As seen by this MVP race, the point guard position is one of the more prominent positions in the league. Point Guards are valued more than ever, and this recent crop of draftees has been an interesting bunch. The future of the NBA is withheld in the draft, and it is a fun exercise to rank the youthful point guards full of potential. Point Guard needy teams look to the draft year after year looking for the next Russell Westbrook or Steph Curry. Not all great point guards come from the first round (for example Isaiah Thomas), however, the first round is considered the "premier" players of the draft class. That being said, I will be ranking these top guard prospects based off their talent, as well as their performance and stats in the recent seasons. These are all my opinion, and they are ranked based on their performance since they were drafted. Some guys I have ranked may be lower than you expected, but like I said I am ranking based on performance and not potential. Recent outburst such as Kris Dunn's astonishing 16 assist game(yes, that really happened) or Shabazz Napier showing off some excellent abilities to score influence the nature of these rankings as well. If a player didn't get a lot of playing time, but showed flashes, they were also factored in. Recent play is very important in this list. This is my ranking of the last 20 NBA point guards taken in the first round from worst to best. Enjoy!
20 Nemanja Nedovic
First up on the list, we have a point guard who currently plays for the Unicaja Málaga in the Euroleague. Nemanja Nedovic struggled to get his first break in the NBA after being selected by the Golden State Wariors. Once he got the call to play for the now-world champion Warriors, he struggled to get playing time and under performed when he did. Nedovic had a unreliable jump shot and not good enough passing skills to make up for it. This is the leading reason Nemanja spent only one season in the league. It's not all bad, Nemanja had great athleticism and pretty good size for a point guard. He wasn't named the "European Derrick Rose" for nothing. The NBA didn't work out, but at least he seems to be enjoying an overseas career in Europe. However, a career average of 1 point and .5 assists will land you the 20th spot on this list. Sorry, Nemanja.
19 Shane Larkin
Next up, we have another point guard who is already out of the NBA. Larkin latched on with multiple struggling NBA teams, such as the New York Knicks, or the Brooklyn Nets. At the time, a young point guard like Larkin would be given bunches of playing time on one of those teams desperate to develop him into a future asset. Larkin's increased playing time only worsened his chances in the league, exposing the weaknesses in his game. The young guard was a turnover machine, averaging at least ONE turnover in all three seasons in the league, even when he was only getting 10 minute a game. He was a poor free throw shooter, and he wasn't very efficient from the three point line. Giving Larkin some credit, he improved his three point ball every season he was in the league. It would not be crazy to see Larkin back in the league some time in the future, however, given his three not-so-great seasons with desperate teams, Larkin lands at number 19 on the list.
18 Tyler Ennis
Tyler Ennis was actually involved in two trades this NBA season. He was first traded from the Bucks to the Rockets, and then to the Lakers at the trade deadline. If anything, I guess this means Tyler is wanted by teams around the league. Tyler has played for the Suns, Bucks, Rockets, and Lakers in his young career as an NBA point guard. Especially this last season, Ennis has really been coming along as a sharpshooter for the Lakers. He displays, at the absolute least, competent skills in passing the basketball. His worst feature is probably his defense, but I think a few years under Luke Walton can probably fix that. Starting two games in his 22 for Los Angeles, you would have to think they see him as a possible back-up point guard to D'Angelo Russell, who also makes an appearance on this list.
17 Delon Wright
Next up, we have a scrappy, young point guard for the Toronto Raptors, Delon Wright. Delon is one of the players I mentioned that doesn't get a whole lot of playing time. To start off, Delon Wright is huge for a point guard. Standing at 6'5, his height is a definite plus for the Raptors. As I said before, Delon is a scrappy, scrappy player who will fight for any playing time you are willing to give him. Having only played in 27 games this season, he didn't get to show off his unique skill set as much as he would've liked. For a point guard, Delon is pretty outstanding at grabbing rebounds, and his jumper isn't half bad. Hopefully in the near future, Delon Wright can either get a real role with the Toronto Raptors, or he can latch on with a team wiling to offer him that.
16 Dejounte Murray
I will be the first to say it: Dejounte Murray will be the heir to the Tony Parker Spurs. He was one of my favorite players going into the draft, and for good reason. He has great ball handling skills and he can put the ball in the hoop from anywhere on the court. I would rank Murray higher, but he didn't get a lot of playing time behind Tony Parker and Patty Mills. Shooting almost 40% from three, you can't go around screens on someone like him. That leads me to my next point, Dejounte is wonderful at finishing around the rim. Starting in eight games, you would have to think coach Pop has big plans for Dejounte in the future.
15 Shabazz Napier
Shabazz Napier has been playing great basketball the last few weeks. The climax of this improbable run was his 32 point performance versus the San Antonio Spurs. For that reason, he has made what a somewhat forgettable professional career turn into a back-up point guard job for a playoff team. We all remember how great Napier was at UCONN, and we all remember Lebron making the Heat draft him, but no one really keeps up with him anymore. He is still a above average shooter and defender. He can serve a very valuable bench role on many teams, and this is ignoring the fact that he is only 25. Expect Shabazz Napier to settle into a very nice, productive reserve role on a team.
14 Tyus Jones
Tyus Jones, former summer league MVP. Let that sink in. When you think of a summer league MVP you think of one of the rising superstars in the NBA, right? Well meet Tyus Jones, the sharpshooting point guard out of Duke stuck behind a Ricky Rubio and newly drafted Kris Dunn. After a one-and-done collegiate career with the Blue Devils, Jones was thrown onto the youthful Timberwolves roster as a very raw prospect who needed time to develop. The 20-year old guard is a great shooter and passer. He can definitely use some work on the other side of the ball, but I believe Tom Thibodeau can help develop that with him. After all, he is only a 20-year old point guard with a raw skillset. In order to maximize his role in the NBA, Tyus Jones needs to get off the Minnesota Timberwolves.
13 Trey Burke
Oh boy, Trey Burke. The Utah Jazz gave up on the Trey Burke experiment after three years of turnovers and injuries and sent him to the Washington Wizards for virtually nothing. Now, in a diminished role, Trey Burke is shooting the three ball better than he has his whole career. This could be because Scott Brooks made sure Trey Burke doesn't shoot every time he touches the ball. Either way, Trey Burke has become a pretty great reserve player for the Wizards. He is coming into his own after the Utah Jazz years and he understands his role in the future. Look for Burke to step up his game and eventually prove his worth at the point guard position.
12 Cameron Payne
Cameron Payne was traded from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Chicago Bulls on the NBA trade deadline. In the future, this will be seen as something that was very bad for Payne, or it will be seen as the greatest thing to ever happen to him. Payne was stuck behind Russell Westbrook in OKC, however, he needed time to develop. In Chicago, whenever Payne is healthy next year, he will more than likely be the starting point guard, given that the Rondo deal was a failure. No one really knows if Payne is ready for that big of a role. For one, the man can't even stay healthy for longer than 20 games. In a starting role, it will be even harder to be durable throughout a 82-game regular season. Can Payne bring back the dominance of the Chicago Bulls? No one really knows, but I am along for the ride.
11 Wade Baldwin IV
Wade Baldwin, the 17th pick of the 2016 NBA Draft, is a very interesting player. He has great attributes: size,athleticism, and passing ability. He has terrible attributes: Three point shooting, turnover ratio, lazy defense. With how little playing time Baldwin got, it's hard to make something of him right now. Given that he is only 21, if he can put the pieces together and start hitting his shots, he will be a starting point guard in this league. He has great potential as long as he can polish his game under coach David Fizdale. Once Wade can fix some major faucets of his game, tell the NBA to look out because this could could turn around and become a dangerous point guard out there on the floor.
10 1o. Kris Dunn
16 assist. I repeat: 16 assist. In 32 minutes, Kris Dunn scored an assist every two minutes he was on the court. Those are prime Rajon Rondo type numbers. The young guard out of Providence is the future floor-runner of the Minnesota Timberwolves, next to Zach Lavine, Andrew Wiggins, and Karl Towns, that shouldn't be to hard. They will make Dunn's life much easier as long as he can find them in passing lanes, a ability he excelled at in the 2016-2017 NBA season. Dunn is a plus player on both sides of the court, something Minnesota needs at the one. Once Dunn can fix his jump shot that he struggled with all year, the Timberwolves will have a killer line-up for years to come. Look out for the Minnesota Timberwolves!
9 Terry Rozier
Terry Rozier is another point guard stuck in the rotation who will not grow until he changes teams. Right now he is stuck behind the likes of Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Smart, and it will remain like that for the near future. Rozier is another very scrappy player, seeing that he averages 3.0 rebounds in a 6'2 frame. He has to fight for everything, including minutes. Rozier is a good shooter and all around player. With some development under an all-star in Isaiah Thomas and a great head coach in Brad Stevens, Rozier should be ready to have a big role. He will find his niche as a back-up point guard in this league soon enough.
8 Michael Carter-Williams
How does Michael Carter-Williams go from winning rookie of the year to playing on 3 teams in 3 years? In today's NBA that's where a broken jump shot will get you at the point guard position. Michael Carter-Williams, more commonly referred to as MCW, shows excellent basketball I.Q. and passing skills. At 6'6, Michael is one of the tallest point guards in the league, and he even has some speed to go with him. There is only one major flaw in MCW's game: his jumper. In the typical point guard of today's NBA, you have to be able to finish at the rim, shoot , and pass the rock. In that 6'6 frame, maybe MCW would be better off gaining some weight and switching to small forward, where he would be a major match-up problem and a better fit for the Chicago Bulls.
7 Jerian Grant
If this list tells you anything, it should be that the Chicago Bulls are loaded with youthful point guards. One of them has to work out, right? The Bulls acquired Grant in the Derrick Rose trade and in turn, Jerian Grant started many games for the Chicago Bulls this season. Being extremely quick and good around the rim is Jerian's strong suit, but teams also have to respect his jump shot as well. Given the fact that Jerian Grant is already 24, he seems to be the most suited out of all Chicago's young point guards to be the starter next season. His in-and-out game is very intriguing and will be fun to watch as Grant grows his game and as a NBA player.
6 Dante Exum
After the awful ACL tear Dante Exum had, every NBA fan wanted to see Exum succeed, and with his skill set, it can't be too hard. Dante Exum is still only 21 and he is another hybrid point guard at 6'6 in height. Exum has a nice role as back up point guard for a very good Utah Jazz team. He even started in 22 games. Like other tall point guards, Exum struggles with his jumper, however, he has a nice little mid-range shot that works for him and helps create space. Working under George Hill, the Australian will be able to learn a lot and develop coming off the bench for a top-FIVE playoff seed in the west. One day, Dante Exum will definitely be a starting point guard in this league.
5 Emmanuel Mudiay
Emmanuel Mudiay can be a starting point guard for the Denver Nuggets next year. In fact, he has been their starting point guard for the better part of two seasons. Recent injuries and a benching was discouraging for him, but he has been one of the better young point guards in the NBA. He averaged 11 points, 4 assists, and 3 rebounds in just 25 minute as a 21 year old point guard coming from China. Not only does Mudiay have great size (6'5), but he also has a respectable jump shot, something other tall point guards don't have the pleasure of having. Mudiay has a couple aspects of his game he needs to clean up, but after that he should be a very good starting point guard for a fringe-playoff contending Denver Nuggets next season.
4 Elfrid Payton
Elfrid Payton's hair isn't the only thing that he is good at. Elfrid is a starting point guard for the Orlando Magic and he does a pretty good job at it. Elfrid averages around 13.0 points, 6.0 assists, and 5.0 rebounds. Payton is the definition of a do-it-all point guard, and he has multiple triple-doubles to help display his talents. Elfrid is a phenomenal passer and he did a good job of finding players like Aaron Gordon in the paint and finding players on the perimeter as well. Elfrid has great defense, racking up at least 1 steal a game. His only flaw is his awful three-point shooting (people blame his hair). Elfrid Payton should be a fixture in Orlando as they rebuild with Frank Vogel.
3 Marcus Smart
Marcus Smart isn't even a starter, so how is he all the way up at number three? Well for one, Marcus Smart is one of the best defenders in the league. Averaging double-diget points off the bench, Smart is a legit 6th man of the year candidate. Marcus has athleticism, size, passing ability, and absolute superb defense. He can guard almost every position on the court, even though he is only 6'4. Similar to some of the other young point guards, Marcus struggles with his shot, especially on the perimeter. In my opinion, I think Marcus Smart is a better three-point shooter than his numbers indicate. He gets somewhat trigger-happy once he starts to get hot, shooting every time he has the ball. This is a bad trait to had, but it is definitely a fixable problem, especially under Brad Stevens.
2 D'Angelo Russell
D'Angelo Russell is a future All-Star in the NBA. He is one of the best young players in the league, albeit at the point guard position. Russell's best feature is scoring, and he can score in bunches. He is a very clutch player, and he has started for most of the first two NBA seasons of his young career. Russell is a good but not great passer, but he can old his own as a floor-general for the Los Angeles Lakers. He is a great shooter from all ranges on the court, especially from the three point line. At only 21, D'Angelo Russell is one of the youngest players on this list, and he's the also one of the best. He still will grow and develop into an adept NBA point guard who specializes in scoring. D'Angelo Russell is the leading charge of the Lakers rebuilding efforts and he will be a big factor for the team the next time they are in the playoffs.
1 Dennis Schroder
Dennis Schroder was one of the best players on a top 5 seed playoff team. In around 30 minutes a game, Dennis scores 18 points, assists six players, and hauls in three rebounds. Dennis is easily the quickest player on this list, and his jump shot continues to develop under head coach Mike Budenholzer. Dennis has pin-point passes in and around the paint, his specialty being an ally-oop to Dwight Howard or Paul Millsap. Schroder is very active on defense, and it shows as Dennis averages around 1 steal a game. One of Dennis's biggest flaws would have to be his turnover ratio. Under Coach Bud, they are working to decrease the amount of turnovers he has. Dennis Schroder is only 23, and he is the most complete player on this list. His readiness shows on the court, and by his team success.
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