With the NBA Playoffs starting in just a short couple months, it has made me think of how the Bucks will stack up against the rest of the Eastern Conference. More specifically, how Eric Bledsoe stacks up against the rest of the Eastern Conference’s point guards. Without wasting anymore of your time, I present to you, my Eastern Conference starting point guards ranking.
- Darius Garland
To start off the countdown, the worst Eastern Conference starting point guard right now, is Cavaliers player, Darius Garland. This isn’t to say Garland can’t get any better, he’s only 20-years-old, but his rookie season has been forgettable. At first glance, his numbers don’t look horrible. As of February 26th, Garland is averaging 12.3 points per game on 39.9% shooting from the field and 35.7% shooting from three. He’s also dishing out 3.9 assists per game and 0.8 steals. However, when looking into the advanced stats, he has been a net negative offensively and one of the worst defenders in the entire NBA. If Garland wasn’t on Cleveland, he would be virtually unplayable on any other team in the league. There’s still hope for Garland, but next season he’s going to have to take giant leaps to even be a top ten point guard in the East. He definitely needs to be at least playable defensively as well as more efficient on offense.
- Ish Smith
The Wizards have started like 35 different point guards this season so it was hard to pick one. Ish Smith has started the most games for Washington, so I went with him for their team representative. The journeyman hasn’t been the worst point guard I’ve ever watched play this season, but he should be a backup. If Smith was a backup, he’d be looked at as a much better player, however, he’s a starter and therefore an underwhelming one at that.
- Kendrick Nunn
Kendrick Nunn was the NBA’s surprise player at the beginning of the season but since then, he has come back down to Earth. He’s been a reliable scorer for the Heat this season, but that’s about all he offers. Luckily, he’s on a team that can support a player with as many shortcomings as he has. As the second rookie on this list already, Nunn still has plenty of time to improve his game. The scoring/shooting ability is there, but to be an effective starting point guard, a player needs to offer more. As a playmaker, Nunn leaves a lot to be desired.
- Markelle Fultz
Markelle Fultz was one of the toughest players to rank on this list. In my opinion, after dealing with what he’s dealt with, he’s having a tremendous season. Fultz has shown flashes of why he was drafted number one overall in 2017 and has been one of the most exciting players to watch this season. I think, in a few years, Fultz will be a top ten point guard in the entire NBA, unfortunately, this season has been ridiculed with inconsistency for Markelle. He’s averaging 11.8 points per game, 5.1 assists, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.3 steals. The numbers look fine for a developing young player but the shooting percentages are what scares me. From the field, Fultz is shooting 46.4% and from three, Fultz is shooting a lackluster 25.7%. Also, his defense has been disappointing considering how long and athletic he is. If he can smooth out his shooting numbers, bump up his averages a bit, and play better defense, there’s no reason Fultz can’t be a top 5 point guard in the East within the next two seasons.
- Elfrid Payton
Some people may think I have Payton ranked too high on this list but hear me out. This season, Payton is averaging 9.6 points per game, 6.9 assists, 4.7 rebounds, and 1.7 steals per game for the Knicks. He’s shooting well enough at 43% from the field and I really like the way he gets his teammates involved. I would rather have a point guard like Payton who can somewhat score, rebound, and pass the ball over someone who can just shoot really well that barely score 16 points per game. Also, defensively, Payton holds his own. He does a good job getting steals and when it comes to the other aspects of defending, statistically he’s surprisingly just above average. The general opinion on Elfrid Payton is that he’s even worse than the 11th best point guard in the East, but if you look at him as a poor man’s Ben Simmons, you can see he’s a little more valuable than previous players on this list.
- Terry Rozier
The Hornets threw a ton of money at Terry Rozier this past offseason and it’s going just how everybody expected. Some incredibly good games balanced out by some incredibly bad games. So far this season, “Scary Terry” is averaging 17.4 points per game while shooting 41.5% from the field and 38.8% from three. He is also averaging 4.5 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 1 steal per game. In a way, Rozier is doing exactly what he’s getting paid to do. However, if he was to be ranked higher on this list, Rozier would have to be more efficient offensively and defensively. For example, his PER this season is at 14.2 this season which is actually lower than what is was when he was a backup averaging less points in 2017-18. On defense, he has a horrible DRTG of 115 and a DBPM of -1.2. If Terry could turn himself into an average defender going into next season then he could easily jump a few spots on this list.
- Tomas Satoransky
The first player inside the top ten is Chicago Bulls point guard, Tomas Satoransky. This season, Satoransky is in fact having one of the most efficient seasons by a point guard the Bulls have had since Derrick Rose. Offensively, he is averaging 10.2 points per game and 5.5 assists all while playing league average defense which is more than the players above him can say. At 28-years-old Satoransky is just entering his prime and is showing Chicago he is worth the money they paid him last offseason.
- Derrick Rose
Every basketball fan knows the story of Derrick Rose and now 9 seasons after winning the MVP award in 2010-11, Rose is having the best season of his post injury career. For Detroit this season, Rose has been an excellent player both as a starter and off the bench. As of February 29th, Rose is averaging 18.3 points per game, 5.6 assists, and 2.4 rebounds. He’s also having his most efficient season since 2011-12 and his best defensive season since 2015-16. Rose isn’t the MVP he once was, but he’s a solid point guard at this point in his career which is something that didn’t seem possible once he left the Bulls.
- Malcolm Brogdon
The Pacers paid Brogdon this offseason to be their starting point guard of the future. However, he hasn’t been a top five point guard in the East this season like some people expected him to be. The overall numbers are fine but Brogdon’s efficiency is worse than its ever been. He’s still been a good starter for Indiana but not as good as what they paid him to be. If Brogdon continues to play this way in the future, there’s always going to be a sizable gap between him and the top five Eastern point guards.
- Trae Young
Trae Young is one of the most exciting young players in the league. You’re always watching his highlights whether it’s an incredible pass of half court three that he makes every night. Offensively, Young is one of the best point guards in the entire league. This season, he’s averaging 29.9 points per game while shooting 44.2% from the field and 36.7% from three. He’s also averaging 9.3 assists per game and 4.3 rebounds. If it wasn’t for his defense, Young could possibly be a top two or three point guard in the East. However, he’s one of the worst defenders in the entire NBA almost to the point where it offsets his offensive prowess. In the future, if Trae Young doesn’t improve defensively, he will always be looked at as a point guard who is just one dimensional as opposed to an elite, complete player.
- Eric Bledsoe
We’re finally in the top five of the top Eastern Conference point guards and that brings us to Bucks guard, Eric Bledsoe. Bledsoe is a very competent offensive point guard who is playing some of the most efficient basketball of his career this season. He’s averaging 15.4 points per game, 5.4 assists, and 4.8 rebounds. Bledsoe can do a little bit of everything offensively which makes him t perfect fit next to Giannis and Khris Middleton. However, it isn’t Bledsoe’s offensive capabilities that squeeze him into the top five. As a defender, Bledsoe is one of the best at his position in the league. There are only a couple of individuals better who you will actually see later in this list. Yes, Bledsoe is occasionally inconsistent when it comes to shooting the ball but his defense never goes away. On a different team, Bledsoe’s counting stats may be better but on the Bucks, he does exactly what the team needs him to do which is what allows him to be a top five point guard in the East.
- Kyle Lowry
Kyle Lowry was the toughest player to rank on this list ahead of Eric Bledsoe. I constantly went back and forth to which player I thought was better. I came to the conclusion that, offensively, Lowry is a better shooter and passer by a slim margin and defensively, it’s a wash. At the end of the day, as a Bucks fan, if I had the choice of having either Eric Bledsoe or Kyle Lowry as my starting point guard, I would go with Lowry. Lowry is the number one or two option for a really good Toronto team every single night while Bledsoe can be the third or fourth option every single night on the Bucks. Overall, Lowry has been an incredibly solid, All-Star level point guard throughout his career and when it comes to the 2019-2020 season, nothing about that has changed.
- Kemba Walker
Everybody knows who Kemba Walker is on the offensive side of the ball. If we’re talking strictly offense, nobody would argue that Kemba is a top point guard in the entire NBA not just the East. However, it’s his defense that is often underrated. Defensively, he is a slightly above average defender who is a threat to steal the ball every time down the court. Because of how good Kemba is offensively, even if he was just average defensively, Kemba would still be a top three point guard in the East. What helps Walker is the fact that he is a better defender than most people give him credit to be which is why he is ranked above guys like Bledsoe and Lowry. If he played below average defense, Kemba could fall into the Derrick Rose range of point guards.
- Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving gets a lot of flack for his play style but when he’s healthy, there’s no arguing Kyrie Irving is a very good NBA point guard. On the offensive side of the ball, there’s nothing Kyrie Irving can’t do. He’s a walking highlight tape. Whether it’s shooting the ball or passing the ball, there’s not a team in the NBA that couldn’t use a guy like Kyrie Irving. Like Kemba Walker, Irving’s defense is grossly underrated. In fact, I am willing to go as far as saying Irving isn’t just a slightly above average defender, but he’s GOOD. When looking throughout the numbers, it really made me think of how I evaluate Kyrie Irving as a player. From now on, I need to think of him as an incredibly gifted point guard who also plays good defense as opposed to a selfish offensive player who plays no defense.
- Ben Simmons
The best point guard in the Eastern Conference is none other than Ben Simmons. Besides shooting the three ball, there’s nothing on the court Simmons can’t do. He can drive and score inside the paint at historic levels as well as pass the ball at an elite level. He also excels at something that almost no other point guards do, and that’s rebounding. Rebounding at a high rate allows Simmons to push the ball faster than any other guard in the league, it’s really spectacular to watch. Defensively, I will go as far as saying he’s one of the, if not the best defender in the entire league. Simmons can guard 1-5 on the floor on an elite level which is something no other Eastern Conference point guard can do. If people didn’t make such a big deal out of his three point shooting, Simmons would have no flaws in his game. The shooting woes are there but it does not take away enough from what Simmons can do. If you are an NBA fan and you watch Ben Simmons, it’s time to start focusing on what he can do (which is about everything at an elite level) as opposed to what he can’t do.