The point guard position is so crucial to an NBA franchise’s success. Point guards come in all different sizes. There’s Luka Doncic, a 6’7” multi-positional point guard that initiates almost every play for the Dallas Mavericks. Then there’s Ben Simmons. A point guard inside of a power forward’s body who might be the most unstoppable force in the open court.
Each point guard on this list adds their own flavor in a league and a role that’s constantly changing. There’s just one ground rule for this group. There are a few players like Jrue Holiday, LeBron James, and Lou Williams who don’t play the position for the most part despite their roles as initiators and creators in their team’s offenses. Here are the top 15 point guards in the NBA right now.
Stopping Stephen Curry still is an unenviable task. Curry’s one of the few players from night to night that makes opposing defenders look foolish. The only thing in his way was the hand injury he suffered four games into the season. He missed all but five games, and won’t be playing when the NBA returns to Orlando to finish out the rest of the 2019-20 season due to Golden State’s finish as the worst team in the NBA.
Even without all of the games played, Curry is in the prime spot of this point guards ranking because of the impact he has offensively. Without Curry (and Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant as well), the Warriors dropped from first in offensive efficiency this season to dead last. A three-time NBA champion and two-time MVP, Curry’s ability to pull up from anywhere makes him a threat and opens up the floor for his teammates. The precision of his jump shots coupled with his unselfish nature makes the Warriors offense hum. For that, he deserves the top spot.
At the age of 29, Damian Lillard has reached the prime of his career. An unstoppable force once he crosses halfcourt, Lillard dropped 60 points on two occasions this season. He was arguably having the best individual season of his career when the league shut down abruptly. A stretch that saw Lillard score at least 40 points in five of six games and leads Portland to wins over the Lakers, Jazz, Rockets, and Pacers stood out as a big moment for Lillard.
Though Portland’s season has been derailed by injuries, Lillard has shined bright and kept the Blazers in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race. Lillard has established himself as one of the best scoring options in the association… And he’s a pretty good rapper too.
The meteoric rise of Luka Doncic has been fascinating to watch. An immediate star in his rookie season, Doncic followed that up with a second season for the ages. The 21-year old racked up 17 triple-doubles and nearly averaged a triple-double all season with a stat line of 28.7/9.3/8.7. Doncic’s skills shined bright as the lead ball-handler and scorer for a Dallas team ranked number one in offensive efficiency.
Doncic worked on his body last summer to build towards his MVP candidate worthy season. With Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis in the fold, the Mavericks will likely be competing deep in the playoffs for the next decade.
Much is made about what Simmons can’t do on the court. It’s just one aspect of the game where Simmons is lacking. In three seasons, the two-time All-Star has made just 2 of 23 three-pointers (0.87 percent) and struggles at the free-throw line. Despite that, Simmons’ game isn’t appreciated enough. 6’10” point guards don’t just grow on trees.
A world-class passer, defender and athlete, Simmons can play point guard but can guard all five positions and he was on his way to votes for Defensive Player of the Year before the season was suspended. An immovable force in the open floor, Simmons is an integral piece to a 76ers team looking to squeeze its way into the crowded championship contender race.
After a long run in Charlotte that saw him set the franchise record for scoring, Kemba Walker signed a max deal in Boston this past summer. Combined with Boston’s young core of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward and Marcus Smart, Walker has fit in well. Second on the team in scoring (21.2 points), Walker has averaged at least 20 points per game for five consecutive seasons.
Walker’s quick-twitch moves off the dribble are lethal. Walker’s put numerous defenders on skates and can pull up from nearly anywhere on the court. Now with Boston, Walker is expected to finally make meaningful playoff appearances and possibly win his first playoff series. Before this season, Walker had only played in 11 playoff games in his nine-year career.
One of the storyline questions in the NBA drama this season was how the Russell Westbrook and James Harden partnership would work in Houston after Westbrook was acquired for guard Chris Paul in a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The pairing has had its warts. Westbrook’s subpar outside shooting naturally makes him an awkward fit with Harden’s ball-dominant tendencies. Still, Houston has found success, as they are tied for fifth in the Western Conference standings. Westbrook’s sheer force and will is still something to be reckoned with even after he’s past the age of 30.
Westbrook has accomplished every individual accolade you can imagine in his 12-year NBA career. The 2017 NBA MVP, Westbrook was just the second player ever (Oscar Robertson) to average a triple-double in a season. Though he’s not reached that milestone this season, Westbrook has still been solid, averaging 27.5 points and shooting a career-high 57.4 percent from the field.
Chris Paul was not given much hype upon his arrival in Oklahoma City this season. A 15-year pro, Paul was coming off of his worst individual season in the NBA. Saddled with a bloated contract and at a less than ideal age, the quintessential NBA point guard seemed likely to be gone from the Thunder as fast as he came.
Instead, Paul experienced a rebirth. Teaming with young guards Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Dennis Schroder, Paul made the All-Star team for the first time in four seasons and was Mister Clutch of the league. He’s sixth in clutch scoring and shooting 53.5 percent from the field in clutch moments. Expected to be a lottery team, Oklahoma City has been a huge surprise, tied for fifth place in the West with a 40-24 record.
A significant piece of the 2019 NBA champion Toronto Raptors, Lowry is known for his ability to affect the game in multiple ways that don’t show up in the stat sheet. Drawing charges, diving for loose balls, and being a general pest on defense, Lowry is the heart of the Raptors. A leader in every sense of the word, the diminutive guard is still productive at the age of 34.
A six-time All-Star, Lowry came into this season with a lot of questions. With Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green went in free agency, Lowry faced pressure to step up and fill that void. Though he had produced at a high level previously, this was a new challenge. Lowry has been critical to Toronto’s success, averaging 19.7 points and he’s seventh in assists (7.7) in the NBA. Toronto has a balanced offensive attack, but Lowry’s constant motion, all-out hustle on every play, and large derrière have loomed large in the team’s second-place (46-18) rank in the Eastern Conference.
A wizard with the basketball, Irving moved on to Brooklyn this year. The results were inconclusive. His co-star Kevin Durant missed all season recovering from a torn Achilles tendon. Irving missed 44 games due to injury. When he did play, Irving was his usual offensive phenom. Irving scored 50 or more points twice in just 20 appearances.
A maestro with the ball, Irving’s ability to create his own shot is unmatched. Working with numerous dribble moves and the ability to finish with either hand around the rim, Irving is unstoppable in isolation situations. When Durant and Irving both return to the court next season, the Nets will be a serious threat in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
The Atlanta Hawks are really bad. The fourth-worst record in the NBA, there is a glimmer of hope in the future for the franchise. A lot of that hope is built around the play of point guard Trae Young. An All-Star in his second year, Young has grown into one of the most intriguing young players the NBA has to offer. A premier shooter from three, Young has made 205 threes this season.
His profile as a star offensive player has risen. Young’s found ways to draw contact and get to the free-throw line more often despite his small frame. A serial nutmegger, Young’s ball handling, passing, and court vision are top-notch. For Young to rise even further on this list, he’s going to have to improve on the defensive end where his lackadaisical approach already hurts the built-in limitations that come with his small size. Fourth in scoring (29.6 points) and second in assists (9.3), there’s no doubt that Young is on the right track.
Before the start of the season, I listed Jamal Murray as one of five players expected to break out into superstardom. Based on a strong playoff debut last season, Murray looked to continue his ascent as one of the top point guards in the NBA. Murray’s role as a point guard is so much more different than most other point guards because he plays with a center in Nikola Jokic that initiates the Denver Nuggets’ offense so often.
Murray’s more of a finisher in Denver’s offense with an ability to create his own shot off of the dribble or to spot up. His numbers were stagnant this season as he averaged 18.8 points and 4.8 assists in 55 games. Murray’s offensive ability has allowed Denver to remain one of the top teams in the NBA, and at 22 there’s still time to see if he can reach another level.
A blur in the open court, Fox didn’t take the major leap that many expected in his third year. After shooting 37.1 percent from behind the three-point line during his breakout second season, Fox shot just 30.7 percent on 153 attempts during the 2019-20 season.
Nicknamed “Swipa the Fox,” the Kings point guard’s play is a significant factor in Sacramento’s late-season playoff push. Fox was hot after the All-Star break, averaging 23.4 points and shooting 50.3 percent from the field in nine contests. If the 22-year old guard can develop a consistent perimeter shot, the sky’s the limit.
The second overall pick of the 2019 NBA Draft, Ja Morant’s adjustment to the pro game was quick and seamless. The 19-year old point guard received some attention for the All-Star team as he led the Memphis Grizzlies in scoring (17.6 points) and dimes (6.9 assists). The point guard already has one of the best rookie seasons for a point guard in NBA history and at the age of 20, he’s only going to get better.
Morant’s play is a huge reason for Memphis holding on to the eighth seed in the Western Conference with a 32-33 record. A shoo-in for the Rookie of the Year, Morant, and Memphis’ young core has a bright future.
Nicknamed “the President,” Malcolm Brogdon lived up to the moniker with his best individual season as a pro. In his new digs in Indiana, Brogdon was a leader on and off the court for the surprising Pacers. Despite missing All-Star Victor Oladipo for a large portion of the season, Brogdon stepped up to average career-highs in points (16.3) and assists (7.1). His efficiency has taken a dip, but that was expected with his role as a primary shot creator changing.
A secondary ball-handler in Milwaukee with the Bucks, there were questions on whether Brogdon could handle the pressure that comes with being the primary orchestrator of an NBA offense. He’s proved the doubters wrong, even with injuries piling up and causing him to miss 17 of 65 games.
Eric Bledsoe is one of the best defensive guards in the NBA hands down. Built like a linebacker, Bledsoe has taken on a supporting role in Milwaukee after running the show with the Phoenix Suns a couple of years ago. An All-Defensive first team member last season, Bledsoe has continued to rise to the occasion on that end, while producing on offense with 15.4 points per game.
Though there will always be questions about his iffy perimeter shooting in clutch moments of the playoffs, there’s no doubt that his defensive contributions plus his playmaking in a secondary role put him in the upper half of the starting point guards in the NBA.