Ranking the Top 5 Point Guards in the NBA

By Jordan Foote
Oct. 21, 2017

Welcome to the first installment of The Best Foote Forward's "Top 5 in the NBA" series. This week, we'll be ranking the top 5 players at each position in the NBA. I've developed a scoring system for each position that varies based on the importance of each category to the position at hand. Today, we'll be focusing on the point guard position. The scoring system is explained below (out of 60 points):

Shooting: Out of 10 points. Ability of the player to efficiently shoot the ball from inside and outside the three-point arc.

Inside Scoring: Out of 10 points. Ability of the player to get to the rim and finish with , along with being able to score points under the rim in rebounding situations.

Athleticism: Out of 10 points. Overall athletic ability of the player. Graded based on top-end speed and quickness while handling the ball and vertical ability on jump shots, layups and dunks.

Defense: Out of 10 points. Ability of the player to guard opposing players. Graded based on technique, ability to steal the ball from opponents, overall IQ on defense and defensive real -minus.

Passing: Out of 10 points. Ability of the player to make routine passes, difficult passes and distribute the ball on offense. Graded not solely based on assist numbers, but the ability of the player to find the open man and make his team better.

Rebounding: Out of 5 points. Ability of the player to grab offensive and defensive rebounds.

Durability/Toughness: Out of 5 points. Ability of the player to avoid injuries or play through them.

Understand the system? Good: let's get to the rankings!

5: Mike Conley (Memphis Grizzlies)

Mike Conley is one of the NBA's most underrated point guards, and I've got him as my 5th best in the NBA. There were so many guys fighting for this spot, it's fitting that perhaps the grittiest of them all finds himself on this list. Conley averaged 20.5 points per game last season (a career high), 3.5 rebounds (also a career high) and 6.3 assists (.2 assists from tying a career high). Oh yeah, he set career highs in field goal percentage and three-point percentage as well. He's also been a very underrated defender throughout his career. Need I say more? He's a star, but doesn't get treated like one. You're a star in these rankings, Mike. Conley's ratings on the 60-point scale are below:

Shooting - 8

Inside Scoring - 8

Athleticism - 8

Defense - 8

Passing - 7

Rebounding - 1 (he's never been a rebounder)

Durability/Toughness - 3

Overall - 43/60

4: Chris Paul (Houston Rockets)

CP3 was typical CP3 last season, when he was healthy. Health is going to be a big deal going forward, as Paul's already slated to miss 2-4 weeks with a knee injury to start this season. Paul averaged 18 points, 5 rebounds and 9 assists per game last season in 61 games. An encouraging stat for Paul was his 41.1% three point clip last season; something that will be a hand-in-glove fit alongside James Harden this year. Paul's real defensive -minus was also the highest among all point guards a year ago. Due to injury concerns and (potentially) declining athleticism, Paul finds himself outside of the top three for the first time in what seems like forever. Chris Paul's ratings on the 60-point scale are below:

Shooting - 7

Inside Scoring - 8

Athleticism - 7

Defense - 8 (for now, we'll see how the knee holds up)

Passing - 10

Rebounding - 3

Durability/Toughness - 3

Overall - 46/60

3: John Wall (Washington Wizards)

John Wall is truly coming into his own as an elite point guard in the NBA. He reminds me a lot of Chris Paul - minus the three-point shooting. Wall had career-highs in points per game (23), assists per game (10.7), steals per game (2) and field goal percentage (45) last season. His ability to elude defenders and finish at the rim is amazing, and his passing is nothing short of greatness. Expect him to continue to progress this season as he's only 27 years old. Wall's ratings on the 60-point scale are below:

Shooting - 6

Inside Scoring - 9

Athleticism - 10

Defense - 7

Passing - 9

Rebounding - 3

Durability/Toughness - 4

Overall - 48/60

2: Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder)

Oh, is it a good time to be Brodie. Not only did he average a triple-double and win MVP last season, but now Westbrook has some help! Paul George and Carmelo Anthony will look to lower Westbrook's NBA-leading 41.7% usage rate from a year ago and take some of the scoring burden off him. Westbrook averaged 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists per game last season on 34% from deep (all career-highs). Russell Westbrook is a freak of nature: his athletic ability is second to none. His three point shot needs continuous improvement and his passing numbers are inflated by his usage rate but nonetheless, Westbrook is perhaps the most unstoppable offensive force in all of basketball. His ratings on the 60-point scale are below:

Shooting - 6

Inside Scoring - 10

Athleticism - 10

Defense - 6

Passing - 7

Rebounding - 5

Durability/Toughness - 5

Overall - 49/60

1: Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)

Steph Curry saw nearly every stat fall last year and still is the best point guard in the NBA. That shows just how good he was during his MVP season. Steph's decline in stats can be partially attributed to the arrival of Kevin Durant. Curry averaged 25 points, 4.5 rebounds and 6.6 assists per game last season on 41.1% shooting from three. Sounds pretty good to me. Steph even graded as a positive defender (I know, right?) in terms of defensive real -minus last season. The thing that sets Curry apart from others is his ability to elevate the play of his teammates. He's not the best athlete nor the best defender on this list, but his basketball IQ and shooting stroke are among the best in the NBA and among the best ever. Curry's ratings on the 60-point scale are below:

Shooting - 10

Inside Scoring - 9

Athleticism - 7

Defense - 7

Passing - 10

Rebounding - 3

Durability/Toughness - 4

Overall - 50/60

That's it for the top 5 point guards in the NBA. Each of these players has the ability to change the game in a unique way. Mike Conley is a gritty, Jack-of-all-trades type of guy. Chris Paul may have peaked a few years ago, but he remains one of the best brains and passers to ever step on the court. John Wall is turning into a young Paul, but trading a shooting stroke for freakish athleticism. Russell Westbrook had a season that we may never see again, using his insane athletic ability and stamina to average a triple double in 2016-17. Steph Curry remains the best point guard in the NBA. His ability to operate an offense, make his teammates better and shoot the basketball makes him one of the best players of this generation and of all time. All of these guys are truly a treat to watch and we're lucky to have talent like this in the NBA.

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