Earlier this week, my friend Josh Dhani wrote a piece for Dime Magazine on the best young point guards in the NBA. I didn’t necessarily agree with all of his picks, so I had to make my own list.
So here it is. Top 10 NBA Point Guards Under 25-Years-Old.
10. Kemba Walker – Charlotte Bobcats/Age: 23
Kemba is literally the only bright spot on the Bobcats roster. Since being drafted a few years ago, Walker hasn’t had any weapons to work with, but has still put up pretty solid numbers. The Bobcats signed center Al Jefferson this offseason, and Kemba should benefit greatly from having another offensive weapon on his side. Walker has a lot to prove still, but he has gotten off to a nice start to his career.
9. Eric Bledsoe – Phoenix Suns/Age: 23
Bledsoe will finally get his chance to start this season in Phoenix after spending the early part of his career on the bench behind Chris Paul. Phoenix thought so highly of Bledsoe that they traded for him in the offseason even with Goran Dragic still on their roster. With Bledsoe running the show, he could be poised for a huge 2013 season.
8. Ricky Rubio – Minnesota Timberwolves/Age: 22
When healthy, Rubio is one of the elite passers in the NBA. Rubio has elite court vision and a knack for making the flashy play, even if it isn’t always the smartest one. The biggest concerns with Rubio are his healthy and his shooting ability. Rubio has missed significant time in both of his first two seasons, and has never been known as a great shooter. However, Rubio has tremendous upside and when he begins to develop an outside game, the rest of the NBA needs to watch out.
7. Brandon Jennings – Detroit Pistons/Age: 23
Jennings has all the talent in the world – he just can’t determine what is a good shot and what isn’t. That’s been his biggest downfall so far throughout his career. Jennings was traded to the Pistons this offseason, and maybe the change of scenery and a new head coach will help him figure out how to balance scoring and passing the ball.
6. John Wall – Washington Wizards/Age: 22
5. Damian Lillard – Portland Trailblazers/Age: 23
Damian Lillard and John Wall are extremely close. Their stat lines from a year ago nearly mirror each others (Lillard: 19 ppg, 6.5 apg, 3.1 rpg/Wall: 18.5 ppg, 7.6 apg, 4 rpg). Lillard took home Rookie of the Year honors last year, and Wall’s play earned him a max contract from the Wizards this offseason. There are a few major differences between these two though. Wall is not a very good 3-point shooter (24% career 3-point shooter). Lillard shot 37% from deep as a rookie last year. Until Wall can develop an outside jump shot, he’ll be a one-dimensional offensive player.
Another knock on Wall has been his inability to stay healthy. Wall has missed significant time in two of his first three NBA seasons. Even though Wall is a better facilitator. I still have to give the slight edge to Lillard. He’s a more well-rounded offensive player and should only improve as he gains more NBA experience.
4. Jrue Holiday – New Orleans Pelicans/Age: 23
Jrue Holiday was the lone bright spot for the 76ers last season, averaging 18 points and 8 assists per game last season. The Pelicans thought so highly of Holiday that they traded their lottery pick in 2013 and a future pick in order to get him. Without any other offensive weapons in Philadelphia, Holiday put up All-Star numbers. This guy is a stud and should flourish in New Orleans with some other weapons around him.
3. Kyrie Irving – Cleveland Cavaliers/Age: 21
If Irving could stay healthy, he’d be in the same class as the top two point guards on my list, but for now, he’s just a hair below them. Irving has some of the sickest handles in the game, and has a complete offensive arsenal. Through two NBA seasons, Irving is averaging 20.6 points and 5.7 assists per game. It should be interesting to see if Irving can improve his numbers in 2013 now that he has some other offensive weapons (Bynum, Bennett, Jack) on his team.https://web.archive.org/web/20130827053748if_/http://www.youtube.com/embed/0xN1RKVU3xQ?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent
2. Russell Westbrook – Oklahoma City Thunder/Age: 24
1. Derrick Rose – Chicago Bulls/Age: 24
This one is practically a pick’em situation. You can’t go wrong with either of these two choices. Westbrook and Rose are nearly identical in every way. Both are freak athletes and two of the most athletic point guards the NBA has ever seen. Both can create shots for themselves and for their teammates. Both can get into the lane at will. Heck, both of these guys are coming recovering from season ending injuries. At the end of the day, these guys are so similar that it’s hard to pick one over the other.
For their careers, Westbrook is averaging 0.1 more assists and 1 rebound per game more than Rose, but Rose is averaging 1.1 more points per game than Westbrook.
I’m giving Rose the slight edge over Westbrook based off of the fact that Rose is the only player not named LeBron James to win the NBA MVP award in the past 5 years. It’s that close.
What do you guys think though?