Over the years, there have been many excellent NBA point guards. But even in such a talented league, there are only a few players that can be considered the best point guards of all time.
These athletes not only played well, but changed how the point guard position – and NBA basketball – is played forever.
1. Magic Johnson
Image: National Archives Catalog
At the top of our list is the most iconic point guard of all-time, Magic Johnson. Johnson is 6 ft 9 which made him the tallest point guard in NBA history when he entered the league in 1979.
Johnson didn’t just rely on his height to dominate the league. Instead, he controlled games with excellent dribbling, shooting, and above all else, passing.
His incredible ability to find an open teammate is demonstrated by his career assist total of 10,141. But even this impressive number fails to capture the beauty of his trademark no-look pass.
During his 13 year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, Johnson won five NBA Championships, was named the league MVP three times and the Finals MVP three times.
The first of his NBA rings and Finals MVP awards came in Johnson’s rookie year. He was only 20 years old; a fitting start to what would be a magical career, and see him become the third wealthiest NBA player.
2. Steph Curry
Image: Keith Allison/Wikimedia Commons
Steph Curry is the best point guard in the NBA who is currently playing.
To put it simply, Curry is the best 3-point shooter the NBA has ever seen, and he has the stats to prove it. He once scored 402 3-pointers in a single season. That’s an average of 4.9 over 82 games.
Curry is also the all-time NBA leader when it comes to 3-pointers made. He has made 3,390 3-pointers in the 882 NBA games he’s played. Ray Allen, who comes in second of all-time, racked up 2,973 in 1,300 games.
Curry’s exceptional 3-point shooting has led the Golden State Warriors to four NBA Championships. He has also been named the league’s MVP twice, and the Finals MVP once.
From high school to college, NBA and elsewhere, it hasn’t taken long for players all over the country to adopt Curry’s style of play.
As NBA coach Doc Rivers said: “What he’s doing is revolutionary. Only the greats can do that, leave their mark like that. Actually, the great-greats. They change the game.”
3. Oscar Robertson
Image: Vieilles Annonces/Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0
Oscar Robertson was a groundbreaking NBA player that dominated the league during the league’s star-studded ‘60s era.
Unlike other point guards before him, Robertson was not happy with just facilitating others’ scoring.
Instead, he used his 6ft 5, 210-pound frame to create scoring opportunities of his own. As a result, Robertson redefined what the point guard position could be, and cemented his position as one of the best point guards of all time. This would provide inspiration to the next generation of players, including Magic Johnson.
Statistically, Robertson’s best season came in 1961-62, his second year in the league.
During this season, Robertson averaged 30.8 points per game, 11.4 assists per game and 12.5 rebounds per game, making him the first player to ever average a triple-double on the season.
The next person to average a triple-double on the season was Russell Westbrook over 50 years later.
Unlike Westbrook, however, Robertson is an NBA champion. He lifted the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy in 1971 with the Milwaukee Bucks, the pinnacle of an incredible career.
4. Chris Paul
Image: Keith Allison/Wikipedia Commons
You don’t get a nickname like the Point God without dominating the NBA for years. That’s exactly what Chris Paul has done since entering the league in 2005.
Like John Stockton, Paul has brilliant vision unique to the best point guards. This has allowed him to make 11,501 assists.
His defense on the perimeter is aggressive, proactive and disruptive. Thanks to this, he has 2,544 steals in his career so far.
Scoring wise, Paul is no slouch either. He uses his exceptional handles to create space, meaning he can score from anywhere on the court. This includes sinking buckets from the notoriously difficult mid-range.
While his skills are exemplary, Paul’s greatest asset is his ability to improve the play of those around him. This has seen him compete for the NBA Championship with multiple franchises. Although the Larry O’Brien Trophy has always slipped through his fingers, he was certainly one of the best point guards in the NBA.
5. John Stockton
If you had to design the ideal point guard, you’d probably end up with someone like John Stockton.
To begin with, Stockton saw the game better than anybody else. Over his 19 seasons in the NBA, he used his vision to create scoring opportunities for his teammates. In a single season he once totaled 1,164 assists.
His career assist total of 15,806 is the highest ever.
Stockton’s own shooting was effective and reliable. He had a career shooting percentage of 51.5% and he was known for scoring under pressure, like when he drained a three to send the Utah Jazz to the NBA Finals (above).
On the defensive end, Stockton was a menace: he has the most steals of any NBA player with 3,265.
Although he never won an NBA Championship, Stockton is rightly seen as one of the best NBA point guards the world has ever seen.
6. Isiah Thomas
Image: Keith Allison/Wikipedia Commons
Although he is only around 6ft tall, Isiah Thomas was the point guard of the most feared team in NBA history, the Detroit Piston Bad Boys. Thomas didn’t let his lack of size impact his game and was never one to shy away from conflict.
It was this attitude that allowed him to transform the Detroit Pistons from one of the NBA’s worst teams into two-time NBA Champions.
Thomas’ greatest moment came in Game 6 of the 1987-88 NBA Finals when he severely sprained his ankle in the third quarter. Playing on one leg, he went on to score 25 points in that quarter – an NBA record that rightfully helps position him as one of the best point guards of all time.
Although the Pistons came up short in that series, they went on to win back-to-back Championships in 1989 and 1990. Thomas led the team on both occasions and was named Finals MVP in 1990.
Despite only playing 13 seasons, Thomas became the Piston’s all-time leader in points, assists, steals and games played.
7. Steve Nash
Image: Keith Allison/Wikipedia Commons
Canadian-born Steve Nash was an eight-time NBA All-Star and the league’s MVP twice. While known for his passing and shooting, Nash’s most lasting impact on the NBA was how he revolutionized the game of basketball itself.
While playing for the Phoenix Suns, Nash became the key part of the 7 second or less offense, an offensive scheme that drastically sped up the league.
This transformed the game from the slow, systematic format popular in the 1990s, into a rip-roaring fast-paced game that prioritized the 3-point shot.
Nash’s skills were essential to this offense as he had to react to a team’s coverage, improvise, and set up a shot for his team in under seven seconds.
Nash is also known as one of the most efficient shooters of all-time. His career average free throw percentage of 90.4% is the highest ever. He also registered four 50-40-90 seasons.
This is when a player has a 50% field goal percentage, 40% 3-point percentage and 90% free throw percentage on the season. This is a feat that has only been achieved on 10 occasions, and a stat that cements his title as one of the best point guards of all time.
8. Jason Kidd
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Jason Kidd was known as the ultimate floor general. During his long career, he controlled the flow of the game masterfully, reading defenses in seconds before playing the appropriate offense.
When playing for the Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns early in his career, Kidd relied on his speed to get the job done, slinging beautiful passes while sprinting down the court.
This athleticism and skill saw him rack up the second largest assists total of all-time with 12,091. He also achieved an impressive 107 triple-doubles.
As his athleticism began to fade, Kidd completely recreated his game, transforming his awkward jump shot into a smooth, reliable weapon. He was rewarded for his hard work in 2011 when he won his only NBA Championship at 38 years old.
9. Walt Frazier
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Walt Frazier is best known for the 10-year stint he spent playing for the New York Knicks from 1967-77. During this time, Frazier was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team for seven consecutive years.
Frazier’s offense was just as strong as his defense. In only Frazier’s third season he led the Knicks to their first NBA championship scoring 36 points and making 19 assists in a crucial Game 7 victory.
Frazier and the Knicks would win another NBA Championship in 1973. He is certainly one of the best Knicks point guards in history, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1987.
Even Frazier’s post-playing career has been legendary.
For over 20 years he has sat alongside Mike Breen, calling Knicks games for MSG Networks. In 2022, Frazier was celebrated by the Hall of Fame again, when he was awarded the Curt Gowdy Award for outstanding broadcasting contributions to basketball.
10. Russell Westbrook
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Russell Westbrook has not had the greatest time recently, but his stint at the Los Angeles Lakers was just a blip in an excellent career.
Westbrook burst onto the scene in 2008 after being selected fourth overall by the Seattle Supersonics.
It only took until March of his rookie season for Westbrook to log his first NBA triple-double. A triple-double is when a player achieves a double-digit total in three of five statistical categories (assists, blocks, points, rebounds, and steals) over the course of a single game.
Soon, securing triple-doubles became Westbrook’s specialty.
In the 2016-17 season, Westbrook set a new NBA record for the number of triple-doubles in a season. Westbrook’s 42 triple-doubles passed Oscar Robertson’s 1961-62 season record of 41.
Westbrook also averaged a triple-double on the season, becoming only the second player in NBA history to achieve the feat.
Unsurprisingly, Westbrook won the MVP in 2017. He then went on to average a triple-double over the next three seasons. This makes him the only athlete to have averaged a triple-double for multiple seasons, and worthy of being considered one of the best point guards of all time.
Your Most Frequently Asked Questions
Who is the best point guard in the NBA right now?
The best point guard currently playing in the NBA is Steph Curry. Curry is the all-time NBA leader for 3-pointers, has been named the league’s MVP twice, and the Finals MVP once.
Who is the best point guard in history?
The best point guard in NBA history is Magic Johnson. Johnson won five NBA Championships, was named the league MVP three times and the Finals MVP three times.
Has LeBron played point guard?
Yes, LeBron James played point guard for the Lakers during the 2020-21 season.
Has Michael Jordan played point guard?
Yes, Michael Jordan played point guard for the Chicago Bulls during the 1988-89 season.
Who has the best point guard shooting percentage of all time?
Maurice Cheeks has the highest field goal shooting percentage by a point guard, at 52.3%.
Lead image: Keith Allison/Wikimedia Commons