With the boring doldrums of the offseason firmly upon us, we though it a solid time to begin a fun summer project, one that will see us preview the upcoming NBA campaign by ranking the Top 25 players in every position, from point guard to center.
We start with arguably the most hotly contested position in the modern NBA, point guard, with so many of the league’s best players filling that role.
To determine these rankings, we voted as a team and aggregated the vote to make a final list.
With so many excellent point guards to talk about, let’s jump right into the action.
Kyle Lowry (Miami)
A down 2021-22 regular season was followed up by an even less impressive 2022 playoff run by Kyle Lowry, though personal issues which forced him to miss time hampered the former while injury hindered the latter.
Still, Lowry is now 36 and has never exactly been a physical specimen, so this could simply be the start of the 2019 champion’s career downturn. The Miami Heat will certainly be hoping that isn’t the case, but it’s hard to project Lowry to be much higher than the 25th-best point guard in the NBA in 2022-23 after the year he just had, so that’s the spot we landed on for him.
In 2021-22, Lowry averaged 13.4 points on 44.0 percent shooting (37.7 percent from deep) and 7.5 assists. That average point total was his lowest since 2012-13, his first season with the Toronto Raptors before any of his six All-Star campaigns.
However, Lowry’s 7.5 nightly helpers were still a Top 10 mark in the league last season. What’s more, Lowry produced 0.95 points per possession (PPP) as the pick-and-roll ball-handler in 2021-22, a mark healthy enough to rank in the league’s 77th percentile. That’s also the 27th-best mark among players with 150 such possessions, not a bad rate for a player who has lost a step athletically and was hampered by injuries throughout the year.
Add in the fact that Lowry, after being called out not so subtly by Pat Riley at the NBA legend’s end-of-year press conference, seems to be in better shape now than he was at any point in the last league year…
In shape Kyle Lowry 😳 pic.twitter.com/Tvj28GWJgE
— NBACentral (@TheNBACentral) July 14, 2022
…and you can find reasons to be optimistic about Lowry’s outlook for 2022-23.
At least optimistic enough to still consider him among the NBA’s 25 best floor generals.
For the latest Kyle Lowry rumors and salary info, click here.
Josh Giddey (Oklahoma City)
Australian ball-handler Josh Giddey went from relative unknown to flying up draft boards thanks to his size, as well as his flash and creativeness as a playmaker.
And thus far, the 19-year-old has not disappointed, posting a 2nd Team All-Rookie campaign in 2021-22 after averaging 12.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 6.4 assists per game, marks that place him in impressive company. Giddey is one of just two teenagers ever to post a 12/7/6 stat line in a full season, with the other being the player who finished first on this very list.
Giddey looked even more confident and impressive in this year’s Summer League, using his eyes to manipulate defenders, hitting skip passes that 10-year veterans wouldn’t even consider and drawing in defenses to set up easy looks for teammates:
Is this Josh Giddey or Magic Johnson? pic.twitter.com/GXQCSeJMjH
— 𝙋𝙡𝙖𝙮𝙤𝙛𝙛𝙎𝙝𝙖𝙞⚡️ (@PlayoffShai) July 10, 2022
Giddey’s shooting remains a question mark, as does his athleticism, which – at times – prevents him from getting by opponents without the help of a pick.
But the Oklahoma City Thunder have a very interesting player on their hands, one we expect to reach another level in 2022-23 with regards to his overall production and impact.
For the latest Josh Giddey rumors and salary info, click here.
D'Angelo Russell (Minnesota)
Despite his 2021-22 numbers – 18.1 points and 7.1 assists nightly – looking decent enough, D’Angelo Russell didn’t have a great season last year, at least by his standards.
He struggled enough, particularly with his shooting and decision-making, that Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch even opted to bench him in pivotal fourth quarters in the playoffs in favor of Patrick Beverley, who isn’t even on the team anymore.
There was even talk of Russell getting traded this offseason…
I've been saying for the past month that I've heard it is over a 50% chance that D'Angelo Russell is traded this offseason.
Conversations with a few non-Timberwolves sources today suggest a Russell trade is now even more likely — either tonight or the first week of July.
— Dane Moore (@DaneMooreNBA) June 23, 2022
…though a deal, at least to this point, hasn’t come to fruition.
On his end, Russell said he wasn’t thrilled with being benched as the Timberwolves’ season slipped away in Game 6 of the playoffs against the Memphis Grizzlies, but he also said he still saw the overall campaign as a success.
D'Angelo Russell wasn't ready to reflect much on the playoffs or discuss his contract situation. Did ask if he was OK watching from the bench: "No. Not at all."
Said of course he wanted to be out there. But overall saw the season as a big success.
— Jon Krawczynski (@JonKrawczynski) April 30, 2022
Now with Minnesota boasting the most physically daunting frontcourt the Association has seen in years, one featuring Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns, and with Beverley no longer a Timberwolf, the pressure will be on Russell to have a bounce-back season.
Russell’s flashy playmaking, ability to hit above-the-break threes and pick-and-roll pull-up scoring should really get to shine in this new era of Timberwolves basketball – it’ll just require the former Ohio State standout to regain his confidence.
We think he’ll be able to do just that.
For the latest D’Angelo Russell rumors and salary info, click here.
Russell Westbrook (LA Lakers)
Will Russell Westbrook even be a member of the Los Angeles Lakers by the time training camp rolls around? That remains to be seen, though the latest intel leaked to the media is starting to make that look like a real possibility, with Westbrook, LeBron James and Anthony Davis reportedly sharing a phone call to get on the same page ahead of the 2022-23 season.
Westbrook shouldered the majority of the blame for L.A.’s struggles last season, a year in which the purple-and-gold franchise missed the playoffs for the second time in four seasons. But newly hired head coach Darvin Ham recently went on a podcast with Vince Carter to talk about why he finds that to be unfair to the triple-double machine:
Darvin Ham: We’ve all had years where we could have done better, had better performances or circumstances didn’t quite go our way. And I think just everyone knows what type of year the Lakers went through last year. And it wasn’t all Russell Westbrook’s fault. When you go back and look at the games missed by LeBron James at different segments add a different set. Those three (Westbrook, James and Anthony Davis) only got to play a total of 22 games together. You’re talking about an 82-game season. And so just the different various energy injuries with people within the lineup that were dependent upon within the rotation. Russ having to carry a load and you’re trying to go sign, G League guys, you got COVID, people being put in the protocol because of the COVID. So for all of this to be heaped on Russ, it’s kind of unfair, in a sense and unfair reality, to be quite honest.
Westbrook did have a lowlight reel in 2021-22 that would make players on the Washington Generals blush, but he did still manage to post averages of 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game while shooting 44.4 percent from the floor.
Who knows? Maybe a healthier Davis in 2022-23 plus more additions to the Lakers’ roster (Buddy Hield or Eric Gordon, perhaps?) could help take some of the pressure off of Westbrook and get him playing more like his old self.
But if this is truly the start of Westbrook’s decline, then we may be overvaluing him a bit with this ranking.
For the latest Russell Westbrook rumors and salary info, click here.
Lonzo Ball (Chicago)
Injury concerns factored into Lonzo Ball’s place in these rankings, with the Chicago Bulls still publicly showing some concern regarding what’s going on with the former UCLA Bruin’s knee. If not for that, Ball would surely rank higher on this list, as the 24-year-old was playing some of the best basketball of his career prior to going down last year.
In 2021-22, Ball put up 13.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 1.8 steals and 0.9 blocks nightly while shooting 42.3 percent from three, by far the highest rate of his time in the NBA. Additionally, the Bulls were 4.5 points per 100 possessions better with Ball on the floor, mostly thanks to his shooting and playmaking but also due to his unreal defensive disruptiveness, with the Chino Hills product solidifying himself as one of the most impactful two-way players in the game in 2021-22.
Don’t believe us? How’s this for proof: From the start of the season through Jan. 14 with Ball still (mostly) in the lineup, the Bulls were ninth league-wide in net rating (+2.7) and 17th in defensive rating (109.4) while boasting a 27-13 record.
From that point until the end of the campaign, however, once Ball went out, the Bulls were 21st in net rating with a paltry -4.6 mark and 27th(!!!) in defensive rating, giving up an atrocious 117.4 points per 100 possessions, a rate that was only stingier than the Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets and Indiana Pacers, all of whom were tanking – and brashly, too. With Ball out, Chicago finished up 2021-22 with a 19-24 record and was unceremoniously ousted in Round 1 of the playoffs by the Milwaukee Bucks in five games.
Now, that can’t all be attributed to Ball, as Zach LaVine was playing through injury, DeMar DeRozan cooled off and Nikola Vucevic seemingly forgot how to shoot.
But there’s no question Ball’s absence had a huge effect on the Bulls’ spiral back to mediocrity.
All in all, if he’s healthy once again in 2022-23, Ball should be able to outpace his place in these rankings – he was that effective last season for Chicago.
For the latest Lonzo Ball rumors and salary info, click here.
Marcus Smart (Boston)
The reigning Defensive Player of the Year and the first guard to win the award since Gary Payton in 1995-96, Marcus Smart was a huge part of why the Boston Celtics were able to reach the Finals and come within two wins of banner No. 18.
Along with his 1.7 steals per contest, however, Smart also put up 12.1 points, 3.8 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game while shooting 33.1 percent from beyond the arc. His impact was clearly felt every time he stepped on the floor, too, as the Celtics were 4.7 points per 100 possessions better with Smart in the game.
Smart has his warts – his shot selection, his shooting ability and his decision-making primarily – but there’s no doubt he’s a hugely positive-impact player, one who can help take a team deep into the playoffs as long as he’s not asked to do too much on offense.
And that’s because defensively, few guards – maybe just Ball – can match his tenacity and ability to affect shots. In last year’s playoffs, 23 players defended at least 200 field-goal attempts, according to NBA.com. Smart had the sixth-best defensive swing rating on those shots defended, forcing foes to shoot 6.5 percent worse than normal on those field-goal attempts.
Not bad, especially for a 6-foot-3 guard.
We don’t expect a huge leap from Smart in 2022-23, as offensively, the now-28-year-old appears to simply be who he is at this point, but he’s still one of the feistiest backcourt defenders out there and the type of player to put his body on the line to make winning plays.
You can get deep into the playoffs with guys like that surrounding your star pieces, as Smart and the Celtics proved just last season.
For the latest Marcus Smart rumors and salary info, click here.
Jalen Brunson (New York)
Jalen Brunson parlayed the best season of his career into a $100-million plus contract with the New York Knicks, a beyond well-deserved reward for the campaign he just put up in 2021-22.
Last season, Brunson averaged 16.3 points, 3.9 rebounds and 4.8 assists while shooting 50.2 percent from the floor and 37.3 percent from three. He elevated his play even further when it mattered most in the playoffs, putting up 21.6 points and 4.6 rebounds over 18 postseason contests, helping guide the Dallas Mavericks to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2010-11.
In addition to the raw statistics, Brunson also shined analytically. Among players with at least 200 chances as the pick-and-roll ball-handler last year, the former Villanova standout finished first in production, scoring 1.06 PPP in such chances, the best mark of anyone on the list.
How Brunson, a southpaw, will mesh with two other ball-dominant lefties in RJ Barrett and Julius Randle next season will go a long way in determining whether he can match or top his 2021-22 production, but considering Brunson is used to sharing the ball with a super high-usage player, Knicks fans shouldn’t fret over that too much.
Brunson is a beyond solid point guard and should enjoy another strong campaign in 2022-23.
For the latest Jalen Brunson rumors and salary info, click here.
De'Aaron Fox (Sacramento)
Sacramento Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox has seemingly hit a wall in his development, but considering the level he’s been at the past three seasons, that’s not a slight.
Over that span, Fox has averaged 23.2 points, 6.5 assists and 1.4 steals on 47.6 percent shooting. The issue with his output remains with regards to his outside shooting, as Fox has hit just 30.6 percent of his triples in that span; if he were just more accurate from beyond the arc, there’s no doubt his production would hit yet another level.
Even if Fox never becomes even an average shooter from three, though, he remains one of the most explosive two-way point guards in the league, is still just 24 and has a bright future thanks to his lightning-quick skills with the ball in his hands and pick-and-roll scoring prowess.
What Kings management needs to figure out is whether or not Fox can lead a team to the playoffs, somewhere Sacramento hasn’t been since 2005-06. With the additions of Domantas Sabonis and Keegan Murray, as well as the continued presence of veterans like Harrison Barnes, the Kings could have a strong enough roster to at least make it into the play-in tournament in 2022-23.
But a lot will fall on the shoulders of Fox to make that come to fruition.
For the latest De’Aaron Fox rumors and salary info, click here.
Jamal Murray (Denver)
The biggest question mark on this entire list, we took somewhat of a leap of faith with this ranking considering the long layoff Jamal Murray is attempting to return from.
If fully healthy and back to his former self, we likely underrated the explosive, score-first lead guard. If not, then we may have erred ranking him at all among the Top 25 point guards in basketball.
Murray hasn’t taken part in an NBA game since April 12, 2021, a 15-month-plus layoff due to a torn ACL, one that he nearly came back from late last season before deciding to give it another offseason of recovery. Prior to going down, the Canadian ball-handler was one of the best guards in the league, putting up 21.2 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.8 assits while shooting 47.7 percent from the floor and 40.8 percent from three.
That version of Murray is probably a Top 15 point guard in the league, at least. The question is: Will we see that version of Murray again any time soon, let alone in 2021-22?
The latest on the matter is courtesy of Michael Singer, who recently spoke to our own Michael Scotto, stating that Murray has looked impressive in recent practices:
When he suits up in October, it’ll be 18 months since he tore his ACL in Golden State. I think he wasn’t mentally there in terms of a return this past April, which would’ve entailed a postseason run. He’ll have a full offseason and training camp. I’ve seen him throw down some pretty impressive dunks in practice gyms. He looks good.
Scotto also spoke to Murray, who said the last year and a half has been a test of patience and that he’s excited to get back out on the court.
With the level of play Murray was at before going down, plus the fact he’ll be coming back to join forces with a historically impressive Nikola Jokic, we’re excited to see him back out on the court, too.
For the latest Jamal Murray rumors and salary info, click here.
Ben Simmons (Brooklyn)
Murray’s prospects for the 2022-23 season are tough to forecast due to his extended injury layoff. Ben Simmons’, on the other hand, might actually be even more difficult to estimate due to a host of factors.
Who will his teammates even be in 2022-23, with the trade rumors surrounding the team’s other star point guard, as well as Kevin Durant? How will Simmons look after a “back injury” forced him out of action last year? Will he even be playing point guard in the upcoming campaign?
Regardless, we decided to list Simmons as a point guard for this exercise since that is the position he’s spent his entire career playing. And despite his huge flaws – his complete unwillingness to shoot the basketball, for starters, along with his ability to shrink in the biggest moments – Simmons is still a top-level floor general when he’s actually out on the floor.
In his last season of action, Simmons averaged 14.3 points, 7.2 rebounds and 6.9 assists to go with 1.6 steals back in 2020-21, an All-Star year for the big Australian. That same season, the Sixers were a noteworthy 6.2 points per 100 possessions better with him on the floor, proving that his marks were far from empty. In the playoffs, that number was actually even bigger, as Simmons boasted a +19.6 swing rating during his time on the floor in the 2021 postseason.
So clearly, despite what the naysayers will pick at, Simmons is an excellent point guard. But with so many legitimate questions surrounding the Brooklyn Nets in 2022-23, we didn’t feel comfortable ranking him higher than this.
For the latest Ben Simmons rumors and salary info, click here.
Tyrese Haliburton (Indiana)
One of the most exciting young point guards in the league, Tyrese Haliburton has exploded onto the scene since arriving in the NBA, flashing creative playmaking skills and solid scoring, particularly thanks to his shooting.
Haliburton is a 41.2 percent shooter from three over his two career seasons despite a slightly awkward jumper. As an Indiana Pacer in 67 possessions, the Iowa State product put up 1.15 PPP as a spot-up shooter, a mark healthy enough to rank in the league’s 83.9 percentile.
Haliburton also thrives as a transition scorer, as the 22-year-old put up 1.26 PPP in transition chances with Indiana, which put him in the NBA’s 76.5 percentile.
On top of that, Haliburton does well in the pick-and-roll, as he’s able to score out of that play type while setting up teammates for easy chances. Over the last two campaigns, the 2020 draftee ranks fifth league-wide in total assists with 628.
All in all, Haliburton is already productive and still has room to grow. The future is bright for the young Pacer.
For the latest Tyrese Haliburton rumors and salary info, click here.
Cade Cunningham (Detroit)
The No. 1 pick of the 2021 draft proved why he was drafted that high last year, especially in the second half of the season when Cade Cunningham showed his high-level chops as a scorer, rebounder and playmaker, all important traits for a high-usage lead guard like the former Oklahoma State standout.
From Jan. 21 through the end of the campaign, a 29-game stretch, Cunningham averaged 19.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 1.2 steals per contest, making a push for Rookie of the Year, an accolade in which he ultimately finished third.
With his expertise in so many different facets of the game and thanks to his great size for a lead guard at 6-foot-6, 220 pounds, the sky is the limit for Cunningham, who has the potential to develop into an All-Star, and likely even more, for the Detroit Pistons.
We’re just not sure that’ll happen right away in 2022-23, hence why he didn’t finish this ranking in a higher spot.
For the latest Cade Cunningham rumors and salary info, click here.
Fred VanVleet (Toronto)
Fred VanVleet’s career ascent continued last season, with the Toronto Raptors point guard posting the best campaign of his time in the NBA in 2021-22, at least according to… every advanced metric.
That includes BPM (3.6), VORP (3.5) and Win Shares (6.7), with VanVleet also posting career highs in the major raw statistics – 20.3 points, 4.4 rebounds and 6.7 assists to go with 1.7 steals and 3.7 triples nightly.
Overall, VanVleet has developed from an undrafted project into one of the best point guards in the league thanks to his confident, bombastic shooting abilities and solid playmaking, as well as his grittiness on both ends of the floor.
And if he continues to improve in 2022-23 as he has every other year of his career, he’ll prove this ranking wrong.
For the latest Fred VanVleet rumors and salary info, click here.
Darius Garland (Cleveland)
A first-time All-Star in 2021-22, we expect even more growth from Darius Garland in the upcoming campaign – hence, his lofty place in this ranking.
Garland uses his shooting, his most impressive trait – both off the dribble and with his feet set – to get buckets from all over the floor. He’s also a flashy playmaker with a nose for making the right pass, usually in an eyebrow-raising manner.
Last season, Garland averaged 21.7 points and 8.6 assists, one of just five players to achieve those marks in 2021-22, while shooting 38.2 percent from beyond the arc.
His isolation scoring, in particular, was his strongest attribute last season, as Garland put up 1.06 PPP on iso chances, the eighth-highest mark in the league among players with at least 100 such opportunities, ahead of James Harden and Jaylen Brown on the list.
With Garland in the fold and still seemingly on an upward trajectory, the Cavaliers appear to have an exciting future on the way.
For the latest Darius Garland rumors and salary info, click here.
LaMelo Ball (Charlotte)
The second Ball brother on this list, LaMelo Ball is one of the flashiest young point guards we’ve seen in the NBA in quite some time, along with one of the boldest, particularly with his shot selection.
Able to knock down shots from all over the floor, either with his feet set or off the dribble, and do so accurately, is one of Ball’s biggest strengths. Ball hit 38.9 percent of his three-pointers last season, up from 35.2 percent his rookie campaign, with the degree of difficulty on a lot of those shots higher than that of most players.
Just take a look at the following shot, which came in his rookie year, for an example:
One year ago today, LaMelo Ball hit this ridiculous spin-cycle three 😳 pic.twitter.com/zC3QamILp4
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 13, 2022
Ball had a monster sophomore season, averaging 20.1 points, 6.7 rebounds, 7.6 assists and 1.6 steals, making a huge impact on both ends of the floor in a variety of ways.
We’re certain Ball isn’t done developing, either, as the Chino Hills product is still just 20 years old, making it a near certainty we haven’t seen the final version of the youngest Ball brother quite yet.
For the latest LaMelo Ball rumors and salary info, click here.
Jrue Holiday (Milwaukee)
If any guard deserved Defensive Player of the Year over the past half-decade besides Smart, it was Jrue Holiday, who is widely acknowledged by fellow players, media and fans at large as one of the best two-way players in the league, one capable of getting timely buckets, setting up teammates and making hugely impactful defensive plays in pivotal moments.
2021-22 was no different for Holiday, who averaged 18.3 points, 6.8 assists and 1.6 steals while shooting 50.1 percent from the floor and 41.1 percent from beyond the arc. The former UCLA Bruin also made the Milwaukee Bucks 14.0 points per 100 possessions better during his time on the floor, proving what an important piece he continues to be for one of the league’s top contenders.
We see no drop-off coming for Holiday in 2022-23 despite the fact he’s now 32, as his game should continue to age well. Hence, his spot on this list, just cracking the Top 10 as we approach the elite of the elite at the position.
For the latest Jrue Holiday rumors and salary info, click here.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Oklahoma City)
We were met with a tricky situation here regarding where to put Shai Gilgeous-Alexander position-wise, as the young Oklahoma City phenom is capable of playing the 1, 2 or even 3 for the Thunder. Plus, with Giddey firmly in the fold now for Oklahoma City and even making it onto these very rankings, we could have easily slid Gilgeous-Alexander one spot up the positional scale and listed him with the shooting guards.
Still, we opted to play it safe and keep the smooth Canadian guard with the point guards, which we felt better about after seeing that Basketball-Reference had Gilgelous-Alexander as playing 62 percent of his 2021-22 minutes as a point guard.
No matter the exact position, Gilgeous-Alexander has developed into one of the most exciting lead guards in basketball, posting his best career campaign in 2021-22. Gilgeous-Alexander averaged a career-high 24.5 points last season to go with 5.0 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 1.3 steal.
His herky-jerky, sudden movements make him extremely difficult to guard, as does his ability to stop on a dime and score from all over the midrange, as well as set up teammates out of the pick-and-roll. The one area Gilgeous-Alexander needs to bounce back in is as an outside shooter, especially if he’s going to play more off-ball next season next to Giddey, as he shot just 30.0 percent from three last season.
Even so, a career 37.3 percent three-point shooter prior to last season, Gilgeous-Alexander has a deep bag of moves and is a maestro as an attacker on offense. 2022-23 could be the best version of Gilgeous-Alexander we have seen, as the now-24-year-old has shown continued improvement every season of his career.
For the latest Shai Gilgeous-Alexander rumors and salary info, click here.
Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn)
An agent of chaos, one whose behavior as a professional athlete over recent years can be described as at least somewhat erratic, Kyrie Irving still finished eighth in our point-guard rankings, because when he is on the floor, he remains one of the most explosive scorers and playmakers the league has seen this the turn of the century.
A ball-handler who consistently has the rock on a string despite having a deeply complicated array of moves with which to befuddle and embarrass foes…
Kyrie’s handles appreciation post pic.twitter.com/qErzSX3Bl9
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) March 16, 2022
…Irving has many out there who consider him to be the best dribbler basketball has ever seen.
Add to that his stop-on-a-dime shooting ability, his range from beyond the arc and his layup package – one that allows him to finish with either hand and among the trees with ease – and it’s easy to see why he’s considered one of the most gifted scorers the lead-guard spot has ever produced.
If the constant off-court noise with Irving wasn’t so boisterous, he certainly would have finished higher in these rankings. After all, despite the drama, Irving still put up 27.4 points, 5.8 assists and 1.4 steals in 2021-22 while shooting 41.8 percent from three.
But we’ve reached the point where it’s impossible to guess what Irving will do next. Heck, we don’t even know what team he’ll be on next season – not for sure, at least.
That’s why we landed on No. 8 for Irving, still close enough to the top where his abilities as a player aren’t being disrespected but not high enough where he might make us look bad when he decides on the reason for his next sabbatical from the sport.
For the latest Kyrie Irving rumors and salary info, click here.
James Harden (Philadelphia)
Irving’s former teammate and one of the greatest shooting guards ever, Harden is now playing mostly point guard, one capable of scoring 30 on any given night still but also one who continues to rack up double-digit assists, running the pick-and-roll absolutely masterfully.
That’s a solid skill to have when teamed up with a generationally great big man such as Joel Embiid, and with a full training camp together heading into 2022-23, the sky is the limit for this guard-big tandem this upcoming season.
Now, Harden is coming off a somewhat down year, as the bearded superstar averaged his per-game point total since 2011-12 when he was still a bench player for the Thunder. However, that down year and that low scoring averaged still entailed Harden putting up 22.0 points, 7.7 rebounds and 10.3 assists per contest.
Know how many players put up a 22/7/10 stat line in 2021-22?
That’s right, just one: Harden.
So tales of Harden’s demise may have been greatly exaggerated, and with an offseason to heal from nagging injuries and preseason to mesh with his new team, we expect more big things from the former league MVP in 2022-23.
For the latest James Harden rumors and salary info, click here.
Chris Paul (Phoenix)
Yet another disappointing playoff finish was in the cards for Chris Paul in 2021-22, a true shame considering last season legitimately looked like Paul’s best chance to win the first championship of his career.
The Phoenix Suns finished the campaign with a ridiculous 64-18 record and with the best net rating in the NBA at +7.5 with Paul pulling the strings for what appeared to be the league’s strongest contender. The future Hall-of-Famer led the NBA in nightly assists at 10.8 while contributing 14.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.9 steals and shooting 49.3 percent from the floor.
Alas, it was not to be for Paul and Co., as a humiliating Game 7 home defeat to a player coming up later on this list was the nail in the coffin for Phoenix’s title hopes in 2021-22.
Nevertheless, despite Paul being 37 now, we still expect big things from him in the upcoming league year, as he proved without a doubt last season that he remains the Point God, one of the best floor generals in the league, a force from the midrange and out of the pick-and-roll, and a disruptive defender as there ever has been in the steals department.
But Paul is running out of time if he’s ever going to capture that elusive first ring as something more than a role player coming off the bench, ala Gary Payton in 2005-06.
For the latest Chris Paul rumors and salary info, click here.
Damian Lillard (Portland)
There’s no question 2021-22 was a down year for Damian Lillard, who saw his season end after just 29 games after an abdominal injury that he says has bothered him for years was finally too much for him to bear playing through any longer.
Even despite that, Lillard still put up 24.0 points, 4.1 rebounds and 7.3 assists per contest, numbers that most players would dream of averaging and that the Weber State legend was able to amass despite playing through debilitating pain.
Now that he should be back to feeling 100 percent in 2022-23 and fresh off of signing a max extension with the Portland Trail Blazers, we believe Lillard can be back to his old form. After all, he’s just 32 and has proven time and time again to be one of the league’s top point guards since his breakout 2015-16 season.
For the latest Damian Lillard rumors and salary info, click here.
Trae Young (Atlanta)
Defensive deficiencies aside, Trae Young is an absolute master on the offensive end of the floor – and has been since his arrival to the NBA in 2018-19.
In that four-season stretch, Young ranks fourth in total points scored, behind just Harden, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Devin Booker. What’s more, in total assists over that span, he ranks first overall, with 2,544, just ahead of Westbrook.
Last year was more of the same from Young, who averaged 28.4 points and 9.7 assists while shooting 38.2 percent from three. Even so, it feels like Young enters the upcoming season with less hype than he had heading into 2021-22, which is likely due to the manner in which his most recent campaign ended.
Young had an embarrassing 2022 playoff showing, averaging just 15.4 points and 6.0 assists while shooting 31.9 percent from the field and 18.4 percent from deep, with the Heat doing a great job of trapping him and forcing anyone else on the Atlanta Hawks to beat them.
Spoiler alert: No one else could.
That’s why Atlanta went out and acquired Dejounte Murray, one of the best two-way guards in the league and someone who’ll be able to take some of the playmaking load off of Young’s shoulders.
We expect Young to still be the team’s primary floor general, however, with Murray taking more of an off-ball role, hence, his place in this ranking and Murray’s inclusion with the shooting guards.
Another thing we expect?
For Young to bounce back from that lackluster postseason showing in 2022-23 and get back to being the hugely productive, All-NBA-level point guard that he’s proven to be over recent seasons.
For the latest Trae Young rumors and salary info, click here.
Ja Morant (Memphis)
A hot debate on NBA Twitter this offseason centered around who fans would rather take as their point guard: Young or Ja Morant.
It’s nearly impossible to choose, as both players are so young, exciting, productive and proven – even despite them still being in the early stages of their careers. But after a razor-close margin in our vote, we just barely went with Morant ahead of Young, though you really can’t go wrong with either player.
Let’s get to the why behind that choice.
Morant was so good in 2021-22 that he somehow won Most Improved Player despite being the No. 2 pick in his draft class and putting up 19.1 points and 7.4 assists in his sophomore season.
The Murray State product followed that up by averaging 27.4 points, 5.7 rebounds and 6.7 assists last season while shooting 49.3 percent from the field and 34.4 percent from beyond the arc, a mark just healthy enough to force defenders to respect his outside shot, which opened up even more attacking lanes for one of the most explosive point guards we’ve ever seen.
Should this poster by Ja Morant win the #ESPY for 'Best Play'?
— bet365 US (@bet365_us) July 20, 2022
Morant’s highlight reel for 2021-22 resembled that of a young Derrick Rose – you know… back when he won that MVP award – and he put up those awe-inspiring moments while leading the Memphis Grizzlies to the second round of the playoffs in just his third season.
Sure, questions arise about Morant’s true impact when you consider how well the Grizzlies did in his absence in last year’s regular season but feels a bit nitpicky, as Morant ranked 14th league-wide in VORP last year, eighth in BPM and 14th in our own Global Rating metric.
There’s no doubt the 22-year-old is a downright stud on the basketball court and one of the most exciting point guards we have in the game today.
And if he continues to develop that outside shot, who knows? We might no longer be questioning the Morant/Young debate.
For the latest Ja Morant rumors and salary info, click here.
Stephen Curry (Golden State)
The very last thing Stephen Curry had to do to complete his NBA legacy was win Finals MVP.
Well, he was able to accomplish just that in 2021-22, leading the Golden State Warriors to a somewhat unexpected title run, their first in the post-Kevin Durant era while averaging 27.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 4.1 three-pointers in 22 playoff games.
For anyone arguing to themselves right now that Golden State’s title run was not unexpected, or that the team is loaded with talent and that they knew Andrew Wiggins was the missing piece for the Warriors’ return to greatness: Stop lying to yourself. Not many believed prior to 2021-22 that Golden State was a surefire championship contender, not with so much uncertainty surrounding Klay Thompson’s return and not after back-to-back years of the team missing the playoffs.
That’s what makes Curry leading the Warriors back to the top of the mountain so special, and lead them he did, as the former league MVP was incredible from start to finish last season.
So how could we have him anywhere but the top spot on the list of best point guards for 2022-23?
Well, there’s a certain guy who plays for the Mavericks who continues to put up monster, nearly unheard-of numbers for a player his age, and now looks to be taking offseason diet and conditioning more seriously than ever before.
So let’s get to the top point guard for 2022-23, according to us.
For the latest Stephen Curry rumors and salary info, click here.
Luka Doncic (Dallas)
It almost feels like we, the media, do this every offseason, where we predict next year will be the year Luka Doncic arrives to the season in shape physically and takes home the first league MVP award of his career.
That, obviously, hasn’t totally happened quite yet, despite Doncic still having three 1st Team All-NBAs under his belt.
However, this offseason looks to be different, as pictures that have surfaced this summer of Doncic have the Slovenian superstar looking downright svelte, more than ever before:
— 𝙏𝙖𝙡𝙠𝙞𝙣’ 𝙉𝘽𝘼 (@_Talkin_NBA) June 27, 2022
Considering Doncic averaged 28.4 points, 9.1 rebounds and 8.7 assists in 2021-22 and 31.7 points, 9.8 rebounds and 6.4 assists in the playoffs, where he made it all the way to the conference finals for the first time, coupled with the fact that he looks to be getting into the best shape of his career, and we expect 2022-23 to be the year Doncic reaches his full potential and takes home the first MVP award of his career.
There’s no doubt he’s got that in him, as his scoring, playmaking and rebounding are all at elite levels, with his crafty bucket-getting, ability to score from all three levels and to make passes that few others would even consider, let alone attempt, all give Doncic a package that few players have ever possessed.
And now that he looks to be taking his fitness seriously, what many believed to be the final piece he was missing, this could very well be the season Doncic takes the final step and gets named the best player in the top basketball league in the world.
If that does prove to be the case, how could we not rank him as the best point guard in basketball?
For the latest Luka Doncic rumors and salary info, click here.