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The Last 40 Assist Champions: John Stockton Is The All-Time Assists King

The Last 40 Assist Champions: John Stockton Is The All-Time Assists King

The offense in the NBA these days is at an all-time high, as teams are focusing on efficient ways of scoring a ton of points. Of course, we have some of the most spectacular offensive players of all time handling the ball, and creating for others is the best way to score plenty of points. Ball movement and teamwork are encouraged by the NBA, which is why we are seeing high assist numbers every week.

Looking back at the last 40 years, here are the assist champions from 1981 until the 2021 season. Some names will appear more than once, and some other players managed to take offense to an entirely different level by creating plenty of chances for their teammates. Without further ado, here are the last 40 assist champions in the NBA.

1981 - Kevin Porter - 9.1 APG (Washington Bullets)

A 4-time Assist Champion, Kevin Porter kicked off the 1981 season by averaging 9.1 APG. Porter also had seasons where he put up 10.2 APG and 13.4 APG which led the league, but the point guard was just as effective at 30 years old for the Washington Bullets. Porter would miss the entire 1982 season with a leg injury, so he managed to capture his 4th scoring title before his final season following his injury-ridden year.

1982 - Johnny Moore - 9.6 APG (San Antonio Spurs)

After a subpar rookie season averaging 7.4 PPG and 4.5 APG, Moore blossomed into the best playmaker in the NBA by posting 9.6 APG for the San Antonio Spurs. A 6’1” point guard with great vision, Moore would take off and average over 9.0 APG for 4 more seasons. Moore would fall off the map after the 1986 season, but he still had a great run over 5 seasons.

1983 - Magic Johnson - 10.5 APG (Los Angeles Lakers)

At 23, Magic Johnson was already playing like one of the best players in the world again. Johnson averaged 16.8 PPG and 10.5 APG, alongside a dominant Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at 35 years old. The Lakers were stacked with talent, and they made it to the NBA Finals only to get swept by the Philadelphia 76ers led by Moses Malone and Julius Erving.

1984 - Magic Johnson - 13.1 APG (Los Angeles Lakers)

For the second straight year, Magic Johnson would lead the NBA in assists per game. The legendary superstar would boost the Lakers to the NBA Finals, although they would fall to the Boston Celtics in 7 games. A 24-year-old Magic was still a dominant superstar averaging 17.6 PPG and 13.1 APG, and this season will be one to remember for Lakers fans even though there would be no NBA championship.

1985 - Isiah Thomas - 13.9 APG (Detroit Pistons)

A 23-year-old Isiah Thomas had one of his greatest individual seasons, despite only playing his 4th year. Thomas put up 21.2 PPG and 13.9 APG in a great season, although the Pistons were not able to reach the Western Conference Finals as they lost in the second round. Still, the Pistons were building something and it would not be long before NBA championships would follow.

1986 - Magic Johnson - 12.6 APG (Los Angeles Lakers)

After Isiah Thomas led the NBA in assists at nearly 14 APG, Magic took back his crown by putting up 12.6 APG. Magic made it look effortless in feeding Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy for easy buckets, and was the epitome of “Showtime”. At 26, Magic was making a distance between himself and the other point guards in NBA history which was crazy to witness.

1987 - Magic Johnson - 12.2 APG (Los Angeles Lakers)

Considered the greatest all-around point guard ever, Magic Johnson did not have the assist titles that John Stockton had but excelled in many other areas. But Magic did capture his 4th assist title in 1987, averaging 23.9 PPG and 12.2 APG while leading Los Angeles to the NBA Finals to win it all. Magic is truly one of a kind, and his 4th assist title hardly compares to what he achieved in his career.

1988 - John Stockton - 13.8 APG (Utah Jazz)

No player comes close to John Stockton in terms of racking up assists. Playing alongside Karl Malone boosted his stats, but Stockton was an all-time great floor general. The superstar leader was superior to every player, ever, in terms of remaining unselfish to allow other players to prosper. Despite taking under 10 shots a game, Stockton was effective as a playmaker and allowed Karl Malone to average 27.7 PPG.

1989 - John Stockton - 13.6 APG (Utah Jazz)

John Stockton would kick off a long streak of assist titles and would capture his second straight in 1989. The point guard averaged over 13 APG yet again, feeding his superstar teammate Karl Malone (29.1 PPG). Malone would not rank among the top-3 scorers of all time without Stockton, and Stockton would not lead all players in assists without Stockton. Both players became synonymous with each other, and the 1989 season was another example of that.

1990 - John Stockton - 14.5 APG (Utah Jazz)

Once again, John Stockton led the NBA in assists by averaging well over 14 APG. There is truly no comparison to him because he made it look so effortless. Playing 37.4 MPG, Stockton was an assist machine alongside a dominant Karl Malone (31.0 PPG). The Mailman received the bulk of the praise for a terrific season, but Stockton was arguably just as responsible for their 55-27 record.

1991 - John Stockton - 14.2 APG (Utah Jazz)

As great as Karl Malone (29.0 PPG) and Jeff Malone (18.6 PPG) were on the court, John Stockton’s season in 1991 was truly great. The point guard averaged 17.2 PPG and 14.2 APG for Utah, despite taking under 12 shots a game. Stockton knew where his bread was buttered and made sure he was an all-time great point guard who fed a superstar big man.

1992 - John Stockton - 13.7 APG (Utah Jazz)

With a 55-27 record, John Stockton and the Jazz were a force in the West. The all-time great point guard averaged 13.7 APG while Karl Malone averaged 28.0 PPG alongside him. Once again, Utah made the playoffs and made it as far as Game 6 in the Western Conference Finals. The Jazz went as far as Stockton took them because he allowed the team to progress the ball at an elite level to feed The Mailman down low.

1993 - John Stockton - 12.0 APG (Utah Jazz)

A prime John Stockton was once again at the pinnacle of his powers, averaging 12.0 APG and feeding the 27.0 PPG scorer in Karl Malone time and time again. Jeff Malone (18.1 PPG) was also a solid contributor thanks to Stockton’s presence as a point guard, and this trio was good enough to help Utah capture a 47-35 record which was good for 3rd in the Midwest Division.

1994 - John Stockton - 12.6 APG (Utah Jazz)

With Stockton at the helm, the Jazz were once again a dominant force in the Western Conference. The point guard led the league in assists again and allowed Utah to make the Western Conference Finals at the end of the year. Stockton and Malone were doing great things together and were clearly one of the best duos ever.

1995 - John Stockton - 12.3 APG (Utah Jazz)

Make it 8 in a row for Stockton in 1995, as he averaged over 12 APG yet again. The two-way star was the master of the pick n roll with Malone, and no defense could realistically prepare for it. Stockton knew when to attack the rim, find Malone, or take his time to allow a new play to be drawn up. There have been many great point guards in NBA history, but Stockton would achieve more greatness the following season.

1996 - John Stockton - 11.2 APG (Utah Jazz)

Just like Michael Jordan dominated the scoring charts with 10 scoring titles, John Stockton was almost as good as a passer. The 1996 season marked the 9th straight assist title for the Assist King, and Stockton made it look effortless once again. With Karl Malone by his side, Stockton completed a record that will likely never be broken.

1997 - Mark Jackson - 11.4 APG (Denver Nuggets / Indiana Pacers)

A great point guard in his day, Mark Jackson once averaged 11.4 APG to lead the NBA in 1997. Despite playing for the Nuggets and Pacers during the year, Jackson averaged 12.3 APG in 52 games with Denver before averaging 9.8 APG with the Pacers over 30 games. Jackson was a terrific ball-handler and passer, and also one of the most underrated guards in NBA history.

1998 - Rod Strickland - 10.5 APG (Washington Wizards)

“Hot Rod” Strickland was always a great offensive player, but he had his best season in 1998. Making his first All-NBA Team appearance, Strickland averaged 17.8 PPG and 10.5 APG with the latter being his career-high. Strickland also became the 25th player in NBA history to record 10,000 points and 5,000 assists in that same season, which was only one year removed from leading Washington to the playoffs for the first time in 8 years.

1999 - Jason Kidd - 10.8 APG (Phoenix Suns)

In 1999, 25-year old Jason Kidd averaged his career-high in APG while leading the Suns to a record above .500. Other than Tom Gugliotta and a 32-year old Clifford Robinson, Kidd did not have much scoring talent to work with but still nearly averaged 11 APG. Jason Kidd began coming into his own as a superstar, and he would take off over the next few seasons.

2000 - Jason Kidd - 10.1 APG (Phoenix Suns)

Alongside Clifford Robinson and Penny Hardaway, Jason Kidd was able to average a double-double with 14.3 PPG and 10.1 APG. The Suns were a decent team, but it was Kidd’s superstar impact that helped them acquire 53 wins during the season. Jason Kidd was by far the most impactful point guard in the game during the early 2000s, and his assist totals were a result of that.

2001 - Jason Kidd - 9.8 APG (Phoenix Suns)

For the third straight year, superstar Jason Kidd led the NBA in assists despite not having much offensive talent beside him. With Shawn Marion (17.3 PPG) and 34-year old Clifford Robinson (16.4 PPG) scoring at a decent level, Kidd was able to be a solid playmaker for a Suns squad that finished 3rd in the Pacific Division.

2002 - Andre Miller - 10.9 APG (Cleveland Cavaliers)

Two years after getting drafted No. 8 overall in the 1999 NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers, Andre Miller led the NBA in assists by posting 10.9 APG to go along with 16.5 PPG. The 6’3” point guard did not have a solid jumper from deep, but was able to attack the rim with aggressiveness and also set up teammates with ease. Miller would go on to have a long career, but the 2002 season was one for him to remember.

2003 - Jason Kidd - 8.9 APG (New Jersey Nets)

New Jersey was on the map because of Jason Kidd, arguably a top-5 star in the game at that time. The point guard was incredibly dominant as a leader and all-around player, averaging 18.7 PPG and 8.9 APG while making his 6th All-Star Team. Kidd was a special player in every area of the floor, and his 2003 season might be his greatest ever on an individual level.

2004 - Jason Kidd - 9.2 APG (New Jersey Nets)

Jason Kidd continued where he left off the past few years by winning his 5th assist title over the past 6 years. Kidd was not only a dominant defender and vocal leader but a terrific passer. The powerful point guard was adept at penetrating the paint, making pinpoint passes, and doing his best to lead his team to wins every season.

2005 - Steve Nash - 11.5 APG (Phoenix Suns)

Although his 2005 MVP Award was widely scrutinized, Steve Nash was undoubtedly the best playmaker in the NBA. Averaging 15.5 PPG and 11.5 APG, Steve Nash was unstoppable with the ball in his hands and fed his star teammates including Amar’e Stoudemire with ease. Thanks to Nash’s playmaking, Stoudemire blossomed into a dominant player (26.0 PPG) and that is why the point guard ended up winning the MVP as a star who made others better.

2006 - Steve Nash - 10.5 APG (Phoenix Suns)

Winning his second straight MVP Award, Nash also led the league in assists for the second straight year. Posting averages of 18.8 PPG and 10.5 APG, the Phoenix Suns were an excellent team in the West and had an offense run by one of the greatest passers in NBA history. Nash made the game look effortless on offense because even though he could score, his passing was the biggest factor behind his team’s success.

2007 - Steve Nash - 11.6 APG (Phoenix Suns)

For the 3rd straight season, superstar Steve Nash led the league in assists by posting another monster double-double average (18.6 PPG and 11.6 APG). As expected, that resulted in him competing for his 3rd straight MVP Award, although he went runner-up to Dirk Nowitzki. Just like the past two seasons, Nash was on another level as a passer and began solidifying himself as an all-time great.

2008 - Chris Paul - 11.6 APG (New Orleans Hornets)

As a member of the Charlotte Hornets, Chris Paul was an extremely impactful point guard in the league. The future first-ballot Hall of Famer became an All-Star in his 3rd season, and despite standing 6’0”, Paul was extremely dominant as a passer and a scorer. CP3 had arrived as a superstar, and that meant more assist titles would be on the way.

2009 - Chris Paul - 11.0 APG (New Orleans Hornets)

Chris Paul began staking his claim as potentially a top-5 player in the league because he was the best leader on the floor and a terrific passer. Paul reads the offense better than most in his era and had a knack for making the right plays at the right time. CP3 was playing on a subpar team but still managed to put up monster assist totals for the second-straight season.

2010 - Steve Nash - 11.0 APG (Phoenix Suns)

Nash captured his 4th assist title in 2010, averaging 16.5 PPG and 11.0 APG and making his 7th All-Star Team. The future Hall of Famer was the complete point guard, making all his teammates better and dribbling rings around defenses while he creates offense. The Suns were a fantastic Western Conference team, and Nash was the architect behind that squad.

2011 - Steve Nash - 11.4 APG (Phoenix Suns)

At 36 years old, Steve Nash captured his 5th assist title to pile up more awards for the future Hall of Famer. The Canadian superstar seemed to get better with age, playing like a playmaking maestro who impacts the game on most levels. Nash has no issue deferring to teammates when it comes to scoring, although his ball-dominance is something the entire league had no problem with.

2012 - Rajon Rondo - 11.7 APG (Boston Celtics)

In 2012, Rajon Rondo would make his 3rd straight All-Star Team with the Celtics as he started becoming one of the best point guards in the NBA. Despite his stand-offish demeanor, Rondo was extremely effective as a passer and made everyone around him better. As a lockdown defender and playmaker, Rondo nearly averaged 12 APG in a spectacular season. It would not be long before a second assist title would follow.

2013 - Rajon Rondo - 11.1 APG (Boston Celtics)

The Boston Celtics were not as strong as they were in 2008, but Rajon Rondo became the best player on the team. The point guard would make his last All-Star appearance averaging 13.7 PPG and 11.1 APG, and he truly deserved it because of his incredible passing ability. Rondo is extremely innovative and has a 6th sense as a passer, which is why he would win one more assist title in a few years.

2014 - Chris Paul - 10.7 APG (Los Angeles Clippers)

For the first time since 2009, Chris Paul reigned supreme as the assist leader of the NBA. Paul helped the Clippers develop into a championship contender and his playmaking allowed the likes of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan to develop their games as lob partners and all-around threats around the basket.

2015 - Chris Paul - 10.2 APG (Los Angeles Clippers)

One of the greatest point guards of all time, Chris Paul captured his 4th assist title in his career and his second one in a row. The Clippers went as Paul went because the point guard was the most capable scorer and playmaker on the team. Despite being a miniature player, Paul’s impact as a point guard was truly spectacular in Los Angeles.

2016 - Rajon Rondo - 11.7 APG (Sacramento Kings)

After a few years removed from being the starting point guard for the Boston Celtics, Rajon Rondo once again led the league in assists in a rejuvenating season with the Sacramento Kings. Rondo was extremely capable of setting up teammates, playing the pick n roll, and making the best at the cards he was dealt. The Kings were not a great team, but Rondo made them have an efficient offense.

2017 - James Harden - 11.2 APG (Houston Rockets)

James Harden was well in the MVP Race in 2017, as he averaged 29.1 PPG and a league-leading 11.2 APG. With The Beard controlling the Houston Rockets offense, the team found plenty of success at scoring the ball. It was Harden’s double-double presence that helped Houston start competing with the best teams in the league, and The Beard also began solidifying his status as an all-time great player.

2018 - Russell Westbrook - 10.3 APG (Oklahoma City Thunder)

A year after winning league MVP, Russell Westbrook captured his first assist title with the Thunder by putting up his second-straight triple-double average for the season. The point guard followed up an amazing MVP season with the incredible passing ability and prospered once again without the presence of Kevin Durant.

2019 - Russell Westbrook - 10.7 APG (Oklahoma City Thunder)

For the second straight year, Westbrook carried the Thunder with his playmaking while leading them into the postseason. Westbrook was dominant in 2019, putting up a triple-double for the 3rd straight season. Russ was given free control of the Thunder’s offense and put up historical numbers once again, using his athleticism to draw defensive attention and feed his teammates consistently.

2020 - LeBron James - 10.2 APG (Los Angeles Lakers)

Yet another award goes into LeBron James’ trophy cabinet, as he managed to lead the league in assists per game with the Lakers. Playing alongside Anthony Davis, James took a step back on scoring the ball to be the best playmaker in the league. The King might be the best passing forward ever, and the fact he led the league in assists at 35 years old was simply amazing to witness.

2021 - Russell Westbrook - 11.7 APG (Washington Wizards)

For the third time in four years, Russell Westbrook led the NBA in assists. As an athlete, Westbrook finds it so easy to beat defenders off the dribble and set up his teammates, even when he played in a new team in 2021. The Wizards had Bradley Beal, a fantastic scorer, and capable big men who could finish around the rim. Despite criticism of Westbrook’s ability as a controlled point guard, the future Hall of Famer reigned as the best playmaker in the game.


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