by Benjamin Ramirez
As the National Basketball Association (NBA) paused for the 2017 All Star Weekend in New Orleans, Louisiana on February 18 and 19, it presented an opportunity for basketball fans to reflect on the first half of the NBA season. It also gives them a chance to contemplate the seemingly never-ending debate over who is really the best point guard in the league right now.
Point guards (PG) today are dynamic playmakers, resulting in some of the best highlight reels this year even without the Giannis Antetokounmpo, ‘Greek Freak,’ esk dunks. While there are a good handful of fantastic pointguard’s, the focus will be on the top four based on statistics, leadership, gameplay performance, and style.
- Isaiah Thomas, Boston Celtics
Standing at just five foot, nine inches and named after the great Detroit Piston, Isaiah Thomas, I.T. has dazzled the NBA, helping bring the Celtics into serious playoff contention. In his sixth season out of the University of Washington where he was selected last overall in the 2011 NBA Draft, Thomas has come into his own this year, averaging close to 30 points per game (PPG) and has led the Celtics to multiple comeback victories during the fourth quarter, which has been come to be known as ‘I.T. Time.’ From last pick in the draft to superstar status, Thomas has worked his way up the ladder and helped the Celtics organization surpass the Los Angeles Lakers as the winningest franchise in NBA history. Unsurprisingly, he was selected as an All Star reserve behind Kyrie Irving.
- Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers
With nicknames including ‘Uncle Drew’ and ‘The Undertaker,’ there isn’t a doubt in anyone’s mind that Kyrie Irving belongs on the list. Coming out of Duke, Irving came to the struggling Cavs, who had just lost their golden boy, Lebron James, to the Miami Heat. Getting acclimated to the NBA, he drew attention to himself on highlight reels of him crossing people over and having some of the smoothest ball handling skills around. Since James’ triumphant return to Cleveland, Irving has had the pleasure of having another star on the team, giving him more opportunities to make plays with the ball in his hand. While his ball handling ability is off the charts, what cemented him on this list was the shot he took over Stephen Curry in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals to finally bring a championship back to ‘The Land.’
- Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
Undoubtedly the best shooter in the game, and arguably ever, Steph Curry’s ball handling and shooting ability is incredible. Leading the Warriors to the NBA Finals two years in a row, winning in 2015 and blowing a 3-1 series lead in 2016, Curry has asserted his sheer dominance on the court since the ascent of the team to playoff contention in the 2012-2013 season. Averaging over 20 PPG every season since then and over 30 PPG last season, Curry has put himself on another level than almost every other player regardless of position. As expected, for this year’s All Star Game he was the leading vote-getter. The reason he is not the best point guard in the NBA is because while he wows everyone every game he plays, Curry has a team filled with current or former All Stars which, much like Kyrie, makes it easier for him to be an elite level playmaker.
Number One: Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
Unlike Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook has had to pick up all the heavy lifting since the departure of Kevin Durant to the Warriors. Westbrook is on pace to come close or break Oscar Robertson’s triple-double record which currently stands at 41. Leading the NBA in PPG with 31.2, Westbrook is currently averaging a triple double a night and almost solely because of this, the Thunder are playoff contenders heading into the break. Quite possibly the biggest All Star snub of this season on paper, Westbrook’s numbers only come close to being matched by Houston Rockets’ superstar, James Harden. On the court, his explosiveness is unmatched by any other PG in the league, giving us a night after night showcase of just how good he is.
If the season were to end at the All Star break, Russell Westbrook should win the Most Valuable Player award. Despite the Thunder being the seventh seed in the in the Western Conference standings, the Thunder would not even be talked about as a potential playoff team if Westbrook wasn’t in OKC.