Updated: May 11, 2006

DAILY DIME: SPECIAL EDITION 10 greatest point guards ever

Magic Johnson

Magic Johnson

Team: Los Angeles Lakers (1979-91, 1996)

Titles: 5 (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988)

Honors: 12-time All-Star, three-time MVP (1987, 1989, 1990), three-time Finals MVP (1980, 1982, 1987), Hall of Fame

The player: The prototype big point guard. The only player in NBA history who could dominate -- not just play -- all five positions.

Magic was the best ever in transition. He led the break and shoved the ball down your throat or backed you down and carved you up with a pass or drive.

He was unselfish -- but not to a fault (he'd take over and score when necessary) -- and he made passing cool. Given his age (a rookie at age 20), the stakes (NBA Finals), the opponent (Dr. J and the 76ers) and the fact that he moved to center to replace injured legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic's 42-point, 15-rebound, 7-assist, 3-steal effort in the title-clinching Game 6 of the 1980 NBA Finals was probably the best individual performance of all time.

It could be argued that he's the one player in NBA history who was better than Michael Jordan.

Photo credit: Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Oscar Robertson
Walter Iooss/NBAE via Getty Images

Teams: Cincinnati Royals (1961-70), Milwaukee Bucks (1970-74)

Titles: 1 (1971)

Honors: 12-time All-Star, 1961 ROY, 1964 MVP, Hall of Fame

The player: The gold standard, two decades ahead of his time.

Oscar was one of the smartest players ever. There has never been a better post-up guard.

We hear about "The Big O" averaging a triple-double for one season (1961-62), but he actually averaged a triple-double over the first five seasons of his career (1960-65) when the games are strung together. In those 384 games, he averaged an astounding 30.3 points, 10.6 assists and 10.4 rebounds.

Isiah Thomas
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Team: Detroit Pistons (1981-94)

Titles: 2 (1989, 1990)

Honors: 12-time All-Star, 1990 Finals MVP, Hall of Fame

The player: He was the smallest and baddest of the Bad Boys. He was an absolute killer on the court with as much heart, will and toughness as playing ability.

Isiah willed his team to a championship level. He was at his best when it counted -- in the playoffs. Against New York in the 1984 playoffs he scored 16 points in the last 94 seconds of regulation to send Game 5 into overtime.

John Stockton
Dale Tait/NBAE via Getty Images

Team: Utah Jazz (1984-2003)

Titles: 0

Honors: 10-time All-Star

The player: His durability, toughness, leadership, poise, efficiency, vision and longevity were phenomenal.

Stockton might be the most deceptive point guard ever.

All-time leader in assists and steals, with a .515 shooting percentage. Very efficient.

Sustained excellence overcomes the absence of rings. The Stockton-Malone pick-and-roll will be the measuring stick for years to come.


We're in an era of great point-guard play (see Steve Nash's second straight MVP trophy and Chris Paul's ROY award), with Nash, Jason Kidd, Chauncey Billups, Sam Cassell and Gary Payton providing their leadership in the second round of the playoffs.

So it's time to stack up the best point guards of all time.

We compiled top-10 rankings and comments from a panel of ESPN.com's NBA experts, and then pooled those rankings to produce this composite top-10 list.

The voters were: B.J. Armstrong (BA), Chris Broussard (CB), Ric Bucher (RB), John Carroll (JC), John Hollinger (JH), Scoop Jackson (SJ), Tim Legler (TL), Jim O'Brien (JO), Jack Ramsay (JR), Chris Sheridan (CS), Ken Shouler (KS), Bill Simmons (BS), Marc Stein (MS).

Players received 10 points for a first-place vote, nine points for second, and so on down to one point for a 10th-place vote.

Player Voters
Magic 10 10 10 10 9 10 10 10 10 9 10 10 10 128
Oscar 9 9 9 8 10 9 9 -- 9 10 9 9 9 109
Isiah 8 8 8 9 3 8 7 5 5 2 6 7 8 84
Stockton 5 5 7 5 8 2 8 9 8 7 8 6 3 81
Cousy -- 7 5 7 6 6 4 8 7 6 5 8 7 76
Frazier 4 6 -- 6 2 3 6 7 6 3 7 4 6 60
Kidd 6 4 6 3 5 5 5 4 4 8 2 3 2 57
Tiny -- 1 4 4 1 7 2 6 2 5 -- 1 4 37
Nash -- 2 -- 2 4 4 1 3 3 4 4 2 5 34
Payton -- 3 2 -- 7 1 -- 1 -- 1 3 5 -- 23
Others receiving votes: Jerry West (7), Lenny Wilkens (6), Scottie Pippen (3), Maurice Cheeks (3), Chauncey Billups (2), Dave Bing (2), Mark Jackson (1), Earl Monroe (1), Micheal Ray Richardson (1)

The experts have given their opinion. Now it's your turn, SportsNation.

Vote in our poll to tell us which of the all-time greats is your favorite, which was the best passer and which young point guard might make the list someday. And rank the top 12 of all time.

Vote: Best PG? Your favorite?

Send your thoughts | Also: Greatest PFs


M. Johnson 13 19.5 7.2 11.2 24.1
O. Robertson 14 25.7 7.5 9.5 23.2
I. Thomas 13 19.2 3.6 9.3 18.1
J. Stockton 19 13.1 2.7 10.5 21.8
B. Cousy 14 18.4 5.2 7.5 19.8
W. Frazier 13 18.9 5.9 6.1 19.1
J. Kidd 13 14.5 6.7 9.2 18.9
T. Archibald 13 18.8 2.3 7.4 18.0
S. Nash 11 14.0 2.9 7.6 19.9
G. Payton 17 16.3 3.9 6.7 18.9


NBA Photo Library/NBAE via Getty Images

Teams: Boston Celtics (1950-63), Cincinnati Royals (1969-70)

Titles: 6 (1957, 1959-63)

Honors: 13-time All-Star, 1957 MVP, Hall of Fame

The player: Cousy was ahead of his time with his ballhandling and passing skills.

He won more championships than any other point guard and was one of only four point guards to win MVP. The guy who made it all click for the NBA's greatest dynasty ever.


Walter Iooss Jr./ NBAE via Getty Images

Teams: New York Knicks (1967-77), Cleveland Cavaliers (1977-79)

Titles: 2 (1970, 1973)

Honors: 7-time All-Star, Hall of Fame

The player: Perhaps the best defensive point guard of all time. He was also a great scorer, rebounder, assist man and floor general. A true team player, but when he needed to take over he did.

In Game 7 of the 1970 Finals against Wilt, West and the Lakers, he notched 36 points, 19 assists and 5 steals to make up for a hobbled Willis Reed.

No one did it better with more style and grace on the world's greatest stage.


Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Teams: Dallas Mavericks (1994-97, '08-present), Phoenix Suns (1997-2001), New Jersey Nets (2001-08)

Titles: 0

Honors: Eight-time All-Star, 1995 Co-ROY

The player: A brilliant passer -- his 9.2 assists per game average trail only Magic, Stockton and Oscar.

He's a terrific leader and intelligent competitor. Can beat an opponent in so many ways without scoring a point. J-Kidd is able to do precisely the right thing at the right time at the right place.


NBAE Photos/NBAE via Getty Images

Teams: Cincinnati Royals (1970-72), Kansas City-Omaha Kings (1972-75), Kansas City Kings (1975-76), New York Nets (1976-77), Boston Celtics (1978-83), Milwaukee Bucks (1983-84)

Titles: 1 (1981)

Honors: Six-time All-Star, Hall of Fame

The player: A candidate for title of most dominant "little guy" ever.

As the first point guard to make scoring his emphasis, Tiny was the only player ever to lead the league in scoring and assists in the same season (34 and 11.4, 1972-73).

Awesome individual talent who had a lot of A.I. in him early in his career. Invented penetration.


Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images

Teams: Phoenix Suns (1996-98, 2004-present), Dallas Mavericks (1998-2004)

Titles: 0

Honors: Five-time All-Star, two-time MVP (2005, 2006)

The player: His performance over the last two years in Phoenix has put him in this elite category. He's the only point guard other than Magic to win back-to-back MVPs.

Takes the "makes players around him better" tag to a whole new level. Has the ability to make entire teams adjust to his style of play.


Tom Hauck/NBAE via Getty Images

Teams: Seattle SuperSonics (1990-2003), Milwaukee Bucks (2003), Los Angeles Lakers (2003-04), Boston Celtics (2004-05), Miami Heat (2005-2007)

Titles: 1 (2006)

Honors: Nine-time All-Star, 1996 Defensive POY

The player: More swagger than a gunslinger.

As a lockdown defender nicknamed "The Glove," he's one of the few point guards in Frazier's class defensively.

Great scorer who could run a team and, when necessary, put the club on his back. Break down his career and you'll conclude he's been underrated.


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