With over a quarter of the season in the books, NBA teams have reveled in the talent that has shown themselves at the point guard position in 2021. A few young players making huge strides, some scrappy veterans digging in their bag to lead a team, and some surprise risers – and fallers – have all impacted their teams respective rankings. With the point guard position as deep as it’s ever been, The Athletes Hub has compiled a list of our top rankings for the NBA season:
10. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City Thunder
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, 23, cracks our list to start the segment. He is averaging 22.7/4.8/5.2 this season and has shown that he isn’t to be taken lightly. Even in a down year shooting, he has sustained the electric play that made Oklahoma City fans giddy after the Paul George trade in 2018. Not only does Gilgeous-Alexander project to become an even greater player, but I expect him to be a few spots higher in next year’s rankings. As long as he can get his shooting back to a respectable place, he should make massive strides going forward
Impressive Stat: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is second in the league among point guards in turnover percentage at just 8.8% of his touches resulting in a turnover.
9. Fred VanVleet, Toronto Raptors
After an impressive NBA Finals run in 2019, many had Fred VanVleet as a solid role player, and maybe a bottom-tier starter in the NBA. Sure, he was a solid piece on an efficient team, but could he really lead an offense? Sure enough, VanVleet is being talked about years later as a top 10 point guard in the NBA. Along with impressive defense for a guard his size, VanVleet is averaging career-highs in points (20.1), assists (6.7) and rebounds (5.1) per game, while shooting the highest percentages of his career (.539 eFG%). It has been an incredible year from an underappreciated point guard in this league who is sure to complicate things for opposing teams in the coming months.
Impressive Stat: VanVleet is shooting 62% on corner three-point shots this season, first among point guards and second in the NBA.
8. Russell Westbrook, Los Angeles Lakers
It is safe to say that Westbrook has fallen down on most top 10 lists over the past few years. He is maintaining the highest turnover percentage of his career and is still shooting just 31% from deep. While the aggravation over his defense is exaggerated, he has seemed to lose a step on that end of the floor. Still, Westbrook continues to put up impressive numbers, averaging 19.8/8/8.2 this season. Even with the issues the Lakers have with him playing off-ball, Westbrook continues to push forward against his “negative impact player” persona surrounding him.
You have to give the veteran his respect, even in a down year.
Impressive Stat: The three-point woes of Westbrook might be just about shot location. From the corner, he is making 48% of his shots. Paired along with an above-average percentage at making deep two-point shots (45%), the next step of Westbrooks career could be a PJ Tucker-esque roll, shot location wise.
7. LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets
The youngest member of the Ball trio came out like a cannon this season, showing an impressive sophomore leap. Even with more shooting responsibility, his percentages have skyrocketed over the past few months. His usage has increased, as he’s passing the ball with more care, and his steal percentages (2.4%) have stayed consistent after his previous great season on that end. A 19.7/7.4/8 season is impressive for a veteran, but for a 20-year old guard, it’s a historic feat. His spot at seventh on this list might be the lowest he is ranked across the next decade.
Impressive Stat: LaMelo Ball is the best offensive rebounding guard in the NBA, averaging 1.6 offensive boards per game.
6. Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies
Morant has been transcendent this season, averaging 23.7/5.5/6.8 per game on the best shooting of his career. Even with the added offensive load, he has improved his steals to 1.5 per contest. While needing more improvement on the defensive end, Morant has vaulted himself into the conversations of top guards in this league. The third-year guard has taken the Grizzlies to the fourth seed in the West this season and looks to keep them there for a long time to come. As long has Morant can stay on the court, the Grizzlies have a shot to build something special around him.
Impressive Stat: While we all agree that Ja Morant is an incredible talent, the Grizzlies are 10-1 without him this season, and only 10-11 with him on the court. Even if it doesn’t match the eye test, Memphis has been impressive altogether.
5. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
Unfortunately for Trail Blazers fans, Damian Lillard isn’t playing up to his standard this season. While it would be disrespectful to take him out of the top five, his ranking seems to gravitate that direction as of late. With his lowest FG% of his entire career, paired with his worst PPG average since 2014-2015, Lillard seems to have taken a step back in his ninth season. The Blazers have been a bottom 12 team in the Western Conference, and Lillard isn’t exactly “putting the team on his back” like he had in previous years. Perhaps it’s a coaching issue, but until a change happens on that end, this might be the Lillard we see for years to come. At 23.9/4.1/7.4 per game this season, Lillard needs to step up if he wants to see the playoffs this year.
Impressive Stat: While some will discredit his legacy because of a down year, don’t forget that Damian Lillard is the only player in NBA history with a 50-point, 10-assist, and 10-3PM game.
4. Chris Paul, Phoenix Suns
Amid the late MVP buzz for the 16-year veteran last season, Chris Paul reminded fans just how incredible he can be on a nightly basis. While his contributions don’t all end up on the stat sheet, Paul came to the Phoenix Suns and completely changed their future. With an NBA Finals run last year, and the incredible Oklahoma City Thunder year in 2019-20, Paul silenced his biggest critics. Averaging 14.4/4.1/10 this season, Paul controls the entire offense in Phoenix. Leading the league in assists is a common feat for Paul, but still noteworthy as a soon-to-be 37-year old.
Impressive Stat: When Chris Paul is on the court, the Suns shoot 73.4% at the rim; a 14.4% jump in efficiency, enough for the highest in the league among guards.
3. Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks
Not only is Trae Young a great shooter from deep, but he is second in the NBA this season in AST%, with 43.3% of his teams assists coming from the fourth-year guard. He is also averaging a career-high 27.3 points per game on the best efficiency in his career. Pair that with 9.3 assists per game and Young becomes an entire offense by himself. It’s safe to say that Young is here to stay and will earn his second All-Star appearance this season.
Impressive Stat: When Trae Young is on the court, the Atlanta Hawks score 102.2 points per 100 half-court plays, enough for the 96th percentile in the league. They are also in the 97th percentile for points per 100 possessions at 118.1.
2. Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks
Even with all the defensive attention, Luka continues to carry the Dallas Mavericks on his back. Yes, his numbers are down this season, but with a closer look, the truth shines through. When Doncic is on the court, NBA defenses are on full alert. Teams all understand that Luka is the only consistent threat the Mavericks have, making his 25.6/8/8.6 stat line even more impressive. Jason Kidd has a lot to figure out with coaching the Mavericks, and his use of Doncic is one of them. While some have questioned Kidd’s choices, Doncic has made up every offensive lapse the Mavericks have run into this year.
Impressive Stat: Luka Doncic has lead the NBA in usage rate at his position in every single season since entering the league and has lead in AST% in each of the last three seasons.
1. Steph Curry, Golden State Warriors
On December 14th, Steph Curry set the NBA record for most successful career three-point shots and solidified himself as the best shooter in league history. After taking a year to show what Curry could do as the entire offense, the Warriors got back to playing their standard brand of basketball. With this, Curry and the Golden State Warriors have picked up right where they left off. Sporting an impressive 27.7/5.3/5.9 per game across a ludicrous 13.5 attempts from deep per game, Curry leads MVP discussions for the first half of this basketball season. The top-seeded Warriors look to make a NBA Finals run with All-Star Klay Thompson nearing a return.
Impressive Stat: When Steph Curry is on the court, the Warriors play at an expected win rate of 73 wins. Off the court, Golden State plummets to an expected win rate of just 25 wins.