Last week's trade deadline was one of the most eventful in years, and the flurry of movement was heightened because the headliners in most of these trades were young, talented point guards. Point guards power and define the modern NBA, and how these guards fit into their new roles will have a lot to do with how those teams play from night to night. Here are some radial charts showing the strengths and weaknesses of each of them.
The charts you'll see in this post are set to the league are set by percentile (the outer ring is the best/top in the league) per 36 minutes, and adjusted by position.
Goran Dragic is the best player to move at the trade deadline since the Carmelo Anthony deal in 2011. A legitimate All-NBA player last year, Goran has had to cede playing time (and usage) to the remainder of the Suns point guard quintet, and his play has definitely suffered for it. Whether it was misfortune or a function of style, Dragic has shot well this season (over 50 percent), but lost nearly 5 percent on his three-point shot.
On the bright side, he's moving into the weaker conference, where he'll get more playing time and ball handling duties on a team more likely to make the playoffs—although Chris Bosh being out for the year makes that less likely than it was on Thursday. He's an excellent penetrator, and adequate defender, and he had a true shooting percentage over 60 percent just last year. His year-end radar will grow compared to this one, and that's necessary for Miami, which has had some of the worst point guard production in the league this year. If nothing else, Dragic is light years better than either Rio or Norris Cole.
Yes, the Rondo trade happened months ago, but this is functionally a delayed replacement. Rajon's version of point guard is magnificently kooky. He's an alien highlight reel, but few of those highlights are shooting. Instead, he thrives by grabbing rebounds and pushing the pace to create passing opportunities, creating 25 points per game by assist. The defense and athleticism are mostly still there, but the free throw attempts have fallen lower than ever—which is likely on purpose given how poorly he's shot them lately—but a little worrying nonetheless.
Thomas's version of point guard is mini shooting guard. That's great on the offensive end, where he is in the top eighth of guards in every scoring category, but less so on the defensive end. Even on a good Phoenix team, Isaiah wasn't able to be above average in his passing, rebounding, or defense. Going from Alex Len/A Plumlee Brother to Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk won't help his defensive rating, but the Celtics run a similar offense to the Suns, so his elite numbers on that end seem unlikely to fade away.
As much as we've seen a desire to tinker from Coach Kidd, this move was all about the front office. Brandon Knight is about to become a restricted free agent, and he's probably going to get paid, while Michael Carter-Williams is neither. It made sense for the cap, at least, but unfortunately for Milwaukee, it made a whole lot less sense on the court.
Knight is an all around good player who transformed into one of the better above-the-break three point shooters in the league this year, while MCW is hitting a quarter of his threes and turning the ball over 4.5 times per game. In Phoenix, Knight and Eric Bledsoe are both do-everything point guards who should form an effective and very athletic backcourt, with Gerald Green and Archie Goodwin joining at shooting guard whenever one of the two leads needs a break. The Suns also managed to add potential, and the most frustrating thing about this for Milwaukee is that this isn't even a move for future development: Brandon Knight is a whopping three months older than Carter-Williams. The Bucks were developing into the caliber of team they thought they were two years ago, but this looks like it's going to be a large step back. At least they'll still probably be great on defense.
Now I realize that the paragraph above makes MCW sound pretty bad, but at least he's an NBA-caliber point guard—just not a great one. At the time of the trade, the Sixers' depth chart behind MCW consisted of the two guys above, and calling either of them a YMCA floor general does a disservice to YMCA assholes across the country.
Isaiah Canaan was drafted because he can shoot, and he's plenty good at that, but I'll believe more in that defensive rating when he's not playing most of his minutes against bench players. Tony Wroten was
drafted on the Sixers because Sam Hinkie is obsessed with arm length. Wroten tries really hard, as evidenced by his defensive counting stats and insane free throw rate, but he also has a partially torn ACL and has serious trouble passing to players on his own team. Word is that his replacement will be undrafted rookie (shocking, I know) Tim Frazier. If Norris Cole's chart wasn't a good enough illustration of what the ass-end of these radar charts looks like, this should do the trick:
On the bright side, the Thunder will have a capable shooter on the bench who isn't Derek Fisher. Augustin is an adequate scoring point guard, decent passer, and defensive liability. Meanwhile, the team that had Brandon Knight before the team that just traded away Brandon Knight has brought in Reggie Jackson to replace the replacement for its own injured point guard, Brandon Jennings, who was playing wonderfully before he tore his Achilles. Piston fans must yearn for the stability of Chauncey Billups. Jackson has wicked athleticism, can't shoot, can pass, owns a batshit highlight reel, and going by his quotes since arriving in Detroit, is already gearing up to knife Jennings and stage a coup for the starting job. Meaning, there's a good chance we'll be back here this summer or next February talking about even more point guards on the move.