The position “point guard” can be somewhat relative for players because of where they line up on defense as opposed to offense. So for the sake of this article, point guard will be defined as the player who brings the ball up the court on offense. With that being said, defensive skills, along with all other aspects of the game have been taken into account when deciding the top point guards in the NBA. So let’s get started.
Top 5 point guards in the NBA
5. Chris Paul
Paul would probably be higher on the list if he took control of games more often. It seems like late in games he steps on the gas pedal a little more and that’s the Chris Paul I want to see all the time. It might just be a part of his strategy to let the game come to him at first in order for him to convert when he needs to.
Paul is clearly undersized, standing just 6′, and weighing just 175 pounds which limits him defensively. But he’s able to make up for it a little bit with effort. He’s also not a good rebounder—again, a big part of this is because of his size, though he also doesn’t get in good position to rebound very often. Paul does it all on the offensive end though. He makes his teammates better setting them up with open looks. They didn’t call it Lob-Angelos for nothing.
You really see his top-tier point guard skills come out in clutch situations though. Whenever the Clippers needed a bucket, Paul was able to get it for them. He’s able to shoot the three ball, knock down mid-range jumpers, or somehow finesse shots over big men in the paint. There was hardly any stopping Paul when he needed to be stopped.
4. Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving loves dribbling. he doesn’t really have a signature move, he just dribbles around until the defender makes a mistake. It’s insane how quick and shifty he is. He’s one of the most fun players to watch—plus he hit one of the most clutch shots of all time in game seven of the 2016 finals so it’s hard to keep him off this list.
If the NBA ever grants my wish of adding one-on-one tournaments to All-Star weekend, there’s no doubt in my mind Kyrie Irving would cook his man play after play. He’s so relentless at times and he’s got so many tools at his disposal it’s not fair.
He can play off the ball, too. Obviously there’s another man in the blue and gold in Cleveland, Ohio that has the ball in his hands quite a bit and Irving does a great job of spacing the floor for him. LeBron does as much driving as anyone and it’s a lot easier for him to do this because Kyrie can nail spot-up shots on kick-outs. He shot 40.1% from deep last season. Couple that with his uncanny ability to get to the rim and you’ve got problems if you’re playing against Kyrie Irving.
However, what keeps him down on the list is the other aspects to his game. He’s not an especially good defender and he’s a bad rebounder, almost never in a position to grab a board. He’s about an average passer for a point guard which is a little surprising since he has defenders on their heels most of the time. He’s still very efficient on offense.
3. James Harden
James Harden is all about creating points—it’s his game and he plays it well. The pick-and-roll is the most efficient source of offense in today’s NBA and Harden is arguably the best pick-and-roll guard in the league.
The only knock to his game would be his defense, as he’s not a very good defender, but he makes up for it in other aspects of the game. He is a good rebounder and a terrific passer and scorer.
Most of the time he works in the half court game. He pounds the ball into the floor until the shot clock runs down a bit and waits for a pick. Defenders have a nightmarish time defending both Harden and the pick setter. They have to pick their poison on who they want to give an open look to and Harden almost always makes them pay with the right decision, whether it’s dumping the ball off to his teammate or taking the shot himself.
He draws more fouls than any point guard I’ve ever seen. A lot of which are weak fouls, but he turns them into points nonetheless. He knows how stop, start, shift, and trigger foul calls like it’s an art which you have to give him credit for. It looks good on the scoreboard and the stat sheet.
He can also create his own shot. He’s got a great handle combined with a killer step back and euro-step. His smooth stroke from the outside and slick finishes in the paint are a thing of beauty to watch. In close games, he steps up and goes to work in isolation and puts his defender in a blender.
2. Russell Westbrook
Now the reigning league MVP, there’s no doubting Russell Westbrook is one of the top players in the NBA. His stats speak for themselves as he’s just the second player in history to average a triple double on the season with 30.8 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 10.5 assists per game. He also totaled a whopping 42 triple doubles on the season.
Westbrook plays like he has nothing to lose and everything to prove. He once said: “When I get on the floor I got one friend, and that’s the basketball.”
As far as his skillset goes, it’s hard to get much better. If you could create a player in an NBA laboratory, you’d create someone who looks a lot like Westbrook. His ability to guard small forwards on defense allows him to be in position to rebound and push the ball up the floor in transition where he’s a menace.
He’s arguably the best driving point guard in the league. His athleticism and explosiveness is scary to watch. He drives into the paint with a head of steam and is relentless as a finisher. He draws fouls constantly because of his ability to absorb contact and finish.
His shooting stroke isn’t the best, shooting just 31.3% from three-point range for his career. But he’s a monster in the mid-range game. Many defenders play off, giving him space to prevent the drive. So Westbrook is given a ton of open looks from the elbow which he’s hit countless times.
He also sets up teammates very well, as evidence by his assist numbers. He attracts so much attention when the ball is in his hands and he has great vision to find open cutters or spot up shooters. Especially on his drives, as he usually takes two defenders into the paint which leaves someone open.
Still there’s one point guard who tops all these players.
1. Steph Curry
Steph Curry has two MVP awards, two Finals’ Championships, four All-NBA honors, and four All-Star selections in his eight-year career.
He is not a great defender because of his size, but does a good job of limiting drives and forcing pull-ups. He gets his money from from what he does on offense though.
He can hold the ball too long at times and miss opportunities to get the ball to open teammates. But for the most part he has good vision and is an exceptional passer. He’s also a good rebounder for his size, which is impressive since he plays on the perimeter. But it’s what he does with the ball in his hands that make him so special.
He’s a career 43.8% three-point shooter and can hit from way beyond the arc, whether it’s off the dribble or spot up shooting.
Naturally, players try to guard him tight to take away his perimeter shooting. But he’s got a great handle that frees him up and outstanding body control that allows for fancy finishes when driving into the paint. If fouled, he’s a career 90.1% free throw shooter to make you pay for it.
If you could imagine the perfect offensive weapon, Steph Curry would be the closest thing to it. His skillset is near impossible to stop.
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