Over the past few weeks eight point guards took center stage to determine the best. The arguments were presented and I made my feelings known, but left you enough neutral data to formulate yours as well.
In the time spent researching these great players, some other players were seen and I want to make sure they are not overlooked. Some are champions of the record books and others are champions on the court. Either way, here are a few Golden Point Guard Nuggets of the past 60+ years.
KEVIN JOHNSON â€“ 12 Seasons with Cleveland and Phoenix
The Highlights: 18th all-time in assists and a three-time All-Star
KJ was the heart and soul of the Phoenix Suns during their consistent run as a contender in the ’90s. He will forever be known for the poster he put Hakeem Olajuwon in on May 14, 1995 in the Western Conference Semis. What he should be known for is his fearlessness and how he took his game to otherworldly levels in the playoffs, averaging 21.5 PPG and 9.8 APG in 83 games between 1989 and 1995.
His playoff success was highlighted by his dominance in 1993, leading Phoenix to the NBA Finals while averaging 23.6 PPG and 11.6 APG in 23 games, only to have his dream cut short by Michael Jordan.
DENNIS JOHNSON â€“ 14 Seasons with Seattle, Phoenix and Boston
The Highlights: five-time All-Star, three-time NBA Champ, nine-time All-Defense and the 1978-79 NBA Finals MVP
Most remember DJ as the steady beat of the Boston Celtics great run in the ’80s, but before that he was an NBA MVP with the Seattle Supersonics. Through his career, he was a winner and did it with every team he landed on. He never averaged more than 19.5 PPG in his career and never averaged more than 7.5 APG in any season, but his impact was made on every team he played for.
MARK JACKSON â€“ 17 Seasons with New York, Los Angeles (Clippers), Indiana, Utah and Houston
The Highlights: third all-time in assists and the 1987-88 Rookie of the Year
Jackson became the Robert Parish of point guards after he played long enough to begin to crack the top of some all-time lists. He was not the most athletic or fast guy. He was not the most dynamic player. But in the end he put in his time to get his name next to Stockton, Kidd and Magic.
ALVIN ROBERTSON â€“ 10 Seasons with San Antonio, Milwaukee, Detroit and Toronto
The Highlights: 10th all-time in steals, four-time All-Star, 1985-86 Defensive Player of the Year and Most Improved Player of the Year
As a point guard and defender, Robertson has few or no equals. He was never the elite scorer or distributer that other point guards were, but he could defend anyone.
Robertson was never able to gain the success in the playoffs playing for average San Antonio and Milwaukee teams.
ROD STRICKLAND â€“ 17 Seasons with New York, San Antonio, Portland, Washington, Miami, Minnesota, Orlando, Toronto and Houston
The Highlights: ninth all-time in assists and 25th all-time in steals
Strickland had a long and relatively quiet career that spanned three decades. He had a career track similar to that of (Mark) Jackson, just not quite as prolific.
MO CHEEKS â€“ 15 Seasons with Philadelphia, San Antonio, New York, Atlanta and New Jersey
The Highlights: 10th all-time in assists, fifth all-time in steals, four-time All-Star and five-time All-Defense
Cheeks was the starting point guard on the “Fo’, Fo’, Fo'” Philadelphia team that swept the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1982-83 NBA Finals. He does not get a lot of respect in the conversation of great point guards despite being in the same class as Stockton, Kidd and Payton as all-time top 10 in both assists and steals.
He had a great career in Philadelphia that ended in a scattered effort to stay in the NBA with stints in San Antonio, New York, Atlanta and New Jersey.
ANDRE MILLER â€“ Seasons with Cleveland, Los Angeles (Clippers), Denver, Philadelphia and Portland
The Highlights: 14th all-time in assists
When all is said and done, Miller will be a legendary NBA Ironman and one of the top assist men in NBA history. That’s not what you think of when you think of Miller though. At one point he played for a Cleveland team that featured Ricky Davis, DeSagana Diop and Jumaine Jones. That season he led the NBA in assists.
Bright Futures (Potential Part Two)
It is a point guard’s league and the future of the position going forward is looking very promising. A few of them playing today are already regarded as some of the best in the league and are praised for their mastery of the position. In time some of the names below will get into the debate with the likes of Magic, Robertson, Thomas, Stockton, Kidd, Payton, Nash and Cousy.
Below are the players with the best chance to enter that discussion with the play they have displayed. So far in their careers they have accomplished so much and are only beginning to enter their primes in most cases.
CHRIS PAUL â€“ seven seasons with New Orleans
Despite injuries holding him back, Paul has become the blueprint of what a point guard should be. From a per game perspective, Paul is the third best at distributing the ball in NBA history at 9.95 a game. He is just entering his prime and is far from showing his best in the NBA.
DERON WILLIAMS â€“ seven seasons with Utah and New Jersey
Williams is the competition to Paul for the next 10 years as the best point guard in the league. He is a master game manager with the strength to put other point guards into submission throughout a game and season.
RAJON RONDO â€“ five seasons with Boston
Rondo is an elite defender that is a master with the basketball, distributing evenly throughout the team. Just five seasons into his career, he has played in the Finals twice, already winning once as the sidekick and is about to enter his prime.
RUSSELL WESTBROOK â€“ three seasons with Oklahoma City
Athleticism has taken over the league and Westbrook is a fine example of that. He is a great athlete and uses that to play point guard at an elite level. Westbrook is at the stage where he needs to decide if he is the next Stephon Marbury or Steve Francis, or if he will develop more to become a leader like Magic Johnson or Oscar Robertson.
DERRICK ROSE â€“ three seasons with Chicago
Three seasons in and one MVP in the bank already for Rose. He is a dominant force as a point guard and is still developing the mind frame of when to score and when to distribute. Rose has the talent and ability to do whatever he wants in this league.
TONY PARKER â€“ 10 seasons with San Antonio
A little older and more experienced than the other point guards on this list, but still only 29 years old with much more great basketball ahead of him. Parker has already netted three NBA championships, including the 2006-07 Finals MVP award. For years he was the sidekick on San Antonio and going forward he will be relied upon to take his team as far as they can go.
Others not mentioned that have great careers ahead of them include John Wall of the Washington Wizards, Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors, Jameer Nelson of the Orlando Magic and many more. This debate is on-going and keeps fresh with all of the great talents entering the NBA and blossoming before us. Until next time…
Who are your favorite point guards on this list?
Follow Kristofer on Twitter at @NBADraftInsider.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.