All-Star Analysts

Willie's picks: Best point guards in the NBA

Published September 4, 2022, 11:00 AMWillie Wilson
Willie Wilson

All-Star Analyst Willie Wilson calls out who the best point guards are in the league heading into the 2022-2023 season.

There isn’t a position in the league today with more pure talent and skill than the point guard spot. Last season, we saw young lead guards become All-Stars, while the veterans still maintained their status as the league’s best at the position. But the next generation is coming fast, and more players have already put their talent on display, looking to take over the NBA. On top of that, there’s also the decision of whether to include players who aren’t considered traditional point guards, but who operate as the actual facilitator on the floor. 

That's what makes this position group both fascinating and challenging to a rank. I already know my list isn’t gonna make everyone happy, but as we look ahead, this can definitely be a fun topic of conversation for all of us NBA fans as everything unfolds over the next season.

5. James Harden, Philadelphia 76ers

2021-22 season averages: 22.0 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 10.3 APG

Scoring is only one part of Harden’s game. His facilitating is the reason why he makes my list at No. 5. He arrived in Philly and just made everyone around him better. Being the primary ball handler on a new team is not an easy task. With a full offseason we’re going to see the former MVP stuffing the stat sheet once again as he runs the most unstoppable pick-and-roll combination with Joel Embiid next season.

4. Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies

2021-22 season averages: 27.4 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 6.7 APG

Morant finished seventh in MVP voting and won Most Improved Player of the Year, cementing a Cinderella run for him and the Grizzlies last season. He is the best finishing point guard in the world today. We get caught up in all the highlights but let’s not forget about the high-level passes he makes. He has it all in his bag – the lob, the pocket pass, the drop pass – and he can find the corner shooter with regularity. The Grizzlies are now must-see TV, and it's all because of him.

3. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers

2021-22 season averages: 24.0 PPG, 7.3 APG, 3.2 3PM

Last season, Lillard played fewer than 66 games for the first time in his 10-year career after suffering an abdominal injury that required surgery. With his injury, the Blazers ended their eight-year playoff run because that’s how valuable he is to the success of his franchise. 

Despite that, Lillard still put up All-Star caliber numbers that most players would only dream of averaging. He’s still one of the most feared offensive weapons in the game today, but when the game is on the line, that simple fear turns into straight terror. The six-time All-NBA member continues to operate as one of the league's most clutch performers and overall shotmakers. Arguably, there isn't a more lethal off-the-dribble 3-point shooter that has the same Logo Lillard range.

The former Rookie of the Year enters next season with a chip on his shoulder. He should be back to feeling 100 percent, and at just 32 years old, he’s still firmly in his prime. The Portland offense will rely even more on him to produce on a team now without CJ McCollum. Lillard is still so dynamic off the dribble and so difficult to execute a game plan for. His generational self-confidence is evident in his play each night, and his skill set more than backs it up. 

Many of you question if he can get back to his old dominant form? I say he has earned the benefit of the doubt, because if history has taught us anything, it’s don’t count out a healthy and driven Lillard. Expect him to be in hero mode, pointing at his wrist asking everyone in the arena what time it is. It’s Dame Time, of course.

2. Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks

2021-22 season averages: 28.4 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 8.7 APG

Just when you thought he couldn’t possibly be more impressive, Doncic got even better last season. 

Doncic's first four NBA seasons have been truly outrageous. For his career, he's averaging 26.4 points, 8.5 rebounds, 8.0 assists, and 2.8 threes in only 33.8 minutes per game. For each of the last three seasons, he was an MVP finalist, an All-Star, and an All-NBA First Team member. He once again put a Mavericks team that doesn’t come close to the postseason on his back, and propelled them to a Western Conference Finals berth. Luka Magic routinely elevates his game in the playoffs, with a scoring average that shoots up to 32.5 behind only Michael Jordan’s 33.5. The shot making ability, the shot creation, the amount of attention that the former Rookie of the Year creates for himself, and his ability to create plays and looks for others on his team are beyond anything that we have seen in a while. 

Heading into the 2022-23 season, Doncic is my favorite to win the MVP award. It almost feels like this is the narrative every offseason, where experts everywhere say next season will be the year he gets his first MVP award. However, this offseason looks to be different, as pictures that have surfaced this summer of Doncic looking absolutely more slender than ever before. Doncic looks like he’s getting into the best shape of his career.

To add to that, the Mavs brought in a capable big in Christian Wood that should open up the pick-and-roll portion of Doncic’s game that he loves to pursue. He’s only 23, just barely entering his prime, and yet he’s already one of the NBA’s true one-man engines. He’ll continue to stockpile absurd numbers every night, terrorizing defenses. There's no way to put a ceiling on what could come next for El Niño Maravilla. 

So if I have him favored to win the MVP award, why is he only No. 2 on my list? I put such a premium on winning the NBA Finals and there’s only one player in the NBA that has won a championship behind his elite production.

1. Steph Curry, Golden State Warriors

2021-22 season averages: 25.5 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 6.3 APG, 1.3 SPG

Do I even need to explain it? 

Curry’s resume is officially complete with the addition of a Finals MVP. He has absolutely nothing left to prove on the court. He’s a four-time champion, a two-time MVP, and is hands down the greatest shooter of all time. 

Not many believed prior to the 2021-22 season that Golden State was a championship contender. That’s what makes Curry leading the Warriors back to the top of the mountain so special. In the Finals against a historically great Boston Celtics’ defense, the eight-time All-NBA member averaged 31.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 5.0 assists, while shooting 44 percent from 3. 

If he wanted, the two-time scoring champ can average over 30 points per game, but he’s all about winning. His numbers are still great, but they don’t do him justice. You can’t tell his story through the box score alone, because the generational gravity to his game allows the juggernaut that is the Warriors offense to be successful. 

No matter how bad he’s shooting, teams still can’t afford to leave him alone because he is so good off the ball. There’s no better off-ball offensive player in the NBA. He can dominate entire possessions without touching the ball. No one can panic a defense like him, and no one can punish miscommunication like him. Once he touches the ball, he’s a threat to score in isolation or ball screen. Teams still don’t know how to defend either. 

Curry changed the game. Period. 

He already has a claim to be the best point guard in NBA history. If he can stay healthy and somehow win another MVP or another championship, we’re gonna have to start having conversations about his all-time player ranking. At this point, Curry is just playing to cement himself as one of the top 10 greatest players of all time. With all that being said, there isn’t anywhere else he belongs on this list than here at No. 1.

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