Bulls

20 in 20: Who are the Top 10 PGs in the league?

20 in 20: Who are the Top 10 PGs in the league?

Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010
10:10 PM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

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.
4. Who are the top 10 point guards in the league?
1. Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets (2009-10 averages: 18.7 points, 10.7 assists, 4.2 rebounds, 2.1 steals, 2.5 turnovers, 49.3 field-goal percentage, 40.9 three-point percentage in 45 regular-season games): An injury-riddled season and a summer in which his pristine image took a hit may only serve as motivation for Paul, who, with backup Darren Collison now in Indiana, must realize that he must again pull off amazing feats to make the Hornets relevant -- something the competitor inside the former MVP candidate will relish, disgruntled or not.

2. Deron Williams, Utah Jazz (2009-10 averages: 18.7 points, 10.5 assists, 4.0 rebounds, 1.3 steals, 3.3 turnovers, 46.9 field-goal percentage, 37.1 three-point percentage in 76 regular-season games): More like No. 1a, Williams will face an adjustment process with the departure of partner Carlos Boozer (although new Jazzman Al Jefferson has the ability to do many of the same things, he'll take awhile to fit into Jerry Sloan's system), which may result in better numbers and decreased team success, thus facing similar challenges to his rival Paul.

3. Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls (2009-10 averages: 20.8 points, 6.0 assists, 3.8 rebounds, 0.7 steals, 2.8 turnovers, 48.9 field-goal percentage, 26.7 three-point percentage in 78 regular-season games): As Chicago fans already know and LeBron James mentioned after dispatching the Bulls in the playoffs, Rose is one of the best in the league in his position, and his USA Basketball experience this summer should only add to his development.

4. Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics (2009-10 averages: 13.7 points, 9.8 assists, 4.4 rebounds, league-leading 2.3 steals, 3.0 turnovers, 50.8 field-goal percentage, 21.3 three-point percentage in 81 regular-season games): Despite not being a shooting threat, Rondo is uniquely capable of impacting a game, something evidenced by his performance in last spring's playoffs, where he was more than often the best Celtic.

5. Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns (2009-10 averages: 16.5 points, league-leading 11.0 assists, 3.3 rebounds, 0.5 steals, 3.6 turnovers, 50.7 field-goal percentage, 42.6 three-point percentage in regular-season games): Even with longtime running mate Amar'e Stoudemire now in New York, don't expect Nash to slow down just yet; rather, his scoring numbers should see a boost, although it's hard to expect Phoenix to make another deep playoff run with the current roster.
6. Chauncey Billups, Denver Nuggets (2009-10 averages: 19.5 points, 5.6 assists, 3.1 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 2.4 turnovers, 41.8 field-goal percentage, 38.6 three-point percentage in 73 regular-season games): "Mr. Big Shot" put up a career-high in points last season, but with the turmoil within his hometown Nuggets, a long summer with the national team and a drop-off in his shooting percentage, Billups can no longer be considered the cream of the crop anymore.
7. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder (2009-10 averages: 16.1 points, 8.0 assists, 4.9 rebounds, 1.3 steals, 3.3 turnovers, 41.8 field-goal percentage, 22.1 three-point percentage in 82 regular-season games): While Westbrook isn't a proficient outside shooter and is still a bit out of control at times, not only is he an excellent sidekick to Oklahoma City teammate Kevin Durant, but the UCLA product's defense is superb and his physical tools may be second to none at his position.
8. Tyreke Evans, Sacramento Kings (2009-10 averages: 20.1 points, 5.8 assists, 5.3 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 3.0 turnovers, 45.8 field-goal percentage, 25.5 three-point percentage in 72 regular-season games): Probably more of a shooting guard by definition, the reigning Rookie of the Year is his team's primary ballhandler and while Evans is a natural scorer, his ability to distribute the ball, attack the basket and take advantage of his size puts him in this category.

9. Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs (2009-10 averages: 16.0 points, 5.7 assists, 2.4 rebounds, 0.5 steals, 2.7 turnovers, 48.7 field-goal percentage, 29.4 three-point percentage in 56 regular-season games): If healthy, look for Parker to return to his former status as one of the league's best scoring playmakers, especially with all the scuttlebutt that heir-in-waiting George Hill is ready to take his spot.
10. Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee Bucks (2009-10 averages: 15.5 points, 5.7 assists, 3.4 rebounds, 1.3 steals, 2.4 turnovers, 37.1 field-goal percentage, 37.4 three-point percentage in 82 regular-season games): Forget the 55-point game: Jennings' playmaking, surprisingly mature basketball I.Q. (remember how many so-called "experts" thought he was a potential bust based on his admittedly disappointing season in Italy a year prior?) and better-than-advertised defense (playing for tough-minded Scott Skiles helped) were some of the primary reasons (outside of Andrew Bogut and John Salmons) his overachieving Bucks made the playoffs -- and almost advanced to the second round.

Next 10 (in alphabetical order):

Aaron Brooks, Houston Rockets: Absolutely carried his team in Yao Ming's absence, although he's a bit trigger-happy at times.
Darren Collison, Indiana Pacers: Much has been made of his gaudy stats as Paul's understudy, but he'll get a chance to run his own show after being traded in the summer.
Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors: Didn't make the playoffs like Jennings or quite dominate a la Evans, but a sophomore slump is doubtful.
Baron Davis, Los Angeles Clippers: One of the most talented players at his position when in shape and motivated.
Raymond Felton, New York Knicks: Developed into above-average status under Larry Brown and has the opportunity to further thrive in Mike D'Antoni's run-and-gun system.
Devin Harris, New Jersey Nets: Talent isn't the question, but some of the onus for a league-worst record has to lie with the guy running the show.
Jason Kidd, Dallas Mavericks: He's slowed down over the years, but not only does he still direct traffic like few can do, but has finally added consistent deep range in the latter stages of his career.
Jameer Nelson, Orlando Magic: Not quite an upper-echelon floor general, but earns kudos for directing one of the league's better squads.
Andre Miller, Portland Trailblazers: The veteran is always steady -- yet always underappreciated -- and should have more of an impact in his second season with the Blazers.
John Wall, Washington Wizards: Every rookie struggles at times, but not including him in the top 10 could look foolish by season's end.

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.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: A sprained MCL and Trubisky's performance. vs the Pats

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: A sprained MCL and Trubisky's performance. vs the Pats

David Haugh, Jordan Cornette, Shae Peppler join David Kaplan on the panel.

0:00- Mark Schanowski joins SportsTalk Live to discuss Kris Dunn’s sprained MCL, Fred Hoiberg’s tough luck and Zach LaVine postgame criticisms of the coaching. Plus they’ll discuss another 0-3 team- LeBron’s Lakers.

20:00 – The panel discusses Mitchell Trubisky’s performance vs. the Patriots. Jordan makes the case that the media is giving the former No. 2 pick a pass.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Sports Talk Live Podcast

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Bulls bracing for a Kemba Walker onslaught

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USA TODAY

Bulls bracing for a Kemba Walker onslaught

Through the opening week of the NBA season, Hornets' All-Star point guard Kemba Walker and former Bull Niko Mirotic share the league scoring lead, averaging 33 points per game.

Bulls' fans have seen these hot stretches from Niko before, and chances are he'll start moving down to the mid to high-teens before long. But Walker is a big-time scorer who's quietly emerged as one of the most consistently productive point guards in a league loaded with stars at that position. He's averaged over 20 points and 5 assists in each of the last three seasons, making the Eastern Conference All-Star team twice.

Last season, Walker lit up the Bulls for 47 points in an overtime loss at the United Center in November, making some of the most difficult shots you can imagine to keep his team in the game. He seems to be as this best when facing the Bulls and you can bet Fred Hoiberg and his staff will pull out all the stops to try to slow him down, especially with defensive ace Kris Dunn out 4-6 weeks after suffering a sprained left MCL in his season debut on Monday.

The Hornets made some personnel changes since last season. The one-year experiment with Dwight Howard at center is over. Howard put up solid numbers for Charlotte a year ago, but didn't make much difference in the win-loss column, so he's moved on to Washington in his NBA odyssey. Cody Zeller is now the starting center, backed up by Bismack Biyombo and former Benet Academy and University of Wisconsin star Frank Kaminsky.

Charlotte tried to improve the athleticism on their roster by selecting Malik Monk and Miles Bridges in the first rounds of the last two drafts. Monk is getting more playing time this season, averaging 13.5 points in the Hornets' first four games. Bridges is averaging just under 16 minutes a game as a backup to starting forwards Marvin Williams and Nic Batum. Just like he did at Michigan State, Bridges is providing those highlight reel putback dunks, but it remains to be seen whether he'll develop a consistent enough outside shot to be a quality starter in the NBA.

The well-traveled Jeremy Lamb is now starting in the backcourt with Walker, and the Hornets brought in long-time Spurs' point guard Tony Parker to add some much needed experience and veteran savvy off the bench. Given the current state of the Eastern Conference (post-LeBron), it's not out of the question for this group to contend for one of the final playoff spots.

Here's what the Bulls need to do for a shot at their first win of the season. This also applies to the rematch in Charlotte on Friday.

1. CORRAL KEMBA. For whatever reason, seeing that Bulls' logo turns Walker into an almost unstoppable scoring machine. Walker is adept at working off his big men, either in straight pick and rolls or cutting through the post on give-and-go plays. He's one of the league's most creative scorers, and doesn't require much room to get his shot off. The Bulls' bigs will have to provide help on Walker whenever he comes off screens to keep him from taking over the game.

2. PUT THE BALL IN ZACH'S HANDS. Whether he's playing shooting guard or point guard, Zach LaVine needs to be the primary facilitator with Dunn sidelined. LaVine scored 34 points against Dallas Monday night on just 15 shots, which led to him questioning some of the offensive sets that were run in the 2nd half. LaVine told reporters on Tuesday that he smoothed things over with his head coach, explaining his comments were the result of the frustration he was feeling after a third-straight loss to open the season. Still, LaVine is on a major hot streak, joining Bulls' all-time greats Michael Jordan and Bob Love as the only players to start the year with three straight games scoring at least 30 points. The Bulls will need to ride that hot hand for as far as LaVine can carry them.

3. DEFEND THE 3-POINT LINE. You knew I would eventually get to this, right? Dallas made 15 of 47 3-point attempts on Monday after the Pistons knocked down 18 of 40 in a two-point win last Saturday. The Hornets have all kinds of capable 3-point shooters in Walker, Lamb, Monk, Batum and Williams (they're shooting .397 as a team on 3's), so guarding the arc will be crucial for the Bulls to have a chance at their first win.

Don’t forget you can catch Wednesday's game on NBC Sports Chicago and the new MyTeams by NBC sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 pm when Kendall Gill, Will Perdue and Kelly Crull join me for Bulls Pregame Live from the United Center Atrium. Neil Funk and Stacey King have the play-by-play call at 7 pm, then stay tuned after the final buzzer for Bulls Postgame Live and the always entertaining Bulls Outsiders.