Southwest Division: Where does Jeremy Lin rank among point guards?
By Kyle Adams
The Southwest Division has a lot of talent at point guard. You might even say they have the most talented. Three teams within the division will have a fresh start at point. The Rockets stole Jeremy Lin from New York. The Mavericks traded for Darren Collison. And the Hornets drafted Austin Rivers 10th overall. One guard in the Southwest is praised as one of the best point guards in the NBA, but his name isn’t Jeremy Lin. Where do these guys rank?
5. Austin Rivers– Rivers is last in line only because we haven’t seen him play with the best in the world. His only season at Duke was pretty good, but with all the hype that surrounded him people expected a lot more. It’s no secret the Hornets have high hopes for him and top pick Anthony Davis. The Hornets were high on both guys, as they were the two the Hornets wanted most. The future is bright with all the new additions in New Orleans. Rivers will have a lot of options when it comes to running this team. He has star guard Eric Gordon, newest addition Ryan Anderson and of course Davis. My guess is that the point guard duties will not solely be on Rivers. I expect Gordon to handle the ball a lot. Rivers is a great scorer, but needs to learn how to find his teammates more often. He needs to learn how to be a willing passer and a playmaker.
4. Darren Collison– Talk about a kid with a lot of talent, Collison has everything you want in a point guard. He just hasn’t put it all together yet. I expect him to have a breakout season with his new team in Dallas next season. But for now he’s a little low on my list, especially after the down year he had last season. Most people don’t remember when he played for the Hornets his rookie season. He started 37 times that year and averaged 18.8 points, 9.1 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.4 steals in 40 minutes a game. He also shot 48% from the field and 42% from downtown. He showed he had the talent to be a top point guard in the league, but that all changed when he was traded to the Pacers. He took a step back. His numbers were still around his career averages, but he has yet to come close to matching the numbers he put up as a starter in New Orleans. Look for him to at least get close to that in Dallas.
3. Mike Conley– Here is a guy you can always count on every night to give you his all. He’s only missed three games in the last four seasons. He’s very consistent on a nightly basis. He isn’t a top point guard in the NBA, but he is a notch below that. Any coach would love a guy like Conley on their roster. With guys like Rudy Gay, O.J Mayo, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol on his team last year it made it easy for him to do his thing. He’s one of the better defensive point guards in the NBA. He doesn’t turn the ball over to much and he’s definitely a pass first team leader for Memphis. I can’t think of one bad thing to say about Mike. I feel bad for putting him in the middle of the pack, but there to many good point guards in this division. I expect him to have another consistent season next year. With Mayo gone, maybe his numbers will go up some.
2. Jeremy Lin– Jeremy Lin has only played in 64 career games in the NBA, but is already the second best point guard in this division. He showed last year with the Knicks the playmaking skills he possesses. He can be a shoot first point guard or a pass first point guard. Coaches love players that will do whatever the team needs. That’s what Lin is and will be on the Rockets, a team player. Is he overhyped? Yes, but he just turned 24 and has yet to play a full season. His upside is huge and he could potentially become one of the best point guards in basketball. If not, he can definitely be in the top 10. Lin will most likely start in the All-Star game next year in Houston. Linsanity may have taken a hit since he is no longer in New York, but the asian community has already jumped back on board with the Rockets and a lot of his fans are still behind him even after leaving the big apple. Lin has all the potential in the world. The Rockets may not win much next season, but Lin has the keys to the offense. I expect big things from him in the future.
1. Tony Parker- Parker had one of his best seasons of his eleven year career last year. He’s still just 30 years old and the leader of the Spurs. He carried them deep into the playoffs last season. There is no question he is the best point guard in the Southwest. His court vision is phenomenal, he gets to the basket with ease and finishes in the land of big men like he was meant to be there. Parker even got MVP votes last season. He’s definitely one of the best point guards in the NBA, some argue he is the best overall. I don’t know if i would go that far, but he’s definitely close. Guys like Rivers, Collison and Lin should take notes from Parker on how to run a team.
Jeremy Lin’s career has just begun. He has a lot of room for improvement and i expect him to be within the top point guards in the league over the next couple of seasons. There is a lot of excitement in Houston after signing Lin and getting the 2013 All-Star game. The Rockets may not win many games next season, but they’re definitely making headlines.