Every week, the staff writers at Blue Man Hoop will take part in a roundtable discussion on a topic concerning the Warriors (click here for last week’s topic).
Chris Paul, Kyrie Irving, Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose, Stephen Curry — those are just five of the many talented point guards in the NBA. Ranking them can be difficult, however, given that they each provide a varied skill set.
Warriors fans are well familiar with Curry, who can shoot it like none other and has blossomed into an elite players. But some would argue that Curry has some deficiencies (size, defense), and that Paul is a better all-around player.
Where does Curry rank among point guards in the league? Our staff writers debate below:
Curry is the fourth best point guard, and I’ll tell you why: Paul is the best in the league and I don’t think it’s even close.
Every statistic other than three-point shooting points in favor of Paul, and he was enough of an impact to instantly launch the lowly Clippers into the playoffs and doom the then Hornets (now the Pelicans) from making the playoffs down to the bottom of the league. Rose, don’t forget, was MVP of this league for good reason and anyone watching Team USA right now cannot question the coaches’ decision to start Rose at the point rather than Curry.
And thirdly — though many would disagree — Tony Parker has consistently been at the point of a team beating everyone else. Though statistics may provoke skepticism, I will give credit where credit is due. I put Curry particularly above Westbrook, Irving, and John Wall, and I think most people would only disagree with my putting Westbrook there. Westbrook does not “man the point.” He is not a composed leader of the team, an extension of the coach’s will, and a creator of plays for his teammates. He is a scorer, not a point guard, and perhaps this deems an article of its own.
Personally, I feel as though there are five that belong in the top tier of the point guards in the league: Curry, Paul, Parker, Rose, and Westbrook.
Rose’s recent return from injury has many fans excited (myself included), but I would like to see him play a full season before passing judgment on whether he’s truly “back”. Parker (and the Spurs) are always criminally underrated, but I believe that his “greatness” is aided by the system the Spurs play. And should you swap Curry for Parker, the Warriors would be worse off. I’m a Westbrook sympathizer, but I also have to admit that his playing style resembles more of a combo guard, and less like a point guard.
Of the five, Curry is the best balance between a traditional point guard and a modern-day guard. Curry led all point guards in scoring (24 points per game) and was fifth in assists (8.5 assists per game) in a season when the Warriors’ offensive woes were scrutinized and criticized. Curry is the best shooter in the league, and is refining his playmaking and ball-handling.
However, the way Paul controls the tempo of the offense — and by extension — his teammates’ play, is unparalleled in the league. He is the best representation of the traditional point guard model there is, the gold standard to which many point guards are held to.
I would rank Curry second, not far behind Paul. But we have yet to see Curry’s best.
If I was drafting point guards to start my team, Curry would be my fourth-rated point guard.
Now, in a magical kingdom — perhaps Moron Mountain for all you Space Jam junkies — I would add a healthy Rose and quite possibly Rajon Rondo over Curry. But on planet Earth, Curry is the fourth best point guard in the league, though not as good of a floor general or defensive player as Paul, who is number one in my book. Curry is not far behind Westbrook, a superior athlete to Curry and a player who is more impactful on the defensive end, and Parker, the Spurs floor general who runs pick-and-rolls better than any other point guard out there.
Curry is the best shooter out of the group — though Paul is quietly a knock-down three-point shooter — but his defensive struggles put him just a notch below the three names listed above. On offense, his ability to shoot off the dribble or set shots is unheralded, and he is a great passer as well.
But a basketball court has two halves and Curry’s limitations on the defensive end make him the fourth best point guard in the NBA.
Curry is the second best point guard in the NBA. In my book, Paul gets the slight edge because of how talented a defender he is. He’s a perennial lock for the All-Defensive teams for good reason.
The popular argument against ranking Curry so high is citing his defensive struggles. Curry is by no means an above-average defender but criticism against him is often blown out of proportion. I expect this to become especially evident over the course of the upcoming season, given the new coaching staff that’s in place. And Curry more than makes up for his defensive liabilities by being a remarkably complete point guard. He’s a historically great shooter, a creative passer, and also an underrated finisher. His floater has become potent and his shooting percentage from less than three feet is 62.5%, which is pretty impressive.
Curry may not be the best point guard in the league, but the fact that he is in the discussion is certainly an achievement.
As of now, Paul is the only point guard solidly ahead of Curry due to Paul’scombination of offensive and defensive impact. I put Curry in the tier just an inch below Paul with point guards like Parker and Westbrook. Rose is in between both those tiers when healthy assuming he comes back as MVP-Rose. Curry catches flack for not being a defensive mastermind, but Curry certainly isn’t bad at defense either. He may not be the strongest or the quickest 1-on-1 defender, but he plays great defense in the confines of his system.
If Curry improves on defense and cuts down on turnovers, he could very well be the best point guard in the league.
Curry is on his way to being the best point guard in the league.
With Paul and Parker getting up in age and the inability of Westbrook and Rose to stay healthy, Curry looks to be on his way to the top. Curry is a prolific scorer, outstanding shooter and creative passer. His only weaknesses are his ability to lead a playoff bound team and his defense, but both will get better as he matures as a basketball player. He could cut down on his one-handed passes and turnovers, but it is his creativity with the ball in his hands that makes him so good. He has the ability to stop on a dime and hit the jumper, he can spot for the three and when the defense collapses, he has the ability to drive by his man and finish at the rim. So if he improves on the defensive end and becomes the leader of the Golden State Warriors on and off the court, we could be looking at the best point guard in the NBA sooner than you think.
Is Stephen Curry the best point guard in the league?
It depends on how you rank current point guards, and what exactly you want from your point guard. One can easily say they want a pure passer, a floor general — a PG that figure things out once a set play is blown. One can also say they want a PG that is aggressive and more like a shooting guard than a point guard.
Now what’s interesting are these combo guards, point guards who can play off the ball just as much with the ball. However, if you want to rank Curry, along with the usual suspects Paul, Parker, Rose, Westbrook, you end up with a great PG.
Without any systems — just players — I’m taking (no specific order) Curry, Paul, and Parker. You can plug anyone one of these point guards into any system on any team. You can’t do that with Rose, Westbrook, Damian Lillard, Irving, etc.
Because the position is so deep, I can make a laundry list of point guards who are integral to their teams’ overall success so it is difficult to rank them without sounding subjective.
There are great point guards like Irving, Goran Dragic, Lillard, and Walker who are already on the rise and also well-established point guards including Rondo, Rose (barring injuries), Mike Conley, Deron Williams, and Kyle Lowry. However I would put Curry a tier above these players as he is probably a top-5 point guard in the NBA along with Parker, Wall, Westbrook, and Paul.
While Parker is a great facilitator, midrange shooter and slasher, I feel that much of his success is a result of Gregg Popovich’s system (which of course isn’t a bad thing). John Wall needs to develop a more reliable jumper but has already shown he can lead his team. His stellar defense, speed and playmaking ability has convinced me that he will be a top-5 point guard this year.
I would rank Curry as the second-best point guard in the league, behind Paul but slightly ahead of Westbrook . Westbrook has the hustle, heart and explosiveness but I can’t rank him ahead of Curry because of his tendency of taking bad shots in late game situations. Westbrook has great scoring abilities, but I can’t see him taking over a game like Curry can in clutch situations. Curry is the best shooter in the league right now and forces teams to adjust their defense based on his sharpshooting. Out of every point guard, I believe Curry possesses the biggest offensive threat because of his scoring AND facilitating abilities. If Curry can reduce his turnovers and improve his defense (as much as possible) I feel that he will eventually overtake Paul as the number one point guard. Paul is currently the best right now because he orchestrates the Clippers’ entire offense . Not only does Paul have the complete offensive package, but he is also a ball hawk on defense making him the best overall point guard in the league.
However I have to agree with my colleague Greg Chin in that we have yet to see Curry reach his ceiling.