Saturday, March 30, 2013

Greatest point guards of all time



The point guard position in the NBA is something that has been in a constantly dynamic state from the days of Bob Coust to Magic Johnson and now players like Kyrie Irving and Russell Westbrook. There are the traditionally small, pass-first point guards (Rajon Rondo, Chris Paul) and the players like Irving and Rose who are multi-faceted and are coveted for their ability to facilitate for others but also create for themselves. The greatest NBA point guards of all time may vary wildly in how they played the game but one thing is for sure: all fit the bill as excellent ball-handlers.

So, while there is an extensive list of great NBA point guards, here are the top 10 of all time:

10. Gary Payton


Points
Rebounds
Assists
Steals
FG%
FT%
3PT%
Games played
16.3
3.9
6.7
1.8
.466
.729
.317
1335

The Glove had a long and impressive career that only saw one championship because there was only really one team that won the Finals in the 1990s. While Tony Parker may give him a run for his money on this 10-spot, Payton was a premiere defensive point guard who earned a spot on nine All-Defensive First Teams and won the 1996 Defensive Player of the Year award.

9. Walt Frazier


Points
Rebounds
Assists
Steals
FG%
FT%
3PT%
Games played
18.9
5.9
6.1
1.9
.490
.786
N/A
825

A significant cog in the two championships that the New York Knicks won in the early 70s, Frazier put up an incredible 36 points and dished out 19 dimes in Game 7 of the 1970 Finals. Like Payton, Frazier was also known for his ability to force turnovers and was named to seven All-Defensive First Teams.

8. Steve Nash


Points
Rebounds
Assists
Steals
FG%
FT%
3PT%
Games played
14.4
3.0
8.5
0.7
.491
.904
.428
1201

Now that we’ve covered our basis on the point guards that played defense, it’s time to get into some that were not quite as involved on that side of the basketball (it's a joke...well, maybe not). Nash is known for being a relatively lackadaisical defender but his two MVP awards outshine those deficits. Although he may never win that first NBA championship, Nash was an incredible point guard who could thread the needle with the best passers of all time.

7. Allen Iverson


Points
Rebounds
Assists
Steals
FG%
FT%
3PT%
Games played
26.7
3.7
6.2
2.2
.425
.780
.313
914

Too many lists that I’ve read have not given enough love to this guy. I’ll admit that I was never a huge fan of Iverson during his playing days…well maybe aside from this. But there is no denying his greatness; The Answer made the crossover an art and was arguably the best basketball player pound-for-pound at 6’0”.  His style of play doesn't exactly scream "point guard" but Iverson was the prelude to players today like Westbrook, Irving, Parker, and Derrick Rose who aren't PGs in the traditional sense. In terms of legacy, AI’s at seven but if you ask me who I’d draft as a GM, Iverson as a rookie or in his prime is easily in the top-five.

6. Jason Kidd


Points
Rebounds
Assists
Steals
FG%
FT%
3PT%
Games played
12.7
6.3
8.7
1.9
.400
.785
.349
1380

Although he never had the flashiness of Iverson’s scoring or Nash’s passing, Jason Kidd has been the model of consistency for nearly two decades in the NBA. For the vast majority of his career, he was known as a pass-first point guard but even improved his outside shooting after joining Dirk Nowitzki in Dallas during 2008. After adding an NBA title to a host of other accomplishments (All-Star appearances, league leading assist numbers, First Team awards both All-NBA and All-Defensive), he solidified his legacy with the greatest of all time. 

5. Bob Cousy


Points
Rebounds
Assists
Steals
FG%
FT%
3PT%
Games played
18.4
5.2
7.5
N/A
.375
.803
N/A
924

The man who ran point for Bill Russell’s 60s Celtics boasts six rings and an MVP award. He led the NBA in assists for eight consecutive years and was known for flashy “street ball”-type moves. Even though his field goal percentage verged on terrible, the star PG was named to an incredible 10 All-NBA First Teams. Cousy dominated a generation of basketball and put up astounding assist numbers despite the fact that there was no shot clock in the early 50s.

4. Isiah Thomas


Points
Rebounds
Assists
Steals
FG%
FT%
3PT%
Games played
19.2
3.6
9.3
1.9
.452
.759
.290
979

Although his post-playing career has proven to be less than impressive, Isiah Thomas led the “Bad Boys” to back-to-back NBA championships in 1989 and 1990. Not only that but in the 1988 NBA Finals, Thomas had one of the greatest playoff performances of all time after a third quarter ankle sprain (albeit in a losing effort). He owns most of the statistical records in Detroit and nearly averaged 20 points and 10 assists for his career.

3. John Stockton


Points
Rebounds
Assists
Steals
FG%
FT%
3PT%
Games played
13.1
2.7
10.5
2.2
.515
.826
.384
1504

John Stockton is the best traditional point guard in NBA history. With the all-time NBA records in both assists (15,806) and steals (3,265), he and Karl Malone tore up the Western conference during the 90s. Known as the ultimate pick and roll point man, he also was able to score at an incredibly efficient rate (over 50 percent from the field and 38 percent from three).

2. Oscar Robertson


Points
Rebounds
Assists
Steals
FG%
FT%
3PT%
Games played
25.7
7.5
9.5
N/A
.485
.838
N/A
1040

Often considered the LeBron James of his day, Oscar Robertson was a do-it-all point guard. At 6’5”, the Big O averaged a triple-double for an entire season. Not only that but he was less than a half a rebound or assist away from averaging one in three more seasons. Often considered one of the most well-rounded players in NBA history, he also has the hardware (NBA champion and MVP) to back up his case as one of the greatest.

1. Magic Johnson


Points
Rebounds
Assists
Steals
FG%
FT%
3PT%
Games played
19.5
7.2
11.2
1.9
.520
.848
.303
906

Five-time NBA champion, three-time MVP, nine-time All-NBA First Team, four-time NBA assists leader…Magic Johnson is up there as one of the greatest NBA players of all time. He is the best point guard of all time without a doubt. At 6’9”, he was quite a bit more versatile than most PGs (who were a solid half-foot shorter) but the No. 1 overall pick in the 1979 NBA Draft had a career that was great from the get-go. The only rookie ever to win the Finals MVP award, he finished off the 76ers in the 1980 Finals with 42 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists, and three steals…as the starting center.


Check out the rest of our "greatest of all time" series where we have ranked the top-10 shooting guardscenters, and overall players in NBA history.

5 comments:

  1. I agree with your Holy Trinity of PGs (Magic, Stockton, Oscar). After that...Iverson is an odd case, isn't he? Not so much because of his playing style, but because of the reaction to it. Hugely popular from 98-02 -- even winning MVP -- his stock has dropped since, to put it mildly. What's ironic to me is how many guards have come up that play like Iverson even as Iverson is derided by most of the media. Certainly he was less efficient than the crop now, but his prime took place largely during an era that still included physical defense and dominant big men.

    in a way, of course, this is really Jordan Era 2 we're witnessing, though also inverted: it's Jordan's Legacy as league standard, hence why handchecking was axed in '04, as Stern desperately tries to give the fanbase more dynamic perimeter players through softer rules. Yet when Jordan played the league was full of dominant big men, unlike now.

    Which leads to Steve Nash. Who would Nash be without the rule changes of '04? Remember, the entirety of his 20s he was not even considered as good as Mark Price let alone one of the greatest PGs in history. The handcheck shift matched to D'Antoni's SSOL completely changed people's perception of Nash, though I question how warranted that is.

    He can't play in halfcourt sets that require moving the ball through the post: you clog the lane against him and his inability to dynamically create through the pass is exposed, compounded by his lacking off-ball skills.

    As a Lakers fan, I've seen this tragedy unfold all season. Kobe is actually the better facilitator. Why? Because Kobe's skillsets work with post-up bigs like Howard and Gasol. Meanwhile, Nash needs not only a quicker pace, but a spread floor for any halfcourt sets.

    The irony of Nash over GP is that when the league allowed the handcheck Nash wasn't nearly the player Payton was, wherein a guard could make his living and name on hard-nosed defense.

    ReplyDelete
  2. okay.....first off kobe is not a better facilitator than nash...there's a reason the guy has a 1.62 assist to turnover ratio....you can also tell especially when he gets 8+ assists he also has like 6 turnovers....

    also idk if you notice but who handles the ball the majority of the time for the Lakers? Kobe....Nash seriously took a step down and is letting kobe do his thing...AND Kobe jacking up 25+ shots doesnt really let nash play on the offensive side either way....

    also why does your argument not work?
    You're talking about Kobe one of the biggest shot makers in NBA history....and then you talk about Nash one of the biggest "sharers" in NBA history...Nash has no problem giving the ball to kobe...the question is will he get it back? probably not....
    Then you also have to realize Kobe is one of the scariest finishers in the NBA...That leads to teams thinking HE WILL SCORE...but when he passes he confuses everybody....SO based on your logic Nash flourished because he had ideal situations therefore he's not as good as he looks....Kobe has the IDEAL situation to pass because everyone is so focused on him then he just dishes out...easy....does that mean he's a bad passer...? no I actually think Kobe is pretty talented in passing and in the same way Nash is too AND definitely better at it.....
    Your handchecking argument.....sadly A LOT of players wouldn't be who they are without that rule change....so dont put that in AND frankly in before that rule change Nash was a 15 ppg 7 apg player and he got an all star appearance...so that argument really doesnt work at all...

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm tried of these where is pistol pete

    ReplyDelete

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