Kyrie Irving knows all about the styling shoes. (Sneakernews.com)
It’s almost hoops time, my peeps, and that of course means it’s time to launch the 2013-14 RotoRob NBA Draft Kit. Over the next few weeks, we’ll offer up cheat sheets for every position, plus top 10 lists for busts, sleepers and rookies. So while you mull over the not so surprising news that LeBron James has the top selling jersey in the game, let’s review the top 35 point guards in Fantasy basketball.
The deepest position in the game was beleaguered by injuries last season, some of which were serious enough to carry into this season (we’re looking at you, Rajon Rondo).
Oh sure, the consensus top two players in the game are both small forwards, but no position will dominate the first round of your draft like point guard. The fate of both your Fantasy teams and most actual NBA teams rest in their PG’s little hands.
The fact that Derrick Rose is returning after missing all of last season only adds to the wealth of talent here.
Last year’s rankings are in parentheses.
1. Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers (1): The addition of a big man that can space the floor (Antawn Jamison) should open up more seams for Paul this season. While CP3 slipped in his second season with the Clips, he decided to stick around, signing a new five-year deal in July, as he drives forward a new era for this long-suffering franchise. Paul’s dealt with injuries since moving west, missing 18 games the past two games combined, but last season was his finest at the charity stripe yet. Oh, and the dude sure can shoot (see video below).
2. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors (10): Now that the Warriors have also signed his kid brother, perhaps Curry will build on his career season, which he capped by leading the way in first round upset over Denver. Last season, he sunk more field goals than ever while his work from the line and rebounding bounced back. Curry has established himself as one of the best PGs in the NBA and last season sunk more three-pointers than anyone ever has in a single season in the history of the game.
3. Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers (4): Irving did’t shoot quite as well from the line as sophomore (not that he was bad), but almost all his other numbers were up and he reached 1.5 steals per game. You’ll often see a player take it to the next level in their third season, so we’re expecting huge things out of Irving – especially if he can stay healthy, which he was unable to do last season.
4. Deron Williams, Brooklyn Nets (3): D-Will’s assist numbers have dropped in each of the last four seasons, but we expect that trend to end this season now that he’ll be coached by Jason Kidd. After struggling with his shot when he first arrived on the Nets, Williams turned that around last year, but we know he’s capable of even better in that regard given his work with the Jazz. Let’s hope he can avoid the ankle woes this season.
5. John Wall, Washington Wizards (8): When he was healthy, Wall took a nice step forward last season, but it’s time for him to really leave his mark on the Wizards and help this team snap a five-year playoff drought. He took more shots last season and continues to do a better job of earning points at the line, but his rebounding numbers have slipped after he showed such promising by hauling in 4.6 boards as a rookie in 2010-11. The former Kentucky star proved he’s healthy, going off for 40 points at a recent Wildcat alumni game.
6. Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves (18): Rubio has excelled in international play, but we’re still waiting to see that translate to the NBA. After earning consideration as the 2012 RotoRob Fantasy Rookie of the Year, last season, he regressed somewhat, getting off fewer shots (although shooting slightly better) and sinking fewer treys. Still, this kid is 22 and has serious untapped potential, so don’t you dare sleep on him.
7. Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls (22): It’s hard to believe that a dude that was the MVP just two years ago could be underrated, but after missing all of last season because of an ACL injury, that’s exactly the situation Rose faces this season. His shooting touch has been in decline and before going down in 2011-12, he wasn’t getting as many points from the line, and that’s a bad combination. Expect some rust from Rose early on, but don’t be surprised if he’s a top five PG by season’s end. Hey, at least his absence last season helped Nate Robinson become a waiver wire darling.
8. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers (33): Lillard was a slam dunk for Rookie of the Year last season, playing every single game while averaging 19 points and 6.5 dimes and even pitching in with decent board numbers. Is this the season he becomes an All-Star?
9. Ty Lawson, Denver Nuggets (5): Since leading the Tar Heels to a national championship in 2009, Lawson has settled in as a top 10 point guard, although he underwent some minor regression last season. His rebounding was down significantly, although he made up for it with a career best 1.5 steals per game. We’ll have to see how Lawson’s legal troubles (stemming from a fight with his pregnant girlfriend) will affect his play this season. It’s hard for us to slot him any higher based on this still pending domestic violence case.
10. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder (2): Westbrook enjoyed his finest season yet in 2012-13, but he missed most of the Thunder’s run to the NBA Finals after injuring his knee in the first round and undergoing surgery. He’s never missed a regular season game in his five seasons, so this was awful timing for his first serious health issue. Westbrook did a better job of getting to the line last season, although his actual work at the charity stripe has slightly regressed the past couple of years. A second knee surgery at the beginning of October will cost him the first four-to-six weeks of the season, hence his lower ranking than usual here.
11. Jrue Holiday, New Orleans Pelicans (14): The All-Star landed in The Big Easy in a draft day deal and now Holiday will be charged with turning youngster Anthony Davis into a serious stud.
12. Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs (11): The French star showed no signs of slowing down, enjoying one of his finest seasons last year. The veteran’s outside shooting improved and it would behoove him to jack up a few more treys this season.
13. Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics (6): Rondo’s finest season was cut short with a torn ACL, an injury that will likely keep him sidelined to at least mid-December, hence his modest ranking here. Reports suggest he’s busting his tail to get back, but Boston can’t reasonably expect its best player back until after the season commences – despite the aggressive recovery schedule it prescribed for him.
14. Mike Conley, Memphis Grizzlies (13): Conley is coming off his finest season, again proving durable and upping most of his numbers despite seeing less PT for the second straight season. This speedy guard may yet have upside in this game.
15. Brandon Jennings, Detroit Pistons (7): Milwaukee dealt the enigmatic Jennings to Motown this summer, and he’ll look to bounce back after slight regression last season. He’s been durable the past couple of seasons and his fine career to date suggests that he didn’t necessarily miss anything by skipping college and playing overseas for a year before coming to the NBA.
16. Kemba Walker, Charlotte Bobcats (23): Walker, who led UConn to a national title in 2011, took a big step forward in his second pro season in 2012-13. He became a full-time starter and stayed healthy, while showing nice development in his perimeter game. Look for Walker to head what should be a strong backcourt in Charlotte that also includes swingman Gerald Henderson, off guard Ben Gordon and backup PG Ramon Sessions.
17. Jeff Teague, Atlanta Hawks (20): The Hawks think enough of Teague that they matched Milwaukee’s four-year, $32-million offer sheet this summer, and why not? He’s improved every season, has proved quite durable the last couple of years, and managed to sink more buckets last season. Still, Atlanta drafted Dennis Schröder with its first round pick this year, so it now has its point guard of the future, making Teague a potential trade chip within the next year or so.
18. Greivis Vasquez, Sacramento Kings (38): The Venezuelan star was forced to sit out the FIBA Championship this summer because of ankle surgery, but he’s expected to be fine for next season, his first in Sacramento after a June trade sent him to the Kings. Vasquez enjoyed a major breakthrough last season, becoming a way bigger part of the offense and getting to the line a bit more often. Nothing about the former Maryland star’s game will catch your eye, but he knows how to play – and he plays hard.
19. George Hill, Indiana Pacers (31): The gritty Hill enjoyed his finest season, becoming a full-time starter and seeing a huge boost in PT. The Indianapolis native spent the offseason trimming down in the hopes of being able to handle his workload.
20. Goran Dragic, Phoenix Suns (9): The Slovenian star took a significant step forward last season, his first as a full-time starter. Man, this dude sure knows how to dish a dime.
21. Trey Burke, Utah Jazz (NR): After being named the National Player of the Year for the Michigan Wolverines this year, Burke was taken ninth overall by Minnesota and then flipped to the Jazz for the 14th and 21st picks. He didn’t exactly light it up in Summer League, but he’s been getting schooled by former Jazz PG John Stockton, who knows a thing or two about running an offense.
22. Isaiah Thomas, Sacramento Kings (19): Thomas is just 5′9″, yet is one of the most proficient layup scorers in the game. He’ll have top hold off newcomer Vasquez for the starting job, but over the course of the season, we prefer Vasquez by a hair. Thomas took a step forward in his second season, getting off more shots, but not quite sinking them at the same rate as he did during his rookie campaign. Considering he was the final pick in the 2011 draft, he’s already delivered more than what was expected.
23. Jose Calderon, Dallas Mavericks (25): Signed by the Mavericks this summer to help the team win the close games, Calderon has been dealing with a hamstring issue in training camp, but it sounds like a minor woe. Last season, Calderon spent most of his time starting for the Raptors, but was back to being a full-time starter after getting dealt to Detroit. The Spanish Fly knows how to protect the pumpkin, having compiled a career assist-to-turnover ratio of 7.2-to-1.7.
24. Jeremy Lin, Houston Rockets (15): Lin spent this summer running a basketball camp in Taiwan, but he also made adjustments to his own game, altering his shot motion so it’s more natural. Last season, he stayed healthy, but didn’t shoot quite as well from the line. But come on – Lin has his own documentary, Linsanity the Movie. Seriously.
25. Steve Nash, Los Angeles Lakers (12): Nash has already commented on the improved vibe on the Lakers this season, which is great news for everyone in LaLa Land. Expect the vet to see fewer minutes this season and to get the occasional night off after missing a ton of games with injuries last in 2012-13. Right now he’s healthy, but it will present a bit of headache for Fantasy owners as the team tries to keep him that way.
26. Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors (16): Lowry’s PT has waned the past couple of years and that may not change with Toronto adding D.J. Augustin this summer.
Others to Consider
27. Eric Bledsoe, Phoenix Suns (NR)
28. Raymond Felton, New York Knicks (21)
29. Brandon Knight, Milwaukee Bucks (26)
30. Jameer Nelson, Orlando Magic (24)
31. Michael Carter-Williams, Philadelphia 76ers (NR)
32. Nate Robinson, Denver Nuggets (NR)
33. Louis Williams, Atlanta Hawks (17 at SG)
34. Mario Chalmers, Miami Heat (29)
35. Ramon Sessions, Charlotte Bobcats (27)
Now it’s your turn. In the comments below, sound off and tell us who is missing, too high or too low.