The best passers in the NBA in 2021 are more than just assists. Playmakers make plays for others, generate offense for the team, and control the pace of the game. In short, they make their teammates better.
Best passers in the NBA 2021
Playmaking is a unique skill in basketball. Everyone can score but not everyone has got what it takes to make plays for their teammates. This skill has transcended beyond the point guard position. Nowadays, even centers are top playmakers.
Here are the ten best NBA playmakers this season.
10. Damian Lillard
When it comes to scoring, Damian Lillard is simply elite. He can easily create shots for himself and launch deep threes. He’s an offensive juggernaut and can drop 30 points on any given night.
But Lillard is more than just a scoring point guard. His playmaking is often overlooked due to the number of points he’s dropping. For the past two seasons, we saw an uptick in Lillard’s assists numbers as teams double-team him frequently. He averaged 7.7 assists in just 2.4 turnovers per game in that span.
As Portland’s lone superstar, Lillard is an underrated playmaker who can create shots for himself and his teammates.
9. Kyle Lowry
While Kyle Lowry‘s All-Star days are finally over, he’s still one of the best NBA playmakers this season.
Lowry doesn’t need to score a lot to make a huge impact on his team. Rather, he plays gritty defense and makes plays for his teammates. In his nine seasons with the Raptors, he averaged 7.1 assists per game.
Now with Miami, he’ll act as the main facilitator and take the playmaking load off Jimmy Butler.
8. Draymond Green
Golden State is primarily run by Stephen Curry, but Draymond Green is the main facilitator in their offense. Green has been averaging six assists or more for six straight seasons. He was even better last season as he averaged 8.9 assists per game.
Basically, he does all things on both ends on the floor except scoring. His game fits Kerr’s system especially that he’s playing with the two best shooters in the league.
Green is definitely the best playmaker at the power forward position.
7. Russell Westbrook
This list won’t leave without the league leader in assists—Russell Westbrook. Last season, Westbrook averaged a whopping 11.7 assists per game.
However, assists aren’t everything in playmaking. This is why Russ isn’t the best playmaker on this list due to his turnover rate and inefficiency as a shooter.
Still, Russ’ ability to coral stats proves to be valuable in a team like the Lakers. His new role doesn’t need to shoot the ball particularly well, but rather provide leadership and winning plays.
6. Luka Doncic
The Mavericks offense is orchestrated by Luka Doncic. Offensively, he’s a cheat code because of his scoring and playmaking ability at his size.
This is why Dallas is using the five-out offense as they want to utilize Doncic’s offensive talent.
As a 6’7″ point guard, Doncic averaged 27.7 points and 8.6 assists per game last season. He’s definitely going to get better over time and fix some holes in his game.
This is why he’s one of the top NBA MVP candidates this season.
5. Trae Young
Young has the perfect offensive package for a point guard as he can create separation, shoot threes, draw fouls, and throw lobs to his teammates. His unpredictability is a nightmare for the defense.
This is why the Hawks utilize him well in the pick and roll. Once Young gets to the paint, you won’t know if he’s going to shoot for a floater or throw a lob.
4. Nikola Jokic
There’s no doubt that Nikola Jokic is one of the best passers in the NBA. The reigning MVP is a wizard with the ball and can thread the needle for someone his size. Last season, he averaged 8.3 assists per game.
Jokic’s ability to shoot anywhere on the court draws the attention of defenders. Opposing players can’t simply leave him. The spacing gives him more opportunities to make plays for his teammates.
3. LeBron James
With the addition of Westbrook in Los Angeles, LeBron James can go back to play his natural position as a small forward. Even so, his playmaking ability is top-notch no matter what position.
In his last three seasons with the Lakers, LeBron averaged 8.9 assists per game. Given his age, it’s smart for him to focus on playmaking rather than being the main scorer on the team.
The Lakers have a plethora of offensive tools right now and it will be interesting to see how LeBron can utilize them effectively.
2. James Harden
No one on this list comes close to James Harden when talking about all-round offensive talent.
Now, he shares the court with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in Brooklyn. Obviously, these scoring monsters need to co-exist. This is why he took the main ballhandling and playmaking duties even if he’s naturally a shooting guard.
After getting traded to the Nets, Harden averaged 10.6 assists per game. His scoring numbers definitely went down but this is as expected when sharing the court with two other offensive superstars.
1. Chris Paul
Chris Paul is already considered as one of the best playmakers in NBA history.
He’s the complete playmaking package in terms of assists, efficiency, volume, and winning impact. Last season, he averaged 8.9 assists in just 2.2 turnovers per game.
Given his skill and experience, he simply knows when to score and make plays for his teammates in an efficient manner. This was on full display last season when he led the Suns to their first NBA Finals appearance since 1993.
After getting a taste of the Finals, there’s no reason to think Paul will slow down this season.
[spreaker type=player resource=”show_id=4112709″ width=”100%” height=”200px” theme=”light” playlist=”false” playlist-continuous=”false” chapters-image=”true” episode-image-position=”right” hide-logo=”false” hide-likes=”false” hide-comments=”false” hide-sharing=”false” hide-download=”true”]