Celtics news is still slower than Zydrunas Ilgauskas with an ankle sprain, so we’ve got to do some offseason columns to make the long and boring NBA dog days pass by a little faster. So we’re starting a little something that will be an annual rite of summer – the Celtics Town positional rankings, where we will rank the top ten players at every position. Without further ado, check out the point guards, where a young collection of talent is joining the old guard – no pun intended - to create a deep and gifted class of lead guards…
In no particular order: Jose Calderon, Baron Davis, Jason Kidd (washed-up version), Jameer Nelson (I know he was an all-star, but his team didn’t seem to miss a beat when he was replaced by Rafer Alston), Sebastian Telfair (just kidding)
10. Rajon Rondo
Yeah, I know. This is a Celtics website, shouldn’t the constant triple-double threat and human blur be rated a little higher than he is?
In a word, no. The brilliance of Rajon Rondo’s 2009 playoffs has made people very high on young Rajon, and rightfully so, but it has also caused people to forget his often inconsistent play. Some nights, Rajon attacks the hoop, scoring himself and creating easy opportunities for everyone on his team. Other nights, he disappears and you forget why you ever touted him so highly.
Still, Rondo is a budding superstar and, if he ever gets a jumper, could become one of the NBA’s premier point guards.
9. Derrick Rose
Why do I take Rose over Rondo, especially after Rondo just averaged a near triple-double on him during round one?
Because I love the way he plays with poise and patience, but still has that explosive talent to get to the rim just about whenever he wants. With his high basketball IQ, Superman athletic ability and underrated midrange jumper, Derrick Rose should be a stud for many years to come.
8. Gilbert Arenas
Gilbert’s been injured for what seems like half my life, but I can still (vaguely) remember what his game’s like when he’s healthy. And it can be described like this:
The man can score for days. When healthy (and reports from Wizards camp say he has regained all his explosiveness), Arenas is, simply put, one of the NBA’s best scorers. Arenas is as strong as an ox, quick as a rabbit, and can shoot, too. The knocks against him – besides being as injury-prone as Evel Knievl - are that he hogs the ball or that he isn’t a true point guard. But 22.8 points per game for his whole career? The man can play, and would be higher on this list if he could prove that he’s healthy.
7. Mo Williams
This selection might be a little controversial, especially after Mo threw up a stinker against Orlando in the Eastern Conference Finals, but Mo indisputably helped the Cavs win a lot of ballgames this year.
Williams has an uncanny ability to hit shots, whether those shots are threes, midrange jumpers, or floaters, and is a pretty good distributor who knows how to run an offense. Would the Cavs trade Williams straight up for any of the three guys behind him? Almost surely. But would they have been a better team last year, or even this coming year, with any of those three players? I’m not so sure.
6. Devin Harris
The Jason Kidd for Devin Harris trade hasn’t been bashed as much as it should have been. The Mavs traded away the better player, with a better contract, for an aging, washed-up, used-to-be superstar. When you mortgage your future while getting worse for the time-being, I’d say you made a pretty bad trade.
Harris is as fast as NBA players come, and can get to the rim against anybody. With his breakout season in 2008-2009, Harris proved to the league he’s ready to become the Nets’ leader. And with Harris running the show, the Nets are in good hands.
5. Steve Nash
Yeah, he’s getting old. Okay, he seems to give up big numbers to a lot of opposing point guards. But you want to know something? I would still take Steve Nash on my team any day of the week.
Nash makes every team he’s on better, with his great court vision, fantastic shooting, and unselfish play. For the small percentage of people who actually think Nash is overrated, just ask Shawn Marion, Quentin Richardson, or Tim Thomas what they think about his game.
4. Chauncey Billups
Mr. Big Shot is a winner, in every sense of the word. Seven straight Conference Finals berths, plenty of big shots along the way, and an ability to make everyone around him play better? Sounds like the quintessential point guard to me.
Chauncey may not be a true point guard in the traditional sense of the word – he doesn’t think pass-first all the time, takes some questionable threes, and doesn’t possess great court vision like some of the guys on this list – but, with Chauncey at the helm, a team will always feel comfortable heading into a game.
3. Tony Parker
It’s hard to be underrated when you have won three championships, a finals MVP, and are married to Eva F------ Longoria. Somehow, Tony Parker has managed that feat.
After his best individual season, with averages of 22.0 points and 6.9 assists, Parker shouldn’t be underrated any longer. His game is unique – what other 6’2” point guard makes a living off buckets in the paint? – but Parker has made his team better for a long time, and has been a huge part of the Spurs’ quasi-dynasty.
And he’s only made three all-star games? It’s about time Parker starts getting a little more credit where credit’s due.
2. Deron Williams
The most physically imposing point guard in today’s NBA, Williams would make a hell of a fullback. With his strength, explosiveness and surprising quickness, Deron can go by a defense, through a defense or over a defense. Williams has the keys to Jerry Sloan’s offense, and should for a long, long time.
1. Chris Paul
Is there any discussion over who is the NBA’s best point guard? When Paul is at the top of his game (and he’s there quite often) it seems as if he makes the right decision, the perfect basketball play, just about every time down the court. At only 6’0” tall, Paul is an assassin, a cold-blooded killer with eyes in the back of his head and motors on his feet.
When everything’s said and done, CP3 should go down as one of the greatest point guards to ever play the game of basketball.