The best point guards are usually the leading passers in the league but during the 2019-20 season, it was LeBron James who led the league in assists.
That didn’t mean that James outplayed the best point guards in the NBA. The game has evolved a lot and a point guard is no longer just a playmaker who makes the passes for his teammates. The top point guards of this era are also terrific scorers who can shoot well from the outside. They are also tall enough to grab a handful of rebounds per game. And so on.
Let’s take a look at the Top 10 points guards for the 2019-20 NBA season:
1. Luka Doncic
The kid was spectacular last season when he won Rookie of the Year honors. And yes, everyone agreed that he will become one of the greats. But not this fast. In only his second NBA season, Luka Doncic has looked like an MVP already.
During the 2019-20 season, Doncic averaged 28.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, 8.7 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. He was in the Top 10 in scoring and passing and the Top 20 in rebounding. And don’t forget that he’s only 21 years old.
He set a lot of records this season, most related to triple-doubles. He broke Jason Kidd’s franchise record for most triple-doubles and became the youngest player in NBA history to have back to back 35-point triple-doubles. He also broke Michael Jordan’s record of 18 consecutive games with at least 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists.
Not only did Doncic put up numbers, but he also helped the Mavericks regain prominence in the Western Conference. When the season was suspended, Dallas had a record of 40-27, 7th in the Western Conference, just 3.5 games behind the Top 4 teams. With Kristaps Porzingis getting healthy, Doncic and the Mavs look to be a force in the coming seasons.
2. Trae Young
Trae Young has emerged after a slow start to his career that left people wondering if the Atlanta Hawks made a mistake in trading Luka Doncic. While Young has not been a triple-double machine like the Slovenian guard, the former Oklahoma product has put up equally remarkable numbers in his sophomore season.
Young averaged 29.6 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 9.3 assists per game last season. He ranked in the Top 4 in both scoring and passing while his PER rating of 23.98 was 10th overall in the entire league. Not bad huh?
Like Doncic, Young was having a spectacular season and he emerged as the leader of the young Atlanta Hawks team. Like Luka, he also earned his first-ever NBA All-Star selection. One thing that impresses me more about Young than Doncic is that the American is only 6-1 tall.
Young was one of the most prolific scorer coming out of college but many questioned whether his size would be able to hold against much bigger opponents. However, he’s made up for that lack of size with speed, quickness, and excellent ball-handling skills. His unlimited shooting range also opened up the floor for him and his teammates.
3. Russell Westbrook
There were plenty of questions surrounding Russell Westbrook’s trade to the Houston Rockets. But perhaps the most striking one was if he was ever going to work out playing in the same backcourt as James Harden. Both are equally gifted playmakers and both are equally talented scorer. Both also need the ball in their hands to be able to do what they do best. Somehow, Mike D’Antoni made it work
Westbrook may no longer be averaging in a triple-double like he did the previous two seasons, but he’s figured out how to make himself effective and efficient while playing alongside James Harden. The Rockets may have struggled a bit towards the latter part of the season but this team was still a Top 5 team in the West.
Russ was putting up 27.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 7.0 assists per game last season but was up to 29.1 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 5.8 assists in his last 10 games before the suspension of the season. Not only was he putting up the numbers as of late, but he was also shooting 53.4% from the floor and 40% from behind the three-point area.
Houston chose to finish the season by going small. They traded Clint Capela at the deadline and went with PJ Tucker and Robert Covington as their main “big men”. Harden was struggling with his shot before the suspension and it was Westbrook who was carrying a lot of load for the Rockets.
4. Ja Morant
Forget Zion Williamson, Ja Morant was the Rookie of the Year in 2019-20. First, let’s admit that Zion’s injury had a lot to do with me saying this. But Zion has nothing to do with Morant having a fantastic rookie season. Ja was spectacular for the Grizzlies, leading them to the 8th best record in the Western Conference when play was halted.
Who would’ve imagined Memphis in that spot after losing Mike Conley? The Grizzlies didn’t have a star heading to the season but once he stepped on the hardcourt, Morant looked every bit a messiah for Memphis. He dazzled the crowd with his breath-taking moves but more than that, he provided a spark that has fast-tracked the rebuild in the city.
Morant averaged 17.6 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 6.9 assists this season. He shot 49.1% from the field and 36.7% from deep while playing an average of 30.0 minutes per game. Those numbers exceeded all expectations from this diminutive guard from Murray State.
If ever the NBA will hand out awards for the 2019-20 season, I wouldn’t be surprised if Morant beats out Zion for the Rookie of the Year honors. Both are generational talents but when it comes to the 2019-20 season, Morant did more than Zion and his body of work was more impressive.
5. Chris Paul
Chris Paul looked like he was over the hill last season. When he was traded to the Thunder, many thought he wouldn’t last long there and would end up being traded to a contender at the trade deadline. However, the Thunder surprised everyone by playing with terrific chemistry and behind Paul’s leadership, they zoomed to the 4th spot in the West when play was stopped.
Paul averaged 17.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, 6.8 assists, and 1.6 steals per game this season. CP3 played in a total of 63 games this season and was a steady force behind the Thunder’s rise in the standings. He was also key in helping Shai Gilgeous-Alexander develop into a legit star this season. With Paul, Dennis Schroder also played better for OKC this year.
OKC has an unlikely core in Paul, Alexander, Schroder, Steven Adams, and Danilo Gallinari. But they have made it work for the Thunder this year. I’m not sure if this is a long-term lineup for the Thunder but if the season continues, this team is going to be tough to beat in the postseason.
Paul is already 34 years old and he is no longer as quick and fast as he once was. But the point god proved that he still has what it takes to go out there every night and compete with the best in the business.
6. Damian Lillard
The Portland Trail Blazers struggled this year and looked like they would miss the playoffs if the season would continue. But if the Blazers were inconsistent all season long, there was one thing constant for them this past season: Damian Lillard
Damian Lillard was a Top 10 point guard during the 2019-20 season. Dame continued to light up the scoreboard with his 28.9 points scoring average. He was fifth overall in scoring and was 6th in passing at 7.8 assists per game. Lillard also shot 39.4% from three-point range during the 2019-20 season.
There were talks that the Blazers could be breaking up the Lillard-McCollum tandem next season. That duo has made Portland a perennial playoff team but after several seasons of making it to the postseason, the Blazers have not achieved title contender status.
At 29, Lillard isn’t even in his prime yet. And regardless of what the Blazers will do next with their team, Lillard will continue to shine for them. This is one player who once said that he valued loyalty and that he won’t leave his city just to win a title elsewhere.
7. Ben Simmons
If only Ben Simmons could shoot from the outside, I would have ranked him higher on my lift. Ever since he entered the NBA, Ben Simmons’ weakness has been his outside shot. We’ve seen him work on it during training camps but every time the season begins, he just becomes gun shy from deep.
If we forget about that weakness, Simmons had a great 2019-20 season. He averaged 16.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, 8.2 assists, and 2.1 steals per game. Nevermind those scoring numbers. He plays alongside Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris in Philly so he doesn’t get too many shots to come his way. And when he has the ball in his hands, he is too unselfish to just hoist up baskets.
Simmons and Embiid are one of the best young duos in the league. But while Embiid has succeeded in becoming a force inside the point, Simmons needs his outside shot to grow soon so that he can compliment Embiid’s game.
The Sixers underachieved this season and you could point to the injuries that Embiid and Simmons suffered. Philly was also the best home team in the league but was worse than the Knicks on the road.
8. Spencer Dinwiddie
When Kyrie Irving announced that he would be going to Brooklyn, we thought that Spencer Dinwiddie would start losing the luster he gained last season. But not only did Kyrie get hurt but the Nets struggled with him running the point. When Irving was out, Dinwiddie took his spot and owned it as if it was originally his own.
In 49 games started this season, Dinwiddie averaged 21.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 7.8 assists per game. In 13 games played during December, Dinwiddie averaged a blistering 27.8 points per game.
Dinwiddie has benefited from Irving’s absence but when Irving played, the Nets were just 7-13 with Irving and didn’t have a winning month in the three months he played. Brooklyn entered the suspension with a 30-34 record so if you take away the games where Irving played, the Nets would have a winning record.
I’m not saying that Irving is bad for Brooklyn but I think Dinwiddie is the better fit for them, at least that’s what we saw during the 2019-20 season. He may not be an as high profile as the other players on this list but there is no doubt that Spencer Dinwiddie was one of the best point guards in the NBA this past season.
9. Kemba Walker
I’m not hating on Kyrie Irving but after the Celtics struggled with Irving last season, they have been playing much better with their new floor leader. The Celtics brought in Kemba Walker to take over Kyrie’s spot and he has been able to bring the Celtics to a better place.
Boston was third in the Eastern Conference when the season was paused. Of course, you will have to give credit to Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown for their success. Tatum emerged as an All-Star player for the Celtics this season while Brown had his first 20-point season. But Walker was the steady presence that kept this team together all year long.
While Walker doesn’t pass as much, his scoring makes him an elite point guard. He averaged 21.2 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4.9 assists, and shot 37.7% from three-point range. The Celtics lost Horford during the offseason but their smaller lineup has been effective with Walker in charge of the offense.
10. Kyle Lowry
Kyle Lowry looked like he was ready to ride to the sunset after finally winning an NBA title last season. But after Kawhi Leonard left, Lowry had his best season since 2017. He reclaimed his spot as the Raptors’ leader and despite losing Leonard, the Raptors still played like a beast in the East.
Lowry had his best scoring season in four years. He averaged just a shade under 20 points at 19.7 points per game while also putting up 4.8 rebounds, 7.7 assists, and 1.3 steals per game while playing a total of 52 games this season.
Fred VanVleet is also having a fantastic year for Toronto and Lowry has helped him thrive in Nick Nurse’s offense. Of course, the improved play of Pascal Siakam and Serge Ibaka’s best scoring season have contributed to Toronto’s success. But no doubt, Kyle Lowry re-emerged this season for them.
Lowry is already 34 years old but he played with the energy he had four seasons ago. There’s no question that he has lost a step or two but when it comes to performance, Kyle Lowry was one of the best point guards in the NBA in 2019-20.