The point guard position is the one position in basketball where hope, promise and opportunity lies at the fingertips of a man whose size is the only one that resembles a normal human being. They are the facilitators of the game, the purveryors of the court, and the liaison of wisdom and advice from the head coach. If you have a point guard worth a damn on your favorite team, you never feel like you can’t win a game if he doesn’t play well. If you don’t have a point guard worth a damn…you’re either a Lakers fan, or your team isn’t any good.
Between the work we’ve done on ETSF and TSFJ, we specialize in the creation of lists. It’s fun, we like to collaborate, and and we like to berate each other for our questionable selections that you’ll read below. For this top ten list, we leveraged the basketball aficionados on this site: BC (SLAM Magazine), Tins (Smoking Section), Ken, and yours truly (SLAM/SB Nation). Plus, we reached out to our left-coast brethren and asked Anthony Ramsey of Los That Sports Blog to join in on the festivities. Everyone’s list came out very similar at the top, but the bottom of the list shows that no one can agree on anything.
Just like always, we used this season’s current performance as the barometer, but previous success will be taken into consideration as well. With all that out of the way, the floor is open for debate. Here are the REAL top ten point guards in the NBA.
T-10. Jose Calderon, Toronto Raptors
T-10. Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers
Kenny made an interesting point about Spain’s best point guard. (Rubio’s almost there, but not yet.) If Calderon wasn’t rotting away in Toronto, he would get more love. The man sets the table for everyone and, most important, he takes care of the basketball. It’s what anyone would want in a point guard. Anthony pointed out that Calderon has an amazing 4.5 assist to turnover ratio on the year (second to only Chris Paul), while dishing out 8.7 dimes a game.
As for Kyrie Irving, as much as everyone has swooned over Ricky Rubio,, if you watch Kyrie play then a few things stick out above Rubio. Irving is more assertive on the floor, he’s more confident in his shooting ability, and he’s not a liability on the defensive end. These three reasons trump Rubio’s insane court vision, but both will probably be higher on this list next year.
9. Kyle Lowry, Houston Rockets
Per Tinsley, coining somebody “underrated” has actually become “overrated” in recent years, but if any player in the league fits this bill, it’s Houston’s floor general. The only reason you don’t know about the guy is because Houston plays no nationally-televised games.
Plus, the fact that Lowry is capable of getting a triple-double almost every night (averaging 18/8/5) has to get you on the top ten PGs list.
8. John Wall, Washington Wizards
John Wall has everything you’d want in a point guard (in a physical sense). Cat-like quickness, good shooting form and great height and length (what up, Bilas?) for the position. The problem is that he plays for Washington
Generals Wizards where the jerseys are just as distracting as the terrible roster they trot out there. Wall has to do way too much himself, but he’s number eight on this list, purely off of pure potential alone. Hopefully, D.C. figures it out soon, so Wall can win in Chocolate City.
7. Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs
Let it be known that Tony Parker has more rings than everyone else COMBINED on this top ten list. Yes, you read that right. Parker has won three championships since hitting the league ten years ago, and it’s crazy to think that the man is only 29 years old. Folks tend to forget that Parker was a lot like Rondo early in his career, as his jumper was a liability on the court. Not anymore, as there’s nothing that Parker can’t do on the court. It’s the off-the-court stuff that Parker has a problem with. (Hide your chick, hide your wife.)
6. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
From Ed, “If you notice this top ten list, I have Russell Westbrook as the number five point guard in the NBA. Yes, I know I am one of the biggest homers for Russell Westbrook you’ll ever know, but if I made an honest assessment on what I visualize a point guard is…then yes, he’s number five. However, if this list was just “the best players in the NBA,” then I’d consider putting Westbrook above everyone else on this list, outside of Rose and Paul. Westbrook doesn’t make his bread by focusing on being a distributor; he thrives by pressuring the defense. Attacking the rim, pull-up jumpers, penetrating and kicking to open shooters will never go out of style, and that’s something that Russie will always be number one at.
5. Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics
Per Tinsley, Rondo’s everything you’d want in a point guard, off-top. A floor general, a warrior and exceptional court vision. And there’s a good chance he could’ve landed at number one if he weren’t such a liability when he was forced to shoot the ball or deliver at the free throw line, where he converts only 62% of the time.
4. Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns
Steve Nash is the Point God that just won’t die. Nash is top-three in Kenny’s eyes, and it’s tough to argue about a PG whose skills haven’t eroded and is leading the league in assists at 11 per game at age 38. Tinsley has clamored for the Memphis Grizzlies to trade for him, while I envision a day where he plays for the Atlanta Hawks. Regardless, the consensus from almost everyone is that it is time to free Steve Nash from his captivity.
3. Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls
By Ken’s definition, a point guard makes the game easier for everyone, and while Rose has come a long way and we can even say he’s probably a better player than the guys ahead of him, he’s not a better point guard than the guys ahead of him…in Ken’s humble opinion. However, Anthony points out that his jumper is vastly improved, and he has an uncanny ability to know when to get his teammates involved or take over the scoring load himself when the Bulls need a bucket.
2. Deron Williams, New Jersey Nets
Per Kenny, “Despite the fact that his play this season has not only disheartened me, but infuriated me as well, he’s still the best point guard in the NBA. Once the change of address comes, his play will improve. Even with that, his track record is solid enough to where I feel comfortable taking him above anyone else at the position.”
1. Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers
Nevermind the fact he’s only been out the first round once in his career, Tinsley says that the dictator of “Lob City” is everything a team could ask for in a point guard. Court vision that’s second-to-none, a beautiful shot and, probably his best quality, CP3 can be a complete dog on the court, when need be. Not to mention, the Clippers became title contenders once he stepped in town.
Jason Kidd, Dallas Mavericks
Jason Kidd not only solidified his importance to the Mavericks last year, but he is reinforcing it this season with some time off. The Mavs have tried Delonte at the point, Roddy B. at the point, and while I love Delonte and Roddy is cool, the Mavs need Kidd back. His leadership, his ability to make the game easier for everyone, and his clutch play are what defines a real point guard.
Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
I’m going to have to call Anthony Ramsey on Curry getting an eighth place vote out of him. Are we sure Curry’s even the damn point guard of the team, or is it Monta Ellis? I’m not even sure he’s a damn point guard personally, but he does represent well for the Light Skinned Coalition, so I’ll chill for the time being.
Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves
It’s not a question of if with Rubio, but when. Watching Rubio in international play made me realize that this kid was, in fact, real. He gave Deron Williams and Chris Paul fits at 17 years old in the 2008 Olympics. Now, at 21, he’s got the Timberwolves playing with a .500 record and their team is must-see-TV.
Here is everyone’s personal top ten point guards list, the doors of the church are open. Let the debate begin.
Eddie Maisonet is the founder and editor emeritus of The Sports Fan Journal. Currently, he serves as an associate editor for ESPN.com. He is an unabashed Russell Westbrook and Barry Switzer apologist, owns over 100 fitteds and snapbacks, and lives by Reggie Jackson’s famous quote, “I am the straw that stirs the drink.”