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updated: 12/5/2010 10:48 PM

NBA's elite young point guards impossible to rank

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  • Derrick Rose celebrates after the Bulls defeated the Houston Rockets 119-116 in overtime in Chicago Saturday.

    Derrick Rose celebrates after the Bulls defeated the Houston Rockets 119-116 in overtime in Chicago Saturday.
    Associated Press


Bulls fans have a chance to see three of the NBA's five young, spectacular point guards up close in a span of four days.

On Friday, Boston's Rajon Rondo turned in a brilliant performance with 19 assists and 12 points, carving up the Bulls' defense in an easy victory. Rondo may not have been 100 percent healthy, either, because he sat out the Celtics' blowout win at New Jersey on Sunday.

Tonight, Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook visits the United Center. Rather than settle as second fiddle to Kevin Durant, Westbrook has increased his scoring average from 16.1 points per game to 24.4 this season. The Thunder went 3-1 when Durant missed four games recently with knee injuries.

Of course, on Saturday, Rose recorded another signature win for the Bulls. Besides finishing with 30 points, 11 assists and career-high 5 steals, Rose drained a dramatic 3-pointer at the buzzer to force overtime, then added 5 points in the extra session as the Bulls rescued a win over Houston.

Add Utah's Deron Williams and New Orleans' Chris Paul, and the NBA's era of dynamic point guards has reached new heights.

Phoenix's Steve Nash and Dallas' Jason Kidd still rank among the assist leaders, but they belong to the older generation. Washington rookie John Wall, meanwhile, doesn't have enough of a track record to compare with the Big Five, but he will soon.

The thing about this group is they are all great, yet different. It's almost impossible to rank them and unless there is an all-out dispersal draft, we'll never truly know which one would be the first choice if a general manager were starting a new team. Here's a breakdown:

Rondo: Assists might be an underrated statistic in basketball. Find an open man for a basket, the passer gets 1 assist. Dish it out for a successful 3-point shot, the passer gets 1 assist. Create a shot for someone who ends up hitting 2 free throws and the passer gets no assists.

Rondo was responsible for at least 50 points against the Bulls on Friday, between his assists and baskets. He's probably the best floor general right now among the Big Five. He also plays on a team with plenty of offensive options, so his scoring skills often go unused.

It almost seems as though Rondo has an unfair advantage because of his hands the size of oven mitts sitting on the end of two impossibly long arms.

Westbrook: Rose's best friend among opposing NBA players is also the most similar. He was unpolished and turnover prone when he first entered the league but is improving at a rapid pace.

Paul: He could easily have been MVP in 2008 when he averaged 21.1 points and 11.6 assists. He's one of the best in league history at making a great pass in late-game situations.

Injuries spoiled last season for Paul and it appeared he was back with a vengeance this season, but the Hornets have gone 2-6 since starting the season 11-1.

Williams: He doesn't seem to have the same sort of ridiculous physical gifts of Rose, Westbrook or Rondo, but might be the best all-around point guard working today. The former Illini star runs the team, scores 20 points per game and knocks down big shots. Losing Carlos Boozer as a teammate hasn't slowed him down a bit.

Rose: He's better than any point guard right now when it comes to taking over a game as a scorer. He's probably the best at that role since Isiah Thomas.

Rose may also be the most explosive 6-foot-3 athlete on the planet. Most humans can't hang in the air long enough to finish a flying reverse scoop, but Rose has made that a routine shot.

Don't get too hung up on Rose's defense. Opposing guards are getting loose off screens and the total team defense is to blame. He's getting better on defense and may someday consistently draw fouls.

It's tough to say which of these five guys is the best player, but there is little question Rose is a perfect fit of his hometown Bulls. The franchise needed a burst of scoring and superstardom, and Rose has definitely delivered.

Point production among notable NBA point guards (through Saturday's games):

Player, team: PPG/APG/Points produced

Derrick Rose, Bulls: 25.7/8.1/41.9

Deron Williams, Utah: 21.6/10.0/41.6

Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City: 24.4/8.5/41.4

Rajon Rondo, Boston: 11.4/14.1/39.6

Chris Paul, New Orleans: 16.2/10.5/37.2


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