NBA Power Rankings: Jason Kidd & the Top 20 Point Guards from the Last 20 Years

Ethan SAnalyst IMarch 23, 2011

NBA Power Rankings: Jason Kidd & the Top 20 Point Guards from the Last 20 Years

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    The point guard position in the NBA is an important role, as these players act as the floor generals for their respective teams. With their ability to make teammates better by setting them up for easier shots, it is rare that the best point guards run bad teams.

    The NBA’s history is full of legendary point guards that have set the standards for players today. From Bob Cousy and Oscar Robertson to Magic Johnson, the best have proven their ability to dominate the game and lead dynasty teams.

    This article ranks the top 20 point guards over the past 20 years. The top guards found a way to succeed in many areas of the game, including scoring, defense and playmaking. They were able to dominate over long careers and many were able to win championships along the way.

    While the current league features some amazing talent at the point guard position, younger players with only a few years of experience are ranked lower compared to veterans, as they have become greater legends with their longer careers.

    But for fans of these younger players, please rest assured. When their careers are over, most of them should rise towards the top of the point guard rankings in NBA history, as long as they can keep up their exemplary play.

    I hope you enjoy this walk back through recent history.

    Feel free to let me know what you think of these rankings. Are there any players that should have made this list? Are any players ranked too high or too low?

20. Baron Davis

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    Baron DavisJed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Career Stats: 16.5 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 7.3 apg, 1.9 spg, 41% FG, 32% 3FG, 71% FT

    2x All-Star

    1x All-NBA Team (1x Third Team)

    After two years at UCLA, Baron Davis came into the NBA and established himself within a few seasons as one of the best point guards. His best seasons statistically came early in his career while playing for the Hornets franchise.

    However, perhaps the highlight of his career was leading the eighth-seeded Golden State Warriors over the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks. The Mavericks won 67 games that season, compared to 42 for the Warriors. With Davis dominating that series, he led his team to perhaps the biggest upset in NBA playoff history.

    Now winding down his career with Cleveland Cavaliers, he probably has a few seasons left before he retires where he will likely try to earn his first championship.

19. Terrell Brandon

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    Terrell BrandonJamie Squire/Getty Images

    Career Stats: 13.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 6.1 apg, 1.6 spg, 45% FG, 36% 3FG, 87% FT

    2x All-Star

    Standing at just 5’11”, Terrell Brandon was one of the best small players in NBA history. Although many young fans in the NBA may not have seen him play, Brandon was one of the very best players in the league for a few seasons in the mid-1990s.

    He was a quick player with a decent shooting stroke. Despite his size, he was able to score at a reasonably efficient clip over the course of his career. Unfortunately, numerous injuries cut Brandon’s career short before he could win an NBA title.

18. Stephon Marbury

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    Stephon MarburyNick Laham/Getty Images

    Career Stats: 19.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 7.6 apg, 1.2 spg, 43% FG, 33% 3FG, 78% FT

    2x All-Star

    2x All-NBA Team (2x Third Team)

    Stephon Marbury was one of the most talented scoring point guards in NBA history. Starting off his career with the Minnesota Timberwolves, many thought that he and Kevin Garnett would go on to win a few championships together.

    To the dismay of his fans, Marbury would constantly find himself in altercations with his teammates and coaching staff throughout his career in the NBA. After a bitter situation with the New York Knicks and a brief stint with the Boston Celtics, Marbury has found himself playing in China the past two years.

17. Mookie Blaylock

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    Mookie BlaylockDoug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Career Stats: 13.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 6.7 apg, 2.3 spg, 41% FG, 34% 3FG, 74% FT

    1x All-Star

    6x All-Defensive Team (2x First Team, 4x Second Team)

    Mookie Blaylock was an underrated floor general during his playing days. After starting his career with the New Jersey Nets, Blaylock flourished with the Atlanta Hawks, where he made a name for himself with his superior playmaking and defensive skills.

    He had five seasons where he totaled more than 200 steals and currently ranks sixth all-time in steals per game average and eleventh in total steals.

16. Derek Harper

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    Derek HarperOtto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Career Stats: 13.3 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 5.5 apg, 1.6 spg, 46% FG, 35% 3FG, 75% FT

    2x All-Defensive Team (2x Second Team)

    Derek Harper had a long career in the NBA where he made a name for himself as a defensive-minded point guard. Along with being a decent outside shooter, Harper helped lead the Dallas Mavericks in the 1980s and early 1990s, often battling against the Magic Johnson-led Los Angeles Lakers in memorable playoff battles.

    After being traded to the New York Knicks, he would team with Patrick Ewing and came within one win of earning a championship ring in the 1994 Finals. He currently ranks thirteenth in NBA history in total steals.

15. Mark Price

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    Mark PriceTim DeFrisco/Getty Images

    Career Stats: 15.2 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 6.7 apg, 1.2 spg, 47% FG, 40% 3FG, 90% FT

    4x All-Star

    4x All-NBA Team (1x First Team, 3x Third Team)

    Before there was Steve Nash, the NBA witnessed Mark Price. Throughout his career, Price earned a reputation as one of the best all-around shooters, joining the exclusive 50-40-90 club of making 50 percent of his field goals, 40 percent of his three-pointers and 90 percent of his free throws over the course of a season (the others being Larry Bird, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki and Reggie Miller).

    While he was a decent playmaker, he will be remembered best for his shooting. Price won the NBA’s three-point contest in back-to-back years. In addition, he currently ranks second all-time in free throw percentage.

14. Sam Cassell

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    Sam CassellElsa/Getty Images

    Career Stats: 15.7 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 6.0 apg, 1.1 spg, 45% FG, 33% 3FG, 86% FT

    3x NBA Champion (1994, 1995, 2008)

    1x All-Star (2004)

    1x All-NBA Team (1x Second Team)

    Sam Cassell was a journeyman in the NBA during his career, having played for eight different teams. Yet, his career is almost symmetrical, starting off by winning two championships with the Houston Rockets and finishing with another title with the Celtics. In both instances, he played the part of a role player to near perfection.

    With the seasons in between, Cassell dominated the NBA as one of the most explosive scorers and eventually earned a reputation as one of the smartest players in the NBA. During those years, he led the Bucks and the Timberwolves to conference finals series (the latter one with Minnesota is that franchise’s sole appearance in that round).

13. Rajon Rondo

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    Rajon RondoElsa/Getty Images

    Career Stats: 10.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 7.5 apg, 1.9 spg, 49% FG, 25% 3FG, 62% FT

    NBA Champion (2008)

    2x All-Star

    2x All-Defensive Team (1x First Team, 1x Second Team)

    Rajon Rondo, in just a few years in the NBA, is already earning a reputation as one of the best point guards in the storied history of the Boston Celtics. Widely known as an excellent playmaker and defender, Rondo is already setting franchise records with assists and steals.

    After being an integral part of the 2008 championship season, Rondo has arguably surpassed the older legends on his team (Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce) as being the best player on his team. If he can improve on his weaknesses (outside shooting and free throw shooting), he could become the best all-around point guard in the NBA for years to come.

12. Derrick Rose

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    Derrick RoseJonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Career Stats: 20.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 6.6 apg, 0.9 spg, 47% FG, 30% 3FG, 81% FT

    NBA Rookie of the Year

    2x All-Star

    After a forgettable decade following the second retirement of Michael Jordan, Derrick Rose has given Chicago fans a team that is easy to root for. In his rookie season, Rose led the Bulls to a memorable 7-game series against the Boston Celtics in the playoffs, nearly pulling off an epic upset.

    In just his third season, Rose has led his team to the top of the Eastern Conference and is well on his way to winning his first NBA MVP award. While being one of the quickest players in the league, Rose is also a dominant scorer, adept playmaker and one of the best in clutch situations.

    The scary part for the rest of the league is that Rose is just 22 years old. If he can be this good now, imagine what he will be like when he is in the prime of his career in about six to seven years.

11. Deron Williams

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    Deron WilliamsGeorge Frey/Getty Images

    Career Stats: 17.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 9.2 apg, 1.1 spg, 46% FG, 36% 3FG, 81% FT

    2x All-Star

    2x All-NBA Team (2x Second Team)

    After being snubbed from the All-Star team for a few seasons, Williams has elevated his game into one of the most unstoppable point guards in the NBA. As a big and athletic player, Williams is a nightmare for opponents to guard. Combined with a wide array of offensive moves and proven clutch abilities, Williams should be a force to reckon with for many years.

    After spending most of his first six years with the Utah Jazz, Williams was traded to the New Jersey Nets to team with Brook Lopez. Especially when the team moves to Brooklyn in another year, Williams could bring a lot of hope for the fans of the nation’s biggest market.

10. Chris Paul

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    Chris PaulEzra Shaw/Getty Images

    Career Stats: 18.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 10.0 apg, 2.4 spg, 47% FG, 36% 3FG, 86% FT

    NBA Rookie of the Year

    4x All-Star

    2x All-NBA Team (1x First Team, 1x Second Team)

    2x All-Defensive Team (1x First Team, 1x Second Team)

    Chris Paul represents one of the best all-around talents at the point guard position in NBA history. Without seemingly any weakness in his game, the only thing that has slowed him down was a major torn meniscus injury in his knee last season.

    In the meantime, Paul has managed to lead the Hornets, a team of mostly average talent, into playoff contention each season. While watching him perform, one cannot help but think that Paul could win a few championships and end up right near the top of the best point guards of all-time when his career is over.

    Currently, Paul ranks third all-time in assists per game average.

9. Mark Jackson

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    Mark JacksonTom Pidgeon/Getty Images

    Career Stats: 9.6 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 8.0 apg, 1.2 spg, 45% FG, 33% 3FG, 77% FT

    NBA Rookie of the Year

    1x All-Star

    Mark Jackson may not have been a perennial All-Star, but he was a classic point guard who was quite effective in getting players around him to operate within a team concept. He was known for backing opponents down in the post for 10 to 15 seconds—which ultimately led to the NBA’s Five Second Rule. 

    Later in his career, he developed into a decent outside shooter. His stats won’t overwhelm anyone, but he was consistently good for a long period of time.

    He led the LA Clippers in one of the franchise’s best seasons before taking the Indiana Pacers to the NBA Finals in 2000. He currently ranks third all-time in assists in the NBA.

8. Terry Porter

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    Terry PorterKen Levine/Getty Images

    Career Stats: 12.2 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 5.6 apg, 1.2 spg, 46% FG, 39% 3FG, 84% FT

    2x All-Star

    Terry Porter is another player often forgotten about by young NBA fans. He had a long career spanning 17 seasons. In his early years Porter dominated with his scoring and passing abilities, before settling into a role player for the latter half of his career.

    He was an excellent outside shooter and a decent defender. His teams only failed to make the postseason once, en route to compiling a 60 percent win rate throughout his career.

    As a tribute to his greatness, the Portland Trailblazers recently retired his jersey.

7. Chauncey Billups

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    Chauncey BillupsMike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Career Stats: 15.5 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 5.6 apg, 1.0 spg, 42% FG, 39% 3FG, 89% FT

    NBA Champion and Finals MVP (2004)

    5x All-Star

    3x All-NBA Team (1x Second Team, 2x Third Team)

    2x All-Defensive Team (2x Second Team)

    Chauncey Billups has proven himself as one of the better all-around point guards in the NBA over the past decade. He is an excellent shooter and defender; he currently ranks fifth all-time in free throw shooting percentage. He has also excelled in the clutch numerous times, including his incredible performance in the 2004 NBA Finals with Detroit. During that series, he averaged 21 ppg while shooting 51% FG, 47% 3FG and 93% FT.

    Following some great seasons with Detroit and the Denver, Billups now finds himself on the New York Knicks. He may be an afterthought for some with the pairing of Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, but he is the most experienced player on the team in regards to the playoffs. When the postseason arrives, Billups will be sure to have a major impact in the game.

6. Tim Hardaway

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    Tim HardawayTom Hauck/Getty Images

    Career Stats: 17.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 8.2 apg, 1.6 spg, 43% FG, 36% 3FG, 78% FT

    5x All-Star

    5x All-NBA Team (1x First Team, 3x Second Team, 1x Third Team)

    Tim Hardaway was easily one of the best point guards in the 1990s. Known for his killer crossover dribble, Hardaway dominated as a scorer with excellent shooting abilities.

    While playing with the Golden State Warriors, he was the leader of the fast break offense known as “Run TMC” when he teamed with Mitch Richmond and Chris Mullin. He later had some successful years in Miami; he ranks as that franchise’s best point guard of all-time.

    Over the first seven years of his career, he averaged over 20 ppg and 8 apg five times. Injuries plagued Hardaway throughout the latter part of his career. Nevertheless, he should be remembered as one of the most dynamic and exciting point guards in NBA history.

    On the career ranking lists, Hardaway currently sits at 11th all-time in assists per game and 13th in total assists.

5. Tony Parker

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    Tony ParkerRonald Martinez/Getty Images

    Career Stats: 16.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 5.7 apg, 1.0 spg, 49% FG, 32% 3FG, 73% FT

    3x NBA Champion (2003, 2005, 2007)

    NBA Finals MVP (2007)

    3x All-Star

    1x All-NBA Team (1x Third Team)

    Tony Parker (aka the former “Mr. Eva Longoria”) has helped to bring international players respect in the NBA with his outstanding play. Despite standing just 6’2”, he often is among the leaders in field goal accuracy with his ability to drive the lane for easy layups or his signature teardrop shots.

    While he has always been paired with NBA legend Tim Duncan, Parker has been the leader of the offense for several Spurs title contending teams. En route to winning three championships so far, Parker’s career highlight was his Finals MVP performance in 2007 when he averaged 24.5 ppg on 57 percent shooting.

    As he approaches the twilight of his career, he might have the opportunity to move up all-time rankings lists if he can successfully lead his teams to success as the clear-cut leader. In the meantime, he will try to lead San Antonio to another championship this season, as his team should earn home court advantage throughout the playoffs.

4. Steve Nash

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    Steve NashChristian Petersen/Getty Images

    Career Stats: 14.6 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 8.5 apg, 0.8 spg, 49% FG, 43% 3FG, 90% FT

    2x NBA MVP (2005, 2006)

    7x All-Star

    7x All-NBA Team (3x First Team, 2x Second Team, 2x Third Team)

    It is possible that Steve Nash could be the best all-around shooter in NBA history. Not only is he a member of the 50-40-90 club discussed earlier, but he has hit those numbers four times.

    Nash is simply one of the best all-time at setting up teammates for open shots and showed his true dominance when he led the Phoenix Suns in his back-to-back MVP seasons.

    About the only thing holding him back on the all-time rankings is his ability to lead a team to a championship. Still, at the ripe age of 37, Nash is still finding a way to dominate the game with averages of 15.7 ppg and 11.3 apg.

    He currently ranks 9th all-time in assists per game, 6th in total assists, 1st in free throw percentage, 8th in three-point percentage and 11th in three-pointers made.

3. Jason Kidd

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    Jason KiddChristian Petersen/Getty Images

    Career Stats: 13.3 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 9.2 apg, 2.0 spg, 40% FG, 35% 3FG, 78% FT

    NBA Rookie of the Year

    10x All-Star

    6x All-NBA Team (5x First Team, 1x Second Team)

    9x All-Defensive Team (4x First Team, 5x Second Team)

    Jason Kidd is “Mr. Versatility” while on the court, as he usually is among the NBA leaders in assists and rebounding among guards. He has always been a tenacious defender, having earned nine selections to the All-Defensive Team. In recent seasons, Kidd has vastly improved his outside shooting touch.

    With his all-around abilities, Kidd currently ranks third all-time with 107 triple doubles, trailing only Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson. Despite a couple of trips to the NBA Finals, Kidd has come up short, going up against powerhouses in the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs.

    Now, playing on an impressive Dallas Mavericks roster, Kidd likely has one last chance to win that coveted championship ring. Still, he ranks high in several all-time statistical areas including 3rd in three-pointers made, 6th in assists per game, 2nd in total assists, 18th in steals per game and 3rd in total steals.

2. Gary Payton

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    Gary PaytonOtto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Career Stats: 16.3 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 6.7 apg, 1.8 spg, 47% FG, 33% 3FG, 73% FT

    NBA Champion (2006)

    NBA Defensive Player of the Year (1996)

    9x All-Star

    9x All-NBA Team (2x First Team, 5x Second Team, 2x Third Team)

    9x All-Defensive Team (9x First Team)

    Gary Payton (aka “The Glove”) was known as a defensive-minded point guard who could also score quite effectively. He was one of only five guards (and the last guard) to win the Defensive Player of the Year Award and showed his defensive prowess by hounding Michael Jordan into one of his worst shooting performances during the 1996 NBA Finals.

    With his height and size, Payton developed a potent post-up game which he loved to use against smaller point guards. After leading an exciting offense with Shawn Kemp and the Seattle Supersonics, Payton became somewhat of a journeyman later in his career.

    About the only knock on his resume was his inability to grasp the triangle offense and lead the Lakers to a championship in 2004, despite the star-studded cast of Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, and Karl Malone. Nevertheless, he would go on to secure that coveted title in 2006 with the Miami Heat.

    Overall, Payton ranks 4th all-time in total steals, 8thin assists and 26th in points scored.

1. John Stockton

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    John StocktonLisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

    Career Stats: 13.1 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 10.5 apg, 2.2 spg, 52% FG, 38% 3FG, 83% FT

    10x All-Star

    11x All-NBA Team (2x First Team, 6x Second Team, 3x Third Team)

    5x All-Defensive Team (5x Second Team)

    When it comes to pure point guards, no one was ever better than John Stockton. Paired with Karl Malone on the Utah Jazz, Stockton ran the pick-and-roll offense to perfection, leading the NBA in assists a record nine times.

    He was a remarkable all-around shooter and defender, always one of the premier thieves of the ball. Although he would never win an NBA championship, he proved to be one of the most clutch shooters in history.

    Perhaps he would have won a championship had he not stayed loyal to the Jazz franchise, but then he wouldn’t hold the record for most games played with one franchise (1504).

    Stockton left the game as a legend and currently leads all players in total steals and assists, while ranking second in assists per game, third in games played, and ninth in steals per game.