Point guards in basketball are like quarterbacks in football: they run the show on offense, and it can be tough to win without a good one.
The league has arguably never been so flush with talented point guards, so we decided to rank them.
Defining positions in an increasingly position-less NBA is tricky, so we used Basketball-Reference’s play-by-play splits, which determine how often a player plays at which position.
Check out our ranking of the 15 best point guards in the NBA right now.
Honorable mentions: Jamal Murray, Malcolm Brogdon, Mike Conley, Fred VanVleet
15. Ja Morant
Team: Memphis Grizzlies
2020-21 stats: 18.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, 7.4 assists, 44.7% FG, 26.9% 3FG
Where he stands right now: Morant is one of the most electric players in the NBA with the ball in his hands. Few players have as quick of a first step, are as fast from end to end, and elevate above the rim instantly like Morant. He’s a good scorer without a reliable jumper and a dazzling, creative playmaker. If/when his defense and jumper (two serious weak spots as of now) come around: look out.
Team: Boston Celtics
2020-21 stats: 17.7 points, 3.8 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 39.7% FG, 34% 3FG
Where he stands right now: Walker is having one of his worst statistical seasons, and doubts persist about the status of his left knee. Still, Walker is a three-level scorer and solid playmaker who remains a tough guard for anyone, thanks to his water-bug quickness. He is something of an X-factor in Boston as a player who could potentially take the Celtics to the next level if he regains his All-NBA form from 2018-19.
13. Jrue Holiday
Team: Milwaukee Bucks
2020-21 stats: 17 points, 4.5 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.8 steals, 50.5% FG, 39.9% 3FG
Where he stands right now: Holiday is one of the rare players who is perhaps the perfect fit for any team. He can play on or off the ball, spread the floor or knife into the lane, and lock up opposing guards and forwards alike. JJ Redick and Kevin Durant mused that he might be the best defender in the league. The Bucks traded five draft picks for him. He hasn’t made an All-Star team since 2013, but he’s one of the most well-rounded, impactful players in the NBA.
12. De’Aaron Fox
Team: Sacramento Kings
2020-21 stats: 25.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, 7.1 assists, 1.5 steals, 47.8% FG, 32.9% 3FG
Where he stands right now: Fox is sometimes overshadowed because he is on a perennial lottery team in Sacramento. But he has raised his scoring average and efficiency each year. He may be the fastest player in the league, and he can surprise opponents with his explosiveness around the rim. He is learning the nuances of leading a team. If you could pick any point guard to build around, Fox, at 23, would be a good choice.
11. Russell Westbrook
Team: Washington Wizards
2020-21 stats: 21.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, 10.9 assists, 43.9% FG, 30.6% 3FG
Where he stands right now: This is Westbrook’s fourth season averaging a triple-double – a feat, it feels safe to say, that will not be accomplished again. Despite Westbrook’s numbers, however, his impact on winning has waned as he’s gotten older, and he ranks as one of the least efficient scorers on volume in league history. The former MVP has plenty left in him for a strong late stage of his career, but he may need to adjust his game to maximize his impact.
10. Trae Young
Team: Atlanta Hawks
2020-21 stats: 25.4 points, 4 rebounds, 9.5 assists, 43.5% FG, 36.1% 3FG
Where he stands right now: Young is often criticized for his relative weaknesses – his efficiency, his defense (though it’s improved slightly), his turnovers, his ability to lead a playoff contender. Perhaps not enough praise is given for his otherworldly offensive talents. He has unlimited range and can go on scoring binges that alter games. He’s also an underrated passer; his court vision is impressive considering his size. Young is putting up elite numbers at 22 and is the best player on a team that is 4th in the East at the time of this writing.
9. Kyle Lowry
Team: Toronto Raptors
2020-21 stats: 17.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 43.7% FG, 39.1% 3FG
Where he stands right now: Often described as “the ultimate competitor,” Lowry is one of the rare players you can spend an entire game watching. Sure, he’s a good scorer, playmaker, and defender, but he also does little things that rarely show up in the stat sheet: timely screens and cuts, getting in scrums for rebounds, helping and recovering on defense. His time in Toronto appears to be ending, but he looks as if he can be a high-level contributor to a championship team for years to come.
8. Kyrie Irving
Team: Brooklyn Nets
2020-21 stats: 27.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 51.6% FG, 39.8% 3FG
Where he stands right now: It sometimes feels like Irving can do whatever he wants on a court. Irving’s canvas is anywhere from the three-point line to the rim. He turns opponents inside out with dribble combos, hesitations, fakes, and spins that must be infuriating to defend. He’s averaging a career-high in points on career-best efficiency this season. There isn’t a lot of proof that Irving can function as the best player on a championship contender, but luckily for him, he has James Harden and Kevin Durant on his team, freeing him to be a scoring assassin.
7. Ben Simmons
Team: Philadelphia 76ers
2020-21 stats: 14.9 points, 7.6 rebounds, 7.1 assists, 1.6 steals, 54.5% FG, 30% 3FG
Where he stands right now: According to Basketball-Reference, 100% of Simmons’s minutes this season have come at point guard. But Simmons is a one-of-a-kind player – a Point Simmons. He may not look to score often, but few players put as much pressure on the rim as Simmons, who is also a force in transition. Sure, he doesn’t shoot the ball, but Simmons seems happy dishing to teammates and locking up the opposing team’s best scorer – two qualities we should appreciate more.
6. Chris Paul
Team: Phoenix Suns
2020-21 stats: 15.8 points, 4.6 rebounds, 8.8 assists, 1.5 steals, 48.6% FG, 36.4% 3FG
Where he stands right now: The “Point God” may have lost a step at 35, but his instinct and know-how on the court are still at their peak. Paul is still an orchestrator, finding and creating all sorts of windows to get the ball to his teammates. Over his last nine games (as of this writing), Paul has thrown 89 assists to just 12 turnovers, startlingly efficient playmaking. And he remains one of the craftiest defenders in the NBA, always capable of disrupting an opponent’s possession with his quick hands and guile.
5. Damian Lillard
Team: Portland Trail Blazers
2020-21 stats: 28.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, 7.7 assists, 44% FG, 37.9% 3FG
Where he stands right now: Lillard’s numbers have fallen in recent weeks after a Herculean effort to keep an injured Blazers squad alive. But Lillard in hero mode is still a sight to behold. Some guards dance around opponents; Lillard is much more of a straight-line player. He can blaze past opponents to the rim or feign a drive, then bury them with stepback threes. There is perhaps no other player you’d want taking the last shot: Lillard owns a 20-8 record in the “clutch” this season while leading the NBA in clutch points on a ridiculous 53-43-100 shooting line.
4. Luka Doncic
Team: Dallas Mavericks
2020-21 stats: 28.6 points, 7.9 rebounds, 8.6 assists, 48.6% FG, 36.4% 3fG
Where he stands right now: It’s impressive how quickly the Mavericks realized their future revolved around: “Give Luka the ball and put shooters around him.” At 6-foot-7, Doncic sees all passing windows and knows how to manipulate defenses. He is developing a LeBron James-esque ability to spot mismatches and take advantage of them. He owns a deceptive first step, unique footwork, and the most unguardable shot type in the NBA – the stepback three. That he’s doing this at 22 is remarkable: he is going to terrorize defenses for a long time.
3. James Harden
Team: Brooklyn Nets
2020-21 stats: 25.2 points, 8 rebounds, 10.9 assists, 46.3% FG, 35.8% 3FG
Where he stands right now: This is our one cheat on this list: Harden hasn’t played a majority of his minutes at point guard this season, according to Basketball-Reference. But Harden is functionally a point guard; Kyrie Irving even told Harden earlier this year, “You’re the point guard.” Removed from Houston’s iso-centric offense, Harden can still get any shot he wants, but he is a wonder when he’s searching for teammates. Whether it’s sucking in defenses to throw alley-oops or kick it out to shooters for wide-open threes, Harden can beat a defense any way he likes.
2. Stephen Curry
Team: Golden State Warriors
2020-21 stats: 30.7 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 48.9% FG, 42.2% 3FG
Where he stands right now: Curry’s game is unlike any other player on this list. He is not a ball-dominant guard who creates for others with high dribble counts. Instead, Curry is quick to give up the ball, run around screens, and relocate for open shots. Give him an ounce of space, and he’ll launch a three or burn a defender and get to the rim. He is not the purest passer on this list, but no player in the NBA carries more gravity, and his unselfish ways unlock more easy looks for teammates than can be measured.
1. LeBron James
Team: Los Angeles Lakers
2020-21 stats: 25.4 points, 7.9 rebounds, 7.9 assists, 51.3% FG, 36.8% 3FG
Where he stands right now: People may be sick of hearing it, but the NBA still runs through James. He has arguably lost several steps, but he is smart enough to use his body to get around defenders, and he has developed a deadly stepback three. And no player is better at rearranging the court to their liking. He hunts mismatches and knows how the smallest movement could warp the defense and create an opening. Until proven otherwise, he is the most dominant offensive force in the NBA.
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