The NBA Point Guard Position and Where the Phoenix Suns Rank
*Photo via USA Today
Take a look up and down most NBA rosters, and you'll usually find a talented point guard (or two). Some reach superstardom and receive multi-million-dollar signature shoe contracts, others make All-Star teams, and still others (with tremendous talent) fly under the radar. The fascinating aspect of ranking players at a position, is the fact that someone usually gets snubbed -- and debates arise -- as very good players drop into second and third tiers. This fact is telling of the talent in the NBA, particularly at the point guard position.
The emergence of the reigning MVP Stephen Curry’s grandiose display of basketball with the Golden State Warriors (32 points/6 assists per game and 47 percent three-point shooting), as well as Oklahoma City Thunder's Russell Westbrook's redefining point guard style of speed, power, quickness, and sheer athleticism (27 points/7.5 rebounds/10 assists per game) have catapulted the league's point guard standard to a new level. Curry and Westbrook are also second and third in steals, and it's no secret that they are both top five NBA players.
Last season the Phoenix Suns took four point guards to training camp. While three are no longer with the team, the Suns brought in one more, and they continue to run a two-point guard system this season. Two Kentuckian alumni have teamed up in Phoenix, and while neither receive much notoriety, Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight deserve it. While Bledsoe starts at the point guard position, it's also Knight's natural spot.
*Photo via Getty Images
Both guys are excellent ball handlers, and each have great speed in transition and off the dribble. Bledsoe averages 22 points and 6.3 assists per game, and shoots just under 40 percent (.387) from three-point range, while Knight scores 21.4 points per game, to go along with 5.2 assists, and also shoots nearly 40 percent (.388) from behind the arch. Additionally, each player is an eighty percent free throw shooter, and can defend at the one and two guard positions. Bledsoe is eighth in the league in steals with 41.
Nevertheless, if Bledsoe and Knight and so many other point guards around the league want to be top tier point guards, they should refer to their league peers (Curry and Westbrook). Damian Lillard is among the league leaders in minutes played and assists -- and literally carries his team on his back – while averaging 24 points per game, but even he remains a notch below the two superstars.
Chris Paul, John Wall, Reggie Jackson, and Kyle Lowry are also exceptional All-Star caliber point guards, that bring tremendous value to their teams, while Kemba Walker is quietly putting up very good numbers for the Charlotte Hornets. The crop of point guard talent in the NBA is so deep, that many are undervalued; others include: Isaiah Thomas, Goran Dragic, Mike Conley, Jeff Teague, Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo, and it remains to be seen whether the injured Kyrie Irving can return to form from last season.
There is no doubt that players such as: Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, James Harden, and LeBron James have handled point guard duties from other positions, but this doesn't negate the importance of the need for a true point guard, and the productivity that the position requires. In the last decade -- six of ten NBA championship teams have received All-Star caliber play at point guard -- and the position continues to encase some of the most talented players in the league.
A pure NBA point guard is likened to an NFL quarterback in some ways, because they handle the ball so much and impact every offensive possession. It’s certainly safe to say that the NBA is currently a point guard flourishing league, and the Phoenix Suns have two of the best on their roster.
*Stats courtesy of basketball-reference.com