The 10 Best Point Guards in NBA History

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The role of the point guard in basketball is pivotal, often described as the “floor general” responsible for directing the team’s offense. Over the years, the NBA has seen some extraordinary talent in this position. Here, we celebrate the 10 best point guards in NBA history, a list that inevitably leads to passionate debates among basketball enthusiasts. John Stockton, with his incredible assists and steals records, narrowly misses out on this list, a testament to the extraordinary talent and achievements of those who did make the cut.

1. Magic Johnson

No discussion of the greatest point guards is complete without Earvin “Magic” Johnson. Standing at 6’9″, Magic redefined the position with his extraordinary versatility, vision, and flair. His ability to play all five positions made him a matchup nightmare. Johnson’s career averages of 19.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 11.2 assists per game, along with his five NBA championships and three MVP awards, cement his status as the greatest point guard ever.

2. Oscar Robertson

Oscar Robertson, known as “The Big O,” was a triple-double machine before the term was common parlance. Robertson averaged a triple-double over an entire season (1961-62) and retired with career averages of 25.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 9.5 assists. His combination of size, strength, and skill set a precedent for future generations of point guards.

3. Isiah Thomas

Isiah Thomas was the heart and soul of the Detroit Pistons’ “Bad Boys” era. A two-time NBA champion and Finals MVP in 1990, Thomas was known for his fearless play and clutch performances. He averaged 19.2 points and 9.3 assists per game over his career. Thomas’s leadership and tenacity on the court were instrumental in the Pistons’ success during the late 1980s and early 1990s.

4. Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry has revolutionized the game with his unparalleled shooting ability. The two-time MVP and four-time NBA champion transformed the point guard role by extending the range from which the game is played. Curry’s career averages of 24.6 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 6.5 assists, coupled with his record for the most three-pointers in a season, make him one of the most influential players in NBA history.

5. Chris Paul

Chris Paul, often referred to as “CP3,” is a point guard who combines elite playmaking with tenacious defense. Over his career, Paul has averaged 18.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 9.5 assists per game. He’s a perennial All-Star and has led the league in assists multiple times. Paul’s ability to control the tempo of the game and his leadership qualities have made him one of the best point guards of his generation.

6. Jason Kidd

Jason Kidd was a triple-double threat every night, thanks to his exceptional court vision and rebounding ability. Kidd ranks second in career assists and steals, underscoring his defensive prowess and playmaking skills. His career averages of 12.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 8.7 assists, along with his 2011 NBA championship with the Dallas Mavericks, highlight a remarkable career that also included ten All-Star selections.

7. Steve Nash

Steve Nash was the epitome of an offensive maestro. The two-time MVP was renowned for his incredible shooting and playmaking ability, which drove the “Seven Seconds or Less” Phoenix Suns. Nash’s career averages of 14.3 points and 8.5 assists per game, combined with his 50-40-90 shooting seasons, showcase his efficiency and skill. Nash’s ability to elevate his teammates’ performance through his passing and leadership was unparalleled.

8. Walt Frazier

Walt “Clyde” Frazier was the cornerstone of the New York Knicks’ two NBA championships in the early 1970s. Known for his smooth play and defensive tenacity, Frazier averaged 18.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 6.1 assists per game. His performance in Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals, where he scored 36 points and dished out 19 assists, remains one of the greatest in Finals history.

9. Bob Cousy

Bob Cousy, often referred to as “The Houdini of the Hardwood,” was a pioneer of the modern point guard position. Playing for the Boston Celtics, Cousy’s flashy dribbling and passing set the standard for future generations. He averaged 18.4 points and 7.5 assists per game over his career and won six NBA championships. Cousy’s influence on the game’s style and his role in the Celtics’ dynasty are key aspects of his legacy.

10. Gary Payton

Gary Payton, known as “The Glove,” was renowned for his defensive prowess. He is the only point guard to win the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award. Payton averaged 16.3 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 6.7 assists per game over his career. His intensity and competitiveness, especially during his time with the Seattle SuperSonics, made him one of the toughest players to compete against.

Honorable Mention: John Stockton

John Stockton, the NBA’s all-time leader in assists and steals, narrowly misses out on this list. His incredible career with the Utah Jazz, where he averaged 13.1 points and 10.5 assists per game, is a testament to his skill and longevity. Stockton’s pick-and-roll partnership with Karl Malone is legendary, but the competition for the top 10 is fierce, and Stockton’s accolades, while numerous, just fell short in this context.

The point guard position has been graced by some of the most skilled and influential players in basketball history. Each of the players on this list brought something unique to the game, whether it was Magic Johnson’s versatility, Stephen Curry’s shooting revolution, or Isiah Thomas’s heart and leadership. The debates will continue, but one thing is clear: these ten point guards have left an indelible mark on the NBA, shaping the way the game is played and enjoyed.

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