Ranking Point Guards: Who Takes the Next Step?
The National Basketball Association is a point guards driven league these days. Since there are so many outstanding ball handlers in today’s game, it is tough to distinguish who reigns supreme in the point guard hierarchy. Do you prefer score first point guards or pure passers? How much should you take scoring efficiency into play? Do you look for rebounds and defensive statistics from your smallest player? All these questions determine personal preference of which guard you want to draft for your fantasy basketball team. In this article, I have ranked the top fifteen NBA point guards from a fantasy perspective for the 2013-2014 season. I will highlight the guys that I believe I have a different perspective on from other experts. Without further ado, this is how I go about ranking point guards from a fantasy perspective for next year:
- Chris Paul
- Derrick Rose
- Russell Westbrook
- Kyrie Irving
- Stephen Curry
- John Wall
- Jrue Holiday
- Rajon Rondo
- Damian Lillard
- Deron Williams
- Mike Conley
- Brandon Jennings
- Ty Lawson
- Goran Dragic
- Tony Parker
Derrick Rose: Chicago Bulls‘ nation and I could not be anymore disappointed with Derrick Rose after the lack of heart he showed this season. Doctors cleared him to play two months before the shorthanded Bulls were knocked out of the playoffs by the Miami Heat. With that being said, we are talking about fantasy basketball and not reality. ”Heart” is not a category in rotisserie nor head-to-head leagues. Next year, people may cite his extended absence as a reason to drop him in the rankings. I am here to tell you that I absolutely would not. Derrick Rose will have something to prove next year. Already having won one MVP award, Rose should immediately return to the player he was in the 2011-2012 season. In a Thibodeau run offense, Derrick Rose (and any PG) will have all kinds of freedom and encouragement to score the basketball. In 2011, Rose averaged 25 PPG on 44.5% FG. With Luol Deng a year older, Carlos Boozer in danger of being amnestied, and not much other scoring on the roster, I don’t see why Rose can’t repeat those numbers. Along with elite scoring numbers, including 1.5 3PM and good FT%, Rose offers around 8 AST, 1 STL, and over a half a block per game. As you’ll find out in my John Wall snippet, I love getting blocks from the guard position. Taking all his numbers into consideration, you have an elite scoring point guard who also dishes out an upper-echelon amount of assists with other goodies. Besides Chris Paul, there is no other point guard I would rather own than Derrick Rose.
Stephen Curry: Steph may be the toughest player to rank at the point guard position. He is the true definition of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The “Dr. Jekyll” version of Steph is as good as it gets. Curry is the best shooter in the NBA: he made 59 more 3-pointers than any other player while shooting 45% from beyond the arc. His percentage, while making 3.5 threes per game, was third in the NBA. I cannot put into words how absolutely insane that is. To take things to the next level, that is only where his fantasy value begins. Curry also posted 23 PTS, 4 REB, 7 AST, and 1.6 STL on a nightly basis this year. Since the playoffs began, his AST total has actually risen to around 8 per game. Oh, and naturally being a lights out shooter, he posts a super-elite free throw percentage. So why is Stephen Curry not the number one player in fantasy basketball? The answer can be summed up in one word: ankles (his Mr. Hyde). Stephen Curry’s ankles are similar to Samuel L. Jackson’s character in the movie Unbreakable. Anytime Samuel was barely touched, he would instantly break a bone or become severely injured. Stephen Curry sprains his ankles more than Kendrick Perkins gives refs the stink eye. It is reasons like this that makes ranking point guards so difficult. I cannot trust Curry to play 82 games in a season. He has only played 80 games one time in 4 years. He sprained his ankle again a few games ago this postseason. Only because of injury concern do I have him ranked at #5. If you believe that he will stay healthy for all of next year, then you must take Steph Curry as the #1 PG off of the board.
John Wall: The title of my article includes “Who Takes the Next Step?” because I believe that player will be John Wall next year. Ranking point guards was not an easy task because my love for John Wall wanted me to rank him ahead of everyone. Wall, who began 2012 on the bench with a stress injury to his kneecap, saw his game take giant leaps this year. By March, his game had fully returned because his health fully returned. From that point on, he went nuts. Here are his numbers for the last two months:
March: 22.1 PPG, 48.4% FG, 0.6 3PM, 82.6% FT, 4.8 REB, 8.1 AST, 1.8 STL, 0.6 BLK April: 23.9 PPG, 43.5% FG, 0.1 3PM, 75.0% FT, 4.8 REB, 7.3 AST, 1.2 STL, 0.9 BLK
Wall produces in all nine fantasy basketball standard categories. His elite scoring numbers and upper echelon assist numbers speak for themselves. The category I want to really examine is the blocks. His last two season per-average totals were 0.9 BLK and 0.8 BLK. It might surprise you, but he averaged more blocks per game than DeMarcus Cousins, Shawn Marion, Greg Monroe and Gerald Wallace this year. If you draft John Wall, it gives you the freedom to take one less blocking big man. Instead of wasting big money on a one category player such as JaVale McGee, you now have the freedom to go for well rounded big men such as Zach Randolph. With those kind of big man numbers, along with his big rebounding numbers for a point, he offers sneaky value and roster flexibility. I also think if the Wizards fill another team hole with the draft, there is no reason to believe his assists cannot go up also. With better team scoring, his efficiency should stay above the 43.5% he posted in April. He also will continue to work on bettering his shot including long range (three pointers). I don’t believe that Wall’s price tag will be as high as the other point guard elites even though his stat line is more well rounded. When ranking point guards, most will have him around PG #10 on their boards. Therefore, in an auction league, I think Wall is a must-buy.
Ty Lawson: I admittedly may be as low as any analyst on Ty Lawson. Entering this draft, I saw him go as high as #4 at the point guard position. With the addition of Andre Iguodala, I was always worried about his assist numbers coming to an elite level. Don’t believe me? Look at Jrue Holiday’s numbers this year once Iguodala left. Holiday’s assists went from 4.5 in 2011 to 8.0 in 2012. Having foresight can be key to ranking point guards, and I don’t see Lawson having much upside. In back to back years, his numbers have been almost identical. In fact, in 2012, his numbers plateaued across the board with his efficiencies actually going down. Masai Ujiri, the Denver Nuggets‘ GM, won GM of the year this year. I think because of that, he will not change up much with this organization going into next year. He and the organization believe they are on the right path so they will continue to structure the roster similarly to this year. With no major changes in sight, I continue to value Lawson the exact same that I have for the last few years: a barely above average fantasy point guard.
Let me know what you think of my point guards rankings by commenting on this article or hitting me up on Twitter.
Author: Ricky Sanders, @RSanders85