Ranking the Top 22 point guards for the 2021-22 season

Ranking the Top 22 point guards for the 2021-22 season


Ranking the Top 22 point guards for the 2021-22 season

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With roughly two months to go until the tip of the 2021-22 NBA season, we thought it’d be a good time to put together some positional rankings.

Today, we start things off with the Top 22 point guards for the 2021-22 season, a difficult exercise due to how loaded the position is with top-notch ball-handlers, elite playmakers and confident bucket-getters.

For this exercise, we had each of our writers and editors put together their own lists and aggregated out the averages to rank the players.

The one player who’s notably missing from the list is Jamal Murray, but that was injury-related and not because we don’t think he’s one of the best floor generals in the game.

Below, check out how we ranked the Top 22 point guards for the upcoming NBA campaign.

Just missed the cut: Dennis Schroeder, Marcus Smart, Reggie Jackson, Jalen Suggs, John Wall

Dejounte Murray (San Antonio)

2020-21 stats: 15.7 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 5.4 apg, 1.5 spg, 45.3 FG%

An absolute freak defensively thanks to long arms, quick feet and straight-up tenacity, Dejounte Murray is already widely considered one of the best ball- and point-stopping point guards in basketball.

It was the offensive side of things where Murray had to show progress last season, and after a campaign that saw him put up over 15 points and five assists per contest while shooting a healthy 45-plus percent from the floor, it’s safe to say he was able to accomplish just that.

The San Antonio Spurs will need even more from the elite rebounding point guard in 2021-22 on the scoring end, but with the departure of DeMar DeRozan and the team fully committing to their young core, it’s easy to project Murray’s scoring and assisting numbers improving even further this upcoming league year.

For the latest Dejounte Murray rumors, click here.

Derrick Rose (New York)

2020-21 stats: 14.7 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 4.2 apg, 1.0 spg, 38.8 3PT%

Despite many questioning why the New York Knicks would trade for Derrick Rose midseason, Rose had a great second half with New York in 2020-21, putting up almost 15 points per contest and dishing out over four helpers per game, despite having to share a lot of the ball with first-time All-Star Julius Randle.

Aiding Rose’s resurgent campaign was his 38.8 three-point percentage for the league year, the best mark of his career by a wide margin, which helped make up for the fact that he shot just 51.7 percent from within three feet of the basket, the second-worst mark of his time as a professional.

Rose will need to keep that outside shooting going strong next year for a Knicks team that needs help from beyond the arc, especially if he continues to decline athletically.

For the latest Derrick Rose rumors, click here.

Terry Rozier (Charlotte)

2020-21 stats: 20.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 4.2 apg, 3.2 3PTM, 45.0 FG%

Explosive scorer Terry Rozier comes up next on our list at No. 20, and might rank even higher were it not for him having to share point-guard duties on the Charlotte Hornets with a certain second-year stud who’s coming up later in our ranking.

In his own right, however, Rozier has blossomed into an above-average starting point guard with the Hornets, capable of putting up 20 per night while improving his efficiency and playmaking to career-best levels.

According to most of the catch-all advanced metrics, Rozier had his best campaign in 2020-21, and there’s no reason to think he can’t put up a similar stat line in the upcoming league year.

For the latest Terry Rozier rumors, click here.

Kemba Walker (New York)

2020-21 stats: 19.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 4.9 apg, 3.0 3PTM, 42.0 FG%

The second 2021-22 Knicks point guard on our list already and the player who actually took Rozier’s job with the Boston Celtics back in 2019-20, Kemba Walker cracks the Top 20 of our point-guard rankings for next season.

Walker never proved to be a great fit with the Celtics, lacking defensively and not being an impressive enough scorer to differentiate himself from the likes of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. That, plus the lingering knee issues he’s dealt with over the past couple of seasons, leads to some concern when it comes to projecting his 2021-22 campaign.

However, with the Knicks, Walker should be able to take over more of the scoring load than he had in Boston, which could give him a chance to shine once again, especially now that he’ll be playing in his hometown.

It’s just his health issues and the fact that he’s now 31 that somewhat concerns us.

For the latest Kemba Walker rumors, click here.

Spencer Dinwiddie (Washington)

2020-21 stats (three games): 6.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.0 apg, 0.7 spg, 37.5 FG%

The 2020-21 season went about as poorly as it could have for Spencer Dinwiddie, who lasted just three games before a knee injury ended his campaign excruciatingly prematurely in what the point guard himself thought could be a championship season for the Brooklyn Nets.

Dinwiddie will get a fresh start with the Washington Wizards in 2021-22, playing alongside an All-NBA-level 2-guard in Bradley Beal and a group of solid veteran role players, like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell, that the club was able to acquire this offseason.

That fresh start could be precisely what the doctor ordered for Dinwiddie, who will get a chance to replicate his 2019-20 form with the Brooklyn Nets when he put up an impressive 20.6/3.5/6.8 stat line.

For the latest Spencer Dinwiddie rumors, click here.

D'Angelo Russell (Minnesota)

2020-21 stats: 19.0 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 5.8 apg, 2.9 3PTM, 38.7 3PT%

We’re now a full two seasons removed from D’Angelo Russell’s lone All-Star campaign in his career, and though his raw averages since then haven’t been bad, it may be time to consider that Russell might fall into the Above-Average Starter tier as opposed to the tier reserved for All-Stars.

Regardless, Russell’s injury luck is partly to blame for his lack of consistency over the past two seasons, with the talented southpaw seeing action in just 45 games in 2019-20 (merely 12 of those coming with the Minnesota Timberwolves) and 42 games in 2020-21.

If Russell can start the year out healthy in 2021-22, that’ll go a long way for both the player and his club, as it’ll give the Wolves their first true glimpse of what the Russell-Anthony EdwardsKarl-Anthony Towns triumvirate might be.

Defense might be a bit of a problem there, but if that trio can just develop chemistry together, they’ll undoubtedly be a problem for opponents to slow down offensively.

For the latest D’Angelo Russell rumors, click here.

Kyle Lowry (Miami)

2020-21 stats: 17.2 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 7.2 apg, 2.8 3PTM, 39.6 3PT%

Age-related concerns kept veteran point guard Kyle Lowry fairly low in these rankings, lower than he would be if he weren’t about to be 36 when next season rolls around.

Regardless, based purely on his production last year, Lowry remains among the Eastern Conference’s elite when it comes to the lead-guard spot, and now set to join a Miami Heat squad closer to contention than the Toronto Raptors of 2020-21 were, he’ll have that extra bit of motivation that he may have been missing last season.

Playing alongside defensive studs Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, as well as PJ Tucker and Markieff Morris, Lowry is going to fit right in with what should be a tough Heat team, especially on the less glamorous end of the floor.

As for the point-producing side of things, his ability to score off the dribble, including from beyond the arc, and the juice he still has as a driver should help Lowry give Miami more than Goran Dragic did last season as a scorer, which was just part of why the Heat were so eager to acquire him this offseason.

For the latest Kyle Lowry rumors, click here.

Lonzo Ball (Chicago)

2020-21 stats: 14.6 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 5.7 apg, 1.5 spg, 37.8 3PT%

Coming off his best season as an outside shooter, and arguably his best season as a pro in general, Lonzo Ball is heading to an entirely new situation with the Chicago Bulls, but one that should suit his skill set quite well.

With Chicago, Ball won’t be asked to do too much as a scorer, not with bucket-getting, offensive savants like Zach LaVineNikola Vucevic and DeMar DeRozan around, which will allow the oldest Ball brother to do what he does best: create for others in unique situations, space the floor with his feet set and, most of all, defend his tail off.

With those three aforementioned players playing heavy minutes, Ball’s defensive chops will be crucial for the Bulls, as just he and second-year forward Patrick Williams project as plus-defenders in Chicago’s starting lineup.

About to hit his age-24 campaign, we expect Ball’s game to take another jump in 2021-22, which explains why we have him ranked above the likes of Lowry and Walker. While those proven floor generals are starting to show signs of age, Ball’s trajectory is headed in the opposite direction, something we believe will continue next league year.

For the latest Lonzo Ball rumors, click here.

Malcolm Brogdon (Indiana)

2020-21 stats: 21.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 5.9 apg, 2.6 3PTM, 38.8 3PT%

Malcolm Brogdon originally left the Milwaukee Bucks two years ago to join the Indiana Pacers because he believed his abilities deserved an expanded role.

Brogdon’s gamble on himself has paid off in spades, as the former Virginia standout just had the best campaign of his professional career, becoming one of just 13 players in 2020-21 to put up a 21-5-5 stat line on a list that featured the likes of LeBron JamesNikola Jokic and even his former teammate Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Brogdon’s outside shooting touch, strength and finishing ability down low have helped turn him into one of the top point guards in the East, something that not many saw coming prior to his joining the Pacers.

For the latest Malcolm Brogdon rumors, click here.

Fred VanVleet (Toronto)

2020-21 stats: 19.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 6.3 apg, 1.7 spg, 36.6 3PT%

Part of the reason why the Raptors were comfortable letting a team legend like Lowry walk was because they’ve already had his replacement in the fold for years now in the form of Fred VanVleet.

VanVleet is similar to Lowry in that he’s not the most athletic point guard out there, but he more than makes up for it with three-point shooting, superb vision and absolute tenacity on both ends of the floor.

VanVleet has already played major minutes on a championship Toronto team, and now, able to truly run the team on his own for the first time, we wouldn’t be surprised to see the Wichita State product put up his best season as a professional in 2021-22.

And considering he was already pretty much a 20/4/6 player last year while sharing point-guard duties with Lowry, that speaks volumes about the type of campaign VanVleet might have coming up.

For the latest Fred VanVleet rumors, click here.

Mike Conley (Utah)

2020-21 stats: 16.2 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 6.0 apg, 1.4 spg, 41.2 3PT%

Coming off the first All-Star appearance of his career last season, an honor that was beyond deserved by now in the underrated point guard’s career, Mike Conley heads to 2021-22 with a lot of momentum behind him, but also with a chip on his shoulder considering how the Utah Jazz’s playoff run ended.

Conley rushed back from a hamstring injury just to see the Jazz be eliminated by the Los Angeles Clippers in six games in the Western Conference semis, an unceremonious end for the team that led all franchises in net rating and wins last campaign.

Alongside Donovan Mitchell, Conley helps form one of the best backcourts in the NBA thanks to his ability to play off the ball, as well as his shooting, teardrop floater and defense, and with a full season of building chemistry behind Mitchell and Conley, expect big things from the almost-34-year-old in 2021-22.

For the latest Mike Conley rumors, click here.

LaMelo Ball (Charlotte)

2020-21 stats: 15.7 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 6.1 apg, 1.6 spg, 43.6 FG%

The second Ball brother on our list, the younger LaMelo Ball is the final point guard we have ranked before we enter the Top 10, a projection that could wind up not looking great if the second-year Hornets guard is able to build on his immaculate rookie campaign.

Injury absence aside, Ball was spectacular as a first-year player, becoming the first teenager in league history to put up a 15/5/6 stat line, doing so while chipping in over a steal-and-a-half nightly and shooting a respectable 35.2 percent from three.

And for whoever may believe Ball didn’t deserve Rookie of the Year for his 2020-21 contributions and that the honor should have gone to Anthony Edwards instead, just consider that Ball outranked the Wolves 2-guard in VORP (1.4 to -0.3), BPM (1.9 to -2.6) and Win Shares (2.8 to 0.8), with that final discrepancy perhaps being the most noteworthy considering Win Shares is a cumulative statistic (as opposed to a per-game one) and Edwards played over 20 more games than Ball.

In fact, Ball ranked among the Top 70 among all players in both VORP (No. 67) and BPM (No. 49), which goes to show just how impressive he was as a rookie.

Projecting for some growth between his age-19 and age-20 seasons, Ball could wind up making this ranking look just a bit too low if we look back at it after the 2021-22 season.

For the latest LaMelo Ball rumors, click here.

Russell Westbrook (LA Lakers)

2020-21 stats: 22.2 ppg, 11.5 rpg, 11.7 apg, 1.4 spg, 43.9 FG%

A slow, injury-related start to last season had some thinking that we might finally be seeing the decline of Russell Westbrook – until a brilliant second half of the campaign changed the narrative on that idea entirely.

Westbrook, who led the league in nightly assists last campaign with 11.7, was monstrous from March through the end of 2020-21, averaging 23.7 points, 13.3 rebounds, 13.3 assists and 1.5 steals while shooting 44.3 percent from the floor over a 36-game stretch to close the league year, helping lead the Wizards into the playoffs alongside Beal.

Now heading into his first season with the Los Angeles Lakers, Westbrook will be tasked with helping take some of the playmaking load off of LeBron James while wreaking pick-and-roll havoc alongside Anthony Davis, something that should be quite fun to behold for fans of the sport in general.

The almost-33-year-old Westbrook may be slowing a bit athletically and still lacks a reliable outside jumper, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a more tenacious point guard in the Association who plays as hard on a nightly basis as the former league MVP.

For the latest Russell Westbrook rumors, click here.

Ben Simmons (Philadelphia)

2020-21 stats: 14.3 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 6.9 apg, 1.6 spg, 55.7 FG%

The lasting image of the 2020-21 season for Ben Simmons was not a pretty one, with the point guard turning down a wide-open dunk to instead pass the ball to a defended Matisse Thybulle with the Philadelphia 76ers desperately needing points, down by two late in the fourth quarter of Game 7 against the Atlanta Hawks.

Thybulle would get fouled, split the free throws and Philadelphia would wind up getting eliminated by Atlanta despite the decisive game being played at home.


It’s clear Simmons is severely lacking in confidence at the moment, and it should come as no surprise that that very ugly moment came at the end of a 2020-21 season that saw the Australian southpaw put up the lowest points, rebounds and assist averages of his career.

The advanced analytics almost all say the same, with 2020-21 being rated by various metrics as the least impactful of Simmons four-year career so far.

Even so, Simmons remains a solid playmaker, a downright terror in transition and finished second in Defensive Player of the Year voting last season, so even at his lowest, he was still an All-Star in 2020-21, hence his positioning in our rankings.

But the uber-talented point guard is going to have to show some improvement on the offensive end next season to get any higher than this.

Whether that’ll happen in Philadelphia or with another team remains to be seen, as Simmons’ name is one of the hottest in trade rumors this offseason.

Maybe a fresh start would do him some good and potentially get him back on the All-NBA-level track he was on prior to last season.

For the latest Ben Simmons rumors, click here.

De'Aaron Fox (Sacramento)

2020-21 stats: 25.2 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 7.2 apg, 1.5 spg, 47.7 FG%

One of the fastest players with the ball in his hands, De’Aaron Fox continued on the upward trajectory he’s been on since reaching the NBA last season, putting his best campaign in both nightly points and assists while displaying the confidence to attempt a career-high 5.5 triples per contest.

Fox was able to score over 25 nightly last season while hitting just 32.2 percent of his three-point attempts, indicating that if he’s able to show improvement as a shooter next league year, he might be able to be an even more productive scorer than he showed in 2020-21.

It also wouldn’t be surprising to see Fox become an even better player over the coming campaigns considering he’s still just 23 despite having four years of service in the NBA already.

Last season, Fox became one of just seven players in NBA history to average 25 points and seven assists prior to turning 24, joining legends like LeBron and Oscar Robertson on the list.

He may not be perfect – Fox’s shooting needs to continue getting better and he still turns the ball over a bit too much – but the sky appears to be the limit for the lefty speedster.

For the latest De’Aaron Fox rumors, click here.

Jrue Holiday (Milwaukee)

2020-21 stats: 17.7 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 6.1 apg, 1.6 spg, 50.3 FG%

For years, the talk surrounding Jrue Holiday was: If this guy could just find himself on an elite team where he could do less scoring and playmaking and focus on what he does best, defending, how effective could he be?

Holiday answered that very question last season in his first campaign with the Bucks, leaving no doubts that in that role, he’s an absolute stud, as the now-31-year-old was an absolutely pivotal piece in Milwaukee’s championship 2020-21 year, providing outstanding defense for the Bucks while doing enough scoring and creating to help take some of the load off of Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton for certain spurts.

Holiday went on and carried that fantastic form over into the Toyko Olympics, too, where he was one of the gold-medal-winning Team USA’s most important players, who was tasked with slowing down FIBA scoring specialists like Patty Mills and Evan Fournier, completing that job at a very high level.

One thing that’s for sure is that we can no longer consider Holiday underrated, as he’s proven beyond a doubt that he’s the best two-way point guard in the NBA over the past year-plus, and whoever doesn’t see that hasn’t been paying attention

For the latest Jrue Holiday rumors, click here.

Ja Morant (Memphis)

2020-21 stats: 19.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 7.4 apg, 1.2 3PTM, 44.9 FG%

Ja Morant’s place in our ranking is the clearest example we have of us trying to project what these players might look like next season, as not many would take the young Memphis Grizzlies point guard over the likes of Holiday, Simmons or Westbrook right now.

But if his playoff run last year is any indication, it’s safe to say we could be looking at a huge jump from Morant in 2021-22, as the 22-year-old was absolutely ridiculous last postseason, putting up 30.2 points, 8.2 assists and 2.0 three-pointers over five games, even leading the Grizzlies to a huge upset Game 1 win over the heavily favored Jazz.

Morant’s biggest improvement will have to come as an outside shooter, as the former Murray State standout is a career 31.7 percent marksman from beyond the arc through two seasons.

If Morant is able to become even a league-average shooter from three, forcing opponents to go over screens to defend him, that’ll open up even more driving lanes for the insanely explosive ball-handler, a truly scary proposition for foes, and potentially help him justify the place we have him in our 2021-22 point-guard rankings.

For the latest Ja Morant rumors, click here.

Chris Paul (Phoenix)

2020-21 stats: 16.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 8.9 apg, 1.4 spg, 93.4 FT%

Year-1 with the Phoenix Suns went nearly as well as it possibly could have for Chris Paul, with the team not only making the playoffs but getting as far as the 2021 NBA Finals, even taking a 2-0 lead in the championship series before falling in six games to the Bucks.

Even despite the disappointing ending to the campaign, however, the 2020-21 season can only be seen as a huge success for both Paul and the Suns, one that led the two parties to decide to stick together this offseason by agreeing to a four-year, $120 million contract when the veteran floor general hit free agency.

Despite getting up there in age, Paul is coming off a campaign where he posted his highest assist average since 2016-17, had the fourth-best assist-to-turnover ratio league-wide (4.0) and led the Association in free throw percentage.

So safe to say, even if he has declined athletically a bit, Paul’s mastery as a playmaker and midrange scorer remains intact, and he’s still one of the five best point guards we have in the NBA today.

For the latest Chris Paul rumors, click here.

Trae Young (Atlanta)

2020-21 stats: 25.3 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 9.4 apg, 2.2 3PTM, 88.6 FT%

Had we been making these rankings at this time last offseason, there’s little chance Trae Young would have finished as high as he did, sitting fourth in our current Top Point Guards list.

But a spectacular 2020-21 campaign has completely shifted public opinion on the former Oklahoma standout, as although his point-per-game average decreased by more than four full points, he improved so much as a decision-maker and table-setter that Young is a much more complete floor general than ever before.

Young undoubtedly proved how scarily effective he can be in the playoffs, too, leading the Hawks all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals in a campaign many thought they’d consider just qualifying for the postseason a success.

Young’s unstoppable floater game, his bombastic three-point prowess and ability to set up shooters and rim-runners was on full display in the 2020-21 playoffs, giving us a strong indication that Young is here to stay for the far foreseeable future as one of the league’s elite at the point-guard spot.

For the latest Trae Young rumors, click here.

Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn)

2020-21 stats: 26.9 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 6.0 apg, 2.8 3PTM, 50.6 FG%

There were some internal discussions about whether to list Kyrie Irving as a shooting guard for this exercise since that’s the position he claims to be playing now with James Harden in the fold, but in the end, we went with Irving at his natural position of point guard, where he finds himself at No. 3 in our rankings.

It’s easy to see why, too, considering the immaculate campaign Irving just posted, joining the 50/40/90 club while averaging nearly 27 points per game and helping form one of the nastiest Big 3s we’ve seen in recent league history.

In 2020-21, Irving became one of just four players ever with a 50-plus percent shooting percentage, 40-plus percent three-point percentage and to shoot 90-plus percent from the foul stripe in the same year they attempted over 300 shots from beyond the arc.

The other three are the player coming up at No. 1 in our list (spoiler alert), his teammate Kevin Durant and his current head coach Steve Nash. How’s that for a collection of historically great shooters currently on the Nets’ payroll?

Irving may cause frustration at times, missing games here and there for different reasons, be they injury-related or more personal matters, but there’s no doubt he’s a top-tier point guard, almost certainly a future Hall-of-Famer and a player who’s still in the thick of his prime, meaning 2021-22 should be another fantastic year for the 29-year-old ball-handler.

For the latest Kyrie Irving rumors, click here.

Damian Lillard (Portland)

2020-21 stats: 28.8 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 7.5 apg, 4.1 3PTM, 45.1 FG%

Despite a certain lack of team success over recent years, Portland Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard is impossible to fault for such postseason failures, as without him, the Blazers would likely not even be a playoff-level team.

Lillard is one of the best deep-three-ball shooters in the Association, a beyond-capable playmaker, an elite scorer who’s still able to average over seven dimes nightly, and beyond clutch when he’s needed to get buckets late in tight games.

Among players with at least 75 field-goal attempts in what the NBA deems to be “clutch situations,” i.e. when there are fewer than five minutes remaining and the scoreline is within five points either way, Lillard led all of them in field-goal percentage last year at 51.1 percent, ranked second in three-point percentage at 39.1 percent and ranked No. 1 in clutch free-throw shooting at 94.7 percent.

Dame Time is very real and not just savvy branding.

That’s why it’s such a shame the Blazers have struggled to build a legitimate contender around Lillard, as a player of his caliber with his propensity to hit the big shot should have had more playoff success by this point in his career.

Now 31 years old, Lillard will reportedly give Portland another opportunity this season to prove they can win at a high level, but another slow start to the 2021-22 campaign could spell the end of Dame Time in the Pacific Northwest.

Either way, wherever Lillard does play for the bulk of next season, we still believe he’ll be one of the two best point guards in basketball.

For the latest Damian Lillard rumors, click here.

Stephen Curry (Golden State)

2020-21 stats: 32.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 5.8 apg, 5.3 3PTM, 42.1 3PT%

In what should come as a shock to absolutely no one, Stephen Curry finishes our list as our projected No. 1 point guard for the 2021-22 campaign – and with good reason.

Curry is coming off a league year that saw him lead the league in scoring at 32.0 points per game while chipping in over 5.5 rebounds and assists per game and shooting north of 42 percent from beyond the arc. That Curry was able to accomplish that after what was a somewhat slow start to the season –  by his illustrious standards, at least – makes it even harder to fathom.

What’s more, when the Golden State Warriors needed him most, late in the campaign fighting for a spot in the play-in tournament, Curry elevated his game to an even higher level. Over the last 24 games of 2020-21, the two-time league MVP averaged 36.9 points nightly and shot 43.7 percent from three on nearly 15 such attempts per contest.

The Warriors ultimately just missed out on the playoffs, dropping back-to-back play-in games to the Lakers and Grizzlies in the play-in tournament, but it’s impossible to fault Curry, who finished the year with the second-most first-place MVP votes, for that.

With a returning Klay Thompson at some point next season and alongside the likes of Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins, as well as promising young pieces in James WisemanJonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody, we expect another huge year out of the Warriors’ floor general and leader Steph Curry, one where he continues to be the best the NBA has to offer at the point-guard position.

For the latest Stephen Curry rumors, click here.

Image: Coley Cleary / USA TODAY Sports Media Group

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