Stephen Curry has been the undisputed best point guard in the NBA over the last few years. But unfortunately, the three-time NBA champion and two-time MVP was limited to just five games in the 2019-20 season due to a broken hand.
As a result, SBOTOP must crown a new king of point guards for this year. It wasn’t easy given all the great point guard play around the league, but we’ve limited it down to the top five most deserving contenders for the crown.
A quick disclaimer: While the likes of LeBron James, Luka Doncic, and James Harden essentially run the offence for their respective teams like a point guard, they don’t play the position full-time since they don’t defend opposing point guards, so they weren’t included.
5. Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors
Lowry and fellow East All-Star Kemba Walker were neck and neck for the fifth spot, but Lowry gets the edge for a few reasons.
For one, he closed the gap on Walker offensively as he upped his scoring to 19.4 points per game. That’s a four-point bump from last year, where he was just 15.1. Lowry’s offensive resurgence was huge in helping the Raptors cope with the massive loss of Kawhi Leonard.
But apart from his scoring, Lowry also brought his strong playmaking — he averaged 7.6 assists — as well as his leadership and top-class defence to the table. He was a major reason why the Raptors remained one of the top teams in the East despite Leonard’s departure.
Head coach Nick Nurse also played a big part in Toronto’s success. But Lowry is the team’s coach on the court, and he did that job tremendously.
4. Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks
Young might have fallen in the first round of the HORSE Challenge, but make no mistake, he was absolutely outstanding this season.
Young, who was touted as the next Steph Curry as he was coming into the league, posted some Curry-like numbers of 29.6 points and 9.3 assists this season on a horrible Hawks team that didn’t have much talent around him.
He topped the 40-point mark 11 times, including a memorable performance in a losing effort in the last night before the NBA season’s postponement.
The big downside to Young is his awful defence; he’s widely considered one of, if not the worst defender in the entire league. But he at least helps make up for that shortcoming on offence, as he’s transformed into one of the most dominant offensive players in the league in just his second season.
3. Russell Westbrook, Houston Rockets
Westbrook’s arrival to the Houston Rockets was one of the biggest storylines heading into this year. After a down season in 2018-19 with the Thunder (22.9 PPG, 43% FG), there was a suspicion that Westbrook was finally in decline.
Meanwhile, there were also questions about how he and former team-mate and ball-dominant superstar James Harden would co-exist on the same team.
But Westbrook silenced all of those doubts with his excellent play this season as he averaged 27.5 PPG on 47 per cent shooting. He cut down on his 3-point shooting, which was the worst part of his game, and committed to attacking the basket as often as possible. Even at age 31, Westbrook was still unstoppable as he got to the rim almost at will.
Westbrook never has been and never will be the prototypical point guard. But he’s proven time and again that his way works as he remains one of the standout players at the position.
2. Chris Paul, Oklahoma City Thunder
Of course, Westbrook was traded for Paul, who was also being written off after a career-worst last season with the Rockets (15.6 PPG, 42% FG), which was in part due to injuries. But like Westbrook, CP3 has had a stunning resurgence with the Thunder as he averaged 17.7 points, 6.8 assists, and shot 49 per cent from the field.
Paul has been particularly incredible in the clutch, which has been crucial in the Thunder defying the NBA 2020 predictions; they’re tied with the Rockets at 40-24 and are in the fifth seed due to the tiebreaker.
It’s remarkable to think that at close to 35 years of age, Paul is still capable of this elite level of play. It’s just a testament to Paul’s superior cerebral abilities, which he has used to become one of the greatest point guards of all-time.
1. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
The Blazers have been one of the more disappointing teams in the league this season, but don’t blame that on Damian Lillard.
The Blazers superstar did all he could to keep what was a flawed team that was weak in the frontcourt in playoff contention. He had a brilliant season as he set new career-highs in scoring (28.9 PPG), assists (7.8), and shooting (46% FG).
At one point, he made big NBA 2020 news with a historic six-game run where he averaged nearly 49 points and 10 assists. That included a career-high 61-point outburst against the Warriors, which is the highest scoring total this season.
Lillard took his already elite game to another level this year, and with Curry’s absence, he deserves to be acknowledged for what he is: the best point guard in the league this season.