20 Best Backup Point Guards in the NBA

A current list of the 20 best backup point guards in 2017-18. (at least 20 games played to qualify)

Best Backup Point Guards – 2019


Malcolm Delaney


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Delaney has legitimate size and above average strength for a backup point guard.  Malcolm is a 28-year old sophomore who got no looks coming out of Virginia Polytechnic Institute in college and decided to play in Euroleague.

Last year Atlanta took a shot on him and this year he’s shooting the three ball at a respectable 36% clip but he’s been very inconsistent throughout the season.  However, he has flashed his ability to fill-it-up by putting up 20 points and 6 assists against the Thunder earlier this year.


Jameer Nelson


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After getting released by the Nuggets last offseason, Nelson signed with the Pelicans for a one-year 2.3 million dollar contract– the veteran minimum.  At 35 years old, Jameer is far removed from his 2009 All-Star season but he’s a wily veteran who still knows how to initiate offense.

Nelson is currently averaging 5/4/2 while shooting 36% from 3.


Mathew Dellavadova



Delly undoubtedly is overpaid getting 38 million over four years with the Milwaukee Bucks.  With the acquisition of Eric Bledsoe, the Aussie is now the third best point-guard on a team that runs everything through Giannis and Middleton their two wing players.  Dellavedova is a bit of a throwback scrappy player who hustles and plays tough on both ends of the floor.

Unfortunately Delly’s offensive game is not nearly polished enough(only shooting 37% from the field) to get his shot off or really create for others.  Instead, he’s become a decent pick and player for the Bucks and a capable backup.


Mario Chalmers



Chalmers has had a bit of a resurgence for Memphis this year.  After being out of the NBA all of last season he’s come back to average 8 points and 3 assists for a struggling Grizzlies team.  He’s playing around 23 minutes a night and averaging a team-best 1.3 steals per game.


Emmanuel Mudiay



Mudiay needs a change of scenery badly.   Despite showing flashes of brilliance this year including a ludicrous 21/7/5 explosion against OKC on 8-10 shooting he’s failed to develop any kind of consistency.

Mudiay’s minutes and points have decreased every year with Denver.  This year he’s received multiple DNP’s as Coach Malone has lost trust with him down the stretch.  And how can you blame coach when his horrendous -10.3 net rating is more than 4 times worse than ANY other player on the Nuggets roster?  Mudiay may still have some potential, just not in Denver.


Raul Neto


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Fan-favorite Raul Neto has been held back by injuries all season, appearing in only 22 games.  Still, he’s found ways to contribute with his sharp 45% shooting from three and creative playmaking.  This stat may hold no weight, but Neto also leads the entire Utah team by a huge margin with a total +5 net rating.

The Rubio experiment has been less than ideal in Utah with their limited shooting and stagnant offense.  When Neto’s been healthy he’s been a fun player to watch and an important piece to their bench unit.


DJ Augustin


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Augustin just entered the 30-and-over club in the association but that hasn’t stopped his production whatsoever.  In fact Augustin is having one of his more consistent years in recent memory providing 8 points per game off the bench in Orlando including an 18 point explosion against the Mavericks.

DJ is once again shooting over 40% from three which Orlando will need if they have any chance of turning things around in 2018.


Tyus Jones


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Tyus Jones is quietly having a fantastic year for a very good Minnesota Timberwolves squad.  He’s improved his shooting to 46% from the field and 37% from three while playing a career high 18.4 minutes per game.  Jones stepped up admirably when Jeff Teague went down with an ankle injury, and he could be a part of the future in Minny.

Jones is still only 21, so his development could still be in its beginning stages.  I think he’s talented enough to be a starter sooner rather than later.


Raymond Felton


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Raymond Felton feasts on and off the court.  The stocky point guard has been crucial for multiple OKC wins including a come from behind win against the Nets last night.  Felton has always been a streaky player capable of making plays and hitting 3s.  Felton has scored 31 points over his last 3 outings providing  the Thunder with some much-needed scoring off the bench.

OKC made moves in the offseason, but they’ll only go so far unless they can get more production from their bench unit.  Felton, the leader of that unit has done a decent job thus far.


Cory Joseph


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CoJo is a key piece to the overachieving Pacers squad.  He’s shooting 39% from three and getting one steal per game demonstrating his two-way ability.  Joseph was one of the top backups in San Antonio and Toronto so he brings in a veteran pedigree of winning to a young Indiana team that desperately needs it.


Frank Ntilikina


Frank Ntilikina

Frank Ntilikina has by far the most upside on this list.  He has a tantalizing package of size, length and defensive IQ that few players have, and he’s still only 19 years old.  Earlier this year he guarded Kyrie better than maybe anyone, and more recently he put up an impressive line of 7/7/5 with 2 blocks and a steal in a duel with Dennis Smith.  He has triple-double potential and in a few years there’s a good chance he turns into one of the best two-way guards in the league.  His jumpshot mechanics look good(even though he’s only hitting 31% of his 3s) but much like Lonzo Ball he’ll need to improve his package of finishes around the rim.

Frank is already an elite defensive point guard with the size and smarts to match up with anyone.  He’s a solid playmaker but he still turns the ball over at an alarmingly high rate.  If Frank can sure up some things on offense, the Ntilikina-Porzingis combo could be scary in New York.


Ish Smith


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Smith is back to coming off the bench after starting 12 games in Reggie Jackson’s absence.  The Pistons have been struggling as of late going 2-8 in their last 10 games, failing to get stops and generate enough offense down the stretch.  Although the team is underachieving as a whole, Smith’s production has been solid scoring 10 points on a career-high 46% from the field.  The team really misses Jackson’s production but as Zach Lowe mentioned Ish may be a bit ‘overtaxed as a starter.’  Instead he’s more comfortable as one of the better backup PGs in the league.

Ish has always been a creative facilitator with his ability to manipulate the defense with his change of pace and herky jerky movements.  Smith hasn’t let his lack of shooting(19% from 3 SHEESH) hamper his production whatsoever.


Shabazz Napier


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Napier has mastered his ‘disappearing act’ and is becoming an above-average backup capable of scoring in bunches and picking up the tempo.  The Blazers have a glut of guards with Lillard, McCollumn, Evan Turner,  Pat Connaughton, and Napier.  Still, their guard play has only translated into a middling 26-22 record placing them at the bottom of the playoff ladder yet again.

Napier is averaging 10 points, cracking double-digits for the first time in his career, while shooting 48% from the field and 43% from three.  He’s also swiping a career-best 1.3 steals as he’s found ways to be a pesky defender.  Portland is by all accounts a slightly above average team, but this year Napier is doing his part to elevate his play.


Fred VanVleet


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VanVleet plays an important role for the Raptors, scoring and facilitating off the bench.  Fred was extremely impressive in Toronto’s win over the Cavaliers hitting big shots down the stretch posting a career-high 22 points and six threes.  VanVleet was thought to be a bit undersized coming out of Wichita State but he’s proven heart is more important than height.

The always-crafty FVV has more than doubled his output from last year, averaging 7/3/2 and hitting 38% of his threes.  He just played another stellar game against the Hawks putting up 19 points, 2 steals, 3 blocks, 5 assists, and 7 boards in only 18 minutes!


TJ McConnell


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TJ McConnell didn’t know he’d be given a chance in the NBA when he was playing for the University of Arizona.  In 2018 his qualms almost seem foolish as he’s averaging a career-high 7.7 points and 3.5 rebounds while shooting a stellar 43% from three.

Mcconnell is a nice change-of-pace player, and he’s demonstrated his ability to lead a capable second unit in Philly.  The 25-year old is beloved by the fan base for good reason because he’s made it clear he will do whatever the team needs to win.


Jordan Clarkson


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There’s definitely a good chance JC isn’t on the Lakers next year given the trade rumors that have been around for months.  Still, Clarkson is having a solid year off the bench for the Laker’s averaging over 14 points, 3 assists while shooting a career-best 46% from the floor.

With the Lakers looking to clear up space for some max-contract guys next summer, Clarkson is playing well for suitors looking for a scoring combo-guard.   25-year-old Clarkson has been criticized for being a one-trick scoring pony, but he’s rarely given the credit he deserves as a legitimate Sixth Man of the Year candidate.


Patty Mills/Tony Parker



Tony Parker is one of the better point guards in the last 10 years and Patty Mills is a sharpshooter capable of picking up opposing ball-handlers the length of the court.

With the emergence of Dejounte Murray the Spurs have elected to bring their two veteran guards off the bench and so far it’s paid dividends.  Parker still has one of the best tear drops in the game, and that combined with Mills 39% three-point shooting, makes for one of the more formidable guard tandems off the bench.


JJ Barea


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JJ is actually having the best year of his career which is impressive considering he just turned 33.  He’s averaging personal bests: 12/6/3 on 43% from the field and 37% from three.

Barea’s trash talk has been equally impressive, getting the better of a verbal altercation with Washington Wizard John Wall.  Barea has always been one of my favorite players because of his ability to finish around the rim and get other players involved. JJ has been extremely impactful in Dallas, dating all the way back to one of the more memorable finals series in NBA history against Miami in 2011.


Marcus Smart


marcus smart

Smart just missed a potential game-winner against the Lakers and he’s still shooting below 40% from the field–he has every year in his career.

But none of that matters because Smart is truly the heart and soul of a Celtics team that’s built its identity on defense and grit.  Smart is Boston’s version of Draymond Green.  He’s willing to mix it up with anyone in the post, he may even pick you up full court.

Smart’s contributions were best displayed in a game versus Houston in December where he baited Harden into two offensive fouls to win the game.   If the Celtics want to get out of the East they’ll need every bit of Smart’s playmaking and vitality off the bench.


Shaun Livingston


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Livingston is doing his thing again in Golden State.  His numbers don’t jump off the page but he makes his money based off his elite size and extremely efficient play.  Shaun never takes ill-advised shots and his 6’7″ frame allows him to clog things up on the defensive end.  The 32-year-old guard is shooting above 50% from the floor for the third year in a row which is something no other player on this list is capable of.

Also, watch out because Shaun’s still making posters





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