Tony Parker and Chris Paul

On the first full week of each month this season, I’m going to rank the top 10 NBA players at each position based on how I expect them to perform in the coming month. If a player is injured and is expected to miss most of the month, then they probably won’t make the list regardless of his value when healthy. I’ll rank the point guards on Monday, the shooting guards on Tuesday … you get the picture.  Your feedback is welcome, even if you want to tell me how incredibly, irredeemably clueless I am.

We welcome three new members to the top 10 point guard rankings this month, bumping Devin Harris, Brandon Jennings and Chauncey Billups off the list. It’s really quite ridiculous how many great point guards are in the NBA right now.

10. (New entry) John Wall, Washington Wizards — 2010-11 stats: 13 GP, 38.2 MPG, 17.0 PPG, 8.7 APG, 3.3 RPG, 2.5 SPG, 0.3 BPG, .409 FG%, .333 3P%, .826 FT%, 17.1 PER

How fun is this guy to watch? I don’t know how much fun he’s having on that dysfunctional Wizards team, but he can take heart in the likelihood that he’ll get some significant help from a high lottery pick in the 2011 draft. For what it’s worth, here’s the list of NBA players who have averaged at least 16 points, seven assists and two steals over an entire season in their rookie years: Magic Johnson, Chris Paul, Allen Iverson and Isiah Thomas. Good company.

9. (New entry) Raymond Felton, New York Knicks — 2010-11 stats: 21 GP, 38.1 MPG, 18.1 PPG, 8.3 APG, 4.0 RPG, 2.0 SPG, 0.3 BPG, .469 FG%, .356 3P%, .899 FT%, 19.8 PER

So I guess he’s figured out the pick-and-roll with Amare, huh? Even the most homerish Knicks fans probably didn’t suspect Felton would work out this well. “D’Antoni-ball” clearly suits him just fine, and he has to be in the discussion for Most Improved Player if he keeps this up.

8. (Last month: 8.) Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors — 2010-11 stats: 18 GP, 34.4 MPG, 21.2 PPG, 5.8 APG, 3.3 RPG, 2.3 SPG, 0.4 BPG, .491 FG%, .425 3P%, .907 FT%, 21.9 PER

Curry is a ridiculously good shooter almost everywhere on the offensive end, but he’s strangely ineffective between 10 and 15 feet where he’s made only 25.8 percent of his shots this season. Of course, the bigger problem is that nobody on the Warriors (including Curry) plays defense.

7. (New entry) Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs — 2010-11 stats: 20 GP, 33.3 MPG, 17.0 PPG, 7.0 APG, 3.4 RPG, 1.7 SPG, 0.0 BPG, .511 FG%, .400 3P%, .803 FT%, 19.9 PER

I took some heat for leaving the former Mr. Longoria off this list last month and I couldn’t overlook him again in good conscience with the way he and the Spurs are playing now. You could always count on Parker to shoot 50 percent from the field and give you five or six assists per game, but his current career-highs in assists per game and free throw percentage show that he’s still working on his skills in his 10th NBA season.

6. (6.) Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns — 2010-11 stats: 18 GP, 33.7 MPG, 18.2 PPG, 10.4 APG, 3.5 RPG, 0.7 SPG, 0.1 BPG, .504 FG%, .354 3P%, .898 FT%, 23.9 PER

There is no way this Suns team should be in playoff contention in the West, and yet there they are in eighth place. Nash turns 37 in a couple of months, but he’s playing at the same high level he’s maintained since his late-20s. On the downside, his six-season streak of shooting 50 percent from the field and 40 per cent from three-point range appears about to end.

Raymond Felton and John Wall

5. (5.) Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls — 2010-11 stats: 17 GP, 38.8 MPG, 25.7 PPG, 8.1 APG, 4.4 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 0.6 BPG, .462 FG%, .357 3P%, .771 FT%, 22.1 PER

He’s blossomed into one of the most explosive scorers in the NBA but his defense remains a question mark — according to 82games.com, the Bulls give up 11.5 more points per 100 possessions when he’s on the court compared to when he’s on the bench. And while he’s getting to the free throw line more often than before, he could still do better. On Saturday, he played 44 minutes and had 28 field goal attempts without a single trip to the line.

4. (2.) Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics — 2010-11 stats: 16 GP, 39.3 MPG, 11.4 PPG, 14.1 APG, 4.6 RPG, 2.3 SPG, 0.2 BPG, .516 FG%, .300 3P%, .444 FT%, 17.8 PER

That free throw percentage is not a typo. If he was an 80 percent free throw shooter and actually initiated contact to get to the line, could he pull off a 14 and 14 average over a season? It’s a moot point because it would be seen as a significant triumph if he could just improve to the low 60s like he shot in his previous four NBA seasons. The good news is that he’s showing a bit more confidence in his mid-range game lately and he’s still the best defensive point guard and playmaker in the NBA.

3. (3.) Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder — 2010-11 stats: 21 GP, 37.5 MPG, 24.1 PPG, 8.7 APG, 5.6 RPG, 2.2 SPG, 0.4 BPG, .439 FG%, .250 3P%, .872 FT%, 25.7 PER

He’s not much better than Rondo at shooting from the field but Westbrook more than makes up for it by getting to the charity stripe nine times per game and making 87 percent of his free throw attempts. The only other NBA player to average at least nine free throws per game while making 80 percent of them is his teammate, Kevin Durant. More impressively, the Thunder are 3-1 this season when Durant has been out while Westbrook was in the lineup.

2. (4.) Deron Williams, Utah Jazz — 2010-11 stats: 21 GP, 37.9 MPG, 21.6 PPG, 10.0 APG, 4.2 RPG, 1.4 SPG, 0.2 BPG, .467 FG%, .352 3P%, .856 FT%, 23.4 PER

D-Will weathered his early season struggles and is back in his rightful place as one of the two best point guards in the game. Before Friday’s loss to the Mavericks, the Jazz had won seven straight including an 18-point victory over New Orleans. Jazz fans will surely point out that he outplayed Chris Paul in that game. I’m sure many of those Jazz fans also believe that’s why he should be number one on this list, but…

1. (1.) Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets — 2010-11 stats: 20 GP, 34.4 MPG, 16.2 PPG, 10.4 APG, 4.7 RPG, 3.0 SPG, 0.1 BPG, .484 FG%, .489 3P%, .903 FT%, 26.9 PER

I guess we can assume that Chris Paul will remain a Hornet for the next little while now that the team is owned by the league. Whether or not he’ll want to remain on the team after they’ve been moved to Kansas City or Seattle is another story.

Comments (21)

  1. Where’s Jameer?

  2. Steve Nash at number 6!? He should be top 3.

  3. Rose not getting to the line is hardly his fault. you quote stats from that night, but left out his 17 FGA in the paint. You mean to tell me he didn’t get contact on any of those attempts?

  4. “the Bulls give up 11.5 more points per 100 possessions when he’s on the court compared to when he’s on the bench”

    ummmm
    because when Rose is on the floor…

    so are the starters for the other team

    GTFO

  5. Rafael: Couldn’t you say the same for Chris Paul? The Hornets allow 4.6 fewer points per 100 possessions when he’s on the floor compared to when he’s on the bench. For some reason, your strained logic doesn’t apply to him.

  6. I’m not the one that came to the conclusion that because Derrick is on the floor, opponents score more. There are other factors to consider beyond those numbers. CP3 is a better defender, but it’s hardly the pgs that are scoring that well on derrick.

    Noah and Gibson are giving up so many points in the paint it’s disturbing. Just don’t insinuate it’s roses fault.

    I do like how you ignored my other “strained logic” concerning his FTA.

  7. there’s an obvious anti-chicago bias in the nba

    has been since the early ’90s

  8. I get that going to the line means easy points and, well, scoring points is the whole point of playing the game. But a part of me likes the fact that Rose doesn’t barrel down the lane aimlessly and hope to get bailed out (call it the D Wade offense….) from an aesthetic point of view perhaps over the quickest or most efficient way to score points.

    Westbrook does get to the lane an insane amount, and I’m not saying all of it is because he gets calls. But you have to admit, Rose gets bumped but more often than not, it’s not called, because he’s too quick and has too much body control. Rose shoots a better percentage at the rim and up to 10ft than Westbrook, in fact from every part of the floor other than 10-15 (according to Hoopdata anyway!) and his TS% is only slightly lower than Westbrook’s (53.5 to 54.8) which given the FT disparity, shows how much better he shoots from the floor. And it seems like it would be easier for Rose to get to the line more, than it would be for Westbrook to improve his outside game? In my opinion anyway.

    Right now, they’re hard to separate! Although I would take Rose going forward….

  9. Chicago bias???

    #5 point guard in todays league is damn impressive!

    Maybe Scott could have expanded upon the more positive aspects of his game a little, but the “question marks” are legit and he’s not rated behind anyone he shouldn’t be.

  10. There were obvious foul calls in the game with Rose, an obvious one is in overtime rose was called on a charge by Kyle lowry. However review showed lowry not only didn’t have his feet set, he was also in the air! He gets screwed on calls all the time.

    Off the defense Comment, I agree, he’s not great. However that stat can be attributed to many things. First of all, he has three role playing defenders playing the other teams scrubs: asik, brewer and Gibson. Plus much of joakim noahs time is while he’s knthe bench to try and not get killed while he’s out. As well, I’m sure rose makes up those points offensively while he’s on the floor, you might have forgotten his scoring differential when he’s on the floor.

  11. CP3 is overrated

  12. Rose’s ability to draw fouls has been sub par over his young career, but this season it has been a lot better… not elite, but not terrible.

    Rose is not a good defender, no other way to paint it.

    Fortunately his shortcomings on the defensive end is more than compensated for on offense.

    I think 4th best PG in the league at the moment is fair.

  13. How is Chris Paul #1 with that disappearing act he pulled against the Knicks on Friday. Come on! Way overrated. Really?!

    Nice to see Felton on the list though!

  14. You forgot about ‘Meer.

  15. Nelson’s better than Wall right now. Sure, Wall gets lots of gaudy stats, but look at those percentages – eugh.

  16. alright here are some people who say d-will is the best:

    -Brandon Jennings
    -Chris Webber
    -Kenny Smith
    -Chuck Barkly
    -Kobe Bryant
    -Tim Legler
    -Mark Jackson
    -Magic Johnson
    -Jon Barry

    c’mon the list goes on

  17. it’s just de rigeur to suggest that deron isn’t the best. it’s retro. it’s not 2006 anymore.

  18. you can add me to the list ;)

  19. The Top 5 are pretty good where they are set. The #1 & #2 spot is really debatable though. D. Will averages more than 5 PPG more than CP3 and the other stats are all inline. I think that any team would take Deron because he produces better. Paul is just a flashier player that makes you think he is a great PG (which he is). But…watch Deron play and you’ll be surprised to look up at the scoreboard and see that he just put up 30 points. He is solid. Plus…the Jazz already embarrassed the Hornets this season and will most likely do the same next Friday.

    D. Rose belongs at 5 and that’s all there is to it.

  20. Good joke with Rose at 5 behind westbrook and rondo. The dwill and paul could go either way, even though I honestly feel if the season ended today, Rose should be the MVP hands down. However, I’m commenting a couple days after this came out (also after a huge win against the Lakers and easy win over the twolves,) so I’m sure or at least hope a lot of you would agree with me now. It’s sad how this kid earns no respect in this league. He’s the perfect role model on and off the court, we all try to teach our kids how to go about the game the same way. He’s no showboat like james, paul, dwill, wade, or any other cocky star. It’s safe to say DROSE is the best “overall” pg thus far of this season. Not saying he’ll remain at the top all season, but give him the respect when it’s deserved.

  21. No justifiable reason to put Rondo #4 on that list. Are you guys scared of C fans or somethin?

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