Best Sports Debates - Best NBA Point Guard Ever

The best point guard ever.  It's not an easy decision.  And it's certainly a debatable one.  But, we'll attempt to make the definitive argument for the best to ever carry the rock right here on Best By the Numbers.  We'll use statistics similar to how it was done previously for a debate such as the best NFL quarterback ever.

The stats we'll use to narrow down our list of best NBA point guards will be, courtesy of basketball-reference.com:  assists, assists-per-game, total points, points-per-game, steals, and steals-per-game.

As of today, here are your top five in assists:

John Stockton
Jason Kidd
Mark Jackson
Magic Johnson
Oscar Robertson

Your top five in assists-per-game:

Magic Johnson
John Stockton
Chris Paul
Oscar Robertson
Isiah Thomas

Your top five in points scored:

Oscar Robertson
Allen Iverson
Gary Payton
John Stockton
Isiah Thomas

Your top five in points-per-game:

Allen Iverson
Oscar Robertson
World B. Free
Magic Johnson
Stephon Marbury

Your top five in three-pointers:

Jason Kidd
Chauncey Billups
Steve Nash
Tim Hardaway
Nick Van Exel

Your top five in steals:

John Stockton
Jason Kidd
Gary Payton
Maurice Cheeks
Allen Iverson

If a name appears on any of the above lists more than once, then that point guard will be included in the debate.  The point guards that qualify then, are:

John Stockton
Jason Kidd
Magic Johnson
Oscar Robertson
Isiah Thomas
Allen Iverson
Gary Payton

Pretty good group right there.  Now, let it be said that there is a bit of loose interpretation on the term "point guard" for certain NBA athletes considered.

So, now to compare the above point guards, let's look at them alphabetically by last name:

Allen Iverson
5,624 assists
6.2 assists-per-game
24,368 points
26.7 points-per-game
1,059 threes
1,983 steals

Magic Johnson
10,141 assists
11.2 assist-per-game
17,707 points
19.5 points-per-game
325 threes
1,724 steals

Jason Kidd
11,578 assists
9.1 assists-per-game
16,772 points
13.2 points-per-game
1,795 threes
2,477 steals

Gary Payton
8,966 assists
6.7 assists-per-game
21,813 points
16.3 points-per-game
1,132 threes
2,445 steals

Oscar Robertson
9,887 assists
9.5 assists-per-game
26,710 points
25.7 points-per-game
NA for threes
NA for steals

John Stockton
15,806 assists
10.5 assists-per-game
19,711 points
13.1 points-per-game
845 threes
3,265 steals

Isiah Thomas
9.061 assists
9.3 assists-per-game
18,822 points
19.2 points-per-game
398 threes
1,861 steals

We will give a point for each place in the comparative rankings of the respective categories, with ties taking the higher point total (for example if three players were tied in one category, and the player ahead of them was in the 5th position - with 5 points - and the player beneath them was in the first position - with 1 point - each of the three tied players would be awarded 4 points - the next highest total, rather than 2 points - the next lowest total). Also, we'll multiply the assists category relative point ranking by 2, since assists are, I'd say unarguably, the most relevant statistic for a point guard.  We also have to note here, that since Oscar Robertson played before steals or threes were really accounted for, we are giving him the median number of points in each category (3.5).

Understanding we're not using an exact science here, but using the logic above, here are your top 7 point guards of all-time:

John Stockton - 42 points

Oscar Robertson - 38 points
Magic Johnson - 35 points
Jason Kidd - 34 points
Isiah Thomas - 27 points
Gary Payton - 27 points
Allen Iverson - 26 points

The only real argument I can foresee someone making here is that Magic Johnson should be higher.   Maybe.  If you take into account his championships and his all-time high in assists-per-game.  He was certainly amazing to watch.

But you gotta admit, Stockton's numbers are pretty powerful, and you can certainly argue that he's the best of all-time.

So, what do you think?  Is John Stockton the best NBA point guard ever?  You tell me.

Please note that all stats are courtesy of basketball-reference.com.

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