Projecting the Top 30 point guards for 2018-19

Projecting the Top 30 point guards for 2018-19

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Projecting the Top 30 point guards for 2018-19

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10. kyle lowry, toronto raptors

A change in offensive scheme saw Lowry’s usage rate fall from the 25.5 percent it had been in the three years prior to 21.7 percent this past season, and his numbers across the board dropped accordingly. Lowry averaged his lowest point-per-game total (16.2) since 2012-13, while his true-shooting percentage dipped from 62.3 percent to 59.8.

Regardless, Lowry still earned a deserving All-Star bid last season, and remains one of the top point guards in the East. Even with slight regression next year, he should still be one of the best floor generals in the NBA. The 32-year-old’s prime could even be extended for another year or two thanks to both VanVleet’s emergence and a game plan that requires less of Lowry dominating the ball on every possession.

9. kemba walker, charlotte hornets

The development of an elite outside shot turned Kemba Walker from a decent starting point guard into a great one. Walker, who’s still just 28, has knocked down nearly 39 percent of his three-point looks over the past three seasons – a mark that makes him the eighth-most accurate shooter from deep over the past three seasons (min: 1250 attempts).

It’s also important to note the types of three-pointers Walker is putting up. Rather than just being a threat as a spot-up shooter, Walker has developed one of the most vicious pull-up jumpers in the league, which allows Charlotte to high pick-and-roll teams to death thanks to Walker’s ability to either attack the basket or just bomb away from deep.

He’ll never be mistaken for a defensive stopper, but few point guards can come close to matching Walker’s offensive impact, and that’s what makes him so special. If he played in a bigger market or a more competent franchise, his name would garner far more respect.

8. jrue holiday, new orleans pelicans

It’s hard to say a player in his ninth year as a pro finally broke out, especially one who already had an All-Star appearance under his belt, but that’s still sort of what it felt like happened to Jrue Holiday. Not only did he average a career high in points at 19.0 per contest, he also chipped in 6.0 assists, 1.5 steals, 1.5 triples and nearly a full block nightly. When he was on the floor, the New Orleans Pelicans outscored teams by an absurd 12.5 points per 100 possessions. When he sat, they themselves were outscored by 9.1 points per 100 possessions. That swing was one of the most drastic in the league last season, and though it may partially speak to the Pelicans’ bench deficiencies and to Holiday spending most of his time on the court with superstar big man Anthony Davis, the UCLA product still deserves a ton of the credit for his contributions.

What’s more, as if his beastly regular season wasn’t enough to convince potential detractors, Holiday’s playoff run, which included: averaging 23.7 points (on 51.8 percent shooting against two elite defenses in Portland and Golden State) and 6.3 assists per game, and putting the absolute clamps on McCollum and his backcourt partner in what was a surprising four-game first round sweep for the Pelicans over the Trail Blazers.

He proved it in the regular season and postseason, posted fantastic numbers across the board all year, and will be entering his age-28 season in 2018-19; Holiday is finally reaching his full potential as one of the league’s best two-way floor generals – a terrifying proposition for the opposition.

7. john wall, washington wizards

Health provided, John Wall has already proven himself to be one of the NBA’s top lead guards. He’s got five All-Star games under his belt, a 3rd Team All-NBA as well, and is still in the midst of his athletic prime. So next year should be smooth sailing for Wall and his Washington Wizards… right?

Well, it’ll depend on how Wall continues to progress after an injury-hampered 2016-17 season forced him to miss 41 regular-season outings. It’ll also depend on whether moving Marcin Gorat, who had a weird, unhealthy dynamic with the point guard, and bringing in Dwight Howard can help fix what was a fractured locker room last season.

Nevertheless, Wall should still be able to get his no matter what. He’s coming off a year where he hit a career-best 37.1 percent of his threes, and if that proves to be sustainable, it’ll make the former Kentucky guard even harder to slow down.

6. ben simmons, philadelphia 76ers

Is it bold to have a player heading into just his second season, coming off sort of a clunker of a playoff run, ranked this highly? Maybe. But when making projections as serious and important as this (that’s sarcasm, by the way), it’s vital to take some risks. And saying Ben Simmons will be the NBA’s sixth-best point guard next season is the risk we’ll choose to take.

In his inaugural campaign, in which he earned Rookie of the Year honors, Simmons averaged 15.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, 8.2 assists and 1.7 steals per contest. The only other rookie to ever put up 15/8/8 in their first year? Robertson, who did it in 1960-61 in a much weaker NBA.

Simmons certainly has flaws he has to improve upon to take the next step, but as is, he’s a special talent. His vision is next level, he can get by slow-footed bigs and bully regular-sized point guards, he’s a spectacular defender thanks to his 6-foot-10 frame and if he can tidy up his offensive game – really, it’ll come down to whether he can become a remote threat from beyond five feet of the basket – he has the potential to earn league MVP honors one day. His ceiling is that high.

He likely won’t reach it next season, but even with a modicum of improvement, we believe Simmons will be among the six best point guards in the NBA in 2018-19.

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