It's time for our annual lists of the top 10 players at each position. Each week we'll post a new one, followed by our top 20 players overall. Let's start with the point guards, a position that has added great depth with the influx of talented young playmakers in recent years, though a few 30-somethings still crack the list. The ratings, of course, are entirely subjective. We're not even going to pretend to have arrived at some pseudo-scientific conclusions based on empirical data, like some websites. Really, it's just the opinion of one guy who watches a lot of basketball, FOXSports.com NBA editor John Galinsky. And this is who he thinks will be the league's 10 best point guards this season.
Jameer Nelson, Orlando Magic
Nelson gets the No. 10 spot in a tough call over Devin Harris (Nets), Jason Kidd (Mavs), Stephen Curry (Warriors) and John Wall (Wizards) because we're expecting a bounceback season from Orlando's mighty mite. He has struggled ever since injuring his shoulder in February 2009, but before that Nelson had emerged as a deadeye shooter, a sturdy defender and Orlando's emotional leader. For the Magic to be a true contender again, he needs to re-assert his leadership and take control of the offense from Vince Carter.
Tyreke Evans, Sacramento Kings
The 2010 Rookie of the Year isn't a true point guard, but he's Sacramento's primary playmaker as well as its main scoring option. At 6-6 and 220 pounds, Evans is an irresistible force driving to the basket, averaging more than 20 points despite an erratic jumpshot. He's also a willing passer (5.8 apg) and capable rebounder (5.3). If he can improve his long-range accuracy even a little bit, he'll be a nightmare to defend for many years.
Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs
If you're sure that Parker's best years are behind him, you may be confusing him with teammates Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili. Yes, Parker's numbers fell as he hobbled through last season with knee and ankle problems. But he's only two years removed from a career-best season (22.0 ppg, 6.9 apg) and three removed from winning the Finals MVP. At 28, Parker should be in his prime, but it all depends on his wheels. If he can't run like he used to, maybe Eva Longoria's husband really is washed up.
Chauncey Billups, Denver Nuggets
Since arriving in Denver two years ago, Billups has given the Nuggets all the stability, leadership and production they sorely needed. He even averaged a career-best 19.5 points last season. And yet ... Billups turns 34 this month. He slowed down at the end of last season, contributing to Denver's collapse, and was torched by Deron Williams in the playoffs. He still has the moxie and skill to get the job done, but he probably can't keep things from going south if Carmelo Anthony is unhappy and the Nuggets start to unravel.
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
This seems a bit high for a 21-year-old who can't shoot and is still learning the nuances of the position. But how many NBA point guards are as electric as Westbrook? His energy, defense and fire are a nice complement to Kevin Durant's cold-blooded scoring sprees. It's also hard to complain about his production (16.1 ppg, 8.0 apg, 4.9 rpg) or his upside. Westbrook may not be an elite PG yet, but as he showed for Team USA in Turkey, he's a difference-maker who does much more good than harm.
Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns
Offensively, he's as brilliant as ever. The best shooter and passer in the league, Nash remains a maestro at running an offense, especially in transition. Even with Amar'e Stoudemire in New York, you can count on Phoenix to keep piling up points. But at 36, Nash has lost a step on defense, leaving him with none. He can't stop any of the young guns at point guard who have entered the league in the last five years. Then again, they can't stop him either.
Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics
It's hard to figure where to rate Rondo. His strengths are so strong, his weaknesses so weak, that he's unlike any other point guard in the league. We know he can run and penetrate and dish and defend as well as anyone. He also proved himself as a leader in last season's playoffs, driving the Celtics to the verge of an unlikely title. But we also know that he can be left wide open and can't be counted on to make pressure free throws. Until his shooting touch becomes adequate, he can't be rated any higher than this.
Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls
There are parts of Rose's game that are suspect (outside shooting), merely average (passing) or overrated (defense). But the overall package is still something special. His size, strength and speed allow him to get to the rim and finish; his 20.8 ppg were tops among point guards last season. He's best in transition but should be deadly running the pick and roll with Carlos Boozer. At 21, he still has plenty of room for improvement, which is good since he'll have to improve quite a bit to crack the top two at this position.
Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets
Paul emerged as the NBA's top point guard three seasons ago, finishing second in the MVP voting thanks to his lethal offensive skills, defensive thievery and irrepressible personality. He's still sensational at 25 but a few things have changed beyond his control. A knee injury cost him half of last season, so his health remains a question mark. The New Orleans roster has regressed around him, so the Hornets are no longer contenders. Paul isn't the happy-go-lucky star steering a franchise on the rise. He's disgruntled and probably planning his escape. As long as he's healthy, he can re-establish himself as the league's premier point guard, but he needs to prove it all over again.
Deron Williams, Utah Jazz
He isn't the best at any single thing. He's not the greatest shooter or passer or defender or ball-handler. Hey, no one's perfect. But when you combine all of the traits necessary to be a great point guard -- skills, size, speed, durability, leadership -- Williams is the closest you get to perfection. He does everything well, especially when it comes to executing Utah's ultra-efficient offense. At 26, he's in his prime at a time when many of the league's best point guards are either very young , very old or, in Paul's case, coming off an injury. For a few more years at least, Williams and Paul should battle for head of the class at this position.