The role of a point guard comes with so much weight of expectation in basketball. More often that not, they can play the decisive role in not just winning a game, but navigating the course of an entire season. Be it a moment of magic to raise the roof when the going gets tough, or a last-minute buzzer beater coming from a mazy dribble, the point guard is usually the heartbeat of a team’s attack and this season in the NBA has been no different.
As we approach the culmination of an entertaining year of basketball, with the Golden State Warriors looking to win a sixth championship game as favourites in the NBA betting odds against the Boston Celtics, they’ll need Steph Curry to be at his best. The Golden Boy is perhaps the best shooter the league has ever seen, and while he doesn’t describe himself as an out-and-out point guard he has essentially redefined the position with his ability to create space and cause havoc on the court.
“It doesn’t really matter what position you play,” he said. “it’s just ‘can you play basketball?’”
While Curry may have changed the traditional way we look at point guards, how does he compare to some of the best to ever play in the NBA? Read on, as we look at some of the best to ever do it in the point guard role throughout the league’s history.
In terms of trendsetters, there were few better than Magic Johnson in the peak of his powers. At six feet nine inches tall, he was one of the bigger point guards in the league, yet still showcased the athleticism to regularly lead the scoring charts. His relationship with James Worth at the Los Angeles Lakers made him especially dangerous, and even after a four-year break from basketball, at which point he had already won five championships, Johnson returned to the court to help the Lakers reach the 1996 playoffs, but after losing to the Houston Rockets he retired for good and was eventually inducted into the hall of fame in 2002 with three MVPs.
Nowadays you’ll see him in the coaching hotseat, but back in the day Jason Kidd was one of the best point guards around. His career highlight is surely the 2011 Championship win with the Dallas Mavericks who he currently coaches, and his influence on the day was a by-product of the hard work of his lengthy career. Thrust into the spotlight as Rookie of the Year in 1995, Kidd also played for the Phoenix Suns, Milwaukee Bucks and New York Knicks before hanging up the jersey for the tactics board.
If Curry is regarded as one of the league’s best for three points, John Stockton has to be up there with one of the best passers of a ball the NBA has ever season. His peak years came for the Utah Jazz and while the franchise weren’t the best side at the time, he helped galvanise them to two Conference finals in 1994 and 1996 with his aggressive style, but came up short both times to the Houston Rockets and the Seattle SuperSonics — now Oklahoma City Thunder. Despite offers from other franchises he stayed at the Jazz for his whole career before retiring in 2003.
As well as his career in the league, he is affectionately known for spearheading the United States Olympic basketball team to two gold medals, coming consecutively in Barcelona in 1992 and then on home soil in Atlanta four years later.