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NBA History: Ranking the Greatest Guards Ever

Darko MihajlovskiCorrespondent IIIAugust 3, 2010

NBA History: Ranking the Greatest Guards Ever

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    Welcome back to the "Greatest Ever" series as we continue to look deeply in the NBA's history and rank the top guards ever.

    Both positions (point/shooting guards) are very stacked and have really good depth. Hall of Fame players, notable, and known names that left a strong mark in the history of the league, and some are just that good, for which a case of Greatest Ever can be made.

    The value between the legends who have played the point and shooting guard position is really huge because they have two different roles and different things are asked from them.

    So in these rankings,the key elements are the resume, domination in some period of their careers, impact, the clutch factor, player efficiency on the court, etc.

    Here are the greatest guards in NBA History.

10. John Stockton

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    The most pure and one of the best point guards and playmakers in NBA History is John Stockton. No one was a better passer than him.

    Some players defined their positions. Stockton was the definition of how a true point guard should play—with his pass-first and score-second playing style. He was an excellent all-around player, superb passer, underrated shooter, and good defender, thanks to his hands.

    He was a durable player who played 18 seasons and rarely missed games.

    He was most known for his pick-and-roll plays with Karl Malone in which both really benefited and formed one of the sickest duos that the NBA has ever seen.

    He was one of the most effective passers of all time, who led the league nine times in assists and holds the career records for assists (15,806) and steals (3,265).

    Stockton also tallied 19,711 points (13.1), but he couldn't get titles, which makes him one of the premier players without a ring.

    Honors: All-NBA First Team (1994, '95); All-NBA Second Team (1988, '89, '90, '92, '93, '96); All-NBA Third Team (1991, '97, '99); All-Defensive Second Team (1989, '91, '92, '95, '97); 10-time NBA All-Star; Olympic gold medalist (1992, '96); One of 50 Greatest Players in NBA History ('96)

9. Clyde Drexler

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    One of the best players in NBA history, Clyde Drexler was one of the top all-time guards.

    He was known for his high flying and effective moves around the basket and had a superb all-around game. He was great in every aspect in the game.

    He led the Portland Trail Blazers twice in the Finals but couldn't win it all, where he's widely considered as one of the greatest players in the franchise's history. He set dozens of records with the Blazers.

    He won his title with the Houston Rockets when he teamed up with former NCAA teammate Hakeem Olajuwon.

    He recorded 22,195 points (20.4), dished out 6,125 assists (5.6), and grabbed 6,677 rebounds(6.1), which makes him one of the three players to record at least 20,000 points, 6,000 rebounds and 3,000 assists.

    Honors:

    Elected to Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (2004)

    NBA champ (1995)

    All-NBA First Team (1992)

    All-NBA Second Team (1988, '91)

    All-NBA Third Team (1990)

    10-time All-Star

    One of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History (1996)

    Olympic gold medalist (1992).

8. George Gervin

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    George Gervin was also considered as one of the best guards and most prolific players in NBA History.

    Gervin could score in a dozen ways, with a deadly mid-range shot, trade mark finger role in traffic, reverse lay ups, and creative dunks. He was good on the boards.

    He scored most of his points per game in PER stats more then anyone not named Michael Jordan. He wasn't given the nickname "Iceman" for nothing.

    He was a machine that could rarely be stopped.

    Gervin won four scoring titles, which makes him the first guard ever to lead the league in scoring three times in a row. Only Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain have won more.

    He's the all-time San Antonio Spurs leader in total points and points per game. He has tallied well over 26,595 points and averaged 25.1 in his NBA/ABA career combined.

    He has tallied 20,708 points (26.2), grabbed 3,607 rebounds (4.6), and dished out 2,214 assists (2.8). His career field goal percentage of 51.1 is one of the top ever for any guard and non-center, and he retired with the second most blocks for any guard.

    Honors:

    Elected to Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (1996)

    All-NBA First Team (1978, '79, '80, '81, '82)

    All-NBA Second Team (1977, '83)

    Nine-time NBA All-Star (1977-85)

    All-Star MVP (1980)

    One of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History (1996).

7. Jason Kidd

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    Regarded as the one of the biggest triple-double threats and one of the greatest point guards in NBA history, Jason Kidd is also the smartest player to emerge from his position.

    This makes him one of the premier giants at his position and he brings that old school game that often some of the current guards don't have.

    Kidd is one of the most outstanding point guards because of his skills, IQ, and how fast he was in his career. He could beat you in many ways without scoring a point.

    He's considered to be one of the most fantastic playmakers of all time, who has led the entire league five times in assists, is best at half-court passes, and possesses good court vision. He's second in all of the NBA in total assists.

    Kidd is also one of the top rebounding PGs, fourth in total rebounds by all guards, in the top third from his position, and has grabbed over 10 rebounds per game in a couple of playoff series.

    He ranks among the 10 greatest defensive guards because of his footwork, hands, and IQ to make plays on the defensive end of the court.

    He's one of the biggest triple-double threats of all time. He ranks third in triple-doubles recorded in the regular season with 105 and is second during the postseason with 11.

    He's one of two players to record triple-doubles in multiple playoff series!

    Hopefully he will end his career with a ring!

    He has recorded 16,142 points (13.6), dished out 10,932 assists (9.2), and grabbed 7,853 rebounds (6.6).

    Career highlights and awards

    * NBA co-Rookie of the Year (1995)
    * 10× NBA All-Star (1996, 1998, 2000-2004,
    2007-2008, 2010)
    * 5× All-NBA First Team (1999-2002, 2004)
    * All-NBA Second Team (2003)
    * 4× All-Defensive First Team (1999, 2001-2002,
    2006)
    * 5× All-Defensive Second Team (2000, 2003-2005,
    2007)
    * NBA All-Rookie First Team (1995)
    * Skills Challenge Champion (2003)
    * Naismith Prep Player of the Year (1992)

6. Isiah Thomas

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    Widely regarded as the greatest small man to play basketball, Isiah Thomas is one of the best players in NBA history.

    He's among the top point guards of all time. He marked the '80s with a fantastic all-around game. He was one of the purest guards in league history.

    He's considered to be one of the most outstanding playmakers that the league has seen, and would use whatever the defense gave him to drive inside, shoot, and pass.

    However, he also brought amazing physical skills which, for a guy that was barely 6'0", was quite unique. He led a group of rough and nasty defensive players called the Bad Boys AKA Detroit Pistons to two titles.

    His assist total ranks among the Top 10 ever!

    He has tallied 18,822 points (19.2), dished out 9,061 assists (9.3), grabbed 3,478 rebounds (3.6), and recorded 1,861 steals. He retired as the all-time leader in points, steals, assists, and games in Pistons history.

    Honors: Elected to Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (2000); NBA champion (1989, '90); NBA Finals MVP (1990); All-NBA First Team (1984, '85, '86); All-NBA Second Team (1983, '87); NBA All-Rookie Team (1982); 12-time NBA All-Star (1982-93); NBA All-Star Game MVP (1984, '86); J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award (1987); One of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History (1996).

5. Jerry West

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    Regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, Jerry West was one of the top shooting guards that the league had ever seen.

    He had a deadly mid-range shot, was a lock down defender, had a lightning quick release, confidence in the clutch, and will to win. That made West successful in his career.

    He once performed a quadruple-double after nailing 16 out of 17 shots, dishing out 12 assists, grabbing 12 rebounds, and blocking 10 shots! But as usual, he was rarely satisfied with his play.

    He was called "Mr Clutch" and he lived up to it. When his team was down, he was the guy that saved them, nailed dozens of important shots, and put on a show with his fantastic performances on the big stages.

    He's the only player ever to win a Finals MVP on a losing team. He won it in the 1969 NBA Finals after recording 42 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists coming back from an injury.

    He didn't have the luck, but won a title and is widely debated as one of the top 10 players of all time. He made an impact and won his only championship in 1973 with MVP honors.

    He has scored 25,192 points (27.0), dished out 6,238 assists (6.7), and grabbed 5,376 rebounds (5.8).

    His accomplishments:

    Elected to Basketball Hall of Fame (1980)

    NBA Finals MVP (1969)

    NBA Champion (1972)

    All-NBA First Team (1962-'67, '70-'73)

    All-NBA Second Team (1968, '69)

    NBA All-Defensive Team (1970-73)

    NBA Champion (1972)

    14-time NBA All-Star (1961-'74)

    NBA All-Star MVP (1972)

    Olympic gold medalist (1960)

    NBA 35th Anniversay Team (1980)

    One of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History (1996).

4. Oscar Robertson

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    The most complete player and one of the greatest players in the NBA of all time, Oscar "The Big O" Robertson was the first big guard to dominate at his position.

    He's the only player to average a triple-double in multiple years with 30.6 points per game, 10.6 assists, and 10.4 rebounds per game in a span of five years.

    That's why he's the all-time leader in most triple-doubles during the regular season with over 180 and is the second most productive player of all time after Wilt Chamberlain.

    But the issue he has with titles (one) is the biggest reason that stops him from a higher ranking on the all-time list.

    If assists were recorded like today, he and Bob Cousy would have been near the top. He was one of the premier scorers, passers, and rebounders of all time, and was a strong inside and outside threat as well.

    He has recorded 26,710 points (25.7), dished out 9,887 assists (9.5), and grabbed 7,804 rebounds (7.5).

    Honors: Elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (1980); NBA champion (1971); NBA MVP (1964); Nine-time All-NBA First Team (1961-69); All NBA Second Team (1970, '71); Rookie of the Year (1961); 12-time NBA All-Star (1961-72); All-Star MVP (1961, '64, '69); One of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History (1996); Olympic gold medalist (1960).

3.Kobe Bryant

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    Bryant is regarded as one of the greatest players, clutch shooters, scorers, and guards in NBA history.

    He is a fantastic player because of his amazing skill set and an IQ that made him good in all areas where a guard should be. As a proof of how good his skill set is, he averaged a fantastic 33.7 points, 8.3 assists, and 6.7 rebounds per game in a playoff series.

    He once dominated with leaping ability, speed, and crossover, but he has successfully changed his playing style, which makes him even more effective then ever.

    Also, he's a brilliant one on one defender, but his offensive skills overshadow that. The biggest problem that still remains is the shot selection in his game.

    He's often mentioned in the Top 10 of all time, and some praise him as the Greatest of All Time.

    Kobe has tallied 25,790 points (25.3), grabbed 5,410 rebounds (5.3), and dished out 4,766 assists (4.7) so far.

    Career highlights and awards

    Five-time NBA Champion (2000, 2001, 2002, 2009, 2010)

    Two-time NBA Finals MVP (2009–2010)

    NBA Most Valuable Player (2008)

    12-time NBA All-Star (1998, 2000–2010)

    Two-time NBA scoring champion (2006–2007)

    Eight-time All-NBA First Team (2002–2004, 2006–2010)

    Two-time All-NBA Second Team (2000–2001)

    Two-time All-NBA Third Team (1999, 2005)

    Eight-time All-Defensive First Team (2000, 2003–2004, 2006–2010)

    Two-time All-Defensive Second Team (2001–2002)

    NBA All-Rookie Second Team (1997)

    Three-time NBA All-Star Game MVP (2002, 2007, 2009)

    NBA Slam Dunk Contest winner (1997)

    Naismith Prep Player of the Year (1996)

2. Earvin "Magic" Johnson

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    Earvin "Magic" Johnson is widely regarded as one of the greatest players, all around threats, point guards, and passers of all time. He was the biggest winner in NBA History.

    Johnson was remembered for his amazing and all-time great clutch performing in his successful career.

    He made all of the guys around him better and is the tallest point guard to ever play in the NBA. He holds the highest winning percentage of all time with 72.6 percent, as well as the highest winning percentage in the playoffs.

    It was simply "Magic" how a man so big could do so many things with the ball in his hands.

    His total for the most triple-doubles recorded during regular seasons is second best of all time. During the playoffs, he holds the record.

    In his rookie year, he played center for injured Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and played one of the best games ever after recording 42 points, 12 rebounds, and seven assists in the Finals to win a title and Finals MVP.

    He played as a 1b option to Kareem. He showed major respect for the big fella and called him "Captain Sky Hook." It wasn't until 1985 that the great Pat Riley changed the system and put Magic as the No. 1 option.

    He won a couple of MVPs and led the Lakers to two titles, earning himself a Finals MVP along the way.

    He recorded 17,707 points (19.5), dished out 10,141 assists (11.2) and grabbed 6,559 rebounds (7.2).

    Honors: Elected to Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (2002); NBA champion (1980, '82, '85, '87, '88); NBA Finals MVP (1980, '82, '87); NBA MVP (1987, '89, '90); Nine-time All-NBA First Team (1983-91); All-NBA Second Team (1982); 12-time All-Star; All-Star MVP (1990, '92); Olympic gold medalist (1992); One of 50 Greatest Players in NBA History (1996).

1. Michael Jordan

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    Arguably the greatest player, scorer, biggest competitor, and most clutch legend in NBA History, Michael Jordan was unique and superb.

    He is one of the most skilled of all time and is regarded as one of the top all-around players in the history of the game. He made a huge impact on the court.

    Jordan was a terrific scorer, underrated playmaker, great rebounder, fantastic lock-down defender, athletic, capable finisher in the lane, and a good shooter. He's Top 10 in most triple-doubles recorded.

    Even though he had weaknesses with his outside shot, he found ways to deal with it and make a high percentage.

    He was a guy who continued the work of Magic and Bird to make the NBA popular around the world!

    Michael was remembered for his legendary performances in the clutch and for his titles, where he nailed dozens of buzzer beaters.

    He is also considered as one of the 10 most outstanding defensive players in NBA History!

    He has tallied 32,292 points (30.1), grabbed 6,672 rebounds(6.2), and dished out 5,633 assists (5.3) in his career.

    Honors

    Six-time NBA champion (1991-93, 1996-98)

    NBA MVP (1988, '91, '92, '96, '98)

    10-time All-NBA First Team (1987-93, 1996-98)

    All-NBA Second Team (1985)

    Defensive Player of the Year (1988)

    Nine-time All-Defensive First Team (1988-93, 1996-98) Rookie of the Year (1985)

    14-time All-Star

    All-Star MVP (1988, '96, '98)

    One of 50 Greatest Players in NBA History (1996)

    Two-time Olympic gold medalist (1984, '92).

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