Russell Westbrook

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.

It’s been a month of transition for the top NBA point guards — three of the players on this list were traded and the former undisputed (outside of Utah) best point guard in the league is enduring an inexplicable slump. More importantly, there’s a new “point god” at the top of the rankings for March.

10. (New entry) Devin Harris, Utah Jazz — 2010-11 stats: 58 GP, 32.0 MPG, 15.2 PPG, 7.6 APG, 2.5 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 0.1 BPG, .427 FG%, .308 3P%, .836 FT%, 18.0 PER

Devin Harris loves playing for the Utah Jazz and the fans in Utah are loving him right back. He’s been described as being more “media-savvy” than Deron Williams, which is a polite way of hinting that Williams was apparently a bit of a dick.

9. (Last month: 9.) Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors — 2010-11 stats: 54 GP, 33.7 MPG, 18.6 PPG, 5.8 APG, 3.6 RPG, 1.6 SPG, 0.3 BPG, .485 FG%, .421 3P%, .933 FT%, 19.8 PER

Considering that his dad played three seasons in Toronto at the end of his career, I’m not sure why Stephen Curry has it in for the Raptors — his 32.7 points per game average in three games against that team is five points higher than his average against any other team. I suppose it probably has something to do with Jose Calderon “guarding” him.

8. (8.) Chauncey Billups, Denver Nuggets — 2010-11 stats: 55 GP, 32.3 MPG, 17.0 PPG, 6.0 APG, 2.6 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 0.2 BPG, .434 FG%, .434 3P%, .920 FT%, 19.4 PER

Chauncey has never shied away from big shots and he’s flourishing so far on the big stage in New York, averaging 25.8 points, 6.6 assists and 5.3 rebounds in four games with the Knicks. If he can keep this up, they won’t need to look elsewhere for a point guard to complete their own “big three.”

7. (7.) Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns — 2010-11 stats: 59 GP, 33.5 MPG, 16.0 PPG, 11.4 APG, 3.6 RPG, 0.6 SPG, 0.0 BPG, .505 FG%, .380 3P%, .917 FT%, 22.1 PER

Last night against the Thunder, Nash passed Isiah Thomas for sixth all-time in career assists — not too shabby for a Canadian boy who went to Santa Clara University. Next on his hit list is Oscar Robertson, and Nash should be able to pass him with another healthy season.

6. (6.) Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs — 2010-11 stats: 61 GP, 32.1 MPG, 17.0 PPG, 6.6 APG, 3.1 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 0.0 BPG, .517 FG%, .340 3P%, .782 FT%, 20.4 PER

When Parker suffered a calf strain last week, the Spurs thought he could miss up to a month in recovery. After sitting out just two games, Parker returned to face Miami on Friday and had 15 points and eight assists in just 23 minutes as the Spurs blew out the Heat by 30. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich attributed Tony’s early return to “foie grois and truffle treatment”.

Deron Williams

5. (5.) Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics — 2010-11 stats: 50 GP, 37.9 MPG, 10.8 PPG, 12.2 APG, 4.4 RPG, 2.4 SPG, 0.2 BPG, .505 FG%, .323 3P%, .546 FT%, 18.0 PER

When Rondo was averaging 14 assists per game after the first month of the season, I would have bet my house that he would win the assist title this season if he stayed healthy. Now, Rondo is just 0.8 assists per game ahead of Steve Nash and his turnovers are on the rise — he tied his season-high with eight turnovers against the Bucks last night.

4. (2.) Chris Paul,  New Orleans Hornets — 2010-11 stats: 65 GP, 35.8 MPG, 15.9 PPG, 9.6 APG, 3.9 RPG, 2.4 SPG, 0.1 BPG, .467 FG%, .423 3P%, .893 FT%, 23.9 PER

I can’t believe I have Chris Paul ranked this low, but something is not right with him at the moment. He was dominated by Jose Calderon and Toney Douglas in back-to-back games last week and he’s not playing with the kind of aggressiveness and intensity I’m used to seeing from him. Is it mental? Is it physical? I’m guessing it’s a combination of the two. Regardless, he suffered a concussion last night against the Cavaliers and the Hornets will be hard-pressed to hang onto their playoff seed if he doesn’t return soon.

3. (4.) Deron Williams, New Jersey Nets — 2010-11 stats: 58 GP, 38.2 MPG, 20.8 PPG, 10.2 APG, 3.9 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 0.2 BPG, .450 FG%, .333 3P%, .849 FT%, 21.6 PER

Here’s what I wrote about Williams in last month’s point guard rankings: “At this point in his career, it seems that Deron Williams is a very talented player who probably isn’t cut out to be a team leader. That’s not necessarily a knock on him, but he and the Jazz organization might have already come to the conclusion that they’re not going to another conference final anytime soon. I’m sure Jazz fans don’t want to see him traded, but unless they’re going to bring in a new coach with a fresh approach for next season (fat chance of that happening unless Jerry Sloan retires voluntarily), I don’t expect Williams to remain in Utah past the end of his contract in 2012.” Spooky, huh?

2. (1.) Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls — 2010-11 stats: 60 GP, 37.8 MPG, 24.6 PPG, 8.1 APG, 4.3 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 0.6 BPG, .443 FG%, .328 3P%, .840 FT%, 22.7 PER

The Bulls have won five of their last seven games while Rose has shot 39 percent from the field and 16 percent from long range — he’s actually missed his last 16 three-point attempts. Still think he’s your MVP?

1. (3.) Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder — 2010-11 stats: 61 GP, 35.3 MPG, 22.3 PPG, 8.4 APG, 4.8 RPG, 1.8 SPG, 0.4 BPG, .440 FG%, .310 3P%, .840 FT%, 23.9 PER

The timing of this month’s rankings coincides nicely with Westbrook winning the Western Conference Player of the Week award today. When you consider that he averaged 27.0 points, 9.7 assists and 3.0 steals in his three games (all victories) last week, I don’t think I’m crazy to put him at the top of point guard rankings this month.

Comments (43)

  1. THAT’s your argument against Rose’s MVP value? Seriously?

  2. Yes. Rose is the MVP.

    Consider who they played this week. WB needed Overtime to score 32 against the Suns.

    If Westbrook had to be the first option for his team, he wouldn’t be in the same conversation.

  3. WHERE IS JJB? (And why is this comment too short?)

  4. Barachat: One of many. Dwight Howard is my MVP pick right now. Rose has a much better supporting cast than Dwight and I stand behind putting Rose behind Westbrook in the PG rankings right now. Should you be MVP if you’re not even the best in the league at your position?

  5. 1. Rose isn’t MVP.
    2. Westbrook over Rose is INSANE. Well maybe just a little weird. Sorry I went so hard at first.
    3. Thanks for adding Devin Harris. I want to open-mouth kiss him right now. Jazz FTW

  6. Rose is the best at his position. When defenses start focusing primarily on Westbrook, then we can compare Apples to Apples.

    Westbrook isn’t the primary focus of the defense versus when Rose is coming to town. Westbrook isn’t even the best player on his own team.

    Dwight’s supporting cast is just as good as the one that got the Magic to the Finals. You can’t say that they aren’t. Their records are very similar.

  7. Rafael: Does the fact that Dwyane Wade isn’t the best player on his team change the fact that he’s the best shooting guard in the league right now (unless you still think it’s Kobe)? And in the four games Durant missed this season, Westbrook averaged 26.7 points, 7 assists and 6.3 rebounds and the Thunder won three of those games, including a win in Boston.

  8. four games with out help? What ever will Rose do?

    Take the 2nd spot in the East without two of his best supporting cast for a large portion of the season? In a more competitive conference? Possible go undefeated in their division?

    Poor Westbrook.

  9. Honestly why even get upset with these rankings? It’s just one mans opinion.. If he perfers Westbrook so what..

    At the end of the day, Rose is walking away with that MVP trophy, and currently having a monster year that will not be forgotten.. 1 week from now nobody will even remember this article.. He’ll you probably won’t remember it 48 hours from now..

  10. And one other thing, this guy doesn’t and an MVP vote, so really, who cares?

  11. How can you say Russell Westbrook is better than Rose? I love Westbrook and love watching him and Durant play together as one of the most dynamic duo’s in the NBA, but he’s a second option and would not do very well as a first option. Derrick Rose is the primary focus on a nightly basis. You have to take that into account. I think it’s closer than Bulls fans would make it out to be though.

  12. This clearly geared towards viewership. Controversy sells, I get it. This is a monthly award, so I assume February would factor into this list, not just last week. Rose in feb had more points, assists, ftm with a higher %, more steals, less turnovers. Even with Rose missing his last 16 3pa, he’s still a better 3pt shooter than Westbrook. Westbrook is a great pg too, but he is not better than Rose. This is preposterous…

  13. Rose – Top 10 Pts and Assists. 42% of the Bulls points come from Rose either by assist or bucket.

    But yeah, Westbrook is better.

  14. Power Rankings are supposed to opine on how a player has been doing lately, not how good a player is over an entire season. Westbrook has been beasting lately, and he’ll drop lower next month. I don’t support Rose as MVP because MVP candidates *should* play well on both ends of the floor. Of course, as Nash proved, when it comes to the actual voting, a good story is more important than defensive fundamentals.

  15. Don’t see the problem with Westbrook over Rose. These are monthly rankings, not seasonal. Plus, it’s just one man’s opinion. For the month of March:

    Player A is averaging 27/10/3 on 52/40/76 shooting.
    Player B is averaging 21/7/3 on 41/0/79 shooting.

    Some would be shocked that Player A is actually Westbrook, not Rose.

  16. Watch the last play of the Miami/Bulls game. Tell me who’s hand was on the ball helping force Lebron to miss.

    Rose has played solid D since the summer. Thibs really helped him out. This is a now a misconception that doesn’t seem to change no matter how good his rotation is, and how he holds opp pgs to season lows.

    Boozer on the other hand…

  17. echow – Fine by me. Except Scott clearly said WB is better than Rose, as a whole.

    “Should you be MVP if you’re not even the best in the league at your position?”

  18. Alex gets it. And Westbrook is outplaying Rose right now, that should not be up for debate if you’ve been paying attention. Rose might be back at the top next month, or he might fall behind Williams and/or Paul.

    As for Westbrook as a first option, he’s a prolific scorer with or without Durant and he gets to the free throw line 8 times a game. That looks like a first option to me. Durant and Westbrook are 1A and 1B, just like LeBron and Wade. Durant only takes 0.9 more FGAs per 36 minutes than Westbrook does.

  19. Ok. Westbrook is just as much as an option as Durant.

    Keep telling yourself that.

    All those double teams he has to overcome….my goodness.

  20. I’m sure Westbrook would make Bogans hit the open three too.

  21. I’ve been meaning to criticize you about this. How often do you watch bulls games? Dwight howard doesn’t have a worse supporting cast than rose. Yes, the gap between the second best player on the bulls and the second best player on the magic is significant, but other than that, the magic have the better team.

    Joahkim noah is the third best player on the bulls. He’s about the 6th best player on the offensive end. Deng, you called him the 4/5th best player on the bulls is the 2/3 best player on the bulls offense. Boozer, the clear cut 2nd option, has problems finishing against length.

    Here’s the problem with boozer. He’s terrible on the defense. Bulls fans want Taj gibson in instead of boozer. There’s a reason why he was always on the trading block. Here’s one of them, he’s inefficient in spite of the stats. Look at how hard it is to get an entry pass to the post. Five out of ten plays designed for boozer end up in a turn over before boozer gets the pass in the block. Rose, often, is not the guy passing boozer the ball. If they don’t end up in a turnover, boozer often makes a bad pass to a cutter that isn’t expecting the ball. With no defense, shoddy offense against players with length, and the problems setting him up, Boozer isn’t anything to write home about as the second offense. Don’t believe me, watch a bulls game against miam (bosh) or another marquee match up( duncan, Garnett, and gasol). With that said, Boozer will absolutely destroy weaker competition like OKC’s Ibaka and Elton brand.

    Deng, the 4th or 5th best option on the bulls is assisted on 80% of his shots. He’s hitting the 3 at a mere 34%. You have to watch bulls game to appreciate how terrible this is. Deng is wide open for all his 3′s. The kind of wide open Kyle korver only dreams of. He doesn’t hit them. Also, in spite of his resurgence of late, Deng’s a less than ideal fit for the bulls. He has the dribbling skills of a pf. IF you put length on boozer, double/tripple team rose, ignore bogans, whose going to set up deng? Nobody. Rose IS deng’s offense.

    Derrick rose doesn’t need bogans, korver, Deng, Boozer, and Noah; They need him. More than just that, The magic are as good as they are inspite of howard. Put Deng Korver and bogans on the magic. See how well they faire on offensive. In spite of howards’ skill set, the guy doesn’t know how to pass. Moreover he makes terrible decisions with the basketball. I’m not saying that he’s a bad player on offense. Dear God, no. He’s a beauty to watch in the post. On the other hand, Have you looked at howards’ assist totals? For a guy who gets double and tripple teamed, he’s not making his teammates better.

    I agree howard is a very good player, and i wouldn’t hoot and holler if howard becomes the mvp. But, your argument that you laid out on TBJ’s OVerdose is a bad argument. sorry meng. Still mad props to you.

  22. Dwight is top 5 in turnovers. And that’s the most dominant center in the L we’re talking about.

    Speaking of turnovers…how does Westbrook fair?

    Leads the league you say? How ghastly.

    Especially for WB having a lower Usage rate than Rose…

  23. If you put Kobe on a team with LBJ, do you think Kobe would play better than Wade or worse than wade?

    I agree with you that wade is the better sg, however, that’s an important question to ask, because who wade plays with determines the quality of the data from our sample. As the first option, Wade’s teams were pretty mediocre. This year he’s the 2nd option, and he’s performing admirably. IF kobe, a better shooter than wade, was on the heat, how would he fair as the 1a./1b option on the heat? I think he’d fair better than wade merely because he’s a better fit.

    Plus if you could find a way to take the ball out of kobe’s hands, he might make smarter/less selfish decisions.

  24. Other than that, no disagreements. Rose had a bad month. He should be back on top next month.

  25. I included slashes where it isn’t clear who the 2/3 option is.

    Bulls Magic
    1. derrick rose. Howard
    2. Boozer > Nelson/j-rich
    3. Deng < J-rich/nelson
    4. Noah < brandon bass/hedo
    5. bogans J.J. Reddick. I’m going to give this to reddick merely because he has the ability to get the sepperation ‘to get his own shot’ by running off screens. He doesn’t necessarily get his own shot, but he does get good looks for open shots. Korver tried that, and he failed miserably.
    2. cj watson is shooting 35% from the field is that really better or worse than arenas? I can’t make a decision.
    3. Taj gibson is a far better defender, but he’s lost on offense. Ryan anderson seems to be the opposite.

  26. avtar: Just to be clear, you’re claiming that Brandon Bass and/or Hedo are better than Joakim Noah? Really?

  27. Jose Calderon is playing out of his mind right now. He’s 11th right? Right? Give Raptors fans something to be happy about, please… PLEASE. ANYTHING. ANYTHING.

  28. Lets just look at the offensive end, noah is a terrible player offensively. In terms of being a 3rd 4th or 5th option, i’d rather have hedo taking the shot than noah. Other than athletici finishes when no one is around or tip ins, do you really trust noah’s offense?

    In terms of defense, yeah the bulls are a better defensive players than any player on the magic. BUT, derrick rose isn’t an mvp candidate for his defense.

  29. Just because Noah has an ugly jump shot, that doesn’t mean he’s a terrible offensive player. Reggie Evans is a terrible offensive player. Noah averages 13 points per game on 51 percent shooting. Considering everything else he brings to the table, his offense is fine.

  30. the bulls have better players than any players on the magic other than dwight howard*. Err possibly with the exception of boozer.

  31. How much of that offense is tip ins and wide open dunks?

  32. Noah’s jumper has such a low release, that if he tried it in a game while not completely wide open, he would get blocked. Luckily for noah, he’s never been guarded on the jumper, EVER.

    What does that tell you about his jumper? Also it might hint at the seemingly insurmountable defense that rose has to plow through.

  33. For some reason I still can’t take Rose seriously as an MVP. LeBron is still having a better season, and I don’t want him to have it either. Give it to Dwight for having to put up with Hedo and Gilbert…

  34. FG% is a bad stat to look at when comparing a c/pf to a sf.

    look at their true shooting percentages Joahkim 57% v Hedo 54.8%. Then take into consideration the type of looks their getting. Garbage buckets and tip ins versus whatever the crap turk considers offense. Listen i’m not saying turk is a good player offensive, i’m saying noah, without rose, is a bad player offensively.

  35. Give it to lebron. he’s clearly the best player in the nba. <–no sarcasm intended.

  36. avtar: Hedo is obviously better than Noah offensively, but Noah is so much better defensively and on the boards that there is no point in comparing them. These rankings are not about who is the best offensive player at his position. If they were, Nash would be 3rd and Rondo might not crack the top 10.

  37. the point is that the who has the supporting cast argument isn’t as clear cut as your making it out to be. Noah is a great, great player, but he’s not the 3rd best player on the bulls. Deng, ‘the 4th best player’ really isn’t the 4th best player, Depending on match ups he’s the 3rd or 2nd best player. If deng is the 3rd or 2nd best player, is the magic team really more talented than the bulls team? I think they’re pretty equal in terms of talent.

    What i’m willing to say is that Dwight howard might be deserving of the mvp award this season, but it’s not because he’s on a significantly worse team. it’s because his individual performance merits it.

    Derrick rose on the other hand, has been on a significantly worse team offensively for the entire season, until 2-3 games ago. in terms of offense, spite of me thinking noah is a worse player than hedo, Kurt Thomas wasn’t given any attention on the offensive end. This puts a crap ton of attention on rose in the paint. Also, the team couldn’t play “Bulls Basketball’, you can’t run with the basketball or push the tempo when your center is 75 years old. This really screwed with the offense. Before that, boozer was out. Deng and rose were given all the defensive attention. Do you know how terrible the offense looks when NO TEAM guards Bogans and Taj at all, and sags off Noah? It’s pretty bad man. I know they don’t get a lot of bulls games on toronto television, so you probably didn’t get to see this crap. It was really bad earlier.

  38. btw, thanks for entertaining this conversation with me, meng,

  39. BTW, i’m just using this to talk you about your comments on the overdose. I agree westrbook had a better month than rose.

  40. @ avtar

    I feel as if you’re undermining the defensive part of the game. Remember, defense is half the game as well. While Chicago’s offense numbers may not look better than their counterparts in Orlando, Chicago’s defense is outstanding and is the main reason why Chicago is who they are.

    Which team is leading the league in defensive efficiency? Which team is second in holding down their opponent’s field goal %? First in closing out on three pointers? The answer’s Chicago.

    You’re undermining Deng’s contribution to the Bulls team. Sure, he’s not the three point specialist like Jason Richardson (who’s shooting a blistering 37.9% from three point land this season versus Deng’s mediocre 34.4%). However, Deng’s defensive prowess keeps his opponent SF to a PER of 11.2 which is pretty significant.

    I think Chicago is pretty heavy on talent. Many people underestimate their bench which has a stronger focus on defense (Coach Tim) ala Brewer, Gibson, Asik. I understand that Chicago’s offense will become extremely anemic if you take out Rose. However, I still believe Chicago has the better overall team than Orlando.

  41. I’m not saying Rose doesn’t *try* on defense; he rotates just like everyone on the Bulls except Booz, but opposing PGs are playing poorly *in spite of* Rose’s man defense. It’s Thibs’ rotation schemes combined with quality defensive players not named Derrick or Carlos keeping them at bay. Derek Fisher and Steve Nash rotate to take charges all the time, but that doesn’t stop either of them from being sieves.

    And yes, D12′s offense isn’t perfect. He turns the ball over, and his post moves aren’t very clean. But he also happens to be the best defensive player in the game, beating other MVP candidates by a huge margin, meaning his offense just has to be good *enough* to put him in the MVP conversation.

  42. Some of you aren’t considering defense at all in these supporting cast arguments. Nobody in the Magic’s starting 5 is a good defender except Howard. Off the bench you’re maybe looking at…Reddick and J Rich as the best defenders? That and there are plenty of times where the team can’t even get him the ball. I love Rose, he’s one of the most unique and entertaining players in the league with Griffin, Rondo, etc, and he’s in the conversation, but Dwight is just better this year.

  43. I don’t understand how you forgot to put Kyle Lowry from HOU on this list. He’s played significantly better than Billups, Harris or even Tony Parker, and has demonstrated that in head-to-head matchups with all 3 of these guys. He’s averaging crazy good #s, and adding the 3pt shot to his arsenal has made him a tough cover since he spreads the floor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *