Top NBA point guards for 2021-22: Ranking all 30 starters

Will there be a changing of the guard in the NBA this season?

The point guard position has been run by the likes of Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and others over the last decade. We’re talking about future Hall of Famers who have not only enjoyed runs of sustained success, but also changed how we view what a point guard can be.

But the next generation is coming — fast. Luka Doncic, De’Aaron Fox, Ja Morant, Trae Young and more have already put their talent on display early in their careers, and now they are looking to take over the NBA. That’s what makes this position group both incredibly intriguing and incredibly difficult to evaluate.

With that said, let’s take a shot at ranking every starting point guard in the league.

(Note: This list does not include Jamal Murray and Ben Simmons. Murray will most most of the season and is not expected to return until spring as he recovers from a torn ACL while Simmons is in limbo as he holds out from reporting to the 76ers. Make no mistake, both would rank near the top if available.)

NBA point guard rankings 2021-22

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1. Stephen Curry, Warriors

After playing only five games during a disastrous 2019-20 campaign, Curry returned to form last season, averaging a league-leading 32.0 points per game with 48.2/42.1/91.6 shooting splits (field goals/3-pointers/free throws). With Curry on the floor, the Warriors had an offensive rating of 114.2. When he sat, Golden State’s offensive rating dropped down to 101.8. That’s the difference between a top-10 offense and the worst offense in the NBA.

His shooting, on-ball creativity and off-ball movement make life easier for all of his teammates. Simply put, Curry is one of the most impressive offensive forces in the history of the game.

2. Luka Doncic, Mavericks

Despite being just 22 years old, Doncic is widely considered the favorite to win the 2021-22 NBA MVP award. The Slovenian superstar filled up the stat sheet last season (27.7 points, 8.6 assists and 8.0 rebounds per game), but he also managed to improve his shooting numbers in his third season (career-high 47.9 percent from the field and 35.0 percent on 3-pointers).

The next step for Doncic and the Mavericks is making real noise in the playoffs. Doncic has undoubtedly been spectacular in 13 career postseason games, but the Clippers have eliminated the Mavs in back-to-back first-round matchups.

3. James Harden, Nets

Harden quickly emerged as Brooklyn’s lead ball handler following the blockbuster trade that brought him from Houston. The nine-time All-Star settled in nicely with his new team, pouring in 24.6 points and dishing out 10.9 assists in 36 games. So effortless was Harden’s transition that it took barely a month for Kyrie Irving to officially proclaim his off-the-ball shift to shooting guard.

Yes, there will be questions about whether Harden is prepared to step up in the playoffs because of his lackluster performances in Houston, and his health could be a concern moving forward given the high volume of minutes he has logged in his career. Still, the guy has shown he is capable of being an entire offensive system, and he should shine on a squad with championship-or-bust expectations.

4. Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers

You already know what time it is. As Allen Iverson put it, Lillard is a “certified killer.” He has consistently been one of the NBA’s most dangerous scorers, one capable of hitting shots from anywhere on the floor. He rises to the occasion when the game is on the line, as he led the league in clutch points last season while shooting 51.1 percent from the field and 39.1 percent from beyond the arc in clutch time.

As long as Lillard is in Portland, the Trail Blazers will be worth watching. If they struggle to start the season, though, will Lillard be forced to re-evaluate his future with the only NBA franchise he has ever known?

5. Trae Young, Hawks

Young made a leap in Year 3, guiding the Hawks to the Eastern Conference finals by posting 28.8 points and 9.5 assists in 16 playoff games. The 23-year-old has a crafty floater and finishing package, a quick trigger from the outside and elite court vision. He is the engine of Atlanta’s top-10 offense.

The scary part? Young can get much better, particularly on the defensive end. He may never be Gary Payton, but even becoming an average defender will make him a much more complete player.

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6. Chris Paul, Suns

Of course “The Point God” belongs in this tier. Paul played an instrumental role in Phoenix’s unexpected run to the 2021 NBA Finals, averaging 19.2 points and 8.6 assists per game with 49.7/44.6/87.7 shooting splits in the playoffs. Not bad for a guy who was once considered untradeable because of his injury history and massive contract.

Paul’s impact goes beyond the numbers, though. His basketball IQ, communication skills and overall leadership are so important for a locker room full of youngsters. It’s no surprise that the Suns had re-signing Paul at the top of their offseason priority list.

7. Jrue Holiday, Bucks

That’s NBA champion Jrue Holiday to you. The veteran guard was spectacular in his first season with the Bucks as they captured their first title in 50 years. He averaged 17.7 points, 6.1 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 1.6 steals while shooting a career-high 50.3 percent on field goals and 39.2 percent on 3-pointers during the regular season.

Holiday is not at the same level offensively as some of the other point guards in this group, but he is arguably the best perimeter defender in the NBA. Just ask Paul how much loved being hounded by Holiday.

8. Russell Westbrook, Lakers

Is Westbrook too low here? Possibly. The former NBA MVP averaged a triple-double (again) in his lone season with the Wizards, and he was a big reason why Washington reached the playoffs after a brutal start to the season. You never have to doubt his effort or commitment level.

And yet, Angeleno basketball fans must be at least a little bit worried that Westbrook hasn’t learned from his previous failures. He can’t be his usual ball-dominant self on a team featuring LeBron James and Anthony Davis. If the Lakers get the same ol’ Russ, this experiment won’t work.

9. De’Aaron Fox, Kings

Fox jumped up to 25.2 points per game last season, a higher mark than LeBron James (25.0) and Kawhi Leonard (24.8). He was one of the best finishers around the basket, shooting over 76 percent on shots within three feet of the rim. The Kings’ speedy floor general also handed out 7.2 assists per game.

The 2021-22 campaign could be a turning point in Fox’s development. If he can become a more consistent 3-point shooter (32.6 perecent for his career) and defender, he would significantly raise his ceiling.

10. Kyle Lowry, Heat

The 35-year-old may no longer be at his athletic peak, but Lowry still does all of the little things to help his team win. He hits open shots off the catch or off the dribble. He pushes the pace and finds open teammates. He is annoyingly awesome at drawing charges.

Lowry and “Heat Culture.” It just makes too much sense.

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11. Mike Conley, Jazz

12. Ja Morant, Grizzlies

13. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Thunder

14. LaMelo Ball, Hornets

15. Malcolm Brogdon, Pacers

16. Fred VanVleet, Raptors

17. Lonzo Ball, Bulls

18. D’Angelo Russell, Timberwolves

19. Kemba Walker, Knicks

20. Spencer Dinwiddie, Wizards

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21. Dejounte Murray, Spurs

22. Reggie Jackson, Clippers

23. Dennis Schroder, Celtics

24. Darius Garland, Cavaliers

25. Monte Morris, Nuggets

26. Devonte’ Graham, Pelicans

27. Jalen Suggs, Magic

28. Kevin Porter Jr., Rockets

29. Tyrese Maxey, 76ers

30. Killian Hayes, Pistons

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