The Golden Era Of Point Guards

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — With a handful of the best and most dynamic point guards on display in the 60th All-Star Game, it’s easy to see why so many people left the Staples Center Sunday night raving about all that we saw.

Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo are just a part, the best part, of what we would argue is the most polished crop of point guards the NBA has seen in years and maybe ever.

It makes for an easy night for superstars like Kevin Durant, who was on the receiving end all night.

“Playing with great players, I kind of get lost.  I was trying to find positions for me to get easy shots,” Durant said. “Chris Paul is an unbelievable point guard and has unbelievable vision.  Deron Williams and Russell Westbrook as well and I was able to make some shots.”

As strong as the first tier of point guards has become, there is just as robust a crop of second tier point guards (Raymond Felton, Jameer Nelson, Brandon Jennings, Tyreke Evans, Ty Lawson and others, including hybrids like Steph Curry) and a veteran group (Steve Nash, Chauncey Billups, Tony Parker, Andre Miller, Derek Fisher and others) that remains as dangerous as anyone with a game on the line and in the postseason.

There are a handful of virtuoso performances turned in seemingly every night, Jennings did the honors last night (as you can see in the video below). And the head-to-head matchups are always intriguing, Westbrook and Parker matchup tonight in prime time when the Thunder and Spurs go at it at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Good luck trying to win an argument about who might be the best. None of them are identical. They all bring a different set of talents to the table, some defying the stereotype of the traditional, “pass-first” point guard and instead putting their own unique spin on the game’s most important position in what appears to be a golden era for the position.

(An era which no doubt has been influenced by the defensive rules in place limiting what sort of defense you can play on the perimeter.)

Seeing them in person, and in large numbers, the way we did in Los Angeles during All-Star Weekend, makes an even greater impression.

Westbrook was playing in his first All-Star Game but left an indelible mark on the festivities, much as he did with his work in the 2010 FIBA World Championship. “His athleticism is just awe-inspiring when you see it up close,” TNT’s Steve Kerr said after watching Westbrook over the weekend. “You can’t get a sense of his speed until you see him live and in-person. He is absolutely explosive.”

And most people consider him a notch below Rose in that department. The mercurial Rose is a strong MVP candidate, considered by most the frontrunner along with Heat star LeBron James.

Folks in Chicago are already salivating at the idea of a potential Bulls-Knicks playoff matchup (they sit in the No. 3 and No. 6 slots, respectively, as of this morning) now that the Carmelo Anthony deal is done. David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune:

That team built around Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire might have challenged the Heat, Celtics and Bulls. To win in the East a team needs the type of quality interior depth the Knicks just unloaded.

This Knicks team, 28-26 and currently seeded sixth in the East, now has two elite offensive players who both need the ball, an aging Chauncey Billups at point guard and a bunch of guys who will watch. Anthony and Stoudemire give the Knicks the league’s most exciting 1-2 duo other than LeBron James and Dwyane Wade but defense and rebounding will be as scarce at Madison Square Garden as cheap seats.

Locally, adding Anthony immediately made the Bulls-Knicks rivalry more compelling and competitive. Coach Tom Thibodeau politely praised the deal Tuesday as one that makes the Knicks stronger. I prefer the term scarier, especially offensively. But Rose, the Bulls’ depth, overall team defense and rebounding still give them an edge if the teams were to meet in the first round. Say Bulls in six.

In time, Anthony gives the Knicks a shot to surpass the Bulls. But with the NBA’s CBA expiring June 30, the Knicks have no assurance they will be in position in 2012 to land Chris Paul or Deron Williams. A more restrictive salary cap looms for teams such as the Knicks, Magic and Heat with limited payroll flexibility. In contrast, the Bulls might have fewer future financial concerns than any contender in the East.

The futures of all of these top point guards will surely be intertwined. Their matchups, in the postseason especially, could come to define their era, the golden era of point guards!

29 Comments

  1. ddddd says:

    This article didn’t give a ranking of pgs. It just basically said that this era of pgs are like no one has ever seen. There were many pgs that were left out, but I am sure that Sekou aknowledges it. There is the young pgs such as Rose, Holiday, Jennings etc etc etc. There is also the veterans such as Billups, Nash and Kidd. The elite pgs are a random mixture of the young and the old and everything in between. It is a special time due to the variety of talent and the difference in their games.

  2. Spursfan says:

    Westbrook leads the league in turnovers with 221, look it up… That doesn’t sound like a top 3 point guard to me. He needs to learn how to take care of the ball!

    Tony Parker has played totally amazingly this season, scoring at will against any defender, sharing the ball when needed, and limiting TURNOVERS on the top team in the league. Sounds like a top point guard to me. Nobody gives the team with the Best Record any credit, though.

  3. there is too much top tier point guards today and it’ll even get crowded when Rubio comes over and 2more surprises next season, and now the league needs more is top level G/F’s as NBA only has 3 of them(in proper order) LeBron / Gay / and ugh ugh cough cough Carmelo the overrated diva

  4. fisher a point guard? you guys serious? lol that cracked me up well fisher’s short so its easy to mistake him for a point guard

  5. highflyer says:

    LOL Andre Miler & Jameer Nelson was good 2-3 seasons ago but he isn’t helping Magic out in anyway way maybe defence if your adding them to yo might aswell add Mo Williams,Baron Davis has had a better season than them you might aswell add Kirk Hinrich & Bibby too.

    Where is Jason Kidd and you mentioned Golden Era of PG’s so where is DJ, Augustin, Devin Harris Jrue Holiday, John Wall.

    Darren Collison is still good i think its just the Pacers system is worse than the Lakers for PG’s

    Also what’s happened to Johnny Flynn

    But some of those players lol i could name soo much more PG’s Rodney Stuckey, Aaron Brooks, Goran Dragic, Roudrigue Beaubois.

  6. Gary says:

    Westbrook is just as good as Rose if not better

    Westbrook carried the Thunder all by himself a couple months ago when Durant was out and was almost averaging 25 pt with 5 reb and 9 ast.
    and he is now average 22 pt , 5 reb and 8.5 ast with the league leading scorer.

    Rose is NOT carrying the Bulls by himself like everyone elses, Boozer is still putting up his usually 19, 10 and noah and deng is playing their best ever.

    Keep in mind that Westbrook has won individual match up everytime against Rose!

    • Knowledge says:

      lol…I dont know what games you watch but drose kills westbrook everytime..this goes back to the ncaa tourney..and if u watch the games u see he is the reason why the bulls are winning..in crunch time he takes over! dont post if you dont know the facts!

  7. Jimiion says:

    You forgot Jason Kidd and you should also include John Wall, guys going to be good.

  8. isaac says:

    you must be stupid westbrook is top 3 pg in the league dumby! lol

  9. Sp says:

    I am totally not sold on Deron Williams. I don’t quite understand what all the fuss is about. He doesn’t have the basketball IQ that Nash and Billups have, he doesn’t have the power and speed that Westbrook and Rose have, and he isn’t as dangerous defensively as Rondo is. I wasn’t shocked or surprised that Utah got rid of him. His move to New Jersey will do little to right that sinking ship, this season or next. Chris Paul is powerful, consistent and aggressive. I would put D-Will about 6th down the line of PG’s in the league as of right now. Rose is a step and a half ahead of everyone, and he is making the bulls fight for top seed, not just a couple of wins here and there.

    I hold out hope that Mo Williams plays well for LAC tonight, and then gets used to being the number 2 pg behind Felton when he returns, as Ray Felton was having a killer season before his injury.

  10. Ellijha Jonhson says:

    John Wall could b put up for second tier point guards cause hes a good as brandon jennings if not better!, ty lawson lol are u serious, might as well add arenas den, & jameer nelson washed up 2…

  11. kantankruz says:

    Westbrook all day baby.

  12. steiny says:

    Well done Seko,you mention guys like Fisher and Miller in the vet group but not jason kidd lol

  13. Manu says:

    Westbrook isn’t an elite point guard yet – not in the sense that Chauncey Billups is, or Rondo has become. Westbrook is fast, explosive, athletic etc. etc. but still is not a great decision-maker. I’d much rather have a Billups in my team to run and organise it in the stretch run of a playoff game. Nobody can match Billups in that respect, though Rondo, Paul and Rose in different ways are getting there.

    As flashy and exciting as they are, I don’t think Deron Williams or Westbrook are at that level. There’s more to a PG than athleticism, scoring ability and fancy passing.

  14. Aaron says:

    They left out Arenas for a reason. Go RONDO!!!!

  15. bball says:

    They forgott gilbert arenas in the veteran group

  16. Lhotse says:

    I liked the definition of best PG as Kenny Smith once explained it on NBA TV. Everyone does something else best. But most important is winning and if you talk about running a team which is very desirable from PG Rondo is the best.

    • NAJ says:

      Rubbish…Rondo just has the most complete team to play with. Put any of Rose, Westbrook, Williams or CP3 instead of Rondo and that team is better as those players can shoot from deep, where Rondo is an absolute liability.

  17. Steve says:

    “And most people consider him a notch below Rose in that department.” WHAT? Says who? Honestly, Westbrook’s stronger than Rose, and I think just as fast and explosive.

  18. Leven says:

    I believe that it is more of the era of the guard position, not just the point guard. If you think about all the rules that are made so 1 guards and the occasional ball handling 2 guard, now is the best time to be a “little man” in the NBA. Big men get very little respect these days and the game is getting less and less physical. It seems to me the days of players like Shaq and Dwight might be limited. I wont say I wont miss them, but maybe this could make the game a bit more exciting, that, or it could ruin the games integrity all together.

  19. gorgonia says:

    you forgot to include another veteran point guard (jason kidd) who plays better than some of your second tier.

  20. thetop7 says:

    Nash should still be mentioned in the top group of point guards. He is still playing at a high level.

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