7. Darren Collison (No. 21 – New Orleans)
Once thought to be on his way to big things, Collison’s game has plateaued this season. At this point, he’s a very solid starter on a playoff team, capable of going for 20 every once in a while. Still, he was dominated by Derrick Rose pretty badly in the playoffs last year and has a PER of just 14.40 this season.
However, Collison could be Indiana’s most important piece. Without him, that offense unravels. They score over 21 points more when the former Bruin has the rock, in part because they don’t have anyone to replace him.
6. Jrue Holiday (No. 17 – Philadelphia)
When we ran a Who’s Better? between Holiday and Brandon Jennings back in October, I’d say 65 percent of the returns on here, Facebook and Twitter were for the Sixers’ lead guard. And with the Sixers starting quicker than a gecko, you’d assume it’s still Holiday right? Check the numbers. They’re too one-sided: Jennings is the better scorer, playmaker, rebounder, averages more steals, shoots a higher percentage, plays more minutes, turns it over less and is the bigger deep threat.
Is it really all Jennings’ fault that Milwaukee can’t right the ship? As we wrote in Smack, Holiday is playing with a core group of guys who’ve been together for multiple years. It’s like asking a first-year show to beat out Two And A Half Men (before Kutcher).
5. Stephen Curry (No. 7 – Golden State)
When I was going into my senior year of high school, I had one goal in mind: to start dunking regularly in games. That was my aim, and through endless jump roping sessions blasting the Eminem Show in my garage, I thought I had it. Then one day, I jumped, landed on a kid’s foot, and rolled my ankle so bad that I really wasn’t sure I could stand up. That year, I probably tweaked that left ankle two or three times a week. I’m not sure I would’ve ever been catching dunks in games, but the ankle issue definitely didn’t help.
Stephen Curry dropped right around 18/4/5 in his first two years with percentages hovering dangerously close to 50/40/90. But now, he’s stuck in quicksand. Every ankle roll sets him back. Every misstep could mean another week in street clothes. Can he regain his footing?
4. Tyreke Evans (No. 4 – Sacramento)
As former Sacramento coach Paul Westphal always tried to tell me: Evans isn’t a point guard, and he’s not a scoring guard either. He’s just a guard who can do both and doesn’t need to be pigeon-holed. But as the primary ball-handler for the Kings, why not stick him on this list? Most of the Dime crew was waiting on a blowup this year from Evans, somewhere back up around 20/5/5. His numbers are down (16/5/4 on terrible shooting percentages) but we still have faith he’s a future All-Star.