NBA

Ranking the Top 15 Best NBA Point Guards of 2020-2021

April 12, 2021; San Francisco, California, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) shoots the basketball against Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray (27) during the first quarter at Chase Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The 2020-2021 NBA regular season is nearing its last stretch of basketball. Over the course of the year, we’ve seen Point Guards of new and old shine all over the league. Between young guns and old faces in new places, there has been a ton of stellar guard play to digest around the NBA this season. Let’s take a look at my top 15 best NBA Point Guards from around the league this year.

Criteria

Mar 23, 2021; Portland, Oregon, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) defends Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden (13) during the first half at Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

It’s also important to understand the criteria I used when making this list. To keep it simple, I will solely be considering players whose primary position is Point Guard, according to ESPN. Even though there are stars that run the point for their team, they will not be considered if they are not listed there.

For example, players like James Harden and LeBron James will not be found on this list. They are phenomenal stars that manage the offense for their teams and undoubtedly top many lists. However, since they are not primarily Point Guards, they will not be included.

A player’s individual performance in this season alone will decide most of the placement on the list. Their team’s success and their impact on their team will also be taken into consideration throughout this list as well.

Honorable Mentions

Apr 15, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Boston Celtics guard Kemba Walker (8) moves the ball as guard Jaylen Brown (7) provides coverage against Los Angeles Lakers guard Alex Caruso (4) during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s a shoutout to a few fringe players who almost made the cut before we go into the actual list. There are many talented guards in this league, and it wasn’t easy to narrow it down to the top 15 best NBA Point Guards. Each of these players has an argument for them to be on the list, but not everyone could make it.

Dejounte Murray

Mar 29, 2021; San Antonio, Texas, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Dejounte Murray (5) reacts in the first half against the Sacramento Kings at the AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports
Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Dejounte Murray is the first Point Guard to break the ice on the list as its first honorable mention. Murray is averaging 15.7 points, 5.2 assists, 6.9 rebounds, and 1.6 steals per game for the San Antonio Spurs. The fourth-year guard continues to make leaps after each season of experience he’s earned in the league. Murray adds a lot to San Antonio’s offense and has shown to be one of the best young defenders in the NBA.

LaMelo Ball

Apr 14, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball (2) on the court during pre game shoot a round before the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

LaMelo Ball is going to be a star in the NBA for years to come. LaMelo was averaging roughly 16 points, six assists, six boards, and 1.6 steals a game for the Charlotte Hornets before being sidelined to injury last month. He has a knack for flashy plays, and many considered him a lock for Rookie of the Year before getting hurt. LaMelo will surely top lists like this one in the coming years.

Kemba Walker

Apr 13, 2021; Portland, Oregon, USA; Boston Celtics point guard Kemba Walker (8) goes to the basket past Portland Trail Blazers small forward Norman Powell (24) during the second half at Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Another honorable mention is NBA veteran and 4x All-Star selection, Kemba Walker. The Boston Celtic is averaging 17.8 points, 5.1 dimes, 3.9 boards, and 1.1 steals per contest. Kemba’s productivity is certainly starting to decline as he turns 31 next month. He is still a solid, respected Point Guard, and he’s settled in nicely next to Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. The Celtics are on a tear over the last few weeks, and Walker has had a role in their resurgence.

Collin Sexton

Apr 17, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton (2) shoots against Chicago Bulls center Nikola Vucevic (9) during the first half at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Rounding out the honorable mentions is third-year guard Collin Sexton. He averages around 24 points, four assists, three rebounds, and one steal a game for the Cleveland Cavaliers. He is a walking bucket, and the Cavs can always look to him whenever they need to score. However, he doesn’t contribute in other facets as well as other guards in the league. He’s going to be a lot of fun to watch for years to come, despite falling short of making the list.

Top 15 NBA Point Guards

#15 – Kyle Lowry

Mar 19, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (7) against the Utah Jazz during the first quarter at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The first spot to be claimed on the actual list goes to Kyle Lowry. The longtime Toronto Raptor is averaging 17.1 points, 7.3 assists, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.1 steals per game this season. The 2019 NBA Champion was an All-Star selection for the past 6 seasons. However, he was not selected to the All-Star team this year, despite having a solid year.

Lowry has been one of the better Point Guards in the league for most of his tenure in Toronto. The 35-year-old floor general has seen his production decrease as he ages beyond his prime years. However, Lowry can still impact both ends of the floor and continue to help his team every game. His combined abilities and impact allow him a spot in the top 15 best NBA Point Guards

Kyle Lowry was almost traded at the deadline, but he’s remained on the Raptors to finish the season. The Raptors had a rough stretch in March, winning just 1 game in the calendar month. The Raptors have won six of their last ten, though, and find themselves holding the final play-in tournament spot in the Eastern Conference at 24-34.

#14 – Mike Conley

Apr 10, 2021; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley (10) reacts with forward Royce O'Neale (23) after hitting a three-pointer in the fourth quarter against the Sacramento Kings at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports
Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

First up, we have Mike Conley. The 14-year NBA veteran received the first All-Star nod of his career this season. Conley has settled into a comfortable role after getting traded to the Utah Jazz in the 2019 NBA offseason. His 14-year wait for his first All-Star selection was the longest in NBA history.

Conley is averaging 16.4 points, 5.7 assists, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.3 steals a game in his second season with Utah. He remains one of the league’s better defenders on the perimeter. This is despite turning 33-years-old late last year in October.

I understand that Conley’s production is similar or less than that of the previously mentioned players. However, I gave him the edge for two reasons: his impact on the defensive side of the ball and his team’s overall success. Utah currently has the best record in the league at 42-15. They are expected to make a deep run in the playoffs, and Conley plays a great part in how far they’ll be able to go.

#13 – Jrue Holiday

Apr 15, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Jrue Holiday (21) shoots against the Atlanta Hawks in the third quarter at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Jrue Holiday has been one of the most consistent Point Guards in the league for the better part of the last decade. Holiday was traded to Milwaukee in a four-team deal last November before the start of the season. This season he’s averaging 17.2 points, 5.5 dimes, 4.5 boards, and almost two steals a game for the Bucks. Earlier this month, he signed a massive 4-year/$160 million contract extension with the team.

Jrue Holiday has formed great chemistry in Milwaukee alongside two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and two-time All-Star Khris Middleton. Holiday is having an extremely efficient season on the offensive end. He’s shooting 50 percent from the field and 40 percent on three-pointers on the season.

Another key aspect of Holiday’s game is his abilities on the defensive end. He’s a well-respected lockdown defender, getting NBA first and second All-Defensive team honors once each. He was snubbed from the honors last season, and his abilities haven’t abandoned him this season either. He remains one of the best two-way guards in the league. With him, the Bucks are even stronger contenders than they were a year ago and should see a deeper run this year. He is undoubtedly one of the top NBA Point Guards.

#12 – Ja Morant

Apr 14, 2021; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) drives to the basket as Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) defends during the second quarter at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Ja Morant is one of the most electrifying young players in the league. The 2020 Rookie of the Year was drafted second overall in the 2019 NBA Draft by the Memphis Grizzlies. Morant is averaging 18.7 points, 7.3 assists, 3.6 rebounds, and just under one steal per game on the season.

Ja Morant is among the exciting young talent that will make the NBA fun to watch for the next decade. He has a lethal offensive skillset and a basketball IQ that is uncommon in young players. He struggles in off-ball defense, and his three-point shot is going in at a rate of just 27 percent this year. However, his instincts on the basketball on both ends of the floor are well beyond his years.

Ja has come into the Grizzlies organization and breathed life back into it after moving on from franchise greats and the “grit and grind” era. Memphis has won seven of their last ten and currently holds the eighth seed in the Western Conference at 29-26.

#11 – Malcolm Brogdon

Mar 29, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon (7) shoots the ball over Washington Wizards guard Russell Westbrook (4) during the fourth quarter at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Following up with another former Rookie of the Year, we have Malcolm Brogdon. The fifth-year player was acquired by the Indiana Pacers almost two years ago. He’s averaging 21.4 points, six dimes, five boards, and a steal per contest this year. Brogdon has quietly solidified himself among the top Point Guards in the NBA

Brogdon is one of the more underrated players across the league. Since moving to the Pacers, he’s proven to be a great cornerstone for the team alongside star bigs Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis. He’s an efficient scorer and a master in the pick-and-roll with the aforementioned bigs. His defense is sneakily good too, and his size and quickness allow him to guard the one, two, and three.

The Pacers have found themselves in playoff limbo for almost the entire last decade. This season, they find themselves at 26-30 and in the ninth seed of the Eastern Conference. With Myles Turner sidelined indefinitely, Brogdon will need to amp up his play even further if the Pacers hope to play extra basketball this season.

#10 – Jamal Murray

April 12, 2021; San Francisco, California, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray (27) shoots the basketball against Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) during the second quarter at Chase Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

This one hurts. Jamal Murray opens up the top 10 of the list, just after tearing his ACL last week. Jamal Murray averaged 21.2 points, 4.8 assists, four rebounds, and 1.3 steals per game before his injury. The 24-year-old Denver Nugget has been key to his team’s growth and success over the last few seasons.

Jamal Murray has a flamethrower and has proven his ability to get hot on any given night. He’s averaging 40.8 percent on three-pointers this season, on 6.6 3PA per game. He benefits from playing alongside the best Center in the league, as he and Nikola Jokic take turns tearing opposing defenses apart. Murray’s defense is also better-than-average, rounding out his game as one of the best young Points in the league.

The Nuggets are 36-20 and currently fourth in the Western Conference. With Jamal Murray done for the year, though, it is unlikely they have a real shot at the title this season. Despite acquiring Aaron Gordon at the trade deadline, Murray’s absence significantly decreases Denver’s chances of serious contention.

#9 – Trae Young

Apr 15, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) shoots against the Milwaukee Bucks in the third quarter at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Trae Young immediately made a name for himself since entering the league three years ago. The 22-year-old Point Guard for the Atlanta Hawks is averaging 25.4 points, 9.5 assists, 3.9 rebounds, and 0.8 steals a game. The Hawks have done a great job building around Young, and he’s taken every opportunity to prove himself a lethal weapon in the league.

Young’s production has taken a small step back from last season. However, this is likely due to the pieces added around him that have lightened his offensive load. Trae Young is still arguably having an All-Star-caliber season, even though he wasn’t given the honors this year. He has struggled with defense at times, but his offensive skill set outweighs those issues quite a bit.

The Atlanta Hawks are currently the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference with a 31-26 record. The Hawks were one of the most improved teams in the league this year after an abysmal 20-47 record last year. Their speedy improvement could not have been accomplished without the continued excellence of Trae Young managing their offense. Young will continue to be one of the top NBA Point Guards for the majority of his career.

#8 – De’Aaron Fox

Apr 10, 2021; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Sacramento Kings guard De'Aaron Fox (5) dunks over Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) in the third quarter at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports
Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

De’Aaron Fox is arguably the most underrated player in the league. His skills are easily overshadowed by the small-market black hole that is the Sacramento Kings. Fox is averaging 25.3 points, 7.2 assists, 3.5 boards, and 1.5 steals a game for the struggling Kings. Fox has made significant growth every year since entering the league. He received a significant amount of All-Star votes from his peers, despite not earning a nod this season.

Many consider Fox to be the fastest player in the league. Thanks to his quickness, De’Aaron sometimes seems unstoppable in games. It’s partially why Fox leads the league in 4th quarter scoring. His speed combined with a respectable perimeter shot has made Fox a nightmare for teams to guard. Fox’s ability to perform in the clutch is unmatched, while other teams are gassed late in games.

Individual performance does not always translate to winning, though. The Sacramento Kings are once again caught in limbo in the middle-to-late lottery. With two nine-game losing streaks and two seven-of-eight winning stretches, the Kings are the definition of inconsistency. Hopefully, new Kings GM Monte McNair can right the ship and make moves to build around a promising future superstar in De’Aaron Fox.

#7 – Ben Simmons

Apr 14, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons (25) goes in for a slam dunk on a breakaway against the Brooklyn Nets during the third quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Ben Simmons comes in at number seven on the list. He’s a former Rookie of the Year, a three-time NBA All-Star, and made the NBA All-Defensive first team last year. He currently averages 14.8 points, 7.1 assists, 7.6 rebounds, and 1.6 steals a game for the Philadelphia 76ers.

Simmons is one of, if not the most, versatile players in the NBA. He’s able to guard every position thrown at him, standing at a towering 6’11”. His three-point shot is laughable, but it is undeniable that Ben Simmons is a special young talent on both ends of the floor. His defensive ability is the most impressive aspect of his game. He is currently in contention for DPOY, alongside his teammate Joel Embiid, an MVP-caliber player himself.

The 76ers currently sit at the top of the Eastern Conference with a 39-17 record. Simmons sadly missed the playoffs last season with a knee injury, and the Celtics swept Philadelphia in the first round. Hopefully, he can remain healthy this year, and a stout 76ers team can make a deep run in this year’s postseason in pursuit of a championship.

#6 – Russell Westbrook

Apr 16, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Washington Wizards guard Russell Westbrook (4) dribbles against the New Orleans Pelicans during the second quarter at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

This is where the list takes a jump from future superstars to current superstars. Russell Westbrook is one of the most athletic players ever to grace the NBA. He’s currently averaging a triple-double, with 21.9 points, 10.8 dimes, 20.9 boards, and 1.3 steals a game for the Washington Wizards. Washington traded for Westbrook just before the season started, in exchange for John Wall.

In his first season with the Wizards, Westbrook is already the franchise’s all-time triple-double leader. He has 26 on the season, and 164 in his career, trailing only Oscar Robertson by 17 for the most all-time. Russ’s scoring output has dipped a good bit this season. This is likely due to his pairing with the league’s leading scorer in Bradley Beal.

The Wizards are currently a lackluster 24-33 on the season. Despite the poor record, they still find themselves tied for the final play-in tournament spot with the Chicago Bulls. The star power of Russ and Beal could give teams some fits if the Wizards sneak into the playoffs.

#5 – Kyrie Irving

Apr 10, 2021; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving (11) moves to the basket against Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (1) during the first quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Kyrie Irving just cracks the top-5 NBA Point Guards of the season. He’s been of the top guards since he entered the league and is one of the best ball-handlers in NBA history. He currently averages roughly 27 points, six assists, five rebounds, and just over a steal per game this season for the Brooklyn Nets.

Kyrie is a six-time NBA All-Star and a former world champion. He is among the most efficient players in the league. He nearly finds himself in the 50/40/90 club, averaging 51.1 percent from the field, 38.9 percent on three-pointers, and 91.6 percent on free throws. He’s also a solid defender too, rounding out his game as an all-around contributor to his team.

Irving shines every time he steps on the floor, even though he’s surrounded by other stars like Kevin Durant and James Harden. Kyrie may not be a former league MVP like those two; however, he is still just as important to the Nets’ success as they are. The Nets are 38-19 and sit just 1.5 games away from the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Brooklyn has assembled a star-studded team and has their eyes set on the NBA Championship this year.

#4 – Chris Paul

Apr 7, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) and center Deandre Ayton (22) against the Utah Jazz at Phoenix Suns Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Just outside the top three is CP3 himself. Chris Paul is not just one of the Top NBA Point Guards this season, but one of the best in NBA history. Paul was traded to the Phoenix Suns over this last offseason. He averages 15.6 points, 8.7 assists, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.5 steals a game for the Suns.

Paul is not having nearly as good a season as others around him on the list, statistically speaking. However, the main reason why CP3 ranks so high on this list is the tremendous impact he has had on the Suns this season. The Suns haven’t made the playoffs in a decade. For half of those years, they were the worst team in the Western Conference.

After being traded from the Thunder, Paul has helped mold this Suns team into serious contenders in the matter of a season. The Suns are currently 40-16 and second in the Western Conference. They have already clinched their first winning record since the 2013-14 NBA season, with 16 games remaining in the regular season. The 11-time NBA All-Star has brought this team a veteran presence that has proved to be priceless to its success.

#3 – Damian Lillard

Apr 13, 2021; Portland, Oregon, USA; Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard (0) passes the ball against Boston Celtics point guard Marcus Smart (36) during the first half at Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Damian Lillard takes home the bronze medal from the list. The six-time NBA All-Star is averaging 28.7 points, 7.7 dimes, 4.2 boards, and almost a steal per game in his ninth NBA season. The Portland Trailblazer is a lethal shooter that can take over games in the blink of an eye.

Lillard is one of the most clutch performers in the league. He is fifth in the league in 4th quarter scoring, second among Point Guards only to De’Aaron Fox. Much like the last few entrants, Dame has been among the top NBA Point Guards since he first entered the league in 2012. He’s a guaranteed bucket whenever the team needs him to score, and he’s no defensive liability either.

Portland currently sits in sole possession of the sixth seed in the Western Conference. They are 32-24 even though they have been plagued by injuries to guard C.J. McCollum and Center Jusuf Nurkic. Portland’s continued success despite these absences can be attributed largely to the MVP-level play of Damian Lillard.

#2 – Luka Dončić

Apr 14, 2021; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) shoots a three-point basket against the Memphis Grizzlies as time expired in the fourth quarter at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Luka Dončić has exceeded any expectations set for him since he entered the league. The runner-up has been one of the top NBA Point Guards since entering the league and likely will be until he retires. The 2019 Rookie of the Year is averaging 28.6 points, 8.7 assists, 7.9 rebounds, and one steal per game for the Dallas Mavericks.

Luka has been arguably the most fun-to-watch NBA player in his first few years in the league. There’s a good chance he could average a triple-double in a season shortly. Dončić has unbelievable vision and basketball IQ, not just for someone his age but for an NBA star in general. Add the clutch gene and the “it factor” on top of all this, and you have Luka Dončić. He could be the face of the NBA in just a few short years.

Luka will be a vital part of the Mavericks and their success for as long as he is on the team. If they’re smart, that’ll be his whole career. Luka just turned 22, and last postseason he put on a hell of a performance, even though he and the Mavs were eliminated in six games by the Clippers. Dallas is yet to find their ceiling, though, and currently sits at 30-26 and seventh in the Western Conference.

#1 – Stephen Curry

April 12, 2021; San Francisco, California, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Juan Toscano-Anderson (95) pours water on guard Stephen Curry (30) after the game against the Denver Nuggets at Chase Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Was there ever any doubt? Topping the list is none other than the revolutionary Stephen Curry. The two-time MVP and three-time NBA Champ is having another ridiculous season. Steph is currently raking in 31 points, 5.9 assists, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.2 steals a game in his 12th season with the Golden State Warriors. When the dust settles, Curry will definitely be in the conversation for the greatest Point Guard of all time.

Just for an example of how ridiculous his season is, check this out. Steph has 21 games in his career with 10 or more three-pointers made. Six of them have come from this season. No other player has more than five in their entire career. Curry has single-handedly ushered in a new era of basketball. This season is just another moving part of his revolution. Rather than dwelling on comparisons, bask in the greatness as it unfolds in real-time.

Curry is dragging the Klay Thompson-less Warriors team to a .500 record. Golden State is currently 29-29, good enough for the ninth seed and a spot in the Western Conference play-in tournament. None of this would be possible without Steph Curry doing Steph Curry things this season. Curry is slowly ramping up to another MVP campaign, and I would not be surprised to see him grab his third such award.

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