NBA Point Guard Tiers: Tier 4B – Problematic Stars
- 15. James Harden, Philadelphia 76ers
- 14. Kyrie Irving, Dallas Mavericks
By pure talent alone, these two players would be at the very top of the next tier. Kyrie Irving has hit huge shots in the NBA Finals, while James Harden is a former MVP who is still scoring and passing at an elite level. The problem is that both players are wholly unreliable to go to war with. Harden can win a playoff game or fail to show up, and he is currently trying to force his way off of his team for the third time.
Irving is even harder to rely on because if he is playing he is still an absolutely elite scorer at all three levels. Yet at any time, he could step away from the game, or make an error in wisdom that no other player would make and be suspended. His presence in a locker room seems like a negative, not a positive, and that pushes him down a half-tier.
Tier 4A – The young All-Stars, including Darius Garland
- 13. LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets
- 12. Jalen Brunson, New York Knicks
- 11. Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks
- 10. Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers
- 9. Tyrese Haliburton, Indiana Pacers
- 8. De’Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings
- 7. Jamal Murray, Denver Nuggets
This is where Darius Garland lands, and ranking the players throughout this tier is incredibly difficult. Each of these players is still ascending, has proven they can play at an All-Star level and has the starting job on their teams locked up for the foreseeable future.
Last year Tyrese Haliburton, De’Aaron Fox and Jalen Brunson took “the leap” and became clear All-Star players. Could that leap be coming for Darius Garland and LaMelo Ball this year, who both made the All-Star Game two seasons ago but didn’t last season?
Differentiating within this tier is splitting hairs. Garland rises above Trae Young because of his proven ability to thrive off-ball, but he hasn’t hit the heights of Young, Haliburton or Fox and hasn’t proven himself in the playoffs. You could move these players around in nearly any order and it would be hard to argue.
Jamal Murray has proven himself capable of elevating his game in the playoffs, putting up some massive performances en route to a title last season. That’s why he comes in at the top of this tier, even if his regular season performance last year was the worst of any of these players, which keeps him from being in a higher tier. He benefits from playing with the MVP in Nikola Jokic, but it still takes incredible talent and poise to perform as he did in the Finals.