Yesterday, I told you that the point guard is the most important player on a NBA team.
With that said, I gave you my 10-6 rankings of the best point guards in the league going into the 2013-2014 season. Beginning with number 10, those players were: Jrue Holiday, Damian Lillard, Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo and Stephen Curry.
Toaday, I will bring to you who I believe are the top five point guards in the NBA going into next season.
5. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
Russell Westbrook finished last season ranked first in points scored per game among all point guards with 23.2 ppg. He also averaged 7.4 apg, 5.2 rpg and 1.8 spg for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Now for all of you Westbrook haters out there who thought the team was better off without him, well after watching last years postseason, I just want to ask if you still feel the same way?
Because after Westbrook suffered a torn meniscus by colliding with Patrick Beverley in Game 2 against the Houston Rockets in the first round of the playoffs, which knocked him out for the remainder of the postseason, it was obviously a devastating blow to the Thunder, who saw their championship hopes vanish that instant.
Now I can somewhat agree with those of you who say that Westbrook does shoot a little too much as a point guard and also not being the best player on his team. But after watching how the Thunder performed in the postseason series’ against Houston and the Memphis Grizzlies, you can see why the 5th year man out of UCLA does what he does on the floor.
Other than Kevin Durant, every player on the OKC roster seemed like they were afraid to take on a bigger role with the team after the departure of Westbrook. Even Kevin Durant at times looked like he was lost soul without his trustee sidekick.
With Westbrook, OKC was the best team in the west. Without Westbrook, they went 2-2 and struggled heavily against the 8th seeded Houston Rockets, and almost got swept by the 5th seeded Memphis Grizzlies. So now you tell me if Westbrook is not one of the top impact players in the league.. Exactly!
4. Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs
Tony Parker finished last season averaging 20.3 ppg, 7.6 apg, 3.0 rpg and 0.8 spg for the San Antonio Spurs. Those numbers earned him a spot in the All-NBA’s 2nd team for the second consecutive year.
Even at the age of 31, Tony Parker continues to play at an elite level at the point guard position. One of the key reasons why Parker is still an effective player on the floor is because of his leadership and his basketball IQ.
Parker was only a game away from leading the Spurs to their 4th ever title since he was drafted by San Antonio as the 28th pick in 2001.
Parker is the perfect example of what happens when a point guard takes on the leadership role of his team. Not often in the NBA do you see the kind of relationship that he and head coach Gregg Popovich have, and yet their ability to maintain that respect for one another for so long just makes it that much more special.
Parker seems to go under the radar when the conversation of the top point guards in the NBA gets talked about, but after watching the kind of player Parker is, you can tell that doesn’t phase him one bit.
3. Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers
Kyrie Irving finished last season averaging 22.5 ppg, 5.9 apg, 3.7 rpg and 1.5 spg for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Those numbers earned Irving a roster spot on the Eastern Conference All-Star team. That All-Star selection of his left him as the eighth rookie or sophomore to earn such an honor since 2003.
Irving’s 20.6 points, 5.7 assists and 1.3 steals per game he’s averaging in conjunction with 39.4 percent shooting from beyond the arc for his career also put him in a company all his own. No player in NBA history has notched at least 20 points, five assists and one steal while converting on 39 percent or more of their deep balls through their first two seasons.
His ability to shoot the deep ball, while being able to drive the ball into the lane and score no matter who’s defending him, has made Irving a top point guard on everyones list.
With free-agency additions such as Jarrett Jack, Earl Clark and, most notably, Andrew Bynum, coupled with the debut of Anthony Bennett and return of Anderson Varejao, have given the Cavaliers something to play for now. As long as Irving can stay healthy, there is no reason why Cleveland wouldn’t make it back to the postseason for the fist time since “you know who” left the team.
2. Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls
If you were alive this past year and were able to comprehend the English language, you might have heard that former MVP Derrick Rose sat out the entire 2012 season due to a tear in his ACL.
Now for those of you who think Derrick Rose was selfish for sitting out this past postseason, especially when his Bulls team needed him to play against the would-be-champions Miami Heat, well you’re right.
In a Bulls TV video that aired on the team’s website, Rose said:
“I’m not a selfish guy at all. But having this injury and knowing what I had to go through and being smart, this is something I had to be selfish with. I couldn’t worry about anyone else but myself and my health.”
With that said, just about a week ago, when he was asked in a rapid-fire, headline-inducing, 90-second interview with CNN who the best player in the NBA was, Rose didn’t stutter, didn’t hesitate, didn’t even change his tone when he muttered, “Derrick Rose,” in his calm, reassured manner.
That’s the kind of answer you want to hear from your star player who is coming back from an injury as serious as a torn ACL.
We always knew Rose didn’t lack the confidence aspect in his game. But after hearing so much criticism from many different people on his decision to sit out a whole year because of an injury, Rose will now have something more to prove this upcoming season, which is a scary though for all opposing teams.
The only reason why Rose is not number one on my list is because it’s not fair to just put a guy who just tore his ACL and sat out for a whole season as the best player at his position. But let’s just say I will not be surprised if he is not only the best point guard, but also the MVP of the league once the 2013-2014 season comes to an end.
1. Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers
Chris Paul finished the 2013 season averaging 16.9 ppg, 9.7 apg, 3.7 rpg and 2.4 spg for the Los Angeles Clippers.
When you think of the ultimate point guard, the first person that comes to your mind has to be Chris Paul.
He is a floor general; he scores when he has to and passes when he doesn’t.
There were times last season where I thought he had more control over his team than former head coach Vinny Del Negro. The funny thing about it is, that’s actually not a bad thing with a guy like Chris Paul.
He doesn’t only transform players, he transforms a whole organization.
Before Paul came to the Clippers, they were the laughing stock of not only the state of California, but the whole NBA.
Two straight playoff appearances later and their first conference title in Clippers history, Chris Paul has not only transformed this team into the best there is in California, but also as a real title contender come next season.
And if you asked Chris Paul how does he feel about what he has accomplished so far in a Clippers uniform, he would probably reply back to you sarcastically asking, “What have I accomplished in a Clippers uniform?”
He has a championship or bust kind of mindset, which is what you need from the leader of your team. So if you add that, with the new acquisitions the Clippers added this year, including an already proven head coach in Doc Rivers, you have a formula of a team who has a championship in their sight.
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