NBA / Aug 2, 2010 / 3:45 pm

Attack the Rim: The NBA’s 5 Best Penetrating Point Guards

Chris Paul (photo. Jordan Brand)

There really is nothing better in basketball than that feeling you get from shaking someone with a nice move. Ever since the AND 1 phenomenon and the Allen Iverson experience, those ankle-snapping, defense-abusing moves have dominated highlight tapes.

I recently talked to one of the premier young point guards in the NBA, Minnesota’s Jonny Flynn, about how getting to the rim factors into his game.

“It’s so much better when you are at the top of the key and you are just walking (the defender) down, walking him down and he knows he’s by himself,” Flynn said. “He has his teammates saying, ‘I got you left. I got you left’ and ‘I got you over here.’ And he knows he’s on an island. But to just do that move when you’re coming down like that and he knows he’s by himself and in the spotlight like that, that’s when it’s the best time.”

The way the NBA game is being played now, with rules that benefit quick perimeter players and the drive-and-kick being so important, having a point guard who can use his speed, handle and strength to get into the lane is increasingly important. With the exception of a few teams and systems (e.g., L.A. Lakers), it’s almost a requirement in order to play the lead guard position.

Chris Paul has it. Mardy Collins doesn’t.

And while John Wall will almost assuredly find his way onto this list very, very quickly, here are the five best point guards in the NBA right now at getting to the rim:

The debate about whether this 20-year old really is a point guard will probably be ongoing for some time. But he played the position most of last year, and as the game moves forward, defined positions become less important anyway.

The numbers don’t lie. Evans averaged over 10 “inside” points per game as a rookie — half his total output — according to 82games.com. There is perhaps no other lead guard in the entire league that boasts Tyreke’s dangerous combination of size and ball-handling. Evans has a wingspan that exceeds 6-11, which is insane compared to other top PG’s like Chris Paul (6-4) and Deron Williams (6-6). That size enables Evans to get his shot off against almost anyone — only nine percent of his shots around the rim were blocked last year. While he may lack the explosive quickness and speed of the other players at his position, Evans is a one-on-one phenom and has different moves for every spot on the court, starting with his patented Euro Step.

Up until his rumored trade demands this summer, CP had been a forgotten man for months, shrouded in injuries on a decimated Hornets team. People sometimes forget he was considered by far the best point guard in the world not long ago.

Is there anyone better at getting to the rim off the screen-and-roll? At this point, Paul could be the NBA’s ultimate lane creator, utilizing different speeds and knowing when to use his floater and when to drop it off. His inside shooting percentage (61%) points directly to this. Also, as the only real threat on the Hornets for the past few years — outside of David West’s mid-range jumper — defenses loaded up on CP. No one else on this list draws the same level of defensive attention. Yet, Paul still lives in the paint.

When talking about just pure speed, it’s tough to find anyone more blinding than Rondo. Add that to his huge hands and you have the recipe to effective finishing at the rim. Phil Jackson used to marvel at Michael Jordan’s ability to contort his body and move the ball around in the air while still being able to hit shots. Rondo’s enormous hands give him the same advantage (that’s also one of the main reasons why he’s such a great rebounder). A first-time All-Star last year, Rondo has a great floater and is one of the best at maneuvering and throwing up shots from weird angles around the hoop. Most defenders never really know when he is going to shoot because his style is so different. Rondo hits 65 percent of his shots around the rim.

He also benefits from being surrounded by a few pretty good players. As Boston moves forward and the ball is in his hands more often, Rondo might become the best in the NBA at this. And if he gets a decent 17-footer? Watch out.

This cat is like the LeBron James of point guards. Rose seems like he was sculpted from the same mold that created Bo Jackson. He is stronger than Rondo, more explosive than Evans and bigger than Paul. Evans has the benefit of size and can often bull right through a defender’s chest to get a bucket. Rose can do the same. He might only be listed at 6-3, but Rose’s total body strength gives him an advantage over other small guards. Whereas some guys have to completely beat their man off the dribble, Rose needs to just use that dangerous first step to get someone on his hip. Once that happens, he has 40 inches of upwards explosiveness, making a blocked shot pretty much impossible.

The best part for Bulls fans? Rose is clearly improving and is one of the leaders of this summer’s young USA Basketball national team. Last year in the playoffs, Rose went off for almost 27 points a game, pushing himself at the most important time. When it comes to finishing in the lane, the Chicago leader was made for this.

Williams is another one of the League’s young guards who has evolved into the chief boss on his team. Since coming into the League, Williams became a master of the screen-and-roll with since-departed teammate Carlos Boozer. And while only 31 percent of his offense comes around the hoop — that’s more a product of an outstanding perimeter game — Williams shot 61 percent inside. With him, it’s not about being creative or having huge hands. He is just highly skilled with a body that is made for absorbing contact. Because of that extra muscle, Williams doesn’t need space to rev up. In the half-court, he is just as adept bullying around defenders as he is zipping past them on fast breaks. This 26-year-old is about as complete as you can get as a rim slasher.

And it’ll be tough for Williams to continue to improve in this area when he’s already considered the best in the League.

Honorable MentionsTony Parker, Russell Westbrook, Darren Collison

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  • tahir

    wow no aaron brooks one the best slasher… with one of the quickest releases not on the list?

  • P.

    OK, but where’s Rodney Stuckey?

  • Nigel

    Where’s Russell Westbrook?

  • 45%

    Reke is definately number one. Good call dime……. I almost feel like Westbrook has to make this list.

    I’d put him here over d will

  • control

    “Attack the Rim: The NBA’s 5 Best Penetrating Point Guards” That could very easily be turned into a homosexual reference. I kind of thought it was a reference to homosexuality when I seen Rondo on the list…

  • dh

    what about Derek Fisher?

  • Marcus

    LOL at derek fisher – but westbrook should be there over rondo – rajon doesn’t really attack the rim as much as he attacks the paint area in general and sets up his teammates….

  • southboy

    no Boom Dizzle?
    Baron Davis?
    B Diddy?

  • Fan

    In one to two more years you will have the Phoenix Suns Goran Dragic on this list. just wait …

  • al10

    Wow! No Baron on this list huh? Reke is my fave point in the L but a healthy Baron Davis is top 3 PGs in the league easily.

  • Alex “robocop” Murphy

    Mike Bibby Doesn’t Have it.

    J-Kidd Lost his in NJ.

    Raymond Felton Wishes he had it.

    Jameer Nelson almost has it (if he were taller).

    Jrue Holiday could have it if he were more talented offensive.

    Devin Harris is just a hot mess on the basketball floor.

    Roddy Beaubois will soon get it this season.

  • sh!tfaced

    Penetration. LOL. Nobody did penetration best like Kobe – no what position…

  • Stunnaboy09

    Agree with Marcus

    Rondo drives mostly to set up teammates while Rus mostly drives to attack the rim. I don’t know but thats my opinion.

  • sh!tfaced

    no MATTER what position

  • rangerjohn

    wow the only PG mentioned that has consistently been in teh top 5 in points in the paint over what the last 5 yrs and TONY PARKER only gets an honorable mention? laughable. i see dime still has the CP3 love going though. terrible

  • Heckler

    back in the day (my main man) Rod Strickland was the BEST at FINISHING at the rim!

    a lot of point guards can attack the rim. but seldom do they FINISH when they get there.


    Cold man! Cold! LOL!!!!

  • CTP

    I read this as Deron being number 1.. Hard for me to believe that Tyreke does anything better than Deron when it comes to driving… Unless of course, were on a California highway.

  • Manu14

    Tony Parker ONLY “honorable mention”!!?????
    Are you kidding or do you just hate TP?????

    All the guys in the list have LEARNED how to penetrate whatching TP videos!!!! (CP3 already aknowledge it many times!)

    The guy has been the best for YEARS, show him some respect!!!!!

  • Bohonker

    Chris Paul considered by far the best point guard in the world not long ago? Paul is too fragile to be considered as an elite PG on the level of Deron Williams/Rajon Rondo. To be considered as elite you’ve got to be able to bring it consistently….

  • BeEqual

    I’ll have to pretty much agree with the list. I would throw Russell Westbrook in their though.

  • IGP

    @ Control…way to bring in the homosexual humor with the world penetrate. What are you 12 years old?

    @ Sean Sweeney….No offense to Flynn, but he is not one of the premier young point guards in the league. He’s decent, but premier?

    I agree that Tony Parker should be on the list, but I have no problem otherwise. It’s hard to rank this type of stuff, so maybe you could just have like a 5 best and not rank them. There doesn’t always have to be a number one.

  • Chino


  • http://dimemag.com Sean Sweeney

    The list is in alphabetical order.

    Baron Davis would be on the list if he wasn’t so enamored with the 3. And Westbrook and Parker are both honorable mentions. Westbrook will be at this level within the next year.

    TP had his worst year in a while last year so it’s kind of hard to include him in the top 5 right now…

    And are people really questioning CP after one season where he missed 37 games? He was only considered the #1 PG for what- two or three straight years?

  • Chino

    John Amaechi. He loves penetrating to the hole.

  • Beth G

    Glad you put ‘RekeHavoc on there. He’s definitely one of the best.

  • AZ

    Tp over cp3 and deron……in penetrating.

  • Chino


  • http://dimemag.com Sean Sweeney

    *considering the article isn’t on best PGs but best at getting into the lane and creating, CP as the best PG is kind of irrelevant, so that’s my mistake*

    But he has been one of the top couple of inside creators for a while now…

  • Stunnaboy09

    The list is accurate to me, both TP and CP had off years but looking at it you would still give the edge to CP3.

    Westbrook is the only erson who has a case to be on this list and I’d put him over either Rondo or D-Will.

  • Manu14

    to Sean Sweeney :

    So you’re saying CP3 despiste his injured year is a no brainer in the list, but for Tony Parker, it’s hard, because he had a bad year BECAUSE OF INJURIES???

    You’re not logic (honest?) man…

  • Manu14

    TP shouldn’t be “honorabale mention”!

    it’s a lack of respect/knowledge…

  • http://humanbullshit.wordpress.com Ape

    Tony Parker is to be considered the Godfather of that fucking Tear drop shot within the lane and he’s just an honorable mention?!

  • http://dimemag.com Sean Sweeney

    @Manu14 From watching them last year, I saw the same CP whenever he did play… w/ Parker it was different. I didn’t think he was getting into the lane as effectively as he did before. Maybe it was just a down year.

    To me, CP creates in the lane as well as anyone.

  • Manu14

    +1 Ape!

    As I said before, all the guys in the list have learned through TP’s game!!!

    So the “original” isn’t even in the list????!!

  • Manu14

    @Sean Sweeney

    That’s what happens when you play through injurieS (plantar fathisis, both ankles, groin…) WHITOUT SAYING IT PUBLICLY “a la Kobe”…

    But TP has been the best scoring (in the paint) PG for almost 10 years!!!

    You can’t forget that just because of ONE injured plagued year!!

    That what I don’t get!

    He should get more respect, that’s just what I’m saying!

    Except for CP3, the guys in the list have been doing it for 1 or 2 years max!!

  • http://dimemag.com Sean Sweeney

    @Manu14 I completely agree with you that he has consistently been at the top when it comes to this topic. This list was based off of last season though. I thought these five were creating in the lane more often. Hopefully, TP gets his health right again though because he is a deadly scorer at the rim…

  • Manu14

    My bad if it was ONLY for last season, but it wasn’t written anywhere, so I assumed it was a talent wise ranking!

    Just one point I’d like to insist on (and I suggest you to do some research about it), it’s that Tony Parker was actually a model for those young PG coming into the league, at least for penetrating/scoring in the paint, some of them already admited it and for others it’s obvious (see Rondo moves)…

    Maybe you haven’t whatched a lot of spurs gammes these last year, but the way TP is scoring in the paint in just INSANE sometimes!

    He hasn’t the best playmaking game, but scoring wise, there isn’t a better PG than him. CP is the only one who can be compared, but he dishes more assists.

  • Stokely

    Tyreke Evans is closer to a 2 than a 1. Probably a 1.75. He can play like Brandon Roy and have a defensive pg who can shoot next to him.

  • Larry

    Andre miller?

  • Allen

    Westbrook! Did you watch the Lakers-Thunder series? This guy takes rebounds away from centers. If you’re really honest about attacking the rim, Westbrook is top 5. I hope he doesn’t get hurt but he will be #1 on this list in a few years if he continues to be aggressive and does not get hurt.

  • Gnasche

    If we go entirely by stats, Evans and Rondo are clearly the best. This is per 48min last year from 82games.com

    eFG% – 82game’s “effective FG%” inside
    Assisted – Inside Points that came from an assist
    Pts – Inside Points
    adjPts – I added this. I took away all the assisted points, since they wouldn’t be points off the dribble.

    Sorted by adjPts:
    eFG%: .590 Assisted: 24% Pts: 10.1 adjPts: 7.676

    eFG%: .651 Assisted: 33% Pts: 7.5 adjPts: 5.025

    eFG%: .529 Assisted: 20% Pts: 6.0 adjPts: 4.8

    eFG%: .640 Assisted: 28% Pts: 6.4 adjPts: 4.608

    eFG%: .555 Assisted: 34% Pts: 6.3 adjPts: 4.158

    eFG%: .610 Assisted: 38% Pts: 5.2 adjPts: 3.744

    eFG%: .608 Assisted: 11% Pts: 3.4 adjPts: 3.026

    eFG%: .562 Assisted: 38% Pts: 3.9 adjPts: 2.418

    Did I overlook some aspect for the “attacking the rim” category?

  • quest???

    jj barea

  • http://dimemag.com Sean Sweeney

    @Manu14 yep, TP has been killing it for a while…his true shooting percentage numbers have always been crazy

  • Pareja

    man!! TParker is in top 5-6 list of scoring in the paint!! right behind dwight lebron dwade duncan.almost every season, huge mistake leaving him on honorable m.

  • TheBestPG

    45% and Stunnaboy,

    Don’t ever post on this website again if you think rusell westbrook is anywhere near d-will.

    You have to win in the playoffs to compete with getting 30 and 10 in the playoffs.

    I’m out like Russell Westbrook’s 25% career 3 pt percentage.

  • 92021SpurMD

    Sean, I gotta agree with Manu here, you’re really shafting #1 when Tony isn’t in that spot. And I hate to kill your “down year/injured” theory, but if you decide to watch the tape from this years playoffs, you’ll see that Tony lived in the paint, I mean Waka Flaka style… Sorry bro, you’re absolutely wrong on this one!

  • Ian

    sorry but if kobe misses some time next season isnt he still the best 2 guard in the league??
    tp is still number one easy on this list.

  • Ekstor

    +1 to Heckler for the Strickland reference… playing in the same era as KJ, Timmy Hardaway, Stockton, et al… Rod was often overlooked. Couldn’t shoot outside worth a lick so defenders would guard him the same way Kobe guards Rondo, knowing that they didn’t have to worry about his shooting, and Rod would STILL get to the hole and finish shots.

  • http://dimemag.com Sean Sweeney

    BTW The list wasn’t just about scoring in the paint…that is just the half of it…

  • http://getyourishbusted.net Chicagorilla

    DWade and Lebron both avg more asst than Tyreke and no one is calling them a PG. Tyreke is a playmaking SG so please take his big a$$ off the list and add T.Parker.

    Also @Manu14 I got no problem with TP being on the list or the top of the list, but you are getting way outta hand calling him the “originator” and claiming these cats learned from him. Have you not heard of Isiah Thomas, Tim Hardaway, Rod Strickland, Kenny Anderson, Kevin Johnson, Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson Tiny Archibald, Allen Iverson, the list goes on. All these cats are penetrating guards who are small or PGs (Magic). Respect the game more than just your favorite team or player.

  • Manu14


    I meant since the new nba rules (“hand check”), TP is the first PG who showed how deadly a PG can be when he uses this rule!
    I meant he was the first of the “new” generation of PG to take advantage of this rule!

    The PGs comming into the league mainly watch nowdays players…

    I wasn’t comparing him to the guys you named (although I think he is still better at scoring to most of them – except Isiah and Oscar)

  • j

    way too much youth and hype on the list. cp3 and deron are right, but you cannot forget steve nash, and tony parker should be there but i can see why you exclude him cause of injuries. Parker lead the nba in points in the paint recently, dont tell me he cant get to the hoop

  • Bub

    great list, hard to argue against it. Only other pg i would consider would be westbrook tho. He has the derrick rose explosiveness on his hops but has that nasty d-wade finishing tenacity when he gets to the rim.

  • Bub

    great list, hard to argue against it. Only other pg i would consider would be westbrook tho. He has the derrick rose explosiveness on his hops but has that nasty d-wade finishing tenacity when he gets to the rim.

  • Bub

    @ chicagorilla

    Tyreke may have the body of a SG but if u watch his game, he plays like he needs the ball in his hands like a PG. Cant hate on him because hes a big PG, if anything it is a great bonus. I mean just imagine if guys like Mugsy Bogues or earl boykins had to gaurd him? Wouldnt be a pretty site with mugsy or earl sticking like stepped on gum to the bottom of reke’s shoe when he pummels them down in the paint.

  • http://getyourishbusted.net Chicagorilla


    TP < Kevin Johnson too. Don't forget KJ was 20-10 which means he got his teammates involeved. TP is 20-5.

    I'm not a fan of Reke, but i'm not a hater either. He is a SG by all means though. Beno Udrich was running PG whenever TyReke wasn't trying to score. Reke got his asst because they doubled him in the post or off his drive. Again, 20-5-5 is phenominal numbers for a SG so I'm not taking anything away from him. But just because the player profile list you as a PG doesn't mean you play anything like one. Remember, AI was listed as a PG his first two years in the L. And Tim Duncan is still considered a PF even though he is clearly a center in every single way.

    Guys like Tyreke (Gilbert Arenas, Monte Ellis, Terrance Williams, Eric Gordon, Lance Stephenson, Arron Brooks, Johnny Flynn, Rodney Stuckey, DJ Augustine, OJ Mayo, TJ Ford, and Jason Terry) are ruining NBA teams chemistry by attempting to play PG. They either should learn the position correctly or just play SG.

    It has nothing to do with them wanting to be a PG, it has everything to do with them wanting the ball in their hands. They watch guys like Wade, Bron, B.Roy, and Joe Johnson put up big scoring and assist numbers because the offense is running through them and they want that same "Shine". These guys are cocky enough to believe that they can put up similar numbers even though they are not as talented. 20-5-5- for Tyreke is proof. Had he just played Sg, he would have put up numbers similar to OJ Mayos rookie year at 18-3-3.

    Watching these guys try to guard opposing TRUE Pg's is even funnier. Other than Monta Ellis and TJ Ford, they have no ability to guard opposing PGs. Tyreke especially gets eaten alive.

    So while you claim that Muggsy or Earl would get stomped (btw Muggsy had ZO behind him and the rules were different)Reke would get $h!tted on by both of them. As a matter of fact, TyReke would not get past half court if Muggsy was checking him. You must have forgot how Muggs managed to stay in the L for so many years.

  • Manu14


    Barkley once said that TP was the best “small” scorer in the paint of the last 20 year, KJ was next to him… and didn’t disagree…
    Anyway, I personaly would have put KJ ahead of TP also, but my point was (from my 1st post), that TP is way UNDERATED!