If you thought this year’s class of point guards was strong, think again. In fact, go back three years to 2009 to find a draft class deep enough to hide the Hulk. Eight of the point guards drafted in the first round are now starting in the NBA, and while none of them can boast the star power of Derrick Rose or the potential of John Wall, they can all play. As offenses have slowed to a crawl this year, and with shooting percentages melting, having a point guard that can make plays and create for others is almost a necessity.
No one on this list has made an All-Star Team yet, but beginning this year, you’ll start hearing these names when the February showcase comes up.
Here are the 10 best point guards from the 2009 NBA Draft.
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10. Jonny Flynn (No. 6 – Minnesota)
Being a ‘Cuse graduate myself, and having met Flynn a few times (seriously one of the coolest dudes in the league), you can’t fault me for rooting for him to succeed. Flynn’s problems all start at the free-throw line. He just… can’t… get there. A scoring point guard that isn’t a great shooter, is undersized at barely 6-0 and doesn’t draw enough fouls (2.3 attempts a game for his career)? That’s a deadly combination. This all is tough for me to stomach, especially considering he wasn’t THAT bad as a rookie (13.5 points, 4.4 assists a game). Hopefully he has a My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy-level comeback somewhere up his sleeve.
9. Eric Maynor (No. 20 – Utah)
You know people like the way you play when they’re calling your name to replace an All-Star. The people clamoring over Maynor during the postseason last year were a little over the top. Okay, they were actually more over the top than Slick Rick‘s pyramid chains. The backup point averaged 4.2 points and 2.9 assists a night last year. But he’s smart, he knows his role and already has playoff experience. When he was lost for the season earlier this year, it felt like the Thunder were taking a blow. He’s never going to replace Westbrook, but being one of the better understudies in the game ain’t a bad thing.
8. Jeff Teague (No. 19 – Atlanta)
If the argument that all great point guards must run their team like Dan Marino, then Teague is acing his first test. So far this year, the Hawks are scoring nearly 12 points more with Teague on the floor, and the former benchwarmer is tripling his minutes (14 to 35), his defense (0.6 to 2.1 steals a night) and his scoring (5.7 to 12.6). My fantasy team is feeling the love too.
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.