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10 Best Combo Guards In NBA History

10 Best Combo Guards In NBA History

We have seen point guards such as John Stockton and Jason Kidd lead offenses to new heights. We have seen shooting guards in today’s league shoot up the night. As basketball evolved, the two positions combined to make the combo guard. It’s been happening since the beginning of the league without you noticing.

A combo guard is a basketball player that combines the attributes of a point guard and shooting guard but doesn’t fit the standard of either position. Most combo guards are between standard point and shooting guard heights, while some possess outlier heights. They must also have the ability to shoot, but also distribute.

From impressive ball-handling skills to shoot-first mentalities, these are the top-10 combo guards in NBA history.

10. Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook

Career Stats: 23.1 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 8.5 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.3 BPG

Russell Westbrook is a combo guard by the definition of what makes it real. He is a score-first guard that has played point guard but has the responsibility of creating for the team. For most of his career, he has been able to facilitate at a high rate, as evidenced by his career 8.5 assists. When Westbrook entered the league, he ranked in the top-30 for all-time assists per game in his first seven seasons.

With that high level of production, Westbrook was fortunate enough to play with Kevin Durant. When Durant left, Westbrook went full combo guard mode that saw him average the first triple-double in 2017 since 1962. Westbrook would then average over 10 assists per game for the next four years. His current assist per game total has him hovering around the top-10.

The high volume of the ball being in Westbrook’s hands helps him average such a high assists amount. Because of that usage time, we can call him a combo guard because he is either scoring or passing. With that usage time comes turnovers, which Westbrook created a new record for turnovers in a season. Since he is not a traditional point guard, we can call him an elite playmaker.

9. Dwyane Wade

Dwyane Wade

Career Stats: 22.0 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 5.4 APG, 1.5 SPG, 0.8 BPG

Let’s take a look at his career numbers. In 16 years, Wade averaged a solid line for points, rebounds, and assists. Wade was primarily a shooting guard in his career but was able to average a high assists total. In his prime years, which we will call 2005-2013, Wade averaged 25.4 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 6.2 assists. When LeBron James joined the Heat, Wade transitioned to the second leading option, which allowed him to facilitate more to LBJ.

Wade had an all-around superb game, which was most emphasized in his shooting. He could get to the basket but also didn’t settle on bad shots. Wade shot 50% from the field or better three times in his career, while also coming close four times as he hovered around 49%.

What also helps Wade’s case is that he was a remarkable defender for a shooting guard. He became the first player 6-foot-4 and under to eclipse 100 blocks in a season. He is the all-time leader in blocks for a player of that height or shorter. He is also the only player in NBA history with a state line of at least 2,000 points, 500 assists, 100 steals, and 100 blocks in a season.

8. Allen Iverson

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Career Stats: 26.7 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 6.2 APG, 2.2 SPG, 0.2 BPG

Iverson once said that he was a killer and not a point guard. Paraphrased, because nobody can truly talk like the great A.I. It came from his Hall of Fame speech in 2016. Iverson had the stature of a point guard but was a shooting guard at heart who had a focus to shoot first and pass second.

During the best years of the 76ers, which included going to the NBA Finals in 2001 when Iverson won MVP, the offense was orchestrated by Eric Snow officially on the depth chart. With that said, Iverson controlled the ball on offense. Iverson had a gift that featured a lot of shots and a high conversion percentage.

During Iverson’s era, there were preconceived notions about height and position. In Iverson’s best season, he put up a 51.8% true shooting percentage with a league average of 52.1%. That is pretty impressive, especially when you look at today’s modern era where players shoot more efficiently because of a lack of defense.

7. James Harden

James Harden

Career Stats: 25.0 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 6.6 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.5 BPG

Since the Nets acquired James Harden, he has been the point guard for the team. When he joined, there was a logjam with Kyrie Irving, but the two players switched positions. Now, with Irving out, he is labeled as a shooting guard, but primarily handles the ball, facilitates, and scores in a high quantity.

What made Harden special in the past was his ability to get to the free-throw line. Before the league changed the rules, Harden knew how to draw extra contact and get the call. Harden has averaged over 30 points three times in his career, and nearly missed it two other years when he averaged 29 points per game. To go with that, he has averaged at least 10 assists per game in three seasons.

When Harden won the MVP in 2018, he averaged 36.1 points, but also 7.5 assists. When we look at some of the best scorers in league history, their assist total would not be that hard. At least, true shooting guards would shoot first and pass later. Harden and Westbrook are historically known for turning the ball over due to their usage rate, but you have to look at the positives that you get from those players as well.

6. Oscar Robertson

Oscar Robertson

Career Stats: 25.7 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 9.5 APG

Robertson is a former 12-time All-Star and 11-time member of the All-NBA squad in 14 seasons. In 1962, he recorded the only triple-double average in league history until Westbrook did in 2017. At the time, we had never seen a player like Robertson in the modern era until Westbrook, so you might be asking yourself why Robertson is higher on the list.

For starters, Westbrook is more erratic with the ball. Robertson also has the higher points and assists total for his career. Robertson also did it in an era where team defense was taken more seriously. One could make an argument that teams were playing defense at an average rate in 2016-2017, but the modern era has shied away from it.

What also made Robertson special was that he was able to convert shots at a high rate. For his career, Robertson shot 48%. Imagine having a guard that converted nearly half of his shots and always set up his teammates for success. That was Oscar Robertson.

5. Jerry West

Jerry West

Career Stats: 27.0 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 6.7 APG

“Mr. Clutch” finds his way in the top-5 for always raising his game in high-pressure situations. Along with Robertson, West was one of the leading guards of his era. He was a dominant two-way guard that helped modernize the position into elite offensive efficiency. He was a crafty playmaker, played outstanding defense, and was an automatic scorer.

West was such a force on the offensive side that he is the only player in NBA history to be named Finals MVP on a losing team. He was purely one of the best scorers in the NBA and Lakers’ history. In the playoffs, he boosted his career scoring average in comparison to his regular-season accomplishments, which included a 53-point game in the 1969 Finals. That remains fourth-best in Finals history.

West is known to many as “The Logo” after his image was used to make the current NBA emblem. West was given this attention for his ability to combine both guard positions on the floor. West led the NBA in scoring in 1969-1970 and then led the league in assists in 1971-1972. That is pure combo guard at its finest.

4. LeBron James

LeBron James Surpasses Oscar Robertson To Become 4th On The All-Time Free-Throw List

Career Stats: 26.2 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 7.1 APG, 1.8 SPG, 0.9 BPG

How can LeBron be considered for this list? Isn’t he a small forward? No, he’s a power forward. He is one of the few players that can play all five positions on the floor on any given night. While many remember LeBron as a pure forward, he played shooting guard as a rookie and then played point guard in 2020.

For those reasons, we have to consider him as a guard on the list even if it may be controversial. Don’t forget that other players have been in this same boat. Kevin Durant has played some shooting guard in his career, while Paul George has moved back and forth guard and forward positions. If he is considered for this list, he is a top-4 combo guard because the sample pool of when he played is divine.

When LeBron was a rookie, he averaged 20.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 5.9 assists. Even for a shooting guard, those are respectable numbers. Then, when he played point guard for the Lakers, he led the league in assists with 10.2 on the team’s way to winning a championship. Given what LeBron has done in his career, combined with the fact he is a top-2 player of all time, we simply cannot leave him off the list.

3. Steph Curry

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Career Stats: 24.3 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 6.5 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.2 BPG

Steph Curry is a point guard by definition because he is the primary ball-handler on his team. He is the best passer outside of Draymond Green on the Warriors. He is the primary playmaker as well based on the fact that opposing teams have their guys focus the most attention on him. A lot of that also has to do with the fact that Curry is the best shooting guard we have ever seen.

Curry owns the record for most three-pointers all-time. He owns the single-season record with 402 threes in a season, as well as once shooting 13 in a single game. When he did that, he needed just 17 attempts. That’s efficiency at its finest.

Curry is averaging a career-high 13.4 three-point attempts this season, which could be blamed on record chasing. That wouldn’t be completely factual though as Curry has averaged double-digit attempts from the deep five of the last seven seasons. Curry flourishes under Steve Kerr’s system, but keep in mind he has averaged at least six assists per game in all but one season since 2011-2012.

2. Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant Lakers

Career Stats: 25.0 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 4.7 APG, 1.4 SPG, 0.5 BPG

Kobe Bryant was primarily a shooting guard but could play small forward or point guard when he was asked. Bryant was technically the team’s backup point guard during his rookie and sophomore seasons. In the 2000 Finals, he evolved into taking over as the team’s point guard on the court to help space the floor.

A perfect example of Bryant being great at the point was in the 2012-2013 season. Steve Nash broke his leg and was limited for the entire age between the injury and age. When the team started Jodie Meeks or Steve Blake, the offense didn’t click because it was spot-up shooters trying to run an offense. That season, which was Bryant’s 17th season in the league, Bryant averaged 27 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists at the age of 34.

We can be impressed by this for a few reasons. For starters, because Bryant played in the triangle offense under Phil Jackson, his assist numbers were never going to be high. You can fact-check that with Jordan’s assist numbers when he played in the same offense. This is due to off-the-ball movement and cuts into and out of the high post area. Bryant is a proven scorer, who eclipsed over 33,000 career points in Los Angeles. For some context, Bryant ranks 31st all-time in assists, which is the only shooting guard to have such a high number.

1. Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan Bulls

Career Stats: 30.1 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 5.3 APG, 2.3 SPG, 0.8 BPG

When Doug Collins coached the Bulls and moved him to point guard down the stretch of 1988-1989, the results were electric. Jordan averaged 32.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 8.3 rebounds in 41 regular season and playoff games as the team’s point guard. That stretch included a streak of seven consecutive triple-doubles. One of those was a 33-point, 12-rebound, 11-assist performance against the Warriors in Chicago.

This move has drawn comparisons to the modern era when the Rockets shifted James Harden to the point guard position in 2016. We have also seen shifts with Russell Westbrook, LeBron James, and Luka Doncic as of recent. Jordan’s transition, in a way, helped shape the modern-day combo guard.

The question is how sooner the norm would have come had Jordan stayed as the point guard. Would the Bulls have gone on and been the same had he stayed? That is a debate for another time. What we do know is that Jordan could dish out 10 assists on one night, but also erupt for 50 the next day. He is a former Defensive Player of the Year and yearly All-Defensive First Team member. As an all-around player, it doesn’t get better than Jordan. 


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