With a class of incredible rookie point guards coming into the league for the 2017-2018 season, in Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, Dennis Smith, De’Aaron Fox and Frank Ntilikina, it’s expected that at least a few current starting point guards will lose their jobs, in addition to that, there have also been some NBA players playing themselves out of their role as an NBA starting point guard, and so with that, I have decided to compile a list of five* starting point guards most likely to lose their jobs by next season.
Honorable Mention: Yogi Ferrell, Dallas Mavericks - Rook?
If I was a head coach, I would not have the complete faith in the undrafted, 24 game veteran, Yogi Ferrell that Rick Carlisle seems to have. However, already getting rid of Deron Williams, and starting Ferrell in his place, it seems like Ferrell has been handed the reins to this franchise. Ferrell has performed decently so far, putting up 12.2 points and 5.1 assists per game for the Mavericks, while having an effective field goal percentage of 50.7%, and so it seems like the Mavs are likely to continue starting Ferrell in the future.
However, with a probably top five pick in a point guard heavy draft, the Mavs could very well still draft a point guard, and in that case, Ferrell would need to play very good basketball to keep his starting spot from falling into the hands of a Fultz or Ball or Smith or Fox or Ntilikina, holy crap there are a lot of good point guards in this draft.
5. Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves - Kris Dunn or Tyus Jones?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Ricky Rubio’s flashy passes and mediocre defense do not make up for his basic inability to get a basketball into a basket. With his career-high effective field goal percentage being this year’s 43.9%, it does not look like he will ever be a good enough shooter to be successful as an NBA starter. This inability to shoot is especially problematic on the Minnesota Timberwolves, as the team already has three future stars in Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine, who all enjoy their time with the ball, and as a point guard, they do not need a highlight reel passer, but simply a guy that could get the ball to their favourite spots, and who can hit the open jump shot.
The best example of this type of player on the Timberwolves would definitely not be Ricky Rubio, but Tyus Jones, who is currently shooting 37.8% from three-point range off the catch and shoot, and 50% from when he is wide open, and with the amount of double teams that a centre like Towns attracts, he is very likely to see a lot of these opportunities. Another better option than Rubio would be the 2016 NBA Draft’s fifth pick overall, Kris Dunn, who despite not playing very well this year, is a much more promising player than Rubio, who also takes up less ball time, averaging 2.2 touches per minute, to Rubio’s 2.5. Although Coach Tom Thibodeau is not a big fan of giving a lot of minutes to younger guys rather than older guys, one of Jones or Dunn might force Thibs to switch his approach, as they are both much better fits for the Timberwolves in the long run.
4. Derrick Rose, New York Knicks - Jrue Holiday or Rook?
It seems like this year is finally the year that people are starting to realize that Derrick Rose will never come back to being the Derrick Rose of old. Sure, he has stayed relatively healthy this year with the third most minutes played on the Knicks at 1723, but with his defensive struggles, inefficient shooting (47% effective field goal percentage), over-reliance on mid-range shots (31% of his shots are mid-range) and declining playmaking (25.8% usage percentage is the worst it’s been since his rookie year), it seems like the Knicks realize that getting Derrick Rose was not as good of a move as they originally thought it was. And with a lottery pick in a point guard heavy draft, one would only assume that if one of the aforementioned point guard studs were available, they would be happy to get him off the board, in an attempt to rebrand the franchise, and revolve it around him and the Unicorn, Kristaps Porzingis.
Even if that is not the case, with Derrick Rose becoming a free agent this year, and with the team previously trying to trade him for number five on this list, it seems like they will not be loyal to Derrick Rose, and rumors have in fact been floating around that there is mutual interest between the New York Knicks, and Pelicans point guard Jrue Holiday, to join his brother Justin in New York as a free agent this offseason.
Now as for Derrick Rose, his stock as an NBA player has continued to plummet, and it does not look like any team would be overly interested in Rose as a starting guard for when he becomes a free agent this offseason.
3. T.J. McConnell, Philadelphia 76ers - Ben Simmons?
This year TJ McConnell has definitely proved that he is a worthy NBA player, as he has proved to be both a great passer (36.8% assist percentage is eighth in the league), and a capable defender (45.3% opposing field goal percentage).
However, he has not proven enough to justify him being a regular starting point guard on an NBA team, as he is not a very good scorer (9.4 points per 36 minutes), and lacks the general athleticism and explosiveness that a modern NBA team would want from their starting point guard. As well as this, with the 76ers possibly getting two high lottery picks with both their own, and the LA Lakers pick, if it were to fall out of the top three, the 76ers will then probably draft two guards to pair with their young and talented frontcourt of Ben Simmons, Dario Saric and Joel Embiid, and if that were to happen, you better believe that one of the aforementioned Fultz, Ball, Smith, Fox or Ntilikina would get the starting nod over McConnell.
2. Darren Collison, Sacramento Kings - Rook?
Much like TJ McConnell, Darren Collison is just one of those guys who would be a great backup point guard, but is not really the type of guy who can start at point guard for a rebuilding team, as he does not seem to have a much higher ceiling than he does now. At this point in his career, we know what Darren Collison does. He is a great shooter, with a 57.2% true shooting percentage, but he is a below average defender and playmaker, who is significantly lacking in both size and athleticism. A similar player to a guy like Collison, would be Patty Mills, who matches Collison in body type (both around 6’0”, 180, with a 6’2” to 6’3” wingspan), shooting (Mills’s true shooting percentage is just .5% higher than Collison’s) and personal output (their per 36 numbers are almost identical).
However, Mills makes his impact coming off the bench for the San Antonio Spurs as probably the best backup point guard in the league. And with the aforementioned information, Collison could probably be that similar level impact player on a good team. However, this year he has been forced into the starting point guard role with the Sacramento Kings, due to the team’s lack of point guard depth. But with the (I can’t believe I’m going to say it again) plethora of top tier point guard prospects coming into the draft this year, and with the Kings grabbing the probably high Pelicans first-round pick in the DeMarcus Cousins trade, it is likely that the Kings will draft a guard, and together with Hield, they can actually make a pretty solid backcourt, similarly to one like John Wall and Bradley Beal in Washington (notice how I didn’t say Steph Curry/Klay Thompson, Vivek Ranadive).
1. Michael Carter-Williams, Chicago Bulls - Jerian Grant?
Every year since his stat-stuffing rookie campaign Michael Carter-Williams has experienced significant output decreases, and this season seems to be just more of the same. Averaging a colossally terrible 8.1/4.5/2.6 in 21.7 minutes per game on 38.9% shooting, it is a wonder why MCW is still the Bulls’ starting point guard, as they have been unable to get into any sort of flow, with him being injured for the majority of the year. Sure, their other options in Jerian Grant, Denzel Valentine, Rajon Rondo and Cameron Payne aren’t very good themselves, but through times in the season, they have all shown to be better players. And with MCW entering free agency this summer, I would be surprised if the Bulls ended up giving him a qualifying offer, as they are overstocked with point guards.
In his absence, Jerian Grant has done a fine yet definitely understated job as starting point guard, averaging just seven points per game with an effective field goal percentage of 52.7%, yet for some reason all signs are pointing to MCW coming back as the Bulls’ starting point guard, as in Grant’s last four starts, he has played less than 16 minutes every game. As well as Grant, Valentine may prove to be the better option, as he has played pretty well lately, averaging eight points per game in 22 minutes, on a fantastic 73.2% effective field goal percentage since coming back from the All-Star break. And sure, he might not be your average starting point guard, with his draft day comparisons being guys like Evan Turner or Greivis Vasquez type tweeners, but if the Bulls keep Butler and Wade next year, having Valentine at point guard might not be the worst thing in the world, as they are both very ball dominant players, while Valentine has proven to be able to play off the ball, shooting 38.2% off catch and shoot three-pointers.
And if my prediction was right in saying that MCW will not be given a qualifying offer from the Chicago Bulls, his ceiling will most likely be as an off the bench combo guard, similar to the Warriors’ Shaun Livingston, or the Celtics’ Marcus Smart, and for that to happen, he would still need to significantly work on his shot.