In anticipation of the start of the NBA season I thought it would be fun to look back and see who had the best year at each position before I put out my preseason rankings of the same kind.
The point guard position was the deepest of any in the NBA in 2013-14 even though some of the best lead guards spent plenty of time on the shelf with significant injuries. The likes of former all-stars Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo, Russell Westbrook and Jrue Holiday all missed serious time which no doubt changed these rankings in a big way. While these greats didn’t have the kind of year that they were hoping for, a handful of other guys stepped up to make the position the best it has been in a while.
With that in mind, here is a look at the best season by a point guard in 2013-14.
These rankings are based on numerous factors, including plenty of advanced stats, to go along with offensive production and defensive ability.
30. Kirk Hinrich, Chicago Bulls: Hinrich started the season coming off the bench but took over the role as the Bulls’ starting point guard after the loss of Derrick Rose. While his offensive production has dropped over the last few years, he can still run the show and is a solid defender.
On the season, he averaged 9.1 points, 2.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.1 steals in 71 games.
29. Raymond Felton, New York Knicks: Felton took a huge step back while running the offense for the Knicks and was one of the big reasons why New York missed the playoffs. He really struggled to shoot the ball (28th in effective field goal percentage among starting point guards) on his way to a career low in points per game.
On the season, he averaged 9.7 points, three rebounds, 5.6 assists and 1.2 steals in 65 games.
28. Trey Burke, Utah Jazz: although he had some special moments, Burke had quite the learning experience running the offense for the rebuilding Jazz. He struggled to shoot the ball from all over the floor and was a liability on defense.
On the season, he averaged 12.8 points, three rebounds and 5.7 assists in 70 appearances.
27. Mario Chalmers, Miami Heat: Chalmers had one of his best seasons since he came into the league, but was still nothing more than a bit piece for the Heat on their push for another championship.
On the season, he averaged 9.8 points, 2.9 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.6 steals in 73 games.
26. Kendall Marshall, Los Angeles Lakers: even though Marshall didn’t land with the Lakers until December, he stepped in and became one of the best passing guards in the league. The reason he lands at 26 on the list is because that is about the only thing he does well as a point guard. While he made substantial improvement with his outside jumper, he doesn’t look to score very often.
For the season, he averaged eight points, 2.9 rebounds and 8.8 assists in 54 games.
25. George Hill, Indiana Pacers: Hill didn’t have the same kind of success that he did in ’12-13, but still put up solid numbers for the Eastern Conference finalists. Hill finished with the second fewest assists-per-game from any starting point guard, but he does have excellent touch from the outside and is a solid defender.
On the season, he averaged 10.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists and one steal in 76 games.
24. Jrue Holiday, New Orleans Pelicans: after four seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers, Holiday landed with the Pelicans via trade in ’13-14. although he only appeared in 34 games because of injury, he showed that he was a nice fit for the New Orleans roster.
One the season, he averaged 14.3 points, 4.2 rebounds, 7.9 assists and 1.6 steals.
23. Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics: Rondo saw limited action in ’13-14 as he tried to come back from a serious knee injury from the year before. That limited him from playing in back-to-back games and lessened how much he attacked the rim. Because of those two factors, he landed far lower on this list than he normally would.
On the season, he averaged 11.7 points, 5.5 rebounds, 9.8 assists and 1.3 steals in 30 games.
22. Jameer Nelson, Orlando Magic: even though his field goal percentage has dropped every year since his all-star season in ’08-09, Nelson is still a solid lead guard who knows how to get his teammates involved. The main reason for that is because Nelson settle far more often for the three-point shot than he has in years past.
On the season, he averaged 12.1 points, 3.4 rebounds and seven assists in 68 appearances.
21. Patrick Beverley, Houston Rockets: after coming off the bench in ’12-13, Beverley supplanted Jeremy Lin as the Rockets starting point guard a year ago. While he didn’t provide the kind of offense as Lin, the reason why he earned the job was because of his ability to be a lockdown defender. He rewarded the Rockets for the move by earning second-team all-defense as well as nearly doubling his scoring output.
For the season, he averaged 10.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.4 steals in 56 games.
20. Jose Calderon, Dallas Mavericks: Calderon proved he could be a great complimentary lead guard in his only season with the Mavericks. He doesn’t look for his own offense very often, but is a knockdown three-point shooter when he gets the rock out of the double-team.
On the season, he averaged 11.4 points on 44.9 percent shooting from beyond the arc, 2.4 rebounds and 4.7 assists in 81 games.
19. Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves: Rubio still can’t shoot it (38.1 percent from the floor, including 33.1 percent from deep) very well, but he is an excellent facilitator who has ultra quick hands on the defensive end. In fact, he led the NBA in total steals in ’13-14, according to Basketball-reference.com.
On the season, he averaged 9.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, 8.6 assists and 2.3 steals in 82 appearances.
18. Brandon Knight, Milwaukee Bucks: in his first season with the Bucks, Knight proved he can be a dynamic scorer when he gets into the paint. Along with his improved scoring clip, he also improved his passing and rebounding totals, while running the show for the under-achieving Milwaukee squad.
On the season, he averaged 17.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.9 assists and one steal in 66 appearances.
17. Brandon Jennings, Detroit Pistons: after four seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks, Jennings moved to the Pistons in ’13-14 and came away with his biggest assist total of his career (609 total). He still settles for bad shots on a regular basis and that reflects in his shooting percentages (37.3 percent from the field), but can put points on the board when he gets hot.
On the season, he averaged 15.5 points, 3.1 rebounds, 7.6 assists and 1.3 steals in 80 games.
16. Michael Carter-Williams, Philadelphia 76ers: it’s very difficult to step in as a rookie and run the show in the NBA, but when you have a roster as thin as any other team in the league, it makes it even tougher. Those were the obstacles that Carter-Williams faced as a rookie with the 76ers, but he still proved he could produce in a significant way.
On the season, he averaged 16.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.9 steals in 70 games to earn Rookie of the Year honors.
15. Deron Williams, Brooklyn Nets: although he had his best shooting season since he arrived with the Nets (45 percent from the floor), injuries and aggressiveness limited Williams to his least productive season since his rookie year. Even though Williams isn’t the player he used to be, he still put up solid numbers while being the leader on a playoff team.
On the season he averaged 14.3 points, 2.6 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 1.6 steals in 64 games.
14. Kemba Walker, Charlotte Bobcats: while Walker really struggled with his outside shooting (39.3 percent from the floor, including 33.3 percent from beyond the arc), he took a step forward in his ability to get to the rim. He also had his best season as a passer and a rebounder to help lead the Bobcats to the playoffs.
On the season, he averaged 17.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 1.2 steals in 73 games.
13. Jeff Teague, Atlanta Hawks: Teague took on much more of the scoring load with the loss of Al Horford early in the season and proved that the Hawks made the right decision by matching the offer-sheet that he signed with the Milwaukee Bucks prior to the season. While his assist totals dropped, he improved his scoring by nearly two points a night over his career best.
On the season, he averaged 16.5 points, 2.6 rebounds, 6.7 assists and 1.1 steals in 79 appearances.
12. Mike Conley, Memphis Grizzlies: Conley had the best shooting season of his young career in by far his most attempts as he led the Grizzlies back into the playoffs after a slow start to the season. Along the way, he propelled himself into the upper echelon of NBA lead guards thanks to his ability to finish at the rim and knock down the mid-range jumper.
On the season, he averaged 17.2 points, 2.9 rebounds, six assists and 1.5 steals in 73 games.
11. Ty Lawson, Denver Nuggets: although his shooting percentages have dropped every season he has been in the league, Lawson has become a great lead guard thanks to his ability to facilitate the offense. Even though his shooting has dropped, Lawson had his best scoring season because he was able to get to the rim and draw fouls (6.5 free-throw attempts a game, according to basketball-reference.com).
On the season, he averaged 17.6 points, 3.5 rebounds, 8.8 assists and 1.6 steals in 62 games.
10. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder: Westbrook would be much higher on this list if not for a couple of injuries that limited him to just over a half a season on the floor and his lowest scoring output in the last four seasons. Even in limited action, he still showed remarkable explosiveness and the ability to get to the rim as quickly as anyone in the entire league.
On the season, he averaged 21.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, 6.9 assists and 1.9 steals in 46 games.
9. Isaiah Thomas, Sacramento Kings: even though the Kings still struggled as a team in the mighty Western Conference, Thomas had a breakout season after the trade of Greivis Vasquez gave Thomas his starting spot back. What he did from that point on earned him a huge new contract in a sign and trade with the Phoenix Sun. While Thomas is still a defensive liability, he can really get it done on offense.
On the season, he averaged 20.3 points, 2.9 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.3 steals in 72 games.
8. Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors: just like Thomas, Lowry earned a big contract thanks to a really good year. Lowry had the best season of his career as he led the Raptors to the third seed in the Eastern Conference and a trip to the playoffs. Lowry is an impressive defender who stepped up his game on the offensive end of the floor in a big way.
On the season, he averaged a career-high 17.9 points, 4.7 rebounds, 7.4 assists and 1.5 steals in 79 games.
7. John Wall, Washington Wizards: Wall made the first of what will be many all-star appearances and took the Wizards to the playoffs with his improved play and leadership. Along the way, he had his best year in scoring, thanks to his vast improvement as an outside shooter. While still not prolific from the outside by any stretch of the imagination, his 35.1 percent from three-point range opened up way more space to find the open man.
On the season, he averaged 19.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, 8.8 assists and 1.8 steals in 82 games.
6. Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers: Irving made his second straight all-star game even though he took a step back in scoring, shooting percentage and rebounding. Irving is still a dynamic playmaker who is a nightmare for opposing point guards with his ability to break down a defense and create open looks for himself and his teammates.
On the season, he averaged 20.8 points, 3.6 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 1.5 steals in 71 games.
5. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers: even though Lillard has only been in the league for two years, he has already showed that he has the skills to be one of the best lead guards in the entire NBA. He can score from inside and out as well as step up and take the big shot whenever the situation calls for. He also did plenty of damage from the free-throw line where he shot 87.1 percent on 5.2 attempts per game, according to basketball-reference.com.
On the season, he averaged 20.7 points, 3.5 rebounds and 5.6 assists in 82 games to earn third-team all-NBA.
4. Goran Dragic, Phoenix Suns: Dragic made the biggest jump of any point guard in the NBA a season ago. In fact, he made the biggest jump of any player in the entire league to earn the most improved player award. The biggest part of his growth as a player came from his increased ability to shot the ball from all over the floor. He is a great finisher around the rim as well as one of the best shooters in the midrange.
On the season, he averaged 20.3 points on 50.5 percent shooting from the floor, 3.2 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 1.4 steals in 76 games to earn third-team all-NBA.
3. Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs: Parker had nowhere near the best statistical regular season of his impressive career because reduced minutes, but still showed that he is one of the game’s elite floor generals. He made his third straight all-star game and sixth in nine years after he led the world champion Spurs in scoring and assists.
On the season, he averaged 16.7 points, 2.3 rebounds and 5.7 assists in 68 games to earn second-team all-NBA.
2. Steph Curry, Golden State Warriors: Curry made his first all-star game after he finished in the top 10 in the league in free-throw shooting (88.5 percent), assists (666), three-point field goal percentage (42.4) and points (1873). To go along with his excellent shooting from the outside, he also shot better than 50 percent on his two-point field goal attempts as he set a personal high in points-per-game.
On the season, he averaged 24 points, 4.3 rebounds, 8.5 assists and 1.6 steals in 78 games to earn second-team all-NBA.
1. Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers: as good as the year was for some fantastic point guards, there was no question who the leader of the pack was in ’13-14. Paul made the all-star game for the seventh consecutive season after he led the league in assists and steals per game, according to Basketball-reference.com. He also added first-team all-NBA and all-defensive first-team honors to his trophy case after he led the Clippers to 57 wins.
For the season, he averaged 19.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, 10.7 assists and 2.5 steals in 62 games.