The age of the point guard has extended much longer than I expected it would. As the game sped up over the last five to 10 years or so, the NBA has been a lightning rod for top-tier point guards. Point guard is the hardest position to make a lasting career in any sport because of the size disadvantage that normally occurs. The odds a great point guard won’t make an NBA team is extremely high. The competition at the position hails some of the most dynamic players in the NBA for example, Stephan Curry, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Damien Lillard are all big name point guards who lead their teams. This era has produced some of the best to play the position, if you are looking at stat lines, impact on the game and consistency.
The point guard position has been revolutionized and has opened the game to a more exciting pace but with less focus on the mental aspect of the sport. Players can shoot from 30 feet but make mental mistakes more often than those in past eras. The result of the changing game has created a demand for longer more versatile playmakers. We are seeing the flood-gates open with 6’7 (and above!) guys dealing with the bulk of the ball-handling and playmaking for their team. Although a shift is happening, the need for a dynamic point guard will always be vital to winning basketball games. In the NBA today, without a top-tier point guard at the helm, your chances of sustaining success is very slim (unless you have LeBron James). So that being said, I believe we will see a generational shift this coming NBA season. The young point guards will take their rightful place in the NBA landscape forcing the respected ones to tighten up or they will soon be replaced. Here are my top five point guards to look out for in 2018-2019.
- Spencer Dinwiddie. The Brooklyn Nets found themselves a jewel in Dinwiddie. Poised enough to make late-game shots and has shown the ability to be a top-tier playmaker. Dinwiddie improved his overall game, stretching the floor with his 3pt shot, averaging 12 points and 6 assist with his team’s best scorers and playmakers sidelined with injury all year long, gives me the impression he is on a growth incline that will only get better now that he will have his backcourt buddy Diangelo Russell back next season.
- Jamal Murray. Murray is coming into the 18-19 NBA Season coming off a great season. Although his nuggets failed to make the playoffs, with the additions of Isiah Thomas and rookie sensation Michael Porter Jr. Murray will have the weapons around him to become a star in this league. The Western conference is tough every night but Murray has shown an uncanny ability to compete against the league’s best and with his athleticism and scoring ability on a fast-paced offensive team, he will have his best season yet, finally pushing the Denver Nuggets into the playoffs.
- Dennis Schroder. Schroder is a starter on most NBA rosters. He is a quick and effective guard who competes with the best on a night-to-night basis. Leaving Atlanta may turn out to be the biggest blessing he could receive. One season behind Russell Westbrook (and in some cases side-by-side) should take his game to the next level. He is only 24 and will become the best backup point guard in the league the first game of the season. His style really fits OKC and may have them playing deep in the playoffs if the chemistry fits.
- Elfrid Payton. The Louisiana native has an opportunity to return to where it all started, playing with the up and coming New Orleans Pelicans. The Pelicans after losing Rajon Rondo are looking for a long and intelligent playmaker to take over at the point guard position. Payton is a stout defender. The Pelicans backcourt will be tough on the defensive end; Payton brings a different scoring threat to the table than Rondo as well. He will be able to thrive as the third or fourth option on the team making the Pelicans deeper and younger at the same time. I expect his assist per game to rise from a decent six per game to eight/ nine per game, many coming from lobs to Anthony Davis and Julius Randle.
- Kyrie Irving. I know this one may come as a surprise since Irving is a legit star in the league. That being said, the 2018-2019 season will be one of the biggest for the legacy of Kyrie “Uncle Drew” Irving. He is coming off a great season that ended short because of a knee injury. He is surrounded by arguably the best supporting cast in the NBA. LeBron James has left the Eastern Conference, many naming Irving the best player left in the East. All of this, and let us not forget his team was about five minutes away from making it to the NBA finals with him sitting in a dentist office or something of that nature. This is his chance to solidify his legend post-LeBron. He will be an MVP candidate and the Boston Celtics will be the team that dethrones the juggernaut Golden State Warriors. Yes, I said it, a healthy Irving and gang will defeat the Warriors in the NBA Finals.
Do you agree with my list? Tell me some sleeper point guards we should be looking out for this up-coming NBA season.