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Ranking the decade: Top ten NBA point guards of the 2010s

The cream of the crop
Publish Date:09/06/2021
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster
DENVER, CO - JANUARY 15: Stephen Curry (30) of the Golden State Warriors reacts to getting called for an offensive foul against the Denver Nuggets during the third quarter at Ball Arena on Thursday, January 14, 2021.(Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

During the 2010s, elite wings took over facilitating duties from point guards on some teams. However, there are still plenty of NBA teams run by high-volume scoring guards. With the increasing emphasis on the deep three, many of the league’s best scorers are point guards.

While the traditional focus on passing and defense took a back seat to scoring in many cases, the 2010s still produced several future Hall of Fame point guards. This piece ranks the ten greatest point guards of the decade along with several honorable mentions.

Accomplishments, such as accolades, championships, and statistics, are the primary justification for the upcoming rankings. Raw talent also plays a factor in close decisions between players, but the list favors players with more experience.

The statistics and accolades used in this article come from the 2010-11 season and end with the numbers players accumulated by the morning of Dec. 21, 2019. The back part of the 2009-10 season does not count.

For an article covering the top ten centers of the decade, click here. Articles covering the other positions are available, so make sure to check them out. Now, it’s time to dig into the best NBA point guards from the past decade.

*Numbers accurate as of Dec. 21

Honorable Mentions

17. Ben Simmons (2017-present)

2017-18 All-Rookie 1st Team

2017-18 Rookie of the Year

2018-19 All-Star

188 games, 3,017 points, 1,498 assists, 1,544 rebounds, 312 steals, 149 blocks

The Philadelphia 76ers drafted Simmons with the first overall pick in 2016, but he didn’t see the court until 2017. As a rookie, Simmons was an instant success. His dominating combination of size, speed, and point guard abilities put him at a borderline All-Star level immediately, and he made the All-Star game in his second season.

In his third season, Simmons is showcasing improved defensive capabilities. If Simmons can extend his shooting range, he can become a lethal scoring threat and superstar. However, he’s still a long way away from that goal.

16. Deron Williams (2010-2016)

Two-time All-Star

459 games, 7,357 points, 3,330 assists, 1,417 rebounds, 470 steals, 117 blocks

At one point, Williams rivaled Chris Paul in fame, and there was a debate about which point guard would rule the league. That whole conversation seems absurd now. While Williams made three All-Star games, including two this decade, and posted seven consecutive 1,000-point seasons, he never reached superstardom.

Injuries, declining assist and scoring numbers, and a lack of passion for the game led to Williams’ drop-off and humiliating exit from the league after a horrendous stretch during the 2017 playoffs. 

15. Eric Bledsoe (2010-present)

2018-19 All-Defensive 1st Team

2010-11 All-Rookie 2nd Team

596 games, 8,425 points, 2,871 assists, 2,357 rebounds, 869 steals, 287 blocks

After spending three uneventful seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers, Bledsoe exploded onto the scene with the Phoenix Suns. He never made the playoffs with the Suns, but Bledsoe serves as a crucial piece of Milwaukee’s game plan, especially because of his defensive capabilities. He posted four 1,000-point seasons during the 2010s.

14. Goran Dragic (2010-present)

2013-14 All-NBA 3rd Team

2013-14 Most Improved Player

2017-18 All-Star

642 games, 9,845 points, 3,394 assists, 2,100 rebounds, 706 steals, 135 blocks

The Slovenian entered the decade as a backup before transitioning to a starting role with the Phoenix Suns and kicking off a run of six consecutive 1,000-point seasons, which ended last year.

Dragic was Miami’s lone All-Star during the 2017-18 season. Unfortunately, injuries and poor play ruined his 2018-19 campaign. This year, Dragic is coming off of the bench for the Heat and looks more like his old All-Star self.

13. Mike Conley (2010-present)

2012-13 All-Defensive 2nd Team

595 games, 9,680 points, 3,610 assists, 1,794 rebounds, 934 steals, 144 blocks

While Conley is possibly in the midst of the worst year of his career, the veteran missed many All-Star bids thanks to a stacked Western Conference pool. One of the greatest players to never make an All-Star game, Conley is the Memphis Grizzlies’ career leader in games played, points, assists, and steals. Despite the franchise’s anonymity, Conley made a Western Conference Finals run with the team during the 2012-13 season.

12. Rajon Rondo (2010-present)

2011-12 All-NBA 3rd Team

2010-11 All-Defensive 1st Team

2011-12 All-Defensive 2nd Team

Three-time All-Star

526 games, 5,320 points, 4,928 assists, 2,661 rebounds, 835 steals, 71 blocks

At some point, Rondo will perplex Hall of Fame voters. The elite passer and former elite defender experienced most of his success in the late 2000s and early 2010s. While Rondo’s scoring numbers are pedestrian, he’s a wizard with the ball in his hands. As of late, the veteran point guard even has a decent three-point shot, showing he’s still improving his game.

It’s also worth mentioning the legacy of Playoff Rondo. Even after injury-riddled seasons or statistically unflattering campaigns, Playoff Rondo always shows up. For instance, during the 2018 playoffs, Rondo led the league in assist per game with 12.2 during a nine-game run with the New Orleans Pelicans. He led the league with 11.9 assists per game during a 19-game playoff run in 2012 as well.

Rondo has led the NBA during the playoffs in assists four times and steals three times.

11. Isaiah Thomas (2011-present)

2016-17 All-NBA 2nd Team

2011-12 All-Rookie 2nd Team

Two-time All-Star

505 games, 9,286 points, 2,551 assists, 1,256 rebounds, 460 steals, 55 blocks

The final pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, Thomas immediately turned heads with the Sacramento Kings. He spent three years in Sacramento, racking up 3,314 points, before a short stint in Phoenix.

With Thomas’ future in question, the Boston Celtics swooped in and traded for the dynamic little man. From there, Thomas rose to prominence as the King in the Fourth. He was even an outside shot to win the MVP in 2016-17. In his two full seasons with Boston, Thomas scored 4,022 points and led the team to the Eastern Conference Finals once.

Unfortunately, injuries derailed Thomas’ career, and he’s on his fifth team in four seasons. While he may never be the same player, Thomas sees steady minutes and production with the Washington Wizards. 

The Top Ten

10. Derrick Rose (2010-present)

2010-11 All-NBA 1st Team

2010-11 MVP

Two-time All-Star

411 games, 7,697 points, 2,218 assists, 1,352 rebounds, 305 steals, 151 blocks

The youngest MVP in history, Rose claimed the award before his 23rd birthday. It seemed like he was destined for greatness and would restore some glory to Chicago. The plan crumbled when Rose played just 39 games during the 2011-12 season and missed the entire 2012-13 campaign with an ACL injury. He only played ten games during the 2013-14 season.

Rose recovered some of his old form and contributed 1,984 points during his final two years in Chicago before heading to New York, where he scored over 1,000 points with the Knicks. 2017-18 was another lost season, but Rose settled into a productive sixth-man role with the Minnesota Timberwolves the following year. He’s in the same position now with the Detroit Pistons.

While Rose will never be the superstar fans hopes for, he is a legitimate NBA point guard who worked his rear off to improve his game and fight past a complicated injury history.

9. Tony Parker (2010-2018)

2013-14 NBA Champion

Three-time All-NBA 2nd Team

Three-time All-Star

586 games, 8,360 points, 3,264 assists, 1,358 rebounds, 418 steals, 46 blocks

From the 2011-12 to the 2013-14 campaign, Parker made three consecutive All-NBA 2nd Teams, giving him a head start on the decade. The four-time NBA champion opened the 2010s with four consecutive 1,000-point seasons. After that streak ended, Parker never surpassed the 1,000-point mark again.

After winning the 2013-14 championship with the San Antonio Spurs, Parker remained in Texas for four more seasons. He signed with the Charlotte Hornets for his final campaign, walking away from the league after the 2018-19 season.

8. Kyle Lowry (2010-present)

2018-19 NBA Champion

2015-16 All-NBA 3rd Team

Five-time All-Star

636 games, 10,635 points, 4,441 assists, 3,021 rebounds, 942 steals, 198 blocks

Lowry frequently gets slammed for being one of the lower-ranking All-Stars in the Eastern Conference. Lowry’s current All-Star streak is at five years, and he could extend it to six after a fast start to the 2019 season.

Lowry isn’t as flashy as most players on this list, but he plays with an exceptionally well-rounded style. The former 2006 first-round pick is a qualified passer and scorer, and he contributes in ways that don’t show up in ordinary box scores. It’s not a coincidence that Toronto’s recent streak of success coincides with Lowry’s All-Star run. 

7. Kemba Walker (2011-present)

2018-19 All-NBA 3rd Team

Three-time All-Star

630 games, 12,574 points, 3,444 assists, 2,422 rebounds, 822 steals, 248 blocks

Throughout the decade, Walker slaved in Charlotte, trying to drag a pitiful franchise to the playoffs. He got there twice, losing in the first round both times. Now, with the Boston Celtics, Walker is finally on a team with players capable of complementing his All-NBA level skill. NBA fans voted Cardiac Kemba to three straight All-Star games, and he’s on track to build on that streak in 2019-20.

Walker scored more than 2,000 points for the first time on his way to his first All-NBA selection last season. His current 1,000-point streak is at seven years. At his current pace, he will extend that run to eight in a little under 20 games. While Walker’s defense is shaky, his commanding offensive presence is undeniable.

The star from UConn entered the NBA to a lot of questions from analysts and executives. Over the first eight and a third seasons of his career, Walker answered and silenced his critics.

6. John Wall (2010-present)

2016-17 All-NBA 3rd Team

2014-15 All-Defensive 2nd Team

2010-11 All-Rookie 1st Team

Five-time All-Star

573 games, 10,879 points, 5,282 assists, 2,483 rebounds, 976 steals, 396 blocks

The versatile guard excelled in many aspects of the game before injuries knocked his promising career off track. Wall was one of the league’s best passers, averaging ten assists per game three years in a row. He also led the league in steals during the 2016-17 season and was an explosive scorer around the rim.

Unfortunately, fans haven’t seen that version of Wall in almost two years. His short 2018-19 campaign wasn’t even close to what fans expected.

Wall’s season debut is still on hold, and it’s unsure when fans will see him this season. As a five-time All-Star with six 1,000-point seasons, Wall is an impact player the Wizards desperately need back on the court.

5. Damian Lillard (2012-present)

2017-18 All-NBA 1st Team

Two-time All-NBA 2nd Team

2013-14 All-NBA 3rd Team

2012-13 All-Rookie 1st Team

2012-13 Rookie of the Year

Four-time All-Star

576 games, 13,634 points, 3,683 assists, 2,404 rebounds, 559 steals, 182 blocks

Entering the NBA one year after Kyrie Irving, Lillard gave the league yet another young, high-scoring point guard. Lillard never scored fewer than 1,500 points in a season, and he’s averaging 1,844 points per season through his first seven years. During that time, he authored two of the best series-ending playoff shots of the decade.

Back in 2014, Lillard sent James Harden and Dwight Howard home in the first round. Last year, he torpedoed Paul George and Russell Westbrook with a step-back from the center court logo.

Early in his career, Lillard made the All-Star game and All-NBA teams inconsistently. After an egregious snub for the 2016-17 season, voters made sure Lillard got the respect he deserved. Considering that he’s only 29 years old, Lillard could be an All-NBA player for the first half of the 2020s.

4. Kyrie Irving (2011-present)

2015-16 NBA Champion

2018-19 All-NBA 2nd Team

2014-15 All-NBA 3rd Team

2011-12 All-Rookie 1st Team

2011-12 Rookie of the Year

Six-time All-Star

519 games, 11,608 points, 2,963 assists, 1,911 rebounds, 684 steals, 183 blocks

Uncle Drew has one of the best shots of the decade and one of the worst movies as well. Irving entered the NBA in 2011 and had immediate success. As a sophomore, he posted his first of seven consecutive 1,000-point seasons. He experienced new heights when LeBron James returned to Cleveland for the 2014-15 season and lifted Irving to the playoffs for the first time. That eventually led to Irving’s historic shot in the 2016 Finals.

Irving has some of the best handles in history, and his flashy playing style is recognized worldwide. However, the star ran into some trouble late in the 2010s. Irving failed to lead the Boston Celtics to the Finals, and his attempt to be “the man” on his own team collapsed. Now, he’s in Brooklyn, awaiting Kevin Durant’s return next year.

3. Russell Westbrook (2010-present)

Two-time All-NBA 1st Team

Five-time All-NBA 2nd Team

2018-19 All-NBA 3rd Team

2016-17 MVP

Eight-time All-Star

682 games, 16,869 points, 5,988 assists, 5,164 rebounds, 1,264 steals, 209 blocks

For years, the idea of averaging a triple-double over a season was farfetched. Oscar Robertson accomplished the feat in the 1961-62 season and came close several other times, but that season stood alone as a glowing accomplishment for over 50 years. Then, Westbrook launched into his 2016-17 MVP season. He averaged a triple-double and won the scoring title.

Now that he’s on the Houston Rockets, it’s likely Westbrook’s streak of consecutive seasons averaging a triple-double will end at three. However, Westbrook dominated the stat books during the late 2010s. He just needs a championship to complete his resume.

2. Chris Paul (2010-present)

Three-time All-NBA 1st Team

Two-time All-NBA 2nd Team

2010-11 All-NBA 3rd Team

Six-time All-Defensive 1st Team

2010-11 All-Defensive 2nd Team

Six-time All-Star

633 games, 11,383 points, 5,912 assists, 2,760 rebounds, 1,347 steals, 96 blocks

Placing Paul over Westbrook may seem controversial, but CP3 led the dynamic Lob City Clippers while Westbrook stood in Durant’s shadow for several years. Paul led his own team for longer and experienced more success than most of the players below him on this list.

Playing a more traditional point guard role, Paul earned 120 win shares during the 2010s while Westbrook earned just 90.5. With his superior defense and selfless play, Paul’s style of play puts a greater value on winning than stacking statistical totals.

In terms of playing style, Paul is the most complete point guard on this list, and it’s not close. Even without an MVP or a championship, Paul is one of the top five or six point guards in history. With his prime stretched between the final years of the 2000s and the early 2010s, he never claimed the top spot on a decade list, but that isn’t an indictment against his greatness.

1. Stephen Curry (2010-present)

Three-time NBA Champion

Three-time All-NBA 1st Team

Two-time All-NBA 2nd Team

2017-18 All-NBA 3rd Team

Two-time MVP

Six-time All-Star

618 games, 14,997 points, 4,142 assists, 2,796 rebounds, 1,063 steals, 137 blocks

The only player besides LeBron James to win multiple MVPs during the 2010s, Curry revolutionized the game with his long three-point shooting. Quickly, other NBA stars raced to extend their range, and kids began launching shots from thirty feet or deeper. Very few players can say they changed the way people play the sport as much as Curry did.

Curry was the central force in Golden State’s short-lived dynasty. Without him, the Splash Brothers never exist, Draymond Green likely never becomes an All-Star, and Andre Iguodala never wins a Finals MVP. Also, there’s no way the Warriors land Kevin Durant without Curry’s influence. With the Davidson product at the helm, Golden State made five consecutive NBA Finals appearances, winning three championships.

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