- Bradford Doolittle, ESPN Staff Writer
Do you know the last NBA champion that had its point guard lead the team in wins above replacement player (WARP)? It was the 1990 Detroit Pistons, led by Isiah Thomas. Perhaps it's no coincidence that teams like Phil Jackson's Bulls and Lakers, which decentralize the playmaking role, have dominated the annual title chase. Nevertheless, 20 of next season's top 50 players by projected WARP are point guards. Championship trends aside, it's a point guard's league.
Starting Monday with point guards, over the next week we'll rank players by position according to forecast WARP, which is perfect for this kind of exercise because it accounts for a player's efficiency, volume of production and team context. This also means that injury and age played a part in the rankings, so notable veteran point guards who suffered injuries last season, like Rajon Rondo, Derrick Rose, Tony Parker, are absent from the top 10. (A complete explanation can be found at the bottom of this page; last year's point guard rankings can be found here.)
Here are the projected top 10 point guards for the 2014-15 NBA season, followed by the next five and an overview of why some notable PGs fell outside the top 10.
PG | SG | SF | PF | C
Projected 2014-15 WARP: 17.8 | Win%: 73 percent
Paul topped these rankings last season and, really, why would things have changed? His 14.2 WARP was held down by the 20 games he missed, but still ranked eighth in the league. Over the last three years, his 48.2 WARP ranks in the 99th percentile. Paul still hasn't enjoyed the magical kind of playoff run that would be the icing on the cake of a historically great career. He'll be 30 by the end of the coming season, but given Paul's floor-based skill set, there is no real need to start talking shrinking windows of opportunity. Paul does it all, he does it consistently and he does it on both ends of the floor.