In the 1999-2000 season, the NBA changed the rules regarding hand checking in the back court. Since then, the value of the point guard position has grown exponentially. Now with the freedom to probe defenses without defenders draped over them, point guards became arguably the most valuable players in the league over the past 18 seasons.
The NBA is currently incredibly deep at the point guard position. Here are the five best floor generals in the association this season.
1- Steph Curry
After the signing of Kevin Durant prior to last season, it almost feels like people have forgotten how good Steph Curry really is. With Durant, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green on the floor with him, Curry simply doesn’t have to be as special as he’s capable of. Don’t forget, this is still a two time MVP, and possibly the greatest shooter we have ever seen. Curry reminded us all of that by dropping 38 points with 10 made threes in his first game back from an ankle injury. Prior to the injury, Curry was somehow “quietly” averaging 26 points and 6 assists.
With his remarkable stroke, handles second only to Kyrie Irving, and a whole lot of swagger, Curry is one of the deadliest point guards in the league. His range stretches defenses past their limits. If you’ve been distracted by players like James Harden or Giannis Antetokounmpo so far this year, don’t worry. Curry will be around in June when very few other are.
2- Kyrie Irving
This past summer, Kyrie Irving decided to spread his wings and prove he can lead a team without LeBron James. After a trade to Boston, Irving has shown he can do just that, leading the Celtics to the best record in the East as the All-Star break approaches. Averaging 24 points and five assists per contest, Irving is the best player on a talented Celtic roster. What truly sets him apart are his handles: his ability to seemingly keep the ball on a string as he weaves in, around, and through defenses can leave opposing coaches scratching their heads. Those skills, combined with a remarkable knack for the circus-layup finish, and a devastating pull up three pointer, make Irving one of the toughest players to guard in the NBA.
Just entering his prime at 25 years old, “Uncle Drew” should be breaking ankles in the NBA for the foreseeable future.
3- Russell Westbrook
You would think the reigning MVP would easily top this list, but the Oklahoma City Thunder simply aren’t having the same team success as the Golden State Warriors or Boston Celtics. That isn’t really Russell Westbrook’s fault, however. Westbrook averaged a triple double last season, and is amazingly very close to still averaging one this year, despite the additions of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. Westbrook does it all, scoring at will, dishing out dimes, and grabbing boards. No point guard in the league stuffs a stat sheet like he does.
Westbrook only has one speed, which is roughly 140 miles per hour. Sometimes that can get him into trouble, but no point guard in the league scares defenses more in the open court with a head of steam. Westbrook always plays with maximum intensity, but finding a lower gear may actually increase his efficiency and prolong his career, and maybe lead to more team success in the future.
4- Chris Paul
Of all the players on this list, Chris Paul may be the most complete player. That should come as no surprise, as he’s been one of the best point guards in the game for over a decade now. Paul missed much of the early part of the season due to injury, but now that he’s back, we’re seeing him do the same things in Houston that he had done with the Clippers and Hornets in the past. Paul is averaging 17 points, nine assists, and five rebounds this season. Not too shabby for a 32 year old point guard who barely stands 6 feet tall. Expect those numbers to rise with James Harden now injured.
What sets Paul apart is his basketball I.Q.. He seemingly makes the right play every time down the floor. With excellent court vision, high shooting percentages, and the ability to play extremely pesky defense, Paul will go down as one of the better point guards to ever lace up sneakers.
5– John Wall
Wall’s scoring numbers have dipped a bit this season, but much of that can be attributed to the improvements of teammates Bradley Beal and Otto Porter Jr. Wall can be a nightmare for opponents every night. He’s one of the fastest players in the league with the ball in his hands, and can get into the middle of a defense at will. Once he gets there, he leaves defenses with a no win scenario: play him straight up and he’s likely to score, bring help and he finds the open man. He’s cut down his turnovers this season, which means he brings court vision, ball security, and finishing ability on a nightly basis.
Wall can make impactful plays on the defensive end, but his effort there needs to be more consistent. He also doesn’t shoot well from the arc, but still has time to improve there. If he can round out those two parts of his game, he could be among the NBA’s best players, regardless of position.