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Poll: Who are the top 10 point guards in the NBA?

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We begin our foray into ranking the top players in the NBA by looking at the top point guards — or lead ball handlers — in the league.

2017 NBA Finals - Game Four Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Earlier today, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN published a report about the perceived trade value of Kyrie Irving around the league, including reports from players and executives offering their thoughts on the Cleveland Cavalierssecond place starting point guard.

The central question — and the one Wojnarowski concludes with — is how valuable Irving really is to rival NBA teams in terms of what they’d be willing to trade.

The NBA has become a community in full scrutiny of Irving, a light that can be harsh in revelations. So far, Irving is standing up to it. The investment made in order to trade for him promises to be massive, and the process is well underway. How far do teams want to go for him?

Among fans, there is very little agreement on where Irving stands in the NBA’s pecking order. And I thought Brady Klopfer of BBallBreakdown did a pretty good job of describing why opinions about Irving vary so widely:

...the final result is the Kyrie Irving conundrum: player who is as captivating to watch as he is confusing to understand; as brilliant as he is problematic.

His talent is both endless and undeniable, but his flaws are equally at the forefront. We’ve watched this movie before, with dynamic scorers whose talent seemed incapable of boosting those around them, giving No. 1 guy production, but at a second or third guy value. Worse yet, there’s not much room for Irving to improve. His defense won’t get better and there’s no historical precedent for isolation scorers evolving past those lifelong traits.

Put all that together and you end up with some people thinking Irving is a top 10 NBA player ...

...while still others argue that he's at the low end ofthe top 10 at his position, if at all.

Granted, NBA Twitter is like a repository of hot takes from all corners of the universe — you can inevitably find someone defending just about anything if you look hard enough.

But with all the talk about Irving's value and how he ranks among point guards, it seems like a good time to discuss something the Golden State of Mind staff has been batting around internally for a little while: ranking the top players at each position.

Ryan Blackburn of Denver Stiffs is already doing a series ranking the top 50 at each position, one by one and I certainly encourage you to check that out. But we wanted to do something a bit different.

Rather than openly rip off the Stiffs’ idea with our own power rankings, we thought it would be interesting to crowdsource this thing. And not only are we going to crowdsource this, but we are also going to do it within the framework of the roles we agreed upon based on the movement toward “positionless” basketball: lead ball handlers, wings, and “bigs” (e.g. rebounders, small ball fives, stretch bigs, rim protectors).

Of course, that required figuring out which players fit where, but we figured that would be part of the fun of this little process: as people discuss their rankings, we can have a community discussion about how we can more precisely talk about positionless basketball.

The Process

Here’s all you have to do:

  1. We set up a Google Form where you can write in your top 10 players at each position (we’re starting with lead ball handlers). Fill that out and then leave any additional comments you have about your picks or tough decisions in the comment box at the bottom.
  2. Please state that you submitted your picks in the comments below and feel free to share your thinking.
  3. We will tabulate everything and release a GSoM community ranking after a week.
  4. We’ll post the results next Thursday, August 3 and post the next survey (for wings) next Friday.

Who’s a point guard within the “positionless” framework?

We quickly arrived at a dilemma: who do we define as a point guard in this world of positionless basketball?

Blackburn addressed that very question at Denver Stiffs and after some discussion we felt that he laid out some reasonable parameters:

James Harden is the best example of this, as he was a primary ball handler and will continue to handle the ball, but with Chris Paul in town, he will move off-ball more frequently and defend shooting guards more frequently. He has the skill set of the point guard, just like LeBron James, Draymond Green, or Nikola Jokic, but none of those guys will be seen on this list either.

Here are some primary players eliminated based on this criteria:

James Harden

Lou Williams

Seth Curry

Tyler Johnson

Jamal Murray

So that means Harden will not count as a point guard for our purposes here. If any other questions come up, just drop them in the comments below.

Looking forward to seeing what you all come up with!