Revisiting the point guards of the 2009 NBA Draft

Atlanta Hawks’ Jeff Teague (R) drives to the net on Chicago Bulls’ Omer Asik during Game 5 of their NBA Eastern Conference second round playoff basketball game in Chicago, May 10, 2011. REUTERS/John Gress (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Jeff Teague’s series performance (17-4-3, 56% shooting) against the Bulls in the Eastern Conference Semis got me thinking about all the promising point guards that came out of the 2009 Draft. Take a look:

5. Ricky Rubio, T-Wolves
6. Jonny Flynn, T-Wolves
7. Stephen Curry, Warriors
10. Brandon Jennings, Bucks
17. Jrue Holiday, 76ers
18. Ty Lawson, T-Wolves (traded to Nuggets)
19. Jeff Teague, Hawks
20. Eric Maynor, Jazz (traded to Thunder)
21. Darren Collison, Hornets (traded to Pacers)
25. Rodrigue Beaubois, Thunder (traded to Mavericks)
29. Toney Douglas, Knicks

It’s pretty amazing that with the emergence of Teague in Atlanta, no fewer than six players on that list have developed into starting caliber point guards in the NBA. Four others (Douglas, Beaubois, Maynor and Flynn) are rotation players.

Here are the 2010-11 stats for each player, sorted by Efficiency Per Minute, which is I believe the best way to quickly compare a player’s production.

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Watch the Pacers hit 20 straight shots [video]

I don’t know if this says more about the Pacers’ ability to shoot the ball or the Nuggets’ inability to defend, probably a combination of the two. Indiana started the third quarter with a 10-point lead. Watch how the lead grows as the Pacers get hot from the field.

Indiana scored 54 points in the third quarter and won the game 144-113. If you’re wondering, the Pacers had just one turnover in the period (a bad pass by Darren Collison) and Josh McRoberts missed the final shot of the quarter (a 26-foot 3PT attempt).

The Pacers are better than I thought they’d be. They have an up-and-coming point guard (Collison) and big man (Roy Hibbert) to go along with their All-Star wing (Danny Granger). And if Mike Dunleavy is going to shoot the ball like this, Indiana will be tough to beat.

2010 NBA Preview: A dozen players ready to break out

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love backs into New York Knicks forward Ronny Turiaf during their NBA preseason game in Paris on October 6, 2010. The Timberwolves won the contest, part of the annual NBA Europe Live tour, by the score of 106-100.  UPI/David Silpa Photo via Newscom

The 2010-11 NBA season starts tonight (Miami and Boston tip things off tonight at 7:30 ET on TNT) and while most eyes will be on one-name superstars like LeBron, Wade, Kobe and Melo, it’s fun to try to predict who this season’s breakout players will be.

It takes more than just talent to succeed in the NBA. It takes opportunity as well, and each of the 12 players I’ve listed before figure to play a more prominent role than they did last season. I didn’t include any rookies (or Blake Griffin, who qualifies as a rookie) because in order to break out, you have to have a baseline season to start from.

1. Kevin Love, Timberwolves
After spending most of last season coming off the bench, Love has started all eight preseason games and has averaged 18-11 while shooting 14-of-24 from long range. Neither Michael Beasley nor Darko Milicic are aggressive rebounders, so Love has a chance to lead the league in boards this season. I suspect Love will be in consideration for the All-Star team in January.

2. Darren Collison, Pacers
Indiana’s best move this offseason was to acquire Collison from the Hornets. He had a very nice rookie year, but the starting gig is his now and he doesn’t have to look over his shoulder wondering what’s going on with Chris Paul. He averaged 13-3-4 in the preseason, but I’d expect those numbers to rise with bigger minutes. He should be good for 16-4-6 this season.

3. Jrue Holiday, Sixers
Doug Collins is really high on Holiday, predicting that he’ll be a Top 5 point guard in the league sooner rather than later. He averaged 13-4-6 in March of last season and posted 12-6-5 in the preseason.

4. Roy Hibbert, Pacers
Hibbert averaged 12-6 in 25 minutes per game last season, but in seven preseason games, he has increased those averages to 17-9, though he’s shooting just 43% from the field, which is a little worrisome. Still, with Troy Murphy gone, there are a lot of minutes available on the front line, and Hibbert should get his fair share.

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Ariza/Collison trade reaction

February 24, 2010 Milwaukee, WI. Bradley Center..New Orleans Hornets Darren Collison had 22 points and 9 assists against the Bucks tonight..Milwaukee Buck won over the New Orleans Hornets 115-95. Mike McGinnis/CSM.

Bob Kravitz, Indianapolis Star: If coach Jim O’Brien can’t work with Collison, if he has the same issues with him that he did with Tinsley and Ford, then we can fairly say it’s an O’Brien problem and not a player problem. My sense is, that won’t happen. What this does is put more pressure on O’Brien to produce in the final year of his contract, although it’s the kind of pressure he surely will welcome. Until now, he has been asked to win with lousy players. Now he has some horses. Let’s just say, if the Pacers can’t make a run at .500 with Collison, management’s decision regarding O’Brien’s future will be an easy one. As for Bird and Morway, this one might have been a job-saver. As the weeks wore on without any Pacers news, and news of Donnie Walsh’s imminent departure from New York, it struck me that Walsh might land back here in Indy to replace Bird. But give Bird and Morway credit: They stuck to their guns, refused to take on big contracts for short-term gain, and kept their eyes on the ball. Finally, we’re seeing the dividends.

John DeShazier, The Times-Picayune: One, he got veteran help in Ariza, a 25-year-old, former NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2009 who’s coming off his best statistical season. Yes, there’s a risk involved. Collison was one of the league’s best rookies last season and viewed as the ideal backup to Chris Paul at point guard. He could become an All-Star, but the key word is could — 40 or 50 standout games as a rookie don’t constitute a career. Meanwhile, Ariza is a six-year pro whose career has arched upward. Two, he got rid of a declining player with a bad contract (Posey) and an unproductive one (Wright) who assured his departure by refusing to play in summer league after new coach Monty Williams asked him to. It doesn’t matter much whether Belinelli can play, though he’s 6-foot-5 and a career 39 percent shooter from 3-point range, compared to Wright, who was as likely as not to airball a foul shot. A Wright-for-anyone trade falls in the addition by subtraction file. As nice as Wright was, no one accused him of actually “getting” it.

Dave D’Alessandro, The Star-Ledger: The deal is low-risk and high-reward for Nets GM Billy King, because it’s rare to land a productive power forward in the prime of his career with an expiring contract, one who is willing to hold a job until rookie Derrick Favors is ready to snatch it from him. The 6-10 Murphy is one of the league’s most unique players, a power forward who can be a game-buster from the arc but can also throw his weight around. Two seasons ago, he became the first player in NBA history to finish in the top five among the league’s rebounders (11.8 rpg) and 3-point shooters (.450).

Jonathan Feigen, Houston Chronicle: The Rockets tried to trade to get Courtney Lee in the 2008 NBA Draft. They tried to trade to get him last year before the Orlando Magic traded him to the New Jersey Nets. They tried to trade to get him after he went to the Nets. Finally Wednesday, the Rockets landed Lee, sending forward Trevor Ariza to the New Orleans Hornets after just one season in Houston to complete a four-team, five-player deal.In two seasons, the 6-5 Lee has averaged 10.3 points on 44.2 percent shooting. He averaged 12.5 points with the Nets. The Rockets, however, were particularly drawn to his defense, citing his ability to defend at three positions. “He’s very intriguing defensively,” Rockets vice president for player personnel Gersson Rosas said. “He’s going to follow the game plan to a T. He eats up direction and guidance from coaches. “He can defend big ‘ones’ like Deron Williams, Rodney Stuckey, Jason Kidd. He gives us a direction we did not have before. He’s cut from the same cloth as Shane Battier. He really values the details, has a great approach. He really takes it personal.”

Note: You can read my take here.

Ariza, Collison involved in four-team trade

Mar. 09, 2010 - Washington, China - (100310) -- WASHINGTON, March 10, 2010 (Xinhua) -- Trevor Ariza (C) of Houston Rockets shoots during the NBA game between Houston Rockets and Washington Wizards in Washington, the United States, on March 9, 2010. (Xinhua/Zhang Jun.

I wouldn’t call this a ‘mega-trade’ but it’s a pretty significant in terms of the players involved and its impact on the potential departure of Chris Paul.

Chad Ford has the (brief) details:

In the proposed deal, the Houston Rockets will send Trevor Ariza to the New Orleans Hornets. The Hornets will send Darren Collison and James Posey to the Indiana Pacers. The Pacers will send Troy Murphy to the New Jersey Nets. And the Nets will send Courtney Lee to the Rockets.

Ford is now reporting that this trade is official.

Here is the deal in the ESPN Trade Machine. Click on the picture to see a bigger version.

Let’s look at the Hornets first since they’re the ones trying to satisfy Chris Paul. They are essentially trading away a good up-and-coming point guard in Darren Collison along with James Posey and the two years remaining on his contract. In return, they’re getting Trevor Ariza, who averaged 15-6-4 while shooting under 40% from the field last season for the Rockets.

I thought they might be able to get a little more for Collison, but Ariza is valuable because he’s an athletic wing who can score a little, but can really defend. He’ll fit in nicely alongside Paul, Marcus Thornton and David West in the Hornets’ starting lineup (assuming Monty Williams starts him). They were also able to shed Posey’s contract, which makes the Ariza acquisition a financial wash for the next two seasons. For the Hornets’ sake, I do wish he could shoot the three a little better, but maybe his 3PT accuracy will rise from its 2009-10 levels (33%) with Paul setting him up for better looks.

Meanwhile, the Pacers get their point guard of the future (Collison) by trading away Murphy, who is in the last year of his deal. Financially, Collison and Posey will cost them an extra $4.2 million because most of their salaries are offset by the loss of Murphy’s salary ($12.0 million) this season. This is really a great move by the Pacers. Collison is going to be a very good point guard in the NBA for a very long time.

As for the Rockets and the Nets — well, the Rockets will shed Ariza’s salary, giving them an additional $4.6 million of cap space heading into the summer of 2011. That should be more than enough to sign a max free agent. Conversely, the Nets add Murphy at the expense of Lee, but his deal is expiring, so it looks like he’ll serve as a stopgap at power forward while the franchise waits for Derrick Favors to develop.

In the end, is this a game-changer for Paul and the Hornets? No, but it’s a step in the right direction. After a summer of treading water (or even losing ground by trading away the #11 pick), the franchise has fully committed to Paul by trading away their backup plan (Collison) for someone who can help him win now.

Given this move, it looks like those who had written off the possibility that Paul would stay in New Orleans were wrong. I don’t think the Hornets would have swung this deal had they thought that Paul was serious about forcing a trade. Either that, or the Hornets have completely misread Paul’s intentions.

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