I’ve been watching NBA basketball for four decades, which at first sounds like it gives me some sort of basketball wisdom or hoops street cred, but really is just depressing. Realization of my mortality aside, my love of ball started with Bernard King and the 1983-84 New York Knicks, and since then I’ve watched a lot of basketball.

So, as an exercise to keep my mind sharp and my ability to recall up to par, I’ll be looking back at the top 10 players at each position during the last three decades — 1980s, 1990s and 2000s — over the next several weeks. So, fire up the DeLorean and make sure the flux capacitor is working!

Here are the factors, in varying degrees, taken into account in making this ranking — statistics, impact on the game, awards and honors, longevity, playoff performance and my own gut instincts. Feel free to disagree and make cases for others in the comments.

10. Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets (2005-Present)
425 G; 18.7 PPG; 9.9 APG; 4.6 RPG; 0.9 3PTM; 47.1 FG%; 85.3 FT%; 2.4 SPG

This is sort of cheating here since Paul has only played six seasons compared to considerably more from the players below, but during his relatively short time, he’s been considered the best point guard in the game. So, with apologies to Mark Jackson and Mark Price, I had to include him in the top 10.

There was a bit of a dip in production last season that had many shifting gears and proclaiming the New Jersey Nets’ Deron Williams as the best lead guard in the L, but over their careers, CP3 has been better, particularly on the defensive end where he averages 2.4 acts of theft per contest. Also, considering CP3’s 22.0 points, 11.5 assists and 6.7 rebounds in a closely-contested first round match-up versus the Los Angeles Lakers in 2011, there is obviously a chance that Paul will see his 20/10 production come back soon.

Paul has led the league in total assists twice, total steals four times, been named to an All-NBA and All-Defensive team three times each and is the active leader in Offensive Rating (ORtg) at 121.0 and eighth in career Player Efficiency Rating (PER) at 25.22, the only point guard in the top 10. CP3 belongs on the list and will surely climb the rankings with several productive seasons ahead of him.

9. Tim Hardaway, Golden State Warriors (1989-1996), Miami Heat (1996-2001), Dallas Mavericks (2001-02), Denver Nuggets (2002), Indiana Pacers (2002-03)
867 G; 17.7 PPG; 8.2 APG; 3.3 RPG; 1.8 3PTM; 43.1 FG%; 78.2 FT%; 1.6 SPG

Hardaway came running out of the gates his rookie season, averaging 14.7 points, 8.7 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 2.1 steals. If it wasn’t for the San Antonio Spurs’ David Robinson, Hardaway surely would have been the NBA Rookie of the Year. In his following seasons with the Warriors, Hardaway was part of Run TMC along with Mitch Richmond and Chris Mullin, a trio of scorers that hit a defense from many different directions.

Hardaway averaged 20 or more points per game in five of his 13 seasons and at least eight assists in eight seasons. He achieved the magical 20/10 twice and came close two other seasons when he averaged 9.7 and 9.3 assists, respectively. He was a five-time All-Star and named to an All-NBA team five times as well. He finished with an excellent 18.6 PER and 110 ORtg.

Hardaway also had a ridiculous knuckleball jumper that had you wondering how the ball ever went through the net consistently. Sort of the wonder one has when you see Shawn Marion shoot. Oh, and if you didn’t know, Hardaway had “skeelz.”

8. Kevin Johnson, Cleveland Cavaliers (1987-88), Phoenix Suns (1988-2000; missed 1998-99 season)
735 G; 17.9 PPG; 9.1 APG; 3.3 RPG; 0.2 3PTM; 49.3 FG%; 84.1 FT%; 1.5 SPG

Johnson is one of those players that you say, “If he was ever completely healthy…” In the twelve seasons that he played, Johnson only averaged 61.3 games per season, which was truly unfortunate because KJ was electric when he took the court. He didn’t get the proper respect that he should have and he would have been higher on this list if he were more durable.

Johnson never led the league in any category, but was in the top five of assists per game for six seasons. He averaged 20+ points in five seasons and 10+ assists in four. He achieved the 20/10 mark in three seasons, but came close three other seasons when he fell short by averaging 19.7 points, 9.5 assists and 9.3 assists, respectively. Johnson played in three All-Star games and made an All-NBA team five times in his career. He finished his career with a sterling 20.7 PER and 118 ORtg.

For me, KJ was the first little man that could play above the rim and throw down hard during a game against legit shot-blocking big men. Need proof? Here’s KJ skying on 6-foot-11 John “Hot Rod” Williams. And here versus 7-foot-4 Mark Eaton. And finally against one of the best centers ever, 7-foot Hakeem Olajuwon. KJ had no fear. Now, if he was ever completely healthy…

7. Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns (1996-98; 2004-Present), Dallas Mavericks (1998-2004)
1090 G; 14.6 PPG; 8.5 APG; 3.0 RPG; 1.4 3PTM; 48.9 FG%; 90.4 FT%; 0.8 SPG

Nash is still in the debate for best point guard in the league, especially considering his ability to drop dimes and his excellent shooting touch from both the field and foul line. However, the major drawback for Nash is his lack of defense, which dilutes any argument for him as the best PG in the Association.

Nash never averaged better than 18.8 points in a season, but led the league in assists (both total and per game) in five of the last seven seasons with the Phoenix Suns, where Nash augmented his production in a high-octane offensive scheme. He led the league in free-throw percentage twice and has an impressive career field-goal percentage for a guard. Nash currently owns a 20.2 PER and 119 ORtg, played in seven All-Star games, made seven All-NBA teams and more importantly, won back-to-back MVP awards for the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons.

Nash is 636 assists away from passing Oscar Robertson to place fifth on the all-time NBA assists record and should pass the Big O if there’s a full season of NBA action after the lockout (Boo! Hiss!). There’s also a small chance he passes Magic Johnson on the list for fourth as Nash is 889 assists away. At the rate Nash is going, despite his age, he should replace both Hall of Famers in the next couple of seasons, but on this list, Nashty remains outside of the top five. Don’t hate me, Canada.

6. Allen Iverson, Philadelphia 76ers (1996-2006; 2009-10), Denver Nuggets (2006-08), Detroit Pistons (2008-09), Memphis Grizzlies (2009)
914 G; 26.7 PPG; 6.2 APG; 3.7 RPG; 1.2 3PTM; 42.5 FG%; 78.0 FT%; 2.2 SPG

Can we all agree that Iverson is the greatest scoring little man to ever play the game? Yes, he was a high-volume scorer, but it’s hard to deny he went all-in when he played, on both ends of the court. Iverson was never the prototypical point guard, but look at the top point guards in the league now and most of them are high scorers like AI. Plus, 6.2 dimes a contest is nothing to sneeze at, although we’ll cover the 3.6 turnovers per game with a tissue.

Iverson led the league in scoring in four seasons and during his career-best 33.0 PPG during the 2005-06 season, lost out to Kobe Bryant’s career-best 35.4 PPG. He led the league in steals per game for three seasons, appeared in 11 consecutive All-Star games (2000-10), winning the All-Star MVP award in 2001 and 2005. Iverson made seven All-NBA teams, thrice on the first team and won the MVP award once. He finished with a 20.9 PER and 105 ORtg.

Iverson has the stigma of being a ball-hog, a chucker and having tunnel vision. It’s all true. However, during his prime, he took teams squarely on his back and lifted them higher. AI is both loved and hated, but how many other players had his heart to play the game? There aren’t many. And who could ever forget this? Iverson was special from the start.

5. Gary Payton, Seattle SuperSonics (1990-2003), Milwaukee Bucks (2003), Los Angeles Lakers (2003-04), Boston Celtics (2004-05), Miami Heat (2005-07)
1335 G; 16.7 PPG; 6.9 APG; 4.0 RPG; 0.9 3PTM; 46.6 FG%; 72.9 FT%; 1.9 SPG

Payton is arguably the best defensive point guard ever, which is why he’s placed in the top five. His career offensive numbers don’t necessarily stand out and honestly, neither do his career defensive numbers, particularly steals. However, The Glove was like a great cornerback in football that doesn’t have gaudy interception statistics because quarterbacks never threw their way for fear of throwing a pick. Payton was excellent in denying the ball and making whomever he was defending pass the ball away, and in his first nine seasons, he averaged two-plus steals each year.

Payton was durable, only missing 27 total games in his 17 seasons. He never averaged more than 9.0 assists per game, but has nine seasons of at least seven assists. Payton averaged 20+ points in seven seasons, coming close two other times when he averaged 19.2 and 19.3 points, respectively. He only led the league in steals once despite some gaudy numbers at the peak of his career. Payton played in nine All-Star games, made nine All-Defensive first teams and won a Defensive Player of the Year award. He also made nine All-NBA teams and finally won that elusive NBA championship at the twilight of his career with the Miami Heat in 2006. He finished with an 18.9 PER and 111 ORtg.

I first heard of Payton while he was at Oregon State and I will never forget his Sports Illustrated cover during his senior season. He came out of college with a big bark that continued into the NBA, although some would call it whining. However, that was part of Payton’s charm because while he talked a lot smack, he was able to back it up.

4. Jason Kidd, Dallas Mavericks (1994-96; 2008-Present), Phoenix Suns (1996-2001), New Jersey Nets (2001-08)
1267 G; 13.2 PPG; 9.1 APG; 6.5 RPG; 1.4 3PTM; 40.1 FG%; 78.4 FT%; 2.0 SPG

Despite his late career renaissance, Jason Kidd was a horrible shooter and someone you could never rely on for points, well at least efficiently, as a scorer. However, Kidd is one of those players that can affect the outcome of the game without scoring one bucket because he does so other many things on the court. Part of the proof is the fact that he is one of three players with 100+ triple-double games in their career (107). The other two are Hall of Famers Oscar Robertson (181) and Magic Johnson (138). Kidd was also one of the top defenders in the game during his prime, although he and his old knees did a relatively decent job versus the Miami Heat in this year’s NBA Finals where J-Kidd received his first NBA title.

Kidd never averaged better than 18.7 points (while shooting 41.4 percent from the floor, which is ugly), but led the league in assists per game five times and finished in the top 10 every season that he’s played. He was a Co-Rookie of the Year with Grant Hill and played in 10 All-Star games. Kidd was named to six All-NBA teams, nine All-Defensive teams (four first team) and finally got that elusive NBA championship this past season. He owns a 18.2 PER, which undoubtedly suffers from Kidd’s shooting inefficiency and 107 ORtg.

Despite my harping on how utterly bad Kidd shoots the rock, he’s stil  a winner and one of the most versatile players to ever lace them up. He’s 37 years old, but still an effective player and future Hall of Famer. It’s kind of sad that I’ve followed his career since his prep days in Oakland. We’re getting old, Kidd.

3. Isiah Thomas, Detroit Pistons (1981-1994)
979 G; 19.2 PPG; 9.3 APG; 3.6 RPG; 0.4 3PTM; 45.2 FG%; 75.9 FT%; 1.9 SPG

Thomas gets a lot of crap for destroying the New York Knicks and it’s a valid point. He and James Dolan combined is what pushed me over the edge to no longer being a Knicks fan, but that’s besides the point. As a basketball player, Zeke was amazing and one of my favorite players of all-time. He led the Bad Boys to two NBA titles, and despite his size, was the biggest player for those title teams.

Isiah averaged 20+ points for five seasons and had nine seasons of 18+ points. He averaged four seasons of 10+ assists, including a 13.9 assists per game campaign that led the league. Thomas played in a dozen straight All-Star games (1982-1993), winning the All-Star MVP award twice (1984 and 1986). He made five All-NBA teams, won two titles and one NBA Finals MVP award. He finished with a 18.1 PER and 106 ORtg.

Zeke was an artist on the court with an fanastic dribble and ability to get his shot off smoothly. He was a player to watch and one that you seemingly waited for some highlight from, which was amazing considering the likes of Dominique Wilkins and Michael Jordan were dunking everything during that time. In any case, here’s a small taste of Zeke.

2. John Stockton, Utah Jazz (1984- 2003)
1504 G; 13.1 PPG; 10.5 APG; 2.7 RPG; 0.6 3PTM; 51.5 FG%; 82.6 FT%; 2.2 SPG

It’s fitting that Stockton gets ranked second on this list because he was the second-best player on his team after Karl Malone. In my conversations about top point guards with other people, I think that Stockton is always underrated, which I blame on the aforementioned Mailman taking the spotlight (rightly so), playing in Utah versus some of the bigger markets and not winning a title, although coming close. Oddly enough, other than the last point, Stockton probably wouldn’t have it any other way.

Stockton never averaged more than 17.2 points in a season, but surely had the ability to score 20+ points if he wanted to. His excellent shooting percentage for a guard and his adeptness in penetrating would point to the fact that Stockton could have averaged more points, but that wasn’t him. In his 19 NBA seasons, Stockton played a full slate of games in 17 of them, which includes the 50 game strike-shortened 1998-99 season. He averaged double-digits in assists in 10 seasons, leading the league in nine of them. Stockton also led the league steals per game twice.

While Stockton won’t speak much about his achievements, the statistics do all the talking for him. He owns excellent rates in PER (21.8) and ORtg (121), but all you need to know that he is the NBA’s all-time leader in assists (15,806) and steals (3,265) and he owns those records by a lot. Don’t expect them to fall any time soon.

1. Magic Johnson, Los Angeles Lakers (1979-1991; 1995-96)
906 G; 19.5 PPG; 11.2 APG; 7.2 RPG; 0.4 3PTM; 52.0 FG%; 84.8 FT%; 1.9 SPG

Magic is at the top for a few reasons — statistics, championships, lifting the NBA up with Larry Bird into the mainstream again and revolutionizing the point guard position at 6-foot-9. Also, he made it cool to have one-word nicknames. What better name could there be for a wizard on the hardwood than Magic?

In his last nine full seasons, Magic averaged a double-double, thrice hitting the 20/10 mark. He was a perennial triple-double threat and a big-time player, helping the Los Angeles Lakers win five NBA titles, while taking home the Finals MVP three times. Magic played in a dozen All-Star games and won the MVP twice (1990 and 1992). He made 10 All-NBA teams and won the MVP three times (’87, ’89 and ’90).

If the numbers don’t make the case, here are some highlights that might solidify Magic’s place as the best point guard ever. And seriously, who could ever forget that smile?

Next week, we hit the shooting guards. Feel free to let me know any snubs or call me a genius by getting at me on Twitter.

Comments (55)

  1. Stockton was the second best player in his team? How many times did Malone work in the post? Or was he the benefit of great passes off of the pick-and-roll?

  2. Nash and CP3 should both be higher.

  3. hmmm… I think Isiah should be two. He and Magic are on their own tier to me. Your main point for stockton’s superiority is total numbers, which were accumulated over almost twenty years. While this durability and longevity is impressive, I would take the shorter, but more impactful career of Isiah.

  4. For real?? All these guys are above Mark Price???……….come on now, he not only deserves to be on that list but deserves to be int the top 5……..especially if your going to include Tim Hardaway

  5. OK, number one, I don’t really think you can call Iverson a point guard and it certainly doesn’t make any sense to put him on this list ahead of guys like Paul and Nash. AI has always been overrated because of his ability to score the ball, despite the fact that the only contending team any GM was able to build around him required all of his teammates to be defensive-oriented role players in an incredibly weak Eastern Conference. But, yeah. He’s a warrior, or whatever pointless cliches you want to throw out to excuse how team-cripplingly selfish he was.

  6. I’d say Stock #2 is right. Even over 19 years and 1500 games, Stock still has a 10+ assists average… Can you imagine that? The guy averaged 14 assists a game in his 5 best seasons!!! 14! Over 5 seasons! (he also averaged 3 steals during that period, and 2.2 over 19 years and 1500 games)

    Those totals dont come only from longevity, he actually never averaged less than 9.5 assists per 36. At 40. Yeah. He has a career average of 11.9 assists per 36. And that’s with less turnovers than Magic or Isiah.

    I kinda agree with Air LOL above: Stock was at least as valuable as Malone to those Jazz.

    The non-scorers really are underrated.
    (btw, Isiah was a fantastic player and I’m not sure he doesnt deserve to be #2, it’s just discussable).

    good ratings btw.

  7. @Thom

    Dude, just watch the game he won “single-handedly” in the finals against the Lakers. All of what you say is true, but it’s much easier to get Kenny Thomas, old Mutombo, Eric Snow and George Lynch to play for you than “stars” such as Boozer, Bosh or Stoudemire, which guys like Nash or CP3 need to be effective. i.e.: it’s easier to build a good (but not fantastic) team around a player like AI, because you need less “sexy” players (scorers) to have a chance to contend.

  8. Nash led the NBA’s top ranked offensive team for NINE consecutive years, putting up insane efficiency stats, and winning 50+ games virtually every year for a decade. He makes players better. Not just in the normal “he commands a double team so teammates get open shots” way that Dwight Howard makes teammates better, but in extremely rare “genuinely helping his teammates improve their skillset” sense. Year after year, the Suns brought in new (and frequently cheap) talent, and they looked awesome next to Nash.

    Iverson’s supposed strength is scoring, but since he takes 20+ shots per game and has a 42% fg, he basically guarantees that your team’s offensive efficiency will be mediocre at best. That and the lack of leadership explain why he hasn’t won very many games in his career. Does he even have a winning record over the course of his career?

    No serious GM would take Iverson over Nash. I included the word “serious” to rule out Isiah Thomas only. In fact, I’ll throw out that no GM (again excluding Isiah) would take Nash’s third best season over Iverson’s very best season.

    In conclusion, I disagree with your rankings.

  9. List was pretty spot on. The sequence of 4-7 is pretty tough. They’re all low-end hall of famers.

    AI gets shit on for being a ball hog but look at the teammates he had. Aaron Mckie and Eric Snow? Old Mutumbo and old Webber and Theo Ratliff? He easily had the worst teammates out of any of the players in consideration (even CP3).

    And no, Mark Price does not belong on this list. He only broke 2,000 minutes (25/game) in 6 seasons.

  10. I don’t quite understand why AI was considered a point guard; he was a volume shooter with less than seven assists/game for his career and ESPN rated him the fifth greatest shooting guard of all-time. He didn’t even lead his team in assists/apg for most of his career so I don’t get his placement here.

  11. Glad to see KJ in the list… I saw him absolutely dominate games, although injury took its toll. I couldn’t believe that Bill Simmons (who has a great all-time list) had him in the nineties for best players ever.

    @NateJ – Totally agree about Iverson… he played his career with a bunch of stiffs and made it to an NBA Finals.

    Solid list Dennis… I’m looking forward to shooting guards.

  12. Very hard list to make.

  13. no love for Penny?

  14. Magic was so good they named a team after him!!!

  15. Stockton: 19 seasons, 9 first round playoff losses, including a 1989 first round broom against a no defense Don Nelson Golden State Warriors team. Career averages of 13 pts and 10 asts. NO RINGS AT ANY LEVEL.

    Zeke has 13 seasons, was getting his first of TWO RINGS against Magic in 1989 (the same Magic who Stockton could never beat), a Finals MVP, rings at the high school, college, and pro level as the definitive point guard at all three levels, and career averages of 19 pts and 9 asts.

    Stockton was great, but he couldn’t check Isiah’s jock strap and damn sure couldn’t check Isiah on D ( or check KJ, or GP, or Tim Hardaway, or any of the other high caliber pgs he played against, except for maybe Mark Jackson). Stockton was the Eminem of NBA points guards, really, really, talented, but still consistently overrated by the Mayberry RFD media.

  16. Iverson shouldn’t be in the top ten. I admire(d) his fearless scoring as a fellow 6 foot nothing, but no, his no top ten POINT GUARD. Wasn’t eric snow handling the point for example?

  17. Iverson was a SG, not a PG…

  18. No love for Frenchy Parker? He had a few rings and finals MVPs…? :)

  19. stockton is not better than isiah. thats bullshit. the 92 team was bullshit. and all the isiah hate is bullshit. isiah used to kill stockton. ill put micheal ray richardson over everyone except magic and isiah. he killed everyone especially isiah. he called isiah a white pppoint guard.

    and nash is not better than kj or hardaway. nash is lucky dantoni exist since that helped him get two mvps. put nash on the clippers and he doesnt have the same effect.

  20. All I want to add;

    Zeke as a player was a BADMAN! People were talking about Rondo’s busted arm, but what about Zeke’s busted ankle game?

    I don’t really care about the rankings.

  21. Oh, and this;

    If Steve won back to back MVPs in 05 and 06 for his contributions to the Suns, JKidd got robbed in either of the two season’s he took the Nets to the finals.

  22. @Air LOL No question there was a symbiotic relationship between Malone and Stockton, but I’d put Malone as the better player (not by a lot, but a little) because the Mailman still had to put the ball in the hoop. In that case, you have to ask, would Stockton would have had as many assists without Malone to finish. I say, yes, but that’s not the point here. Plus Malone still got a ton of rebounds and steals (for a four) and was of the great post defenders in the league. How many times would you seem him chop for that ball as the offensive player began his move only to have the ball stolen by Malone?

    @Rob In due time, CP3 should end up in the top five at least. Nash? I think his inefficiency at defense, which is the Bizarro to his efficiency at offense is what keeps him down. On my list anyway.

    @Jeff Your prerogative, sir. I’m sure you have your reasons as I do mine. Rankings like this will always have differences in opinion, but it’s all good since differences is what makes the world go round.

    @Thomas Should I assume you’re from Cleveland? :)

    @Thom I included Iverson as a point guard because he facilitated the offense… okay, so a lot of times facilitating meant dominating and I’ll admit he’s not the prototypical point guard that looks for others first. However, he started as a point guard for Georgetown and when he began in the league. And when Eric Snow left after the 2003-04 season, AI took over the lead guard position primarily again. Doing a quick search, there are both articles about “Is Iverson a point guard or shooting guard?” and “Is Iverson the best point guard?” So, in this case, I made a judgment call.

    @Breyzh Thanks for the stats on Stockton and compliment. Also, good point about Iverson.

    @Adam If Nash put up insane efficiency stats, and we’ll keep this simple to use PER, what does it say about Iverson if Nash’s PER of 20.2 is slightly lower than Iverson’s 20.9? Also, doing quick math, Iverson teams are -21 overall in the games he played in with his rookie season’s team record of 22-60 really crippling him. However, if you look at the Larry Brown years (six seasons starting in 1997-98), Iverson led the Sixers to a +50 during that time and those were his prime playing days. The following season after Brown left, with Randy Ayers as head coach, the team went 33-49. The season after that, with Mo Cheeks at the helm, the team went 43-39. In his first and only full season with the Nuggets, the team went 50-32. All things considered, I don’t think he crippled teams per se.

    @NateJ Thanks for reading.

    @Jeff Just looking at AI’s full seasons with the Sixers and Nuggets (including that trade year), Iverson led the team in assists in six of 11 seasons. And in two of those that he didn’t, he was very close to Eric Snow.

    @Matt D Yeah, loved KJ. Thanks for reading. Shooting guards might be more controversial… I have Michael Jordan at #10. KEEDING!

    @Vesper Yeah, it got hard starting at #4 and on.

    @Bee4Three Unfortunately, he didn’t have the stats to be included. After his second through fourth years with the Magic, Penny was never the same and became only pretty good and didn’t sustain that excellence he once achieved before injuries knocked him down.

    @RobK Hahaha… I remember when they started the franchise, they wanted to have pinstripes on their uniforms to match the New York Yankees and be symbolic of success. Only remember that because I’m a Yankees fan. And, of course, the Magic is named that because of the Magic Kingdom nearby. Unless you know something I don’t. Ha!

    @Arthur Unfortunately, Stockton (as well as Malone, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, and a slew of other great players) played at their peak when Michael Jordan was creating his legend. Not really an excuse, but an explanation. Believe me, I love Zeke and I loved him as a player more than Stockton, but being objective, it’s hard to ignore the numbers (even if you just take half his career and pick his ten best years at the beginning of it) and the longevity. But, again, with rankings like this, it’s all personal opinion.

    @flegman As I said above, he did play point guard during his career and it’s a judgment call on where you want to put him relative to position.

    @Jay See above.

    @Stefan Vasilev Parker is without question a great point guard, but he didn’t put up any outstanding stats with career averages of 16.7 points, 5.7 assists, 0.5 3PTM and 1.0 steals. Very good numbers, but not great numbers and he won the rings with the help of Tim Duncan (greatest PF ever?) and Manu Ginobili. Respect to Parker, but not top ten respect.

    @wow In a one-on-one game, I’d take Zeke, no question. And, if we want to be fair in regards to teams, Stockton had Malone and Jeff Hornacek primarily. Zeke had Joe Dumars, a strong group of defenders and rebounders in Bill Laimbeer, Dennis Rodman, John Salley and Rick Mahorn, Mark Aguirre and of course The Microwave Vinnie Johnson off the bench. Zeke is a great player, but to be fair, he had better teammates in order to get those rings.

    @5Tmonious That game was ridiculous. If I remember correctly, he even entered the arena on crutches. Agreed on Kidd.

    Thanks to all for taking the time to read and comment.

  23. Isiah Thomas is number two and John Stockton is number two A. Also lets be clear about Stockton-Malone, Karl Malone was the junior partner and it’s only Stockton’s humility that allows people to miss that fact.

    For my money the ranking goes 1 Magic 2 Isiah/John 3 Gary Payton (look how effective he was against Jordan in the finals, even with a torn calf muscle) 4 Stephon Marbury… ha, ha I’m only playing with Marbury thing, though talent wise he could’ve put himself in the conversation if he wasn’t so in love with himself.

    One extremely underrated guy is Terrell Brandon. His career was cut short by injury but the man could play. Also Sam Cassell deserves some love he stepped in and was a vital part of those Rockets champions like it was completely natural then went on to a long and successful career.

  24. Id be interested if you had the top 10 players of all time, or big men to play the game. But good ranking on the pg’s.

  25. Good list…

    Isiah should be #2 (because the game is about winning. He’s the only player that beat Magic, Bird, and Jordan in their primes, with no other superstars on his team)

    And put AI behind Nash & KJ, because they were better pgs

  26. The argument that Stockton sucks in Head to Head is flat out wrong.

    I have the stats here, check them out.


  27. @Arthur GWS beat the jazz because:

    a) it was a 5 game series, and easier for underdog to win 3 games, not 4

    b) don nelson played 3 guards and 2 forwards while jerry sloan was stubborn and kept mark eaton out there; he couldn’t guard anyone.

    c) illegal defense rules back then favored the line ups nelson played

  28. @DV you’re a smart dude, good answers

    @Vic hum, dude, supporting cast isn’t about superstars, the Mavs just proved it to us.
    Malone>>Dumars, for sure
    but then
    Rodman >> Hornacek
    Laimbeer >> Eaton
    Aguirre >> Russell
    Mahorn, Salley, Johnson, Dantley, … >>>> Ostertag, Foster, Anderson, Carr, Heisley, …
    ’nuff said.
    Zeke was fantastic, but you can’t argue he had a fantastic supporting cast, maybe the best winning a title in 30 years besides Magic’s Lakers, Bird’s Cs and Kobe’s 08-11 Lakers

    I love Nash, but people really don’t realise how bad he is and was on D. I mean: PER doesn’t really account for D, and he’s still below AI and KJ. Still, being able to command an offense, very unlike AI, and being a top5 shooter all-time (yeah, that’s right, count’em), very unlike KJ vault him that high. Plus those guys weren’t fantastic on D either.
    AI still gets the nod from the lesser supporting cast and the Finals appearence as the best player on his team (unlike KJ)
    As for Tim Hardaway, as great as he was, he never was the best player on a succesful team.

    I really like those rankings, and you won’t see me saying that often. For once, I feel like they are kind of worth arguing about.

    I also like how no-one argues about Kidd and GP’s rankings…

    Can’t wait for the other positions…

    (I know, “cool, story, bro”)

  29. @ Amar
    good link, although it was written by a Stockton fan.

  30. I think the list is pretty good. But Penny Hardaway has to be in there somewhere. I know he was “only” legitimately productive for about 6 or 7 years, but come on, the guy was electric and dominant. I find it hard to say that some guys on this list could take over the game like he could. Penny was special and if it wasn’t for injuries, he’d be regarded as one of the greatest PG’s ever. So I think a nod in the top 10 is much well deserved

  31. I wana see the top ten future stars of the NBA. some people who would be on tjis list would be Durant, Ellis, Griffin, and so on…

  32. Whenever I think of Stockton I remember his full-court pass to Malone against the Bulls. He threw that sucker with one hand in the deciding moments of an NBA Finals game.

  33. I love this ranking solely bc KJ about as high as he deserves…. 1. Magic & 2. Stockton, I can’t imagine anyone ever disagreeing with that.

    The only change I might make would be dropping Payton & AI a couple spots.

    Well done

  34. @Breyzh the numbers don’t lie.

  35. @Vesper let’s not forget that he got that rebound over Rodman and other bulls in order to make that pass

  36. Good list. Only change I’d make is Glove over JKidd cuz offensively, GP could get 25-30 on anybody. Outside, half court, on the run, in the post. Defensive player of the year. Shoot, just asked JKidd who torched him when they were comin up and who he learned from.

  37. Stockton as #2 (or even 1B) is an easy call. Isaih is in tier 2 with “the rest”.

    This quote is one of the funniest things I’ve read in a long time:

    “Stockton was great, but he couldn’t check Isiah’s jock strap and damn sure couldn’t check Isiah on D ( or check KJ, or GP, or Tim Hardaway, or any of the other high caliber pgs he played against, except for maybe Mark Jackson). Stockton was the Eminem of NBA points guards, really, really, talented, but still consistently overrated by the Mayberry RFD media.”

    You HAVE to be kidding, right?

    Stockton rarely was on the losing end of any individual battle. He was always in control & never strayed from what made him an all-time great. He could have easily scored 20+PPG, but he did what was best for the team (run the offense & get teammates good shots). His shooting %’s were amazing. He isn’t the all time leader is steals because he didn’t D-up. And he didn’t get his steals by gambling & screwing over his team (i.e. Iverson). Quick feet, quicker hands, and an even quicker mind made him a top-notch defensive PG….then add to that him being a GREAT offensive player as well.

    Isaih was a very, very good PG on a team filled with good players. Stock was THE POINT GUARD, while playing with only 2 other players even worth mentioning.

    Side note… I agree about AI not being a PG, he should be in the SG article. Then again, Duncan should be ranked with the centers, but I’m sure he’ll be put in with the PF’s, right? Because F.Elson, M.Bonner, A.McDyess, F.Oberto, M.Allen & the other guys he started next to for 80% of his career were the “centers”, right?

  38. How many extra titles would Magic won if he didn’t retire for a few years?
    My guess is that he wouldn’t have any extra, because there was another MJ standing in his way

  39. @Dennis,

    Man, Stockton’s statistical prime came in 1989, 90, and 91, when he had his best scoring and assist numbers, but still lost in the first round to Timmy Hardaway, in the first round to Kevin Johnson, and in the second round to Terry Porter. It was Hakeem Olajuwon, Gary Payton, and Clyde Drexler, not Michael Jordan, that kept John Stockton and the Utah Jazz down.

    We always say that numbers are important, but it’s more important to put up numbers on a winning team and to put up numbers on a team that wins when it matters most, in the playoffs. Zeke did that through out his career. That just wasn’t the book on John Stockton, no matter how much Jennifer Aniston and Courtney Cox loved his short shorts.

    Zeke beat Magic. Zeke beat Bird. Zeke beat Jordan. And he did it playing for an overlooked franchise, in an overlooked city, playing with teammates who had all been overlooked until almost the very day they became champions. Back to back champions.

    Maybe it’s fitting that Zeke is a Finals MVP with two rings that still gets overlooked in favor of a guy with bare-naked fingers.

  40. @AllThatAmar,

    Stockton and the Jazz lost to the Warriors in the first round not because it was a five game series, but because loosing in the first round of the NBA playoffs was pretty much what the Jazz did for half of Stockton’s career.

    1986, 3-1 Dallas.
    1987 3-2 GSW.
    1989, 3-0 GSW (Does a five game series length really factor into a sweep? Would a seven game series have made it 4-1 instead? The Jazz were a 2 seed and still gagged)
    1990, 3-2 Phoenix
    1993, 3-2 Seattle
    1995, 3-2 Houston
    2001, 3-2 Dallas
    2002, 3-1 Sactown
    2003, 4-1 Sactown

    You realize that in six of those nine first round flame outs, the Jazz were the higher seed, had home court advantage, and still went home extra early.

    Stock’s got career regular season averages of 13 and 10. But he’s got playoff career averages of 13 and 10 too. Stockton’s PER dropped in the playoffs. Zeke’s went up. That would be why Zeke’s got two rings and Stockton will get his when he goes into coaching.

  41. I really feel bad for Stockton and his pal Malone. They are guys who deserved to win a ring. Such a great duo. The Top 10 list is fair enough, Magic was a killer

  42. @zero24gravity
    Robinson was a center, Nesterovic was center, Mohamed was a center. Don’t leave’em out just for argument sake. TD was most successful playing alongside a legitimate/real C. If that doesn’t mean he’s a PF, what does?
    Plus M. Allen and Elson only played sparingly, at best.

    Malone was kinda shockingly bad in pressure situations imo. He had a tendency to lose his confidence, panic and get out of what he did best (i.e. scoring inside). Not having worse playoff numbers than regular season numbers is already an achievement… Plus some of Zeke’s teammates were also known for getting better with the playoffs (Salley is the perfect exemple).
    Again, I’m not really sure who deserves to be #2, seing how Thomas took over important as hell games, but an argument can be made for both players, don’t deny it.

  43. Iverson isn’t a point guard and as such doesn’t belong on this list.

  44. Putting Stockton above Zeke is disgraceful.

  45. RE: Breyzh

    You want stats & #’s to back up that Dunan is a PF. OK…

    Since 2006, the other PF/C that has started for the Spurs is…. (Nazr, Rasho & Admiral did start with Duncan for his first few years)…..
    Elson (44 games), Oberto (108 games), K.Thomas (19 games), Bonner (76 games), Blaire (88 games), McDyess (66 games) and a couple random guys like Ratliff, Butler & Horry have sprinkled in a few starts. So who of these players is the big, bad center that has made Timmy a mere PF? I think Duncan is all-time great, but the man is a PF.

  46. Im Sorry, Steve Nash not in the top 5 is ridiculous, Allen “i am NOT a point guard” iverson ahead of Nash? on a POINT GUARD LIST? SERIOUSLY? Dude isnt even playing no more

  47. Stockton vs Zeke is one of the great arguments in sports. Right up there with Magic vs Bird. Also, I sympathize with you on Iverson but he’s no more a point guard than Scottie, Wade, Kobe, Lebron, or a dozen the greats who facilitate the offense from other positions because they are the best at it on the team. AI was a SG, period. He tried playing point just like Wade but he was a 2.

    And AI wasn’t selfish. He handed out over 6 assists a game to a bunch of nobodies and he wasn’t even Philly’s PG for most of his time there. How many dimes do you want from your shooting guard? And who exactly on that Philly squad to you suggest he should have passed to?

  48. A.I is number one in my list imagine this him in a 6″9″ body instead of 6 feet he would have done more! Man Iverson have 110% every game he gave his body up for his team man

  49. I love gp, but interesting he as less asst.’s than anyone on the list.. More like a 1.5 guard than a 1. hen and Kemp were like 1 .. 3 more assts a game and Kemp moves up 3 spots at PF, and Payton moves up a spot or two. They took turns as top score by 1 pt either way . along w Detlef. the team concept helped them win but more assts, would’ve brought the championship

  50. how is tiny nate archibald not on this list. he is the only point guard to lead the league in assists ans scoring in one season. guarantee that will not ever happen again. and isiah thomas is 2 not stockton. other than that list pretty good. but that is my opinion lol

  51. How can you not include tony parker…he should be second to only magic j. Most of these guys never made it to the finals and dont own one ring. Who cares how many assist j.Stockton has.let’s talk champions like zeke n magic

  52. If they dont have at least one championship ring then they are just average players..regular season stats don’t mean anything…I’m almost certainly sure Stockton would give half of his assist to trade for one ring…maybe he can trade with tony cuz tony has some to spare

    • Tony gets his points in the paint…much like shaq…those two always were neck n neck at points in the paint to lead the league..look at the size differences..

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