NBA Position Power Rankings, End of Regular Season Edition: Point Guards

Adam Fromal@fromal09National NBA Featured ColumnistMarch 30, 2017

NBA Position Power Rankings, End of Regular Season Edition: Point Guards

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    The NBA is overflowing with high-quality point guards. 

    While the top ones are competing for MVP, the men directly behind are still All-Stars. Even outside the top 10, household names reign supreme, and the position's depth forces some notable veterans to show up far earlier than you might expect.

    So it goes for the league's most glamorous spot. Point guards typically initiate action and serve as the first line of defense. In the modern Association, they're often tasked with scoring gaudy figures and helping space the floor for their bigger teammates, even as they continue to distribute the ball in the half-court set. 

    But who's been the best? 

    By analyzing all aspects of the on-court work these players have produced in 2016-17, we're here to put the top 30 point guards in order. The goal is to identify those we'd most want to build around for the remainder of the current campaign, so long-term upside and prowess in the distant past are irrelevant. For the sake of consistency, all positional designations were kept the same as they appeared in the midseason edition of these rankings, even in instances where splits have changed to slightly favor new positions. 

30-26: McConnell, Ferrell, Smith, Rose, Parker

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    30. T.J. McConnell, Philadelphia 76ers (Previous Ranking: Unranked

    Age: 25

    Per-Game Stats: 6.6 points, 3.0 rebounds, 6.4 assists, 1.6 steals, 0.1 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 13.8 player efficiency rating (PER), minus-0.52 real plus/minus (RPM), minus-65.57 total points added (TPA)

    The Philadelphia 76ers may still look to find an upgrade at point guard at the top of the 2017 NBA draft, but T.J. McConnell should, at the very least, have staying power as a top-tier leader of the second unit. Even without a consistent jumper, which allows defenders to duck underneath screens, he's proved a savvy floor general who can capably direct his troops into the right spots while playing tough, physical defense. 

    29. Yogi Ferrell, Dallas Mavericks (Previous Ranking: Unranked)

    Age: 23

    Per-Game Stats: 9.8 points, 2.4 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.2 blocks

    Advanced Metrics13.3 PERminus-2.2 RPMminus-11.23 TPA

    Talk about a pleasant surprise. After failing to stick with the Brooklyn Nets after the first 10 games of his NBA career, Yogi Ferrell landed with the Dallas Mavericks and became an immediate revelation at point guard. He even made Deron Williams expendable, thanks to a terrific offensive game that sees him drain spot-up triples, find open teammates and minimize mistakes. Rookies aren't supposed to average 5.2 assists and only 2.2 turnovers per 36 minutes, especially when they're tasked with gaining chemistry as a midseason addition.  

    28. Ish Smith, Detroit Pistons (Previous Ranking: No. 29)

    Age: 28

    Per-Game Stats: 8.6 points, 2.8 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.4 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 14.4 PER, 0.88 RPM, minus-37.82 TPA

    Ish Smith has been everything the Detroit Pistons could've wanted from a backup point guard, to the point that he's now stepping into the starting five at the expense of Reggie Jackson, whose miserable season continues. Though Smith will never serve as a go-to scorer and remains a 1-guard with a ceiling far more limited than anyone else in these rankings, his defensive fortitude and mistake-averse play has helped him turn a Pistons squad that struggles immensely with Jackson into one that looks like it belongs in at least the first round of the playoffs. 

      

    27. Derrick Rose, New York Knicks (Previous Ranking: No. 26)

    Age: 28

    Per-Game Stats: 18.0 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.3 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 17.0 PER, minus-2.75 RPM, minus-83.63 TPA

    If you think Derrick Rose belongs any higher, your reasoning likely falls into one of two lines of thought: Either Rose's name and the remnants of his MVP reputation have swayed you, or you can't get past the fact he's averaging 18 points and 4.4 assists. No matter which school of thought you subscribe to, you'd be looking past his atrocious defense (which often involves little-to-no effort), his set-commandeering tendencies and his lack of floor-spacing ability. 

    26. Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs (Previous Ranking: No. 25)

    Age: 34

    Per-Game Stats: 10.1 points, 1.9 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 0.5 steals

    Advanced Metrics: 13.2 PER, minus-1.52 RPM, minus-79.88 TPA

    Even playing like a top-30 point guard during an age-34 season should be considered an accomplishment; this position's aging curve typically forces floor generals into steep declines as they move further from their 30th birthdays. Tony Parker has indeed regressed and no longer functions as the San Antonio Spurs' best 1-guard, but his understanding of the schemes on each end have at least allowed him to keep making a positive impact in plenty of different situations. 

    Honorable Mentions: Kris Dunn, Cory Joseph, Shaun Livingston, Jameer Nelson, Rajon Rondo

25-21: Collison, Schroder, Russell, Lin, Curry

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    25. Darren Collison, Sacramento Kings (Previous Ranking: Unranked)

    Age: 29

    Per-Game Stats: 13.5 points, 2.2 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.1 blocks

    Advanced Metrics15.5 PERminus-0.5 RPMminus-50.25 TPA

    Darren Collison has been on fire since returning from the All-Star break. His defensive woes still prevent the Sacramento Kings from outscoring opponents by too much when he's on the floor, but it's indisputably beneficial that he's averaged 12.7 points, 2.5 rebounds and 5.6 assists while shooting 47.4 percent from the field, 42.3 percent from downtown and 85.0 percent from the stripe. His three-point stroke has been excellent throughout the 2016-17 campaign, but the further refinements have continued to open up space for the shifting personnel around him. 

    24. Dennis Schroder, Atlanta Hawks (Previous Ranking: No. 17)

    Age: 23

    Per-Game Stats: 18.0 points, 3.1 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.2 blocks

    Advanced Metrics16.3 PERminus-2.47 RPMminus-32.46 TPA

    As the season has progressed, it's become increasingly clear Dennis Schroder isn't the catalyst for the Atlanta Hawks offense, so much as a contributing piece who puts up solid numbers because of the scheme. To that point, the team has produced a net rating of 1.3, per nbawowy.com, when both he and Paul Millsap are on the floor, but that number drops to minus-9.7 when he's playing without the All-Star power forward. Schroder still has plenty of growing to do on both ends, even if his first season running the show hasn't been a complete failure. 

    23. D'Angelo Russell, Los Angeles Lakers (Previous Ranking: No. 19)

    Age: 21

    Per-Game Stats: 15.7 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.3 blocks

    Advanced Metrics16.0 PERminus-0.81 RPMminus-6.75 TPA

    With young point guards, you often have to take the good with the bad. For D'Angelo Russell, that means his scoring explosions and displays of pinpoint vision are often mitigated by carelessness, overaggressive shooting and defensive inadequacies. But that's OK. Russell doesn't have to be perfect yet, and the Los Angeles Lakers should be quite pleased with the growth he's shown. Ditto for his ability to line up at either guard slot, which opens the door for them to draft any position with their top pick this summer. 

    22. Jeremy Lin, Brooklyn Nets (Previous Ranking: No. 24)

    Age: 28

    Per-Game Stats: 13.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.4 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 18.9 PER, minus-0.37 RPM, 17.08 TPA

    Were it not for health issues, Jeremy Lin might rank even higher. The Brooklyn Nets floor general has been a fantastic offensive contributor whenever he's operating at full strength, and the team's net rating improves by 2.8 points per 100 possessions when he's on the floor. But a strained left hamstring, tightness in his back and an ankle sprain have all combined to force him out of the lineup for 44 contests. Plus, they've made it hard for him to build chemistry with teammates during his first year in New York that didn't come with a blue-and-orange uniform.

    21. Seth Curry, Dallas Mavericks (Previous Ranking: No. 27)

    Age: 26

    Per-Game Stats: 12.8 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.1 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 15.3 PER, 0.35 RPM, 53.22 TPA

    Though Seth Curry has started to slow down during the stretch run, he's still proved himself a legitimate starter in the NBA. Whether he's assuming the responsibilities of a point guard or shooting guard, he's capable of playing like a solid defender who can rain down shots from all over the floor. Even after a brief slump, he's hitting 47.9 percent of his field-goal attempts, 42.2 percent of his triples and 84.2 percent of his free throws.

20-16: Rubio, Williams, Payton, Mills, Johnson

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    20. Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves (Previous Ranking: No. 23)

    Age: 26

    Per-Game Stats: 10.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 8.9 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.1 blocks

    Advanced Metrics16.8 PER2.26 RPM42.9 TPA

    Ricky Rubio still can't shoot. His gambles on defense can sometimes hamper the Minnesota Timberwolves' point-preventing abilities, since he can cede lanes to the weak interior. But his passing and rebounding are fantastic, helping the 'Wolves improve their offensive rating by 1.5 points per 100 possessions when he's on the floor because he can initiate and finish fast-break opportunities. Even when the transition efforts are thwarted, he's able to recover calmly and find the open man—something that can't be said about the young backups on the roster. 

    19. Lou Williams, Houston Rockets (Previous Ranking: No. 18)

    Age: 30

    Per-Game Stats: 17.8 points, 2.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.3 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 22.6 PER, 2.16 RPM, 55.42 TPA

    Lou Williams has cooled off a bit since he joined the Houston Rockets, averaging "only" 15.1 points and 2.5 assists while shooting 41.1 percent from the field, 38.0 percent from the three-point zone and 85.5 percent at the stripe. But he's still a reliable source of offensive production with his new squad, mitigating the defensive negatives that are inevitable while he's on the floor and doing his best matador imitations. Williams may be a one-way player in a smaller role, but he's spent 2016-17 showing how to maximize that type of opportunity. 

    18. Elfrid Payton, Orlando Magic (Previous Ranking: No. 20)

    Age: 23

    Per-Game Stats: 12.5 points, 4.6 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.5 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 16.9 PER, 0.15 RPM, 43.38 TPA

    Though he still has a long way to go before justifying his top-10 selection in 2014, Elfrid Payton is starting to become the player many envisioned. He's looked far more comfortable on the defensive end—supposed to be his calling card while leaving Louisiana-Lafayette—and he's making up for his ineffective jumper in every other way. Whether he's contributing on the glass or dishing out high-quality feeds out of the pick-and-roll game, he's been a two-way point guard who might break out if he were ever surrounded by better shooters. 

    17. Patty Mills, San Antonio Spurs (Previous Ranking: No. 21)

    Age: 28

    Per-Game Stats: 9.9 points, 1.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 0.8 steals

    Advanced Metrics: 16.1 PER, 1.74 RPM, 56.24 TPA

    Patty Mills has had comparable shooting seasons to this one—9.9 points per game on 44.8 percent from the field, 41.5 percent from downtown and 84.5 percent at the stripe. But his ability to put the ball on the floor and serve as a facilitator is new. Especially with Tony Parker on the decline, his knack for distribution has given the San Antonio Spurs offense a new edge while he averages a career-best 5.9 dimes per 36 minutes. 

    16. Tyler Johnson, Miami Heat (Previous Ranking: No. 22)

    Age: 24

    Per-Game Stats: 13.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.6 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 16.1 PER, 0.65 RPM, 65.62 TPA

    Tyler Johnson joins James Johnson as one of only two members of the Miami Heat to provide positive scores in NBA Math's TPA on both sides of the floor. In fact, he's one of just 22 players who's added at least 30 points on offense and saved no fewer than 30 on defense. His lateral quickness, overall athleticism and perimeter shooting have allowed him to fill so many different roles for head coach Erik Spoelstra, and his growth while operating at either guard spot has been huge for a Miami squad that's heated up throughout the season's second half. 

15-11: Hill, Teague, Dragic, Bledsoe, Irving

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    15. George Hill, Utah Jazz (Previous Ranking: No. 12)

    Age: 30

    Per-Game Stats: 16.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.2 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 18.6 PER, 3.19 RPM, 91.84 TPA

    The Utah Jazz are a substantially different team with George Hill on the floor. Their offensive and defensive ratings improve by 3.8 and 2.9 points per 100 possessions, respectively. And that's what makes it especially concerning that he's showing signs of decline after his hot start to the season, even averaging just 14.3 points and 3.4 assists while shooting 43.9 percent from the field and 31.6 percent from downtown since his last return from injury March 11. 

    14. Jeff Teague, Indiana Pacers (Previous Ranking: No. 15)

    Age: 28

    Per-Game Stats: 15.4 points, 4.2 rebounds, 7.8 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.4 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 19.3 PER, 1.59 RPM, 96.12 TPA

    "The biggest, most thrilling aspect of [Jeff] Teague's current season—one that maybe even the Pacers didn't predict—is how varied his overall game has become. He's averaging career-highs in assists, rebounds and free-throw attempts," Mac Gushanas wrote for Hoops Habit. "Even with fewer points and shots, it's clear that Teague's maybe more active than he ever has been."

    Myles Turner has gone through the occasional sophomore slump. Paul George has been unable to hit the perilous highs he's reached in previous seasons with any sort of consistency. The team's depth is often inconsistent, as well. But Teague keeps serving as the steadying force for the Indiana Pacers. 

    13. Goran Dragic, Miami Heat (Previous Ranking: No. 14)

    Age: 30

    Per-Game Stats: 20.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.2 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 19.9 PER, 1.29 RPM, 129.29 TPA

    Even though he's been stopped around the rim more frequently than in the past, 30-year-old Goran Dragic is still converting at a 60.4 percent clip from inside three feet. For the sake of comparison, the uber-athletic Russell Westbrook is hitting 58.2 percent of his attempts within the same zone. That's impressive enough, but Dragic's offensive game reaches that proverbial next level when his touch shots from the paint, penchant for drawing fouls and distributing are added into the equation. 

    12. Eric Bledsoe, Phoenix Suns (Previous Ranking: No. 13)

    Age: 27

    Per-Game Stats: 21.1 points, 4.8 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.5 blocks

    Advanced Metrics20.7 PER1.9 RPM149.75 TPA

    Before Eric Bledsoe was shut down for the season, he was playing incredible basketball—using his physicality to thrive on defense and shouldering immense offensive responsibility. Don't be fooled by the fact he was leading one of the NBA's bottom-feeders, because he was doing everything in his power to drag the squad back toward relevancy. Even in his final dozen games, he averaged 20.3 points, 4.6 rebounds and 7.3 assists while shooting 40.9 percent from the field and 37.9 percent from downtown. 

    11. Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers (Previous Ranking: No. 8)

    Age: 25

    Per-Game Stats: 25.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.4 blocks

    Advanced Metrics23.0 PER2.04 RPM113.69 TPA 

    "When you've got one of the top-three point guards in the league and the best player in the world, that's your job. You're supposed to carry us and do what you've been doing," Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue said after his team's loss to the San Antonio Spurs, per ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne. He's obviously referring to Kyrie Irving, and it's not difficult to see how he could think such a thing when serving as a firsthand witness to his dribbling exploits and high-scoring ways.

    But there's not much of an argument to support Lue, and there won't be until Irving shores up his atrocious defense, functions as more of a playmaker and gets more efficient as a scorer. He's still more than a tier below the top three, even if his flash can occasionally contradict that statement. 

10. Kemba Walker, Charlotte Hornets (Previous Ranking: No. 7)

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    Age: 26

    Per-Game Stats: 22.9 points, 4.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.3 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 21.3 PER, 2.57 RPM, 181.47 TPA

    It's easy to think Kemba Walker has improved since regaining some of his endurance after the All-Star break. He's averaging an additional 1.8 points and 0.3 assists per game, and his shooting percentages have risen all over the court, jumping from 44.7/39.5/83.5 to 44.9/41.6/90.0.

    However, the signs of fatigue are just showing up in different places. Walker has declined significantly on the defensive end, unable to keep darting around picks like he did during the first half of the season. It's understandable, given the role he fills on offense and the Charlotte Hornets' lack of support behind him. But it's also forcing his stock to slide just barely in the wrong direction. 

    Before the midseasons festivities, Charlotte allowed 3.9 fewer points per 100 possessions when Walker was on the court—a testament not only to his improved play, but also to the utter lack of replacement options on either end of the floor. Since them, it's given up 1.6 more points over the same typical span when he's logging minutes. 

    That's not a sign you want to see. And given the tightly packed nature of this positional race, it's enough to counteract his ceaseless offensive growth and force him down a bit in the pecking order. 

9. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers (Previous Ranking: No. 9)

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    Age: 26

    Per-Game Stats: 26.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.3 blocks

    Advanced Metrics23.7 PER2.69 RPM189.48 TPA

    Damian Lillard is atrocious on the defensive end. He's so bad at working through screens and preventing dribble penetration that the Portland Trail Blazers will have to seriously evaluate whether their starting backcourt of Lillard and C.J. McCollum is too poor on one end to have a long-term future together. 

    But the 26-year-old largely makes up for his point-preventing problems with perennially potent offense. 

    Lillard can score in all situations. As a fantastic, athletic finisher around the hoop who's confident taking mid-range jumpers and even better from downtown, he ensures that a defense is always kept off-balance, if only because it never knows from where he'll do his damage. That uncertainty from the opposition is only magnified by his ability to knock down pull-up attempts. 

    According to NBA.com's SportVU data, the Weber State product could stand to get more efficient, but only James Harden (170), Stephen Curry (130), Kemba Walker (120), Russell Westbrook (115) and Isaiah Thomas (113) have made more spot-up triples than his 106. His reputation alone is enough to keep defenders glued to his jersey, and that frees up more driving lanes, from which he can either finish the play or kick to an open teammate. 

8. Mike Conley, Memphis Grizzlies (Previous Ranking: No. 10)

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    Age: 29

    Per-Game Stats: 20.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.3 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 22.4 PER, 3.54 RPM, 208.36 TPA

    Mike Conley just won't slow down. 

    His defensive performance on the year remains a bit underwhelming, but his ability to keep scoring buckets for the Memphis Grizzlies has helped justify the massive deal he signed over the offseason. Entering the true stretch run, he's scoring 20.2 points per game and doing so while shooting 44.9 percent from the field, 39.7 percent from downtown and 85.6 percent at the stripe. 

    Prior to the 2016-17 campaign, Conley's career high was a 55.8 true shooting percentage—earned in 2014-15 when he averaged 15.8 points. He'd never scored more than 17.2 points per game before, and his true shooting percentage during that 2013-14 campaign was a meager 54.5. 

    This year, he's shattering his best prior scoring output and doing so with a 59.3 true shooting percentage. Only 14 qualified players throughout the league are north of 59 and 20 points per game, and Conley is finally among them. 

    All the while, he's staying involved as a distributor, which helps solidify his role as Memphis' offensive leader. He serves as the primary reason it doesn't sit any worse than No. 19 on the offensive-rating leaderboard. 

7. John Wall, Washington Wizards (Previous Ranking: No. 6)

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    Age: 26

    Per-Game Stats: 23.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, 10.8 assists, 2.0 steals, 0.7 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 23.4 PER, 2.89 RPM, 224.06 TPA

    "There's far more evidence than this, and it goes beyond one game and one matchup. [Kyrie] Irving will have his moments where he gets the better of [John] Wall. If you're in a situation when you need one bucket with the game on the line like in Game 7 of the NBA Finals? Irving is a better option than [LeBron] James in that situation. But he's still not a better player than James," J. Michael wrote for CSN Mid-Atlantic after the Washington Wizards point guard outplayed his Cleveland Cavaliers counterpart on both ends of a March 25 victory.

    "Over an 82-game season/big picture, this represents the primary differences between the two and why Wall deserves to be rewarded [as an All-NBA player] because he's just better of the two."

    The larger point here is important. 

    On any given offensive possession, Wall won't blow you away like Irving does. He doesn't quite have the flashy handles, and his limited perimeter game keeps him from putting together stretches of all-around scoring dominance. Maybe he'll win over crowds with a highlight-reel block or a steal that turns into a transition dunk, but his game is more about steady excellence.

    Wall can kill teams by getting to the basket on every possession. He can impact a game with his off-ball defense. He's capable of finding shooters on the perimeter while driving at full speed. Frankly, he can do just about everything on the court. 

    And it adds up. 

6. Isaiah Thomas, Boston Celtics (Previous Ranking: No. 11)

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    Age: 28

    Per-Game Stats: 29.1 points, 2.6 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.1 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 26.4 PER, 1.54 RPM, 242.58 TPA

    We can no longer compare Isaiah Thomas' scoring excellence to the rest of the players suiting up in 2016-17. He deserves some historical love, starting with what he's done compared to every other member of the Boston Celtics' ever-successful organization. 

    Barring some scoring outbursts down the stretch as the Celtics attempt to preserve their hold on the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, the diminutive point guard probably won't supplant 1987-88 Larry Bird (29.9) for the franchise's most single-season points per game. But he should become just the second to top 29, beating out John Havlicek, Paul Pierce, Kevin McHale, Sam Jones, Bill Russell, Bill Sharman and the many other legends who have worn the green uniform. 

    And these aren't empty points. Boston is winning, and Thomas is putting up numbers while retaining extreme levels of efficiency. 

    He's on pace to join Stephen Curry, Adrian Dantley, Kevin Durant, James Harden and Karl Malone as one of only six qualified players in league history to average at least 29 points with a true shooting percentage north of 62. Considering the vertical disadvantage with which he's working, that should be even more impressive. 

    Thomas' fourth-quarter scoring has deservedly drawn lots of love throughout the 2016-17 campaign. But he's been pretty darn good throughout the first 36 minutes as well. 

5. Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors (Previous Ranking: No. 5)

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    Age: 31

    Per-Game Stats: 22.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 6.9 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.3 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 23.0 PER, 5.81 RPM, 279.63 TPA

    Since Kyle Lowry went under the knife to remove loose bodies from his right wrist, the Toronto Raptors have gone 12-5. But don't let that give you the wrong impression: The point guard remains the unquestioned catalyst behind the team's success. 

    Plus, Toronto's best victories among that dozen have come at the expense of the Boston Celtics, Washington Wizards and Indiana Pacers. Most wins were earned against fringe playoff contenders and bottom-feeders, and they came while the squad was learning how to play with Serge Ibaka and PJ Tucker. Those midseason additions are legitimate confounding factors since it's quite possible Toronto would've looked even more dominant at full strength. 

    Either way, there's no questioning Lowry's overall impact. 

    His pull-up jumper is deadly, setting the tone for the offense. His ability to thrive as either a leading scorer or primary facilitator lets him work next to DeMar DeRozan or lead a unit comprised solely of himself and role players. His hard-nosed defense hasn't produced great advanced metrics, but he still passes the eye test and has to work alongside one of the league's bigger sieves in DeRozan. 

    Lowry is the total package, even if he doesn't enjoy the same household status as many of the point guards surrounding him in these rankings. 

4. Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers (Previous Ranking: No. 3)

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    Age: 31

    Per-Game Stats: 17.4 points, 5.0 rebounds, 9.1 assists, 1.9 steals, 0.1 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 25.4 PER, 8.15 RPM, 282.74 TPA

    Aren't point guards supposed to decline when they're in their 30s? 

    Chris Paul refuses to accept that notion—when he succumbs to injuries notwithstanding. So long as he's healthy, he's capable of elite two-way play that stands out because of his remarkable efficiency. And that's not a reference solely to his shooting percentages, which verge on 50/40/90 status (46.4/40.5/88.2), but also to his incredible habits of racking up assists without turning the ball over. 

    A whopping 248 players qualified for the assists-per-game leaderboard in 2016-17 are averaging fewer than 2.5 turnovers per game. Of them, these are the leaders in dimes per contest: 

    1. Chris Paul, 9.1
    2. Draymond Green, 7.1
    3. Rajon Rondo, 6.5
    4. T.J. McConnell, 6.4
    5. Mike Conley, 6.3

    There's just no one else in the same class, and that's one of the reasons advanced metrics tend to love Paul (as always). 

    ESPN.com's RPM, for example, gives him the league's best score, regardless of position. 

3. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors (Previous Ranking: No. 4)

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    Age: 29

    Per-Game Stats: 24.9 points, 4.5 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.2 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 23.9 PER, 5.88 RPM, 335.92 TPA

    The Golden State Warriors are still better at full strength. They're nearly unstoppable when Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are playing together; nbawowy.com shows that quartet has produced a 24.1 net rating. 

    But Durant's knee injury has opened the door for Curry to regain his old form. And though it's too late for him to burst into the MVP conversation and complete the threepeat after last season's unanimity, he's still put together a dominant run. 

    Since Durant last played against the Washington Wizards on Feb. 28, his point guard has averaged a scorching 25.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 7.4 assists while shooting 45.3 percent from the field, 37.4 percent from downtown and 88.7 percent at the stripe. And since March 18, he's been even better, fully taking on the lead-guard responsibilities and regaining his perimeter stroke to slash 51.0/46.0/83.3.

    This still isn't quite the vintage Curry to which the world became accustomed in 2015-16. But the pull-up jumpers from 30 feet are happening with a bit more frequency, and the overall swagger is starting to return.

    The best news of all? Even while he was adjusting to Durant's on-court presence, he was still playing at such a high level that only two point guards were definitively better than him. Now, he's removed Chris Paul and Kyle Lowry from that conversation, even if he still sits a tier below our top two finishers. 

2. James Harden, Houston Rockets (Previous Ranking: No. 2)

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    Age: 27

    Per-Game Stats: 29.3 points, 8.0 rebounds, 11.3 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.4 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 27.7 PER, 4.88 RPM, 579.07 TPA

    James Harden's numbers are immediately impressive. 

    He's on the cusp of averaging a triple-double for the season, leading the league in assists, producing enough points to compete for the scroing title and generally thriving on the offensive end. This is a season for the ages, even if it's often being overshadowed by the triple-double exploits of his primary competitor for the league's top individual award. 

    However, the impact he's had on the Houston Rockets goes beyond what any metrics will show. 

    Harden is the brainchild of general manager Daryl Morey and head coach Mike D'Antoni. The former prioritizes free-throw generation and three-point shooting above all else while asking his players to eschew mid-range attempts, and the latter looks to push the pace and shoot more threes than thought humanly possible. Now, their point guard can do all that and more while pushing his teammates to greater fortunes. 

    Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson are enjoying resurgent seasons because of Harden's efforts. Clint Capela thrives in the pick-and-roll because of Harden's pinpoint accuracy. Trevor Ariza is back to his three-and-D glory days because of Harden's feeds to the perimeter. 

    Everything in Houston is about the bearded point guard, and he's had no trouble transitioning away from his more natural position. 

1. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder (Previous Ranking: No. 1)

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    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    Age: 28

    Per-Game Stats: 31.4 points, 10.5 rebounds, 10.4 assists, 1.6 steals, 0.4 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 30.4 PER, 6.46 RPM, 763.71 TPA

    Whether Russell Westbrook is the MVP is debatable. He's still my personal choice, but arguments about his failure to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder into the top half of the Western Conference's playoff picture do hold water, even if they ignore the point guard's ability to steer his squad into the playoffs at all. 

    What's not up for argument is his statistical superiority, and not just because he's throwing up triple-doubles left and right while looking to match Oscar Robertson's historic campaign. Even efficiency metrics love what Westbrook has done—none more so than NBA Math's TPA

    He's on pace to finish the season with 857.87 TPA, which would do more than just lead all 2016-17 players by a substantial margin. It would actually supplant 1988-89 Michael Jordan (822.25) for the top score in the database, which stretches all the way back to the 1973-74 campaign. 

    This is a season-long tear unlike any we've ever seen. 

    Adam Fromal covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @fromal09.

    Unless otherwise indicated, all quotes obtained firsthand, and all stats from Basketball ReferenceNBA.com or NBA Math and accurate heading into games Wednesday, March 29.