Tony Parker owns three rings while Steve Nash and Jason Kidd, the best point guards of their era, continue with none well into their 30s.
That just goes to show you how important it is to play with a quality big man, and why Nash is in a more advantageous position to earn a ring -- even out in the loaded Western Conference -- than Kidd.
|Ring aside, Steve Nash is perhaps the best point guard of his era. (Getty Images)|
That broke my tie for the top spot of this list, because choosing between two wizards, men with four eyes and seemingly 10 hands, is never an easy choice.
One of them is just bound to curse you.
Rankings note: Players are ranked in the order of their projected impact on the coming season. Upside is taken into account, but only for the next 12 months. Whether you're a bargain or a bad contract doesn't matter.
1. Steve Nash, Phoenix: There's no longer any question about whether he's a Hall of Famer. Who cares that he's a late bloomer? That doesn't change the fact he plays the game at a genius level.
2. Jason Kidd, New Jersey: He keeps defying logic and getting better with age. Clearly, he didn't get the memo that guards who undergo microfracture surgery are supposed to be put out to pasture.
3. Tony Parker, San Antonio: The Finals MVP's quickness and ability to finish around the basket won the Spurs a championship, and his continued development will ensure they stay contenders.
4. Baron Davis, Golden State: Davis did more in Don Nelson's system than even Nelson himself expected, thriving on the chaotic, unyielding pace. If he can just stay healthy and provide similar production, he'll be in the thick of the MVP race.
5. Gilbert Arenas, Washington: Improving his leadership is the next step in his development, because leading the Wizards deep into the postseason is the only thing that's going to get him the respect he deserves.
6. Chauncey Billups, Detroit: The contract he signed to stay in Detroit might wind up being his last one, but don't put Billups in a nursing home just yet. Given how last season ended -- with critics ready to pounce and declare his decline -- expect him to come back focused.
7. Deron Williams, Utah: Williams made the Jazz's dreams come true last season by becoming everything they ever hoped he'd be -- and far ahead of schedule. Poised and tenacious, expect him on continuing to work on exploiting weaknesses. He has that elbow jumper from behind the free-throw line down pat.
8. Allen Iverson, Denver: Making the transition to pass-first point guard might be next for Iverson, regardless of how ridiculous that sounds. Carmelo Anthony and Nene are guys who need to be fed, and if Iverson can help bring them along by making the game easier, the Nuggets are going to be successful.
|1. S. Nash||1||SAME|
|2. J. Kidd||4|
|3. T. Parker||6|
|4. B. Davis||8|
|5. G. Arenas||5||SAME|
|6. C. Billups||3|
|7. D. Williams||--|
|8. A. Iverson||2|
|9. C. Paul||9||SAME|
|10. K. Hinrich||13|
|Complete 2006 Rankings|
9. Chris Paul, New Orleans: Early reports are that the pin inserted in his left foot hasn't limited his game-changing quickness, so Hornets fans can rest easy. It would be a shame if he couldn't pick up where he left off prior to the injury.
10. Kirk Hinrich, Chicago: He's quietly one of the toughest guards in the league, and certainly one of the most annoying to play against. People overlook his athleticism, and opponents can't stand his pesky reach and relentless nature.
11. Andre Miller, Philadelphia: He handled a midseason trade for Iverson like a true professional, forcing the Sixers to reconsider moving him in another deal. You don't let go of lead guards who make the players around them better, which Philadelphia's front office views as a welcome change.
12. Jason Terry, Dallas: He plays his hybrid role superbly, juggling roles of mentor, floor general, spot-up shooter and tempo-changer better than anyone could've anticipated. Remember, in his Atlanta days, Jet had a me-first label.
13. Leandro Barbosa, Phoenix: He's electric, which is why it doesn't matter that he's not a conventional point guard. Barbosa is a human weapon, able to take a game and put it out of reach with his speed alone. That frequently takes the Suns to another level.
14. Stephon Marbury, New York: Yeah, he has remarkable skills, but somehow he's become proof that individual talent can only take you so far. He'll have another big man to try and prove people wrong with, but you can't judge his performances through stats. Only wins tell the tale.
15. Mike Bibby, Sacramento: Last season was the toughest of his career, and it remains uncertain how long he'll remain with the Kings. A change of scenery might be the best thing for him.
16. Devin Harris, Dallas: The day will come where he'll roll off your tongue when mentioning the top point guards in the league. All the physical tools are there, and he has the right people guiding his development. The sooner it happens, the more likely the Mavs are to finally win it all.
17. Raymond Felton, Charlotte: He showed up at the Orlando Summer League to get a feel for the Bobcats' new system, dominated inferior competition for a single game and called it a week. It was one of those came, saw, conquered bits, and he looked good doing it. Expect continued progress.
18. Mo Williams, Milwaukee: He suddenly became the prized free-agent catch following Billups' quick decision to stay put, and forced a bidding war between Miami and his Bucks that ultimately left him a very wealthy young man. He's quick, strong and can fill up a stat sheet, and Milwaukee hopes his best days are well ahead of him.
19. Larry Hughes, Cleveland: The Cavs were at their best when he was healthy and handling point guard duties in a big backcourt opposite Sasha Pavlovic. Hughes might not be everything Cleveland fans hoped he would be, but he's a standout defender and continues to show progress playing off LeBron James.
|Sept. 25||Power forward|
|Sept. 26||Small forward|
|Sept. 27||Shooting guard|
|Sept. 28||Point guard|
|Oct. 1||Top 50|
20. Randy Foye, Minnesota: The Wolves are willing to live with his mistakes in exchange for personal growth, which is certainly the right move to make. Foye has worlds of ability and will do more good than harm during on-the-job training. Generating chemistry with new arrival Al Jefferson is essential.
Also considered: T.J. Ford, Toronto; Rajon Rondo, Boston; Mike Conley, Memphis; Jamaal Tinsley, Indiana; Jameer Nelson, Orlando; Jose Calderon, Toronto; Sam Cassell, L.A. Clippers; Mike James, Houston; Rafer Alston, Houston; Steve Francis, Houston; Daniel Gibson, Cleveland; Brevin Knight, L.A. Clippers; Derek Fisher, L.A. Lakers; Steve Blake, Portland; Luke Ridnour, Seattle; Jason Williams, Miami; Delonte West, Seattle; Sergio Rodriguez, Portland; Kyle Lowry, Memphis; Speedy Claxton, Atlanta; Carlos Arroyo, Orlando; Chucky Atkins, Denver; Bobby Jackson, New Orleans; Chris Duhon, Chicago; Marcus Williams, New Jersey; Damon Stoudamire, Memphis; Antonio Daniels, Washington; Jarrett Jack, Portland; Keyon Dooling, Orlando; Smush Parker, Miami; Acie Law, Atlanta.