Ranking the Top Assist Artists in the NBA
There are a handful of players in the NBA who have turned the assist into a work of art. These players are capable of filling arenas and drawing millions of eager viewers worldwide waiting to see what amazing pass will come next.
Some of these passes have to be replayed over and over so that the rest of us can understand just how on earth he managed to get that ball through that gap.
Not only do players like Rondo and Rubio dish out assists that have to be seen to be believed, but they rack up massive numbers of assists on a nightly basis. This is what lets them join the elite: the consistently high numbers.
10: Ramon Sessions
Ramon Sessions, maybe surprisingly to you, makes this list.
No surprise to me.
Sessions came to the Los Angeles Lakers in a trade to replace the departing Derek Fisher. Sessions was touted as someone who could come in, run the offense and make the Lakers better than they were with Fisher running point.
How right were they? Sessions has since come in and averaged 11.1 PPG on .445 FG% to go with five assists.
His assist numbers are not lofty, but when he is on the court, the Lakers are a different animal. With Fisher, defenses would totally disregard him as he was unable to make a shot, allowing the defense to double either Kobe Bryant or Andrew Bynum if they wanted.
With Sessions on the floor, defenses are forced to play the Lakers one on one, making life much easier for everyone on the court.
9: John Wall
John Wall is one of the fastest point guards in the league.
This lets him get to the rim almost at will, beating his man off the dribble and leaving him for dead with a burst of speed.
It's when Wall gets past his man that his assists look great. Driving into the lane and kicking it out to a shooter is a fantastic approach for a young man to take.
He is able to react to the collapsing defense, see the open teammate and deliver the pass quickly and right into his hands.
Nothing more an offense could ask for.
8: Tony Parker
Tony Parker creates one half of the San Antonio Spurs' assist-wizards.
Along with Manu Ginobili, Parker has been handing out the rock to waiting Spurs shooters for years now.
Without him, the Spurs offense would die, the team would not be on the same level it is and there would not be four championship banners hanging from the rafters.
Parker's ability to see the court and see the play evolving before it does, allowing him to be one step ahead, lets him get the ball to where the defense will be weakest.
7: Deron Williams
Deron Williams is perhaps the most unfortunate of the point guards on this list.
Stuck in New Jersey (soon to be Brooklyn) with a team devoid of its big weapon, Brook Lopez, and surrounded by a bunch of scrubs, he's got a raw deal.
Add in that Dwight Howard is still in Orlando, and he's in a nightmare.
However, Williams entertains the crowds nightly as he runs the New Jersey offense perfectly.
He knows when to shoot and he knows when to pass, always able to find the right man in the right place on the court.
6: Ty Lawson/Andre Miller
Two point guards from one team at the same ranking on the list?
There's a reason.
Ty Lawson (6.7 APG) has had a terrific season with the Denver Nuggets, leading the team into the playoffs for another year.
Andre Miller is averaging the same number of assists, both play fewer minutes at the point than the average starting point guard.
Denver has been great to watch, utilizing a high-tempo offense. And to accomplish that, they have lined up with two point guards at the same time.
Denver's top five lineups in terms of plus-minus all feature both Lawson and Miller. They rush past the defense in transition or find and expose the slightest crack in half-court defensive sets.
The Nuggets' dual-point guard experiment is revolutionary, allowing the Nuggets to have two different players on the court who can break down defenses at any given moment.
5: Manu Ginobili
Manu Ginobili, despite missing a lot of time through injury, is this high on the list.
He's one of my favorite assist-makers in the NBA, playing on the same team as another of those top players, Tony Parker.
Ginobili is known for his up-tempo and flashy style of play, often dishing out passes behind the back, through his legs, any which way he can to get the ball to its final destination.
4: Chris Paul
Chris Paul has turned the Los Angeles Clippers into an irrelevant afterthought to challengers for supremacy in the Pacific Division.
His arrival created a brilliant tandem with young power forward and dunk-aholic Blake Griffin, and boy, have we been entertained.
Every game it seems Paul finds Griffin with either an unbelievable alley-oop pass, or he hits him on the roll with a pocket pass, setting up vicious dunks on unfortunate souls like Kendrick Perkins and Pau Gasol.
Without him, the Clippers' offense would die. Griffin struggles to get his own shot, Caron Butler is not as accurate as he used to be and DeAndre Jordan is as likely to kill someone in Row Z than score from further out than 4 feet.
Paul deserves to be in the MVP discussion for the numbers he puts up, as well as the incredible impact he has had on the Clippers organization.
3: Ricky Rubio
Ricky Rubio's injury might have been the worst moment of the NBA season.
The rookie point guard for the Minnesota Timberwolves was lighting up the league, enjoying status as a young phenom as he developed ridiculous chemistry with 'Wolves power forward Kevin Love.
Some of Rubio's passes are just insane. He has the ability to throw a behind-the-back bounce pass that has so much spin on it the ball squirts round the legs of a defender right to his teammate.
And there have been a fair few assists that have gone straight through the legs of defenders.
Minnesota would do well to keep this guy.
2: Rajon Rondo
The Boston Celtics will go as Rajon Rondo goes in the playoffs this year.
He is that important to them.
With Rondo manning the point, the Celtics' aging Big Three might have what they need to get one more playoff run before they are broken up.
Rondo is an assist master. His numbers are amazing: his 11.6 APG lead the league.
Several times this year, Rondo has dished out 13, 14 or even 15 assists, and often they come against the league's top teams, a rare feat.
Rondo's seven triple-doubles this year are another brilliant stat, three of which came on nationally televised games, furthering the 'big game player' reputation.
Of course, unlike some of the other point guards on this list, Rondo has three very good teammates to pass the ball to, unlike our No. 1...
1: Steve Nash
Could it have been anyone else?
Nash has led the league in assists (or been very close to it) for years on end.
Assists just seem to be in his genes.
With Nash performing well, the distinctly average Phoenix Suns team were able to push hard for a playoff spot, only falling short a couple of games from the end of the season.
It says a lot about Nash's value that, despite approaching 40 years of age, the Miami Heat want to sign him up as a starter and the rest of the league expects that to bring multiple championships to Florida.
He's just that unbelievably good.