NBA Power Rankings: Top 10 Los Angeles Lakers Guards of All Time
The Los Angeles Lakers have a long and storied past of great guards wearing the famous purple and gold. It all started with Jerry West and continues on to this very day with Kobe Bryant.
However, there are numerous guards to have donned the Lakers uniform that have made vital contributions during their tenure with the team.
Of all the point guards and shooting guards to have at one time called themselves Lakers, who's the greatest of the group?
10. Nick Van Exel
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Nick Van Exel spent the first five seasons of his career with the Los Angeles Lakers. He was drafted in 1993 with the No. 37 pick and he greatly outperformed his draft position while with the Lakers.
However, he had the unenvious position of replacing Magic Johnson at point guard.
Still, Van Exel filled in admirably, averaging 14.9 points and 7.3 assists per game. He even helped led the Lakers into the postseason in 1995.
He was eventually traded after tensions mounted between him and coach Del Harris. Plus, it was rumored that he didn't get along with several of the players on the roster.
9. Eddie Jones
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Eddie Jones may have only spent four-and-a-half seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, but his contributions are noteworthy.
Selected with the 10th overall pick in the 1994 NBA Draft, Jones quickly became a fan favorite and vital contributor to the organization.
Jones averaged 15.6 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 2.5 steals and 1.2 blocks while with the Lakers. He made two All-Star game appearances and made the All-Defensive Second Team twice while wearing the purple and gold.
He also took on a mentor role that helped develop and mature Kobe Bryant as a player.
8. Derek Fisher
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Derek Fisher has had a lengthy career in the NBA. Selected with the 24th pick in the 1996 NBA Draft, he has spent 12 seasons as a member of the Lakers with brief stops with the Golden State Warriors and Utah Jazz.
Fisher has never been an amazing scorer or elite playmaker, but his importance to the Lakers does not always show up in the box score. He is a gritty defender and most importantly, he has hit numerous clutch shots from the Lakers come playoff time.
Fisher will perhaps be best known for his game-winning shot against the San Antonio Spurs in Game 5 of the 2004 Western Conference Semifinals. With 0.4 seconds remaining on the clock, Fisher caught the inbounds pass and quickly launched up a shot that miraculously beat the buzzer and went in.
Even now, in his mid-30s, Fisher provides leadership and sets the tone for the current Lakers squad.
7. Norm Nixon
Norm Nixon was taken with the No. 22 pick in the 1977 NBA Draft. He was the Lakers' primary playmaker and point guard for two seasons before they drafted Magic Johnson and handed the keys over to him.
Despite the emergence of Johnson, Nixon played a vital role for the Los Angeles Lakers. He helped the Lakers to a title in 1980 and 1982. He also led the team in scoring during their playoff run in 1982.
During his six seasons with the Lakers, he averaged roughly 17 points and eight assists per game before he was traded to the San Diego Clippers, a trade that netted the Lakers the draft rights to Byron Scott.
6. Michael Cooper
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Michael Cooper primarily played the shooting guard position, but also saw some time at small forward and occasionally the point.
Cooper wasn't a volume scorer, but he was a reliable three-point shooter with solid court vision.
However, it was his strong defensive abilities that made him so valuable. He was the Lakers' defensive stopper during the 1980s and was often assigned to man up against the opposing team's best perimeter player.
Cooper won NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 1987, and he has a combined eight selections to the NBA All-Defensive Team.
During the Lakers' many battles with the Boston Celtics, he was given the task of limiting Larry Bird. He couldn't stop Bird, but he was perhaps the most effective at curbing his contributions throughout the 1980s.
5. Byron Scott
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Byron Scott may not have been the flashiest player, nor did he put up eye-popping numbers, but he was consistent and an integral part of the Showtime Lakers during the 1980s.
Selected in the 1983 NBA Draft, he made an impact right away. He helped the team to three titles during his tenure.
Scott was never selected to an All-Star Game or an All-NBA Team, but his value to the Lakers franchise goes further than mere awards.
During the 1987-88 season, Scott actually led the Lakers in scoring with 21.7 points per game. He was an excellent three-point shooter and the beneficiary of many Magic Johnson kick-out passes.
4. Gail Goodrich
Gail Goodrich was often overlooked, as he played second fiddle to Jerry West for most of his tenure with the Lakers. However, he was vastly underrated and the perfect complement to West.
While the Lakers lost Goodrich to the Phoenix Suns for two seasons due to the expansion draft, he returned to the Lakers just as he was hitting his prime.
Surprisingly, Goodrich—not Jerry West or Wilt Chamberlain—actually led the Lakers in scoring during their dominating run during the 1971-72 season, with 25.9 points per game. The Lakers owe a lot of their success and 33-game win streak to Goodrich and his shooting abilities.
Goodrich's No. 25 jersey is retired by the Lakers and hanging in the rafters.
3. Jerry West
Jerry West will perhaps best be known as The Logo. The fact that his silhouette forms the NBA logo speaks volumes about his place not only in Lakers history, but NBA history.
West was the ultimate combo guard, capable of pouring in buckets and setting up his teammates when called upon. He had a devastating pull-up jumper and a lightning-quick release.
He is widely considered to have been one of the greatest defensive guards to ever play the game. If steals and blocks were counted through 13 of the 14 seasons he played, he would likely have his name stamped in the history books for at least one of those categories.
The fact that he managed to average 2.6 steals in his final year—the first year the NBA counted it as a statistic—shows his strong defensive prowess.
West may have never won an NBA MVP award, but his list of accolades are more than good enough to put him in the history books as one of the greatest to ever play the game. He has a combined 12 All-NBA Team selections, five NBA All-Defensive Team selections and 14 All-Star appearances.
Nicknamed "Mr. Clutch," West was known for making big buckets when they counted the most.
The 1969 NBA Finals were a testament to his greatness. In a losing effort, West managed to garner the NBA Finals MVP award after averaging nearly 38 points per game. He is the only losing player to have been bestowed that honor.
However, West got his redemption by winning a ring in the 1972 NBA Finals against the New York Knicks.
West continued his legacy and importance to the Lakers franchise as general manager by taking a shot on a skinny high school player by the name of Kobe Bryant—a move that turned out quite well for the franchise.
Not to mention, he lured Shaquille O'Neal away from the Orlando Magic to form one of the most dominant dynasties in NBA history.
2. Kobe Bryant
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Kobe Bryant sits at No. 2 on this list, but his career is years away from coming to a close.
Translation? He can still overtake the No. 1 position on this list.
However, for the time being, he'll have to settle for runner-up.
Bryant is seen as the heir apparent to Michael Jordan and he is arguably the closest thing the basketball world has seen to His Airness.
Bryant has a list of accolades to match up with nearly any Hall of Famer. He has an NBA MVP award, two scoring titles, a combined 12 All-NBA Team selections, eight All-Defensive First Team and two Second Team selections, and 12 All-Star appearances.
Also, who could forget the 81 points he scored against the Toronto Raptors?
The scary part is that he is still in his prime and can play well into his late 30s at a high level. It should be interesting to see how much further Bryant can take his already illustrious career and where his place in NBA history will ultimately be decided when his career comes to an end.
1. Magic Johnson
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Magic Johnson is more than just the greatest guard in franchise history for the Los Angeles Lakers. He's the greatest point guard in NBA history and just behind Michael Jordan on an all-time guards list.
On any given night, Johnson was a triple-double threat that struck fear into the hearts and minds of opposing coaches. Measuring at 6'8", he towered over more traditional point guards and was a matchup nightmare.
Johnson's resume more than speaks for itself. He has three NBA MVP awards, he was selected to the All-NBA First Team for nine consecutive years and once to the All-NBA Second Team, and he was chosen as an All-Star 12 times.
If not for his battle with HIV, Johnson's career would have even more awards and accolades to add to his resume.
However, more than anything else, he led the Showtime Lakers to five NBA championships and was named NBA Finals MVP three times. The Lakers battled the Boston Celtics for supremacy in the 1980s and they came out on top thanks to Magic Johnson.