First annual NBA point-guard draft
Welcome to Sports-Kings, Pass The Pill’s first ever point-guard draft. This is how it will work. Myself (Andy Flint), and my partner in crime, Frank Santos, will take turns selecting point-guards from the available point-guards in the NBA right now. This draft is for the here and now, but will have a little to do with overall accomplishments and what we think these players will do, moving forward. We know you’ll all have many questions and opinions of your own. T
he one thing I ask is to please use an open mind, and try and view this draft in tiers, rather than each individual number. Remember than being selected fifth isn’t much different from being selected sixth. I feel like the most important part of these sort of drafts is that each player falls in the appropriate area. That means you should be more concerned with who each guy is surrounded by, and less concerned with each player’s actual number. At the end of the day, a player being in the appropriate tier seems more important to me than anything else. That being said.. Enjoy, and keep a lookout for our shooting guard draft next week!
1- Chris Paul – Los Angeles Clippers (Andy Flint)
I think for me, personally, it’s Chris Paul, and then everyone else. CP3 has become the de facto point guard of choice when it comes to who is the true alpha dog in today’s NBA. His unmatched ability to both facilitate and shoulder the scoring load has vaulted him firmly into the top spot among floor generals, today.
2- Tony Parker – San Antonio Spurs (Frank Santos)
Rocking the boat early here. I firmly believe that Tony Parker is the 2nd best point guard in this league. He doesn’t have the flashiness of the guys that are going to follow him on this list, but he is the staple of a consistently successful franchise. Parker is a big-game player, and a big-shot maker, and has my most important skill for a point guard: he creates shots and space for all of his teammates. His ability to get into the paint is second to none, even at his advanced age, and his championship pedigree is undeniable. You take Chris Paul off the board, and ask me who I want as a floor general, and my answer is Tony Parker.
3- Russell Westbrook – Oklahoma City Thunder (Andy Flint)
While the league still craves point guards who can set the table for their teammates, it’s also accepted a cast of scoring point guards, who use their athleticism and size to dominate opponents. Russell Westbrook is at the forefront in terms of guys who physically obliterate their foes. At 6-3, and possessing incredible athletic prowess, Westbrook looks more like a speedy two-guard, which seems to compliment teammate Kevin Durant perfectly. Westbrook may lack traditional passing ability, but his unique mold and creativity has him averaging just about seven assists per game for his young NBA career.
4- Stephen Curry – Golden State Warriors (Frank Santos)
Steph Curry is a bad man. He has the ability to get as hot as any player in the league. Not only is his game legit, but its exciting as hell to watch. The thing I love about Curry is his confidence: he definitely has the mind of a shooter where he expects shots to fall regardless of how the previous shots have been going. In my mind, he is an incredibly underrated passer, and has adjusted well to being the focal point of the opposing teams defense by deferring to his passing abilities in more situations where he may have been inclined to force the issue in the past.
5- Rajon Rondo – Boston Celtics (Andy Flint)
Rajon Rondo has used a quick first step and long frame to his advantage as a pure passer in the league. His dynamic ability to break-down any defender, while advancing the ball into the lane is unparalleled. Rondo has had issues with his jumper, but remains dangerous as an offensive weapon, due to his strength, speed, and finishing ability. Rondo always seems to make his teammates better, as he is an excellent ball handler and setup guy, averaging more than 11 assists per game over the past three seasons.
6- John Wall – Washington Wizards (Frank Santos)
Early in this draft, this was probably my hardest pick. There are plenty of arguments to be made for guys like Deron Williams, Damien Lillard and Kyrie Irving, all of who I considered with this pick. However, the progression of Wall’s game has really impressed me. Averaging over nine assists early in the season is a tribute to the work he has put in to his game. Wall was never necessarily seen as a gifted passer coming out of Kentucky, as he was valued for his elite athleticism and his speed.
However, he has become more of a facilitator, but more than anything, what has impressed me most is that the game seems to have slowed down for Wall. This can be attributed to sitting out the first 33 games of last season; you just see a different part of the game from the sidelines. Wall still has an obvious flaw in his game in his jump shot, but if he can improve that over the next couple of years, he will become borderline unguardable.
7- Deron Williams – Brooklyn Nets (Andy Flint)
As my esteemed colleague eluded to above, Damian Lillard is ballin’, and it would be an absolute crime to say that I wasn’t considering the young fella at number seven. I just simply got to the point of what have you done for me, period, versus what have you done for me lately. Lillard has been excellent this season and last, but I still have faith in what D-Will can do. Call me crazy, like a teenage girl waiting by the phone all weekend for a the guy who isn’t going to call. I just can’t quit Deron just yet.
8- Damian Lillard – Portland Trail Blazers (Frank Santos)
As stated in my Wall write-up at 6, Lillard was a high consideration at that spot, which in only his second year is incredibly impressive. After his Rookie of the Year campaign, I thought to myself that Lillard may not have much room for improvement in his game. That maybe his rookie year was just what we see from him throughout his career. Well, as I am used to in my life, I was completely wrong about that. It is clear even through just a quarter of this NBA season that Lillard has taken another leap in his game. The main thing I see in Lillard is his poise, which is critical for a point guard. It’s rare to see Lillard force the issue, or maybe silly passes out of frustration like some of even the elite point guards do (I notice this especially in Rondo and D-Will). That is a quality that you don’t learn over time, it was something Lillard was born with, and why he may be a few spots up on this list next year.
9-Kyrie Irving – Cleveland Cavaliers (Andy Flint)
I know that most NBA fans will disagree with Uncle Drew falling this far, but it remains to be seen whether or not Kyrie can actually do more than post a great fantasy line. The Cavaliers, despite high hopes, continue to be less than impressive with Kyrie at the helm.
10- Derrick Rose – Chicago Bulls (Frank Santos)
One mini-theme of our point guard draft here was “How far does Derrick Rose drop due to his injury?” Basically, he has dropped all the way down to the bottom of what I consider the “first tier” of point guards. I think after this, there is a noticeable drop in talent. In other words, in some order, I believe these guards ARE the top 10 point guards in the league. However, at this point, it doesn’t seem unfair to question Rose’s durability.
Missing basically two full seasons and coming back to play at an elite level is unprecedented. More so, Rose’s spot here at 10 is a tribute to the nine guys ahead of him, and a similar circumstance for any of those guys above him would probably drop them a good 3-4 spots on this list as well.
11- Ty Lawson – Denver Nuggets (Andy Flint)
SPEED… here, I’ll say it again. SPEED. Ty Lawson has that elite speed, and incredible poise to make great point-guard decisions on the fly. This is the reason Ty has been the face of the Denver Nuggets. They love bringing visitors up into those high altitudes and running them until their lungs collapse. If ever there were a perfect guy to make that sort of thing a beautiful painting, it is Ty Lawson. Lawson uses his exceptional speed to keep defenders honest and set up teammates, but don’t fall asleep waiting for that quick burst to the paint, because Ty also knocks down the deep ball at nearly 38% for his career.
Frank tells you about how Derrick Rose (at number 10) rounds out a specific tier of NBA point-guard talent, and I agree. I feel like Lawson is just outside of that window, and somewhere near the top of the second tier, which is exactly why I have selected him at number 11.
12- Jrue Holiday – New Orleans Pelicans (Frank Santos)
This is where the depth of the point guard position is apparent: I legitimately considered six different guys at this spot. Holiday made an obvious leap in his game last season, highlighted by his first all-star appearance. He hasn’t disappointed thus far this season either. His game is explosive, and he comes at you from many different angles on the floor. I’d like to see someone with Holiday’s athleticism get to the line more, as he only gets to the line about once a game (averages 2.1 FT attempts this year, 2.2 in his career). A more aggressive Holiday may bulk up his scoring numbers a bit more, and lead to another leap in his game.
13- Mike Conley – Memphis Grizzlies (Andy Flint)
Mike Conley, much like Ty Lawson, is a guy I view as a front-runner of the second tier point-guards in today’s league. Conley, again much like Lawson, compliments his team to near perfection. His elite-level defensive prowess from the point-guard slot, helps catapult the Grizzlies defensive stand, and push a specific agenda that is unique to this current Memphis squad. Lawson does a great job of managing his role, and helping his team be relevant. He’s not the best player on the Grizzlies, and he’s not a guy known to go for 30-points, but he is efficient, and does get the job done on a consistent basis.
14- Brandon Jennings – Detroit Pistons (Frank Santos)
Jennings could easily be higher on his list if he was more consistent on the floor. Jennings has the ability to get hot much like a Steph Curry where he is essentially unstoppable. However, in the very same game, he has the potential to disappear for long stretches on the court. His improvement in assists has been promising, but he leaves much to be desired on the defensive end. This is a scenario of someone not living up to their talent, which is what landed him at this spot of the list.
15- Jeff Teague – Atlanta Hawks (Andy Flint)
If Jeff Teague isn’t the most underrated point-guard in the league, then please tell me who is? Teague has quietly been having a great season. I hate to get completely caught up in the moment, but with guys like Ricky Rubio underachieving right now, and Teague playing great ball, it was hard for me not to select the young fella right here. It also matters to me that Teague still has room to grow as a player, and he’s concerned with playing defense. I feel like it’s becoming trendy for point-guards to care about defense in this league again, and I love it.
16- Ricky Rubio – Minnesota Timberwolves (Frank Santos)
Ricky Rubio perplexes me. I feel like I think he is reallllllllly good, and then there are other points where I think he is just average. His passing prowess is undeniable, but it is hard to climb up this list with such a glaring flaw in your game. Rubio’s jumper doesn’t deserve to be in the NBA, but the rest of his game warrants his spot on this list.
17- Michael Carter-Williams – Philadelphia 76ers (Andy Flint)
My partner is crime will tell you, below, about how I’m using recreational drugs for choosing MCW this early… my only response is that this kid is the truth, and I’ve already witnessed enough to declare him better than the 13 other names that will appear in this draft. Frank Santos will compare me to the likes of Lamar Odom for my leap of faith at number 17, but I’ll simply remind him that he selected George Hill at number 18, which makes me (Yes, another crackhead reference) Charlie Sheen, because I’m clearly WINNING!
I would take half of MCW over George Hill and C.J Watson, combined, and so would Frank Vogel. The kid is averaging 17 points, 7.8 assists, 5.5 rebounds, and 3 steals per contest…. AND the Sixers went 0-7 while he battled a leg infection. His length, decision making, and defense are a few of the reasons why GM’s like Chris Grant of the Cleveland Cavaliers look very silly for letting MCW slip to 11th overall in the 2013 NBA Draft.
18- George Hill – Indiana Pacers (Frank Santos)
MCW at 17?! You’re smoking that Lamar Odom. No way he cracks my top 20. Anyway, on to George Hill. Hill is a hard guy to place on this list, since he doesn’t handle the ball nearly as much as a traditional point guard, and the game he plays for the Pacers to be successful is much more of a complimentary role. With that, it becomes tough to know what Hill’s game would be like if he had to play a larger role, and that probably diminishes his value overall. However, there is something to be said about Hill’s intangibles, his defense, and his willingness to play that aforementioned complimentary role.
19- Goran Dragic – Phoenix Suns (Andy Flint)
Frank selects Eric Bledsoe at number 20, and it’s warranted. I nearly took Bledsoe here instead of his partner, Dragic, but I couldn’t quite pull the trigger. I must note that I would have used the 21st selection on Bledsoe, had he been available. Anyways.. I do like Goran Dragic, much like what I said about Jeff Teague, above, I believe Dragic is highly underrated in this league, and it’s partially because he lacks all of the things that make players like Eric Bledsoe so fun to watch.
20- Eric Bledsoe – Phoenix Suns (Frank Santos)
Bledsoe’s impressive start to his opportunity to play a prominent role on a team has me wondering how he made it this far down. The only explanation is simply sample size: it’s hard for Bledsoe to leapfrog some of these guys based on 25 games in the spotlight. I also have a personal preference for distributing point guards, and Bledsoe is more of a scorer, and turns the ball over more than you’d like. However, he is an absolute menace defensively, and should only improve over time.
21- Isaiah Thomas – Sacramento Kings (Andy Flint)
It was hard for me to choose Isaiah at number 21, because I feel like this kid’s success could be a fad. Not because he’s not a talented young dude, but because the NBA seems to frown upon undersized point-guards. The recent boom of large, athletic players manning the one has made it increasingly hard for smaller guards to find their place in the league. Look at Nate Robinson, who’s effectiveness is overshadowed by the fact that he’s played for six different NBA teams in just nine seasons in the league. Sure, at 5-9, Nate might not be a starter in this league, but he’s surely worth more than what his nomad status would have you believe.
I look at Isaiah, and I think this kid is brilliant, and he’s secured his job a bit longer with the departure of Greivis Vasquez- I just feel like, while he seems like the guy right now, the Kings’ brass will probably always be on the look-out for a taller, stronger guy to take his job.
22- Kemba Walker – Charlotte Bobcats (Frank Santos)
Unfortunately, at Kemba’s size, you can’t really afford to have many holes in your game. Walker can put the ball in the bucket, as many of the small guys before him have (shoutout to Earl Boykins), but like Bledsoe at 20, he doesn’t distribute the ball much at all. In fact, you could even argue that Walker is a ball-stopper, which isn’t ideal for a PG. His defense is average at best, and he gambles way too much for steals. Color me disappointed. I liked Kemba coming out of UConn, and you can argue he’s just being asked to do too much on a bad team, but his game hasn’t progressed as much as you’d like in his third year in the league.
23- Kyle Lowry – Toronto Raptors (Andy Flint)
I’m disappointed that Lowry is down here, hanging out with guys like Jeremy Lin. Not because Lin isn’t good, but because I came to expect much more from Lowry after his second and third years in Houston. I felt like the kid from Villanova was well on his way to being a top 10 point guard in this league. Perhaps I let the fact that I am, indeed, a Nova’ fan get in the way of how I viewed Lowry’s potential. But I also feel like I wasn’t the only one who thought he had great potential.
I recall having a conversation, or two, with Santos (Yes, we’re to the point in this thing where I’m now calling Frank by his last name) about how good Lowry was becoming, and how his ceiling was high. I guess being stuck in no-man’s land (Toronto, if you hadn’t guessed) isn’t helping him, but beyond where he plays, I just haven’t seen Lowry get any better since 2011.
24- Jeremy Lin – Houston Rockets (Frank Santos)
The always polarizing Jeremy Lin… Linsanity seems like decades ago, and while it may have been over-hyped the entire time, Lin still does have some game. He has a knack of getting to the hoop, and has good size for the position. Unfortunately, he was a large part of why the Houston Rockets were so putrid defensively last season. Lin is a player that can give you a solid 20-25 minutes a game, but anything more than that and he is a liability on the floor.
25- Greivis Vasquez – Toronto Raptors (Andy Flint)
I like the size (6-6), I like the facilitating portion of his game… and then I pause, because I can’t really think of anything else that blows me away when it comes to Vasquez. I feel like he’s a taller version of Jose Calderon, only he lacks a consistent jumper. He’s now on four teams in five seasons, and I don’t expect we’ll ever see production from him like we did back in 2012-13 with the Hornets (Pelcians). Averaging 14 points and nine assists seems like his ceiling, and being stuck playing behind Kyle Lowry isn’t going to help his cause.
26- Reggie Jackson – Oklahoma City Thunder (Frank Santos)
Reggie Jackson has shown me a lot this season, and his athleticism gives him the potential to become a legitimate defender in this league. A large part of his place on this list is simply we don’t know what he can do given the keys to the kingdom. It is especially easy to thrive on such a good team, with studs like Westbrook and Durant on the roster. I thought he did a decent job when put into an impossible situation last season when Patrick Beverley went all Bernard Pollard on Russell Westbrook. The team just didn’t have time to adjust on the fly to such a crushing blow. I’m looking for big things out of Jackson the rest of the way, and into this year’s playoffs.
27- Jose Calderon – Dallas Mavericks (Andy Flint)
Calderon has been a solid point-guard for the past nine seasons. Never a standout guy, but a sufficient answer as a facilitator. He’s now 32-years old and living out what appears to be the twilight of his decent NBA career. I feel like Jose finally landed in a good spot, for him. Playing in Dallas, with the Mavericks, alongside Monta Ellis, who relieves some of the ball-handling burdens is ideal for the Spanish-born vet. I don’t really have anything else to say, aside from believing he was the best possible point-guard left on the board, here.
28- Mo Williams – Portland Trail Blazers (Frank Santos)
I’ve always thought that Mo Williams has been under-appreciated. Everywhere he goes, he seems to make a positive impact. Williams is always dismissed as Lebron’s sidekick, and instead seen as the member of the “bums” Bron had to play with in Cleveland. Additionally, his play in Portland, and his willingness to take on a lesser role has contributed to their impressive start.
29- Jameer Nelson – Orlando Magic (Andy Flint)
Nelson is in his 10th NBA season (I shit you not), and he’s kind of one of those guys who gives hope to the smaller point-guards around the league. Nelson has now been a starter for the Orlando Magic for eight consecutive seasons, and I believe that says a lot about his ability to play the game. Nelson has never done anything spectacular, but he’s always gotten the job done. The Magic weren’t always a terrible team, as Nelson helped lead them to consecutive trips to the playoffs from 2007-2012. He was even voted an all-star in 2009, although he missed out due to injury. I feel like any point-guard, under 6-foot tall, who can carve themselves a career as a starter has to get some sort of recognition.
30- Jarrett Jack – Cleveland Cavaliers (Frank Santos)
I’m not gonna lie, I had so many choices for this last pick, and I already regret picking Jack… not because he doesn’t deserve it, but because as I look at the guys left off the list, its hard to think some of them shouldn’t be here. I was disappointed when Jack left the Warriors this past offseason because it seemed like such a good fit for both parties. However, Jack has still done a decent job in Cleveland, and his leadership on the court is evident everywhere he goes.
Comments From The Panel:
Player you felt was drafted too high?
Personally, George Hill at number 18 was way too high. Not that it’s crazy, but it’s simply my opinion. My reasoning is simple. I would have selected any of the guys between 19-24 ahead of Hill, and that’s without hesitation. I think Hill is serviceable, and I don’t feel like Frank taking him at number 18 was exactly out of control. I just don’t agree. A case can certainly be made for him, there, but as I eluded to above, he certainly wouldn’t have been my selection. (Andy Flint)
I’m going to take fault on this when I took Ricky Rubio at 16. He has taken an obvious step back this season, and there are many guys, including one guy I feel fell too far (SPOILER ALERT) who may have leapfrogged over the disappointing Rubio. (Frank Santos)
Player you felt was drafted too low?
Eric Bledsoe at number 20: I think Frank and I both dropped the ball on Bledsoe. He easily could have went anywhere after Brandon Jennings, imo. I’ll stand by Jeff Teague at number 15, although it could have just as easily been Bledsoe. I’m really disappointed that I passed him up for Michael Carter-Williams (17th), and Goran Dragic (19th). I also feel like he would have been a better option than Ricky Rubio (16th) and George Hill (18th). (Andy Flint)
I’ve already orchestrated an intervention for Mr. Flint for taking MCW at 17. Among the snubs over MCW, the one guard that came to mind was Eric Bledsoe. It’s pretty difficult to separate Bledsoe from teammate Goran Dragic, which is why it didn’t come as a surprise they went back to back. Given the opportunity to play a prominent role, it’s obvious to me that we have done Bledsoe wrong in our draft. (Frank Santos)
The one pick I wish I could have back?
I’m actually taking back two in a sense, as I feel like the one I would take back would be Deron Williams at number seven. If I had a mulligan to use it would certainly come on hole seven. I’d take Kyrie Irving at seven and swap Deron Williams in at number nine, that’s assuming Santos didn’t select Deron at number eight. In any case, if Santos did take Deron at number eight, then I’d have taken Lillard at number nine. So, in essence, the draft could have been Kyrie Irving (7th), Deron Williams (8th), and Damian Lillard (9th). I guess it doesn’t make much of a difference, as these players would have still finished in the same tier. (Andy Flint)
I referenced this in my write-up, and it really goes to the depth of the position, but my pick of Jarrett Jack at 30 is definitely one I would take back. The name that sticks out is Andre Miller; we should have found a place for him on this list somewhere. I can’t convince myself he’s not one of the 30 best point guards in the NBA. I just can’t. (Frank Santos)