Monday, Sept. 12, 2010
By Aggrey Sam
A historic summer for the NBA has passed and for the Bulls, while they didn't acquire quite the star power many expected andor hoped for, optimism runs high, both within the organization and throughout the team's fan base. With the offseason coming to an end, the time to fully delve into the upcoming NBA season is here. Instead of a traditional season preview, issues both throughout the league and in Chicago will be probed daily here on CSNChicago.com up until the squad officially convenes for training camp toward the end of September.
6. Who are the top 10 shooting guards in the league?
1. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers (2009-10 averages: 27.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.5 steals, 45.6 field-goal percentage, 32.9 three-point percentage in 73 games): Until somebody dethrones him, Bryant must be considered the best player (some would argue period -- at least when it counts) at his position for the time being, especially as he continues to rack up championships.
2. Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat (2009-10 averages: 26.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 1.8 steals, 47.6 field-goal percentage, 30.0 three-point percentage in 77 games): Expect Wade to be much more effective with an almost brand-new Heat roster, but even though they've fallen off considerably since winning the 2006 title, it's not as if Wade hasn't been his spectacular, dominating self -- he just hasn't had the help.
3. Brandon Roy, Portland Trailblazers (2009-10 averages: 21.5 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 0.9 steals, 47.3 field-goal percentage, 33.0 three-point percentage in 65 games): Roy battled injury issues and initially struggled for compatibility with new point guard Andre Miller last season, but his polished all-around game and leadership skills are the primary reasons Portland is viewed as an up-and-coming team to be reckoned with in Western Conference.
4. Joe Johnson, Atlanta Hawks (2009-10 averages: 21.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.1 steals, 45.8 field-goal percentage, 36.9 three-point percentage in 76 games): While his huge contract extension may seem unjustified to most, Johnson's smooth scoring -- honestly, who else on Atlanta's roster would fill that role? -- is the lifeblood of a young Hawks team that he personally led to respectability.
5. Stephen Jackson, Charlotte Bobcats (2009-10 averages: 20.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.6 steals, 42.3 field-goal percentage, 32.8 three-point percentage in 81 games): After being traded from Golden State early in the 2009-10 campaign, Jackson's game blossomed under Larry Brown and while leading the Bobcats to a franchise-first playoff appearance, his leadership skills, diverse offensive game and toughness were put on full display.
6. Andre Iguodala, Philadelphia 76ers (2009-10 averages: 17.1 points, 6.5 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.7 steals, 44.3 field-goal percentage, 31.0 three-point percentage in 82 games): Although Iguodala may never be a true No. 1 scoring option, his versatility and lockdown defense are at the top of the food chain, and under new Sixers coach Doug Collins -- assuming the Evan Turner-Louis Williams-Thaddeus Young-Jrue Holiday conundrum around the perimeter can be figured out -- he should find even more of a niche for himself.
7. Monta Ellis, Golden State Warriors (2009-10 averages: 25.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 2.2 steals, 44.9 field-goal percentage, 33.8 three-point percentage in 64 games): Ellis is often criticized for his less-than-judicious shot selection (playing for Don Nelson's Warriors, it's hard to blame him), but his relentless, attacking style of play and explosiveness off the dribble are the bane of opposing defenders.
8. Manu Ginobili, San Antonio Spurs (2009-10 averages: 16.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.4 steals, 44.1 field-goal percentage, 37.7 three-point percentage in 75 games): Ginobili can't seem to stay healthy for an entire season, but his crafty, unorthodox game is still as indefensible as ever and is one of the reasons the Spurs remain among the NBA's elite teams.
9. Kevin Martin, Houston Rockets (2009-10 averages: 20.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.0 steals, 41.7 field-goal percentage, 33.3 three-point percentage in 46 games): One of the league's most underrated players, Martin was forgotten about in the midst of Tyreke Evans fever in Sacramento and a subsequent trade to Houston, but with another year in his new digs and the potential return of Yao Ming, he should once again thrive as a high-energy scoring threat.
10. Gilbert Arenas, Washington Wizards (2009-10 averages: 22.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, 7.2 assists, 1.3 steals, 41.1 field-goal percentage, 34.8 three-point percentage in 32 games): He's been hurt, he probably makes too much money and he's had off-court issues (don't forget, although he missed the bulk of 2009-10 due to suspension, he seemed to have recovered from his knee problems), but Arenas was productive last season and with the presence of No. 1 pick John Wall, he'll be freed up to do what he does best: score.
Next 10 (in alphabetical order):
Ray Allen, Boston Celtics: Age is nothing but a number for Allen on some nights, but regardless of age, he's still one of the best pure shooters in the game.
Vince Carter, Orlando Magic: Consistency has long been an issue -- the Magic re-signing potential starter J.J. Redick at the same position may not help that cause -- but his talent and ability to occasionally dominate games is undeniable.
Jamal Crawford, Atlanta Hawks: The 2009-10 Sixth Man of the Year is instant offense personified and while other parts of his game leave something to be desired, he can change games in rapid fashion.
Ben Gordon, Detroit Pistons: Hopefully "B.G." will have an injury-free campaign and return to the same high-scoring player Bulls fans were so familiar with.
Eric Gordon, Los Angeles Clippers: The proficient deep shooter's experience with USA Basketball should help add consistency to his underrated all-around game.
Richard Hamilton, Detroit Pistons: Without former backcourt partner Billups, he's not the same "Rip" of the Pistons contender-era teams, but when healthy, he's still a unique scorer within a structured system.
O.J. Mayo, Memphis Grizzlies: While he hasn't developed into the player many projected he would be as a ballyhooed high school prospect, Mayo is a more-than-solid secondary scorer as a pro.
Jason Richardson, Phoenix Suns: Since changing his game from one-dimensional athlete to a competent outside shooter and tough defender, Richardson has added years to his career as Steve Nash's running mate.
John Salmons, Milwaukee Bucks: After signing a nice offseason deal to return to the Bucks -- where he seemed to find an immediate comfort zone as a go-to scorer -- the versatile veteran should be able to attain a level of consistency.
Marcus Thornton, New Orleans Hornets: Maybe a bit premature, but after an eye-opening rookie season, expect a breakout campaign alongside a healthy Chris Paul for this efficient instant-offense scorer.
Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.coms Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.