The NBA has become a point guard driven league. The old school, facilitating, pass first point guard has gone extinct. It’s been replaced by the run and gun, scoring one. Two players who serve as examples of this are the league’s two best point guards – Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook. Both Curry and Westbrook are scoring guards. Curry is a scoring, three-point weapon, and go to option for the Warriors. Averaging 24.7 points a game, Curry is the biggest element to their success. Westbrook’s style of play is different; however, serves the same purpose. While not a three-point weapon, Westbrook is a scoring guard who attacks the rim at will. Averaging an astonishing 31.1 points, 10.1 assists, and 10.5 rebounds, Westbrook leads his team in all three categories. He’s the heart and soul of the Oklahoma City Thunder; however, outside of Curry and Westbrook who are the top five point guards in the NBA?
5. Chris Paul
Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul is the leader of his squad both on and off the court. Averaging 17.5 points and 9.7 assists a game, Paul is the driver of the Clippers uptempo offense which features star big men Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Paul’s also a veteran presence off the floor, serving as a mentor for the Clipper movement; however, while still a presence for the Clippers, Paul has fallen off his game a bit. That’s mostly due to his current injury woes. Also, seeing how the Clippers are still a force without him shows that the 31-year-old guard may be on the decline. He has also seemed to slow down a bit, and that’s why the younger and more crafty guards such as Kyrie Irving have an edge on him.
4. Kyrie Irving
Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving has become one of the most exciting players in the NBA. He’s a crossover mixtape, a good shooter, and also good at attacking the rim. Irving is averaging 24.4. points and 5.9 assists a game in the 2016-17 NBA season. He plays the role as LeBron James sidekick; however, does that make his success slightly overrated?
Before Lebron James returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Irving was one of the best scoring guards in the NBA, but he alone hasn’t been able to lead the Cavaliers to the playoffs. Irving is a very crafty guard, but if you take him off the Cavaliers, they’re still the best team in the Eastern Conference given that LeBron James and forward Kevin Love are still on the roster. That in a way makes Irving look not as good as Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry.
3. Kyle Lowry
The Raptors’ Kyle Lowry, like Chris Paul, is the heart and soul of his team and has been the leader of their uprising. Just a few years ago, Lowry led the Raptors back to the playoffs after a drought. Then, last year, Lowry lead them to the Eastern Conference Finals. He’s a go-to option offensively next to DeMar DeRozan for the Raptors and is also a gritty and underrated defender. Averaging 22.8 points, 6.9 assists, and also racking in 4.7 rebounds a game, Lowry is the energizer bunny of his Raptor team; however, the 30 year old from Philadelphia is beginning to get up there in age, and isn’t the quick, and crafty guard he was a couple years ago. As a result, that makes the younger and more athletic guards such as Isaiah Thomas a tad better.
2. Isaiah Thomas
Just a couple years ago, the Boston Celtics acquired point guard Isaiah Thomas from the Phoenix Suns, and he’s been nothing short of superb. Leading the Celtics in scoring every season since arriving in Boston, Thomas has been the leader of his Celtic squad; however, he’s taken it to new heights in the 2016-17 season. Averaging 29.9 points and 6.3 assists a game, Thomas has risen to stardom and has made Boston a threat to the top seed Cavaliers along the way. Possessing the two seed in the Eastern Conference, the Celtics are just three games behind the Cavs in the Eastern Conference.
Despite the short 5’9″ frame, Thomas has become one of the best players in the association. His elite scoring and crafty offensive playmaking have made him one of the five best point guards in the NBA. The one knock on his game though is his defense. While not terrible, Thomas is by no stretch an elite defender. That’s why Washington Wizards John Wall has the edge on him.
1. John Wall
Wizards point guard John Wall has been the most underappreciated player in the NBA over the course of the last few years. The question is why? Wall is an elite defender, a go-to scoring option night in and night out, and is also one of the best facilitators in the NBA. Averaging 22.8 points, 10.8 assists and 2.1 steals a game, Wall has been the recipe for the Wizards success. Also, Wall’s assist and steal total both rank second in the NBA. Another thing to keep in mind is Wall’s consistency. He’s averaged over 10 assists a game the last three years. The biggest question in Wall’s game though is not what he doesn’t do, it’s why he gets so little attention?
Throughout his entire career Wall has been an elite point guard. For his career, he is averaging 18.6 points, 9.1 assists and 1.7 steals a game. Those numbers are superstar caliber. This year, Wall is averaging career highs in all three of those categories and seeing the way he puts the Wizards on his back, it’s really unfortunate that Wall doesn’t get the credit he deserves.
In reality, Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook’s offensive games are so legendary to the point where you can’t say that Wall is clearly better than them; however, Wall is the best defender at his position, is a better all around facilitator, and has led the Wizards to a better overall record than Westbrook has with the Thunder. At the end of the day, are Curry and Westbrook the two best point guards in the NBA? Yes, but John Wall is right behind them and depending on how the rest of the year progresses, he could possibly make the jump to being the best point guard in the NBA.