Changing of the Guard

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - For the past few seasons, the guard position has been dominated by the same few names - Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Steve Nash, Tony Parker and Dwyane Wade.

But 2010 seems to be a new era in fantasy guards and though Kobe remains among the leaders, the new group is headed by the likes of Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Deron Williams, Monta Ellis, Eric Gordon, Rajon Rondo and rookie John Wall.

You may have been more likely to pick one of the younger second group of guys if you were in a keeper league, but they are performing every bit as well as the first group right now.

In fact, Rose is putting together the best guard season of them all through the first dozen or so games. Considering he was a fourth-round selection (ADP 42) you are certainly getting your money's worth and more. He's even contributing to your three-point shooting category in 2010, an area that was lacking in his game during his first two years.

Bryant remains one of the league's best, but the concern is twofold as we head through the long winter months. His interest in filling the stat sheet could wane as he's only interested in winning titles and the team around him is so good they can carry much of the workload for the regular season.

And he's played so many minutes over the years, that he's likely to start resting through the regular season in preparation for that next championship run. Bryant's "regular season minutes played" has dropped from a high of 3,401 in 2002-03 and 3,277 in 2005-06 to 2,960 in 2008-09 and 2,835 in 2009-10.

Number two on our list is Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook. Kevin Durant gets a majority of the press coverage, and he certainly deserves most of it, but Westbrook is the key to the Thunder's championship dreams and he's played great this season. He needs only to improve his three-point shooting percentage to stay in the "elite" category.

Deron Williams is already an "elite guard" in my book. A first-round pick on Draft Day (ADP 9), Williams is continuing to improve in his sixth NBA season. He's now got his scoring average over the 21 ppg mark while keeping his assists around 10 per game. With Carlos Boozer in Chicago, Williams will continue to be called upon to score, so that number shouldn't dip any time this season.

Monte Ellis could be called the "Silent Assassin," because of how little press he gets even while posting superstar fantasy numbers. Despite putting up 25.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 5.3 apg and 2.2 spg in 2009-10, Ellis wasn't selected until the third round in most fantasy drafts (ADP 28). Perhaps because Stephen Curry got all the attention of the northern California and national press after a superb rookie season. Don't let that fool you, Ellis is a great fantasy player and should be the object of your trade efforts if he's not already on your roster.

Don't forget Gordon who has certainly upped his game in year three - putting up 23.3 ppg. He's probably available for a reasonable price as a sixth-round pick on Draft Day.

And if the rest of your team keeps turnovers to a minimum, you should try to add Wall to your roster. The kid can do almost anything on a court, but is a little loose with the ball (4.4 turnovers-per-game). Still he's averaging 18.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg and 9.8 apg in his first eight contests, he's barely 20-years- old and will only get better.

The future of the NBA and your fantasy team are well served by having these young guards in your lineup.

2010 Top-10 Guards
Player Team GP PPG RPG APG SPG BPG Total
Derrick Rose CHI 11 25.2 3.6 8.5 1.1 0.5 38.9
Russell Westbrook OKC 14 23.2 5.1 8.2 1.8 0.5 38.8
Kobe Bryant LAL 14 25.6 6.3 4.8 1.0 0.2 37.9
Monta Ellis GSW 14 25.5 3.9 4.6 2.4 0.2 36.6
Deron Williams UTA 15 20.9 4.4 9.7 1.1 0.1 36.2
John Wall WAS 8 18.1 4.0 9.8 3.3 0.3 35.5
Dwyane Wade MIA 12 22.9 5.8 3.5 1.3 1.0 34.5
Rajon Rondo BOS 12 11.2 4.8 14.3 2.4 0.3 33.0
Eric Gordon LAC 12 23.3 3.2 4.5 1.1 0.7 32.8
Steve Nash PHO 11 19.3 3.5 8.9 1.0 0.1 32.8


Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.