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Fantasy basketball player tiers: Point Guards

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Damian Lillard, the Portland Trail Blazers rookie is one player to keep an eye on in your fantasy basketball drafts

These positional tiers are based on our expert player rankings here at Baller Mind Frame and are tools you can use as you navigate through your fantasy basketball drafts.

Tier 1: Guards to anchor your team around

These point guards are truly worth a slot on your team’s core. They bring to the table four to five categories and don’t really hurt your team anywhere.

Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers (3)

Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors (5)

Chris Paul – When it comes to point guards in fantasy basketball CP3 is as solid as it gets. Not only does he anchor your team’s assists and steals categories, he doesn’t hurt you in spots other point guards do like field goal percentage and turnovers. Thanks to his balanced and well-rounded stat line, it is very easy to build any kind of team around him, providing drafters with much needed flexibility during the draft.

Stephen Curry – He proved to everyone with extreme prejudice that when his fragile ankles hold up, Curry is a fantasy force to be reckoned with. He’s the best player to anchor any team’s three-point shooting needs, while also contributing to a team’s assists and steals categories. He finished 2012-13 in “supernova mode” and is fully capable of carrying over that momentum in 2013-14.

Tier 2: Rising, recovering and returning – Your primary point guard cornerstones

Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers (6)

Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder (7)

Deron Williams, Brooklyn Nets (13)

Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers (15)

Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls (22)

Kyrie Irving – There are many experts that believe that it is a matter of “when” and not “if” Kyrie will grow into the league’s best point guard in fantasy. This season, Irving will get another chance to take a step in that direction. Kyrie brings a solid stat line that focuses on scoring. He had some injury issues last season, but when healthy Irving is simply a beast waiting to shatter his career highs across the board. Irving is probably the only first-rounder you’re still drafting for his upside potential.

Russell Westbrook – He anchors your team’s scoring and free-throw percentage, while adding good assist and steal totals into the mix. With 80% shooting accuracy at seven free-throw attempts per game, no other point guard in the NBA boosts your team’s overall free-throw percentage than Westbrook. He’s recovering from a torn meniscus during last season’s playoffs, but is so far on track to play this season. It should be noted that prior to this injury, Westbrook has an impeccable five-regular season streak of not missing a single game, making him one of the most durable players in recent history.

Deron Williams – It’s almost always a plus for a point guard when his team adds more talent to its roster. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, however, aren’t pure scorers and are quite adept at sharing the rock themselves, so their addition will not necessarily spike Williams’ assists as much as imagined. What is encouraging is that Deron will not have to force as many ill-advised shots this season, hopefully further improving on his 44-percent field-goal percentage. Overall, Deron is a solid primary PG for any fantasy team thanks to his 7.9 APG, 2.2 3PPG and 1.0 SPG averages in 2012-13.

Damian Lillard – Last season’s Rookie-of-the-Year award winner is ready to take his game to another level in 2013-14. His main assets are his 19.1 PPG, 2.3 3PPG and reasonable 6.5 APG, all of which still have room for improvement. We’d love to see more steals, but those can come in time. With rumors circulating around LaMarcus Aldridge trade scenarios, Lillard might have to ready himself to step up and inherit the Portland Trail Blazers sooner rather than later.

Derrick Rose – Rose is an interesting risk-reward pick this season. It all depends on how well his prudence in dealing with ACL tear proves to be successful. He’s a former M.V.P. and can return to that form assuming he’s one hundred percent healthy and has regain his old explosiveness. Prior to his injury Rose was a shoe-in member of most fantasy basketball rankings.

Tier 3: They just need a little bit more improvement

These players are at the edge of taking their game to the next level. Most of them just need to improve on one or two aspects of their game. Any of these guys would be solid choices as your team’s secondary point guard.

Kemba Walker, Charlotte Bobcats (25)

Brandon Jennings, Detroit Pistons (28)

Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs (29)

Jrue Holiday, New Orleans Pelicans (31)

John Wall, Washington Wizards (33)

Mike Conley Jr., Memphis Grizzlies (34)

Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics (36)

Kemba Walker – His numbers rose across the board during his sophomore season. He know has a reliable big man to pass to in the form of Al Jefferson, so expect him to drop more of those dimes. He specializes in steals with his 2.0 SPG, but watch out for yet another bump in his numbers as he enters his third year as a pro.

Brandon Jennings – He’s always had an issue with his poor field goal percentage, but he’s made up for it in the past with solid contributions in three-pointers made, steals and assists. Now that he’s in a new team (Detroit Pistons), Jennings can hopefully make the transition into a pass-first kind of point guard and still continue his diverse line, making him reminiscent of a Jason Kidd of sorts. At the end of the day, that’s just speculation (wishful thinking) and is now a game of “wait and see.”

Tony Parker – Parker’s lack of treys and steals have always been his Waterloo. On some level his high scoring and good field goal shooting percentages have not quite been enough to make him fit the standard PG mold. He’s best suited for plugging in the PG slot for teams drafting for a “Big Ball” draft strategy.

Jrue Holiday – His eight assists per game last season showed us that he can be a good ball distributor. He elevated his game in third year, but his progress came at the expense of poorer shooting percentages and unbelievably high turnovers (3.7 TO). How he will be able to direct traffic with Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon sharing the backcourt over at New Orleans remains a big question mark.

John Wall – Wall only played 49 games for the Wizards last season. Similar to Holiday, he has issues with turnovers and poor field goal shooting percentages. He is a good passer, scorer and can chip in some steals. His lack of three-point shooting is a bit of an issue.

Mike Conley Jr. – While Conley isn’t a big name among point guards, he’s been far too underrated in recent drafts. He’s a great source of assists (6.1 APG) and steals (2.2 SPG) and he recently improved on the number of his converted treys last season. We’d love to see him score or pass a bit more, just enough to make him a more effective contributor in that particular category.

Rajon Rondo – There’s a possibility that he might miss the first month of the season as he continues to recover from a torn ACL. When healthy, Rondo is a threat to lead the league in both assists AND steals, while keeping most teams’ FG% at respectable levels. His issues now remain his poor free-throw shooting and his number of turnovers per game. Thanks to his higher than average rebounding rate for a point guard, Rondo is a regular candidate to drop a triple-double on opposing teams.

Tier 4: Something to prove this season

Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves (42)

Ty Lawson, Denver Nuggets (50)

Jeff Teague, Atlanta Hawks (57)

Goran Dragic, Phoenix Suns (61)

Jose Calderon, Dallas Mavericks (68)

George Hill, Indiana Pacers (74)

Greivis Vasquez, Sacramento Kings (77)

Ricky Rubio – He had a bumpy return as he played through his recovery from a torn ACL. He did show us some flashes of brilliance during his good days on the court. He’s clearly a talent play maker and has a very good sense of what’s happening on the court at all times. Now that he’s beginning the season healthy (knocks on wood) we will finally see him take the first few steps towards elevating his game. Expect great assist and steals numbers from him, but we’re not holding our breath for a sudden improvement in his shooting percentage from the field just yet.

Ty Lawson – He came into the 2012-13 season as a “solid percentages guard,” but his ended up with a very slow start and he was clearly hampered by the presence of another capable ball handler and passer on the court, in the form of Andre Iguodala. Now that A.I.9 has been signed-and-traded to the Golden State Warriors, it would safe to assume that Lawson may just regain some of his lost luster this season.

Jeff Teague – The Atlanta Hawks are now entering the post-Josh Smith era and new faces have to step up into the forefront and take the lead. Al Horford and Jeff Teague will be carrying the brunt of that responsibility. Teague has all the tools to develop into a great point guard. We’re just waiting for it happen.

Goran Dragic – The Phoenix Suns, much like Goran Dragic’s fantasy performance, were underwhelming last season. Under the new leadership of Jeff Hornacek both the Suns and Dragic will have an opportunity to shine once again. During his last season as a Rocket, Dragic showed us that he can be a great passer and even a competent scorer when the need arose. Things have changed enough in his situation that we can give Dragic a mulligan from last season’s disappointing run.

Jose Calderon – Rotisserie format fan favorite, Jose Calderon, has found a new team in the Dallas Mavericks this season. He’s one of the few solid, pass-first point guards left in the middle rounds. He doesn’t score a lot nor is he particularly generous in the steals department. What you can count on, is a reasonable field goal percentage, low turnovers, about a three per game, and of course a bucket load of assists every night.

George Hill – He’s an interesting specimen. He does a little bit of everything and does them without committing a lot of turnovers. His second season as a Pacer saw him elevated to the starting PG job and Hill made the most of his promotion. Aside from Jose Calderon, Hill is one of the better preferred secondary point guards for most teams playing using the rotisserie format. In 2012-13 he did 14.2 PPG, 1.7 3PPG, 4.7 APG, 1.0 SPG, 3.8 RPG, all at only 1.5 TOs per game. He’s proven to be an integral piece of Indiana’s offense and should have an even larger role this coming season.

Greivis Vasquez – He was one of 2012-13’s biggest surprises in fantasy. No one on draft night expected Vasquez to finish third in the league in assist averages  with nine per game. The biggest drawback he had was his 3.2 turnovers per game. While he was an entertaining addition during his coming out party last season, he is expected to receive competition for minutes from Isaiah Thomas now that Greivis has been traded to the Sacramento Kings. The silver lining to his move to Sactown is that he now has DeMarcus Cousins to pass to in the paint. Expect more of what he brought last season, just don’t hold your breath for yet another leap in production.

Tier 5 – May have a little bit more left in the tank

Steve Nash, Los Angeles Lakers (81)

Jeremy Lin, Houston Rockets (82)

Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors (89)

Jameer Nelson, Orlando Magic (92)

Eric Bledsoe, Phoenix Suns (94)

Jarrett Jack, Cleveland Cavaliers (104)

Steve Nash – It’s hard to believe the former two-time M.V.P. has fallen this far from grace. The good news is that he’s close to being one hundred percent healthy. Although, that’s a healthy 39-year-old Steve Nash who has chronic back issues, we’r talking about. He is expected to come into the 2013-14 season with a minutes cap pinned on him, which always is not a good sign, but then again it may help him play through the rigors of an 82-game regular season. Still, Nash has one of the best minds among active point guards when it comes to understanding the game. He will still be a good assist contributor and will not hurt your fantasy team in the FG% department either. Don’t expect him to play 82 games and don’t expect him to be close to his Phoenix-Suns form and you’ve got yourself a good source of assists worthy of a late-middle round pick.

Jeremy Lin – Last season his owners learned the bitter lesson that he can’t run on the fumes of “Linsanity” and were slapped in the face with a brutal reality check. Lin, for all his shortcomings and potential, rounds out to still be a decent point guard. He took a back seat to his newly acquired superstar backcourtmate James Harden instead of taking charge and letting the offense flow through him. Again, Lin’s Waterloo remains to be his high turnover rate that come without an impressive complement of productive positive contributions. What he does have as a plus coming into 2013-14 is potential of being a pick-and-roll partner of newly signed Dwight Howard. Howard’s addition to any team definitely stirs the pot and things will surely change. Now whether those changes are positive or negative and whether they trickle to Lin’s fantasy bottom line, will be questions whose answers will be worth watching for as the season unfolds.

Kyle Lowry – Lowry was never really able to get off on the right foot ever since he signed with Toronto Raptors last season. He struggled when he received heavy competition from Jose Calderon. Now that his only competition for minutes is the almost equally disappointing D.J. Augustin, Lowry has the potential to make a run at bounce-back season in Toronto. While it’s a tough sell considering the adversity his owners had to deal with throughout the 2012-13 season, it shouldn’t be forgotten that Lowry deliver top-30 caliber output in his final two seasons as Rocket.

Jameer Nelson – Jameer played the best statistical season of his career in 2012-13. Unfortunately for Nelson and his owners in fantasy, his being injury prone played a factor and he was only able to log 56 games. His inspired play may just end up being a one-season wonder as the top brass over at Orlando are seeing if they can groom early Rookie-of-the-Year prospect Victor Oladipo into a point guard. There are too many factors that are against Nelson replicating his 2012-13 output, but Jameer still should not be completely discounted as he is (still) the starting point guard in a bad rebuilding team.

Eric Bledsoe – The energetic former backup to Chris Paul is now purportedly being groomed to play alongside Goran Dragic as a starter with the Phoenix Suns. Bledsoe is expected to make a strong case as a candidate for Most Improved Player. He is in line for some heavy minutes in Phoenix and it’s difficult to project how big of splash Eric will make in fantasy basketball this season, making him a shoe-in entrant in most sleeper lists out there.

Jarrett Jack – Even though he’s now with Cleveland, Jack is expected to produce solid numbers as a reserve, something that he’s mastered to a high level as a Warrior last season. His role in fantasy should mirror his outlook in fantasy this coming season. Jack should be considered as a very viable third-option for your team’s point-guard needs. He should be able to tow the line as far as chipping in some points and assists are concerned while tossing in the occasional 1-trey and 1-steal on a nightly basis just for good measure.

Tier 6 – Backups, rookies and Brandon Knight

Isaiah Thomas, Sacramento Kings (115)

Darren Collison, Los Angeles Clippers (129)

Trey Burke, Utah Jazz (131)

Nate Robinson, Denver Nuggets (140)

Brandon Knight, Milwaukee Bucks (142)

Michael Carter-Williams (143)

Isaiah Thomas – It seems like this kid just can’t get a break. This cult-favorite PG had been kept down by “the man” (former coach, Keith Smart) for far too long. Now that he’s free from the confines of Smart’s doghouse, Thomas now has to deal with the competition brought by newcomer Greivis Vasquez. Thomas will find his spots to remain productive, like he always has, but will once again not be able to muster enough consistency to warrant a higher ranking. He receives deep-league consideration, but is a shaky bet in most standard league drafts.

Darren Collision – He is three seasons removed from that magical rookie year where he stepped up and played brilliantly when Chris Paul went down to injury, during their time together in New Orleans. Now, Collison has (perhaps) come full circle and is now once again Paul’s backup with the Clippers. While we obviously are not hoping for a CP3-injury to happen in order for Collison to once again regain fantasy basketball relevance, we’re optimistic that the right environment and coach may just be what he needs.

Trey Burke – The Utah Jazz will be throwing their rookie point guard straight into the fire and will be handing him the reigns from the get-go. Burke will have tons of opportunities to shine as a starter for the Jazz. On the other hand, those doors of opportunity swing both ways and he can easily also just fall flat on his face. While we don’t expect Burke to pull off what Damian Lillard did last season over at Portland, Trey is at the very least worth a flier pick in the tail end of most standard league drafts, if only for the off chance that he does pan out as a success.

Nate Robinson – He’s a perfect fit for the Denver Nuggets’ style of offense. It won’t come as a surprise to see him share the floor with Ty Lawson on occasion. It doesn’t take much for Nate to catch fire and pour on those treys and points. He should be able to carve out some solid minutes and production as a reserve in Denver.

Brandon Knight – Aside from the handful of impressive games Knight was able to put together last season, he for the most part still remained a fantasy dud. His poor field goal percentage, his high turnovers and lack of steals make him a poor choice. He’s only worth a late-round pick in standard leagues if you’re truly desperate and/or you’ve screwed up your draft.

Michael Carter-Williams – MCW finds himself in a similar situation to Trey Burke. Michael will be at the helm of the rebuilding Philadelphia 76ers. Burke’s draft-night value as the “best PG in the draft,” can easily be overshadowed by actual performance. While Burke is still the favorite to be the better performer in fantasy due to his playmaking skills, MCW has an equal opportunity to shine and rise above his fantasy ADP and deliver some solid production this season.

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