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The Dream Team vs. Dream Team 2012

19 Nov

dream team14

The friendly and competitive “back and forth” between Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan about the prospects of this Olympic Squad against the famed Dream Team of 1992 poses the obvious question, ‘Could Dream Team 2012 beat the original Dream Team?’ Both rosters are full of extremely talented and skilled athletes. Both teams had a transcendent player who was fresh of a title run. And both squads display a selflessness on the basketball court that allows them to play incredible basketball. But, who would win if these teams ever faced each other head to head?

“It’d be a tough one, but I think we’d pull it out.”

Kobe Bryant

“For him to compare those two teams is not one of the smarter things he ever could have done.”

Michael Jordan

“Other than Kobe, LeBron and Kevin Durant, I don’t think anybody else on the team makes our team.”

Charles Barkley

“I think we could probably beat that team by 25.”

Scottie Pippen

The statisticians seem to be closer to Kobe’s argument rather than being in agreement with the original Dream Team. According to AccuScore, a sports statistics system that simulates 10,000 games to find the winning percentage of teams that face each other, the original Dream Team would only win 53.1% of the time against the 2012 team by an average margin of only one point. The Daniel Myers’ Advanced Statistical Plus/Minus says that there is not a significant difference between the 1992, 1996, 2008, and the 2012 Olympic squads, though the 1992 group does rank higher in their quantitative evaluation. By every newer form of evaluating competition, the teams are fairly evenly matched. But, in the ’92 Olympic games, the original Dream Team won its matches by an astounding average of 43.8 points per game. The closest game was a win by 32 points over Croatia in the gold medal game. However, the competition that they faced was not nearly as close to the challenges that face this year’s squad. There were only 5 active National Basketball Association players lacing up for the other teams in the 1992 Olympics. In 2012, twenty-five NBA athletes will be playing against the USA team. Teams like Brazil and France boast 4-5 NBA guys. The expansion of the game of basketball across the globe means that the level of competition will be higher than ever in these Olympics. So, who would win position by position?

Point Guard:

Magic Johnson, John Stockton vs. Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Russell Westbrook

Premier Showdown:

Paul – 18.7 ppg, 9.9 apg, 4.6 rpg, 2.4 spg
Johnson – 19.5 ppg, 11.2 apg, 7.2 rpg, 1.9 spg

Magic Johnson, John Stockton, and Chris Paul are the only pure point guards in this group despite Williams and Westbrook becoming premiere floor leaders in the NBA today. In fact, Westbrook may have actually passed Paul in star power over the last few seasons with the injuries to the Clipper’s star, but Paul is still the most valuable point guard on the 2012 team. The overall speed and athleticism of the current Dream Team would overwhelm the 1992 point guards in the open floor, but the vision and leadership of the original Dream Team could compensate for some of the athletic advantage. The other equalizing factor is the sheer size of Magic Johnson. Because he is a full 6’9″, the Dream Team would surely post him against any of the three guards. And, double teaming him in the post with his vision would be like giving away two or three points with this team.

Advantage:

1992

 

Shooting Guard:

Michael Jordan, Clyde Drexler vs. Kobe Bryant, James Harden

Premier Showdown:

Bryant – 25.3 ppg, 4.7 apg, 5.3 rpg, 1.5 spg
Jordan – 30.1 ppg, 5.3 apg, 6.2 rpg, 2.3 spg

Michael Jordan has the advantage against any individual player in the history of the NBA except Wilt Chamberlain. His scoring, assists, rebounds, steals, and field goal percentage are all higher than Kobe’s. Kobe has a better long range shot, but Jordan has better athleticism and interior scoring. With the shortened three point line, Kobe would have no hope of slowing Michael Jordan. James Harden is the downgraded version of Drexler. He is good in the open floor, Drexler was great. Neither is great at creating their own shot in the half court, and both are better as a complementary player than as the lead guy. Harden was the perfect complementary player to Durant and Westbrook in Oklahoma City and a great scorer in Houston. But, Drexler was the man in Portland. And, when he played second fiddle to Olajuwon in Houston he won a championship. Drexler would use his elite athleticism to outplay Harden in the complimentary role. The 1992 shooting guards measure higher than the 2012 ones.

Advantage:

1992

 

Small Forward:

Larry Bird, Scottie Pippen, Chris Mullin vs. LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Andre Igoudala

Premier Showdown:

James – 27.7 ppg, 7.0 apg, 7.1 rpg, 1.7 spg
Pippen – 16.1 ppg, 5.2 apg, 6.4 rpg, 2.0 spg

LeBron James is the most physically talented player to ever play in the NBA. He is a better athlete than Wilt Chamberlain. He is a better athlete than Dr. J. He is a better athlete than Michael Jordan. And, there is no one that could handle him on the block. LeBron is the only man in NBA history to average 26 ppg, 6 rpg, and 6 apg for his career. Larry Birds number are comparable, but he does not have the size or speed to match LeBron on the block or in the open court. Realistically, Pippen would have the task of slowing James. Scottie Pippen is as quick laterally as anyone in NBA history. He would suffocate LeBron James on the perimeter. However, Coach K is smart enough to move James into isolation plays in the post where he would overpower any guard or small forward. And then, Durant and Carmelo are right behind him. They are two of the purest scorers in the league today. Carmelo has a fully developed inside outside game (he hit 10 threes in USA’s game against Nigeria), and Durant has the most unstoppable pull-up jumper since Bernard King. People think that Bird and Mullin would be shut down by the athletes of 2012, but they know how to use picks and move without the ball. They would score against 2012, but they would be completely outmatched on the defensive side of the ball, even in zone defenses.

Advantage:

2012

 

Power Forward:

Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Christian Laettner vs. Blake Griffin, Kevin Love

Premier Showdown:

Love – 17.3 ppg, 12.0 rpg, 0.5 bpg, 0.6 spg
Barkley – 22.1 ppg, 11.7 rpg, 0.8 bpg, 1.5 spg

Believe it or not, Kevin Love’s numbers are eerily similar to Barkley’s at this point in his career. But, Love has not been nearly as dominant as Barkley was at that point. Both Barkley and Malone played a different kind of basketball under the rim. They were physical and intimidating using their knees, elbows, and backsides to bully defenders under the basket. Neither Griffin or Love would be able to slow either of these players. Love may get some easy buckets with the short international three point line, but Barkley actually lead his Olympic team in three point percentage because of the shorter line. The 1992 squad has two of the top three power forwards in NBA history. If you consider Tim Duncan to be a center and not a power forward, then Malone and Barkley are numbers one and two. 2012 did not have a chance here.

Advantage:

1992

 

Center:

Patrick Ewing, David Robinson vs. Tyson Chandler

Premier Showdown:

Chandler – 8.6 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 1.4 bpg, 0.5 spg
Ewing – 21.0 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 2.4 bpg, 1.0 spg

Tyson Chandler is a defensive specialist who uses a strong base and good positioning to stop opponents from scoring. He is good off the weak side of the defense and good on the ball, but he is in over his head on this one. He is facing the only man in NBA history to place in the top ten in 5 statistics in the same season, David Robinson. He is facing one of the toughest centers in NBA history in Patrick Ewing. Chandler is facing two of the best shot blockers in history, and he is fairly limited on offense. Chandler would be annihilated by these two.

Advantage:

1992

 

Skills:

The 2012 team is a very skilled group. The entire team other than Tyson Chandler are relatively position-less (in a good way). LeBron, Williams, Igoudala, Carmelo, Kobe and Durant can all play two to three positions on the basketball court. Everyone on the team can handle the basketball well for their position and quite a few can create their own shot. But, there is a distinct difference between being able to get a shot, and being able to make a shot. That is where the skills differ between the Dream Team 1992 and 2012. The original Dream Team could shoot the basketball. Every member of the Dream Team shot 50% from the field in at least one season during their NBA careers. The Dream Team boasted two members of the 50/40/90 club (Larry Bird, Chris Mullin, and Kevin Durant achieved 50% from the field, 40% from the three point line, and 90% from the free throw line in a single season), and one of those two players achieved the marks multiple times (Bird). Bird and Mullin were two of NBA history’s greatest shooters, and both shooters managed to regularly score 25+ points per game over multiple seasons, despite a relatively low amount of low post opportunities, specifically with Mullin. The 2012 team only has one member of that prestigious club, Kevin Durant. The entire 1992 Dream Team understood the importance of movement without the basketball. They did not need to dribble and create to score the basketball. These finer points are what separates them from the 2012 Dream Team.

Advantage:

1992

Athleticism:

Though the 1992 team has a few elite athletes with Jordan, Pippen, Drexler, and Robinson, the 2012 team is a squad completely composed of good to elite athletes. The 2012 team is stronger and quicker on the perimeter and the speed of the game has changed. Though the first Dream Team averaged 117 points per game in 40 minutes of play (which means that they could run), the edge in athleticism has to go to the 2012 team. Every member of the 2012 team is an above average athlete and some like LeBron, Igoudala, and Griffin are freakishly athletic. 2012 is bigger, stronger, and more agile as a whole.

Advantage:

2012

 

Intangibles:

The 1992 Dream Team wins the intangibles category hands down. The competitiveness that was shown between Magic and Jordan, and Barkley and Malone in practice was legendary. They refused to play together because they wanted to face the best competition that they could every time they stepped on the practice court and prove to themselves and the world who was the best at their position. They pushed each other every day during the Olympics, and bonded every night after workouts. And, the other intangible was knowing how to win basketball games. The entire 1992 team made the right basketball plays despite being the stars of their NBA teams. There were no egos on the court. When a player was open for a shot, they got the basketball. Period. There were no wasted dribbles or wasted motion. Every member of the Dream Team was fundamentally sound, and almost every member of the original Dream Team eventually made it to the NBA Finals. The only two who did not play in a Finals game were Chris Mullin, who never had an inside presence on his Golden State teams, and the lone collegian, Christian Laettner.

Advantage:

1992

Synopsis:

There are some numbers that the computers could not weigh into their calculations when comparing these teams. At the time of their inception, the 1992 Dream Team had 9 Most Valuable Player Awards and 12 NBA titles; they went on to gain a total of 15 MVP’s and 23 championships overall. The 2012 team has 5 and 10, respectively. The original Dream Team had 11 first ballot Hall of Fame players. Outside of LeBron, Kobe, and Durant, no one else on this team is a lock for the Hall of Fame. The 1992 Dream team has two of the top three scorers in NBA history, two of the top three passers in NBA history, two of the top three power forwards in NBA history, two of the top ten centers in NBA history, and two of the best shooters in NBA history playing together. This team has the best scorer in history getting the ball from the best distributor in history backed up by the possibly the best PG by the statistics. The original Dream Team was stacked.

So, could the 2012 Dream Team beat the first incarnation of itself? After all, a few days ago Dream Team 2012 just played one of the best Olympic basketball games in history. They scored 156 points, hit 29 three pointers, and beat the Nigerian squad by 84 points, all feats that no team, including the original Dream Team has ever accomplished. The answer to the question is simple. No. LeBron and company would not have a chance against the original Dream Team. They were too skilled, too accomplished, and too talented. The 1992 squad would destroy Kobe Bryant, Tyson Chandler, and whomever the 2012 coaching staff put on the floor against them. The backboards would be owned by Barkley, Malone, Ewing, and Robinson. The inside scoring that would come from put backs alone would be daunting, but you also have four of the best low post scorers in NBA history on the Dream Team, without counting Jordan who also scored in the low block and from the top of the key. The original Dream Team is the best basketball team that was ever assembled, and no other basketball team would ever come close to challenging them. Like Scottie Pippen said, they would win by 25 easily.

The 10 Guys You Will See in Fantasy Football

17 Sep

fantasy football - guys

Like any other part of your life, fantasy football is full of people that you would not spend time around if you were not stuck together by outside forces. Playing in a fantasy football league is like being at your job on a Monday or like being stuck in the house with your in-laws, you always have to do more work than you should do, and you have very little control over your interactions with others. Your league will inevitably be full of specific idiots who will make your life miserable with their forced conversations, and constant group texts and posts about their team and your fantasy football season. These are the men you will see in your fantasy football league.

 

The Rookie

This guy does not have a clue. He asks everyone from his mother to his accountant to his game day opponent for fantasy football advice, and his squad is full of team defenses, kickers, and tight ends. This is the guy who drafted four quarterbacks in a league that only plays one quarterback, but somehow is competitive every week. He is guaranteed to take a place at the top of your league. Rookies always do. He has never watched a full football game before this season, but he will beat you for a spot in the playoffs after he asks you whether he should start Tom Brady against the worst defense in the league or the quarterback who Ryan Fitzpatrick against the best secondary in football. Luckily for you, he will never place as high in your league as he did in this year.

football - fan - steelers

The Homer

The homer loves his city, and his fantasy football team reflects his affection. Unfortunately, unless he lives in Pittsburgh (NFL royalty who never really has a bad team), that means that his fantasy football team is not very good. The home team guy might as well be a rookie, because he picks his players without any real regard for their ability to score fantasy football points. He is more worried about getting the entire Los Angeles Rams’ roster on his team than actually winning games. This guy shows up to the draft with his authentic team jersey on his back, a baseball cap with the franchise logo, and his autographed Rams football for good luck. He never wins the championship, and he never places last either.

 

The Guru

The guru can tell you how weather conditions affect the top 15 quarterbacks in the league. He knows whether each stadium in the NFL is open or domed. A guru can recognize offensive formations from the television and predict where plays are going based on the offensive sets. Their fantasy football rosters are full of players with names you would not recognize even if you all grew up in the same neighborhood. And, his roster full of no-name guys destroy the league every year. Nobody wants this guy in their league. He has a sixth sense about stats, and is almost impossible to beat. He is a trade Nazi, vetoing every proposed trade on the waiver wire out of spite.

 

The Living Legend

Legends die hard in the hearts and minds of people, and this man was the best athlete that the fantasy football crew had ever seen in real life. He was the captain of the football team, he played scholarship ball at the big university, and was one small injury away from playing professional sports. Because of his background in sports, the legend has some insight into the game of fantasy football. However, he rarely wins it all because he does not rely on numbers. Some former football athletes fair far worse than the average fantasy football guys because they see the value of players to their football teams, but can not see how effective those players are in scoring fantasy points.

 

The Overzealous One

Every fantasy football league has one guy who tries to make up for his complete lack of natural athleticism by excelling at imaginary football. He always fails. He spends his time listening to fantasy football podcasts, has subscribed to ESPN the magazine solely for their weekly version of who to sit and who to play, and trolls the waiver wire every day for fantasy football gems who are sitting there unclaimed. Every week, he drops solid fantasy football scorers for players who had one good week and never duplicate their success again in the season. His team is a carousel of players, some good and some bad. But, this guy can not figure out which ones are worth keeping and which ones should be let go.

 Slacker

Zero Fox Guy

He missed the draft. He never remembers to set his team, and he seems to always play two to three players who are on a bye-week or the injured list. This guy does not care. He abandons his team for work, family, or whatever else he does instead of playing fantasy football after the Week 5 games. His approach to fantasy football is so haphazard and lackadaisical that you feel like a douchebag for caring about your team at all. It makes you question why you play the game at all. He does not care about winning or losing in your league, and you can not figure out why he plays every year. But, somehow everything comes together for him when you play each other, and he beats you.

 

The Benedict

This is the worst guy to ever play fantasy football. He lacks a moral compass and should be booted from any and every fantasy football group the moment he thinks about joining them. In fact, this man should be publically caned for his fantasy football transgressions. The benedict gets pissed because his team has underperformed all year, and in a fit of rage, he gives all his decent players to one of your opponents creating an unstoppable team for them right before the playoffs. He believes in chaos and will blow everything up to prove his melodramatic point. He is a traitor to his friends, and to the spirit of fantasy football altogether.

 

The Elephant

An elephant never forgets, but this Dumbo should let some memories go. He is living in fantasy football past. This is the guy who drafts Peyton Manning in 2016, the year after he retired. He will rattle off a list of football players who have not played in the NFL in years during the draft until he finally settles on a guy who is on the downside of his career. He wants Brett Favre or Ladainian Tomlinson with his first pick overall, but realizes that they have retired after everyone at the draft bursts into laughter. He’ll ask for Tony Gonzalez, and then get the oft-injured Antonio Gates at tight end. This guy is living in 2005, but he is an easy win in fantasy football.

 

Queen Midas

Queen Midas has a real knack for picking gems. She does not watch football games. She does not study specific fantasy football statistics. Every pick that she makes in her fantasy football draft is related to some non-football reason. She picked up Drew Brees in the draft because she is Catholic and he plays for the Saints. She drafted Julio Jones because she knows a Julio, and he is a good guy. She landed on Travis Kelce because the Chiefs wear her high school’s colors, red and yellow. Somehow, she wins games despite having no knowledge of the game of football. And yes, Queen Midas can absolutely be a heterosexual guy with no clue, however the guys who do not watch football games usually do not play fantasy football. Women play despite having no attachments to the game.

 

The Pun-ny Guy

Yes, that title was a pun about the ”funny” pun guys  in your league. The pun-ny guy names his squad “Deflate-Great” after the Tom Brady deflated balls incident of 2015 or “Show Me Your TDs” to get a few laughs. He changes the name of his team every week and forces everyone to look at his clever quips. This guy is more concerned with cracking jokes than with actually winning in his league.

Why Are There No More Big Men?

15 Sep

basketball - big men are dying

The conventional low post player has almost become completely extinct. Long gone are the days when two giants met in the paint to prove which man was better and consequently to show whose team would contend for a championship. Battles between Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Moses Malone no longer exist. Neither do the contests between Russell and Chamberlain or David Robinson and Hakeem Olajuwon. Even Dikembe Mutumbo and Alonzo Mourning, two intimidating shot blockers and somewhat limited scorers, retired nearly ten years ago. The big man has disappeared at the highest level. Shaquille O’Neal may have been the last dominant big man to utilize a back-to-the-basket game to terrorize opponents in the National Basketball Association. And, when Dwight Howard leaves the game of basketball, he could very well be the last official post player to ever play in the National Basketball Association despite his footwork remaining sloppy and unpolished. Big men are a dying breed.

Several different occurrences have led to the demise of the classic NBA center. College, where most big men hone their skills, has become an afterthought for future pros. Guards have become more athletic and are more abundant. Rule changes have aided a quicker pace that leaves lumbering big men out of plays, and injuries have changed how most posts play the game of basketball. The NBA has transformed into a guard-driven league, and centers and power forwards are suffering because of the shifts in basketball strategy and play.

One of the main influences in the cultivation of a dominant big man was learning the game at the college level. Post players need a training ground where they can learn all the finer skills of their position and apply them against good competition. There once were teachers in college basketball who gave big men the foundation of their game, footwork, positioning, and basic post moves and counters. Athletes were allowed to practice their craft at a high level of play against players who did not exceed their talent level. By the time any center moved from college on to the NBA, they were skilled enough to compete at the professional level even if they were physically outmatched. Basketball players knew how to make a basic drop step and use their feet and hips to create separation from a defender. They knew that fighting to get deeper positioning in the painted area on court meant easier shots in the offense. 20 years ago, big men knew how to use a pump fake, gather themselves, and score with someone challenging the shot. Today, post players possess only a fraction of the basketball skills that they had in years past. Big men come into the NBA without the training needed to compete under the rim. Most draftees today are raw athletes with a “huge upside,” or naturally gifted kids who may or may not learn how to play basketball in the pros, rather than polished basketball players who are ready to take the next step in the basketball careers. Nobody has Kareem’s Sky Hook or Hakeem’s Dream Shake in their arsenal. No one  blocks shots like Russell or bullies defenders like Shaq. Centers today do not know how to make a basic jump hook, the staple of offensive play under the basket, and the shot from which most counter moves are built. Big men are no longer taught how to rebound or how to block shots. College no longer serves talented athletes, because players do not stay in school long enough to learn the basics, and only a few coaches actually teach traditional post play. College has become a pit stop for amateurs who want to make the leap to the highest level instead of being a vehicle for basketball guys to become the best player possible. Posts have been failed by the college system.

But, Michael Jordan also stands at the center of the demise of the big man. Jordan proved the systematic formula of great front court play and a good back court equals championships to be wrong. He showed that teams could be successful without having a dominant power forward or center if they had great guards. Michael Jordan became the prototype for all athletes in basketball. He was big, physical, super-athletic, and extremely skilled. But, most importantly, he won NBA titles and made his greatness visible to the public. Jordan showed NBA general managers that big men did not represent the only path to winning; interior scoring was the key. Jordan posted, slashed, and finessed his way to easy buckets in the paint. He scored with such flair that he revolutionized basketball and advertising. He completely dominated his sport from the perimeter and made more money in sports marketing than he ever did on the basketball court. After he took over the league, everyone wanted to play like Mike, even the big guys. Doing the dirty work down low wasn’t as exciting or as lucrative as soaring through the air and making acrobatic shots. Big men began to learn the skills that were once relegated only to guards in an attempt to play like Jordan, and the position of center was irrevocably changed. Kevin Garnett ushered in a new wave of big men who handled the basketball like guards and played out on the floor as much as they did in the post. Versatility became more important than dominance and big men lost their physicality and toughness.

The new found importance of great guard play and the availability of athletic guards forced a change in how the NBA presented the game of basketball to its fans. It changed who they glorified publicly, and it changed the way that they allowed players to play. Finding a 7 foot giant who moved fluidly and had the right temperament to challenge players on a night-to-night basis in the post proved to be a daunting task, but locating an athletic guy at 6’5″ was much easier. So, the NBA enacted rule changes to benefit those players. The addition of the 3-point line gave guards more equality on the basketball court than they ever had before. Scoring in the paint has always been more difficult for smaller players, so the NBA additional point for shooting from long range making them more valuable to teams. When the NBA adopted the 3-point line in 1979, it placed more emphasis on outside shooting than inside muscle. 3-point misses usually produce long rebounds that fly over the heads of the big men boxing out down low making them even more obsolete in today’s game. And then, the NBA changed the way that defenses could play against big men to neutralize them. They made wider lanes in response to Wilt Chamberlain’s dominance in the 60′s and reenacted zone defenses because of the sheer power of Shaquille O’Neal. The NBA has aided in the demise of classic post players by catering to smaller players. The long shots and zone defenses generate fast break opportunities which further pushes big men out of plays. Since the league needs stars to survive and skilled athletic big men are difficult to find, the NBA focuses on cultivating smaller, more exciting guards rather than finding and developing the much rarer big man.

That decision to eschew the classic center was a simple one. In addition to being difficult to find amongst the common public, injuries plague athletes who reach 7’1″. Yao Ming, Greg Oden, Andrew Bogut, and Andrew Bynum are talented big men whose careers have been cut short or hampered by injuries in recent years. And the list gets much more extensive than that as you go back further in the history of the NBA. Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Ralph Sampson, and even Sam Bowie all had promising careers in the paint destroyed by injury. Big men are disproportionately affected by career ending injury because their size puts more pressure against the more delicate bones and ligaments of the body. These players face foot and ankle problems, back problems, and of course knee problems throughout their careers. Ironically, the size and athleticism that makes post players uniquely talented, also makes them more vulnerable to career-shortening injuries.

The classic post may soon be extinct in the National Basketball Association. The impact of Michael Jordan, the new influx of bigger, more athletic guards, the NBA’s  move towards guard play, and the injuries that affect the careers of bigs have sealed their fates. And unless more big men decide to follow in the steps of NBA Hall of Fame post players, classic centers and power forwards may never be seen again.

 

Top Ten NBA Point Guards

12 Sep

basketball - kevin johnson02

10. Kevin Johnson - People seldomly realize how good Kevin Johnson really was in the NBA. He was Stephon Marbury before he went crazy and left for China. He was Tony Parker with more assists and more flash. Kevin Johnson’s had a little bit of Isaiah Thomas in his game and a little bit of John Stockton. He also had one of the quickest first steps in the NBA in the 80′s and 90′s which helped him get to the rim constantly. He dribbled the ball between his legs and suddenly he was past his defender. Johnson regularly challenged big men at the rim, and Hakeem Olajuwon is not the only center/power forward that he dunked on. He threw down dunks on tip-ins, on fast breaks, and right through the middle of traffic. He learned to shoot the basketball from 15 feet out and was unstoppable during the early nineties. He, Charles Barkley, and Dan Majerle took the Suns to the NBA Finals before being defeated by the Bulls in six games. Johnson was the only player who could not be stopped for the entire series.

17.9 ppg., 9.1 apg., 3.3 rpg., 3 time All-Star, 4 time All-NBA, 0 rings, Most Improved Player Award

9. Bob Cousy - Bob Cousy was about three generations ahead of his time in terms of ball-handling. He could dribble the basketball behind his back when players were still patting the basketball. He threw passes over his shoulders to his teammates when everyone else only was using the fundamentals. Cousy was a magician with the basketball and he lead one of the most dominant teams in NBA history. He initiated offense, directed traffic, and dribbled between defenders for the historic Boston Celtics.

18.4 ppg., 7.5 apg., 13 time All-Star, 12 time All-NBA, 6 rings, 2 time All-Star MVP

8. Tiny Archibald - Nate “Tiny” Archibald was Allen Iverson before he ever picked up a basketball. He brought streetball to the NBA. He broke down his defenders, scored, and embarrassed them. He may have had the quickest first step in NBA history. He is one of only a few point guards to lead the NBA in scoring and he was the only man to lead the league in assists and scoring in the same season with 34.0 points and 11.4 assists per game in the 1972-73 season. His biggest weapon was his amazing speed and quickness with the basketball.

18.8 ppg., 7.4 apg., 2.3 rpg., 6 time NBA All Star, 5 time All-NBA, 1 ring, 1 All-Star MVP

7. Jason Kidd - Jason Kidd made the New Jersey Nets relevant. He took the Nets to two consecutive NBA Finals by leading one of the fastest teams that the NBA has seen. He turned the New Jersey offense into one big, extended fast break. And, he made each one of the players a little better with his precise passing. He is one of four people on this list that regularly added two to six points to their teammates points per game averages by getting them easy baskets that could not have gotten themselves. Every team that he was added to, in his prime, gained 5-23 wins. He changed the culture of the Dallas Mavericks, the Phoenix Suns, and the New Jersey Nets. His trademark high dribble and baseball pass helped him dominate the NBA without an excess of scoring the basketball, though he has always been a good scorer. Kid also became an excellent defender in his latter years and covered the opponent’s best wing nightly. He was a complete guard with a high basketball I.Q., and his impact goes well beyond his statistics.

13.2 ppg., 9.1 apg., 6.5 rpg., 10 time All-Star, 6 time All-NBA, 0 rings, 9 time All-Defensive team, Rookie of the Year

6. Walt Frazier - Walt Frazier was cool. He was a big guard during his era, but was quick, and a good passer too. He is greatly underrated as an NBA star because he played with Willis Reed. In Game 7 of the NBA Finals, he had 36 points and 19 assists in a victory. On top of his offensive prowess, Frazier was a great defender too. He played the passing lanes well and made on-ball steals with his lateral quickness and quick hands.

18.9 ppg.,  5.9 rpg., 6.1 apg., 7 time NBA All-Star, 6 time All-NBA, 2 rings, 7 time All-Defensive team, 1 All-Star MVP

5. Isaiah Thomas - Isaiah Thomas was deadly with the basketball in his hands. He had the basketball on a string and regularly put on dribbling exhibitions that would have made the yesteryear’s Harlem Globetrotters and today’s AND 1 players proud. He could not be guarded at the end of games, because he was one of the best clutch shooting points in NBA history. Though he did not win the NBA MVP, he does own two Finals MVP’s that he won in two years consecutively while winning two championships for the Detroit Pistons. He was always among the league leaders in scoring, assists, and steals. In fact, he lead the league in steals for several years in a row.

19.2 ppg., 9.3 apg., 1.9 spg., 12 time All-Star, 5 time All-NBA, 2 rings, 2 All-Star MVP’s, 2 Finals MVP’s

4. Steve Nash - Steve Nash is a bit of an enigma. He has two National Basketball Association Most Valuable Player awards, but no trips to the Finals. Granted, the Suns looked primed for a trip to the promised land until Robert Horry instigated a bench clearing skirmish by hip-checking Nash into some courtside advertisements boards. The NBA suspended several Phoenix players, including Amar’e Stoudamire, one of their best players, and the momentum of the series swung. Nevertheless, Steve Nash has never competed on the highest stage of basketball which is a detriment to his legacy. He did make basketball exciting again, though. Basketball had been bogged down by staunch defenses and methodical post play during the 90s. Nash lead a full court offensive attack that had not been seen since the Lakers’ Showtime offense. He probed the paint, and made dazzling passes to his teammates. He was an incredibly efficient shooter, and he is one of six people in the 50/40/90 club, having shot 40 percent from the 3 point line, 50 percent from the field, and 90 percent from the free throw line in a single season. He is one of two people to have achieved it more than once, and the only player to have done it more than twice (four times in five years). Steve Nash is an enigma, but he is also one of the most talented point guards in NBA history.

14.6 ppg., 8.5 apg., 3.0 rpg., 7 time All-Star, 7 time All-NBA, 0 rings, 2 NBA MVP’s

3. Oscar Robertson - He was the only man in NBA history to average a triple double over the course of one full season with 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 11.4 assists per game until the 2016-2017 season when Russell Westbrook achieved the feat. However, if you average his statistics for his first five years, he would have averaged a triple double over that time period too. He was unstoppable in the post with his one-handed jumper. Robertson was the first big guard, and paved the way for guys like Jason Kidd, Gary Payton, and Magic Johnson. He controlled the basketball by scoring himself or making plays for his teammates. He is one of three people in NBA history to average 30+ ppg. over a season. He did that in six of his first seven seasons. He is the first player to average 10 assists in a season and the only guard to average 10 rebounds in a season, which he did three times. When he was placed beside fellow Hall of Fame player, Lew Alcindor, he won the NBA championship. He was known as one of the most cerebral guards of his era, in addition to being one of the most athletic point guards to ever play in the NBA. Plus, he is the all-time leader in triple doubles which shows his extreme versatility.

25.7 ppg., 7.5 rpg., 9.5 apg., 12 time All-Star, 11 time All-NBA, 1 ring, 1 NBA MVP, 3 All-Star MVP’s, Rookie of the Year

2. John Stockton - John Stockton was the model of consistency during his NBA career. He rarely made a mistake by turning the basketball over. He took care of it and founded his career in making the smart pass and the easy play. He is the all-time leader in assists and steals as a result. Stockton ran the pick-and-roll to perfection with fellow Hall of Fame player Karl Malone. He was an efficient scorer despite having a little hitch in his jump shot. Stockton and Malone took the Utah Jazz to two consecutive Finals where they lost to Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and the Chicago Bulls in both years. He shot 51.5 % for his entire career, which is unheard of for a guard in today’s NBA and is spectacular for a point guard. He is one of the six players that went 50/40/90 for an entire season.

13.1 ppg., 10.5 apg., 2.2 spg., 10 time All-Star, 11 time All-NBA, 5 time All-Defensive team, 0 rings, 1 All-Star MVP

1. Magic Johnson - In addition to being one of the league’s better athletes, Magic Johnson also had a extremely high basketball IQ. He always knew where everyone was on the court, and he was such a good leader that he would direct and encourage his teammates throughout their mistakes during the game. He is one of three players to have averaged a triple double in multiple postseason series. He left the game of basketball as the all-time leader in assists and is still the leader in assists per game. He is second all-time in triple doubles in the regular season and first all-time in career playoff triple doubles. More so than that, Magic Johnson was best player on the basketball court when it counted the most. He is one of the rare players in NBA history that made whatever play that needed to be made to win every time the game was on the line. On one play, he would score himself. On the next, he would get his teammates involved. He could grab a rebound and go coast to coast for the score or throw a bounce pass from half court to a streaking big man. His versatility was never more apparent than in his first Finals in his rookie season. His center, Hall of Fame player Kareem Abdul Jabbar, went down with an injury and Magic filled in for him with a move from point to center. He finished with 42 points, 15 rebounds, 7 assists, and 3 steals including the game-winning hook shot. He is the only rookie to win Finals MVP. At 6’9″, Magic could see the entire basketball court on each play. When he entered the league, he was an explosive point guard that could blow by smaller defenders, post them up, or jump over them. After he injured both of his knees, he became even more cerebral and utilized his teammates on every play. He was the biggest point guard in NBA history and its greatest facilitator of the basketball. He lead the league in assists 4 times.

19.5 ppg., 11.2 apg., 7.2 rpg., 12 time All-Star, 10 time All-NBA, 5 rings, 2 All-Star MVP’s, 3 Finals MVP’s, 3 NBA MVP’s