The point guard position used to be regarded as the most important in basketball. They were the floor generals that often led teams to the finals. Players like Isaiah Thomas, Magic Johnson, John Stockton, and Jerry West represented the face of the league (no pun intended). We have a seen a huge shift in this ideology in the past decade. The forward position has been the most undeniably dominant position over the past 10 years. In fact, the forward position has taken home the Finals MVP every year with exception to Kobe Bryant in 2010. That does not mean the point guard position has been phased out. A lot of the time, they represent the powerhouse scorer that can be the main leader of a team. With that in mind, let’s break down my top 5 point guard from this decade:
Kyrie Irving’s shot over Steph Curry in game 7 is the second best shot in Finals history right behind Ray Allen’s game tying 3 against the Spurs. He is one of the quickest and most creative point guards we have ever seen take the floor. When he at the top of his game, he is just as hard to guard as James Harden. He has only averaged under 20 points twice in his career and has never shot below 43% in a single season. The only problem with Irving is his leadership qualities or lack thereof. He left Cleveland to get away from Lebron James’ shadow looking to be the best player of his own team. The reality was that Kyrie was never ready for such a role. Young players such as Jalen Brown and Jayson Tatum never meshed well for the super star so much that it drove him out of town. Lest you think Boston is the place where point guards go to die, newly signed Kemba Walker has led the team to second place in the Eastern conference. The true test of Kyrie’s skills will be when his counterpart Kevin Durant makes his debut with the Nets.
Don’t let Lillard’s lack of a Finals appearance fool you.This guy has been an absolute beast from day one. Besides his rookie season in which he averaged 19 points a game, he has never averaged below 20. Who remembers his shot against the Houston Rockets to knock out James Harden’s Rockets in first round of the 2014 playoffs? What about the shot that completely shattered the entire Oklahoma City Thunder franchise in 2019? The one of true leader of the Trailblazers franchise has come up big in so many playoffs games it’s a shame he hasn’t really had the proper team to surround him. Now that he signed the super max deal, I can’t imagine a scenario where the cap space dictates a roster good enough to contend for a title. Matters are much worse when you realize the Trailblazers extended guard C.J. McCollum whose career appears to be on the decline. If Damian Lillard is ever traded to the right team, I do believe he could be the best player on a championship team.
Chris Paul is probably the last traditional point guard left in the league. He currently sits 7th all time in the assists and is playing a very solid season for the Oklahoma City Thunder. He was the best player on the dominant Lob City Clippers for all 6 years of its relevance. It seemed that every season experts were picking the Clippers to make it to the Finals. The meltdown always occurred in the playoffs. It eventually forced the Clippers to trade Paul to the Rockets and Blake Griffin to the Pistons not long after. Paul’s health has been his biggest let down throughout his career especially with the Rockets who desperately needed him during game 7 against the Golden State Warriors in 2019. He would eventually be traded after just two seasons in Houston for Russell Westbrook making him the number one player of blame for failing to make the Finals. For a player who has averaged 20.9 points and 8.5 assists in playoffs it seems a little rough to make him the scapegoat although he does seem to come up short when his team needs him most. At 34 years old, it’s be hard to believe he would join the perfect scenario necessary to win a title. Still, his sustained greatness cannot be ignored.
I understand putting Westbrook in this spot is a bit controversial. His really high volume of work and erratic style of play has drawn plenty of criticism from analyst. While I tend to agree with these blaring problems, he is a two time Scoring Champ, eight All-NBA appearances, and an MVP. He also averaged a triple double in three straight seasons from 2016-2019. I disagree with Paul Pierce when he says it will never happen again, it will certainly be a long time. The amount of effort it takes to grab that many rebounds and have that many assists throughout an entire season is astonishing. It is also worth mentioning that he has never averaged below 20 points per game throughout the entire decade. Stats aside, his passion for the game and leadership skills elevate him to even greater heights above the others on this list. The greatest blunders on his resume are his performance in the most important games. In his lone Finals appearance, he shot an abysmal 13% from 3 point range and 43% overall. Being that he averaged 27 points per game in that series he definitely brought the overall efficiency down for the team to an all time low. The Heat winning the series 4-2 is a testament to that fact. It is also hard to forget him shooting 10-27 in game 6 of the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors that ultimately led to a blown 3-1 lead series lead. There are already rumors of Westbrook being traded from Houston. As his athleticism continues to deplete and his inability to depend on his shooting becomes more prevalent, the idea of him getting another Finals appearance dwindles away.
There are few players, no matter the position, who have been as dominant as Steph Curry in this decade. The one true leader of the Golden State Warriors has led to the team to three Finals victories and a record breaking 73 wins in the regular season. He has redefined how the modern game of basketball is played. His ability to shoot the ball from literally anywhere changed the way teams were forced to play defense. The duo of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson is second only to Michael Jordan and Scotty Pippen. The greatest criticism of Curry comes in his Finals appearance. His first championship came in the form of beating a heavily beat up Cavaliers team that was without Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. The next year he had the chance to prove himself but ended up falling flat on his face by blowing a 3-1 lead. He even had a chance at the end of game 7 to hit a clutch shot after Kevin Love was switched onto him but ended up shooting a brick. The next two years he was overshadowed by back to back Finals MVP Kevin Durant. Following Durant’s absence Curry had a chance to remind the world of the why he was a two-time MVP. This dream was cut short when he broke his hand this season leaving many to label him injury prone which was a title he has received throughout his career. Labels aside, Curry is easily the greatest shooter the game has ever seen and deserving of the best point guard of the decade.