On Wednesday, just one day before the 2016 NBA Draft and nine days before the start of free agency, three teams traded for new starting point guards. The Knicks grabbed Derrick Rose from the Bulls. The Pacers acquired Jeff Teague. The Jazz brought in George Hill. (The Bulls will likely pursue a starting point guard via another trade or in free agency, but they might also have gotten their 2016-17 starting PG on Wednesday in either Jerian Grant or Jose Calderon.)
Why the rush to get point guards now? Because there are few available in the draft or free agency.
Kevin O'Connor's latest mock draft included just three point guards (Kris Dunn, Dejounte Murray and Wade Baldwin) in the lottery ranks, only one of whom is in the top two tiers of prospects (Dunn, who will go in the first eight picks). There's only one more point guard (Demetrius Jackson) in the entire first round of O'Connor's mock. A few more PGs could leap up simply due to the positional shortage, but that's a pretty bleak outlook.
Free agency isn't much better. Mike Conley is the only top-tier point guard available, and his interest seems rather focused if he even leaves Memphis. We'll release updated free agent rankings early next week. In them, the top five point guards will be Conley, Shaun Livingston, Jeremy Lin, Tyler Johnson and Rajon Rondo. Livingston almost assuredly won't be available as there's a team option on his contract, so add Matthew Dellavedova to that top-five point guard list. It gets bleak fast. Brandon Jennings and Deron Williams are the next guys up. I covered this when the first edition of the free agent rankings were released back in the winter.
So there is exactly one plug-and-play point guard in the draft and only a few starting-level PGs in free agency. Meanwhile, the position has become increasingly important due to the increased reliance on three-point shooting and the many elite athletes at the position across the league. Lacking a good center is a problem, but less of a problem than in the '90s. Lacking a good point guard is a crisis.
That's why Utah -- who has Dante Exum, a promising teenager coming off an injury -- needed to land someone like Hill, even if it cost them a chance at drafting someone like Baldwin (or Skal Labissiere, Henry Ellenson or Tim Luwawu). Hill is a smart floor leader and top defender. That will be mighty useful against point guards like Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, Chris Paul and Damian Lillard. Teague is traditionally more of a scorer, something Nate McMillan's Pacers have lacked out of the backcourt. Teague and Paul George together provide enough playmaking to vault Indiana's offense upward.
Whether New York actually upgraded their point guard position remains to be seen, but one could argue it's better to enter the season with Rose and a dream than Calderon or, say, Jennings. (In reality, it's probably better to truly build for the future, keep Grant and flip Carmelo Anthony to a destination of his choice, targeting youth and picks. But the tea lizard doesn't work here any more.)
Chicago's in an interesting spot. Jimmy Butler can handle the ball enough to allow the Bulls to focus on defense at the point guard position, much as the dynastic Kobe-Shaq Lakers did and the Rockets currently do. Dellavedova might actually be a smart fit there: provide some shooting and defense, let Butler and whoever remains in the frontcourt handle most of the other offensive work. But we're getting ahead of ourselves.
There are lots of teams set at the point guard position for the foreseeable future. The teams that are not are getting a little desperate. Stay tuned.