Ranking the Greatest NBA Point Guards Since 2000June 15, 2019
Ranking the Greatest NBA Point Guards Since 2000
Over the last two decades, the NBA has enjoyed a sensational run of talent at point guard. Jason Kidd and Steve Nash highlighted the early years at the position, while Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, Tony Parker and Russell Westbrook have recently dominated the spotlight.
As a result, any list of the NBA's top point guards since 2000 will be loaded with Hall of Famers and players headed that way.
The following rankings are subjective, but we've considered individual production and accolades, contributions to team success and advanced metrics such win shares (WS), value over replacement player (VORP) and player efficiency rating (PER).
Only a player's production since the beginning of the 2000-01 season was taken into account here. Contributions before then are mentioned in career highlights but not measured.
"The Professor" enjoyed a 17-year career that covered 10 stops and nine franchises. Miller's best season came with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2001-02 when he averaged 16.5 points and a league-high 10.9 assists. He posted 10-plus points per game in 12 seasons.
Despite lacking much shooting range, Rondo thrived on offense because of his passing ability. Along with John Stockton, Magic Johnson and Steve Nash, he's only of only four NBA players to average 11-plus assists in four seasons. Rondo is a four-time All-Star and has made four All-Defensive teams, too.
Walker's progression from an inefficient volume scorer to a versatile offensive weapon has translated to three All-Star nods. The UConn product averaged a career-best 25.6 points per game in 2018-19. Unfortunately, Charlotte has mustered only two first-round postseason exits in Walker's eight seasons.
One of the league's most prolific passers in this era, Wall ranks 13th since 2000 with 5,282 assists. However, injuries―particularly to his knees―have regularly shortened his seasons. Wall missed 33 games in 2012-13, 41 in 2017-18, 50 in 2018-19 and is likely to miss most if not all of the 2019-20 season because of an Achilles injury.
After an All-American career at Illinois, Williams earned three All-Star appearances over his 12-year NBA career. He also garnered a pair of second-team All-NBA honors and is one of 12 players ever to have averaged 20 points and 10 assists in a season.
10. Damian Lillard
Career Marks (2012-present): Four-time All-Star, four-time All-NBA, 2012-13 Rookie of the Year, 23.5 PPG, 6.3 APG, 4.2 RPG, 36.8 3FG%, 21.4 PER, .169 WS/48
When the Portland Trail Blazers drafted Damian Lillard out of Weber State in 2012, few expected him to become one of the league's most dominant scorers.
Seven years into his career, Lillard has ranked no lower than 16th in points per game leaguewide in any season. He's averaged 25-plus points for four consecutive seasons and is already 33rd in NBA history with 1,506 threes.
"Big Game Dame" also has the unique distinction of burying a buzzer-beating series-ending shot in the playoffs twice. He eliminated the Houston Rockets in the 2014 postseason and bounced the Oklahoma City Thunder during the 2019 playoffs with a cold-blooded 37-footer.
If Lillard achieves more postseason success in the coming years, he'll have a case to soar in these rankings.
9. Kyle Lowry
Career Marks (2006-present): Five-time All-Star, 2015-16 All-NBA, 14.4 PPG, 6.1 APG, 4.3 RPG, 36.7 3FG%, 18.4 PER, .155 WS/48
Kyle Lowry headed to the Memphis Grizzlies as the No. 24 pick of the 2006 NBA draft. He played two-plus seasons in Memphis before the Grizzlies traded him to the Houston Rockets.
Lowry turned into a regular starter in Houston, and he emerged as a star for the Toronto Raptors upon being traded there in 2012.
During his seven seasons with the Raptors, Lowry has five All-Star appearances. He's shifted from a complementary piece to leading scorer to facilitator, topping out at 22.4 points per game in 2016-17 and 8.7 assists in 2018-19.
Lowry, who ranks 30th in league history with 1,532 three-pointers, helped the Raptors win their first-ever NBA title in 2019.
8. Kyrie Irving
Career Marks (2011-present): Six-time All-Star, two-time All-NBA, 2011-12 Rookie of the Year, 22.2 PPG, 5.7 APG, 3.6 RPG, 39.0 3FG%, 22.1 PER, .163 WS/48
Best known for his series-deciding shot for the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, Kyrie Irving has experienced dramatic highs and lows throughout his eight-year NBA career.
The Cavs had the league's third-worst record in 2012-13 despite Irving playing well enough to earn an All-Star nod. Three years and one LeBron James free-agent signing later, Irving drained the game-winning shot to dethrone the Golden State Warriors.
Irving forced a trade from Cleveland in the summer of 2017 and joined the Celtics. He averaged at least 23.8 points in both years and set a career high of 6.9 assists per game in 2018-19.
7. Chauncey Billups
Career Marks (1997-2014): 2003-04 Finals MVP, five-time All-Star, three-time All-NBA, two-time All-Defensive Team, 15.2 PPG, 5.4 APG, 2.9 RPG, 38.7 3FG%, 18.8 PER, .176 WS/48
While these rankings only consider production from 2000 and beyond, Chauncey Billups' career didn't take off until he joined the Detroit Pistons in 2002 anyway.
During his first five seasons, Billups bounced between the Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors, Denver Nuggets and Minnesota Timberwolves. He signed with Detroit as a free agent in 2012 and helped the starless Pistons reach six straight Eastern Conference Finals and win the NBA Finals in 2004.
Although he wound up with a not-entirely-true nickname of "Mr. Big Shot," Billups made a few memorable clutch shots for the Pistons. He also knocked down 1,830 threes, the 14th-most in NBA history.
6. Tony Parker
Career Marks (2001-2019): 2006-07 Finals MVP, six-time All-Star, four-time All-NBA, 15.5 PPG, 5.6 APG, 2.7 RPG, 18.2 PER, .140 WS/48
After four inefficient years beyond the arc, Tony Parker basically removed the three-point shot from his arsenal. That change led the Frenchman to becoming one of the craftiest finishers in the game.
Parker developed a layup package that featured a right-handed scoop shot, wrong-footed layups, hesitations and a lethal floater. Heck, there's an eight-minute highlight reel dedicated to Parker's teardrops. His ability to finish in the lane was spectacular.
As a core member of the San Antonio Spurs dynasty alongside Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, Parker celebrated four NBA championships and won the Finals MVP in 2007.
Parker announced his retirement in the summer of 2019.
5. Russell Westbrook
Career Marks (2008-present): 2016-17 MVP, eight-time All-Star, eight-time All-NBA, two-time scoring champ, two-time assists leader, 23.0 PPG, 8.4 APG, 7.0 RPG, 23.7 PER, .164 WS/48
Russell Westbrook boasts a unique blend of athleticism, length and intelligence that made him a triple-double machine in the NBA.
Since the 2000 season began, no player has recorded as many triple-doubles than Westbrook's 138. James Harden ranks fourth with 42―the same number Westbrook totaled during his 2016-17 MVP campaign.
Westbrook has become a staple on All-Star and All-NBA teams, even winning a pair of All-Star Game MVPs in 2015 and 2016.
Though his resume is missing a championship, Westbrook's overall production combined with his unique capability of carrying a roster―see: his 2016-17 season―elevates him above Parker.
4. Jason Kidd
Career Marks (1994-2013): 10-time All-Star, six-time All-NBA, nine-time All-Defensive Team, 1994-95 Rookie of the Year, five-time assists leader, 12.6 PPG, 8.7 APG, 6.3 RPG, 34.9 3FG%, 17.9 PER, .133 WS/48
When considering their entire body of work, Jason Kidd deserves to be ranked above Steve Nash. However, six years worth of Kidd's production preceded the first season in the new millennium, and Nash thrived during the aughts.
That bit of housekeeping shouldn't diminish Kidd's superstar career.
Kidd consistently provided at least 10 points and eight assists per game while playing outstanding defense throughout the 2000s. Late in his career, Kidd developed into a more reliable three-point shooter and won his only championship with the Dallas Mavericks in 2010-11.
The stat-stuffing Kidd ranks second all-time in assists (12,091) and steals (2,864) and is 10th in three-pointers (1,988).
3. Steve Nash
Career Marks (1996-2014): Two-time MVP, eight-time All-Star, seven-time All-NBA, five-time assists leader, 14.3 PPG, 8.5 APG, 3.0 RPG, 42.8 3FG%, 20.0 PER, .164 WS/48
If you never saw Steve Nash play, spend three minutes watching this mastermind on the ball.
From no-look dimes and wrap-around feeds to nutmegs and behind-the-back flips, Nash boasted a variety of ways to carve up a defense and outwit defenders. His 10,335 assists are the third-most in NBA history.
Nash also buried 90.4 percent of his free throws and connected on 42.8 percent of his threes. Mark Price and Stephen Curry (so far) are the only other players to post a 90/40 career clip.
Although his creativity and efficiency make Nash one of the best point guards of his era, jaw-dropping highlights don't tell the whole story. His lack of postseason success―namely his zero NBA Finals appearances―cannot be overlooked compared to his counterparts.
2. Chris Paul
Career Marks (2005-present): Nine-time All-Star, eight-time All-NBA, nine-time All-Defensive Team, 2005-06 Rookie of the Year, six-time steals leader, four-time assists leader, 18.5 PPG, 9.7 APG, 4.5 RPG, 37.0 3FG%, 25.3 PER, .247 WS/48
Although he's had a brilliant career, Chris Paul has only reached the conference finals once and has never appeared in the NBA Finals. Barring a late change, that lack of postseason success will muddy his resume.
However, that doesn't stop CP3 from being one of the best point guards of the past 20 years.
The Wake Forest product has masterfully combined aggressiveness with efficiency on both ends of the court. Paul has averaged at least 18 points, nine assists and two steals on six separate occasions. No other player in NBA history has recorded those numbers in more than three seasons. None of them committed three turnovers or fewer per game, which Paul accomplished each of those six years.
Championships are valuable, and Paul's lack of a Finals appearance prevents from holding the No. 1 spot. However, he's still a surefire future Hall of Famer.
1. Stephen Curry
Career Marks (2009-present): Two-time MVP, six-time All-Star, six-time All-NBA, 2015-16 scoring champ, 2015-16 steals leader, 23.5 PPG, 6.6 APG, 4.5 RPG, 43.6 3FG%, 23.8 PER, .207 WS/48
No one has ever shot a basketball better than Steph Curry.
Golden State's franchise cornerstone has averaged 248.3 three-pointers per season since making his NBA debut in 2009. Only eight other players have ever knocked down as many triples in a single year.
Beyond his unparalleled range and gravitational pull, Curry is an imaginative passer who has averaged at least five assists in each of his 10 seasons. And while he's never been named Finals MVP, Curry has won three NBA titles with MVP-worthy numbers each time.
Longevity favors CP3 for the No. 1 ranking, but Curry's combination of historic three-point excellence and postseason success places him above his point guard peers.
Stats from Basketball-Reference.com. Follow Bleacher Report NBA Writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.