The dog days of the NBA year are upon us, and for Nuggets fans, the most exciting thing we have to look forward to is our international representation in the Olympic games. For now, the 2016-17 season is taking shape, and many teams that looked to have holes have (mostly) filled them. Starting lineups look to have taken form, and projections can now be made based on the pieces in place for those teams.

I'm going to attempt to rank all of the projected starting players in the NBA, by position. There will be a rhyme and reason to the ranking, and it will be statistical. The Win Shares/48 minutes, Real Plus/Minus, and Box Plus/Minus will be used to judge every player. Not only will last year's statistics affect them, but their career statistics in every category (RPM numbers will stretch back to the 2013-14 season).

These numbers will be used as a guide, and the overall rankings will be used in a project at the end of this series.

Without further ado, let's see which Stephen Curry…I mean point guard…kicks off the list.

1. Stephen Curry – Golden State Warriors

Time Period WS/48 Real +/- Box +/-
2015-16 .318 8.51 +12.5
Career .199 8.06 +6.2

Who else? Stephen Curry was insane last year. He was the best player on the best team, and his raw statistics are probably a bit deflated because of how few fourth quarters he actually played in.

Regardless, Curry proved that he was the best player in the entire NBA last year, and while Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul have genuine arguments for the second and third slot, Curry is the king of the NBA, and he may get better.

2. Chris Paul – Los Angeles Clippers

Time Period WS/48 Real +/- Box +/-
2015-16 .253 8.59 +7.8
Career .249 7.83 +7.5

Chris Paul is still very under appreciated. Russell Westbrook has leapfrogged him in many people's eyes, but looking at the advanced metrics, I still see Paul as ahead. He has a better track record across the board, and only Westbrook's BPM this year is higher than Paul's.

While Paul may very well begin to regress at some point, he's still playing at a top-of-the-line level. He doesn't have the championship credentials that many experts look for in a top player of all-time, but make no mistake about it, Paul is a top five point guard of all-time.

3. Russell Westbrook – Oklahoma City Thunder

Time Period WS/48 Real +/- Box +/-
2015-16 .245 7.85 +10.0
Career .161 6.66 +5.2

While he's always been a star, Westbrook truly took the next step last year and solidified himself as a top seven player in the NBA. He simply controls the entire game, with a usage rate and assist rate that combine to be over 80 percent. He did it last year too.

To put that in perspective, one other player has done that…ever…Chris Paul.

4. Kyle LowryToronto Raptors

Time Period WS/48 Real +/- Box +/-
2015-16 .196 6.82 +6.8
Career .145 4.97 +3.3

Call me a skeptic of Kyle Lowry, but I just didn't see him at the level of a top five point guard in the league until this point. That said, he has proven to be a solid point guard in this league with the ability to impact the game on both ends.

He and DeMar DeRozan will never get enough credit, but both are top five players at their respective positions, and they are the biggest reasons for the Raptors going to the Eastern Conference Finals.

5. Damian Lillard – Portland Trailblazers

Time Period WS/48 Real +/- Box +/-
2015-16 .165 1.31 +3.7
Career .144 2.62 +2.9

Damian Lillard is a gamer. He will always be largely a negative on defense, but when he's on, he goes absolutely en fuego. His best games come against the best teams, like the Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder (sans Durant exit), and he's done enough to crack my top five.

6. Isaiah ThomasBoston Celtics

Time Period WS/48 Real +/- Box +/-
2015-16 .177 1.24 +3.0
Career .148 1.64 +1.7

Isaiah Thomas is the man who was never supposed to become a top point guard, but he did it through sheer will and skill. The diminutive point guard averaged over 22 points and six assists per contest, and while he will always struggle on defense, his offensive capabilities far outweighed his defensive deficiencies. He's definitely a top point guard in this league.

7. Mike ConleyMemphis Grizzlies

Time Period WS/48 Real +/- Box +/-
2015-16 .144 2.86 +1.7
Career .123 3.22 +1.5

The NBA’s new highest paid player, Mike Conley might not have earned every penny of his contract, but he’s worth it in spades to the Memphis Grizzlies. He doesn’t control the ball as much as other point guards due to the presence of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, but his quiet contributions on both sides have led to a very loud contract, showing off his value to the rest of the NBA.

8. Kyrie Irving – Cleveland Cavaliers

Time Period WS/48 Real +/- Box +/-
2015-16 .143 -0.60 +1.6
Career .144 0.47 +3.0

The complete contrast to Mike Conley is Kyrie Irving. Both are successful at what they do, but Irving is much more flashy, where as Conley is very steady.

Irving is still successful though. He had a bad year last year which was mired with injuries, but when he needed to step up, he did just that. His step back three pointer over Stephen Curry in Game 7 will be remembered forever. It's the stuff of legend. Irving does that, and while he's not consistently great, his flashes are incredible to behold.

9. John WallWashington Wizards

Time Period WS/48 Real +/- Box +/-
2015-16 .098 2.72 +3.2
Career .100 3.08 +2.2

John Wall is a guy who also had a bit of a down season. With Bradley Beal only playing major minutes in about half of the games and the starting lineup a bit questionable, Wall had major expectations to carry the team. He played like Ty Lawson did for the Denver Nuggets at times: a little timid, force feeding his teammates opportunities to try and get them going, and not taking over quite as much as he needed to.

He will likely bounce back, but he gets bumped down the list a bit. I saw him as a top five point guard prior to 2015-16, and he needs to elevate the Wizards in order to bring back that reputation.

10. Kemba Walker – Charlotte Hornets

Time Period WS/48 Real +/- Box +/-
2015-16 .165 2.58 +4.0
Career .096 1.04 +1.9

This was Kemba Walker's breakout season, as well as the breakout season for the Charlotte Hornets. I like that his success coincided with his team's. That being said, Nicolas Batum may have had something to do with it as well.

Walker was looking like an average point guard for awhile, but his jump has me convinced that he can stay in the top 10 for at least a season or two. I don't see him as a guy who's going to continue to improve significantly, but he's still pretty good at his current level.

11. Reggie JacksonDetroit Pistons

Time Period WS/48 Real +/- Box +/-
2015-16 .136 1.45 +2.3
Career .110 1.44 +0.4

Another guy who broke out in a big way was Reggie Jackson. Taking over as the point guard to man Stan Van Gundy’s four out, one in offense around Andre Drummond, Jackson really impressed me with his poise in a full-time role. He averaged nearly 19 points and six assists on reasonable percentages. He wasn’t great defensively, but his offensive impact made it palatable. Unlike Walker, I think Jackson could climb up these rankings even higher with time.

12. Eric BledsoePhoenix Suns

Time Period WS/48 Real +/- Box +/-
2015-16 .116 1.70 +2.8
Career .094 3.08 +1.6

Eric Bledsoe could be a really good player. He really could be. He needs to stay healthy though.

He has the RPM of a much higher player on this list, and while his WS/48 and BPM numbers are more reasonable, the eye test shows how great of a player he can be on both sides of the ball….if he can stay healthy. He drops a couple of pegs because of that.

13. George HillUtah Jazz

Time Period WS/48 Real +/- Box +/-
2015-16 .118 0.97 +1.5
Career .146 2.41 +2.0

George Hill always receives less fanfare than other point guards. It’s really weird. He absolutely deserves it, but he doesn’t get it. I have him at 13th, but he could just as easily be in the top ten. I see some players that have leapfrogged him a bit, but his career metrics are really, really good. Maybe it’s because his assist percentage is so low and he doesn’t have the ball in his hands a lot. That was because of Paul George, but we will see what he can do for the Utah Jazz.

14. Ricky RubioMinnesota Timberwolves

Time Period WS/48 Real +/- Box +/-
2015-16 .119 4.14 +1.9
Career .094 3.58 +1.4

I may regret this ranking because Ricky Rubio does so many great things, but it's really hard to look past the scoring numbers. That being said, RPM absolutely adores him, and he's at least an average player in all of the other metrics.

I believe Rubio gets a lot of crap, and he needs a specific supporting cast around him that can shoot in order to be successful (hint: not Andrew Wiggins at SG), but he certainly is effective. If I have Klay Thompson at shooting guard and Marvin Williams at power forward, I think Rubio would be putting up some insane numbers. He falls at 14 on my list, though, and that’s all that really matters of course!

15. Jeff Teague – Indiana Pacers

Time Period WS/48 Real +/- Box +/-
2015-16 .125 -0.69 +0.3
Career .118 0.04 -0.2

The man to replace George Hill, Jeff Teague has been a solid player in his own right. He’s led the Atlanta Hawks for a long time, but following a trade, he will team up with Paul George in what looks to be a fast-paced offense.

There aren't many players that will run a fast-paced offense better than Teague. He doesn't turn the ball over a ton, and he's still pretty quick, even though he's starting to creep up in age (he will be 28 years old during most of the 2016-17 season). We may see an uptick in his efficiency as he's never played with a player like Paul George before.

16. Tony ParkerSan Antonio Spurs

Time Period WS/48 Real +/- Box +/-
2015-16 .142 -0.40 +0.1
Career .147 -0.28 +1.1

Tony Parker has long had a reputation as an elite point guard, but that time has passed. He is firmly on the downside of his career, having not reached 2,000 minutes each of the last three seasons.

He will always be effective at certain things: his field goal percentage is so high because he knows how to navigate among the trees in the paint so well. That being said, his defense is gone, and his outside shot isn't used enough to space the floor for his teammates well.

17. Goran DragicMiami Heat

Time Period WS/48 Real +/- Box +/-
2015-16 .096 2.12 +0.7
Career .114 1.74 +1.2

What the heck happened to Goran Dragic? Well, he wasn’t that bad according to the advanced stats, but his true shooting percentage dropped to .537, a far cry from the .604 number he achieved in 2013-14. It’s been difficult for him in Miami, and a lot of that can be attributed to the spacing. When surrounded by Dwyane Wade, Justice Winslow, and Luol Deng on the wings for many minutes, it was difficult for him to operate.

I would have expected a bounce back year, but they just got Dion Waiters, a.k.a. Kobe Wade, who will likely start at shooting guard…good luck Goran.

18. Patrick BeverleyHouston Rockets

Time Period WS/48 Real +/- Box +/-
2015-16 .102 2.38 +1.1
Career .110 1.69 +1.7

Patrick Beverley is the definition of a role player next to James Harden, but he’s the perfect complement. He’s a very positive player on the court, and while he’s not a main ball handler, he’s a great defender. He also shoots a better percentage from three than Danilo Gallinari, a reputation he hasn’t had before.

He certainly gets dinged from a low usage and low assist rate, but as far as effectiveness on the court, he holds water versus other starting point guards.

19. Deron WilliamsDallas Mavericks

Time Period WS/48 Real +/- Box +/-
2015-16 .083 0.29 -0.1
Career .132 1.8 +1.5

We now move into the "has-been" guards: guys who were once very good and their reputation is holding them up over the young prospects/backup types. Deron Williams is the first guy on here, as he's not only the most effective, but has the best career numbers of the next two guys.

He’s perfectly representative of who Dallas is as a team. They grab veteran guys who have just enough effectiveness to make them competitive around Dirk Nowitzki. They may start to transition to a Harrison Barnes/Wesley Matthews leading duo, but right now, the main guys are Williams and Nowitzki, just how Rick Carlisle likes it.

20. Rajon Rondo – Chicago Bulls

Time Period WS/48 Real +/- Box +/-
2015-16 .087 0.30 +1.0
Career .116 -1.28 +1.9

Bleh. That is all.

21. Derrick RoseNew York Knicks

Time Period WS/48 Real +/- Box +/-
2015-16 .009 -4.27 -3.3
Career .106 0.54 +1.0

He's almost as bleh. His reputation is holding him up here, as his career statistics are still in line with a solid NBA point guard. That being said, he's on the hot seat if he continues last season's trend. He was nearly as bad as Emmanuel Mudiay across the board.

22. Jrue HolidayNew Orleans Pelicans

Time Period WS/48 Real +/- Box +/-
2015-16 .089 1.63 +1.7
Career .078 2.42 +0.8

Why the heck did Norris Cole start games over Jrue Holiday? It makes zero sense to me, as Jrue has been pretty good throughout his young career. That being said, I’m placing him lower than the veteran guys because he did in fact only start 23 games.

Think of him as the Pelicans’ version of Will Barton, except he truly deserves to start. He was one of their leading scorers and creators, and he definitely was one of their five best players even though he came off the bench. Hopefully, the Pelicans start him and Buddy Hield next to each other, as I think they could complement each other pretty well.

23. Matthew Dellavedova – Milwaukee Bucks

Time Period WS/48 Real +/- Box +/-
2015-16 .098 0.68 -1.6
Career .083 0.60 -2.1

Matthew Dellavedova will likely get his first chance to start, and he goes to a similar situation to Cleveland in Milwaukee. He’s not a high usage guy, and while he generates assists at a high rate, he’s not seen as a ball dominant player. That fits in well with Giannis Antetokounmpo and his likely usage as a point forward.

Delly doesn't rise any higher because he's an unproven backup, but I believe he could carve out a similar niche role as Patrick Beverley.

24. Dennis Schroder – Atlanta Hawks

Time Period WS/48 Real +/- Box +/-
2015-16 .064 0.57 -1.4
Career .050 -3.81 -3.0

You guys think Mudiay's first year was bad? Dennis Schroder posted a -8.30 RPM in 2013-14. Holy crap.

And I think he's eventually going to be a top ten point guard. He has shown a much better feel of the game this past year, and he took over playoff games, even one against the Cavaliers when he scored an efficient 27 points. He needs to improve his outside shooting, but he controlled the bench for the Hawks last year, and they were comfortable enough to make him the starter.

25. Jeremy Lin – Brooklyn Nets

Time Period WS/48 Real +/- Box +/-
2015-16 .082 -0.83 -1.1
Career .094 0.31 -0.2

Jeremy Lin became an integral piece off the bench in Charlotte, averaging 26 minutes per game and helping guide them to the playoffs. He's a proven veteran, and he's heading to Brooklyn to be their starting point guard.

Now, Brooklyn is awful, and even if they are awful, imagine if Lin captured a bit of the "Linsanity" that people still refer to as legend? It was an incredible stretch, and it's quite possible Brooklyn is praying for a miracle. If he could turn that into a regular thing, then watch out.

26. Darren Collison – Sacramento Kings

Time Period WS/48 Real +/- Box +/-
2015-16 .113 -0.74 -0.4
Career .104 -0.22 -0.1

Darren Collison is currently in trouble with the law and could be suspended for the start of the season, which affects my ranking of him. He's a decidedly average player who usually struggles as the starter and flourishes as the backup. He doesn't create any game changing excitement for the Kings, and while he might be reasonably effective in situations, he's going to be at a disadvantage against nearly everyone.

27. Jerryd BaylessPhiladelphia 76ers

Time Period WS/48 Real +/- Box +/-
2015-16 .075 -2.13 -1.0
Career .078 -2.62 -1.7

Bayless is a pretty good option for the Philadelphia 76ers from a stylistic and veteran standpoint. He's not a great option, but he can space the floor for Ben Simmons, doesn't need the ball in his hands every play to be happy, but he has the capability to do so. I can't believe he's only 27, so if he has a solid season he could jump a few spots in this ranking.

28. Elfrid PaytonOrlando Magic

Time Period WS/48 Real +/- Box +/-
2015-16 .050 -0.92 -1.3
Career .047 0.59 -1.0

Elfrid Payton grades reasonably well in RPM because of his defense, but so far, his offense has been awful coming into the NBA. He has a .467 True Shooting percentage, and he hasn't taken the steps as a creator that he's needed to in order to improve. He can't space the floor, but if he learns to do that and make good decisions with the ball, he could drastically improve.

29. D’Angelo Russell – Los Angeles Lakers

Time Period WS/48 Real +/- Box +/-
2015-16 .001 -3.66 -1.8
Career .001 -3.66 -1.8

D'Angelo Russell projects to be a much better player than he was this past season, and while point guard is the hardest position to learn at a young age in the NBA, he still struggled mightily. His largest issues will be on the defensive end, and he will need to make that up with above average offense. It remains to be seen whether he can do that, though he has shown star potential.

30. Emmanuel Mudiay – Denver Nuggets

Time Period WS/48 Real +/- Box +/-
2015-16 -0.049 -3.78 -4.3
Career -0.049 -3.78 -4.3

Nobody can accuse me of being a homer, that's for sure.

Emmanuel Mudiay was awful last year. No bones about it. That being said, he has nowhere to go but up on this list, and he has demonstrated several NBA tools that could help him become a star at some point. For me, I would settle for top 20 point guard after looking at this list. If he makes a sizable improvement, the Nuggets are going to be really good.


That's it for this week. Make sure to comment with where you think certain guys should be placed. How high can Mudiay rise on this list? If he comes top ten, what is the Nuggets' ceiling?

Tune in next week for the shooting guard edition of this series.

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