Finding a great point guard is something puzzling for some NBA franchises. For some of your favorite teams, those franchises have gone 20 years without finding a true point guard to lead the team. The offense starts with a pass. It could start as an out-of-bounds pass after a made shot or the first pass at the top of the key. Some of the best scorers in the league are nothing without the man running the point.
Double-doubles are not something we often see from guards, but when we do, it’s noticeable. To take it one step further, finishing with 20 assists in a game is extraordinary. There are only 23 players in the history of the league to record more than one game with 20 assists. When this happens, it’s more memorable than a post player pulling down a plethora of rebounds.
These guards were master playmakers, which is why they make up the top-10 for the most 20-assists games.
9T. Gary Grant - 4 Games
Grant enjoyed his most success when he was a member of the Los Angeles Clippers. Grant played in the league from 1988 to 2000 with seven successful seasons with the Clippers. That included a season where he averaged a double-double of 13.1 points and 10.0 assists in 44 games during the 1989-90 season. In a full season, his best was 8.6 assists the following season.
From 1989 to 1990, Grant had 12 games with 17 assists or more. His career-high was 21 assists in a game, something he accomplished two times. Both came during his double-double season. The first was against the Bucks in November, while the second time came against the SuperSonics in January. He added two more 20-assist performances against the Warriors and Trail Blazers.
9T. Scott Skiles - 4 Games
Skiles set an NBA record for assists in a game with 30 against the Nuggets on December 30, 1990. This remains an NBA record that has stood for 32 years. Skiles recorded all four of his 20-assist games while playing for the Magic in a timeframe that lasted between 1990 to 1993. Two of those four times also featured Skiles scoring at least 20 points.
Skiles added a 21-assist game against the Cavaliers in 1993. About four months before that, Skiles recorded 20 assists against the Trail Blazers. His other occurrence came in 1991 against the Nuggets. In his 10-year career, Skiles finished with a career average of 6.5 assists. His best season came during the 1992-93 season when he averaged 9.4 assists per game.
9T. Chris Paul - 4 Games
Playing in his 20s or playing in his late 30s doesn’t matter when it comes to playing elite basketball if you watch Chris Paul. With the Pelicans, Clippers, and Suns, Paul has led the league in assists five times, including winning the title this past season at 36 years old. Paul nearly added three more 20-assist games while playing with the Suns but finished with 19 assists in each of those times. Altogether, he owns seven games with 19 assists.
Three of his four games came when Paul played with the Hornets (Pelicans). His career-high of 21 assists came in 2007 against the Lakers. He added 20 assists one more time in 2008 and 2009 against the Cavaliers and Bucks. His other 20-assist came was his lone game with 20 points as well. Paul completed this against his former team, the Pelicans, in 2016. Today, he owns a career average of 9.5 assists per game.
8. Deron Williams - 6 Games
When Williams first entered the league with the Jazz, he was one of the most skilled offensive point guards. From 2005 to 2010, Williams averaged a double-double three times. Among his six games with 20 assists, two of them came when he joined the New Jersey Nets. His career-high of 21 assists featured an instance with both teams. One came in 2007 against the Grizzlies, while the other was in 2011 with the Timberwolves.
Williams did the same thing but recorded 20 assists in a game against the Warriors. Williams diced up the Warriors once in 2009 and then another in 2012. His other two games happened within two months of each other in 2008. Those teams featured the Mavericks and 76ers. Williams just missed 20 assists two times. Williams left the league in 2017 and averaged 8.1 assists per game.
7. Kevin Johnson - 7 Games
For a very long time, Johnson was a successful piece of the Suns being competitive in the 90s. Three seasons saw Johnson average a double-double and all three of those times saw Johnson average at least 20.0 points per game as well. Johnson also had seasons averaging 9.5, 9.3, and 9.2 assists during the 90s. From 1989 to 1994, Johnson notched up seven 20-assist games.
Johnson set a career-high of 25 assists against the Spurs in 1994. His second-best outing of 21 assists came against the Lakers in 1989. Five other games with 20 assists spanned during that time frame against the Trail Blazers, Jazz, Mavericks, Hornets, and the Spurs. Johnson left the league in 2000 with a career average of 9.1 assists per game.
5T. Russell Westbrook - 8 Games
Since the 2015-16 season, Westbrook has averaged a triple-double four times. That included his MVP season in 2016-17. His best triple-double season came with the Wizards in 2020-21 when he averaged 22.2 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 11.7 assists. Three of his games with 20 assists came while playing with Washington. That included two games with 21 assists and tying his career high of 24 assists.
Westbrook recorded his other five games while playing for the Thunder. The other 24-assist game came in 2019, while he recorded a game with 22 assists in 2019. Two games with 21 assists came in 2018 and 2019, while one 20-assist game came in 2018. Two of his games came against the Pacers. Westbrook will play for the Lakers next season and features a career average of 8.4 per game.
5T. Steve Nash - 8 Games
Nash was such an efficient playmaker that it helped his case to win the MVP Award in 2005 and 2006. The Phoenix Suns had one of the top offenses in the league with Nash running the show. That is precisely why all of his games with 20 or more assists came while he was wearing a Suns uniform. Nash recorded eight games with this mark between 2006 to 2011.
His career-high of 22 assists came against the Knicks in 2006. He added two games with 21 assists in 2007 and 2009 against the Cavaliers and Pistons, respectively. Five other games of 20 assists featured the Lakers two times, 76ers, Warriors, and Kings. Nash had five games of 19 assists. He finished his career with a career average of 8.5 per game after leaving the league after the 2013-14 season.
3T. Rajon Rondo - 9 Games
Rondo led the league in assists during the 2015-16 season while playing for the Kings. Two of his 20-assist games came while he played in Sacramento. Both were exactly 20 assists and against the Charlotte Hornets. Rondo had one special game with the Pelicans in 2017 where he recorded his career high of 25 assists to go with just two points.
The rest of his games featured Rondo as a member of the Boston Celtics. Those rosters featured Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen, so there were plenty of opportunities to get an assist. Rondo had 24 assists and 23 assists in a game during the 2010-11 season. His other four games with 20 assists came in 2012. Rondo is currently a free agent and owns a career average of 7.9 assists per game.
3T. Isiah Thomas - 9 Games
Thomas made a habit of being a successful point guard during the 80s for the Pistons. He was a key member of the team winning championships in 1989 and 1990. With that said, Thomas didn’t record a single 20-assist game during the championship years. All nine of his games came between 1984 and 1985. Seven of those games came in the calendar year 1985.
That included his career-high of 25 assists against the Mavericks. Thomas recorded his previous career high of 24 assists against the Bullets six days prior. Thomas torched the Bullets during that same season with 21 assists. Thomas had another 21-assist game against the Kings in 1984. His other performances featured games against the Bucks, Clippers, Lakers, and two times against the Hawks. Thomas left the league in 1994 with a career average of 9.3.
2. Magic Johnson - 22 Games
Only two players have reached double-digit games with 20 or more assists. The first player is a top-10 player of all time and one of the greatest members of the Los Angeles Lakers. Johnson was a maestro during the 80s and the leader of the “Showtime Lakers.” With Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy, Johnson helped the Lakers win five championships in this decade.
As for his success, Johnson recorded 24 assists in a game two times during the 1989-90 season. He added two games of 23 assists and 22 assists. There were five games with 21 assists, while the rest were exactly 20. Arguably, his best performance was 24 points and 24 assists in 1989 against the Nuggets or scoring 29 points and 21 assists against the SuperSonics seven months earlier. Johnson left the league once in 1991 for an HIV diagnosis and then left the league for good in 1996 after a mini-comeback. His 11.2 assists per game is an NBA record for career average.
1. John Stockton - 34 Games
Stockton finished his career with the most assists in NBA history. He currently remains the record holder. To get to the top, you have to have a lot of assists and when you have 34 games of 20 or more assists, it certainly helps. Stockton enjoyed a long and successful partnership with Karl Malone, who finished his career as the second-best scorer in NBA history at the time. With Malone scoring most of his passes, Stockton finished with a career average of 10.5 assists per game.
Stockton’s best game came in 1991 when he recorded 20 points and 28 assists. In 1989, Stockton had 27 assists against the Knicks, while he added a 26-assist game the year before against the Trail Blazers. Stockton added a 24-assist game against the Rockets in 1989. There were four games of 23 assists, three games with 22 assists, and 10 games with 21 assists.