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The Top 15 Passers in the NBA Today

Joseph GoodeCorrespondent IIIAugust 30, 2011

The Top 15 Passers in the NBA Today

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    Today, the NBA is full of players who only know how to score.  Scorers tend to receive the most recognition and love, but someone has to set these players up.

    There are players all throughout the league who excel at making plays for other players.  It doesn’t matter the age, athletic ability or the position of the player.  We have former MVP’s, All-Stars, NBA Champions and role players who thrive at passing the rock. 

    When we think of the top passer in NBA history, we tend to think of John Stockton, Magic or even Mark Jackson, but let's not forget the big men such as Vlade Divac, Chris Webber and Shaq.

    Passing is a lost art form in the NBA, but these players on the list try to keep the tradition going.

Honorable Mentions

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    Kyrie Irving and Ricky Rubio could very well make this list next year, but we will have to wait and see.  Both rookies have the ability to make their teammates better and rack up a lot of assists.

    Jeff Teague and Brandon Jennings are two intriguing prospects with some NBA experience who have the ability to be very good passing point guards in this league.

    While these players will fight to make the list next year, we will now take a look at the top 15 passers in this league.  

15. Derrick Rose

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    Last year's MVP Derrick Rose makes this list even though he is a scoring point guard.  Rose focused so much on improving his jump shot last year that it helped him win the MVP.  

    Rose is so young and athletic that he is capable of being one of the top passers in this league.  He slashes the lanes with such power and force, which allows him to set up his teammates to succeed.

    Imagine when Derrick Rose enters his prime.  He will be a better passer and unstoppable scorer in this league.

    He has such a strong work ethic and drive that I have no doubt that he will be a better passer. This offseason, he needs to improve his passing ability and focus on getting his teammates more involved, which will take his game to a whole other level, and most likely win an NBA Championship.

14. Kobe Bryant

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    Kobe Bryant has been known for his killer instinct in scoring and finishing games, but also being a ball hog. He is also the closest thing we have to Michael Jordan. The seasons Kobe won championships, he decided to pass the ball.  

    He has a great ability to pass out of double teams and positioning his teammates into scoring position. Remember his lob pass to Shaq in the playoffs against Portland?  It was a thing of perfection. Throughout Kobe's career, he has drawn so much attention on offense that he had to learn how to pass.  

    As Kobe exits his prime, he is going to have to rely on his teammates even more, and his passing skills will be elevated.

13. Hedo Turkoglu

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    When it's the fourth quarter and the game is on the line, who does Stan Van Gundy rely on to run his offense? Hedo Turkoglu. 

    Paired with Dwight Howard, the combo combined for numerous monster oops.  When the ball is in his hands, Hedo focuses on getting his teammates involved.  He was an integral part in leading the Magic to the NBA Finals a few years back with his ability to create and pass the ball. 

    Although Hedo has never averaged more than five assists in a season, his passing skills are far better then most point guards in this league. Look for Hedo to take on more of the point guard role for Orlando next season.

12. Pau Gasol

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    Gasol is the best passing big man in the league. His passing ability falls in line to Arvydas Sabonis, Chris Webber and Vlade Divac. Passing in the post is a lost art form with no other big men today possessing this skill. 

    When Gasol arrived in Los Angeles, he grasped the triangle offense, and his passing ability allowed the triangle to work perfectly. His court awareness with his back to the basket is what most young big men should emulate. He passes out of double teams and when teammates cut to the basket. 

    During this past playoff, Gasol looked lost in the offense and had no motivation to get his teammates involved. Look for Gasol to bounce back this season with his passing ability and post play.

11. Jose Calderon

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    A very good point guard on the offensive end, but abysmal on the defensive side. Calderon has been one of the top passers since he has entered the NBA, but he has not been recognized for his passing ability, being stuck in Toronto. 

    He was the catalyst to Spain winning the FIBA World Championship with his passing ability. 

    If Calderon was in a run and gun system such as Mike D’Antoni’s offense, where offense is a premium and defense is not, then Calderon would most likely be in the top three in assists.  

10. John Wall

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    In only one NBA season, Wall averaged 8.3 assists, which puts him in the top 10 in the league last season. 

    Wall is such a young player with great speed and quickness, which is comparable to Rose and Westbook, but his passing ability and court vision is so much better. As he matures, and the players around him get better, Wall will be in the top five in assists. 

    Many have compared Wall’s ability to Derrick Rose, but Rose tends to focus more on scoring than getting his teammates involved. A true point guard finds a way to get his teammates the ball and making them better, which Wall does. 

    In his one season in the NBA, he elevated the games of Javale Mcgee, Andray Blatche and Nick Young. John Wall’s game will continue to improve, and there is no doubt that he will be one the best passing guards for years to come.

9. Andre Iguodala

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    A poor mans Scottie Pippen, Andre Iguodala has been facilitating the Sixers' offense ever since Iverson was traded. 

    His court awareness is at a high level. If he was a point guard’s size, then I truly believe he’d be a top five point guard in this league.  He is a very talented, passing wing player. Andre’s athleticism is off the charts. Combine that with his court vision and high basketball IQ, and both allow him to play at a high level in this league. 

    Recent trade rumors have Andre going to the Warriors, which would take some of the point guard responsibilities away from Stephen Curry and form a deadly backcourt. When the lockout ends, we will see who will be blessed with Andre's passing talents.

8. Dwyane Wade

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    Did you see that full court pass that Wade threw for an alley-oop to LeBron? Unbelievable.

    He has played point guard off and on throughout his career and has a strong ability to pass with both hands. 

    Wade is probably the best passer while stuck in mid air. His hang time allows him to create for others. Wade is quite possibly one of the best slashers ever. When he gets into the lane, he can finish or find teammates with either hand. 

    Wade is such a great scorer that we tend to forget his amazing passing ability. He will go down as one of top shooting guards of all time.

7. Manu Ginobili

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    The shooting guard was drafting 57th overall in the 1999 draft. Players who get drafted this late aren’t suppose to be this good.

    Manu Ginobili is such a sneaky and unorthodox player. When watching who facilitates the offense on the Spurs throughout the years, you would notice Ginobli was running the show instead of Tony Parker. 

    His bounce pass is always on point, and you can see a precise behind the back pass every now or then. Ginobli does so well in getting his teammates involved. He is also one of the best players penetrating the lanes and breaking the defense down. When the defense collapses on Ginobli, his passing ability is heightened. He is one of the best in finding a teammate when slashing in the lane.

    With George Hill being traded, and possibly Tony Parker, look for Ginobili to take more of the role as facilitator next season..

6. Jason Kidd

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    Second in assists all-time only to the great John Stockton, Jason Kidd has been known for his court awareness and passing ability. People once thought Kidd had eyes behind his head with the ridiculous passes he threw. Ten years ago, Kidd would probably be tops on this list. 

    Although his speed and athleticism have left him, his passing ability has not. He won his first NBA Championship as the starting point guard after 19 seasons. Kidd has revamped his game and shows no sign of hanging up the sneakers. 

    He is such a smart player with unparalleled court vision, which will help Dallas defend their title next season.

5. LeBron James

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    LeBron’s court vision and passing ability is on the level of all the better point guards in the league, and he is built like a tank. Critics have wanted LeBron’s game to follow that of Michael Jordan, but in reality, he is more like Magic. If LeBron wanted to, he could lead the league in assists. 

    His best skill is probably his court vision and passing. You can see LeBron making unbelievable passes almost every game.  LeBron should rely on get his teammates involved or making them better instead of jacking up fade-away three-pointers. 

    If the Miami Heat want to win a championship, Lebron has to the be the facilitator on offense every play down the court.

4. Deron Williams

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    Deron Williams is one of the bigger and better scoring point guards in the league, and he can pass with the best of them. 

    He is always in the discussion with Chris Paul for the best point guard in the league, so it was a bit of a surprise when he was traded to the New Jersey Nets last season. Williams’ game is ideal for a pick and roll game where his talent and vision is best for feeding a big man rolling to the basket.

    Imagine Williams being paired with Dwight Howard; that would be deadly.  But for now, he will have to do with the ever improving center Brook Lopez.

3. Chris Paul

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    Although Chris Paul doesn’t have the prototypical size of a point guard, he plays the game the way a point should. The ideal point guard on offense and defense, Paul’s passing skills are unbelievable. He can turn below average players into better players. 

    Chris Paul is probably the best point guard in the league because he can shoot, drive, play defense, and most of all, pass the ball.  Paul would rather pass then ball then shoot, but if his teammates cant score then he is looked upon to score, which seems to be lot lately with his lack of decent teammates. 

    Paul is so good that he can lead a mediocre team into the playoffs by himself. Imagine if Chris Paul can have some weapons at his disposal.

2. Rajon Rondo

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    Every season, Rajon Rondo has increased his assists average, and his court vision seems to be getting better. His lob passes are perfectly tossed next to the rim. The arrival of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen has elevated Rondo’s passing game and covered up his flaw of shooting. 

    If Rondo could ever make a jump shot, then his passing can be taken to another level. Teams tend to play off of Rondo because of his quickness and lack of shooting, but this allows him to excel in finding his teammates. The past few seasons, Rondo’s passing ability has helped the aging Garnett, Pierce and Allen continue to play at a high level.

    Look for Rondo to be the main guy on the team as his teammates are another year older.

1. Steve Nash

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    The two-time MVP is hands down the best passer in the league. Even at the tender age of 37, Nash led the league in assist. 

    He is the ideal passer, with great court vision, and he is always keeping his dribble until the last possible second. He has a career 8.5 average in assists, which should be higher, but Nash took a while to develop and figure out his game. 

    He is still the top passer in this league, and hopefully his ability wont be wasted without winning a championship.  Look for Nash to continue having high assists totals for a few more seasons.

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