If this was Bleacher Report, you'd get a pointless slideshow designed to annoy you and pump up page views. Here, all you're going to get is a starting point for a discussion with no right or wrong answer. Something to tide you over until we kick it back into gear for our game 11 discussion.
Obviously, this discussions goes way back to Doug Collins' statement that he believed Jrue Holiday could become a top five PG in the league by the end of this season. Personally, I don't think he was wrong about Jrue's potential, but his timeframe seemed absurd.
Last week, on the heels of some especially spirited play from our 20-year-old point guard, some top-five discussion surfaced again in the comments, then Derek and I touched on it during SixersBeat last Thursday. Forget about Jrue, he's not there yet, though he's certainly inched his way into the top 15, maybe higher. Let's just talk about who the top five are. Or, to be more accurate, who your top five are.
For me, the answer starts with a definition, and this is the part that's completely personal preference. When I think about top five point guards, I don't think about the top five players who happen to play the position. I think about the five guys who are best at doing what I think is crucial to the position. Namely:
- Running an offense
- Setting up teammates for easy looks
- Providing enough scoring to keep the opposing team honest
- Ability to get a hoop to stop the opposing team's run
- Ability to slow, hinder or stop penetration from the opposing point guard.
It's with those priorities in mind, that I chose my top five:
- Chris Paul - Paul is head and shoulders above the rest in my opinion. He can win a game by himself without taking a single shot, or he can score 40 to beat you. He contributes in every area of the game. I don't think he's a very good on-the-ball defender, but you can overlook it when you consider he wins his matchup every single night.
- Deron Williams - Williams does it all, and more than just about any other PG in the league, he uses his size to bully opposing PGs. Just think, the Hawks passed on both of these guys for Marvin Williams in the 2005 draft.
- Rajon Rondo - Rondo's lack of a jumper is alarming, but he makes up for it on the defensive end. He's also completely focused on using his dribble to set up teammates for easy looks, which is probably a good idea when you're sharing the floor with four future hall-of-famers.
- Steve Nash - If he was five years younger he'd be higher on the list. As it is, only Paul is a better playmaker in my opinion. The defense is atrocious, always has been, but much like with Paul, who cares.
- Andre Miller or Russell Westbrook - I can't make up my mind on this one, so I won't even try. Miller is in a bad situation for a PG (playing alongside Brandon Roy), but we saw firsthand what kind of effect he can have on the players around him. Need a hoop? He'll get it. Someone else on the team needs to get going? He'll find a way to make it happen. Need a big play on the defensive end? He'll dip into his hidden reserve of athleticism and shock someone with a blocked shot. I'm fully expecting him to explode for Portland whenever Brandon Roy is out of the lineup (which looks like it could happen very often this season). Westbrook has really impressed me this season. He's scoring, rebounding, handing out assists, defending. He's probably the least prototypical example of a PG on this list, but with the rate he gets to the line, he couldn't be ignored. I prefer his game so much to that of Derrick Rose, who just missed the list. Two drawbacks to Westbrook's game, he needs to stop shooting threes yesterday, and he turns it over too much. Put a gun to my head, and I'm giving the nod to Miller in this position.
On the Fringe:
- Derrick Rose - Rose shoots too much, and prior to the first ten games of this season, he wasn't enough of a distributor for me to rank in the top five. He's doing much better in that last regard this season, though his turnovers are way up as well. He just doesn't strike me as a point guard, and that's important to me.
- John Wall - He's got the physical tools and he's looked the part, at times, this season, but no way I can put him there after so few games, with so many turnovers.
- Stephen Curry - I love Curry's game, but I don't think he's truly a point guard. He does a fine job playing there, but he's a shooting guard to me.
- Jason Kidd - In his prime, he was better than Chris Paul is now. But he's so far past his prime.
- Jrue Holiday - If I re-evaluate three years in the future, Nash and Miller will be out and the final two spots will be between Jrue, Wall, Westbrook and Rose.
- Brandon Jennings - Better as a defender than you think, worse as a scorer, and he shoots way too much.
So there's my list and my logic, let's hear yours in the comments.