Ah, the old floor general; the point guard. He is the player responsible for standing at the helm of his team and guiding them as an offensive catalyst, while also serving as the first line of defense on the other end of the floor. Is it any wonder then that seven of the last nine national champions have seen their point guard drafted in June? Probably not.
Last season, the first to see all four top seeds advance to the Final Four, also saw four point guards (Darren Collison, Ty Lawson, Mario Chalmers and Derrick Rose) who were either drafted this past June, or are safe bets to be wearing an NBA uniform come the 2009-10 season.
With that known emphasis on the importance of a steady hand at the wheel, here’s a look at the top six point guards that will appear on the court this season.
Pick Six: Top PG's
Throughout the week, check back for articles highlighting the Top 6 players at each position. Tomorrow we’ll be rolling out the Top 6 at shooting guard.
1. Darren Collison - UCLA
The Bruins senior leader gets the nod over Ty Lawson because he has a more diverse offensive skill set and is a better defender. Collison has managed to guide UCLA to three straight Final Four appearances, proving his worth as a winner at the collegiate level. Likely the fastest player in the Pac-10, Collison is a nightmare to guard due to his excellent first step, ball handling skills and court vision. The problem here, is when defenders play off him to avoid getting beat off the dribble, there is the matter of 52.5% shooting clip from beyond the arc. Throw in the fact that Collison is one of the better backcourt defenders in the country despite his small stature, and you have yourself the top point guard in college basketball.
Stats: 14.5 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 3.8 apg
2. Ty Lawson – North Carolina
If not for a couple of off the court issues and an injury this past spring, Lawson wouldn’t even be on this list, he’d be on an NBA roster. With that said, the Tar Heels are thrilled with the return of their one-man fast break. Lawson’s game is built on speed so it is only natural that he is at his best in transition. His ability to change direction when in a full sprint with the ball is unmatched by any other player, but perhaps most important is that Lawson has learned how to control that speed. He slows down somewhat in the half court set, but shows good body control when attacking the rim. Lawson’s 7.2 assists per 40 minutes was 4th in the country last season and he had an excellent 2.3 assist to turnover ratio. With Carolina bringing even more offensive firepower into their program this season, don’t expect his scoring numbers to increase a ton, but certainly a boost in the assist numbers is likely.
Stats: 12.7 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 5.2 apg
3. Tyrese Rice – Boston College
Rice has yet to show the full extent of his point guard abilities for the Eagles and don’t expect that to change this season. With a roster devoid of much scoring ability, Rice has had to run the offense as well as be the offense for BC, scoring 30% of the team’s points last season. Still, there may not be a better scoring point guard in the country than the 6’0” senior. Rice possesses an excellent shot, don’t be fooled by the 35.8% three-point shooting percentage, if he is given space on the perimeter, he will do a lot of damage. He is fantastic dribble-drive player, able to break down most defenders at the college level thanks to great handles and an excellent first step. Somehow, he managed to dish out five assists per game as well last year. While it is likely he will have another season where he has to take an abundance of shots (15.4 per game last season), if he continues to put together performances like the 46 points he dropped on UNC, fans in Chestnut Hill likely won’t be complaining.
Stats: 21.0 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 5.0 apg
4. A.J. Price – Connecticut
After missing two seasons for the Huskies, Price was finally able to show what he can do last year, putting on a phenomenal display during his junior campaign. Another one of the scoring point guard types, Price has good quickness, a solid mid-range game and excellent instincts. While he isn’t a huge threat to consistently beat teams from the outside, he will hurt you if left alone. Price really turns heads with his passing ability, able to thread the needle from the perimeter and showing increasing improvement to drive and dish. He was tops in the Big East last season in every conceivable passing statistic, dishing out 5.8 assists per game and posting an outstanding 2.46 assist to turnover ratio, good for 6th in the country. What makes Price all the more appealing as far as his pro potential is concerned, is that he is still developing after missing so much of the early part of his career.
Stats: 14.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 5.8 apg
5. Jonny Flynn – Syracuse
While his teammate Donte Greene may have gotten more attention last year, Jonny Flynn may ultimately be remembered as a better player in upstate New York. While there is no question the sophomore was streaky in his first season with the Orange, he did prove to be a major offensive weapon, posting seven 20-point games against Big East opponents. He is another player who thrives in the open court, using his speed, great ball handling skills and ability to change direction to disrupt defenses on a regular basis. Flynn shows good court vision and instincts for a young player, but he made plenty of questionable decisions last year. Having a full season of college basketball under his belt should help limit the number of mistakes he makes this year, but learning to not always be in a hurry with the ball will go a long way to making him even more of a big time player.
Stats: 15.7 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 5.3 apg
6. Jeremy Pargo – Gonzaga
Physically, Pargo may have the best overall make up of any player on this list. He has good size for the point guard spot at 6’2”, is very strong and super explosive. Pargo has an advanced arsenal of dribble drive moves that allow him to penetrate to the basket or create space for himself on the perimeter. These skills nicely complement a mid-range game that has continued to develop in his time at Gonzaga and has made him the WCC’s top player. As a defender, Pargo shows a lot of aggressiveness and hustle, something coaches and scouts love to see, and allowed him to average better than a steal per game last season. The decision to return to school for his senior season was a good one for Pargo and it will likely pay dividends not only for Gonzaga, but for him as well.
Stats: 12.1 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 6.0 apg
Next in line: Patrick Mills; Saint Mary’s; Jrue Holiday, UCLA; Levance Fields, Pitt; Nick Calathes, Florida; Eric Maynor, VCU
-- Tomorrow: SG's