In this 5 part series, I will be listing the 5 best players of all time for each position; starting with the point guard!
The point guard, also known as the ‘one’ or the ‘point’, is one of the five positions listed in a regulation basketball game. The point guard is commonly seen as the leader as they are expected to run the team’s offense by controlling and understanding the given plays. Above all, the point guard must adapt to the situations on the court and control the pace of the game. The position can be compared to a quarterback in American football or playmaker in football (soccer).
Steve Nash – Nash is a 2x MVP winner who was dominant in an era where Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, and a young LeBron James were running the league. After joining the Phoenix Suns in 2004 he turned the lowly 29 win team into one of the best teams in the entire league after winning 62 games the very next season. Nash had an incredible career yet he never achieved success in the playoffs and therefore didn’t get his foot in the door for the top 5 point guards.
Jason Kidd – Kidd is a hall of famer who was a 10x All-Star also finishing 2nd on the NBA all-time career assists and steals lists respectively. Kidd was a fantastic player and leader throughout his career however he only had real playoff success when he was a part of the supporting cast that assisted Dirk Nowitzki to the title in 2011. He also doesn’t make the top 5 list in my opinion due to the fact of his lack of personal accolades.
Chris Paul – As one of the two active players in this article, Paul has already solidified himself as one of the top point guards of all time, having made 8x All-NBA teams in his career he has proven to be a dominant force despite only being 6ft tall. He finished 2nd in MVP voting in 2008 behind Bryant, while also being one of the main pieces in the era of ‘Lob City’ for the Los Angeles Clippers. Similarly to Nash and Kidd, Paul lacks playoff success and personal accolades therefore denying him the ranking of top 5 point guard of all time.
5. Isiah Thomas
Isiah Lord Thomas III was a bad, bad man. Coming into the league as the second overall pick in the 1981 NBA draft, he was already making big time plays as he was an All-Star starter in his second year. He is most commonly known as the leader of the 1980s Detroit Pistons team branded ‘The Bad Boys’ who won back-to-back championships in the 1988-89 and 1989-90 seasons under Thomas’ leadership. He averaged a very impressive 19.2 points per game and 9.3 assists per game throughout his career. Thomas also had 4 seasons in a row in which he averaged over 20 points per game and 10 assists per game with season highs of 22.9 points per game and 13.9 assists per game. In the 1984-85 season, Thomas set the single season record for most assists with 1,123 assists, this has only been beaten by John Stockton since. His impact and ruthlessness he brought to the court was unmatched in his era as he was one of the most feared opponents that was faced. Considering the legends throughout the 1980’s and early 1990’s he faced like Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, the fact that a 6ft 1 inch guard could solidify himself as an all-time great is disgustingly underappreciated by today’s fans. There is no denying that Isiah Thomas has accumulated enough playoff success and individual accolades to place him in the top 5 list of all-time point guards with his 2 championship rings, 1 finals MVP, 12x All-Star appearances, and finally his name listed as one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history in 1996 by the NBA themselves.
4. Oscar Robertson
“The Big O” was much more than just a basketball star; he was a basketball icon whose efforts not just on the court but off the court have positively impacted the NBA to this day. Robertson became the first player in NBA history to average a triple-double for an entire season, with 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 11.4 assists per game with a then record breaking 41 triple-doubles in the regular season. Another incredible feat that Robertson made was the fact that in his first 9 years in the league, including his rookie season, he was elected into the All-NBA First Team. Robertson was also the first player in history to average more than 10 assists per game, doing so at the time when the criteria for assists were far stricter than today. He is recognised as the first “big guard” who led the way for future stars such as Magic Johnson. Furthermore, he is credited with having invented the head fake and the fade away jump shot. Robertson was so impactful to the game of basketball that he was awarded the “Player of the Century” by the National Association of basketball Coaches in 2000 and has been ranked by numerous sports media outlets as one of the top players/point guards of all time. An extremely strong argument could be made for Robertson’s first 7 seasons in the NBA as the best 7 seasons for someone’s personal career of all time.
3. John Stockton
In the 1984 NBA draft, John Stockton was selected by the Utah Jazz with the 16th overall pick. A relatively unknown player throughout his 4 seasons with Gonzaga, his selection stunned the thousands of Jazz fans gathered at the Salt Palace on the night of the draft. Little did they know that this 6ft 1 inch, skinny, pale point guard would lead them to two finals appearances and would lead the NBA in all-time assists and all-time steals with a wide margin in both statistical categories. Stockton led the league in assists a record 9 times as well as averaging 2.2 steals per game for his career. On top of this incredible feat, he still holds the record of the most assists averaged in a single season with 14.5 assists per game. He also holds 7 of the 10 highest single season assists totals with the top 4 all to himself. The only downfall and negative that we can take away from his illustrious career is the fact that he never won a championship or an MVP. He, alongside his long-time partner in crime Karl Malone, is known as one of the greatest players of all time to never receive a championship ring. Stockton represents all the small people who don’t look or seem athletic but have the grit and determination to make it in the “big man” world. His legacy will never be hindered and will always be known as one of the greatest point guards to ever grace the game of basketball.
2. Stephen Curry
Wardell Stephen Curry II is by far, the greatest shooter to ever play in the NBA. For the first few years of his career, he was known as a very injury plagued young shooter, but we all know now that he is much, much more than just a shooter. During his rookie season in 2009-10, he averaged an incredible 0.437% from behind the 3pt line but he was proving each game what his potential was as he became just the 6th rookie in NBA history to post a 35-point, 10-assist, 10-rebound game when he registered his first career triple-double with 36 points, 13 assists, and 10 rebounds against the Los Angeles Clippers. He also broke the record for most made three-pointers by a rookie with 166. Since then, Curry has been destroying every three-point record that has been listed as he set the NBA regular season record for made three-pointers with 402, NBA record for most three-pointers made in a single playoffs tied with his splash brother Klay Thompson with 98, NBA Finals record for most three-pointers in a single game with 9, NBA record for most consecutive regular season games with a made three-pointer with 157, and finally the NBA record for most consecutive playoff games with a made three-pointer with 90, just to name a few. Again, Curry is not just a shooter – he has solidified himself as a complete game-changer and has been named a 2x NBA MVP and a 3x NBA champion. He won the first ever unanimous-MVP in NBA history in the 2015-16 NBA season as well as leading the Golden State Warriors to a record breaking 73-9 regular season record. His ability to play the game of basketball has been consistently underrated until recent years and is now receiving the appreciation he deserves, making him the 2nd best point-guard of all time.
1. Magic Johnson
Earvin “Magic” Johnson Jr. is undeniably the best point-guard of all time. There is a large debate that if Magic wasn’t forced into early retirement, he would be recognised as the greatest player to ever play the game. He played only 13 seasons in the league averaging 19.5 points per game, 7.2 rebounds per game and 11.2 assists per game for his entire career. In his rookie season, Magic was an NBA champion, a Finals MVP and Los Angeles Lakers hero. Now, many may argue the fact that he wouldn’t have all his success without Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and in a sense that is correct, however Magic certainly proved that he could lead a team to a championship himself when in his first finals appearance in his first year in the league Kareem went down with an ankle injury in game 5. This led to Paul Westhead starting Magic at the unfamiliar center position in game 6 to try and close out the series which they ended up winning 4-2. Magic put up 42 points, 15 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals which resulted in him receiving his first of three finals MVPs. In his short career he led the Lakers to 5x championships, won 3x MVPs, 3x Finals MVPS, 12x All-Star appearances and 9x All-NBA First Team selections. His best statistical season came in the 1986-87 season where he achieved 23.9 points per game, 6.3 rebounds per game, 12.2 assists per game and 1.7 steals per game on above 50% field goal percentage. In this season, he led his team to an incredible record of 65-17 and defeated the Larry Bird led Boston Celtics in the finals in 6 games. Magic was the face of the ‘Showtime Lakers’ and through his innovative play style and passion as a player, there is no one more deserving of the number one spot on this list.