There is no question that today's NBA is the golden era for the point guard position. Never before in league history have we had so many dominant floor generals. The game has become increasingly guard dominant as the rules has shifted to promote offense, primamrily perimeter offense.
The expectations of the point guard have also changed over the past couple decades. Point guards were once expected to bring the ball up the court and get the team into their offense. Today we see guys like Russell Westbrook, and James Harden who bring the ball up looking to attack the defense and score. The art of orchestrating an offense has taken a new form in today's NBA. There are still players like Ricky Rubio, and Chris Paul who are more conventional point guards, and they also have had great success in the league. Basically, it boils down to when the NBA made hand checking a personal foul. Prior to that rule change, defenders could put hands on the defensive player in an attempt to guide them wherever the defense wanted. Now that has changed, and with the change we see a whole new archetype of point guard dominating the game. With the plethora of talent at the one spot, it is really hard to rank them, but that is what we do! So without further ado, here are the 15 best point guards in the NBA right now.
15 Ricky Rubio
When he was drafted 5th overall back in 2009, Rubio was 19 years old, and not quite NBA ready. He spent the 2009-2010 season playing in the Spanish League, before finally going the Timberwolves in 2011. As his career began some questioned if his talents were enough to lead a team in the NBA. He was an elite passer, but his jump shot and defense were suspect to say the least. But, it didn't take long for people to realize Ricky knew what he was doing.
In his rookie season he averaged 10.6 points, and 8.2 assists per game. He was already one of the best passers in the league as a rookie. Now in his sixth NBA season, Rubio is finding himself mentioned with the elite point guards in the game. He is currently averaging ten points and nine assists this season, while helping an extremely young Minnesota team find their way.
14 Goran Dragic
With the departure of Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh's career likely over, the Miami Heat have made a complete overhaul in just one year. The new Heat feature Hassan Whiteside, who is quickly becoming one of the elite centers in the game. They are also being led by Goran Dragic.
Dragic is quietly having the best season of his career this year, averaging over twenty points and six assists per night. Goran also has the Heat in the thick of the Eastern Conference playofff race at the moment. He was often viewed as a flashy point guard, who is looking to make SportCenter's Top 10 rather than make the right play and get his team a win. However, this season, he has proven that he can be the leader of a quality team.
13 Eric Bledsoe
Despite the Suns being one of the worst teams in the league this season, Eric Bledsoe is putting up career highs across the board. He is leading one of the youngest teams in the league, and with him, Devon Booker, and others, the Suns could be on the fast track to Western Conference contention in the coming years.
Not only is Bledsoe averaging career highs in points, assists, and rebounds, but he is also having the best defensive season of his career. First year coach Earl Watson has routinely stuck Eric on the opposing teams best perimeter player, and he has responded. The Suns truly have a bright future with Eric Bledsoe running the show, but we shall see how this offseason pans out, as there have been rumors of the Suns taking trade offers for Bledsoe throughout the season.
12 Jeff Teague
After spending his first seven seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, Jeff Teague signed with the Indiana Pacers before the season. Early on it looked like it was a mistake, as the Hawks added Dwight Howard, and were doing much better than Indiana. But, as the season progressed Indiana seemed to right the ship, and now they are poised to make a playoff run, largely in part to Teague.
Paired with a bonafide superstar in Paul George, Teague has now been relieved of the stresses of scoring. He is now solely focused on distributing the basketball, and it clearly shows as he is averaging eight assists per night. Despite not being asked to score, Teague is still averaging over 15 points per game as well. After a bumpy start Teague has regained his All-Star form from last season, and he has the Pacers ready for a tough playoff run this season.
11 Kemba Walker
Now in his sixth NBA season, Kemba Walker is starting to establish himself as an elite point guard, as well as one of the more clutch players in the game. Last season he led the Hornets to the playoffs where they took the Miami Heat to seven games, only to come up just short in Game 7.
Walker is averaging a career high with 22.3 points per game this season, while also shooting a career best 44.5% from the field. With his efficiency rising, and his turnovers shrinking, Walker is just a couple assists shy of true ascension on a list like this. The Hornets are on pace to make the playoffs again, and with another year of experience, look for Walker to make an even bigger impact this year than he did last year.
10 Mike Conley Jr.
Already in his tenth season, Mike Conley is playing elite level basketball at the point guard spot. This past off season, Conley signed the richest contract in NBA history at $153 million over five years. Many people believe the Grizzlies highly overpaid Mike, but his contributions to Memphis have almost warranted the huge payday. Now he is clearly not the best player in the game, not even the best point guard, but the things he does for his team cannot be diminished.
Conley has led Memphis to five straight playoff appearance in the dreaded Western Conference. He is the calming captain of a ship full of personality. This season he is averaging a career high twenty points per game, while still dishing out over six assists per game and playing elite level defense at the point guard spot. Conley has the Grizzlies positioned in the middle of the Western Conference playoff discussion again this season, and it appears he is ready to take the next step in his rise to superstardom.
9 Kyle Lowry
Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan make up the second highest scoring backcourt in the NBA this season, and that is due in large part to the point guards score first mentality. Lowry has established himself as one of the premier scoring point men in the game over the last handful of seasons.
He is currently recovering from a wrist injury, but he will be ready when the Eastern Conference playoffs begin in April. With Lowry running the show in Toronto, the team has made the playoffs four straight seasons, including last year when they made it to the Eastern Conference Finals. Averaging nearly 23 points and seven assists per game, Kyle has been an All-Star three straight years, and this year he is looking to take his team to new heights during their playoff run.
8 Damian Lillard
Despite being an All-Star snub for the second straight season, Damian Lillard is still going out there every night and making magic happen. What happened to him last season was an NBA travesty. He led a roster, with not a single other notable player, to the second round of the playoffs. Forget All-Star, Lillard should have been in the MVP conversation last season.
This year is much of the same. Lillard has Portland in the thick of things, fighting with Denver, Memphis, and Dallas for the final two playoff spots. Averaging nearly 27 points and seven assists, Lillard should again be getting some mention when it comes to MVP talk, yet somehow he is ignored. The supporting cast he has been burdened with is a lottery roster, yet somehow, year after year, he has them fighting for playoff position. Look for Portland to make a major move this off season if they want to keep Dame around much longer.
7 Chris Paul
Once the gold standard for point guards in the NBA, it seems some of the players have passed him by. Still one of the elite point men, Paul has taken a step back this season. He is currently averaging less than his career averages across the board. He also has fallen victim to some injuries, and at 31 years old, he is not getting any younger.
The current Clipper roster is, in what many view as, their final year together if they don't get to the Finals. The CP3, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan experiment may just be finished at the end of this season. With Paul's former team, the Pelicans picking up DeMarcus Cousins this season there have been rumors swirling that CP3 could jump back to the weaker Eastern Conference and join the twin towers of Cousins and Anthony Davis next season. Despite all the distractions, Paul swears he is focused on this season, and why not, the Clippers are still in a great position to make some noise this year.
6 John Wall
Often overlooked, John Wall is having one of the best seasons of any point guard in the league this season. He has taken his talents to the next level this season, and he has the Wizards primed for a deep playoff run.
Finally, Wall has found the right speed. For years he was regarded as the fastest player in the league, but he was unable to harness that speed, and use it to its full potential. Well, finally this year he has found a way. Averaging, by far, career bests in points and assists this year, Wall has put himself in the fringe MVP conversation. His 10.8 assists per game has him second in the league, and his 22.9 points per game ranks him second on his team. Wall has made a large improvement on his game this season, and he will be a force come playoff time.
5 Isaiah Thomas
At 5'9" Thomas has always been an undersized guard, but he has also always had the most oversized chip on his shoulder. Being the final pick in the 2011 draft perhaps added to the size of that chip. But, Thomas is a fighter, and he has proven this season that size really doesn't matter.
This season Isaiah has led the Boston Celtics in points and assists, while also leading them to the number two spot in the Eastern Conference. He is currently third in the NBA with 29.1 points per game, and he leads the league in fourth quarter scoring. Finally given a real opportunity to lead a team, Thomas has taken full advantage this season, and he is looking to bring Boston back to the promise land. Surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that includes former All-Star Al Horford, look for the Celtics to make a deep playoff run this spring.
4 Steph Curry
A back to back MVP can't even crack the top three at his position this season? That tells you how deep the position is, and why we are in the golden age of point guards. The point guard for the Golden State Warriors is probably the funnest job in the NBA. Surrounded by All-Stars, and MVP's makes the job that much easier and more fun. However, Steph did start this season slow compared to his previous seasons. That could probably be attributed to the addition of Kevin Durant, and the acclamation process that happens when as superstar is added to a team.
This season Curry has seen a decrease in his shot attempts which has decreased his scoring. But, despite the transition the Warriors made by adding a former MVP, Curry has still had a remarkable season. He is averaging nearly 25 points and six assists per game. He will not win the MVP for a third straight year, but he is still in the conversation when talking about best players in the game.
3 Kyrie Irving
The ultimate playmaker, the guy who saved LeBron, Uncle Drew, whatever you want to call him, Kyrie has proven himself as an elite force on the offensive end this season. He is averaging over 25 points and six assists per game, but his contributions go well beyond the numbers. The confidence his teammates have in him has enabled all of them to become better players. When you know your point guard is going to be make plays, you are at a level of ease that enables you to play better yourself, and Kyrie provides that to all his teammates.
At only 25 years old, Kyrie is only now entering the prime of his career. With a championship already under his belt, there is not telling how good this kid could become, not to mention he has the best player in the game by his side. The Cavaliers are positioned to make a championship run yet again, and it is in no small part due to the emergence of Kyrie Irving.
2 Russell Westbrook
When you are doing things that have only been done by Oscar Robertson, you are definitely on an elite level. When Kevin Durant left OKC last season, Russell made it his personal mission to show the world he can lead a team by himself. Well, he certainly has done that, averaging a triple double this season is all the evidence you need.
Many thought the Thunder would become a lottery team without perennial MVP candidate Kevin Durant, however, Russell Westbrook had other plans. He has the Thunder in a position where they could actually get homecourt advantage for the first round of the playoffs. During this historic season, Westbrook already has put up thirty-four triple-doubles, with a dozen games remaining. There is only one reason why he is not number one on this list, and that is his efficiency. There is not reason to attempt to knock what he has done though, and this is not the place to be knit-picky on a guy averaging a triple-double.
1 James Harden
It is so hard to choose a number one when dealing with so many great players, but James Harden has seemed to separate himself from the pack as of late. Not only does he have the Rockets among the elite teams in the league after losing Dwight Howard, but he is also rivaling the feat of the one man show Russell Westbrook. Harden now has 20 triple-doubles of his own this season, while taking a team with no other All-Stars to the third seed in the Western Conference.
Harden has more than doubled his career average for assist this season, with 11.2 per game. He has added over six points to his career average of 22.1 points per game. His 8.3 rebounds per game is more than three boards higher than his career average. The cherry on top of the Westbrook/Harden debate is Harden is shooting over four percentage points higher from the field and three percentage points higher from the three point line. The debate will rage on, but it seems Harden has done enough to separate himself from the rest of the points guards. One last thing, this is the first season in his career that James has played the point guard position.