When you think about the role of a point guard, you are basically thinking about the quarterback of a basketball team. The leader of the team, the traditional point guard calls plays and creates space, meanwhile, the other four players do their part to get the ball in the basket. Point guards can score, but a team typically does much better when they use all their weapons, and rack up assists, and play defense. This all changed when Stephen Curry entered the league.
The top four point guards going on a “Mount Rushmore” have had a significant impact on the game of basketball, and were truly masters of their craft. Each brought something different to the table that had an impact on the game:
1. Earvin “Magic” Johnson
The greatest point guard and passer of all time, Magic was a master playmaker. Magic and Kareem dominated the league in the 80s, winning five championships with the Lakers. Larry Bird said in an interview that Magic is the best basketball player he has ever seen.
A tall point guard, Magic stood 6’9″, and embodied speed and pure athleticism. He had an unteachable ability to find a runner in fastbreak transition, and toss a flashy pass to get the assist. Magic had terrific court vision. He seemed to know where everyone on his team was on the court at all times. His trademark “no-look” passes looked like something out of a video game.
2. Stephen Curry
Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors changed the game of professional basketball during their dynasty run in the 2010s. Curry was the pioneer of shooting more than ten 3-PT shots per game, and he does it flawlessly, averaging 43.4% for his career from long range. He is the greatest shooter of all time.
The traditional attributes of a point guard still apply, however Steph and the Warriors broke the rules. Not only was Steph going to have excellent court vision and rack-up assists, but he was going to score as many points as possible. Steph Curry and Steve Kerr built a winning culture in Oakland that revolved around three-point marksmanship; three points are more than two. Curry does it all and still scores 30-40 points per game on average.
Having only three rings is a big factor holding him back from taking the throne. Curry sits at #2… for now.
3. Isiah Thomas
Member of the notorious “Bad Boy Pistons”, Isiah Thomas is highly regarded as one of the great point guards of all time. A long-time adversary of Thomas, Michael Jordan said that he thinks Isiah is the greatest point guard to ever take the court in his documentary The Last Dance.
Thomas had excellent handles and could pull up from anywhere on the court and drain the ball. He played a physical game on a physical team in a physical era of basketball. Thomas averaged 19 points, 9.3 assists, and two steals per game throughout his long career. He won two national titles as well.
4. Steve Nash
Now, head coach of the Brooklyn Nets, Steve Nash was a force in the 2000s. He averaged over 11 assists per game in his ’04, ’06, ’07, ’09, and 2010 campaigns. Not necessarily a scoring machine, Nash was efficient. When he took a shot, it went in 49% of the time throughout his career. Nash averaged a respectable 14.3 points per game during his long career.
Although he never won a championship, his efficiency and stats speak for themselves.