felton is a solid player in a potentially great situation, though it’s unclear how well he’ll fit Mike D’Antoni’s system. The former fifth overall selection will be hoping it’s the jolt needed to get back on track as he has seen his scoring and assist numbers drop for two straight seasons. One area to watch is if Felton starts shooting more liberally from deep this year — he buried 200 three-pointers in his first two seasons, but just 175 in the three since. Despite trending the wrong way in recent years, Felton holds some intriguing potential.
22. Andre Miller, Portland Trail Blazers: Miller’s first season in Portland was an up-and-down affair, and his numbers bore that out as his assists (5.4) and rebounds (3.2) were career lows. His scoring was about on par (14.0 per game), but Miller’s ability to fill up a stat sheet has long been his most desirable trait. He was better down the stretch for the Blazers, though he carries some risk coming off a down season.
23. Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee Bucks: All Jennings did as a rookie was start 82 games and steward the NBA’s most surprising team to a playoff appearance. His early 55-point outburst put him on the map, and though he struggled mightily with his shot (37.1 per cent…ewwwww), he showed a maturity and swagger on the court that belied his youth and inexperience. Jennings is surrounded by more scoring options this year, which could lead to fewer shots, but until he starts knocking them down with some consistency he’ll remain a fringe Fantasy option.
24. Jameer Nelson, Orlando Magic: A talented but highly injury-prone player, Nelson has missed 70 games over the past three campaigns and saw his play suffer last season after emerging as a borderline All-Star in 2008-09 when he averaged 16.7 PPG and shot 45.3 per cent from three-point range. There’s some upside here, but you cannot expect much more than what he offered last year.
25. Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs: Parker is the youngest member of San Antonio’s long-time core, but the emergence of George Hill seems to also make him the most expendable. He didn’t post bad numbers a season ago — 16.0 PPG, 5.7 APG — even with some injury woes. The issue, though, is that coach Gregg Popovich plays the regular season to get ready for the playoffs, meaning he’ll keep Parker’s minutes in check. That’s not a phrase Fantasy owners want to hear.
26. Rodney Stuckey, PG/SG, Detroit Pistons: Detroit GM Joe Dumars traded away Billups with the expectation that Stuckey was going to emerge as a go-to player. Nearly two years later, he’s still waiting. The fourth-year guard posted a career-high 16.6 points per game last season, but his shooting percentage nosedived to 40.5 per cent, which included a dreadful 22.8 per cent from downtown. Also, despite being 6-foot-5, Stuckey managed just 3.9 rebounds per game to go with his 4.8 assists. Tab him in the later rounds as an extra guard.
27. Jrue Holiday, Philadelphia 76ers: It took a while for Holiday to earn much playing time in Philly, but once he did he showed flashes of being a solid contributor. In 30 games after the All-Star break, Holiday shot over 50 per cent from the field and averaged 11.9 points and 5.5 assists per game. He’s a maximum effort kind of player, which should endear him to the coaching staff and fans, though the presence of talented Louis Williams and rookie Evan Turner clouds his outlook a bit.
28. Mike Conley, Memphis Grizzlies: Conley made modest strides last season, increasing his point output from 10.9 to 12.0 per game and also upping his assists (5.3 APG). The problem with Conley is that he’s arguably the fifth option in the starting offense and plays with a number of guys (most notably Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo) that are better at creating their own shot than spotting up. He’d make a decent reserve for your Fantasy team. Nothing more.
29. Jose Calderon, Toronto Raptors: After averaging 12.8 points and 8.9 assists per game in 2008-09, Calderon looked like he might develop into a poor man’s Nash. That didn’t happen. Instead, he lost minutes to Jarrett Jack and saw his production dip across the board. Even Calderon’s vaunted free throw shooting fell under 80 per cent. If he can outlast Jack in camp this year, the Spanish Fly has got a chance to rebound. If not, forgot we even mentioned his name.
30. Beno Udrih, Sacramento Kings: Udrih seems to be Fantasy afterthought, but last season he actually stayed healthy, and wound up shooting a career best 49.3 per cent from the field, had his finest season from long distance, volume-wise, set a new career high in PPG and matched his highest output in steals and assists per game. Tyreke Evans may run the show from the two-guard, but Udrih is still a starting PG on a young team that should improve substantially this season. That’s got to count for something, right?
31. Jonny Flynn, Minnesota Timberwolves: When Ricky Rubio decided to stay overseas and work on strengthening his labia rather than manning up in the NBA, Flynn took over as the T-Wolves’ point guard. He made the best of a tough situation, totaling 13.5 points and 4.4 assists per contest, but the Syracuse product is coming off hip surgery and the bizarre signing of veteran Luke Ridnour means Flynn probably won’t see the court as much in 2010-11.