We have taken our HoopsHype 75 list and split it into five positions: point guards, shooting guards, small forwards, power forwards and centers. The catch is, the players who received some votes but were ultimately left out are now included in the positional rankings, so you can see who nearly made the cut for our Top 75 list.
Today, we start with the players we consider to be the best point guards who ever played basketball, led off by the unforgettable Magic Johnson.
Top accolades: Five NBA titles, three Finals MVPs, three MVPs, nine All-NBA 1st Team selections, 12 All-Stars
NBA rank: 6th in assists, 22nd in steals, 83rd in scoring, 142nd in rebounds
The leader of one of the finest teams in basketball history, Magic Johnson had flash, pizzazz and any adjective you can think of as a playmaker, often hightailing it down the open floor and making spectacular passes that not many others would have attempted, let alone pulled off as successfully as he did. Magic was also a winner, making iconic plays over and over again in the biggest of stages. Add in his super charismatic personality and you have the complete package as one of the biggest superstars the league has ever seen.
Top accolades: One NBA title, one MVP, nine All-NBA 1st Team selections, 12 All-Stars
NBA rank: No. 7 in assists, 13th in scoring,75th in rebounds
The first player to average a triple-double in league history, Oscar Robertson was an expert playmaker, rebounder and scorer at the lead guard spot, and a somewhat underrated player historically. He experienced very little team success until he joined forces with Lew Alcindor in Milwaukee, but did eventually win an NBA championship. One of the most well-rounded offensive guards ever.
Top accolades: One NBA title, one Finals MVP, 10 All-NBA 1st Team selections, 14 All-Stars, four All-Defensive 1st Team selections
NBA rank: 22nd in scoring, 32nd in assists, 228th in rebounds
No one on this Earth can possibly hate the Celtics as much as Jerry West, having lost to them in the Finals six times out of the six he faced them. Impossible to blame West for those championship defeats, though, as he put up beastly numbers against them on a consistent basis – just as he did against the rest of the NBA. West was a masterful combo guard who performed at a high level thanks to his scoring and playmaking. He was also a great shooter, both off the dribble and with his feet set. He made the All-Star each of his seasons in the league, which only four other players with 10-plus seasons of NBA experience have accomplished.
Top accolades: Three NBA titles, two MVPs, four All-NBA 1st Team selections, seven All-Stars
NBA rank: No. 67 in scoring, No. 68 in assists, No. 72 in steals
Stephen Curry changed the way the game is played, as now, basically every player on the floor wants to shoot threes, and needs to be able to hit them for your offense to keep up with modern scoring. Curry’s a wizard not only as a shooter, but his playmaking deserves more credit than it receives. The future Hall-of-Famer out of Davidson is already the greatest shooter ever – and it’s not particularly close.
Top accolades: Two NBA tiles, one Finals MVP, thee All-NBA 1st Team selections, 12 All-Stars
NBA rank: 9th in assists, 17th in steals, 65th in scoring
Perhaps the best player ever under 6-foot-1, Isiah Thomas combined talent with fierce competitiveness. He could create at an elite level but could also score out of the midrange off the dribble. He was the face of the Bad Boys Pistons who beat Jordan’s Bulls three straight times in the playoffs in the late ’80s. The one thing holding Thomas back on this list is he had a short career for star standards.
Top accolades: 10 All-NBA selections, 11 All-Stars, seven All-Defensive 1st Team selections
NBA rank: 3rd in assists, 5th in steals, 45th in scoring
The Point God, Chris Paul is one of the steadiest floor generals in NBA history, capable of acting as a head coach on the floor, getting teammates into the right spots, destroying opponents out of the pick-and-roll and scoring at a high level when needed thanks to his unreal touch as an off-the-dribble scorer in the midrange. Only thing still missing from his legacy is a ring, but he’s a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer with or without one.
Top accolades: 11 All-NBA selections, 10 All-Stars, five All-Defensive 2nd Team selections
NBA rank: 1st in assists and steals, 49th in scoring
John Stockton’s assists and steals record will never be beaten, as the Jazz legend finished his career with 15,806 assists (3,715 more than the second-highest player) and 3,265 steals (581 more than anyone else). Was he ever the best point guard in the NBA? Perhaps not. But the longevity speaks for itself, and Stockton was excellent for a very long time.
Steve Nash 🇨🇦
Top accolades: Two MVP awards, seven All-NBA selections, eight All-Stars
NBA rank: 4th in assists, 89th in scoring, 230th in steals
Along with Mike D’Antoni and the Seven-Seconds-or-Less Suns, Steve Nash moved basketball forward thanks to his pick-and-roll wizardry and ability to shoot off the dribble, including from beyond the arc, something that wasn’t as common in his era. Nash’s two MVP awards were quite controversial, but there’s no discussing he’s one of the finest players of his generation.
Top accolades: Six NBA titles, one MVP, 10 All-NBA 1st Team selections, 13 All-Stars
NBA rank: 20th in assists, 98th in scoring
The original floor general, Bob Cousy was the first star player who did everything a modern point guard should do, be it dribble, give quality passes, direct teammates or shoot jumpers. Cousy was called the Houdini of the Hardwood because of his ballhandling skills and creativity.
Top accolades: One NBA title, five All-NBA 1st Team selections, 10 All-Stars, nine All-Defensive selections
NBA rank: 2nd in assists and steals, 57th in rebounds, 87th in scoring
One of the greatest point guards ever, Jason Kidd could make the flashy pass or the simple play with the best of them while also loving to hightail it in transition to wear opponents down in transition. Also used his ridiculous basketball IQ to rack up steals and defend at a high level. He even became an adept outside shooter later on in his career, which really added to his longevity.
Top accolades: One NBA title, nine All-NBA selections, nine All-Stars, one Defensive Player of the Year award, nine All-Defensive 1st Team selections
NBA rank: 4th in steals, 10th in assists, 35th in scoring, 238th in rebounds
Perhaps the greatest point guard defender of all time, Gary Payton had unnatural strength for his size, quick feet and elite hands and timing to help him lock down foes one-on-one as well as rack up the steals. He was also an excellent playmaker and a solid scorer, who used a solid mid-range game to get buckets.
Top accolades: One MVP, nine All-NBA selections, nine All-Stars
NBA rank: 12th in assists, 28th in steals, 34th in scoring, 110th in rebounds
One of the most energetic players the NBA has ever seen, Russell Westbrook is absolutely tenacious every minute he’s on the floor, often fighting off bigger opponents for rebounds and flying down the floor in transition to throw down monstrous dunks.
Top accolades: Six All-NBA selections, six All-Stars
NBA rank: 85th in assists, 99th in scoring
Of course, like with any active player on this list, Damian Lillard could see himself outperform his ranking depending on how the rest of his prime goes. Even as is, however, Lillard is one of the best score-first point guards ever, with outstanding shooting ability and clutch shots galore on his resume already.
Top accolades: Two NBA titles, four All-NBA 1st Team selections, seven All-Stars, seven All-Defensive 1st Team selections
NBA rank: 66th in assists, 127th in scoring
Walt Frazier, remembered partly by his cool nickname Clyde, was one of the smoothest point guards of his era, one who could also take over the bulk of the scoring load for the Knicks. Frazier was also one of the best point-guard defenders ever, making a ridiculous seven 1st Team All-Defenses in his career.
Top accolades: One NBA title, three All-NBA 1st Team selections, six All-Stars
NBA rank: 26th in assists, 104th in scoring
One of the hardest-to-stop players of his era thanks to ridiculous quickness and speed, Tiny Archibald tormented opponents in the ’70s and early ’80s when attacking the basket. Archibald was also a very solid playmaker and could hit jumpers from the short midrange area.
Top accolades: Four All-NBA selections, five All-Stars
NBA rank: 117th in scoring, 155th in assists
“Pistol” Pete Maravich was one of the flashiest players ever, with a highlight package filled with behind-the-back, no-look passes and stop-on-a-dime shooting prowess, one that impresses to this day. The NBA’s leading scorer in 1976-77, Maravich’s legacy is negatively affected by losing more games than he won in his career and only playing 17 playoff games in his prime, 26 in total.
Tony Parker 🇫🇷
Top accolades: Four NBA titles, one Finals MVP, three All-NBA 2nd Team selections, six All-Stars
NBA rank: 19th in assists, 53rd in scoring, 148th in steals
Tony Parker, surely the best European guard the NBA has seen, dominated opposing backcourt players with quickness, a tight crossover and a beautiful tear-drop floater in the lane. He changed the game for guards trying to reach the NBA from overseas.
Top accolades: Nine All-Stars
NBA rank: 16th in assists, 81st in scoring
A Hall-of-Famer four times over (three-time Naismith inductee – one as a player, one as a coach and one as an assistant for the Dream Team – and a College Basketball Hall-of-Famer), ’60s and ’70s floor general Lenny Wilkens put together a fantastic career, being named the All-Star Game MVP in 1971 and leading the NBA in assists in 1969-70.
Top accolades: One NBA title, two All-NBA Team selections, seven All-Stars
NBA rank: 180th in assists, 202nd in scoring
One of the biggest snubs on the NBA 75 list, Kyrie Irving’s resume speaks for itself, as he helped lead the Cavaliers to their franchise’s lone championship thanks to a Game 7 clutch three in the 2016 NBA Finals, and that’s to go with his seven All-Star campaigns. Irving may be a nonstop headache off the court, but his elite play at the point-guard spot since reaching the NBA has made him one of the greatest lead guards of all time.
Top accolades: Two All-NBA 1st Team selections, seven All-Stars
NBA rank: 54th in assists, 75th in scoring
Dave Bing was a point guard ahead of his time, still beyond adept at playmaking but also using his explosiveness to score more than his lead-guard contemporaries of the time. Bing averaged over 20 points per game for his career.