Point guards play one of, if not the most, pivotal roles for a team on a basketball court. As a team’s “floor general”, it is a point guard's job to run the offense and dictate the pace and tempo of the game. Having a great to elite point guard can be the difference between having a championship team and one that is right on the cusp. From passing and playmaking to IQ and scoring, there are many crucial traits a player must possess to be considered a great point guard.
In the 2021-2022 season, we saw stellar from the point guard position from all around the league. We had a point guard named Defensive Player Of The Year for the first time since Gary Payton in 1996. We saw a young point guard take the proverbial leap to near superstardom and be named the league’s Most Improved Player. We saw a point guard out west put his entire team on his back and come just 3 wins shy of an NBA Finals berth at age 23. It was all capped off with a point guard taking his team back to the NBA Finals for the 6th time and being named Finals MVP.
What if we took all the best traits from these star-studded point guards and combined them to make the best point guard possible? What would that look like? Which point guards would be featured? Step into our laboratory as we break it all down and create the perfect point guard.
Rule: We can use only players who have played in the 2021-22 NBA season
Basketball IQ - Chris Paul
You have to be incredibly smart to be a starting point guard on any team in the NBA. You have to be able to see the entire floor, read the different defenses and make the right plays whether it be an opportunity for yourself or your teammates. No one embraces and executes these tasks better than Chris Paul.
Chris Paul is a consummate leader and despite his lack of success in the postseason, is one of the best in history at elevating his teammates' performance. Whichever team he has landed on throughout his career, they set franchise records and win more games than any other team in franchise history just as the Suns did in 2022. This all comes back to Paul’s IQ and ability to utilize the strengths of those around him.
Scoring - Luka Doncic
Luka Doncic led all point guards in scoring in 2022 with 28.4 PPG. What makes Luka so special as a scorer is his versatility. In 2022, he shot a career-high 35.3% from 3-point land, and as inconsistent as he can be from that range, he always seems to make them when it matters most. He is a true three-level scoring threat who had led the postseason in scoring the last 2 seasons averaging 31.7 PPG in the 2022 playoffs and leading the Mavs to the Western Conference Finals.
His game is always criticized for how unathletic or slow it may look but that is just Doncic taking over at his own pace. He is particularly dangerous in a pick and roll set, either setting up a long-range shot for himself or getting by defenders and finishing at the rim. Perhaps the most underrated part of his scoring is from the 3 to 10-foot range as he has developed a patented one-legged stepback similar to Dirk Nowitzki’s in that area that is consistent. Utilizing his bigger build to seal off and back down smaller defenders has also helped him become the best scoring point guard in the league.
Shooting - Stephen Curry
Were you expecting somebody else? The greatest to ever shoot a basketball is simply the only choice here. 2022, by Curry’s standards, was a down year from beyond the arc. It marked the only time in his career that he played at least 60 games and shot less than 40% from beyond the arc. He shot 38% which is still unbelievable when you consider the attempted 11.7 three-pointers per game.
His struggles were highly scrutinized despite him breaking Ray Allen’’s record for career 3’s. They said he was declining. They said he was nearly finished. How did Curry respond? He went on to shoot 39.7% from three in the playoffs and 43.7% in the NBA Finals as he went on to claim his 4th NBA title and 1st Finals MVP. How’s that for shutting the critics up? No one will be questioning his shooting ability again for quite some time.
Passing - Chris Paul
When your basketball IQ is considered to be the best in the business, chances are your passing will reflect it. For the 5th time in his career, Chris Paul led the NBA in assists per game in 2022 with 10.8 APG. The biggest strength of Paul’s passing game is his seemingly 360-degree vision. When he drives to the basket, his first thought is to find his shooters on the perimeter, just as he has with Crowder, Booker, Bridges, and Cam Johnson in Phoenix.
Where Chris Paul is most dangerous with the ball is in the pick and roll. Paul has always been able to elevate the game of his bigs and in 2022 DeAndre Ayton thrived because of it. Ayton feasted on pick and roll opportunities, either left wide open to receive the pass on the cut or for a lob at the rim. What makes Paul equally as dangerous is when defenses hang off of him on the pick and roll to anticipate the pass. Paul makes them pay with his ability to shoot the mid-range jumper at a high rate causing defenses to ultimately have to step back up in his face. When they do, Paul goes right back to doing what he does best and picking them apart with his playmaking.
Handles - Kyrie Irving
Yes, Kyrie only played 29 games in 2022 and seems to be on his way out in Brooklyn. This does not in any way diminish his ability to handle the rock. I challenge anyone to find me a player in the last decade to match up with Kyrie’s handles. Other than the obvious excitement they bring to the game, his handles provide much more for a team than simply flashiness. It is not ridiculous to say that other than Kevin Durant’s scoring, they were the most important part of Brooklyn’s offense.
Outside of Durant, the Nets had issues finding guys who could create their shots and shots for their teammates. This is where Kyrie opens up the offense for Brooklyn. Kyrie shoots the ball at an incredible clip and a large chunk of those shots come from off the dribble. Whether it be setting up a shot from beyond the arc or even closer, Kyrie does most of his damage off the dribble. With these elite handles, it makes blowing by defenders much easier in iso sets. When he can get by the defense, he can finish with the best of them sporting an incredibly diverse layup package. This also forces interior defenders to help, setting up easy opportunities for opposite-side cuts to the hoop. Whatever way you slice it, Kyrie’s handles are a priceless weapon.
Defense - Marcus Smart
For the first time since 1996, a point guard was named the NBA’s Defensive Player Of The Year in Marcus Smart. Although Jrue Holiday and Dejounte Murray deserve an honorable mention here, Smart was the best of the best. Smart proved to be a priceless piece for Boston’s defense this year, setting the tone on the perimeter as the first line of defense. He gets physical and becomes a pest on the ball going against the league’s top perimeter players.
He has no issue taking on all-comers either, regularly switching onto Giannis in Boston’s playoff matchup with the Bucks, and again being disruptive denying the ball. He isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty either, whether it be diving on the floor for a loose ball or stepping into the middle of a scrap to have his team’s back. Smart ranked 10th in the entire NBA this season with a defensive rating of 107.1 and averaged 1.9 SPG which ranked 7th.
Athleticism - Ja Morant
Ja Morant made a serious leap this year in his NBA career. He was named the league’s Most Improved Player after averaging 27.4 PPG, 5.7 RPG, and 6.7 APG. The jump to near superstardom was headlined mostly by his freakish athleticism. In past seasons, we have seen the incredible potential for some jaw-dropping moments and dunks. In 2022, it was on full display, just ask Jakob Poeltl.
It wasn’t just the dunks that made Morant’s athleticism an easy choice here. It was on display on the defensive side of the ball as well. Morant’s rebounding numbers were up as well which is attributed fully to his leaping abilities. His lateral footwork enabled him to be more disruptive on the ball and a problem getting into passing lanes as well. Morant’s giant jump in 2022 paved the way for one of the most successful seasons in Grizzlies history.
Finishing - Ja Morant
Yes, dunks have a ton to do with Ja Morant being our pick for finishing, but that is not the entire story. While the throw-downs are wildly entertaining, it is also Ja’s soft touch around the hoop that lands him here. Morant finished 3rd in the entire NBA in points in the pat per game with 14.2, the only point guard in the Top 10.
Morant’s abilities around the rim were the best of his career in 2022. In the 0-3-foot range, Morant finished at an incredible 70.6% rate, a career-high by a large margin. He finished with a career-high 43.3% in the 3-10-foot range as well. Morant was able to accomplish this using his athleticism to his advantage, able to contort his body in different ways while finishing with a soft and accurate touch. He has to be considered the best finishing point guard of 2022.
Hustle - Marcus Smart
Hustle and heart are not things that can be measured simply by numbers or stats. They have to pass the eye test. If you watched any Boston Celtics games in 2022, then you would know that Marcus Smart was the heart and soul of the league’s No.1 defense. Routinely the team’s first line of defense, Smart never stopped working to give his team the best chance they could have to get a stop defensively.
Smart’s footwork was one of the most glaring positives in his defensive game. His lateral movement never really stopped as he seemed like he was always able to stay in front of his man. He rarely bit on fakes and never gave up on a play, even when he was beaten. He always found himself right at the center of the action and fought through injuries time and time again during the regular season and playoffs.
Mentality - Stephen Curry
Inside the mind of Stephen Curry has to be one of the most wondrous places as a basketball fan. In 2022, it might have been a bit different. Curry’s mentality from the start of the season has seemed to be in a different place than we have seen in years, maybe ever. Despite the shooting struggles, despite the pressure of approaching a 3-point record, he never wavered.
As we have seen before, Curry doesn’t forget and that has become abundantly clear in 2022. Since the moment 2021 ended and Curry uttered the words “You don’t wanna see us next year”, he has been on a mission. He kept the receipts, he remembered the slander, and he proved them all wrong in 2022. To be honest, there aren’t many players overall whose mentality I would rather have than Curry's, let alone point guards.
Clutch - Stephen Curry
I want to be clear, Damian Lillard would probably have been here if he didn’t suffer a season-ending oblique injury early on in 2022. However, Stephen Curry showed off his clutch gene throughout the entire regular season and playoffs especially. On his way to his 4th championship and 1st Finals MVP, Curry was the 2nd leading 4th quarter scorer in the entire playoffs with 146 points.
Let’s be honest here, how many players do you trust more than Curry in clutch situations? He has proved time and time again that no stage is too big for him and no shot is outside of the realm of possibility. If what was mentioned here hasn't convinced you of his clutch gene, consider this. 31.2 PPG, 6.0 RPG, and 5.0 APG to go along with 2.0 SPG in 6 NBA Finals games is about as clutch as it gets, especially when you're crowned champion at the end of it.
This Point Guard Would Easily Be The Best Player In The NBA
A point guard built like this could quite possibly be the greatest player the NBA has ever seen, let alone a point guard. Offensively he would be a threat in every which way possible. Defenses wouldn’t know what to do between having to chase him around the three-point line and his absurd ability to get to the basket or make a clutch pass. This point guard would probably average somewhere in the realm of 38.0 PPG, 10.0 RPG, and 15.0 APG. These numbers are about as realistic as NBA2K but bound to happen when you combine the best traits of the best point guards in the league.
Defensively, forget about it. Not even Gary Payton could rival the tenacity and production of this rare specimen. Remember, we are combining the footwork, hustle, and heart of Marcus Smart with the leaping ability and athleticism of Ja Morant. It would be a nightmare for opposing guards having to deal with quick hands, quick feet, and an unrelenting desire to win. The combination of defense and offense with this point guard would be the best two-way combination in history. Better than MJ, Scottie, Kawhi, LeBron, or any other complete player you could name. Again, not realistic but undoubtedly an entertaining combination to think about.