10. Chris Paul
Chris Paul is already one of the best point guards to ever play the game, and he’s only 31 years old. He has a career average of 9.9 assists per game to go along with 18.8 points, while playing for the New Orleans Hornets and Los Angeles Clippers. Paul can be a free agent following the 2016-17 season and is likely headed toward a monster contract. He’s the type of player who could continue to perform well while aging, and if he were to average 10 assists per game for 10 more seasons — very unlikely — he’d end up in the number one spot on this list. As it stands, he’ll likely get to the top five.
9. Rod Strickland
Rod Strickland was one of the better pure point guards in the game for the majority of his career. From 1991-1999, Strickland averaged 16.4 points and 8.9 assists while playing for the San Antonio Spurs, Portland Trail Blazers, and Washington Bullets — later the Wizards. While he made the playoffs 11 times in his 16-year career, only one time was he able to lead his team out of the first round. Over the final six years of his career, his numbers dropped off in a big way — he averaged just 9.0 points and 5.5 assists before retiring in 2005.
8. Andre Miller
There are a couple of reasons why Andre Miller is so high on this list. First, he played 17 seasons in the NBA. Second, in his first 14 years on the court, he only missed a combined six games. That’s incredible, considering the absolute grind that is the NBA schedule. In his career, Miller has averaged 6.5 assists per game while playing on nine different teams. He’s never won a championship, and in fact has only been out of the first round of the playoffs one time — as a backup point guard on the 2013-14 Washington Wizards. He hasn’t officially retired, but it appears he isn’t returning again for his 18th NBA season.
7. Gary Payton
Gary Payton, best remembered as the face of the now-extinct Seattle Sonics, had a long career in the NBA as one of the best point guards to ever play. He suited up for 17 seasons, proving to be relatively durable during that time. You would have to be, if you wanted to make it to the top 10 on the all-time assist leaderboard while averaging just 6.7 assists per game. Payton made it to the NBA Finals three times, losing in 1996 and 2004 before finally winning his only championship in 2006 with the Miami Heat.
6. Isiah Thomas
Isiah Thomas is a Hall of Fame point guard for the Detroit Pistons, averaging 21.0 points and 11.5 assists per game through his prime from 1984-1987. Thomas was small at 6-foot-1, but he was truly one of the best players in the game when he was at his best. Knee problems forced him to retire at just 32 years old, having played 12 seasons in the league. But his 9.3 assist-per-game average for his career vaults him up on the list. Thomas also led the Pistons to back-to-back NBA championships in 1989 and 1990.
5. Oscar Robertson
Want to know just how good of a player Oscar Robertson was? Over the first six years of his NBA career with the Cincinnati Royals, he averaged 30.4 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 10.7 assists per game. That’s an average of a triple-double over the course of 460 games played in six seasons. Those are the types of numbers that will never be repeated again in NBA history. Robertson would finally win a championship in 1970-71 after teaming up with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the Milwaukee Bucks.
4. Magic Johnson
Magic Johnson could’ve been so much higher on this list had he not retired at the age of 31 due to HIV infection. In his prime years, from 1983-1991, Johnson averaged an absurd 12.2 assists per game while still keeping his scoring averages up at 20 per game. This is impressive for a player that was 6-foot-9, which is quite a bit taller than the typical point guard. After retiring, Johnson would eventually try his hand at coaching with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1994 before briefly returning to the court for 32 games in 1996.
3. Mark Jackson
Not only did Jackson have longevity and relatively good health, but he also had the numbers to back them up. He played 17 seasons in the NBA, most notably with the Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks, and played 81 or more games in a season in 12 of those 17. He finished his career with an average of 8.0 assists per game, and his best season came in 1997 when he led the NBA in that category at 11.4. He was a big part of several very good Pacers teams, including the 1999-00 team that lost in the NBA Finals.
2. Steve Nash
Steve Nash played 18 years in the NBA, averaging 14.3 points and 8.5 assists per game. But those numbers are even more impressive when you consider that he wasn’t even a full-time starter until his fifth season in the league, and he averaged 16.0 points and 9.6 assists from the point forward. He was an All-Star with the Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns, but he really developed into a future Hall of Famer in his second stint in Phoenix—winning back-to-back MVP awards in 2005 and 2006 while averaging 17.2 points and 11.0 assists over that two-year period.
1. John Stockton
John Stockton is the all-time assist leader in NBA history, and it’s not particularly close. Jason Kidd is more than 3,000 assists behind him, and as previously mentioned, there’s a very slim chance that Chris Paul could ever catch him. It’s a safe bet that if someone does eventually unseat Stockton from the top of the list, that player probably isn’t currently in the NBA. Stockton wasn’t even the full-time starting point guard on the Utah Jazz until his fourth season in the NBA, and he averaged 10.5 assists per game over his 19 years in the league. He never did win a championship, but he was one of the most amazingly durable players of all time — he played every single game in 17 of his 19 years, missing a total of just 22 games in his career.