Immediate heirs: Russell Westbrook
Future heirs: Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard, John Wall
Paul is by far the youngest of the four men we're considering, and has played fewer than half the career minutes of any of the other three.
Still, he's at a position where careers often don't last as long. Losing a step at point guard means losing a ton of effectiveness, especially when you're average-sized. Fortunately for us, size is the only area where one could call the 6'0" Paul average.
Right now CP3, the finest point guard of his generation, is first in the league in steals per game, second in assists per game and third in player efficiency rating. He's also one of the most scintillating combinations of playmaker and facilitator ever to grace an NBA court.
Hopefully it's a long way off, but when Paul hangs them up, Russell Westbrook, who's three years younger, is the obvious next in line, because he shares Paul's unique skill set. Westbrook ranks fifth in assists per game, 11th in player efficiency rating and seventh in points per game.
In only his second year, Kyrie Irving is nearly at both men's level. He needs to improve his assist totals, but then again, he also needs more high-quality targets for passes like both Westbrook and Paul have.
Irving is as enjoyable to watch as any NBA point guard that has ever laced them up. I smile and shake my head every time Uncle Drew unleashes his signature spin move or vicious crossover.
Though I left him off the Kobe Bryant page because of the position he plays, Irving is another guy who might be The Best.
Damian Lillard, everybody's darling for Rookie of the Year, and John Wall, who, despite his injuries, is having his best season as a pro, are also guys to keep an eye on at the point when CP3 does inevitably lose that step.
It will be a brave new NBA world without the four luminaries we discussed. The talents we've touched upon have broad-enough shoulders to carry the league into the A.S. (After Stern) Era.