While there’s no substitute for a dominating big man and taller, skilled players (like LeBron James and Kevin Durant) have imposed their will on the game, the NBA has always been about great guard play. Point guard remains an invaluable position and the past two decades have seen some incredible point guards make their mark on the game. However, it’s time to separate the best from the best. As we enter the year 2020, here is our list of the top five NBA point guards since the year 2000.
5. Tony Parker
The Spurs found an absolute gem at the back end of the first round in the 2001 Draft. Parker may have been a little slight of build, but he quickly became one of the quickest and craftiest point guards in the NBA. He wasn’t much of a jump shooter until later in his career, although that didn’t hold him back that much. Parker was as good as any point guard this century at getting into the paint and getting his shot off from close range. He wasn’t a bad passer either, averaging as much as 7.7 assists per game during his career.
Despite little fanfare coming out of France, Parker became a stater for the Spurs almost right away, a spot he held for 16-plus seasons. While he had Tim Duncan and a few other stars around him, Parker was the straw that stirred San Antonio’s drink. He helped the Spurs make the playoffs reach the playoffs nearly every season of his career, including four NBA championships. Parker also had the longevity to stay in the league for 18 seasons, making six All-Star Teams and averaging 15.5 points and 5.6 assists per game over such a long career.
4. Jason Kidd
Kidd loses some points because some of his best seasons came before 2000. However, he was still very much in his prime after the turn of the century. Kidd was also good enough to keep playing until 2013, playing in the league for 19 seasons. He may not have been the best athlete on the floor or a top-flight scorer at the point guard position, but Kidd is one of the best passers the game has ever seen. He was also a beast on the boards and the defensive end, often over powering and neutralizing the opposing team’s point guard.
Over time, Kidd improved as a shooter and scorer, so by the year 2000, he was arguably the most well-rounded point guard in the NBA. Even in his later years when his scoring dropped, there was little drop-off in Kidd’s assist or steal numbers. He even remained a key contributor in his third-to-last season when he finally won an NBA title with the Mavericks. When all was said and done, Kidd was a 10-time all-star and a two-time Olympic Gold Medal winner with most of his best accomplishments coming after 2000.
3. Chris Paul
Paul has a leg up on Kidd on this list because he’s played his entire career after the year 2000. He’s also an elite scorer at the point guard position in addition to being a great distributor of the basketball. Despite being a little on the small side and lacking the physicality of bigger point guards, Paul’s quickness and ability to change speeds his second-to-none. His athleticism allows him to create his own shot, put his teammates in a position to score, and makes him a menace defensively for the NBA’s other point guards.
Injuries have held Paul back at times, but when he’s healthy, there’s no player like him, even as he begins to enter the twilight of his career. During the prime of his career from 2008 to 2016, Paul made the All-Star Team in nine straight seasons. He led the NBA assists four times and steals six times during that span. Paul has also been named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team on seven occasions, which showcases the impact he makes on both ends of the court.
2. Steve Nash
Nash is another player at a slight disadvantage on this list because he started his NBA career before 2000. However, he more than made up for it with everything he accomplished from that point forward. The Canadian point guard is perhaps the best pure playmaker of the 21st century. His vision, ball-handling, and passing skills were ideal for the position. Combined with his 43% career shooting percentage from the perimeter, Nash was unguardable at times. Perhaps most importantly, Nash always made the players around him better. He was even a great free-throw shooter, making over 90% of his shots from the charity stripe.
The back-to-back MVP awards that Nash won in 2005 and 2006 help him to stand out above the likes of Kidd and Paul. He was also an eight-time all-star and the NBA assist leader five times, all of which came after 2000. It also doesn’t hurt that he was able to play for 18 seasons and remained a high-level point guard and playmaker deep into his 30s.
1. Stephen Curry
Few players have taken the NBA by storm or altered the way teams play the game the way Curry has since entering the league in 2009. He possesses the skills of a point guard who just happens to be arguably the best three-point shooter in league history. His career three-point percentage of nearly 44% is all the more impressive when you consider the volume of perimeter shots he takes and the deep range of many of his shots. The quickness in which Curry gets hit shot off is unmatched by anyone in NBA history. He’s also able to penetrate the lane with his quickness to get shots inside the three-point arc while also averaging over five assists per game every season of his career.
Over his first 10 seasons, Curry made six All-Star Teams and was voted MVP twice. He also won the scoring title and was the league leader in steals during the 2015-16 season. More importantly, Curry has been the catalyst for the Warriors creating a mini-dynasty, leading Golden State to three NBA championships in a span of four seasons. The incredible shots he makes win games, which is the biggest reason why Curry is the best NBA point guard since 2000.