The game’s biggest stars tend to make the most noise through their transcendent play, off-court remarks, or the behind-the-doors string pulling of their corporate sponsors (maybe more on that another day). But there’s usually a lower subset of players who do their job well and without much fanfare—almost like a silent majority—that don’t get their due. In Jeremy Lin’s case, his Cinderella tale created an inflated bubble of expectations that burst when he didn’t recreate the New York Linsanity in Houston.
Yet Lin is just one of five point guards who have been playing very well as of late, even when their teammates or teams have been getting the praise.
1. Mike Conley
Placing him at one number is admittedly biased on my part, since he’s currently one of my favorite players, but Conley seems to do it all without a need for the limelight. As a coach or a true sports nut, you can’t ask for more.
He leads the Memphis Grizzlies, a smart team who plays cohesively even if their sea-level low APG rank says otherwise, in the +/- category. Marc Gasol who comes in second with a plus-345 to Conley’s plus-410 is a first-rate defender and rarely gets outplayed in his position yet comes in almost 100 points below Conley. Making up for Rudy Gay’s loss, Conley has played splendidly in the last 10 games posting 17.1 PPG, 7.3 APG, 3.6 RPG, 2.3 STLPG, and 0.7 BLKPG. Not exactly a quintuple-double, but eye-catching no less.
Some more impartiality from my part: I’ve been singing Vasquez’s praises for a while now. The guy is almost Penny Hardaway big at 6’6” as a point guard, and with better teammates might be a triple-double machine. Granted his +/- is horrendous and his true shooting percentage could vastly improve. But at 17.3 PPG, 8.5 APG, 4.5 RPG, and 1.1 STLPG for the last few bouts, Vasquez is someone worth keeping on your radar.
3. Jeremy Lin
The man in the intro, Lin has quietly been besting the initial boos he was getting at the beginning of the season. He’s upped his offensive output since the All-Star break from 12.6 PPG to 15.8, with his shooting from the field jumping from 43.4% to an impressive 49.4%. From outside the arc he has improved by almost ten percent to 40.9%. His other stats have slumped a bit in the last few games, but he’s still posting a quality 16.9 PPG, 5.4 APG, 1.9 RPG, and 1.1 STLPG for the month of March.
The little engine that could, number one. Thomas proved during the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge that he can hang with the big boys and he’s been doing that for the month of March. He’s posting up 17.3 PPG, 4.9 APG, and 2.2 RPG, and helped big in wins to Chicago and Phoenix and a loss to the Lakers.
At 5’9” with big-soled shoes on, Nate Robinson is the second little engine that could. The Bulls have been playing fatigued lately and he continues to make bonehead moves as floor manager, but 16.4 PPG, 5.9 APG, 2.3 RPG, and 1.4 STLPG for the month will get you playing time on any team.