It should surprise no one that point guards have ranked high among the NBA’s best 75 players of all-time.
Point guards have had an important role both in the past and modern era, even if the job description has evolved. In the past, the point guards’ main responsibility entailed passing the ball to a big man. That usually kept the centers happy and the offense humming. But now? Point guards are expected to master both their playmaking and outside shooting. That usually keeps both teammates, coaches and the analytics office happy.
Both past and present point guards were represented in the player rankings No. 26 through 50. NBA writers with USA TODAY Sports and its other properties selected four of the top five on the league’s all-time assist list, including John Stockton (No. 1), Jason Kidd (No. 2), Steve Nash (No. 3) and Chris Paul (No. 5). None of them shied away from taking their own shot, but they often thought more of giving others their shots. That’s because all four of those players thrived on making their teammates better around them.
NBA TOP 75 LIST: Ranking the greatest 75 NBA players of all time -- Nos. 50-26
NBA TOP 75 LIST: Ranking the greatest 75 NBA players of all time -- Nos. 75-51
The list also includes some of the league’s best one-on-one scorers (Allen Iverson, James Harden), defenders (Gary Payton) and triple-double machines (Russell Westbrook). Both Iverson and Harden often made opponents pay if they tried to defend them one-on-one. Payton thrived in that role, and let everyone know about it, too. And Westbrook eventually became the NBA’s all-time leader in triple doubles (184).
The other theme of the players’ rankings 26 through 50: it pays to have a shooting guard that can consistently fulfill that job description. Dwyane Wade (three NBA titles), Ray Allen (two) and Rick Barry (one) all won NBA championships because they scored so prolifically.
Reggie Miller never won a ring, but he still fulfilled that job description, much to the New York Knicks’ dismay.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NBA top 75 players: Point guards take their place among top 50 on list