An elite starting point guard is a must-have if you’re an NBA team that doesn’t possess LeBron James. In last year’s conference finals, two of the final four teams possessed points who could rightfully be called elite, with Tony Parker carving up Memphis’ stout defense as the Spurs swept a tough Grizzlies group. While not elite, George Hill was also instrumental in Indiana pushing the champion Heat to a Game 7. Mike Conley‘s excellent play was one of the primary reasons the Grizzlies were able to advance the farthest they’ve ever gone in postseason play despite lacking very much outside shooting to space the floor for their Grit ‘N Grind crew in the post.
The importance of a quality point guard wasn’t lost on teams this summer with a number of backcourt helmsman changing teams, and that’s neglecting to mention that Brandon Jennings‘ future in Milwaukee is still murky as of this writing. But there were five solid point guards who changed teams, and they could be the difference between contending for a playoff spot, or another round of ping pong oddsmakers next summer.
Here are the five best point guards who will be donning new uniforms next season, and how they might affect their team’s fortunes moving forward.
*** *** ***
5. Greivis Vasquez
We already alluded to the battle Greivis Vasquez might have for starter status in Sacramento next season, since Isaiah Thomas is entering his third season in the league and isn’t likely to give up his role without a training camp battle.
But the 26-year-old Venezuelan stands nine inches taller than the 5-9 Thomas, and at 6-6 he’s able to see over most opposing point guards. He used that size to his advantage in something of a career year last season for a New Orleans team in a moment of transition, averaging career-highs in points, assists, rebounds and field goal percentage. He even flirted with averaging a double-double, going for 13.9 points and 9.0 assists per game in under 36 minutes a night.
Vasquez joins another team in transition with Sacramento. They moved Tyreke Evans in a three-team sign-and-trade that brought them Vasquez, rather than let him walk with nothing in return. They drafted Ray McCallumâ€”another pointâ€”and brought in the efficient Carl Landry to shore up their frontcourt. They’ve also got a new owner, a new general manager, Pete D’Alessandro, and a new coach in Mike Malone.
With Zeke, Jimmer Fredette and McCallum behind Vasquez, we’re not sure how much playing time he’ll get in Sacramento, since he’s not really known for his explosiveness and at 26 has probably reached near his apexâ€”in terms of production. What he can bring is a steady hand in the backcourt, and a pass-first mentality the Kings have been lacking in the past from their guards (i.e. ‘Reke & Aaron Brooks). Time will tell how much effect Vasquez’s heady game will have on the new-look Kings, though.