Point guards. They are the quarterbacks on the basketball court, handling the ball, dishing it off, and they are frequently relied on to make the smart decisions. Not to discount other positions–each one has its own importance–but the point guard is arguably the most significant player on the floor. After counting down the ten greatest shooting guards and centers in NBA history, we now turn to the point guard position.
Without further adieu, here are the NBA’s ten greatest point guards of all time.
[RELATED: The 10 greatest centers in NBA history]
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10. Maurice Cheeks (1978-93)
Career stats: 11.1 PPG, 6.7 APG, 2.8 RPG and 2.1 SPG
Similar to Payton, Maurice Cheeks was heavily relied on to guard the opposing team’s best player. He played on a Philadelphia 76ers team that made it to three NBA championships and featured all-timers such as Moses Malone and Julius Erving and while they provided the glamour, he provided the grit.
Cheeks, a four-time All-Star, was as efficient as they came, shooting over 52 percent in his career and averaging close to seven assists per game while turning the ball over just about twice.
9. Gary Payton (1990-2007)
Career stats: 16.3 PPG, 6.7 APG, 3.9 RPG and 1.8 SPG
Gary Payton–otherwise known as the Glove–was a point guard who will forever stick out in the minds of basketball fanatics. He enjoyed the challenge of defense, and his quick hands and strength, combined with his swagger, led him to become the only one-guard to ever win Defensive Player of the Year.
As the nine-time All-Star’s career was coming to an end, there was one component still missing – a title ring. Finally, at the age of 37 while with the Miami Heat, Payton secured his first NBA Championship, and managed to play a significant role in the Finals, too.
8. Steve Nash (1996-Present)
Career stats: 14.3 PPG, 8.5 APG, 3.0 RPG and 0.7 SPG
Despite his career-long chase for the elusive championship trophy, Steve Nash will forever be remembered for his leadership, crafty passing and stellar shooting. The current member of the Los Angeles Lakers made his mark while with both the Dallas Mavericks and the Phoenix Suns. He is one of only two point guards in league history to win multiple MVP awards and has been named to seven All-Star Games. While he may have been a liability on the defensive end, Nash is certainly one of the best floor generals of all time.
7. Walt Frazier (1967-1980)
Career stats: 18.9 PPG, 6.1 APG, 5.9 RPG and 1.9 SPG
The embodiment of cool and class, Walt Frazier emerged as one of the league’s elite point guards in the 1970s. He was an underrated defender and rebounder but was also, like Nash, a great leader on the court. He steered the New York Knicks to their only two titles in franchise history–in 1970 and 1973–and the team has yet to reach such greatness since that time.
6. Bob Cousy (1950-1970)
Career stats: 18.4 PPG, 7.5 APG and 5.2 RPG
It is rare to come across those whose influence on the game made an impact so large that it has stuck generations later, but that is exactly what Bob Cousy did. The 13-time All-Star revolutionized basketball by installing a fast-paced, set offense.
Prior to Bill Russell, it was Cousy who sparked the Boston Celtics and led them to six NBA championships. While his defense and shot selection may have been questionable at times, there is no doubt that Cousy made the game part of what it is today.
5. Jason Kidd (1994-2013)
Career stats: 12.6 PPG, 8.7 APG, 6.3 RPG and 1.9 SPG
In his prime, Jason Kidd was the league’s best point guard. Part of the beauty of his play was the ability to effect the game without scoring the rock. He was super-quick in transition and owned one of the highest basketball IQs of all time. The 10-time All-Star possessed vision like no other and is the only player in history to total 15,000 points, 7,000 rebounds and 10,000 assists.
Toward the back end of his career, Kidd began using his deadly three-point shot more often and that, combined with his highly-entertaining alley-oop passes and smarts, made him extremely valuable even at his “old” age. At 38, the All-NBA performer finally received his first ring as a member of the Mavericks.
4. John Stockton (1984-2003)
Career Stats: 13.1 PPG, 10.5 APG, 2.1 and 2.2 SPG
John Stockton was the prototypical point guard. At 6-1 and 170 pounds, the former Utah Jazz great seemed to be traditional–until you watched him on defense. Considered to play “dirty,” Stockton would claw, kick and do whatever was needed to disrupt his opponents. It’s no mistake he’s the all-time NBA leader in steals (3,265) and assists (15,806).
Despite his pairing with fellow all-timer Karl Malone, Stockton was unable to win a championship due to some guy they called MJ, who took it from him both years he led the Jazz to the Finals.
3. Oscar Robertson (1960-1974)
Career stats: 25.7 PPG, 9.5 APG and 7.5 RPG
Oscar Robertson was nearly an unstoppable force during his era of play. At 6-5 and 220 pounds, the Big O was literally bigger and stronger than everyone else at his position. His physique, combined with his intelligence and will to win, make him one of the best point guards of all time. In the 1961-62 season, he became the first (and only) player ever to average a legitimate triple-double in one season. While he “just” won one MVP and one title, Robertson was a force to be reckoned with.
2. Isiah Thomas (1981-1994)
Career Stats: 19.2 PPG, 9.3 APG, 3.6 RPG and 1.9 SPG
Pound-for-pound, Isiah Thomas is arguably the toughest player of all time. Despite his big smile, Zeke fit right into the “Bad Boy Pistons” mantra and flourished on the hardwood. In the midst of the Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan period, Thomas won two consecutive NBA titles–in 1989 and 1990–and played fearlessly no matter how badly his body was aching or whatever other circumstances may have been going on. The 12-time NBA All-Star ranks fifth in league history in assists and ninth in steals.
1. Magic Johnson (1979-1996)
Career Stats 19.5 PPG, 11.2 APG, 5.5 RPG and 1.9 SPG
The best point guard of all time and one of the best players ever, Earvin “Magic” Johnson is the indisputable “Point God.” Aside from his honors and accolades, which–just to condense the long list–include three MVPs, three Final MVPs, 12 All-Star appearances and five NBA rings, Johnson had the uncanny ability to do whatever he pleased on the basketball court. At 6-9, he took Big O’s game to the next level and dominated the point guard position like the world had never seen before. His passing was unmatchable and he always rose to the occasion under the bright lights of Los Angeles. Above all else, Magic Johnson loved what he did. He genuinely enjoyed playing the game of basketball, and maybe that is what made him so great to begin with.
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