The point guard position has always been arguably the most important position in the NBA since he is the player who touches the ball first on every possession. This means that the point guard is the extension of the coach on the floor, and is responsible for making the correct plays on a nightly basis.
It is no wonder why some of the league’s greatest players have been point guards, with exceptional skill sets beyond simply passing the basketball. Especially in the modern era, the point guard is no longer required to just run the plays, and must actually lead the team’s offense every night by scoring a ton of points!
Nonetheless, we have witnessed greatness at the point guard position since the first time a player dribbled a basketball professionally. But how do the best point guards ever rank?
Do big names like Magic Johnson and Stephen Curry top the list, or does a guy with unbelievably born talent like Penny Hardaway manage to sneak into the upper echelon of point guards?
It is time to rank the top 25 greatest point guards of all time.
25. Dennis Johnson
Players Stats: 14.1 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 5.0 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.6 BPG
Honors: 1978-1979 Finals MVP, 5x All-Star, 9x All-Defense Selection, 2x All-NBA Team Selection, Hall of Famer
Johnson is highly regarded as one of the best point guards to have ever played, especially on the defensive end. He made 9 All-NBA Defensive Teams and 5 All-Star teams during his career.
What made Johnson particularly effective was his playing style since he was known for hovering around the basket for tip-ins or using his post skills around the rim. Johnson could also hit from the outside and run the offense at a very high level.
It was his defensive presence that will make Johnson one of the 25 greatest point guards ever.
24. Penny Hardaway
Players Stats: 15.2 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 5.0 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.4 BPG
Honors: 4x All-Star, 3x All-NBA Selection
Penny Hardaway was mostly known for his undeniably great partnership with a young Shaquille O’Neal. Penny was the full package as a taller point guard and has incredible dribbling and passing skills.
As a pure talent, Penny should be much higher on this list. But injuries derailed his career, and he wasn’t able to achieve the greatness that he truly should have. Still, making the list of the top 25 point guards ever is nothing to sniff at, and his numbers are clearly All-Star worthy.
23. Sidney Moncrief
Players Stats: 15.6 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 3.6 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.3 BPG
Honors: 5x All-Star, 5x All-NBA Selection, 2x Defensive Player of the Year, 5x All-Defensive Selection, Hall of Famer
Moncrief is mostly remembered for one thing: dominate defense. Moncrief is a two time NBA defensive player of the year, something that is only held by non-guards other than himself.
Moncrief could shut down almost every guard in NBA history, and completely lock them up for an entire game. His defensive awareness and skills might make him the best defensive guard ever.
22. Tim Hardaway
Players Stats: 17.7 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 8.2 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.1 BPG
Honors: 5x All-Star, 5x All-NBA Selection
A Miami Heat and Golden State Warrior legend, probably nobody possessed a more killer crossover than Tim Hardaway. He was a smaller point guard, but was extremely quick and had the entire offensive package.
In many ways, Tim Hardaway brought relevancy to the Miami Heat organization and was one of the game’s most popular and respected point guards. While he wasn’t able to win an NBA title, his energy and gifted dribbling he brought to the table was something that his fans will never ever forget.
21. Chauncey Billups
Players Stats: 15.2 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 5.4 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.2 BPG
Honors: 2003-2004 Finals MVP, 5x All-Star, 3x All-NBA Selection, 2x All-Defensive Team Selection
Mr. Big Shot himself, Chauncey Billups is one of the game’s best leaders from the point guard position. As a member of the Detroit Pistons, he won Finals MVP by leading the likes of Rip Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace, and Ben Wallace to an NBA title over the superteam LA Lakers in 2004.
Billups was also a very clutch player, and as his name suggests, he would usually take and make big shots to lead his team to victory. Billups had the shotmaking and also the tough defense to be one of the game’s best point guards during his career. As a result, he earns his place on this list.
20. Lenny Wilkens
Players Stats: 16.5 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 6.7 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.2 BPG
Honors: 9x All-Star, Hall of Famer
Wilkens might be remembered mostly for his supreme success as a head coach, but he was also a great player. Wilkens is a natural playmaker with savvy point guard skills, basically forming the perfect point guard prototype.
His passing and court leadership was sound, but he also had some impressive scoring seasons. Most notably, he was runner- up to the dominant Wilt Chamberlain in MVP voting 1967-1968 campaign.
19. Dave Bing
Players Stats: 20.3 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 6.0 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.2 BPG
Honors: 7x All-Star, 3x All-NBA Selection, 1966-1967 Rookie of the Year, 1967-1968 Scoring Champion, Hall of Famer
Dave Bing was a high scoring point guard, who has managed to have success both on and off the court. Bing led the league in scoring in only his second season, averaging 27.1 PPG in the 1967-1968 season, and went on to have a Hall of Fame career despite suffering some key injury setbacks. A damaged eye included, Bing could do it all on the court and was an offensive powerhouse.
18. Kevin Johnson
Players Stats: 17.9 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 9.1 APG, 1.5 SPG, 0.2 BPG
Honors: 3x All-Star, 5x All-NBA Selection, 1988-1989 Most Improved Player
Johnson is mostly remembered for being part of a very good Phoenix Suns team that featured the likes of Charles Barkley. Johnson was as close to being a superstar as you can get, as he was a very gifted scorer and a great playmaker.
Johnson could score on anyone and put up excellent stats throughout his career. Not to mention, he is a Phoenix Suns legend and one of the franchises’ greatest players.
17. Damian Lillard
Players Stats: 24.0 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 6.5 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.3 BPG
Honors: 5x All-Stars, 4x All-NBA Selection, 2012-2013 Rookie of the Year
Offensive superstar Damian Lillard is truly one of the game’s most gifted shooters and scorers at the point guard position. He could let it fly from 30+ feet with ease and can be completely unstoppable when he gets it going. As a matter of fact, Lillard usually gets it going from the perimeter whenever he wants. Beyond shooting the basketball form range, Damian Lillard is very explosive and can get to the rim as well.
As a total offensive package, Lillard would probably rank higher on this list. But the knock-on his game, and career, so far has been his inability to make significant noise in the postseason with the Trail Blazers. He did manage to reach the Western Conference Finals last year, but only time will tell if he can make an NBA Finals Appearance.
16. Kyrie Irving
Players Stats: 22.4 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 5.7 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.4 BPG
Honors: 6x All-Star, 2x All-NBA Selection, 2011-2012 Rookie of the Year
Kyrie Irving is an NBA champion, and he deserves a bulk of the credit for the Cleveland Cavaliers NBA championship run in 2016. Even when paired alongside the great LeBron James, it was Kyrie Irving who would usually take and make the big shots for the Cavs.
This was evident in the pivotal Game 7 against the Warriors when Kyrie hit the biggest shot of the game over Stephen Curry to win the title for the Cavaliers. Kyrie is also one of the games best scorers at the guard position and has handles that rank among the best of all-time. As a total package, Kyrie is clearly one of the best 25 point guards ever.
15. Derrick Rose
Players Stats: 18.8 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 5.6 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.3 BPG
Honors: 2010-2011 MVP, 3x All-Star, 1x All-NBA Selection, 2008-2009 Rookie of the Year
It’s a shame that Derrick Rose isn’t higher on this list, because injuries robbed the player who was the youngest MVP in NBA history in 2009. Rose had it all, from speed and explosiveness to scoring ability in the clutch.
Rose was truly on his way to being a top-five point guard but injuries cut this short. At his best, Rose was easily a top 15 point guard of all-time and therefore deserves his place. Still, he is a productive player currently and seems to be on his way to making an All-Star team once again.
14. Bob Cousy
Players Stats: 18.4 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 7.5 APG, 0.0 SPG, 0.0 BPG
Honors: 1956-1957 MVP, 13x All-Star, 12x All-NBA Selection, Hall of Famer
Bob Cousy is mainly regarded as a passionate player who was the original All-Star and dominant player for the Boston Celtics team that featured the likes of Bill Russell and K.C. Jones.
Cousy led the league in assists for 8 straight years and also was one of the best pure scorers at his position. In many ways, Cousy was the heart and soul of the Celtics at that time. Cousy also managed to win the MVP Award after leading the league in assists during Bill Russell’s rookie season.
13. Nate Archibald
Players Stats: 18.8 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 7.4 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.1 BPG
Honors: 6x All-Star, 5x All-NBA Selection, 1972-1973 Scoring Champion, Hall of Famer
Tiny Archibald is one of the game’s most productive players. His stats and impact on the game, especially offensively, is the stuff of legends. Archibald was the first player to lead the league both in points and assists, essentially being the complete offensive package in every area.
Despite standing at only 6’1″, Archibald used his tremendous quickness and creativity to put the ball in the hole on a consistent basis. When it comes to overall offensive dominance, Tiny ranks among the best ever at the point guard position.
12. Gary Payton
Players Stats: 16.3 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 6.7 APG, 1.8 SPG, 0.2 BPG
Honors: 9x All-Stars, 9x All-NBA Selection, 1990-1991 Rookie of the Year, 9x All-Defensive Team Selection, 1995-1996 Defensive Player of the Year, Hall of Famer
“The Glove” Gary Payton is probably a top-two defensive point guard ever. He came into the league with defense as his specialty, and could lock-down almost every point guard on a nightly basis. He even managed to revamp his offensive game and included a tough mid-range jumper and some range as well.
He was a member of a strong Seattle SuperSonics team alongside Shawn Kemp but only was able to win an NBA title with Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat in 2006. Even though Payton was a role player in 2006, the Heat probably would not have reached the heights they did without Payton’s leadership and defensive presence.
11. Tony Parker
Players Stats: 15.5 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 5.6 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.1 BPG
Honors: 2006-2007 Finals MVP, 6x All-Star, 4x All-NBA Selection
Parker is supremely accomplished, and a true professional at the point guard position. Parker could score 25 a night in his prime, and hardly ever made bad decisions with the basketball.
While most of this was down to Gregg Popovich and his incredible system, Parker is a Finals MVP and multiple NBA champion who deserves credit for being part of a Spurs Dynasty that will forever be remembered.
Without a doubt, the quick Frenchman will be in the Hall of Fame and is one of the best players in NBA history in attacking the rim and avoiding contact.
10. Russell Westbrook
Players Stats: 23.2 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 8.3 APG, 1.8 SPG, 0.3 BPG
Honors: 2016-2017 MVP, 9x All-Star, 8x All-NBA Selection, 2x Scoring Champion
Russ is already inching closer to the top five list of all time, although it might be difficult to crack it. He is a superstar scorer, rebounder, and playmaker with possibly the highest motor of anyone in this list.
He also might be the most athletic and that gives him the edge he needs to be so dominant. But his efficiency and poor decision making at times prevents him from being mentioned with the top five point guards, at least for the time being.
9. Jason Kidd
Players Stats: 12.6 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 8.7 APG, 1.9 SPG, 0.3 BPG
Honors: 10x All-Star, 6x All-NBA Selection, 1994-1995 Rookie of the Year, 9x All-Defensive Team Selection, Hall of Famer
Kidd is a beast, and one of the true all-around triple-double threats at the point guard position. He was a powerful point guard, with exceptional court vision, defense, and rebounding skills.
He carried the Nets to two NBA Finals appearances but managed to win one with the Mavericks at 38 years of age. Kidd is truly one of the best guards to ever grace the court.
8. Chris Paul
Players Stats: 18.5 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 9.5 APG, 2.2 SPG, 0.1 BPG
Honors: 10x All-Stars, 8x All-NBA Selection, 2005-2006 Rookie of the Year, 9x All-Defensive Team Selection
Chris Paul is a perfect point guard and would be higher on this list if he managed to capture an NBA title. He still has some time, but his days are increasingly numbered as he approaches 35 years of age. Paul could lock you down on one end, and dominate the offensive end with scoring and passing.
The only knock on his game was his size, but he made up for it with sublime quickness and explosiveness with his handles. Paul is also dominant defensively, making 9 All-Defensive Teams and being a leader on that end of the floor.
7. Steve Nash
Players Stats: 14.3 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 8.5 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.1 BPG
Honors: 2x MVP, 8x All-Stars, 7x All-NBA Selection, Hall of Famer
While it may seem shocking to place Steve Nash in the top ten ahead of the likes of Chris Paul and Jason Kidd, Nash was a two-time MVP who had zero weakness on the offensive end.
He is a better shooter than both Kidd and Paul and had a wider range of passing. Nash can be the entire offense on his own and could nail shots at a consistent 50-40-90 clip. Nash is without a doubt a top ten point guard.
6. Walt Frazier
Players Stats: 18.9 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 6.1 APG, 1.9 SPG, 0.2 BPG
Honors: 7x All-Stars, 6x All-NBA Selection, 7x All-Defensive Team Selection, Hall of Famer
Frazier was a NY legend and a phenom at the point guard position. He brought flash, style, scoring, and dominance to the court for a position that was heavily regarded back then. Frazier is a bonafide Hall of Fame player, and one of the most iconic players to grace the court. He is also the sixth greatest point guard to ever play the game.
5. John Stockton
Players Stats: 13.1 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 10.5 APG, 2.2 SPG, 0.2 BPG
Honors: 10x All-Star, 11x All-NBA Selection, 5x All-Defensive Team Selection, Hall of Famer
Stockton might be the best assist man in NBA history. He leads all players in assists and steals all time, and is the ultimate maestro in the pick n roll. Stockton was also a phenomenal shooter and defender, basically having no real weakness on the court.
If only he managed to win an NBA title or two, then he might be the second greatest. But he will have to settle for fourth place ahead of some very close competition in Walter Frazier and Steve Nash.
4. Oscar Robertson
Players Stats: 25.7 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 9.5 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.1 BPG
Honors: 1963-1964 MVP, 12x All-Star, 11x All-NBA Selection, 1960-1961 Rookie of the Year, Hall of Famer
Oscar is the original triple-double king, and one of the best players in NBA history regardless of position. He filled up the stat sheet like no other guard in history, except Russell Westbrook, and did everything well on the floor. His numbers and NBA Finals success gives him the nod as the fourth-best point guard ever.
3. Isiah Thomas
Players Stats: 19.2 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 9.3 APG, 1.9 SPG, 0.3 BPG
Honors: 1989-1990 Finals MVP, 12x All-Star, 5x All-NBA Selection, Hall of Famer
Superstar Isiah Thomas is an exceptional leader, and one of the most competitive forces on the NBA court we have ever seen from a little man. His scoring ability from mid-range and desire to attack and finish around the basket was truly exceptional, and his two NBA championships with one Finals MVP makes him a top-three point guard of all time.
2. Stephen Curry
Players Stats: 23.5 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 6.6 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.2 BPG
Honors: 2x MVP, 6x All-Star, 6x All-NBA Selection, 2015-2016 Scoring Champion
While Curry’s career isn’t over, it is safe to say he’s the second-best point guard ever. Since he became a superstar player and two-time MVP, Curry has won three NBA titles and has established himself as the best shooter in NBA history. Such accomplishments cannot be ignored, and the fact that he can possibly capture another NBA title only adds to that.
1. Magic Johnson
Players Stats: 19.5 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 11.2 APG, 1.9 SPG, 0.4 BPG
Honors: 3x MVP, 3x Finals MVP, 12x All-Star, 10x All-NBA Selection, Hall of Famer
Magic is the best point guard ever, and it isn’t very close. He was an oversized guard with perfect guard skills including dribbling and passing. He was unstoppable on the break and was one of the very best players in the league during each of his 5 NBA championship rings. Magic tops the list thanks to his accomplishments and groundbreaking skillset as a big point guard.