2011-12 RotoRob NBA Draft Kit: Point Guard Rankings
Deron Williams is a great choice if you don’t get one of the super stud PGs.
Welcome to the 2011-12 RotoRob NBA Draft Kit. Given the last minute nature of the labour agreement and the truncated scheduled, we’ve had to throw this together very quickly, but we’ll do our best to keep you up to date on Fantasy basketball happenings all season long. So while you wonder if Dallas will again be the last team standing in the Western Conference, let’s review out picks for the top 35 point guards in Fantasy basketball.
Thanks to the huge steps forward taken by 2010-11 NBA MVP Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook, the point guard position has become much deeper in terms of major Fantasy impact players. In fact, when considering that SG Dwyane Wade qualifies (but is not listed) here, you can argue that as many as five PGs will go in the opening round of most drafts. And if you have to “settle” for Deron Williams or Rajon Rondo or perhaps another of the two-guards that qualify here (like Monta Ellis, although we only listed him as a SG) as your No. 1 point guard, you’re still sitting pretty.
And then there’s the next wave, any of whom could join the elite ranks this season, such as Jrue Holiday, John Wall, Brandon Jennings and Ty Lawson. Or perhaps you’d prefer to take an ageless wonder like Steve Nash or Jason Kidd. There are options aplenty when you’re seeking a Fantasy option to anchor your team’s dime count.
Last year’s rankings are in parentheses.
1. Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers (1): It’s got to be a great relief to those of you drafting Paul that the trade rumours are done now that he’s been dealt to the Clippers, but either way he was going to be the top dog at point guard. While he stayed healthy last season, CP4 struggled through his worst season since he was an NBA sophomore back in 2006-07. His PT dropped to career low levels and his numbers suffered. Still, Paul set a personal best in FT percentage and remains a top-drawer source of dimes and steals. He also did a superb job of protecting the pumpkin.
2. Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls (7): Rose absolutely explodes into elite PG status last season, taking home MVP honours by making tremendous strides in some of his weak areas, notably 3-point shooting and steals. His shooting suffered as he was asked to carry the load offensively for the Bulls for much of the season, but Rose improved his rebounding, reached a steal per game for the first time and became a major offensive force. After taking just 132 3-pointers in his first two seasons, Rose put up a whopping 385 last season and better yet – he didn’t sacrifice his interior game, getting to the line more than ever. Just imagine how dangerous Rose will be if Richard Hamilton can finally provide him with another backcourt scoring option.
3. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors (3): An ankle woe that bothered him most of the season prohibited Curry from having the breakout sophomore season most projected for him, but he still took a nice step forward. He’s proved he’s more than just a shooter, but the fact that he improved his touch last season was a nice bonus. A tremendous 3-point threat, Curry didn’t get as many steals last season, but the ankle was likely a factor there. He’s not going to help you with blocks, but Curry is poised to take the next step as a scorer this season, so expect him to top 20 PPG.
4. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder (11): Westbrook’s emergence as a stud last season helped the Thunder announce itself as a Western Conference contender. Given that he just turned 23 last month, you’ve to wonder how much better this durable guard can still become. Last season, Westbrook became an ever bigger part of the team’s offense, putting up a whopping 17 shots per game and showing a much better touch from downtown. If that part of his game continues to improve, look out. His rebounding has slipped since his rookie season, but his dime total keeps rising and he stepped up big time in the steals department last season. The Robin to Kevin Durant’s Batman, Westbrook’s rapid ascension makes you wonder where the ceiling is.
5. Deron Williams, New Jersey Nets (2): There’s a lot of talk that Williams won’t accept a contract extension from the Nets, but that only means he’ll be motivated this season before opting out of his deal at the end of the campaign. Last season, despite a less efficient outside game, he was enjoying his top scoring season before the blowout with Utah coach Jerry Sloan ended with Sloan getting fired and Williams being dealt to the swamplands. Once in Jersey, Williams saw a bit more action and, while his assists soared, his scoring dropped off substantially. Injuries limited D-Will to a career-low 65 games last season, yet he still managed a new person best with 105 treys. The Nets desperately want to lock Williams up, but it’s obvious his plan is to go out and earn an even bigger payday, which may be great news for his Fantasy owners.
6. Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics (4): The Celtics say they won’t deal Rondo, but the rumours are an unwelcome distraction coming off his disappointing effort in 2010-11. The strides he had been making with his shot disappeared, and he was more gun shy, becoming much more of a facilitator than scorer. You know you’re not going to get any 3-pointers from him, and while his assists-to-turnover ratio keeps improving, Rondo is a two-trick pony these days: dimes and steals. The dude’s an electric player, but until he makes strides in his FT shooting, he’ll remain a bit reticent about driving to the hoop, and that will restrict his offensive potential.
7. Jrue Holiday, Philadelphia 76ers (27): As a full-time starter, Holiday made huges strides in his second NBA campaign last season. His 3-point shooting wasn’t quite as good as during his rookie effort, but Holiday did a much better job of getting to the line and his rebounds, assists, steals and points all soared. This kid is on the verge of breaking into elite status among NBA point guards, so don’t be shy about reaching for him a round or so early, as it’s a move that could pay off handsomely.
8. John Wall, Washington Wizards (20): Wall’s rookie season went pretty much as advertised: a ton of excitement and speed, plenty of assists and a crapload of turnovers. Unfortunately, he also dealt with plenty of health issues, especially early in the season. Wall will need to contribute more 3-pointers and improve his assists-to-turnover ratio to rise into the elite ranks, but the rest of his game is already solid, with plenty of room for growth. He’s already the fastest player in the game, and once his skills start to match his speed, look out.
9. Kyle Lowry, Houston Rockets (NR): An injury to Aaron Brooks allowed Lowry to grab the reins of the Houston offense last season, and he never let go, finally establishing himself as a legitimate NBA starter. While Lowry’s FT shooting was disappointing – both in terms of percentage and number of trips to the line – he flashed more offensive skill than ever and showed decent rebounding skills for a point guard. The dimes were great, and would be even sweeter if he had more talent on the Rockets to feed the rock to. The former Villanova star has upside still, and other than blocks, he offers a very nice across-the-board skill set.
10. Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns (5): Has it really been seven years since the Mavericks decided that signing Nash to a long-term deal would be too risky, letting him walk in free agency? Now 37, he’ll be prone to days off, especially a factor this season with the compressed schedule and back-to-back-to-backs teams will have to play. There’s no doubt the cracks are starting to form in Nash’s game. His 3-point shooting last season was the second worst showing of his lengthy career. On the plus side, he did a better job of getting to the line, his rebounding was a bit better, his assists remain top shelf and his turnovers dipped a bit last season. But I’m worried about Nash this season, and it’s not just because of his perimeter game slipping. Those with aging legs are going to suffer the most in this tightened season, so don’t be shocked if his game deteriorates a bit more rapidly.
11. Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee Bucks (23): Jennings’ sophomore effort was a mixed bag. He missed plenty of time with injuries, but he made some progress with his woeful shooting percentage. His steals were up, but he averaged almost an assist per game less. Jennings turned the ball over less frequently and all things considered, he made slight gains in Year Two. If he can stay healthy this season and continue to improve his shooting touch, Jennings is poised to take the next step in his development.
12. Tyreke Evans, Sacramento Kings (8): With Evans, Marcus Thornton and rookie Jimmer Fredette, the backcourt is sure to be a strength for the Kings this season. Evans’ sophomore effort was marred by foot woes which sidelined him for a good chunk of the season. His PT was down slightly and he didn’t pull down as many boards as he did as a rook. Evans did up his blocks, maintain his steals and commit fewer fouls, so the news wasn’t all bad. If he’s healthy this season (and that remains a concern, which holds back his ranking to an extent), Evans will put up some serious points, and while he’s not a true PG, no one on the Kings is a better option to run the offense, so he’ll get his dimes as well.
13. Jason Kidd, Dallas Mavericks (12): After a bit of a renaissance in 2009-10, Kidd’s game hit rock bottom last season. He remains among the game’s most durable point guards, but his touches were down, his 3-point shooting was drastically less accurate and he got to the line less than ever before — which is a shame, as he never shot it better from the stripe. Even Kidd’s rebounding – his saving grace in recent seasons – declined precipitously. Toss in declining dime and point totals, and you’ve got to believe that this free agent to be may be heading into not just the final season of his contract, but also his career.
14. Mike Conley, Memphis Grizzlies (28): Conley took a nice step forward last season, maturing into a fine point guard for the offensive powerhouse Grizzlies. His PT has risen steadily throughout his career and last season he made strides in terms of getting to the charity stripe, always a key for developing an offensive game. His dime total was much more in line with what you expect from a starting PG and he did a bit better on the defensive glass, although at 6’1”, this will never be a big part of Conley’s game. What impressed me most was that his turnovers only rose a fraction while his assists soared – that’s the sign of a truly maturing guard. The former Ohio State star has upside still, so don’t be surprised to see him take another step forward this season, although probably not as large as last season’s gain.
15. Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs (25): Parker is a key component of the veteran core of the Spurs, but talk that the team is seeking scoring punch at small forward buoys hopes that he’ll have more talent surrounding him this season. Last season, Parker’s scoring rebounded somewhat after a down season in 2009-10 and he even sunk a few more treys than usual, but he hasn’t been a real threat in that department since early in his career. Parker did a bit better on the glass, especially on the offensive end and his steals were way up while he slightly trimmed his turnover rate. Clearly, Parker isn’t as good as he showed in 2008-09, but he’s better than he played in 2009-10. For those of you that dabble in playoff Fantasy leagues, note that Parker has been a major stud in the postseason over the years, averaging 2.1 PPG more than he has in the regular season.
16. Ty Lawson, Denver Nuggets (NR): Lawson should finally get his chance to run an NBA offense, and his success in doing so is integral to the Nuggets’ chances this season. Last season, he stayed healthy, reached a steal per game and did a better job of getting to the line. Lawson’s assist-to-turnover ratio is improving, and must continue to do so if he’s going to take the next step. Here’s betting he does.
17. Raymond Felton, Portland Trail Blazers (21): Now that he’s been dealt to Portland, Felton will get another chance to be the main man at PG after spending the second half of last season in a timeshare with Lawson. Felton was enjoying a breakthrough season in Mike D’Antoni’s high-tempo offense in New York, but after being shipped to Denver in the Carmelo Anthony deal, he found himself coming off the bench. With the Knicks, Felton wasn’t shy about hoisting up the long bombs, but his assist numbers dropped significantly with the move west. He’s proved he’s a competent point guard, and it will be interesting to see if he can take it to the next level with the Blazers.
18. Darren Collison, Indiana Pacers (10): We expected a lot more out of Collison in his first full season as a starting point guard, and if he doesn’t step up, he could wind up on the bench behind George Hill. Last season, Collison’s scoring was up, but not as much as we’d hoped or expected. He struggled from beyond the arc and his rebounding numbers remained sub par. Collison did a better job of protecting the rock, but considering the hike in his shot total, his offensive numbers were a bit disappointing. His steals rose nominally, but unless the Pacers surround him with a bit more talent, Collison may not emerge as the kind of point guard we all anticipated.
19. D.J. Augustin, Charlotte Bobcats (NR): Augustin made nice strides in his first year as a full-time starter last season, flashing much more scoring ability and even showing better results on the glass. Obviously, his turnovers were up, but not as much as you’d think given his increase in responsibilities. On the disappointing side, Augustin’s steals didn’t improve much, but the former Longhorn has arrived as a bona fide starting PG and there is likely plenty of upside in his game to come.
20. Chauncey Billups, Los Angeles Clippers (6): Billups didn’t exactly turn the Knicks into a winner after arriving with Carmelo Anthony in the late-season mega deal with Denver. With the Nuggets, Mr. Big Shot wasn’t getting as many touches as usual and his overall performance slipped from the previous season. Once he arrived in New York, Billups got a few more buckets, but his overall game didn’t get any better. At the age of 35, he’s well past his prime, and the fact that he will mostly play the offguard position for the Clippers now that Chris Paul has arrived, not to mention quality guards behind him in Mo Williams, Randy Foye and Eric Bledsoe, doesn’t bode well.
21. Devin Harris, Utah Jazz (14): Last season was a disappointment for Harris. He was actually shooting better with the Nets, but wasn’t putting up nearly as many treys as usual. He was dealt to the Jazz in the D-Will trade and once in Utah, Harris’ 3-point game returned, but he didn’t do quite as good a job of getting to the line. With Earl Watson as his main backup, Harris’ job is pretty safe, but it’s becoming clear that he’ll never duplicate what he did in his first full season in New Jersey in 2008-09.
22. Toney Douglas, New York Knicks (NR) 47: Douglas is a natural combo guard, but with the Knicks dumping Billups, the youngster is currently in line to be the starting point guard in the Big Apple (however, he may cede the job to Baron Davis whenever B-Diddy is healthy). Last season, Douglas’ FT shooting slipped a bit, but his rebounding and assists were both up. He took a lot more shots as a sophomore last season and made overall progress. But is he ready to run an offense that features studs Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire? I have my doubts, but he’s a major sleeper because of the opportunity to run a Mike D’Antoni offense.
23. Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers (NR) 32: All Irving did in his first NBA exhibition game was pour in 21 points off the bench. The No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft may very well begin the season as a backup, but he’ll be starting in no time. The Duke product has all the skills needed to be a successful NBA point guard with a nice jump shot and an ability to create offense. Irving is fast, which is a good thing, because he’s only 6’2”. He’ll get his chances on a rebuilding Cavalier team – don’t worry.
24. George Hill, Indiana Pacers (NR): Acquired on draft night from San Antonio, Hill adds to a nice young core of players that the Pacers are building. He spent most of last season coming off the bench as the Spurs’ top backcourt backup and his assist numbers dipped as he was unable to build on his fine sophomore effort the season before. On the plus side, Hill got to the line more often and pulled down more boards on the defensive end. He’ll start the season coming off the bench behind Collison, but that situation could easily reverse at some point this season. Even as a sixth man, Hill adds value because of his 3-point prowess.
25. Jameer Nelson, Orlando Magic (24): The former St. Joe star has had a solid, if unspectacular NBA career. Last season, his PT was up as were his touches, and while he responded with a career best in assists and improved steal numbers, his rebounding remained the same (read: tepid). Nelson’s shooting has declined for two straight seasons, but he remains a low-end second or strong third point guard capable of helping you in treys, dimes and steals.
Others to Consider
26. Jose Calderon, Toronto Raptors (29)
27. Andre Miller, Denver Nuggets (22)
28. Rodney Stuckey, Detroit Pistons (26)
29. Baron Davis, New York Knicks (16)
30. Jeff Teague, Atlanta Hawks (NR)
31. Louis Williams, Philadelphia 76ers (NR)
32. Jamal Crawford, Portland Trail Blazers (19)
33. J.J. Barea, Minnesota Timberwolves (NR)
34. Ramon Sessions, Cleveland Cavaliers (NR)
35. Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves (NR)
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