Top 10 best point guards in NBA history

Profile Picture: Ryan Murphy

Ryan Murphy

April 13th, 2021

No position has undergone a greater makeover over the past decade than point guard. The pass-first points of years past have given way to dynamic creators, who are equally adept at scoring and setting up teammates.

As the role of PG has expanded, so too has the influence of the multitalented players who man the position. Four of the last five MVPs have been their team's primary ball handlers, and this year alone, five of the league’s top seven scorers are point guards.

Bow down as we rank the top 10 point gods of all time.

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Oklahoma City Thunder guard Chris Paul being defended by Los Angeles Clippers guard Paul George. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)

10. Chris Paul

NBA teams: New Orleans Hornets, L.A. Clippers, Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder, Phoenix Suns
Accolades: 10x All-Star, 9x All-NBA Team, 4x AST leader

Chris Paul is one of those players you either love or hate. Those who love him applaud “CP3” for his competitive fire, exceptional court vision, elite passing skills, and peerless ballhandling ability. Those who hate him deride the 10-time All-Star for his all-world whininess and pettiness.

Regardless of what side of the fence you live on, it’s impossible not to respect Paul and his impressive resume. The Wake Forest alum is a 10-time All-Star and nine-time All Defensive Team honoree whose ticket to Springfield has already been punched.

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Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry is pictured with fellow two time NBA MVP Steve Nash. (Photograph by Daniel Gluskoter/Icon Sportswire)

9. Steve Nash

NBA teams: Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers
Accolades: Hall of Fame, 8x All-Star, 2x NBA MVP

Few players in NBA history have played the game with more infectious joy than Steve Nash, the floppy-haired Canadian kid who routinely led the league in high-fives and assists during his exceptional 18-year career.

"Nashty" was at his best in 2005-06, when he averaged a career-high 18.8 points per game and led the league in dimes and free-throw percentage. His outstanding season resulted in 54 wins for the Suns and a second consecutive NBA MVP award for Nash.

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Allen Iverson of the Philadelphia 76ers. (Photo by Manny Millan/SI/Icon SMI)

8. Allen Iverson

NBA teams: Philadelphia 76ers, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, Memphis Grizzlies
Accolades: Hall of Fame, 11x All-Star, NBA MVP, Rookie of the Year

Arguably the greatest pound-for-pound player in NBA history, Iverson was an 11-time All-Star and first ballot Hall of Famer who led the NBA in scoring four times during his legendary 15-year career.

The 6'0" point guard fearlessly attacked the hoop at a million miles an hour and gleefully mixed it up with players who looked like they were twice his size. He likely got knocked down more than any other player in his era, but he always bounced back up, never giving his opponents the satisfaction of hearing him cry out in pain.

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Dallas Mavericks point guard Jason Kidd #2 in an NBA game between the Portland Trail Blazers and the Dallas Mavericks. (Photo by Albert Pena/Icon Sportswire)

7. Jason Kidd

NBA teams: Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix Suns, New Jersey Nets, Dallas Mavericks, New York Knicks
Accolades: Hall of Fame, 10x All-Star, 5x AST leader, NBA Champion

Jason Kidd’s stats may not leap off the page, but that’s hardly surprising for a gritty two-way player who measured his success by wins and losses rather than points and assists.

The rugged 6'4" point guard made the playoffs 17 times in his 19-year career and made three trips to the NBA Finals before eventually winning it all in 2011 with the plucky Dallas Mavericks. “J-Kidd” was even more successful in international competition, where he recorded a perfect 56-0 record with Team USA.

6. Isiah Thomas

NBA team: Detroit Pistons:
Accolades: Hall of Fame, 12x All-Star, 2x NBA Champion

Isiah Thomas is known to many younger fans as the guy who bullied Michael Jordan on The Last Dance, and that’s a shame, because it undersells his incredible career and contributions to the game.

The feisty Chicago native was a phenomenal ballhandler with jitterbug speed who could dribble circles around half the opposing players in the league. Zeke’s ability to beat his man off the dribble made him deadly in the half court, and helped pave the way for back-to-back championship seasons in 1989 and 1990.

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Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook (0) looks on during an NBA game between the Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)

5. Russell Westbrook

NBA teams: Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets
Accolades: 9x All-Star, 2x All-Star Game MVP, NBA MVP

Has there ever been a superstar who has received more criticism than Westbrook?

The Houston Rockets guard is frequently maligned by fans for his lack of range and his inability to recognize the limitations of his own game. Some of those critiques have merit, of course, but they also ignore Westbrook’s remarkable body of work.

In addition to being a nine-time All-Star, two-time scoring champ, and two-time assists leader, the UCLA alum also averaged a triple-double for three straight seasons from 2017-2019.  Try doing that in two straight games in your local rec league, and you’ll discover just how daunting a task it really is.

It’s unlikely we’ll ever see another point guard with Westbrook’s off-the-charts athleticism and competitive fire.

4. John Stockton

NBA team: Utah Jazz
Accolades: Hall of Fame, 10x All-Star, All-Star Game MVP

A true throwback to the glory days of hard screens and nut huggers, Stockton holds NBA records for career assists and steals. Some of that is because of his durability, but the Jazz legend was also a remarkably hard-nosed competitor who would knock down his grandma to grab a loose ball.

Stockton’s tenacity and leadership resulted in 20 consecutive playoff appearances and two trips to the NBA Finals.

3. Oscar Robertson

NBA teams: Cincinnati Royals, Milwaukee Bucks
Accolades: Hall of Fame, 12x All-Star, NBA MVP, NBA Champion 

It’s always tricky evaluating ballers from bygone eras, but all you have to do is watch a little tape of Oscar Robertson to realize he could hang with players from any generation, given his exceptional size, speed, and strength.

A 12-time All-Star and six-time assists leader, the Big O averaged 25.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 9.5 assists over his 14-year career and won an NBA championship in 1971, during his first season in Milwaukee.

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Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry warms up. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)

2. Steph Curry

NBA team: Golden State Warriors
Accolades: 6x All-Star, 2x NBA MVP, 3x NBA Champion

There were plenty of point guards who could nail open jumpers before Steph Curry came around. Mark Price and Deron Williams both come to mind. However no one — and we do mean no one — has ever done it with more panache than the Baby-Faced Assassin.

A member of the NBA’s exclusive 50-40-90 Club, Curry has led the NBA in three-point field goals five times and is first among all active players in free-throw percentage. His unsurpassed ability to find the bottom of the net has resulted in back-to-back MVPs and three NBA championships (and counting).

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Los Angeles Lakers guard Magic Johnson is awarded the NBA All-Star Game MVP trophy. (Photo by Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire)

1. Magic Johnson

NBA team: Los Angeles Lakers
Accolades: Hall of Fame, 12x All-Star, 3x NBA MVP, 5x NBA Champion

With most players, you need to examine their entire career to appreciate their greatness. With Magic Johnson, all you need to do is look at Game 6 of the 1980 NBA Finals.

Stepping in for injured captain Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic played center for the first time in his NBA career and poured on 42 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists, three steals, and a block to lead L.A. to a commanding, 123-107 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.

Magic’s superhuman performance resulted in Finals MVP honors and his first of five NBA championships.