It’s all about points when it comes to the NBA, but how do you score without passing the ball between your teammates? Handles, passing ability and basketball IQ are the keys behind team scoring, and sharing the basketball would pretty much assure you an easy basket.
Over the years, we’ve seen some incredibly sick passers in the NBA, making an insane impact on the court despite not always being great scorers and constantly making the highlight films with their great assists.
During this past season, European standout Nikola Jokic made a name for himself out of sick no-look pass and behind the back assists, something quite crafty for a guy that height. So, even if it’s still pretty early to declare Nikola as one of the best passers in NBA history, we can give you a list of the 10 guys that definitely are.
Honorable mention: Larry Bird, Tim Hardaway, Gary Payton, Kevin Johnson
10. LeBron James
LeBron has always been the primary ball handler on his teams despite being a small forward due to his great court awareness, basketball IQ and passing ability, being the ultimate leader of the side to side jump pass. Nowadays, he’s even the assist leader on the Cavs despite Kyrie being the point guard of the team, averaging 8.7 helpers for the season and 7 through his entire career.
9. Oscar Robertson
Robertson didn't become a triple-double machine out of anywhere or just racking up assists to pile up stats, as the former Royals great was one of the most versatile two-way players in the history of the sport, averaging more than 10 assists in 5 seasons and recording almost 10 thousand of them through his career.
8. Isiah Thomas
It’s pretty sick to remember the fact that Thomas actually averaged 13.9 assists for a full season, handing off more than 9.5 scoring passes per contest through his 12-year career with the Pistons. On top of that, the 2-time NBA champion seemed to have eyes in the back of his head, finding open teammates with great ease.
7. Rajon Rondo
Rondo’s prime didn’t last long, but there’s absolutely no doubt about the passing ability of the former Boston Celtic. Rondo has led the league in assists on 3 different occasions while averaging 8.5 helpers per contest through one decade in the Association and being a nightly triple-double threat due to his rebounding ability, although he’s always struggled with shooting consistency.
6. Jason Williams
Of all of the guys that make this list, Jason Williams was definitely the most impressive, as the Sacramento King standout point guard made incredible passes that nobody could ever copy, especially his signature move, the elbow pass, throwing the ball to a cutting teammate with his elbow while looking the other way. If you still don’t know him, stop whatever you’re doing and search his highlights.
5. Steve Nash
The 2-time MVP and probably the best player in Phoenix Suns history besides Charles Barkley was also a sick passer. Nash was always pretty smart, and he made up for his lack of speed with crafty passes and a great ability to read the game and run the offense, as well as being a master of deceit when he decided to attack the basket and then simply go around it to find an open teammate anywhere on the court.
4. Jason Kidd
Kidd is, hands down, one of the best point guards the league has ever seen with his clutchness, his pesky defense and of course: his great passes. Averaging 8.5 assists per game, the former Net standout recorded 12,091 career assists through 18 years in the NBA, and he has to be considered one of the best two-way point guards in the history of the game.
3. Chris Paul
Even if he hasn’t retired yet, Paul is a first ballot Hall of Famer and definitely a top 3 passer in basketball history, leading the league in assists in 4 different seasons with lifetime averages of 9.9 helpers per matchup. In fact, he’s recorded just over 3 thousand fewer assists than Kidd despite being in the league for 11 years, and if someone deserves to win an NBA championship before hanging up the gloves, that’s definitely CP3.
2. John Stockton
Stockton actually led the league in assists in 9 full seasons and he’s considered to be the best true point guard in basketball history due to his outstanding passing and court vision while also being able to play lockdown defense. Besides, his 15,089 assists make him the all-time assist leader in NBA history, and his 10.5 assists per game career average is the second highest in the history of the league.
1. Magic Johnson
Magic was one of the main reasons why the Showtime Lakers were called Showtime, being a 6’9 guy with the body of a center and the handles of a point guard, with great ability to score and defend against all 5 positions. Through his entire career, the 5-time NBA champion left averages of 19.5 points, 7.2 boards and 11.2 assists per game, constantly making the highlights with his fast paced full court bounce passes to run the Lakers offense.