In October, The Sporting News took on the task of ranking the NBA’s 30 starting point guards, a big challenge considering the amount of talent at the job.
Now, about the middle of the 2021-22 season, compiling the list is even more difficult.
Where do you place Damian Lillard and Russell Westbrook, who have struggled but have Hall of Fame resumes? How high should youngsters like Ja Morant and LaMelo Ball climb?
For the rankings below, obviously the performance of the season was taken into account, but the overall track record is still important. The 2021-22 campaign has only offered a small sample size, and every team in the league has struggled with injuries and players entering health and safety protocols. There is no perfect formula here, so feel free to (respectfully) disagree.
All that said, here’s the updated ranking from The Sporting News, starting with the easiest decision on this list.
(All stats current as of January 11)
By Curry’s standards, the two-time NBA MVP is having a bad shooting season. It’s down to 42.2 percent from the field and 38.7 percent from 3-point range. Both figures would be the lowest of his career (excluding the 2019-20 season in which he only played five games).
And yet Curry is arguably still the league’s most impactful offensive weapon. His mere presence changes defenses and makes life easier for everyone around him. He’s the sun in the Warriors’ solar system, the reason it all works out for Golden State. It’s an easy pick at No. 1.
The Slovenian star averages 24.8 points, 9.0 assists and 8.2 rebounds per game, but has been in and out of the lineup, missing 15 of Dallas’ first 40 games. Doncic also admitted in early December that he needs to get in better shape.
However, it seems premature to drop Doncic after a “difficult” streak considering he is still averaging a triple-double. The guys behind him are charging hard, but he’ll stay behind Curry for now.
After a surprising run to the 2021 Eastern Conference finals, Atlanta started the season with a thud. If the Hawks continue to perform at this level, they will be in danger of not only missing out on a playoff spot, but the Eastern Conference play-in tournament as well.
However, his shortcomings shouldn’t be attributed to Young. The 23-year-old has been fantastic, averaging 28.0 points, 9.6 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game while shooting 45.5 percent from the field and 37.0 percent from beyond the arc. It cannot be argued that he has become a star.
Which player is sitting at the top of the assists leaderboard? That would be “The Point God” himself, dishing out 10.0 assistants per game, his highest mark since the 2015-16 season with the Clippers.
He may not be in his athletic prime anymore, but Paul is as dependable as ever for a Suns team looking to reach the NBA Finals in back-to-back seasons.
Morant was just outside the top 10 in The Sporting News preseason rankings, so this may seem like too big of a jump.
But consider this: The former Rookie of the Year is currently setting personal records for points, rebounds, steals, blocks, field goal percentage, 3-point shot percentage and free throw percentage. He has emerged as a legitimate MVP candidate, leading the Grizzlies to the top four in the Western Conference.
Oh, and you may have already secured the Coolest Highlight award. (That’s not a real thing, but it should be.)
Oh! This has not been a fun season for Lillard, who could miss a long time due to an abdominal injury. He didn’t look like himself before the Trail Blazers decided to bench him, as he’s scoring 24.0 points per game on ineffective shooting. (His 55.0 shooting percentage would be the second-lowest of his career.)
Should Lillard be lower on this list? Possibly, but we are giving him the benefit of the doubt due to his health issues and general dysfunction in Portland.
Hey, Holiday is slipping under the radar again. The 31-year-old is amassing 18.4 points, 6.7 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game. After a bad shooting streak early in the season, Holiday has 49.9 percent shooting from the field and 38.2 percent on 3s.
Fresh off an NBA championship, Holiday has continued to bring his two-way brilliance to the court and help Milwaukee keep up with the elite of the East.
Ball showed off his stellar vision of the court and his offensive creativity as a rookie, but he’s really raised his shot this season. He has seen jumps from the 3-point line (35.2 percent to 37.9 percent) and the free throw line (75.8 percent to 87.3 percent). If those changes are real this early in your career, your ceiling needs to be raised even higher.
Yes, defense is still a work in progress, but at just 20 years old, Ball has already entered the discussion of the top 10 point guards.
VanVleet is no longer just a great “Bet on yourself” story. He’s getting consideration for the All-Star Game and he definitely deserves it.
He is averaging career highs in points, assists and rebounds, and is shooting more than 40 percent from deep in more than nine attempts per game. He has also been as annoying as ever on defense. Let’s give “Steady Freddy” a little respect.
No longer the “greatest player to ever be on 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. It doesn’t post flashy numbers, but it is the definition of a winning player. Complete the top 10.
NBA 2022 point guard ranking: The best of the rest