In the NBA, the point guard is arguably the most important player on the floor, and in today’s era of small-ball, having an effective floor general is growing increasingly vital to the success of any franchise. There are quite a few superstars who man the one spot around the league, though it is certainly up for debate as to whom the top playmaker currently is. I’d like to approach this subject a bit differently than past topics, and rather than simply asking you to chime in on who you believe to be the top point guard in the NBA, I’m going to present this in a versus format that we’ll run periodically in these Shootarounds throughout the Summer.
Both players began their NBA careers as backups to All-Star caliber point guards and were traded prior to becoming starters. The two players are also similar in that they are score-first guards, rather than pure ball-distributors. Bledsoe has shown himself to be the better defender of the two, which certainly helps his cause, but I’d argue that Jackson’s ceiling as a player offensively is much higher. The Suns’ guard has had two seasons to display his wares as a starter, though his 2013/14 campaign was shortened due to injury, and Bledsoe is likely to continue to put up averages in the range of 17-19 points and 5-7 assists per night. Very respectable stats, though Bledsoe has yet to demonstrate that he has the ability to elevate and carry a team into contention. Bledsoe, 25, made 81 appearances for Phoenix last season, averaging 17.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 6.1 assists in 34.6 minutes per contest, and his shooting line was .447/.324/.800. His career numbers through five NBA campaigns are 10.8 PPG, 3.5 RPG, and 4.1 APG.
Jackson, who is also 25, played in a total of 77 contests split between the Thunder and the Pistons during the 2014/15 season. He notched 14.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 6.0 assists in 29.5 minutes per night, with a slash line of .434/.299/.830. Jackson’s career stats through four NBA seasons are 9.8 PPG, 3.2 RPG, and 3.6 APG. The jury is still out on Jackson as a starter, though in a small sample size with the Pistons last season he was quite impressive, notching 9.2 assists in his 27 starts with the team. It remains to be seen if Jackson can maintain those numbers over the long haul, as well as become a leader who can take his squad to the next level.
If you were the GM of a team and were given the choice between the two players, which one would you choose? Why did you pick one over the other? Do you believe each is worth their 2015/16 salary ($13,913,044 for Jackson and $13.5MM for Bledsoe)? Take to the comments section below to sound off with your thoughts and opinions. We look forward to what you have to say.
Note: Since these Shootarounds are meant to be guided by you the reader, we certainly welcome your input on the topics we present. If there is something you’d like to see pop up here for a discussion, shoot me a message at [email protected] or hit me up on Twitter at @EddieScarito to submit topics or ideas for what we should present in future posts.