NBA Point Guard Rankings – 2009

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Where Does Raymond Rank?

Raymond Felton Looks Up To the NBA's Best PGs

The Baseliners had a conversation today that started out like this:

“The Bobcats don’t have a superstar.  They don’t have an All-Star.  They don’t even have any former All-Stars.  So what do they have exactly?”

Which led to…

“Was Emeka Okafor a Top 10 Center in the NBA?”
(ANSWER: No, but definitely Top 15)

“Is Gerald Wallace a Top 10 Small Forward in the NBA?”
(ANSWER: Surprisingly or Unsurprisingly YES)

“Is post-trade Boris Diaw a Top 15 NBA Power Forward?”
(ANSWER: Yes)

And then we got to Raymond Felton.

Bobcats fans seem to be very high on the fourth year man this offseason; many wanted him signed and sealed by now but when we were trying to rank him today it became very clear why he hasn’t exactly dominated the national Free Agency headlines.

We based our rankings of Okafor, Wallace and Diaw by a criteria that combines PER, Traditional Stats, Contract Money & Length, Age and Potential.  We topped it off by swiping a great deal of the Bill Simmons “Trade Value” formula (which is oddly one of the best barometers in rating players) to do the final rankings.

For those who aren’t familiar with the Simmons formula, it goes something like this:

In the Boris Diaw example, to determine final rankings, you’d do the virtual GM to GM phone call and see if it works.

ROD HIGGINS: Hey Legend, it’s Ron Higgidy-Higgins from Charlotte.  We’ll trade you Boris Diaw straight up for Troy Murphy (higher PER but higher salary).

LARRY BIRD: Where do I sign?

ON THE OTHER HAND:

ROD HIGGINS: Hey, David Kahn, I know that you’re probably somewhere in Spain right now pulling a Don Logan on the Rubio family but I wanted to offer you Boris Diaw straight up for Kevin Love (lower salary, higher PER, higher ceiling).

DAVID KAHN: No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no!  Grosvenor!

Don Logan Doesn't Take No For An Answer

Before we start our Point Guard rankings, let me set up the rules:

1.) It’s a tier based system and PGs in lower tiers would never be accepted straight-up for PGs in higher tiers (except in extreme financial situations).

2.) Contracts matter; there’s no reason to throw millions more for a player of roughly the same caliber.  That said, talent trumps money in this list.  We want to find out who the best Point Guards are so individual team salary cap situations are ignored.

3.) To even the playing field, we’re limiting the scope to the next 3 seasons.  Who could give you 3 solid seasons worth of play?  This makes ranking players at different stages of their careers like Jason Kidd and Russell Westbrook more interesting.  (And seriously, do NBA teams really plan out past three seasons anyway?)

4.) Potential matters.  If guys are already playing at a high level and have yet to even touch their prime, then they get the nod.  Players of this mold are often also on cheap rookie contracts giving them a financial bonus as well.

5.) This year’s rookie crop is excluded.  Prospects like Rubio, Curry and Beaubois will have to wait until next year.  This is about point guards who have played in actual NBA games.
So, without further ado…

Tier 1:  The Elite

  • Chris Paul
  • Deron Williams
  • Derrick Rose
  • Tony Parker
  • Steve Nash
  • Chauncey Billups

What’s there to say?  The first three guys are tearing up the League and haven’t even hit their primes.  Parker has two rings and is just reaching his.  Nash and Billups make mediocre teams into playoff contenders just by being on the floor.

Tier 2: “I’m Only Trading If You’re Offering Me A Tier 1 Player Or If Your Tier 2 Guy Is A Better Fit”

  • Rajon Rondo
  • Russell Westbrook
  • Monta Ellis
  • Mo Williams
  • Jameer Nelson
  • Jose Calderon

Westbrook has a chance to be a star and is on a rookie deal.  Rondo has another year left on his.  Monta Ellis might win another “Most Improved” award this season after staying off mopeds for an entire summer.  Williams, Nelson and Calderon have decent contracts and are young enough to still improve.
(*If there are any Felton fans out there getting peeved that he isn’t included in this tier, just refer to the VIRTUAL GM PHONE CALL drill above and see if it works…  See, I told you.)

Tier 3:  “These Dudes Can Still Bring It”

  • Jason Kidd
  • Baron Davis
  • Gilbert Arenas
  • Andre Miller
  • Mike Bibby

Big contracts and questions about their age and health are the only things weighing down these former All-Stars.  Kidd and Miller are still capable of dropping in Triple Doubles on any given night.  Bibby’s leadership led the Hawks to the 2nd Round of the Playoffs this past season and Baron Davis’s “lack of motivation” dropped him several spots from the 1st or 2nd Tiers that he should still be in.  Arenas (if healthy) may return to being a superstar this season.  What’s more is that the guys in this Tier can still win you games in the 4th quarter.

Tier 4: “Great Young Players, Tons of Potential, Cheap Rookie Contracts”

  • Rodney Stuckey
  • Kyle Lowry
  • D.J. Augustin
  • Aaron Brooks
  • Mike Conley*

As the headline states, these players are young, full of potential, ready to play now and cheap.  Refer to the VIRTUAL GM CALL if you want to know why they rank ahead of the players on the next Tier.  *Conley was the only non-consensus choice.  I gave him the nod because he’s a top 30 PG in PER and still only 21 years old.
Would the Rockets trade Aaron Brooks straight up for T.J. Ford?  Would Detroit trade Stuckey straight up for Chris Duhon?
An even tougher question: If D.J. Augustin played for the Raptors, would Colangelo take Felton straight up for him?  (Also, if Augustin played for Toronto, would he have start smoking during halftime, grow a euro-beard and pretend that he was from Spain?)

Tier 5: “Decent/Solid NBA Starting Point Guards”

  • Ramon Sessions
  • T.J. Ford
  • Chris Duhon
  • Rafer Alston
  • Raymond Felton
  • Steve Blake

At last, we’ve arrived!  Raymond, take your shoes off and relax…you’re home!  And this home is nothing to be ashamed of.  Sessions, Duhon, Alston, Blake, Ford and Felton are all decent, quality NBA starting Point Guards.  Though if any one of these teams could upgrade to one of the above players, would they do it?  As Gov. Palin says, “You Betcha!”

Tier 6: “Starters In A Pinch But Better As A Backup”

  • Nate Robinson
  • Mario Chalmers
  • George Hill
  • Will Bynum
  • C.J. Watson
  • Louis Williams
  • Eddie House
  • Antonio Daniels
  • Derek Fisher

Nate was the hardest guy to rank because you’d never want him starting for you at the point on a contending team but he is such an asset off of the bench that he almost jumped a Tier (get it).  Chalmers, Hill, Bynum, Watson and Williams have all shown glimpses of potential but just aren’t consistent enough to be quality everyday NBA starting points.  House, Daniels and Fisher are all veterans who can provide quality minutes on a playoff team.

IN CONCLUSION

So you see, there’s a reason why Raymond hasn’t signed a massive offer sheet with another team this summer and it has nothing to do with the economy or the fact that he’s a Restricted Free Agent.  Felton is a solid, Top 25 NBA PG who has some potential for improvement.  Period.  (For the record, John Hollinger has him ranked 31st for ’08-’09 in PG PER)

The Bobcats are smart to learn from their previous mistakes in free agency.  There’s a reason that the ‘Cats are currently saddled with Gana Diop’s Ganormous contract.  They had to take it on in return for Matt Carroll’s ridiculous deal.  Carroll “earned” that contract mostly because he was a known commodity & well-liked player.  Not because that was what he was worth on the open market but because the Bobcats mistakenly viewed him through the altered state of “Homer-Vision.”

Keeping in mind that we didn’t rank this year’s strong class of rookie PGs and the fact that we didn’t rank swing players like Allen Iverson or Jason Terry, it becomes very apparent that today’s NBA has as much quality and depth at the position as it’s ever had before.  A fact that Raymond, his agent and his fans are fast discovering.

-ASChin

32 thoughts on “NBA Point Guard Rankings – 2009

  1. spectre

    An interesting way of ranking them, but I guess it'll work. Certainly debate on the "baseliners" thoughts of potential…who has it and who doesn't. I think you have Lowry too high (he had like 30 good games in Houston…not good at all in Memphis), Conley most likely as he struggled to beat out Lowry.

    Calderon is almost 28 so I don't know how much potential he still has. He plays no defense and even his distribution skills have been called into play (take away Bosh and he struggles).

    You also don't set up criteria for your definition of "point guard", and I think mine would be a little tougher than yours.

    Is Mo Williams a real PG? Was he an all star before he became LBJ's sidekick? Bucks didn't think so and were glad to dump him. Sure he could shoot…but he sucked at playing PG. Paired with the best all around wing in the game helps you to look good.

    And I don't agree really with your conclusion…except that I do classify Felton as "solid". However, solid PGs…especially good DEFENSIVE PGs…get MLE money (and the latest rumor has Felton asking for 6.5). No one has claimed that Felton is "great" and it looks like his asking price is right in line with his worth.

    RFA is why Felton isn't getting any offers; most only have the MLE and the Bobcats have put out that they'd match that…so why should other teams bother?

    Dallas was hot after him at the last trade deadline; their GM even publically stated that they were. It's not like no one has wanted him as the OP implies.

    On a last note…

    ASChin said: "There’s a reason that the ‘Cats are currently saddled with Gana Diop’s Ganormous contract. They had to take it on in return for Matt Carroll’s ridiculous deal."

    You do realize Gana's contract was because of us right? We offered that deal to him in the summer and Dallas matched it. I agree the Carroll contract was a mistake, but in the end it didn't hurt us as we were able to trade it for Gana vs. having them both.

    So far in our history we've dealt with 4 of our own free agents:

    *Crash who is on a very good deal

    *Mek who got too much and is probably in NOLA for that reason.

    *May who we let walk.

    *Felton

    So far the Bobcats have done pretty good dealing with their own IMO.

  2. spectre

    BTW, another thing that's hurting him and other RFA's like Glen Davis & David Lee in getting offers is that their next contracts will most likely make them BYC…and virtually no one has capspace that wants to spend it.

    You have a couple of TEs as Adam noted in the other thread but then you have 1) to get Felton's permission and 2) what we would be getting back at half his new salary due to the BYC.

    Would ORL for example want to pay a backup PG 6+ million? Doubtful as they just got rid of Rafer.

    It's just not easy at all.

  3. John

    Many teams are hesistant to lock a deal with Felton because he has shown very little development during his 4 years in the league. So why give a player a multi year contract at his asking price who may be "solid" but never anything more. i understand that his asking price is not ridiculous, but why lock him down unless you want mediocrity in the future at your PG position. Not to mention the fact that you have DJ who has tons of upside.

  4. spectre-

    You'll have to explain to us how on earth Dallas "matched" the Bobcats when they didn't even hold his RFA rights. He was dealt as a throw in in a trade to New Jersey mid-way through the '07-'08 season and then Dallas decided to bring him back last summer.

  5. spectre

    Adam:

    Here ya go:

    "Okafor, meanwhile, continues to be mentioned by chatterers as the restricted free agent most likely to leave his current employer via sign-and-trade. Although new Bobcats coach Larry Brown recently said he hopes Okafor is re-signed — because Okafor played for Brown on the Olympic team in 2004 and "plays a position that is very hard to find" — Charlotte's interest in bringing him back has been questioned ever since it offered what sources say was a five-year contract starting at the $5.6 million midlevel exception to DeSagana Diop earlier this month. Diop preferred to return to the Dallas Mavericks when the Mavs matched Charlotte's offer."

    http://m.espn.go.com/nba/story?storyId=3493225

    I never said we gave him an offer sheet. Gana was a UFA and we came forth with a full MLE 5 year deal. Dallas said they'd offer the same so Gana went with them.

  6. John

    Spectre, i hadnt read that article yet. And i agree with your point about him being potential trade bait, but at this point the cats have all the leverage because virtually no other teams are chasing felton. in my earlier post i was mostly referring to the rest of the league as oppossed to the bobcats. what are they about 1-1.5 million off on the money side?

  7. spectre

    John August:

    There we agree. I fully support the Bobcats and what they're doing. They have the advantage of no competition AND Felton really wanting to return.

    1-1.5 is my guess, so I feel pretty good about a deal getting done.

    Why overpay?

    And on that note (rant on) we have in our short history been horrible in retaining/utilizing our assets. We continually lose players and make trades where we could have done better. People point at our draft history…it's MUCH worse than that. Starting with the X draft, we could have had Antawn Jamison if only we'd have been willing to take the salary. Antoine Walker. Yeah, I know he ended up being worthless, but at the time he had value. Dumping Bogans. Letting Kapono walk. House. It goes on and on.

    We HAVE to get out of this loop of always getting screwed on our players/transactions. (end rant)

  8. spectre

    Jared:

    It's about giving up assets for nothing. I wasn't crazy about any of those guys either, but when you're a young franchise you need to utilize everything you have.

    Bickerstaff & 2nd rounders is another example. He thought they were worthless. Tell guys like Arenas, Redd & Ellis that.

  9. spectre

    Adam:

    "Phil" Spectre? Please.

    Funny how that ESPN article used the same term. That's because it's use is very appropriate. Did I say "right" to match? No! I said they "matched" the offer, which is exactly what they did. Dallas was thinking they could get him for around half the MLE and wasn't offering as much.

    Thing is now you're arguing semantics. Regardless, we did not HAVE to take Gana's contract because of Matt Carroll like the OP said. We offered the exact same deal the summer before.

  10. spectre

    John August:

    I understand that’s the prevailing thought around here, but all sources are saying that both sides want a long term deal…money is the sticking point. This was last confirmed by Chris Mannix (SI) yesterday:

    “Word out of Raymond Felton’s camp is that Bobcats and Felton are still far apart on a deal. Both want long term but not same page on dollars.”

    Personally I’d rather commit to a 3 year deal, but if they can get him for around 5.5 starting out then it’d be worth it as on a contract like that he’d be a great asset for trade if DJ pans out.

  11. Jared

    Spectre,

    I personally am not upset about letting go of Bogans, Kapono, or House… Well maybe House a little, but none of these guys are huge impact players. They’d all be sitting on our bench waiting to be traded if we had signed them long term. Guys like House and Kapono thrive on a team that’s good enough to let them just take open shots w/out contributing much else. Non-playoff teams really can’t afford to keep guys like that around unless their scoring 20 points a night.

  12. spectre

    In regards to your rankings…

    Your mixing up what YOU think is a players' potential (and how much each has) with their actual worth on the court today. Then I assume you use PER, but neglect what they're actually doing on the court.

    Good thing you didn't use the latest rookies, because then you'd be basing that on what they've done in college, and as Bobcats' fans that in no way is a reliable translation to the NBA (hello Adam Morrison).

    Is DJ valuable? Yes. Is he more valuable than Felton (would a virtual GM want him more)? Yes. But that's not due to what he can do on the court today. You're "assuming" he and other players can take the next step and lead a team. To date he and others in your list have not done that.

    Just because a player is more valuable in trade does NOT mean said player is "better" now. To me, a ranking should depict one or the other; not both in one hodgepodge.

  13. So let me get this straight, phil spectre: you are saying that if Chris Bosh decides to sign with Dallas next season, the Bobcats would then have the right to “match” that offer?
    That’s not how the term is used, especially in regards to NBA Free Agency. Gana simply “decided” to take the Mavs offer. Agents may use these proposals as leverage but that’s it.

    Oh, and if you think Calderon, Conley, Mo Williams and Kyle Lowry (who is widely regarded as a better defender than Felton throughout the League) should be ranked lower, then do the Virtual GM test and see if it works. No way those GMs make that trade.

  14. Hey c'mon, "phil spectre" is perfect! Y'know, a guy who hasn't had any original ideas in years and loves to shoot people down.

    And listen, I know you want to be right – and sometimes you are – but in this case you are not. The rankings speak for themselves. Nobody in their right mind would trade Mo Williams straight up for Ray Felton. Same goes for the rest of the players rated ahead of him (with the previously noted, possible exception of Conley).

    Next time I'll do a post on "NBA PG Rankings for former Tarheels under 6'1" who shoot less than 43% from the field." Raymond should rank much higher there. That'll take care of the "hodgepodge" factor.

    The value of a player and the Tier system makes this very cut and dry. Once players are narrowed down to roughly the same talent level, we weigh in contracts, potential and age. Simple as that.

    Everyone-

    Much appreciation to you all for taking the time to read through this monster post. I'm out for a few days so use the comments section to "talk amongst ya'selves."

    Peace.

  15. Definitely excellent stuff here (I'm a Derrick Rose and Deron Williams fan, so I'm a bit biased as well). Curious, though, where do you think Kirk Hinrich lands among these tiers? He's an excellent defender and will likely be dealt at some point to a needy team this season. It seems like Rose may have left people to forget Hinrich's definitely still a factor.

  16. Jared-

    I couldn't resist:

    "Russia, number one! Iran, number one! USA, *HACK-POOEY!*"

    Ryne-

    Kirk was once a Tier 2 but is probably now a Tier 5. I'm excited to see him get dealt and play a whole season at the point again.

    All-

    Ok, this time I'm really out.

    Again, appreciate you all for checking out the Baseline.

    Peace.

  17. spectre

    Adam…

    Wow. Resorting to insults now? Isn’t that a sign of something like…”when all else fails…”? And if “shooting people down” means correcting things that some put for as fact then I guess I’m guilty.

    So do you agree you were off about Gana/Carroll? If not then pot meet kettle about “wanting to be right”.

    And Spector doesn’t even spell his last name the same!

    I said originally your rankings were interesting. This is your realm so you can make any rules you want in setting up your tiers. Doesn’t mean anyone has to agree with them right? After all, what fun would it be to have nothing but zombies agreeing with everything you care to write?

    I know your agenda is trying to make Felton look bad, tho I have no idea what you were actually trying to prove here. That Felton isn’t a top tier player? That he doesn’t deserve top tier money? That he’s only “solid”?

    No one is saying that he is.

    Maybe we should call you Don Quixote!

  18. August 4th comes bef

    in all seriousness tho the tier 2 looks like a few hype young guys many of which will become andre miller/ mike bibbys in the future. but otherwise it looks good. i think tier 3 should be combined with 2 to make a very broad second tier instead.

  19. I agree with pretty much all of this based on your criteria, etc. Good job and good post.

    I do have a little beef with listing Arenas where he is as we haven’t really seen him play for 2 years. I would have him as an “incomplete” if we are talking RIGHT THIS SECOND. If we are talking over their whole careers, then his placing is justified, but there are several others (Jason Kidd, etc) that would have to be moved to a different category if that were the case.

  20. Ready for some stupid nit-picking?

    Monta Ellis isn't that great. I'd take almost anyone else on the list over him. It takes until the Raymond Felton tier before I even question not immediately agreeing. I thought I was being unreasonable, but then checked all of his stats.

    He really doesn't deserve to be in the same breath as the tier 2 or 3 guys.

    That said, I'd probably swap him and Ray no questions asked.

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