Back in October, The Sporting News took on the task of ranking the 30 starting NBA point guards, no small challenge considering the amount of talent at the position.
Now, at approximately the halfway point of the 2021-22 season, compiling the list is somehow even more difficult.
Where do you place Damian Lillard and Russell Westbrook, both of whom have struggled but have Hall of Fame resumes? How high should youngsters such as Ja Morant and LaMelo Ball climb?
For the rankings below, season performance was obviously taken into account, but overall track record does still matter. The 2021-22 campaign has only offered a small sample size, and every team in the league has encountered issues with injuries and players entering health and safety protocols. There is no perfect formula here, so feel free to (respectfully) disagree.
With all that said, here is The Sporting News’ updated rankings, starting with the easiest decision on this list.
(All stats current as of Jan. 11)
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NBA point guard rankings 2021-22: The top 10
1. Stephen Curry, Warriors
By Curry standards, the two-time NBA MVP is having a poor shooting season. He is down to 42.2 percent from the field and 38.7 percent from 3-point range. Both of those figures would be the lowest of his career (excluding the 2019-20 season in which he only played five games).
And yet, Curry is still arguably the most impactful offensive weapon in the league. His mere presence shifts defenses and makes life easier for everyone around him. He is the sun in the Warriors’ solar system, the reason everything works for Golden State. He is an easy choice at No. 1.
2. Luka Doncic, Mavericks
The Slovenian star is averaging 24.8 points, 9.0 assists and 8.2 rebounds per game, but he has been in and out of the lineup, missing 15 of Dallas’ first 40 games. Doncic has also admitted in early December that he must get into better shape.
However, it feels premature to drop Doncic after a “rough” stretch considering he is still nearly averaging a triple-double. The guys behind him are charging hard, but he is going to stay behind Curry for now.
3. Trae Young, Hawks
After a surprising run to the 2021 Eastern Conference finals, Atlanta has started off the season with a thud. If the Hawks continue performing at this level, they will be in danger of not only missing out on a playoff berth, but also the Eastern Conference play-in tournament.
Their shortcomings shouldn’t be pinned on Young, though. The 23-year-old has been terrific, averaging 28.0 points, 9.6 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game while shooting a career-high 45.5 percent from the field and 37.0 percent from beyond the arc. There is no arguing that he has blossomed into a star.
4. Chris Paul, Suns
Which player is sitting at the top of the assists leaderboard? That would be “The Point God” himself, dishing out 10.0 helpers per game, his highest mark since the 2015-16 season with the Clippers.
He may no longer be in his athletic prime, but Paul is as reliable as ever for a Suns squad that is looking to reach the NBA Finals in back-to-back seasons.
5. Ja Morant, Grizzlies
Morant was just outside of the top 10 on The Sporting News’ preseason rankings, so this may feel like too big of a leap.
But consider this: The former Rookie of the Year is currently posting career-highs in — deep breath — points, rebounds, steals, blocks, field goal percentage, 3-point percentage and free throw percentage. He has emerged as a legitimate MVP candidate, leading the Grizzlies into the top four of the Western Conference standings.
Oh, and he may have already locked up the Coolest Highlight award. (That’s not a real thing, but it should be.)
6. Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers
Yikes. This has not been a fun season for Lillard, who could miss extended time with an abdominal injury. He didn’t look like himself before the Trail Blazers decided to put him on the bench, as he is scoring 24.0 points per game on inefficient shooting. (His 55.0 true shooting percentage would be the second-lowest figure of his career.)
Should Lillard be lower on this list? Possibly, but we’re giving him the benefit of the doubt because of his health issues and the overall dysfunction in Portland.
7. Jrue Holiday, Bucks
Hey, there’s Holiday sliding under the radar again. The 31-year-old is chugging along to the tune of 18.4 points, 6.7 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game. After an ugly stretch of shooting early in the season, Holiday is up to 49.9 percent from the field and 38.2 percent on 3-pointers.
Fresh off an NBA championship, Holiday has continued to bring his two-way brilliance to the court and help Milwaukee keep pace with the East’s elite.
8. LaMelo Ball, Hornets
Ball flashed his stellar court vision and offensive creativity as a rookie, but he has really elevated his shooting this season. He has seen jumps from the 3-point line (35.2 percent to 37.9 percent) and free throw line (75.8 percent to 87.3 percent). If those changes are real this early in his career, his ceiling needs to be pushed up even higher.
Yes, the defense is still a work in progress, but at just 20 years old, Ball has already entered the top-10 point guard discussion.
9. Fred VanVleet, Raptors
VanVleet is no longer just a great “Bet on Yourself” story. He is receiving All-Star consideration, and he definitely deserves it.
He is averaging career-highs in points, assists and rebounds, and he is shooting over 40 percent from deep on more than nine attempts per game. He has been his usual pesky self on defense, too. Let’s give “Steady Freddy” some respect.
10. Mike Conley, Jazz
No longer the “best player who has never made an All-Star team,” Conley has been incredibly consistent for a Jazz team that is tailor-made to rack up wins during the regular season. He doesn’t post eye-popping numbers, but he is the definition of a winning player. He rounds out the top 10.
NBA point guard rankings 2022: The best of the rest
11. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Thunder
12. Kyle Lowry, Heat
13. Russell Westbrook, Lakers
14. Malcolm Brogdon, Pacers
15. Kyrie Irving/Patty Mills, Nets
16. Dejounte Murray, Spurs
17. Lonzo Ball, Bulls
18. Darius Garland, Cavaliers
19. De’Aaron Fox, Kings
20. Marcus Smart, Celtics
21. Monte Morris, Nuggets
22. Tyrese Maxey, 76ers
23. Kemba Walker, Knicks
24. Reggie Jackson, Clippers
25. D’Angelo Russell, Timberwolves
26. Spencer Dinwiddie, Wizards
27. Kevin Porter Jr., Rockets
28. Devonte’ Graham, Pelicans
29. Jalen Suggs, Magic
30. Killian Hayes, Pistons
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