30. Cole Anthony — Orlando Magic
The rookie guard has exceptedly faced some troubles, but the Magic have to be pleased with how Cole Anthony has responded in Year 1. Thrown into the starting lineup after an injury to former starter Markelle Fultz, Anthony has been tasked with learning on the fly as a 20-year-old. His athleticism is off the charts, and the rookie has shown effort on the defense end – though those efforts have mostly failed. At the very least, Anthony has shown that he belongs in an NBA rotation.
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29. Elfrid Payton — New York Knicks
Derrick Rose coming to town might spell the end for Elfrid Payton’s starting gig in New York. Rookie Immanuel Quickley was already beginning to cut into Payton’s time as the Knicks have mostly relied on R.J. Barrett and Julius Randle as their primary playmakers. Payton has previously posted gaudy assist totals, but that’s it. Payton hasn’t lived up to the hype of being a defensive stopper, and his outside jumper – while improved – isn’t scaring anyone.
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28. Devonte’ Graham — Charlotte Hornets
Welcome to the party, Devonte’ Graham. Charlotte’s lightning-quick point guard came out of nowhere to take the league by storm. Not only was Graham a strong candidate for the NBA’s Most Improved Player award, he almost made a case for being an All-Star in the East. Playing alongside Terry Rozier, the Hornets start a pair of young guards who can fill it up from beyond the arc and devastate defenders with the dribble.
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27. Delon Wright — Detroit Pistons
Wright is more of a combo-guard, but with rookie Killian Hayes out has taken over as the team’s starting lead guard. After struggling with the Mavericks last year, Wright has found his footing with the Pistons. He’s a well-rounded player who doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses in his game. Wright is the right type of player to have leading a young team. He’s unselfish and can play off-the-ball when guys like Jerami Grant want to handle the rock.
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26. Darius Garland — Cleveland Cavaliers
In Year 2, Garland has taken over the reins as Cleveland’s point guard while Collin Sexton has settled into a combo-role. It was an obvious move as Garland is the superior playmaker of the two. As a sophomore, Garland has become more efficient from every spot on the floor and is beginning to look more comfortable on the offensive end. The 6-foot-4 21-year-old boast an intriguing offensive skill-set, and has already proven to be a proficient shooter at the NBA level.
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25. Patrick Beverley — LA Clippers
What more is there to say about Beverley? The Chicago native unquestionably sets the tone for the defensive-minded Clippers. He’s the vicious head of the snake, and one which isn’t afraid to bite at a moment’s notice. Also, Beverley is the emotional leader for this ball-club. While his statistical output might not be as impressive as others, his value within the team is immense.
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24. Coby White — Chicago Bulls
White’s long-term fit may be as an off-guard, but for now the former Tarheel is being deployed as Chicago’s starting point guard. Playmaking isn’t White’s strong suit, but he is an exceptional scorer. The speedy guard is comfortable from every range, is a good shooter, and has enough bounce to finish with authority around the rim. Even if he never develops into a true quarterback, White projects to be a 20-plus PPG scorer for the majority of his playing career.
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23. Goran Dragic — Miami Heat
Dragic comes off the bench for the Heat, but his role on the team has remained largely the same. While the starting backcourt of Tyler Herro and Jimmy Butler have plenty of playmaking chops, Miami’s offense most often runs through either Dragic or center Bam Adebayo. Even at 34 years old, Dragic still has ways of getting to the basket, and he’s always been a reliable shooter.
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22. Dennis Schroder — Los Angeles Lakers
The second-place finisher for Sixth Man of the Year last season was given a starting role with his new team. Schroder is exactly the type of player the title-winning Lakers lacked last season. He’s a speedy guard who can get to the basket at will and knock down the occasional outside jumper. Schroder’s best asset might be on the defensive end where he has emerged as a pesky on-ball defender given his length and quickness.
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21. Dejounte Murray — San Antonio Spurs
Despite getting a hefty four-year extension, the Seattle native has yet to live up to his considerable potential. Murray still struggles from the perimeter. Duly, his lack of aggressiveness when driving the basketball causes San Antonio’s offense to stagnate at times. However, few players defend opposing point guards with more tenacity than Murray. He’s a ball hawk who can pick the pockets of even the league’s top ball handlers. If his offense ever comes around, Murray will vault up these rankings.
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20. Lonzo Ball — New Orleans Pelicans
Lonzo Ball’s improvement as a shooter has been one of the best stories of the last couple years. After two pourous seasons from beyond the arc in LA, Ball has made great strides as a shooter in New Orleans – shooting 38-percent from beyond the arc since joining the team. He’s been scorching hot in 2021, and teams are beginning to pay closer attention to the former UCLA standout when he receives a pass beyond the three-point line. His outside shot opens up his whole game, and allows Ball to flourish in his role as a playmaking savant.
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19. John Wall — Houston Rockets
Are we seeing a renaissance in Houston? John Wall has certainly looked like the same guy who destroyed Eastern Conference backcourts for a half-decade. The former No. 1 pick is healthy and playing some good ball for the Rockets. He’s managed to post numbers similar to his career totals while averaging a career-low in minutes. His jumper has looked great, and we always knew that Wall could pass as well as any point guard in the league.
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18. D’Angelo Russell — Minnesota Timberwolves
The 2019 All-Star has stretches where he looks unstoppable on the offensive end. Russell’s blend of mid-range brilliance and court vision make him a tough cover and a fun player to watch when he gets going. Defense will likely always be an issue for Russell, but he has at least shown more effort in the short amount of times he’s been in Minnesota. When you’re able to fill up a scoreboard like Russell can, defense is a bit of an afterthought.
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17. Kemba Walker — Boston Celtics
It’s been a rocky start to Kemba’s career with the Celtics. Plagued by injuries and thrown into a tertiary role behind Tatum and Brown, Walker hasn’t exactly lived up to the max-contract Boston awarded him with during the 2019 offseason. The best version of Walker remains one of the top offensive threats in the league. He’s an elite ball handler who can be just as devastating off-the-dribble as the top guards – Irving, Lillard, Curry.
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16. Mike Conley — Utah Jazz
Conley is fighting back against Father Time with a resurgent 2021 season. The veteran has been key for the Jazz in his second season with the team. Despite being 33 years old, Conley looks as impressive as ever in his 14th season. He contributes all over the floor and consistently makes winning plays. Once the postseason begins, Conley’s experience and leadership will be invaluable to this Utah team.
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15. De’Aaron Fox — Sacramento Kings
The ceiling for Fox as a player is still considerably high. Fox is able to negotiate pick-and-roll situations exceptionally well. In the open court, there might not be a faster player with the ball in his hands. Fox does need to clean up his turnover problem. He could also afford to become a more consistent shooter. Assuming he continues trending upwards, he’ll be in the conversation to become an All-Star sooner than later.
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14. Ja Morant — Memphis Grizzlies
The ambidextrous sophomore is simply sublime. Morant is already one of the league’s most athletic point guards. He’s posterized a number of players already, and figures to slam some dunks on a few more before his career ends. Morant is sophisticated when delivering the basketball. He knows how to read angles, and is able to pass the ball with both hands. Morant is on track to one day become a superstar.
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13. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander — Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder are Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s team now, and the young star appears ready to take the next step into stardom. Though OKC won’t be challenging for NBA titles anytime soon, SGA has shown that he has the ability and potential to eventually become one of the top guards in the league. His size, control, and shot-making ability already have him as a top-15 option at just 22 years old.
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12. Malcolm Brogdon — Indiana Pacers
Since joining the Pacers, Brogdon has taken his game to another level. He’s become more of an assertive scorer. All the same, he remains a very efficient player. Brogdon is adept at manipulating the tempo of the game in order to get to his spots on the floor. A heady defender, he more often than not is tasked with guarding the opposing team’s best wing player. Simply put, Brodgon is improving quite rapidly.
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11. Jamal Murray — Denver Nuggets
We’re still waiting for Murray to take the next step in becoming an elite guard. He’ll have flashes of a guy who can put up 30 and 10 in his sleep. However, the Canadian guard still has his fair share of clunkers. We’re hoping Murray can realize his talent in order to put together a more consistent showing. The talent is certainly there for it to happen.
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10. Russell Westbrook — Washington Wizards
Westbrook is one of the most polarizing players in basketball today. Those rooted in metrics aren’t big fans. Westbrook turns the ball over at a considerable rate, and isn’t great shooting the basketball. However, one cannot accurately tabulate the energy with which he plays. He’ll still give you over 20 points a game, and is among the league leaders in both assists and rebounds for his position. It has been a rocky start to his Washington career, but Westbrook turned it on at a moment’s notice with Houston last year and was on fire before play stopped in March.
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9. Jrue Holiday — Milwaukee Bucks
Holiday still remains as one of the best two-way guards in the league. He leaps over guys like Murray, Brogdon, and Russell for that reason. Holiday is also able to play the game at a high level in all circumstances — whether in an up-tempo affair or one in the half-court variety. He’s been a boon for the Bucks thus far, and will make an even bigger impact once the playoffs begin.
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8. Trae Young — Atlanta Hawks
Young is a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, he’s putting up some monstrous numbers on the offensive end. His range extends to anywhere on the floor, and he has a ridiculously good feel for the game. However, Young’s team hasn’t taken much of a step with him at the point. Additionally, Young’s defense is among the worst in the entire league — regardless of position. We’re worried Young might become one of those ’empty stats’ guys (though still insanely gifted).
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7. Kyle Lowry — Toronto Raptors
Lowry is approaching his 35th birthday. Though he’s not as quick or athletic as he once was, the Philly native still knows how to play the game at a high level. He carves out space with his thick frame in order to get to the cup. Duly, Lowry is still a pit bull on the floor — both offensively and on the defensive end. Don’t be surprised to see him play at a high level for the next few years.
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6. Ben Simmons — Philadelphia 76ers
We’re in a little bit of a gray area with Simmons. However, we’re putting him as the de facto point guard of the highly unusual Philly starting five. The 6-foot-10 athlete is quite gifted in the open court. His vision for such a tall player is rather transcendent. Instead of focusing on things he can’t do (such as shoot from beyond three feet), we’ll focus on his elite traits (vision, thriving in the open court, rebounding, defending his position) instead.
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5. Chris Paul — Phoenix Suns
No one manipulates the basketball quite like Paul. The soon-to-be 36-year-old is sublime when it comes to controlling tempo. He plays the game as if the basketball is on a string. Paul’s heady nature enables him to account for his diminishing athletic ability. This includes positioning himself defensively, knowing when to gamble on potential steals, and also when it comes to exploiting one-on-one matchups. The Suns gained legitimacy by adding Paul, and the veteran has already made an enormous impact with his new team.
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4. Luka Doncic — Dallas Mavericks
The Slovenian Sensation has arrived. Doncic is already a top-10 NBA player (at only 21 years of age). The potential is there for him to average a triple double. When further comparing Doncic at the same age to other Hall of Fame players, Doncic clearly has the edge statistically speaking. He has the look of a multi-year NBA star for years to come.
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3. Damian Lillard — Portland Trail Blazers
Lillard plays the game with immense control. The smoothness with which he operates simply pops whenever on television. Lillard is a master in the pick-and-roll. He can shoot from anywhere on the court. Duly, he’s exquisite in terms of involving teammates from a leadership standpoint. Once considered an underrated player, that moniker is no more. Lillard is a true superstar in every sense of the word.
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2. James Harden — Brooklyn Nets
Being labeled a “point guard” isn’t unfamiliar territory for Harden. Though he has topped rankings over the years as the league’s top shooting guard, Harden logged 98-percent of his minutes in 2017 at the point (averaged 11.2 APG) – according to Basketball-Reference. Though those numbers are far lower in recent years, teammate Kyrie Irving disppeled all possible confusion by announcing he was relinquishing the point guard role to Harden – moving Kyrie to the shooting guard spot. Harden certainly has the traits of a court general – excellent vision, playmaking, and shot-creating – and is currently atop the league leader list in assists per game (over 11 APG in 2021).
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1. Stephen Curry — Golden State Warriors
After playing in just five games in 2020, the three-time NBA Champion has reasserted himself as the top point guard in the league. A former two-time MVP, Curry’s value on the floor stretches far beyond counting stats. He’s the greatest shooter of all-time and has forced the league to completely change the way it approaches defense. The 32-year-old has been slowed down by a handful of injuries in recent years, but he appears back on track and ready to light the league on fire for the next several seasons.
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