How the PG position has evolved in the NBA


The role of the point guard in the NBA has changed over the years. It used to be all about ball ?distribution. Point guards were doing one thing better than everyone else – distributing the rock. They used to be a moderate scorer, top ball handler, and your main assist guy. They were the player who made the team work, the true leader of the team on the court. The evolution of the point guard in the NBA has gone into a direction I never saw coming.

The scoring point guard.

Like, as in, scoring 25, 30, 40 points…scoring point guard. These kind of numbers are at a different level.

Growing up, I, like many others in my era, watched the greatest point guard ever, Magic Johnson, orchestrate the game on the court like no other. This was a player who, at 6-9, and even though shot over 50% from the field in his career, only finished as a top 10 scorer in one solitary season ’86-87. Magic probably cold have put up a lot more points in his career, but he chose to run the offense instead of dropping 25-30 every night.

In this day’s NBA, the pass first point guards are very hard to come by. There are numerous reasons behind this, in my opinion. When the NBA stopped hand-checking, it made it a whole lot easier for perimeter players to get their shot off. Which typically opens the game up for smaller guys, aka the point guard. So the smaller PGs in the NBA have more space to look for their own shot more frequently. The lack of post playing bigs, and the stretch big evolution has tremendously opened the game up for the PG. Now when a PG gets himself into the lane, there’s oftentimes no one there to solidly protect the rim vs them.

It seems to be on the surface, that the PG position has evolved because there were a bunch of shooting guards who wanted the ball more, so they learned how to handle the ball better, and called themselves “point guards.” Perfect example, and I am not a huge fan, is Russell Westbrook. He is easily the most athletic PG I have seen play the game. He can score, pass the ball, when he decides to, and an outstanding rebounder. There comes a time to accept the changes, and see what talent this NBA has today. But his game and style in which he plays is everything I never considered when I think of a PG.

We have seen the PG position change with players like, Steph Curry, who is seriously making a legit push to be the best shooter in the history of the NBA. 25 year old John Wall is in incredibly rare and genuine elite passer, who at the time of this article, if he has the expected 15 year career, he will probably end up in the top 7-8 category in this stat, which means he would surpass Gary Payton and Isaiah Thomas. And he also a very talented defender, and one of my personal favorites. And, then we have Chris Paul, who is arguably the best overall point guard in the game. This is the most competitive era in NBA history for the point.

The game has always evolved, and will just continue to do so. In this game today, the point guards are needed to carry more of the scoring load. The game is designed for shooters. And I go back to the point of declining of dominant post play by the old school bigs. And let’s also keep in mind, the play making SGs as well as the 3. The NBA is always moving into a direction to accommodate the players coming in. Yes, it used to be more physical, it used to be dominated by guys down low, bumping shoulders and backing in down low. But today, the game is played outside the paint, its controlled by the 15 foot shot and obviously the three point shot, which is more of a game changer than ever these days. Think about his fun fact, in 1990, the top three point shooter, Vernon Maxwell, had 172 made treys, on 510 attempts, hitting only 34%. In 2015, Stephen Curry shot 646 treys, knocking down 286 at an incredible 44% shooting pct. It’s a head shaking era.

The NBA is much more 3 point driven now, so everyone at every position shoots the deep ball. It’s not a commodity anymore, its part of the game, the game plan goes off of the three point shot. The league is geared towards athletic shooting PG’s and the wing player. We can look at the top 10 players in the NBA, and the majority are all in the 1-3 positions now. The PG position is becoming the position to be in, in basketball today. Your job isn’t just to get the ball to the best shooter, or the big down low. You have skills that allow you to do that, as well as, drop 25 in a quick second.

Let’s just enjoy what the game has become, today. We can have a serious, conversation between players like Steph, Paul, Kyrie Irving, Westbrook, Damian Lillard, John Wall, all of whom are great PG’s in the NBA today. It comes down to what everyone expects as what they want from their PG for their team. It is all a matter of preference. Give me anytime in the NBA, when we have witnessed at least 10 candidates competing for one specific position as the best. The PG position is overflowing with talent. We used to have 3-5 guys who were considered the best PGs in the game, we can look at a boatload of guys now, and have a serious debate as to what we can be comfortable with naming the best of the PG’s.

The game is changing, and it’s not all bad.

Mike Anthony of

Who is the best point guard in the NBA

Being a point guard always will be in my eyes, one of the most important positions in the sport of hoops. As a starting point guard, you are the one who keeps the engine running smoothly, the chemistry flowing, you are the team’s director, and catalyst, the “quarterback” on the basketball court. To be the best, you have to get the best out of your guys, and make them better. And to me, these are unquestionably those guys who bring it every single night, and show up for their teams as the best of the best.

5-Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors, 21 PPG, 6 APG, 3 TOV/GM. He can handle the ball, passes well, and shoots extraordinary. He is an ideal mix of distributor on the team, with additional scoring options, but can also light it up when it gets kicked back out to him is his big man is double teamed. His deep ball is deadly lethal (46%). He doesn’t force shots, letting them come naturally to him.

4- Jrue Holiday, Philadelphia 76ers, 19 PPG, 9 APG, 4 TOV/GM. With versatile Evan Turner establishing himself as a scorer (14 ppg), Holiday will make a good 1-2 punch for the Sixers for years to come. Tends to have games where he can try to do too much, but he has heart and knows how to win. Holiday is also a very good rebounding PG, snagging 4.2/game, with 11 games with 6 or more rebounds already on the season.

3- Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers, 24 PPG, 5 APG, 4 TOV/GM. The Cavs, who authentically have nothing else for them on offense, have to lean on the 20 year old PG to score, as well as distribute. He brings scoring to a team that lacks an additional serious scoring threat. Kid can straight shoot the rock, very silky shot, from all over the court. Once they get 1 more piece to the team, and/or if Tristan Thompson turns into the player I think he can be, Irving could be a 20/10 guy, easily.

2- Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs, 20 PPG, 7 APG, 3 TOV/GM. An aging team, with maybe 1 last run in them, without Parker, they make no such push. His speed and his driving ability are still his meat and potatoes. Parker constantly comes up big when needed, whether due to a teammate’s injury or time running out in the game, Parker makes things happen.

1- Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers, 17 PPG, 9 APG, 2 TOV/GM. He is the cog who gets them moving. He brings first-rate defense, a low volume shooter, who picks his spots wisely. CP3 was an MVP candidate a few years back, and is playing to his MVP-like status again this year, with 11 games where he scored 16 or more and also had 10+ assists in same game. The Clippers struggle to win without him in the lineup, which has been proven repeatedly, he is undeniably the main man behind “Lob City”

Where they exactly fit or align in your eyes is of course, up to you. But in the end, these, to me, are the best on the court today. The game has distinctly changed in so many ways over the years, players have gotten bigger, faster, undoubtedly stronger, but the little PG still has to show up and get things done on the court, and get his team winning games.

Written by Tony Karpinski of