Friday, August 19, 2005

Someone finally gets it....

Iverson isn't just a point guard, he's the best ...
byMike Kahn

The entire concept of putting anyone ahead of Allen Iverson in NBA point guard rankings is daunting, to say the least.
Sure, Larry Brown moved him to shooting guard his second season and insisted he was not a point guard. But the way he played last season upon his return to the playmaking role and carried the talent-challenged Philadelphia 76ers into the playoffs was reason enough to believe he'd be an even better player today had he stayed at that position.
And when you consider he earned his fourth scoring title last season while recording a career-high 7.9 assists a game — along with his requisite 2.4 steals — the answer to the dilemma is simple.
Allen Iverson earned his fourth scoring title last season while recording a career-high 7.9 assists a game. (D. Lippitt / Getty Images)
Consequently, we will name Iverson the top point guard in the NBA entering this season, and that's not to denigrate the reigning Most Valuable Player Steve Nash at all. Coming off a season in which he led the Phoenix Suns to 62 wins, a berth in the Western Conference finals and an MVP award to boot, there is are plenty of reasons to give Nash the top spot.
People will contend he makes other players better.
But just consider for a moment what the Suns would look like if Iverson would have been playing with Amare Stoudemire, Shawn Marion, Joe Johnson and Quentin Richardson instead of Nash. Would the Suns not have won as many games?
Those are hypothetical thoughts that go into ranking these players in a purely subjective list. Undoubtedly, Iverson is more inclined to look for his shot first, which is why his ability to see the floor and pass are consistently underrated.
We'll never know if the Sixers would have made the playoffs with Nash or how well the Suns would have done with Iverson. But what we do know is going into this season — given the choice between to the two — A.I. is the man.
There are others to consider, obviously. And it's always difficult not to put Jason Kidd at the top of any point guard heap. But knee surgery and his 32nd birthday coming in the spring create some question as to where his game will be this season as the Nets are expected to regain control of the Atlantic Division.
Nobody is more underrated than Chauncey Billups, the floor leader of the two-time Eastern Conference champion Pistons. He is clutch and smart, and growing as a winner every year.
And as Gilbert Arenas continues to climb up the chart, the one player who could break out of the middle of the NBA pack could be Seattle's Luke Ridnour, cut very much out of the Nash/John Stockton-mold, a player with a pass-first mentality as well as the shooting touch and range to hit big baskets.

So without further adieu, here are the 2005-06 NBA point guard rankings.

1. Allen Iverson, 76ers
Ht./Wt. 6-0/165Numbers: 30.7 pts., 7.9 ast., 2.4 stlsHe is as fearless as he is talented, which is a dramatic combination considering he packages that with perhaps the most intense competitive spirit in the game today.

2. Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns
Ht./Wt. 6-3, 195Numbers: 15.5 pts., 11.5 ast., .99 stls He became the prototype point guard last season, if he wasn't already. He's amazingly proficient at making the game-winning play, whether it is the assist or the shot that is required.
Steve Nash is amazingly proficient at making the game-winning play. (Barry Gossage / Getty Images)

3. Jason Kidd, New Jersey Nets
Ht./Wt. 6-4, 210Numbers: 14.4 pts., 8.3 ast., 1.86 stlsThe previous title-holder, Kidd has to prove he's all the way back from micro-fracture surgery on his knee. The Nets have a solid core to win the Atlantic Division and Kidd is behind the wheel to drive them there.

4. Chauncey Billups, Detroit Pistons
Ht./Wt. 6-3, 205Numbers: 16.5 pts., 5.8 ast., 1.01 stls As each season passes, he becomes more natural at point guard and he is the inexorable floor leader of the two-time defending Eastern Conference champs. He's the best at allowing the game to come to him and make clutch plays.

5. Baron Davis, Golden State Warriors
Ht./Wt. 6-3, 220Numbers: 19.2 pts., 7.9 ast., 1.76 stls B.D. turned around the woeful Warriors last season and there are those who believe he is capable of carrying them to the playoffs this season. It may not happen, but he's made them fun for the first time in more than a decade.

6. Mike Bibby, Sacramento Kings
Ht./Wt. 6-1, 190Numbers: 19.6 pts., 6.8 ast., 1.55 stlsEach season he has grown more into a floor leader. His shooting has never been in question, but we'll find out this season how well he distributes the ball with the additions of Bonzi Wells and Shareef Abdur-Rahim.

7. Stephon Marbury, New York Knicks
Ht./Wt. 6-2, 200Numbers: 21.7 pts., 8.1 ast., 1.49 stlsThe self-proclaimed best point guard in the NBA isn't even close. In fact, his self-absorption has him dropping like a rock in the esteem of many insiders. We'll see if Larry Brown moves him to shooting guard as he did with Iverson.

8. Gilbert Arenas, Washington Wizards
Ht./Wt. 6-3, 190Numbers: 25.5 pts., 5.1 ast., 1.74 stlsThe league's most improved player in 2003 was finally healthy again last season and kicked it up another notch. He still hasn't proven to be consistent enough moving the ball, but he's a big play guy who will learn in time.

9. Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs
Ht./Wt. 6-2, 180Numbers: 16.6 pts., 6.1 ast., 1.23 stlsHe is so smooth with the ball it's almost as if he plays on roller skates. But every time Parker starts to break into All-Star form, he fades. Yes, they won another title, but his role diminished as the finals progressed.

10. Andre Miller, Denver Nuggets
Ht./Wt. 6-2, 200Numbers: 13.6 pts., 6.9 ast., 1.48 stlsMiller struggled like the rest of the Nuggets early last season but came on once George Karl became coach. It would be logical to assume he will have a much more complete season this time around.

Also receiving consideration: Sam Cassell, Minnesota Timberwolves; Kirk Hinrich, Chicago Bulls; Luke Ridnour, Seattle SuperSonics; Jason Terry, Dallas Mavericks; Jamaal Tinsley, Indiana Pacers; Jason Williams, Miami Heat.

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