1. Rajon Rondo – 11.7
Rondo is a great passer with a lot of offensive weapons in Boston. Losing Ray Allen hurts, but now Rondo will be looking for Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, and Jeff Green setting up out on the perimeter. You can expect Rondo to be at or near the top of this list again at the end of the 2012-13 season.
2. Steve Nash – 10.7
The Los Angeles experiment looks great on paper. The only real question is how Nash and Kobe will play together. Both players have spent their careers dominating the ball on most possessions and it will be interesting to see if the Lakers can find a way to use both Kobe and Nash to their full potential at the same time. But aside from that, look for Nash to create some very easy looks for Dwight and Pau in the post as both players can catch and finish well while moving.
3. Chris Paul – 9.1
Chris understands the game on a deeper level than most of the guys he plays against – and it shows. He sees plays before they develop and he creates space for the shooters and cutters around him with his penetrating drives and the attention he requires as he gets close to the rim. His 9.1 assists per game last season was down from his 9.8 career average, but expect this season to be closer to that career average as the Clippers get to know each other better.
4. Jose Calderon – 8.8
Calderon is one guy on this list that’s a little bit scary to trust this year. He’s suddenly sharing (or fighting for) time with Kyle Lowry, and Lowry proved that he was for real last season. It’s tough to know what they’re going to do in Toronto, so if you’re looking for assists out of Calderon, draft him with caution.
5. Deron Williams – 8.7
Williams will have a bunch of offensive weapons at his disposal this season. Between Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace, Brook Lopez, and MarShon Brooks, Deron will have skilled offensive players all around him. His assist numbers could easily see a boost in 2012-13.
6. Ricky Rubio – 8.2
Rubio lived up to the hype that had preceded his NBA arrival last season. He also calmed some fears when fans saw that he doesn’t only live for the flashy pass. Ricky looks like a guy who will be able to run Minnesota’s offense for many years. He’s still not back from that ACL tear at the end of last season, so don’t reach for him in your drafts, but don’t be scared of grabbing him if you’re looking for assists and steals in a later round.
7. John Wall – 8.0
Wall’s knee injury was caused by overuse – a scary idea considering how young he is. Without really knowing how he’ll bounce back from this injury, we can only go on what we do know. He’s an explosive young player on a team that’s looking for this season to be a chance to reinvent themselves. Hopefully Wall can bounce back from this knee injury and be a huge part of that reinvention process sooner than later.
8. Derrick Rose – 7.9
Rose is in a similar situation to Wall and Rubio. He’s another case of a knee injury to a young, explosive guy. It’s all guesswork when it comes to how long he’ll be out and how good he’ll be when he does return. It’s definitely not a guarantee, but plenty of guys have come back from ACL injuries and picked up right where they left off. Let’s hope that’s the case with Rose.
9. Tony Parker – 7.7
Parker was a very pleasant surprise for fantasy owners last season. He stepped up his points and assist totals and was the catalyst for San Antonio’s great season. It’s tough to know if Popovich will rely on Parker as heavily this season or if he’ll try to pace his main guys and divide up the minutes to keep them fresh for the playoffs. With Pop, it’s tough to know exactly what to expect. But if Parker plays heavy minutes, there is no reason for his production to decrease.
10. Andre Miller – 6.7
If you’re scared away by Miller coming off of the bench behind Ty Lawson, remember that George Karl doesn’t put as much stock into starting lineups as most coaches. While Lawson logged over 34 minutes per game last season, Miller wasn’t too far behind with over 27 per game. He puts up numbers that are hard to argue with, and is a great source of late round assists.
t11. Kyle Lowry – 6.6
The situation in Toronto between Lowry and Calderon is not as simple as the one in Denver between Lawson and Miller. With nothing to go on when it comes to knowing how the Raptors will deal with having two good Point Guards, it feels pretty risky to rely heavily on Lowry to put up the same numbers that he did last year. It’s easy to see them going with Lowry, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility to see Calderon as the main guy in Toronto, so draft with caution.
t11. Ty Lawson – 6.6
Lawson is one of the guys that lots of fans are excited about following this upcoming season. He’s coming off of a great finish to the 2011-12 season and is poised to continue that stellar play. He gets into the lane well and causes the defense to collapse around him, which leaves Gallinari and Chandler open around the perimeter and gives Iguodala, McGee, and Faried lots of room as they cut to the basket. And over the course of time, Lawson will only get better at finding his teammates as they move into open space.
t13. Mike Conley – 6.5
Conley is the perfect Point Guard for Memphis. He doesn’t dominate the ball and he makes the smart plays rather than flashy and risky ones. He shoots the three well to keep the defense honest and his assist totals should be very similar this year as he continues to look for Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol in the post and Rudy Gay out on the three point line.
t13. Raymond Felton – 6.5
Felton has been getting some attention lately for talking about where he sees himself in the rank of NBA Point Guards, and now he has a chance to prove himself under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden. When Felton played for the Knicks in 2010-11, he averaged 17.1 points and 9.0 assists, so his confidence does at least have some merit to it. He’s overstated his case with his comment: “I think I’m better than any point guard,” but I’ve always appreciated a guy with lots of confidence – as long as they back it up with solid play. And as the Knick’s starter, Felton will get a chance to do just that.