Over the course of the last five years or so, the NBA has seen an influx of extraordinary talent at the point guard position. As the position has transitioned from the pass-first generation of the 1980's and into the 1990's, now point guards are increasingly able to not only run an offense, but also get their own shot consistently and be dynamic in a variety of different ways.
Some fans and observers have embraced this change while others have resisted. For the most part, the Magic Johnsons and John Stocktons of the world developed into Stephon Marbury, Allen Iverson and Steve Francis in the late 90's and early 2000's. Now, a combination of the two has been born led by double threats Deron Williams, Chris Paul and Tony Parker.
What makes a point guard elite or most effective at their position? Is it the most talented guard that can do everything and just happens to be 6’5" or below with a great handle on the basketball? Is it a player that can run an offense best and get his teammates into the right spots for the offense to run efficiently and the ball find the right spots?
Is it a shorter player under 6’4" or 6’5" that is ultra quick and can break down a defense to create shots for himself or others? Is it a shorter player that can shoot? Someone who makes the best decisions both on the break and in the half court? Or, is it a combination of all of these factors?
There has been a lot of debate as the new age crosses over with the traditional as to what the right answer is to this question. No one gets caught in the crossfire more than Russell Westbrook. Westbrook has been highly discussed and criticized because although he has great point guard size at 6’3", extraordinary quickness and athleticism, a great ability to finish at the rim and an adequate jump shot, he struggles with decision making and shot selection which often leads to heavy criticism despite his high productivity on the offensive end.
It’s clear that based on the controversy surrounding his play at the point guard position on a championship caliber team that there still is a lot of debate about how the point guard should be played at a high level.
With that said, who are the best five point guards in the NBA this year? I think that the top five should be fairly stable with few exceptions in terms of who should be put up there, assuming you are not ready to crown young players like Kyrie Irving yet. With that said, the order in which one ranks these five players is very debatable.
Given all the criteria above, I have rated the point guards based on how well they play the position. In other words, this is not a question of who is the best basketball player at the point guard position or who is the most overall skilled, but instead, who plays the point guard position the best.
In my opinion, a good point guard helps facilitate the offense he leads at a high level, makes proper basketball decisions with the ball, is a threat to score both as a slasher and a shooter and can defend his position adequately.
With that said, here are the top five: