The point guard has become the most important of the five positions in today’s NBA landscape. Every team needs a competent leader at the position for the majority of the ball handling. Playmaking is necessary from a guard that can both score effectively and make his teammates better by facilitating the ball movement. All of the contenders in recent years have had the benefit of a talented point guard leading the way. The days of a point guard just passing the ball and not looking to score are over. Today’s current core of point guards can do everything asked of them.
Past NBA days suggested a decent point guard was all that was needed to contend with a dominant big man leading the offense. That has completely changed with speed and athleticism becoming more important than the brute force of the center or power forward. We are in the golden age of point guards with the competition stronger than ever. There are numerous names with the ability to be considered All-Star caliber guards. We’ll break down every team’s best player at the position with a good old fashioned power ranking. This is every starting point guard ranked in the current NBA world from worst to best.
30 Jerryd Bayless (Philadelphia 76ers)
The Philadelphia 76ers have three point guards battling for the starting spot and all three would finish dead last in the rankings. Jerryd Bayless is the favorite to start but is significantly below the rest of the players at the position. The other candidates at point guard for Philly include T.J. McConnell and Sergio Rodriguez. We can safely say the 76ers will have another horrendous year unless they acquire an upgrade at the position some point during the season.
Bayless is currently dealing with a wrist injury and it is unknown if he’ll be cleared in time for the regular season opener. Still, he is expected to be healthy early in the season and become the starting point guard. The sad fact is Bayless should not be starting for any NBA team. He is a very good backup that can add to a rotation rather than hold all of the responsibility at the position.
29 Devin Harris (Dallas Mavericks)
Things are ugly in Dallas with a lack of a respectable starting point guards being a huge reason why. Devin Harris was once viewed as a promising guard with potential to be something special but those days are over. His body of work and history of injuries suggest that Harris is a solid reserve that has no business starting. The Mavericks will have a point guard committee with J.J. Barea and Deron Williams splitting time with Harris.
Williams was once an elite point guard, but is a shell of his former self. Barea has great heart but is not a credible starter. Dallas has a tough path to compete with the better teams in the West. Their lack of a great facilitators hurts their chances at reaching a respectable playoff seed. Dirk Nowitzki is still superb but the rest of the Mavericks need a good point guard to set them up. Dallas needs to keep an eye on the free agent market and trade block all season.
28 Emmanuel Mudiay (Denver Nuggets)
As the season goes on, this ranking may look ridiculous, but Emmanuel Mudiay is currently one of the worst starting point guards. The Denver Nuggets drafted Mudiay in the first round of the 2015 NBA Draft. Mudiay’s rookie season was a disaster with a horrid shooting percentages of 36.4% from the field and 67% from the free throw line. The young man proved he wasn’t ready for the NBA world. Hopefully the experience helps him make great strides moving forward this season.
Denver is rebuilding with a plethora of young players and Mudiay is arguably their most important piece looking ahead to the future. The Nuggets will give him the majority of minutes at the position with no one chasing him for the starting spot. Mudiay’s talent is there and he can definitely become one of the best point guards with enough hard work and improvements. We just have yet to see it in the NBA, but Denver has hope.
27 Patrick Beverley (Houston Rockets)
The Houston Rockets have admitted James Harden will be the primary ball handler, but Patrick Beverley is still considered the actual starting point guard. Beverley is a below average offensive player that adds a weakness to that side of the court. Luckily for him, he is a tremendous defender and the Rockets will need someone to shut down the elite point guards in the Western Conference. Beverley plays with toughness and intensity that frustrates opponents.
The glaring flaws of Beverley’s game need to be improved. If he should ever become a competent scorer, Beverley would instantly move up this list. Instead, he is just viewed as a defensive specialist and a liability on the offensive side of things. Houston may very well opt to remove Beverley from the starting lineup in favor of Harden playing the actual point guard and another shooting guard replacing him.
26 Elfrid Payton (Orlando Magic)
Elfrid Payton is entering his third season in the NBA and is arguably the most important player on the Orlando Magic team. Following the addition of Serge Ibaka, the Magic are hoping to make the playoffs. Solid play from Payton at the point guard position is necessary for the team achieving their goals. Payton has shown signs of greatness, but has been mediocre through the first two seasons of his NBA career.
Payton’s scoring game has lacked big time and that has to change for him to remain as their point guard of the future. His strength comes from passing, but he has still only managed to average 6.5 assists per game in his young career. The third year for a talented prospect is usually the season we will realize what his role is. Payton could be the team’s point guard for many more years or just an NBA backup. We’re going to find out sooner rather than later.
25 Michael Carter-Williams (Milwaukee Bucks)
We all expected big things from Michael Carter-Williams following an impressive rookie season where he won the 2013-2014 NBA Rookie of the Year Award. Carter-Williams took advantage of having the offense around him in Philadelphia and shined above a dreadful rookie class. The Milwaukee Bucks made a horrible decision trading Brandon Knight away and acquiring Carter-Williams to be their point guard of the future. Carter-Williams has consistently declined and the Bucks momentum was squandered following the move.
The mediocrity of Carter-Williams has soured the NBA world on him. A huge improvement is needed for fans to regain faith in his game. Milwaukee will be in big trouble if he doesn’t step up, as they already lost one of their best players when Khris Middleton went down in training camp with an injury. Carter-Williams is currently one of the least interesting point guards starting today and it will be a big surprise if he can change that perception at any point.
24 Darren Collison (Sacramento Kings)
The season is starting under terrible circumstances for the Sacramento Kings following the eight-game suspension to Darren Collison. The NBA decided to suspend him for pleading guilty to domestic violence. Many believe he should be punished more severely, including Jeff Van Gundy who ranted about the NBA needing to change the ruling. Collison will return after a couple of weeks, but he isn’t a huge difference maker. His body of work so far would make him the definition of an average point guard.
Darren won’t be the reason a team loses, but he is not good enough to help a mediocre team make the playoffs. Sacramento’s ineptitude has been on display in recent years, as they've typically fallen out of contention for a postseason spot by the All-Star break. They need an improvement at the point guard position with someone that can form a better type chemistry with the Kings best player, DeMarcus Cousins. Collison is better served as a backup or playing on a team with a ball handler like James Harden or LeBron James at another position.
23 George Hill (Utah Jazz)
The Utah Jazz have made significant steps to contend for a playoff spot in the Western Conference and they fell just one game short last season of capturing the final seed. The point guard position was their biggest weakness last year and they are hoping the acquisition of George Hill is enough to get them over the hump. Hill is another point guard that is average at best. The Jazz needed someone competent to replace Trey Burke, but Hill doesn't seem to be the answer.
Hill was traded away from the Indiana Pacers because they wanted more from the position. You’ll never see Hill contend for an All-Star spot or dominate the game. The consistency of decent play is what you have to expect from him. If you’re looking for anything more, disappointment will strike. Utah should be happy about Hill coming to the team, but don’t get too excited. Hill is who he is and that’s not a special talent or dynamic player.
22 D'Angelo Russell (Los Angeles Lakers)
D'Angelo Russell had a very controversial rookie season last year that made him a target for NBA fans. The Los Angeles Lakers believe Russell can be a big star to build the team around, but his immaturity held him back in many respects. Russell filmed teammate Nick Young admitting to cheating on his wife and uploaded it to Snapchat. The team gave him the silent treatment and made his life a "living hell" to end the season.
Many expected him to be traded in the off-season, but the Lakers need all the talent they can get entering their first season without Kobe Bryant. Despite his actions off the court, Russell showed the potential to excite you into believing he can be something special in the NBA. The array of weapons the Lakers have at other positions gives Russell the chance to take steps forward in becoming a star point guard.
Don’t be shocked if Russell has a huge year and contends for the Most Improved Player of the Year Award.
21 Jrue Holiday (New Orleans Pelicans)
The status of Jrue Holiday entering the season is unknown as he plans to take time off to attend to a family issue. Holiday’s wife, Lauren, gave birth to their child just before having to undergo brain surgery after a tumor was discovered. Jrue decided to take some time away from basketball to focus on the more important things in life. There’s no timetable on when he is expected to return, but he will be the starting point guard for the New Orleans Pelicans when he decides to comeback.
Holiday is very talented and plays a huge role in the Pelicans offense. Between his impressive scoring and facilitating, Holiday can be a difference maker in New Orleans. If they are in a position to make the playoffs when he returns, Holiday’s return may help them get to the next level. You also have to respect someone man enough to leave the game when his family has an emergency.
20 Dennis Schroder (Atlanta Hawks)
The Atlanta Hawks made a huge move in the off-season by trading away Jeff Teague. They achieved great things with Teague at point guard, but felt he was expendable due to the ascension of Dennis Schroder. The 23-year-old is entering his fourth season in the NBA and it will be his first time starting, as Schroder has played an important role off the bench in recent years. Atlanta was impressed enough with him that they decided to make him the starter by sending a credible player away.
Schroder surpassed Teague in the postseason last season. During the Hawks elimination in a sweep at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Schroder was their only bright spot, averaging 15.3 points and 4.8 assists in just over 20 minutes per game. The talent is definitely there, but we will have to see him show it consistently to believe it.
19 Rajon Rondo (Chicago Bulls)
Rajon Rondo was once considered the best pure point guard in the NBA, but that hasn't been the case for a few years now. The past few seasons have seen Rondo fall off of his perch and become an afterthought at the point guard position. Everyone remembers the Dallas Mavericks trading for him as their hopeful final piece in contending for a title, but instead saw the move destroy the chemistry of their team, as Rondo complained and refused to fit in with the team.
Last season saw him put up impressive numbers, but it was on an irrelevant Sacramento Kings team that allowed him to control the ball at all times. The Chicago Bulls signed Rondo this off-season and they likely would have avoided this move if they knew they would later acquire Dwyane Wade. Wade and Jimmy Butler are better players that require the ball to showcase their play-making abilities, leaving Rondo as the odd man out and he's likely in for a poor season by the look of it.
18 Jeremy Lin (Brooklyn Nets)
The Brooklyn Nets made their big move of the off-season by signing Jeremy Lin to become their starting point guard. Lin achieved the biggest success of his career with the New York Knicks when current Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson was an assistant that helped him improve his game. The two had great chemistry and it played a huge role in Lin coming to Brooklyn following a solid season with the Charlotte Hornets last year.
Charlotte played their best basketball when Lin was on the court and his time spent with the franchise helped rejuvenate his career. Lin has proven to be an effective player when allowed to play as a traditional point guard. Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant and James Harden dominating the ball hurt his prior chances at success on various teams. The Nets are all in on him at the position and he should have a good season with his first true opportunity to thrive as a starting point guard. "Lin-Sanity" may just return to the New York area once again.
17 Derrick Rose (New York Knicks)
Another interesting story of a new point guard coming to New York features Derrick Rose becoming the new starter for the Knicks. Rose saw injuries force his game to decline and lose his spot as the top star on the Chicago Bulls. The former MVP is nowhere near the player he used to be, but still has a lot to offer the Knicks. New York fans are desperate for their basketball team to contend again.
Rose has a plethora of talent around him with Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis, Joakim Noah and Courtney Lee rounding out the starting lineup. If Rose can score effectively and distribute to his teammates, he’ll become a beloved star in New York quickly. On the other hand, if he's often hurt or ineffective, it might force them to turn against him. Things can go either way for him, but you have to love Rose getting a new chance at relevancy with the Knicks.
16 Ricky Rubio (Minnesota Timberwolves)
The Minnesota Timberwolves are expected to take a huge leap forward this season. Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins are two of the most promising young talents in the league with chances at becoming All-Star caliber studs. It will be Ricky Rubio’s job to set them up for easy baskets as the starting point guard. Minnesota also has young talent Zach LaVine on the bench, along with rookie Kris Dunn, challenging Rubio and that will likely motivate him to play even harder to keep the starting spot.
Rubio is one of the best pure passers in the league and can easily lead the entire association in assists if the team allows him. The defense of Rubio is also a positive which makes him the clear choice to start over LaVine. Given the expectations being placed on the Timberwolves, Rubio has to prove he deserves to be the point guard of a playoff team. His lack of a shooting touch hurts him, but the rest of his strengths make up for it.
15 Tony Parker (San Antonio Spurs)
Similar to Rajon Rondo, the glory days of Tony Parker are over. We used to associate the San Antonio Spurs with Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Parker. Duncan is now retired, Ginobili likely only has one year left and Parker is nowhere near his former great self. Today, the Spurs are led by Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge. Parker still is good enough to contribute as an important player on the team despite being the third best option at the moment.
The veteran leadership of Parker adds another facet to his game that we can’t say the same about for other point guards. Parker’s numbers suffer due to his minutes being managed by head coach Gregg Popovich for the postseason, but he's still effective when on the court. Many teams would love to have a talent like Parker that just knows how to make game winning plays. We can no longer refer to Parker as an elite point guard, but he’s still very good.
14 Goran Dragic (Miami Heat)
We have yet to see the best of Goran Dragic with the Miami Heat, but that’s about to change. Dragic has sacrificed his individual greatness in favor of fitting into the team. Dwyane Wade leaving Miami and Chris Bosh not being cleared to play means Dragic is the most important player on the team now. Dragic will be the ball handler for the majority of plays with the ability to dictate the pace at which the game is played.
During his stint with the Phoenix Suns and when he had freedom on the offensive side of the court, Dragic delivered great results. The handcuffs are off and Dragic no longer has to play second fiddle to Wade in the back-court. Don’t get it wrong. The Heat are worse without Wade and Bosh, but Dragic is better off by being able to once again remind us how talented he is. Goran’s talent allows him shine in every aspect of the game and he’s bound to have a huge year.
13 Reggie Jackson (Detroit Pistons)
The Detroit Pistons have high hopes of being a credible team in the Eastern Conference. They can’t contend with the Cleveland Cavaliers, but want to be in that next tier with teams like the Toronto Raptors and Indiana Pacers. Andre Drummond is the best player on the team, but Reggie Jackson is their most important player. Jackson sets the tone for the team and gets everyone involved. Every team wants a young athletic point guard and Detroit found that in Jackson.
He averaged an impressive 18.8 points and 6.2 assists per game last season to help Detroit secure the final playoff spot in the East. Unfortunate news recently came out that Jackson would miss a month or two due to chronic tendinitis and a bone bruise, meaning the Pistons won’t have Jackson until late November or early December. They’ll have to stay above water until Jackson returns to the lineup. The season will depend on how much Jackson can give them once he gets back.
12 Jeff Teague (Indiana Pacers)
Indiana Pacers are ecstatic entering the season thanks to the trade acquisition of Jeff Teague. George Hill starting at point guard ran its course and the team needed to make a change. They struck gold when the Atlanta Hawks wanted to ditch Teague. The success of Teague saw him become the star point guard for the Hawks over the past few seasons. Not many can say they recently started for a 60 win team, but Jeff did that during the 2014-2015 season with the Hawks.
Teague can score and facilitate, but his best quality is his ability to understand an offense. There are nights when he will score 30+ points. Other nights will see him get 10+ assists while remaining in single digit points. Teague does what’s best for the team and that evens his stats out. This could be his best year yet with Paul George, Monta Ellis, Thaddeus Young and Myles Turner in the starting lineup with him. Expect a big comeback season from Teague after his disappointing ending with the Hawks.
11 Eric Bledsoe (Phoenix Suns)
Eric Bledsoe was having the best season of his career before a torn left meniscus cut his year short last year. The Phoenix Suns point guard averaged 20.4 points and 6.1 assists in 31 games until the injury ended his streak of greatness. Bledsoe has consistently shown signs of improvement through each season since entering the NBA. From his days as Chris Paul’s backup with the Los Angeles Clippers to his current role as the face of the Suns franchise, Bledsoe has a great all-around game that every team desires in a star.
But what sets Bledsoe apart from many of his peers is his defense. At his best, Bledsoe can defend with the best of the point guards in the NBA. His offensive game was his biggest weakness and last year proved he’s ready to take the next step as a complete player. The only thing that can hold him back is health. However, Bledsoe appears to be completely healthy entering the season and could be on track to have a huge year.
10 Kemba Walker (Charlotte Hornets)
Last season featured Kemba Walker having a breakout season and leading the Charlotte Hornets back to the post-season, as Walker averaged 20.9 points and 5.2 assists per game. The team needed him and he stepped up big time. Many believed he was snubbed from the Eastern Conference All-Star team, but he has a great chance of correcting that wrong this season. At the age of 26, Walker has officially entered his prime and has many more years of elite play ahead of him.
One thing that sets Walker apart from other point guards is his clutch gene. Walker shows no fear and loves taking the big shots late in games, with a reputation of coming through when most needed. Charlotte has a tough road ahead of them but Walker gives them an asset at point guard that many teams in the East can’t match. There aren't many people that view Walker as a Superstar, but he’s on the verge of getting there and it may happen this season.
9 Isaiah Thomas (Boston Celtics)
The Boston Celtics struck gold with one of the best trades in recent memory at the 2015 trade deadline. Isaiah Thomas was acquired for Marcus Thornton and a late draft pick. The Phoenix Suns received little to nothing and the Celtics found their star point guard. For whatever reason, the Suns and the Sacramento Kings never valued Thomas, but it all worked out for the best, as Thomas has found a home in Boston and is now considered a top level point guard.
During his first full season with the Celtics last year, Thomas averaged 22.2 points and 6.1 assists per game, leading them into the playoffs. This summer, Boston signed Al Horford in free agency with the expectations of contending in the Eastern Conference. Thomas is still their best offensive player and will have the freedom to show off his skills again. Expect another All-Star season and big numbers for basketball’s "biggest little man."
8 Mike Conley (Memphis Grizzlies)
Mike Conley has flopwn under the radar for years as one of the most underrated stars in the NBA. That is no longer the case after signing a massive five year, $153 million contract extension with the Memphis Grizzlies. The numbers seem ridiculous on the surface, but the landscape of the NBA dictates it isn't so bad. Conley is a tremendous two-way player who displays greatness on both sides of the court. Factor in that he’s in his prime at 28 years old and you’ll realize Memphis had to keep him.
The talent of Conley is unquestionable, with his role on the Grizzlies making them a potential contender in the upper echelon of the Western Conference. Conley doesn’t have the highest points or assists total at point guard, but his play-making skills are up there with the best of them. Without Conley, imagine how much Memphis would struggle getting the ball to Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. His defensive work also sets him apart as a top level point guard in the NBA.
7 John Wall (Washington Wizards)
The ascension of John Wall in recent years has seen him become one of the best point guards in the NBA. Sadly, the rest of the Washington Wizards have lacked the ability to keep up with him and have wasted away his excellence. Wall has become the kind of player that will average 17-20 points and 8-11 assists per game every season moving forward. The defense of Wall has also become a positive to his game after improvements last year.
Washington needs to start making moves that improve the franchise or Wall could be on his way out when he becomes a free agent. Wall’s offense, defense and basketball intelligence have all come together at the right time to make him a superb point guard.
6 Kyle Lowry (Toronto Raptors)
The Toronto Raptors have become a respectable force in the Eastern Conference as the biggest threat to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Kyle Lowry has played the biggest role in the franchise turning it around, which happened at the same as his elevation as a top point guard. After years of solid play, Lowry found his home in Toronto and took his game to another level. Lowry stepped up through the process of hard work and commitment that allowed Raptors fans to reap the rewards.
Every fan base wants a player like Lowry. The guy leaves it all on the floor with pure heart and emotion. Lowry is now a fixture on the Eastern Conference All-Star team, while Raptors fans developed the reputation of being one of the most dedicated and passionate fan bases in the league. That likely came thanks to watching someone like Lowry lead the way with his strong work ethic. Lowry is officially an elite point guard in the NBA and can match-up with just about anyone.
5 Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Kyrie Irving’s talent is almost unfair. The Cleveland Cavaliers star is only 24 years old but is already a premiere point guard. Adopting the nickname of "The AnkleTaker," Irving dazzles us with his sick crossovers. Irving’s offensive game is smooth in just about every aspect with an incredible shot and tremendous speed. Cleveland would not have pulled off their miraculous 3-1 comeback in the NBA Finals last season without Irving's contributions.
The most memorable visual of the Finals saw Irving hit a game-winning three-pointer in the final minute of Game Seven. Irving took his game to an elite level last post-season and the rest of the league should be afraid. The most terrifying thing about Irving is the realization that he’s not even in his prime yet. Irving will be among the best point guards in the NBA for many more years to come, as long as he stays healthy and works on his defense.
4 Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers)
The Portland Trail Blazers found their new franchise player when they drafted Damian Lillard in 2012. Everyone expected him and Portland to decline last season following the losses of LaMarcus Aldridge, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum and Robin Lopez. Lillard lost his entire starting lineup and still managed to lead Portland back to the playoffs as the sixth seed in the Western Conference. His incredible season saw him average 25.1 points and 6.8 assists per game.
Lillard stands out especially because of his smarts. Unlike many other stars, Lillard has gone on the record that he doesn’t want to join a “super team” at any point and prefers to lead his own team.
His three-point shot, inside driving game and all-around offensive excellence has made Lillard almost unstoppable. His defense is also improving and could be the missing piece in him jumping above the other names on this list soon. Lillard has a chance to have a very special career and is already one of the best point guards in the game today.
3 Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers)
The surge of young point guards dominating the NBA has led to new stars being born, but there’s one guy that has been doing it for the past decade. Chris Paul is a legendary point guard and has put together an unbelievable string of years. The Los Angeles Clippers are a contender in the Western Conference and have been a factor since Paul came over in a trade. Paul completely changed the culture of the franchise and made them relevant again.
No one has been a better facilitator in recent history as Paul has. He averaged at least 8.9 assists every season in his career aside from his rookie year. The age of Paul is seeing a few point guards pass him, but he still deserves to be mentioned among the elite. Paul is a great defender and is one of the biggest game changers on the offensive side of things. We have started to take him for granted, but Paul deserves respect as a top tier point guard.
2 Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)
Stephen Curry has dominated the NBA over the past two seasons with back-to-back MVP Awards. The Golden State Warriors rise to prominence has come mostly thanks to Curry’s unbelievable offensive game. Curry has cemented himself as the best three-point shooter in NBA history. Last season’s numbers of 30.1 points, 6.7 assists and 5.4 rebounds per game dominated the league like no one else has in recent memory. Everyone wants to watch Curry play for his exciting style of play matching his dominance on the court every night.
The defense of Curry has become an issue that does provide a weakness in his game. In the finals, Kyrie Irving tried to get Curry to defend him off of a screen to get the advantage. The game-winning shot came when Irving hit the dagger over Curry. Golden State needs their star to improve his defense come the postseason. Curry is arguably the best offensive player in the world at the moment and the Warriors are once again favorites to win it all.
1 Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder)
The biggest story entering the NBA season will be watching Russell Westbrook ascend to the top of the league. Westbrook has always been an elite point guard with an explosive style that sets him apart from the rest of players at the position. The fact that he teamed with Kevin Durant always limited his numbers, but he still had among the best stats at the position. Westbrook has the potential to average a triple double this season without Durant lurking by his side.
Something that makes Westbrook even more valuable to the Oklahoma City Thunder is his old school mentality. Westbrook has a killer instinct that has earned him huge compliments from the likes of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. His all-around offensive greatness, strong defense and desire to compete make Westbrook a special kind of player every team desperately searches for, but very few can find. Get ready for a MVP worthy season from Russell Westbrook as he proves to be the top point guard in the NBA.