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Charting The NBA’s Most Bankable Backup Point Guards

Sacramento Kings point guard Isaiah Thomas
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Sacramento Kings point guard Isaiah Thomas

April 07, 2013; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings point guard Isaiah Thomas (22) goes up for the basket between Memphis Grizzlies power forward Ed Davis (32) and shooting guard Tony Allen (9) during the third quarter at Sleep Train Arena. The Grizzlies won 89-87. : Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

With good shooting guards as rare as a Carmelo Anthony pass, and the center position dying a slow death, the point guard spot is the league’s deepest position. As NBA Free Agency has shown, candidates like Mo Williams and Beno Udrih fell a rotation behind where they typically would be. Williams behind rookie sensation Damian Lillard and poor Udrih behind a guy whose initials are PP and another one who sports the NBA’s best muffin top every season.

With the game growing progressively smaller, backup points who can shoot from deep, work minutes at the 2, and perhaps even run a starting lineup in spurts, are growing increasingly important. To help you chart which ones will be worth having on your Fantasy Basketball rosters we’ve ranked them according to their past stats, projections, and accompanying field notes.

1. Isaiah Thomas – Sacramento Kings

2012-13 Stats:

13.9 PPG / 4.0 APG / 2.0 RPG / STLPG 0.8 / BLKPG 0.0 / TOPG 1.8 / 3PM 1.5 / FG% 44.0 / FT% 88.2

SJN Projections & Notes:

12.7 PPG / 4.1 APG / 2.0 RPG / STLPG 0.9 / BLKPG 0.03 / TOPG 1.9 / 3PM 1.54 / FG% 45.0 / FT% 87.1

Greivis Vasquez is about a foot taller than Thomas, and is projected to be a near-triple-double machine, so the little guy with the famous name should be a bench-warmer.  But that won’t detract from his padded stats. The Kings are in disarray, which absolutely helps a guy his size play to his strengths, and the new season should be no different. Reduced numbers might reduce his scoring some but his shooting percentages and assist numbers will trend upward. And, he can make the three.

2. Jarrett Jack – Cleveland Cavaliers

2012-13 Stats:

12.9 PPG / 5.6 APG / 3.1 RPG / STLPG 0.8 / BLKPG 0.1 / TOPG 2.0 / 3PM 1.0 / FG% 45.2 / FT% 84.3

SJN Projections & Notes:

12.8 PPG / 5.3 APG / 2.8 RPG / STLPG 0.7 / BLKPG 0.1 / TOPG 2.3 / 3PM 1.0 / FG% 43.7 / FT% 85.0

Jack’s sweet mid-range game ensures he’ll always be a wrecking crew off the bench. He won’t quite have the range of weapons he did with the Warriors, so his assists and efficiency will wane some. But that means it will be up to him to light up the box score for the second unit.

3. Darren Collison – Los Angeles Clippers

2012-13 Stats:

12.0 PPG / 5.1 APG / 2.7 RPG / STLPG 1.2 / BLKPG 0.1 / TOPG 2.1 / 3PM 0.6 / FG% 47.1 / FT% 88.0

SJN Projections & Notes:

11.8 PPG / 5.0 APG / 2.1 RPG / STLPG 1.4 / BLKPG 0.1 / TOPG 2.3 / 3PM 0.61 / FG% 45.5 / FT% 88.7

Collison deserved better in Dallas. Although he doesn’t have the upside Eric Bledsoe has, he will be an important cog in the Clippers’ improved bench. With less minutes under his belt, his stats will be hurt slightly, but projected improvements to his game should cover most of the slack. Not to mention that playing under Chris Paul will boost any young player’s game.

4. Mo Williams – Portland Trail Blazers

2012-13 Stats:

12.9 PPG / 6.2 APG / 2.4 RPG / STLPG 1.0 / BLKPG 0.2 / TOPG 2.7 / 3PM 1.3 / FG% 43.0 / FT% 88.2

SJN Projections & Notes:

11.0 PPG / 4.2 APG / 2.0 RPG / STLPG 0.7 / BLKPG 0.17 / TOPG 2.1 / 3PM 1.4 / FG% 45.5 / FT% 88.0

Mo’s drop in numbers reflect what will be a drop in minutes. But, everything he’s ever provided in the league—bursts of points, nice assist numbers, three-point shooting—will be at his expected output. Mostly because he’ll be playing with a young team who was already anticipated to climb the standings before his acquisition. With all the young talent, Mo will be able to focus on what he does best.

5. Jerryd Bayless – Memphis Grizzlies

2012-13 Stats:

8.7 PPG / 3.3 APG / 2.2 RPG / STLPG 0.7 / BLKPG 0.2 / TOPG 1.5 / 3PM 0.9 / FG% 41.9 / FT% 83.6

SJN Projections & Notes:

10.2 PPG / 3.6 APG / 2.0 RPG / STLPG 0.6 / BLKPG 0.2 / TOPG 1.4 / 3PM 1.0 / FG% 42.0 / FT% 83.9

Bayless will benefit most from Mike Miller‘s acquisition. Although it won’t mitigate expectations on him to be Memphis’ No.1 option on its bench’s offense it should trigger a boost to his efficiency and assist numbers. Only about to turn 25, his numbers should go up some. Perhaps even to those he posted in Toronto where he was better adjusted. Up north, he also wasn’t counted on so much for his ‘O’ and the added responsibility has hurt his shooting percentages some.

6. Ramon Sessions – Charlotte Bobcats

2012-13 Stats:

14.4 PPG / 3.8 APG / 2.8 RPG / STLPG 0.8 / BLKPG 0.1 / TOPG 1.7 / 3PM 0.5 / FG% 40.8 / FT% 83.9

SJN Projections & Notes:

12.3 PPG / 4.2 APG / 2.8 RPG / STLPG 0.7 / BLKPG 0.1 / TOPG 1.7 / 3PM 0.5 / FG% 40.9 / FT% 81.0

Before a mid-year slump and injuries got the better of him, Sessions was averaging upwards of 15.0 PPG and 4.3 APG. With Kemba Walker‘s expected growth, and more weapons to share the box score with, his points with drop off some but his assists should see a nice climb. He would certainly be higher if he shot from afar better and didn’t have such a iffy FG%.

7. J.J. Barea – Minnesota Timberwolves

2012-13 Stats:

11.3 PPG / 4.0 APG / 2.8 RPG / STLPG 0.4 / BLKPG 0.0 / TOPG 2.0 / 3PM 1.3 / FG% 41.7 / FT% 78.4

SJN Projections & Notes:

11.4 PPG / 4.4 APG / 2.8 RPG / STLPG 0.4 / BLKPG 0.0 / TOPG 1.8 / 3PM 1.0 / FG% 42.0 / FT% 83.9

Barea’s production in his two years in Minnesota have been almost identical. So it’s safe to say that he’ll have almost mirrored numbers in 2013-14. A modest boost to his PPG and APG will come from an improved second unit. It should be only slight, though, since he’ll be playing alongside Corey Brewer, Derrick Williams, and Ronny Turiaf.

8. Brandon Knight – Milwaukee Bucks

2012-13 Stats:

13.3 PPG / 4.0 APG / 3.3 RPG / STLPG 0.8 / BLKPG 0.1 / TOPG 2.7 / 3PM 1.6 / FG% 40.7 / FT% 73.3

SJN Projections & Notes:

12.1 PPG / 4.0 APG / 4.1 RPG / STLPG 0.9 / BLKPG 0.2 / TOPG 2.68 / 3PM 1.5 / FG% 40.0 / FT% 73.0

Milwaukee’s unofficial chart shows veteran Luke Ridnour as the team’s starting point but that, of course, remains to be seen. As the Buck’s point guard of the future, there’s plenty of reasons why Knight should start. But, if coach Larry Drew decides that he works better coming off the bench this year, he could be a bankable backup point. His shooting numbers need improving but he has a proven ability to score. Also, he rebounds very well for his position. Starting him alongside Gary Neal and Carlos Delfino could also benefit his court vision and allow him to reduce his obscene turnover numbers.

9. Devin Harris – Dallas Mavericks

2012-13 Stats:

9.9 PPG / 3.4 APG / 2.0 RPG / STLPG 1.1 / BLKPG 0.2 / TOPG 1.5 / 3PM 1.3 / FG% 43.8 / FT% 72.7

SJN Projections & Notes:

13.1 PPG / 3.7 APG / 2.0 RPG / STLPG 1.1 / BLKPG 0.17 / TOPG 1.8 / 3PM 1.0 / FG% 43.5 / FT% 74.0

Signing Harris will turn out to be one of the few bright spots in the Mavericks off-season. The backup point can score well, is an above-average passer, takes care of the ball, and can shoot from deep. He could certainly rebound better, shoot more efficiently, and learn to shoot freebies at a higher rate than some centers, but he’s still one of the best replacements points out there.

10. C.J. Watson – Indiana Pacers

2012-13 Stats:

6.8 PPG / 2.0 APG / 1.8 RPG / STLPG 0.8 / BLKPG 0.2 / TOPG 0.9 / 3PM 1.1 / FG% 41.8 / FT% 78.0

SJN Projections & Notes:

7.1 PPG / 2.8 APG / 1.8 RPG / STLPG 0.9 / BLKPG 0.15 / TOPG 0.98 / 3PM 0.9 / FG% 40.0 / FT% 80.0

Watson gets the nod over upstarts like Reggie Jackson and Patrick Beverly because of his tenure. Though he’s prone to numskull mistakes (that his impressive turnover numbers don’t suggest), Watson has proven himself to be a solid backup on playoff-bound teams. This year might provide him with one of the better benches he’s played with as he’ll be flanked by a dynamic and defensive-minded shooting guard, a great low-post scorer, a stretch shooter, and a seven-footer who can clean up misses.

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