Determining what makes a good point guard is fairly simple in theory. Not unlike a quarterback in football, they should control the tempo, call the plays, exploit weaknesses in the defense, set up skill players to make big plays, not turn the ball over and agressively push the ball into enemy territory. Oh, and yes, if you are also a terrific scorer then you are the total package.
Picking the best shooting guard was perhaps easy compared to picking the best point guard. If a shooting guard plays on a losing team it is not generally considered their fault if while losing they also averaged 25 points a game. Not so a point guard. Just getting your stats is not enough. The question is whether or not you make the rest of the team better. I have always been interested in watching college coaches determine whether their new hot shooting freshman guard is going to play that role their entire career or whether they are going to be groomed for the point guard position. It takes a special breed to play this position and, psychologically speaking, someone who is very comfortable in their own skin.
As usual I will make a few observations about our choices for point guard. To list all of the accolades and awards for each one would mean a several page blog. Trust me. So without further ado here are your (my) choices.
Bob Cousy -Named to the NBA's Anniversary All-Time Team 3 times. Was elected to the All-NBA team 13 times. He holds the all time record for making 30 free throws in a game out of 32 attempts and he once scored 50 points in a game.
John Stockton -Holds the record for most steals and most assists and no one else is even close. If you had to build a team from scratch this might be the man you start with. He is the only NBA player to have 20 assists and 7 steals in a game. He is only 1 of 3 players to have more than 1000 assists in a season and he did this 7 times, the other two players only did it once. He holds the record for average assists per game over a season (14.5).
Oscar Roberson -Named by the NBA as one of the 50 greatest players of all time. "The Big O" had the 3rd highest scoring average (30.5) of any rookie in NBA history. He may perhaps be best known for being the perfect team player. As testimony for this, when he retired from the Milwaukee Bucks they went from 1st in the division to last place even though they still had Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Magic Johnson -Also named one of the 50 greatest players of all time, I would contend he is one of the three most athletic players in NBA history. The question with Magic is where to play him since he is good at any position. As is well known, in one NBA championship he filled in for an injured Abdul-Jabbar and through the course of the game played center, forward and guard. ESPN has named him the greatest point guard of all time. He is the only rookie to ever win a Finals MVP.
Jerry West -Yes, we also listed him as a choice for shooting guards. Long before Magic, Jerry West was considered versatile as a player. He was one of the first players to be considered as strong a defender as he was an offensive threat. Named to the first All NBA Defensive Team, Jerry has also established himself as the one player who actually made every player he played with a statistically better player. There is a reason he is regarded as one of the greatest NBA players of all time.
Steve Nash -If you want a guard who can move the ball up the court, cause defenses to collapse and then make pin-point passes off of the dribble, this is your man. Many years while he was playing he led the league in free throws and assists. Some say he might be the top 3 point shooter of all time.
Gary "The Glove" Payton -What Nash did not do particularly well Payton mastered. He was a smothering defender and the only point guard to ever be named NBA Defensive Player of the Year. He ended up also being the 21st highest scorer in NBA history which may not sound like much but this puts him past Larry Byrd.
Isiah Thomas -Had several notable disappointments as a pro, losing in key match-ups in pivotal games but when his star shown, none shown brighter. He was All Rookie, NBA Finals MVP, All NBA and ranks 5th all time in assists.
Jason Kidd -He ranks in 3rd place all time in the NBA for triple-doubles and he is in 2nd place in history in playoff triple doubles. This is not just unusual for point guards, this is unusual for anybody playing the game. Several sports magazines rank him no lower than number 2 all time for point guards.
Walt Frazier -Spending time in the New York metro area as a college student I remember that if you wanted to make a New Yorker smile you just mentioned the name, "Clyde." Watching the local New York evening news you could always count on a highlight film from the sports report that focused on the man also know as "Super Fly." Why was he so beloved? Simply put he helped lead the New York Knicks to their only two NBA championships in history. In a Game 7 win against the Lakers he scored 36 points and had 19 assists. That's as in, "Wow!" Walt in his career also perfected the art of the steal. He did not believe in playing physical close defense but played a deceptively loose defense only to swoop in with his quick hands and steal another one
. Maurice Cheeks -Some aficionados of the game eschew the popular names and point to this player as the all time best point guard. A strong argument could be made that he was the games best defensive point guard. At the time of his retirement he was the all time leader in steals.
Kevin Johnson -Tech fans may remember that after being a high draft pick he was unable to beat out Mark Price as a starter with the Cavaliers. Traded the following year he ended up winning the Most Improved Player Award. Then for three straight seasons he averaged at least 20 points and 10 assists a game, only 1 of 3 players in history to have a streak like this. If one searches the internet one may find a famous highlight film of him dunking the ball over Hakeem Olajuwon.