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The 10 Greatest NBA Point Guards Of The 1990s

The 10 Greatest NBA Point Guards Of The 1990s

After Magic Johnson dominated the NBA from the point guard position to the tune of five championships during the 1980s, the league switched gears with Michael Jordan’s emergence in the 90s. The GOAT won six titles in the 1990s, and Hakeem Olajuwon won two. Oddly enough, none of the players on our point guards list below hung a banner during the 90s.

Still, our list of the most outstanding point guards of the 90s is stuffed full of all-time great players who had the misfortune of playing during a time ruled by the indomitable forces of Michael Jordan and Hakeem the Dream. Our list features three Hall-of-Famers and some of the most talented passing floor generals ever to suit up.

Below is our list of the top-10 point guards of the 1990s.

10. Kenny Anderson

Kenny Anderson

1990-91 to 1999-00 Accolades:

1x All-Star

Kenny Anderson led Georgia Tech to a Final Four berth in 1991, and the New Jersey Nets selected the 6-0 point guard with the second pick in the 1991 NBA Draft. Then they mostly sat Anderson behind Mookie Blaylock, giving the rookie 17.0 minutes per game as they finished the season 40-42. The following season, Mookie was no more in New Jersey, and Kenny Anderson found himself firmly entrenched in the Nets’ starting lineup as their floor general. Anderson averaged 16.9 PPG, 4.1 RPG, and 8.2 APG during his second campaign as he established himself as one of the most elite point guards in the 1990s.

Kenny Anderson led the New Jersey Nets to the playoffs twice and was selected to one All-Star team before being traded to the Charlotte Hornets in 1996. A year later, he was dealt again to the Trail Blazers and then again to the Celtics in 1998. Kenny Anderson was a notorious partyer, which probably diminished some of his impact on the court and led to his extensive tour across the NBA. Nevertheless, he averaged 14.9 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 7.0 APG, 1.6 SPG, and 0.1 BPG from the 1991-92 season through the 1999-00 season.

9. Mark Jackson

Mark Jackson

1990-91 to 1999-00 Accolades:

1x Assists Leader

Mark Jackson came into the league in 1987 with the Knicks and immediately played like a veteran point guard, averaging a steady 13.6 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 10.6 APG, and 2.5 SPG. Jackson made his only All-Star appearance during his second campaign and proceeded to give the Knicks five excellent seasons before he played with the Clippers for two years. Finally, in 1994 he came home to Indiana, where he joined forces with Reggie Miller, Dale Davis, Antonio Davis, and Rik Smits, providing the tough-nosed Pacers with some of the steadiest point guard play of the decade.

Mark Jackson spent the rest of the 90s with the Pacers, providing 1985 Chevy pickup truck offense, never flashy but dependable as hell. Jackson never won a title during his time in Indiana or throughout his long career, but he guided six different teams to the playoffs during 14 seasons.

Despite Jackson’s inability to reach the summit, he was one of the most prolific passers in NBA history, landing 5th all-time in assists at 10,334.

8. Mark Price

Mark Price cavs

1990-91 to 1999-00 Accolades:

1x All-NBA First Team

2x All-NBA Third Team

3x All-Star

Mark Price came into the league in 1986 with the Cleveland Cavaliers, a 6-0, 170-pound point guard with minimal athleticism and even less muscle. The general consensus on Mark Price was what you’d expect; the “experts” thought he was too small to find success in the NBA. And Price mostly proved all the doubters right during his rookie campaign, averaging a measly 6.0 PPG and 3.0 APG. But, out of nowhere, Price made the leap in his sophomore season, increasing his averages to 16.0 PPG and 6.0 APG while putting the league on notice that he was death from the perimeter, hitting 48.6% from deep.

Mark Price became one of the purest shooters in NBA history, ranking third all-time in free throw percentage (90.4%) and 38th all-time in three-point percentage (40.2%). Mark Price was selected to the All-Star team three times throughout the 90s and averaged 15.0 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 6.8 APG, and a 39.1% clip from deep from 1991 through 1998, and he notched a win for all the little guys out there who were told they were too small to get it done.

7. Isiah Thomas

Isiah Thomas

1990-91 to 1999-00 Accolades:

3x All-Star

Isiah Thomas dominated the 80s as the Detroit Pistons point guard, making the All-Star squad nine times, winning two titles, and being named the Finals MVP. Thomas would rank near the top of our rankings if this were a list of the finest 80s point guards, but this is a 90s-only affair, and Isiah Thomas played only four seasons during the decade we’re looking at. With that said, Thomas’s four years from 1990 to 1994 were still remarkable.

Isiah Thomas averaged 17.0 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 7.9 APG, and 1.5 SPG during the 90s, making the All-Star team three times while playing his typical brand of I-want-to-break-you-in-half perimeter defense. The Pistons didn’t make it back to the top of the mountain during the 90s, but Thomas guided them to the playoffs two times.

6. Jason Kidd

Jason Kidd

1990-91 to 1999-00 Accolades:

2x Assists Leader

2x All-NBA First Team

1x All-Defensive First Team

Rookie of the Year

3x All-Star

Jason Kidd truly came into his own during the early stages of the 21st century with the New Jersey Nets as one of the greatest two-way players of all time, an athlete who could get to the rack, hit with regularity from deep, make every pass in the book, and lock down the opposing point guard like a corrections officer at your local jail. Still, Jason Kidd’s early years were nothing to scoff at.

Jason Kidd was selected by the Dallas Mavericks with the second overall pick in the 1994 NBA Draft. Kidd became an immediate starter in Dallas and averaged 11.7 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 7.7 APG, and 1.9 SPG during his rookie campaign, as he flashed the skill set that would eventually land him in the Hall-of-Fame and the NBA 75th Anniversary Team. Jason Kidd was named to the All-Star team during his second season, averaging nearly a double-double (16.6 PPG and 9.7 APG) while playing excellent perimeter D. And then, during Kidd’s third campaign, the Mavericks made one of the more disastrous trades in NBA history, shipping their All-Star point guard to the Suns for Sam Cassell, A. C. Green, and second-year wing Michael Finley. Kidd spent the rest of the 1990s in Phoenix, leading the Suns to the playoffs every year he was with the team, and he was selected to the All-NBA First Team twice.

5. Kevin Johnson

Kevin Johnson

1990-91 to 1999-00 Accolades:

2x All-NBA Second Team

1x All-NBA Third Team

3x All-Star

The Cavaliers selected Kevin Johnson with the 7th pick in the 1987 NBA Draft. After he played only 52 games as a rookie, they swapped him in another one of the most boneheaded trades in NBA history, sending him to the Suns for Larry Nance, Mike Sanders, and a future draft pick. During Kevin Johnson’s second season in the league, he averaged 20.4 PPG and 12.2 APG as he led the Suns to the Western Conference Finals, putting up the type of Screw-You year that had to smack all of Cleveland like a brick to the face.

Kevin Johnson is the most talented point guard that everyone loves to forget. His six-year peak was about as good as anything we’ve seen in the last 30 years. Have a look:

Kevin Johnson from 1988-89 through 1993-94: 20.4 PPG, 3.4 APG, 10.5 APG, and 1.7 SPG while featuring a top-10 first step of all time.

Kevin Johnson led the Suns to the playoffs during every season he suited up in the desert, a consummate winner who fought every second he was on the court.

4. Anfernee Hardaway

Credit: AP Photo

Credit: AP Photo

1990-91 to 1999-00 Accolades:

2x All-NBA First Team

1x All-NBA Third Team

All-Rookie First Team

4x All-Star

Penny Hardaway was selected by the Orlando Magic with the 3rd overall pick in the 1993 NBA Draft, and he made an immediate impact as a rookie, teaming up with Shaq and forming what many predicted would become the most feared twosome of the 90s. During Penny’s second campaign, he averaged 20.9 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 7.2 APG, and 1.7 SPG, earning his first All-Star nod as he flashed the type of all-around two-way skillset that had Orlando fans sweating double time from the Florida humidity and the thrill of watching their starting point guard. Penny and Shaq led the Magic to the Finals during his second season, ultimately getting swept by the more experienced Rockets, but the foundations of a dynasty were there.

Unfortunately, things didn’t work out according to plan. Michael Jordan un-retired towards the end of the 1995 season and grabbed the Eastern Conference by the throat again, winning the title in 96, 97, and 98, shutting out the Magic. And Penny suffered a devastating knee injury during the early stages of the 1997-98 season that ended up sapping his athleticism, rendering him a non-All-Star for the rest of his career. Despite all of Penny’s lows, he was a four-time All-Star and a two-time All-NBA First Team member during the 90s.

3. Tim Hardaway

Tim Hardaway

1990-91 to 1999-00 Accolades:

1x All-NBA First Team

3x All-NBA Second Team

1x All-NBA Third Team

5x All-Star

Let’s play a quick game of “Did You Know?”

Did you know that Tim Hardaway is a Hall-of-Famer?

Did you know that Tim Hardaway is 18th all-time in assists (7,095)?

Did you know that Tim Hardaway is 58th all-time in steals (1,428)?

Did you know that Tim Hardaway is 61st all-time in Box Plus/Minus (3.13)?

Tim Hardaway was better than most people remember, a fiery point guard who gave 110% every time he stepped on the court.

Tim Hardaway jumped into the league superheated, making the All-Star team during his second, third, and fourth seasons with the Golden State Warriors as he averaged 22.7 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 10.0 APG, and 2.2 SPG from 1990-91 to 1992-93. Sadly, Hardaway tore a ligament in his left knee before the 1993-94 season and missed the entire year recuperating. Tim Hardaway regained his form during the 1994-95 season, putting up 20.1 PPG and 9.3 APG, but the Warriors soured on him, eventually trading their three-time All-Star point guard to the Miami Heat the following season. Tim Hardaway didn’t skip a beat in South Beach, teaming up with Alonzo Mourning, forming a formidable twosome that would push for a title.

Tim Hardaway and Alonzo Mourning found solid success with Miami but could never get over the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks hump in the playoffs. Still. Tim Hardaway was a five-time All-Star and a fire-breathing point guard who competed like a momma bear protecting her cubs on a nightly basis.

2. Gary Payton

Gary Payton

1990-91 to 1999-00 Accolades:

1x Defensive Player of the Year

1x Steals Leader

2x All-NBA First Team

4x All-NBA Second Team

7x All-Defensive First Team

All-Rookie Second Team

5x All-Star

When you consider Gary Payton’s impact on both sides of the ball, his prime years were top-10 among all players in the 90s. From age 26 to 33, Payton averaged 21.5 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 8.1 APG, and 2.2 SPG while winning one Defensive Player of the Year Award and making Marcus Smart or Matisse Thybulle’s perimeter defense look second rate.

Gary Payton’s conditioning doesn’t get mentioned enough. He always gave 120% on both sides of the ball, yet he never looked winded, not even at the end of a fourth quarter game that saw him play 45 minutes. Going beyond Gary Payton’s ability to outwork his opponents, he was also a genuine menace on the fun side, capable of getting to the rack at will with an excellent drive and kick game. And he was a cyclone on defense, a lockdown artist who jumped passing lanes, launched out to open three-point shooters and gave opposing point guards fits.

Gary Payton didn’t win a title during the 90s, but he led Seattle to the playoffs in nine out of ten seasons, reaching the penultimate round in 1996, eventually losing to Michael Jordan and the Bulls.

1. John Stockton

John Stockton

1990-91 to 1999-00 Accolades:

6x Assists Leader

1x Steals Leader

2x All-NBA First Team

3x All-NBA Second Team

3x All-NBA Third Team

4x All-Defensive Second Team

8x All-Star

You know about John Stockton’s offensive exploits. He is first all-time in assists with 15,806 dimes, a country mile ahead of second-place Jason Kidd (12,091). He’s also eighth all-time in Offensive Win Shares with 142.77. Hell, he’s inside the top 150 of all-time in three-point percentage with a career 38.6% mark from deep.

But what many people tend to forget is that John Stockton was more than a one-way player. He also stands atop the all-time steals leader board with 3,265 career takeaways, again, a country mile ahead of second-place Jason Kidd (2,684). John Stockton was a four-time All-Defensive Team member who leveraged every inch of his 6-1 frame to harass his assignments, using his devastatingly quick hands to stifle opposing point guards from even thinking of attempting a crossover in front of him.

John Stockton was one of the most gifted two-way guards ever to play the game, and some of his season-long box scores literally made me stutter out loud, “How is that even possible?”

Here’s a breakdown of John Stockton’s most memorable seasons:

1989-90: 17.2 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 14.5 APG, 2.7 SPG, 41.6 3P%

1990-91: 17.2 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 14.2 APG, 2.9 SPG, 34.5 3P%

1991-92: 15.8 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 13.7 APG, 3.0 SPG, 40.7 3P%

In case you were wondering, during the 1989-90 and 1990-91 seasons, John Stockton had the highest assist average in NBA history, respectively. In fact, John Stockton owns five of the top-10 assist seasons of all time.

John Stockton never won a title, famously stymied twice by the GOAT in the Finals. But he’s one of the finest players ever to suit up, an athlete who shouldn’t be forgotten.

The 1990s Featured Some Of The Most Accomplished Two-Way Point Guards Of All Time

Kenny Anderson, Mark Jackson, and Mark Price were three undersized point guards who left a giant footprint on their respective teams. Isiah Thomas and Jason Kidd were two point guards who peaked in the 1980s or 2000s, respectively, pushing them down our 1990s rankings.

Kevin Johnson and Penny Hardaway were two of the most explosive point guards in NBA history, and Tim Hardaway and Gary Payton were two-way menaces who abused their assignments on offense and defense. John Stockton rests atop our 90s point guard rankings as the best passing backcourt player of all time.


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