2017 NBA Five Percenters: Point Guards
For the fourth year, it is my pleasure to bring you my Five Percenter List, which breaks down the top five players at each position in the NBA. I welcome and encourage all objections to my list, don′t be afraid to tell me how you really feel!
1. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder - 81 games 31.6 points, 10.4 dimes, 10.7 boards, three 50-point triple doubles
2. Steph Curry, Golden State Warriors - 79 games 25.3 points, 6.6 dimes, 41% 3PT, 324 3PM
3. Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics - 72 games, 25.2 points, 5.8 dimes, 47%FG, 40% 3PT, 90% FT
4. John Wall, Washington Wizards - 78 games, 23 points, 10.7 dimes, 2 steals
5. Isaiah Thomas, Cleveland Cavaliers - 76 games, 29 points, 6 dimes, 46% FG
Russell Westbrook is point god of the NBA. He is blessed with the perfect size and ability for the point guard position. He swapped spots with Kyrie Irving, who was #1 last season for his run in the 2016 NBA Playoffs. This year, Russell get the top spot for his historic season, averaging the first triple-double since 1962. Russell finished the 2016-17 season with a league-high 42 triple-doubles and 62 double-doubles, second behind James Harden (63). Westbrook also led a team that many didn't think could make the postseason, especially after the departure of Kevin Durant. With Westbrook leadership, the Thunder made the playoffs as a 6th seed before their 1st-round exit to the Houston Rockets. This season Westbrook has been blessed with Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. Another triple-double season is unlikely but a championship could be in the future for OKC.
Golden State Warriors' head coach, Steve Kerr, said he never saw a player instill fear into opponents like Curry, and this is coming from someone who played with Michael Jordan. One can argue whether Curry is the most intimidating player of all-time, but he is one of the toughest checks of all-time. Adding Durant to the starting five gives Curry more freedom and space to get his buckets however he chooses. His deadly range and elite handles are why he is unguardable. It's literally picking your poison when it comes to defending Curry. And what makes him even more difficult is his great decision making. He is probably the best decision-maker of this group.
Kyrie Irving will get the chance to prove to the world that is he is not an understudy of LeBron James; that he is in fact, a player that can lead a franchise to the promise land. Irving wanting to leave the Cavaliers and James' shadow is similar to Kobe chasing Shaq out of LA. Both players aimed to prove they are alphas on the court. In Boston, Irving will have the full freedom of scoring but he will have to show the full range of point guard abilities in order for the Celtics to succeed. By gaining his own team, he lost the luxury of playing with the best passer in the game. Without that extra point guard on the court in James, Irving will have to invest more into facilitating than he had to in the last three seasons. We could see an MVP caliber season from Kyrie.
John Wall will go down as one of the most underrated players of this generation. When the discussion of "who is the top point-guard in the league" is going on, Wall's name doesn't get mentioned as much as it should. Wall is the prototypical point guard that can play both ends of the floor, the truest definition of a floor general. He is the best defender on this list by a good margin, Westbrook the only other that will get dirty on the defensive end. He is also one of the best passers in the league, finishing top-five in assist the last four seasons. And if you need a bucket, he'll get you one, despite the inconsistent jumper.
Isaiah Thomas' run last season cannot go unrecognized. This last spot was between him and Damian Lillard. Thomas got the nod because he led his team, without another All-Star, to the #1 spot in the East playing at an MVP pace. No one expected Thomas or the Celtics to have the kind of season they did. He was the best player in the fourth quarter, averaging ten points in the final 12 minutes of the game, and had a great run in the postseason until his hip injury. While Lillard may have the greater upside being younger and bigger, Thomas still had the better 2016-17 season, and that is what this list is primarily based on. His numbers will take a hit since he will be the secondary ball handler in Cleveland but he should fit well with James.
Damian Lillard, Portland Trailblazers - Lillard was a five percenter last season, and can still be considered one this season. I hate to leave him out but this just shows you how tough the point guard position in the NBA is right now.
Chris Paul, Houston Rockets - CP3 is a bonafide Hall of Famer and has been a top-five point guard in the league for over a decade. His numbers are steady but we've seen better seasons from CP3.
Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors - Lowry seems to be trending down but he is still an elite point guard in the association. This will be an interesting season for Lowry and the Raptors.
Kemba Walker, Charlotte Hornets - Walker is quietly one of the best guards in The Association. He can run the show with the best of them and has overachieved with a mediocre supporting cast.