The Five Greatest Point Guards in NBA History
Greetings all, I am back with another article regarding the NBA. This time I have decided to write a few articles by position, of the greatest players in NBA history.
I am starting with, what I consider the “head” of the team, the point guard, because without a point guard an NBA team goes no-where.
So here I go with my ranking of the top 5 point guards in NBA history starting in reverse order down to number 1.
5. Bob Cousy - The Houdini of the Hardwood
Bob Cousy was “Magic” before Ervin Johnson was born, he was “Flashy” before flashy was in style, he popularized the behind the back pass, the no-look pass and the between the legs dribble.
He was the original play maker for the Boston Celtics at the start of their remarkable run of championships
When he retired in 1963, he was the NBA’s all-time leader in assists, with almost 7,000, an average of 7.5 per game, an average that still ranks 14th today, and Cousy played five years of his career before the 24 second clock was put into effect.
Cousy also won eight straight NBA assists titles, which stood as a record until John Stockton broke it in the 1996/97 season with nine straight titles.
Cousy was named to the all NBA first team 10 times and to the second team twice. Bob Cousy has been named a member of the NBA greatest players for the 25th, 35th, and 50th anniversary teams.
All of this solidifies his spot as one of the 5 greatest point guards of all time.
4. Isiah “Zeke” Thomas
Isiah Thomas was one of the greatest players during the 1980’s and led his Detroit Piston the “Bad Boys” of the NBA, to back-to-back championships. Thomas was an 8 time all NBA All Star including 3 times as a first team player.
Thomas was the fourth player in NBA history to accumulate more than 9,000 assists in a career. When he retired after the 1993/94 season he was the Detroit Pistons team leader in points, assists, steals and games played, Isiah was a 12 time all star and won the NBA Finals MVP award in 1990, he was also a member of the 1981/82 All rookie team.
During the 1984/85 season he averaged 13.9 assists per game, which was the NBA all time single season record. This record stood until John Stockton broke it in the 1989/90 season with 14.5 assists per game. All of these accomplishments earn Thomas the 4th spot on my list of the greatest point guards.
3. Oscar Robertson – 14-year Career “The Big O”
The “Big O” is the player against whom all others are judged as being the best all around player of all time. This player did the “triple double” before it was considered a remarkable accomplishment.
In just his second season in the league, after being named rookie of the year in 1961 he averaged, now get this AVERAGED 30.8 points per game, 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 assists per game.
In fact Oscar, in his first 5 seasons put up averages of 30.2 points, 10.3 rebounds and 10.6 assists per game.
Even with such gigantic numbers, the Big “O” only won one MVP award during this period, thanks to playing during the same period as Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell.
He was the first player to amass more than 9,000 assists in a career and his 26,710 points was the most points ever scored by a guard until Michael Jordan passed him.
In fact only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan, Moses Malone, Elvin Hayes, Hakeem Olajuwon and Shaq O’Neil have scored more.
2–. John Stockton – 19-year career
I don’t think that there was a more unassuming player to enter the NBA than John Stockton did in 1984. Little did anyone know that 18 years later, his name would be synonymous with the word assist.
He would lead the league in assists from 1987 through the 1996 season, 9 straight seasons, passing the great Bob Cousy for the most consecutive seasons leading the league in assists. Stockton’s other assists records included most in a season (1,164), highest average for a season (14.5) and most seasons leading league and most consecutive seasons leading league (nine).
John Stockton also finished his career as the NBA’s all time leader in steals. He is also the only player to have more than 1,000 assists in a single season for 4 different seasons. For a final accomplishment He led the league in steals twice and, with a career total of 3,265, he retired as the NBA's all-time leader.
He also played all 82 games in 17 of his 19 seasons and his career shooting percentage was .515, a remarkable statistic for a guard. All of these accomplishments earned Stockton the number 2 spot on my all time NBA point guards, which leads me to my number 1 selection, which should not be all that difficult to figure out.
1. Earvin “Magic” Johnson – 12-year career
Known to all of his friends as “Buck” Magic Johnson burst upon the NBA in 1979 after winning the NCAA championship the year before and calmly led the Los Angles Lakers to an NBA championship, filling in at the center position for someone named Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who was injured in game five.
Johnson became the first play since Elvin Hayes to start the all star game as a rookie, something that Magic would go on to do 11 more times as well as being named to the all NBA first team 9 times.
Just how great a basketball player was Johnson? So great, perhaps, that future generations of hoop fans may wish they had entered the world years earlier—just so they could have seen Magic play in person instead of watching him only on highlight reels.
At 6 foot 9 inches he is the tallest player to ever play the point guard position. From the time Magic first stepped onto an NBA court, people wondered how a man his size could do so many thing with a basketball, it was “Magic”.
During his 12-plus year career (he played the last part of a 13-year 4 years after retiring), he was a member of five championship teams. He won the Most Valuable Player Award and the Finals MVP Award three times each.
He broke Oscar Robertson’s record for career for assists (later passed by Stockton), and “oh yea” just for kicks, he was the starting point guard on the 1992 Dream Team that won the Gold Medal in the Olympics.
The greatest aspect of Magic’s game was his passing—he could thread an “alley-opp” pass from mid-court to a teammate for a dunk, thread a no-look pass to a cutter to the basket for a lay-up or spinning feeds and overhead bullet passes were always the norm for Magic.
In his 13 NBA seasons Johnson compiled 17,707 points (19.5 ppg), 6,559 rebounds (7.2 rpg) and 10,141 assists (11.2 per game) in addition to 1,724 steals, good for ninth place on the all-time list. He also holds the top marks for most All-Star Game assists (127) and three-point baskets (10).
Magic was named one of the 50 greatest players of all time. Was he the greatest player ever? Here’s what one long-time rival had to say: "Magic is head-and-shoulders above everybody else," Larry Bird once observed in the Chicago Sun-Times. "I've never seen [anybody] as good as him."
As far as players trying to crack this listing. Well Steve Nash and Jason Kidd are two that are on the verge of cracking this list, but in this writers opinion, it will take some NBA titles in order to pass any one of these greats as each, except for Stockton led their team to at least one title.
So unless they can win one or break Stockton's records, I still can't put them into the top five. Chris Paul is a third of the current generation who merits a mention also, but again a title or NBA record needs to be put up by him.