While the NBA is now a positionless game, certain players represent the core positions on the floor better than ever. With the 2021 season underway, the best players per position are distinguishing themselves among the rest.
Here is the best player in each position in the NBA so far this season, along with the coach who has performed best for his team.
Point Guard: Damian Lillard
Damian Lillard has finally usurped Stephen Curry as the best point guard in the NBA. Curry has been typically great by averaging 28.2 PPG on 41.4% from three. But Curry doesn't seem to be at the level to carry the Warriors to enough wins despite his solid average. Damian Lillard, on the other hand, does.
Lillard is averaging 29.1 PPG on 37.7% from three and is taking over games for Portland. Lillard can shoot from deep as Curry can, and he seems to be at his best when he explodes to the rim. Lillard's Trail Blazers have a slight edge over the Warriors in the standings and it is time to give Dame his due.
Runner-Up: Stephen Curry
Shooting Guard: James Harden
Even with all the hoopla surrounding James Harden to start the season, The Beard is still the best shooting guard in the NBA. Playing alongside Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving means that Harden won't win his fourth scoring title, but he will be placed in a better position to win an NBA title.
Winning a ring, even with a superteam, would cement his legacy as one of the greatest shooting guards of all time. Bradley Beal has also been sensational as the best scorer in the league right now, but he's playing on arguably the most inconsistent team in the Eastern Conference so Harden ultimately gets the edge.
Runner-Up: Bradley Beal
Small Forward: Kawhi Leonard
It may seem blasphemous to not see LeBron James occupying the small forward position as the best player in the game. But LeBron has taken the season slowly while Kawhi Leonard has grabbed it by the scruff of the neck. We all know that LeBron James is the greatest player in the game today, but Kawhi Leonard has performed better for the Clippers who hold a better record than the Lakers.
LeBron will show his true form in the postseason and that means he will be missing out on the MVP award to the likes of Nikola Jokic, Kevin Durant, or Joel Embiid. Kawhi Leonard is averaging 26.2 PPG and is looking like the player that can win a Finals MVP award for the Clippers.
Runner-Up: LeBron James
Power Forward: Kevin Durant
It is time for everyone to admit that no one expected Kevin Durant to rediscover his MVP form from a few years ago. The Slim Reaper is back to his very best and is leading the Brooklyn Nets to a higher seeding every week. With Durant being in Brooklyn, the Nets should find themselves in the NBA finals. While LeBron James has usually taken care of Durant in the postseason when Durant was with the Thunder, Durant always catches LeBron when he has a super team. It might be the case this season as well.
Durant is scoring at the blistering rate, averaging 30.8 PPG and shooting 45.2% from the 3-point line. Former MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is also having a terrific season but he has not been as consistently dominant as Kevin Durant as, and the fact that he is doing this after a severe injury just boosts his MVP status.
Runner-Up: Giannis Antetokounmpo
Center: Nikola Jokic
The center position is another stacked position even though many in the media believe that big men are being forced out of the league. The modern centers can do a lot on the floor, including shoot from deep and handle the ball. The two centers at the core of this are Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid. As close as they are, Jokic is the best big man in the league right now.
Jokic is averaging 26.8 PPG, 11.8 RPG, and 8.6 APG which is incredible for a center. Jokic is stuffing the stat sheet every night and edges Joel Embiid, another MVP candidate, as the best player at the center position.
Runner-Up: Joel Embiid
Coach: Quin Snyder
There are a ton of great coaches in the NBA right now, but Quin Snyder has been the best one. Snyder has exceeded all expectations with the Utah Jazz after many thought they would be an afterthought. Rudy Gobert signed a max contract to remain with the team and many thought the center wasn't worth the money. Michael Conley also had his worst season last year and many thought he was finished.
But Snyder has found a way to maximize the talents on the floor and the growth of Donovan Mitchell as a leader is impressive to see. If Snyder leads the Jazz to a top-3 seed in the West, he might have the edge over Doc Rivers for Coach of the Year because nobody expected Utah to be this good.
Runner-Up: Doc Rivers