The temporary absences of Rajon Rondo and Derrick Rose leaves room for NBA point guards to secure their positions as the league’s best performers.

5. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers

Damian Lillard averages 19 points per game and is the sixth highest scoring point guard in the NBA; he averages more points per game than seasoned point guards like Deron Williams and Chris Paul. His adaptability and versatility puts him above other point guards.

The 22-year-old “veteran rookie” will most likely be this year’s Rookie of the Year.

In addition to joining Oscar Robertson and Isaiah Thomas as the only NBA players to score at least 20 points and 10 assists in their first NBA game, Lillard set a rookie record by making 167 three-pointers, which breaks Stephen Curry’s rookie record of 166.

Six appears to be his lucky number, but Lillard has eyes for the number one spot.

“I think I can be a first team All-NBA, I think I can be an All-Star, I think I can be an MVP,” Lillard tells

Disadvantage: Inexperience   

Although he plays like a veteran, he’s still a rookie.

If the Trail Blazers can make it to the playoffs next year we’ll be able to see if Lillard can perform in the real 4th quarter; the numbers players produce during the season is pointless unless they deliver in the playoffs.

LeBron James once stated that Lillard has “exceeded all expectations and more. He will become great. He’s one of the good point guards we have in our league today.”

Within time Lillard will be as great as LeBron believes.

4. Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavilers

After Daniel Gibson failed to pick up the slack of the LeBron-less Cavaliers, it was only right that a motivated rookie would come in and pursue the challenge.

The 2011 number one draft pick averaged 18.5 points per game in his rookie year, easily earning the NBA Rookie of the Year award.

This season, “Uncle Drew” averages 23 points which makes him the second highest scoring point guard in the league. Irving’s offense has improved over the last two seasons; On February 20th Irving scored 20 points in under seven minutes as the Cavs beat the New Orleans Hornets, proving that he’s a clutch player.

Irving made his first All-Star appearance this year, where he stole the show; he beat out Stephen Curry for the 3-point shootout title and he scored 15 points in the All-Star game.

Disadvantage: Defense

His defense is poor.

Defense wins championships; offense may fill seats and my even get teams to the playoffs but if players can’t stop their opponents from scoring they won’t win championships.

It may take this second year NBA player a little bit longer to understand the effects defense has on the outcome of games.

3. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors 

It’s been five years since the Warriors have made the playoffs and Stephen Curry is determined to end the drought.

The Warriors’ defense should be credited for their success this season, but Stephen Curry’s leadership and shooting percentage should also be acknowledged. After Monta Ellis was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks in 2012, Curry proved that the better defender stayed in Oakland by leading the NBA in 3-pointers and averaging nearly 23 points per game.

In a disappointing loss against Carmelo and the Knicks, Curry scored 54 points and made 11 three-pointers; the last player to score more than 50 points at the Garden was Kobe Bryant when he scored 61 points back in 2009.

The March 21st game against the Trail Blazers marked the 12th time Curry scored 30 or more points this season. Although popularity prevails in MVP voting, playoff games are won by numbers and numbers only. Curry has the opportunity to pull off major upsets throughout the playoffs.

Disadvantage: Injuries

The Warriors can’t afford to rest Curry for extensive amounts of time. Curry’s repetitive “mild” ankle sprains will cost the Warriors a second round playoff appearance.

2. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder 

While the majority of the Thunder’s attention surrounds Kevin Durant (from endorsements to the MVP candidacy), Westbrook continues to let his game make up for the lack of favoritism. He isn’t living in Durant’s shadow he’s creating his own lane.

The former Bruin is one of the most electrifying players in the league; his speed is predictable yet unstoppable. The only other guards that can match Westbrook’s speed and athleticism are Rajon Rondo and Derrick Rose.

Averaging 23.2 points per game makes Westbrook the highest scoring point guard in the league.

Westbrook knows his role, but he doesn’t always agree with being second in command. His selfishness is often criticized when the Thunder lose, but if his selfishness is the reason for a Thunder win, then everyone loves him. Whether you love him or hate him his game shouldn’t be questioned.

Disadvantage: Emotions

Westbrook is a hothead and it doesn’t take much to upset him.

It would be devastating to witness the Thunder make it to the Western Conference finals for the third straight year only to watch Westbrook get ejected from games because he let his emotions get the best of him.

His explosive emotions don’t allow him to lead by example; would you follow a leader who appears to get angry at the drop of a hat? I wouldn’t.

Participating in anger management classes should become Westbrook’s favorite pastime.

1. Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers

Leadership goes a long way.

Paul leads the NBA in steals and averages 16.9 points and 9.6 assists; Paul leads the league in assists by active players. But points scored per game isn’t the deciding factor in determining which player is better than the other; where Paul lacks in scoring he makes up in leadership.

He consistently leads by example, not just direction. Paul understands the purpose of basketball which is to win as a whole, not individually. He’s the coach on the court, he’s in control of the offense, and he utilizes ball movement.

Paul is reconstructing the image of the Clippers and it’s the perfect time to do so.

The Lakers have been the face of L.A. for decades, but they’re reign of popularity is closing in. Unlike the Lakers, the Clippers aren’t struggling to make the playoffs; they’re sitting comfortably as a number four seed because of Chris Paul’s ability to lead bigs like Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.

The new king of L.A. is the best leader and point guard in the league.