Projecting the Top 30 point guards for 2018-19

Projecting the Top 30 point guards for 2018-19

Longform

Projecting the Top 30 point guards for 2018-19

- by

15. darren collison, indiana pacers

The player with the highest assist-to-turnover ratio in the NBA last season (4.3), Darren Collison posted one of the strongest all-around campaigns of his career as a member of the Indiana Pacers. Actually, according to both VORP and BPM, 2017-18 stands alone as Collison’s best season, and it’s not all that close.

To go with his ability to take care of the ball, Collison also led the Association in three-point percentage after knocking down an absurd 46.8 percent of his shots from beyond the arc. Essentially, Collison’s offensive game was perfectly suited to play next to a star shooting guard (like Victor Oladipo) since he was so adept at playing off the ball. He’s also underrated defensively, as his long arms and anticipation skills help him rack up steals and be an all-around pest on the less glamorous side of the ball.

He’s about to turn 31, but either way, because his game isn’t predicated upon athleticism, we’re confident Collison will post another strong season in 2018-19 for what should be an exciting Pacers team.

14. jamal murray, denver nuggets

Only a handful of players made the leap Jamal Murray did from 2016-17 to 2017-18. The third-year point guard out of Kentucky set career highs all across the board last season, averaging 16.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.0 three-pointers on healthy shooting splits of 45.1/37.8/90.5. His efficiency should improve as he learns how to draw more fouls (just 3.1 free-throw attempts nightly as a sophomore), and as his three-stroke gets more accurate. But as is, Murray is quietly among the league’s top point guards, and a legitimately a perfect fit for a Denver Nuggets team that gets so much play-making out of its star frontcourt, featuring Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap.

Murray is the type of floor general who doesn’t need the ball in his hands to do damage, as the young Canadian is among the best spot-up shooters in the NBA. According to Synergy, Murray ranked 12th in spot-up shooting (1.18 points per possession, or PPP) among players with at least 200 such attempts, outpacing the likes of Jayson Tatum and Otto Porter Jr, and fourth in scoring when coming off screens (1.23 PPP). With minor improvements regarding his play-making and defensive toughness, which we fully expect him to make, Murray could be in store for an even more impressive third season.

13. eric bledsoe, milwaukee bucks

After a move from the Phoenix Suns to the Milwaukee Bucks, Eric Bledsoe saw an uptick in production across the board. He finished the year averaging 17.7 points, 3.8 rebounds and 5.0 assists per contest while shooting 47.3 percent from the field and 34.7 percent from deep. Unfortunately, his season also ended by him being completely outplayed by Rozier in the playoffs, in what was a Bucks seven-game defeat at the hands of the Celtics.

Bledsoe’s fit with Milwaukee may not be perfect, as he’s the type of point guard who’s better on the ball than off it – which is tough with Giannis Antetokounmpo on the team – but he’s talented enough to make it work. And in Year-1 of the Mike Budenholzer era, Bledsoe’s play could reach another level. It’ll be interesting to see whether the Kentucky product can finally prove whether or not he has the ability to contribute to a winning situation – a question he hasn’t been able to answer since leaving the No. 5 point guard on our list’s shadow.

12. goran dragic, miami heat

Despite it being his age-31 season, Goran Dragic earned All-Star honors for the first time in his career last year. By averaging 17.3 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.8 assists per contest on 45.0/37.0/80.1 shooting splits, Dragic maintained a strong level of play and helped lead the Miami Heat to the playoffs for just the second time since LeBron’s departure.

Unfortunately, even last year, in an All-Star campaign, you could start to see signs of the Slovenian floor general’s regression. After shooting 63.2 percent from within five feet of the basket in 2015-16 and 60.2 percent from the same area in 2016-17, Dragic’s efficiency there dropped to 57.2 percent this past season, and considering how important rim forays are to his offensive game, that could prove problematic for Dragic if his number continues to drop.

Regardless, Dragic has done a few things – primarily, develop a solid step-back jumper and turn into an above-average three-point threat – to help offset his steady decline in athleticism, so we predict he’ll post another good season in 2018-19.

11. mike conley, memphis grizzlies

Due to a heel ailment that ended his 2017-18 season after just 12 games, Mike Conley was one of the hardest floor generals to place on this list. If he can fully recover, he’ll get right back to being one of the NBA’s most underrated point guards. Conley averaged 20.5 points, 6.3 assists, 1.3 steals and 2.5 triples per contest in 2016-17, the last time he was fit, and was even better once the playoffs rolled around, putting up 24.7 points 7.0 assists, 1.7 steals and 2.8 three-pointers per game against an elite Spurs defense.

The issue with projecting how Conley will do next year is: When will he get healthy again? Conley wasn’t able to participate in USA Basketball’s recent training camp as he still recovers from that same heel injury, and considering he had surgery on it back in late January, six months ago at this point, it’s at least a little worrisome that he’s not even able to practice yet. Nevertheless, Conley claims he should be ready for Memphis Grizzlies training camp in September, so we’ll just have to wait and see how this situation develops.

, , , , , , , , , , ,

More HoopsHype