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The Top 10 Point Guards of All Time (*according to statistical +/-)

Posted by Neil Paine on April 13, 2009

With the playoffs looming -- and consequently, some postseason-related content on the horizon -- I think we should finish off this series about Statistical Plus-Minus' greatest players of all time, don't you? Read up on the previous posts (Centers, Power Forwards, Small Forwards, Shooting Guards) if you're curious about the method, or just skim the (alphabetically-ordered) list if you want to get right to it:

Maurice Cheeks

Year Ag Tm Lg G Min P/40 TS% AS/40 OR/40 DR/40 TO/40 ST/40 BK/40 PF/40 V.I. MPG SPM
1979 22 PHI N 82 2409 11.3 54.1 7.1 1.0 3.1 3.2 2.9 0.2 3.3 6.9 29.4 1.33
1980 23 PHI N 79 2623 13.7 58.9 8.5 1.1 3.0 3.3 2.8 0.5 3.0 7.9 33.2 3.61
1981 24 PHI N 81 2415 12.4 57.9 9.1 1.1 2.9 2.8 3.1 0.6 3.8 7.7 29.8 5.37
1982 25 PHI N 79 2498 14.1 57.0 10.7 0.8 3.2 3.0 3.4 0.5 4.0 8.5 31.6 5.08
1983 26 PHI N 79 2465 16.1 58.2 8.8 0.9 2.5 2.9 3.0 0.5 3.0 7.9 31.2 5.38
1984 27 PHI N 75 2494 15.5 59.1 7.8 0.7 2.6 3.0 2.8 0.3 3.2 7.4 33.3 3.06
1985 28 PHI N 78 2616 15.9 61.9 7.7 0.8 2.5 2.4 2.6 0.4 2.8 7.4 33.5 4.32
1986 29 PHI N 82 3270 15.7 59.7 9.4 0.7 2.2 3.0 2.6 0.3 2.0 7.5 39.9 3.63
1987 30 PHI N 68 2624 16.8 57.9 8.5 0.7 2.7 2.7 2.8 0.2 1.7 7.8 38.6 3.44
1988 31 PHI N 79 2871 15.7 55.1 9.2 0.9 2.8 2.3 2.4 0.3 1.7 8.1 36.3 3.02
1989 32 PHI N 71 2298 14.7 52.7 9.8 0.7 2.6 2.1 1.9 0.3 2.0 7.8 32.4 0.48
1990 33 TOT N 81 2519 12.5 56.5 7.2 0.8 3.0 1.9 2.0 0.2 1.2 7.0 32.0 1.09
1991 34 NYK N 76 2147 11.4 54.8 8.3 0.4 2.9 2.1 2.5 0.2 2.6 6.8 28.3 1.96
1992 35 ATL N 56 1086 9.4 48.3 6.7 1.1 2.4 1.3 3.0 0.0 2.7 6.0 19.4 0.95
1993 36 NJN N 35 510 10.0 60.1 8.5 0.4 2.9 2.6 2.6 0.2 2.8 6.5 14.6 1.58

Walt Frazier

Year Ag Tm Lg G Min P/40 TS% AS/40 OR/40 DR/40 TO/40 ST/40 BK/40 PF/40 V.I. MPG SPM
1968 22 NYK N 74 1588 17.1 49.6 7.8 3.0 5.0 4.8 1.8 1.0 5.1 10.2 21.5 1.88
1969 23 NYK N 80 2949 19.8 56.0 9.0 2.1 4.9 3.9 2.4 0.7 3.5 10.8 36.9 6.89
1970 24 NYK N 77 3040 22.0 57.5 8.6 2.0 4.4 3.6 2.5 0.6 2.8 10.6 39.5 8.15
1971 25 NYK N 80 3455 20.3 55.6 6.3 1.7 4.7 2.9 2.3 0.7 2.8 9.3 43.2 7.26
1972 26 NYK N 77 3126 23.5 57.6 5.9 1.9 4.9 2.9 1.9 0.7 2.4 9.8 40.6 7.13
1973 27 NYK N 78 3181 21.4 53.4 6.0 2.0 5.4 2.9 1.8 0.7 2.4 9.8 40.8 5.49
1974 28 NYK N 80 3338 20.5 51.9 6.9 1.5 5.2 3.5 2.0 0.2 2.6 9.8 41.7 5.27
1975 29 NYK N 78 3204 21.2 53.4 6.0 1.1 4.7 3.1 2.4 0.2 2.6 9.1 41.1 5.88
1976 30 NYK N 59 2427 18.8 52.7 5.9 1.3 5.4 3.0 1.8 0.2 2.7 9.0 41.1 4.60
1977 31 NYK N 76 2687 19.4 53.5 5.9 0.8 3.5 3.5 1.9 0.1 2.8 7.9 35.4 1.71
1978 32 CLE N 51 1664 20.5 52.0 5.2 1.3 3.8 2.8 1.9 0.3 3.1 8.2 32.6 3.11
1979 33 CLE N 12 279 19.1 48.2 4.7 1.0 1.9 3.2 1.9 0.3 3.2 6.4 23.3 -4.60
1980 34 CLE N 3 27 14.5 42.1 11.6 1.4 2.9 5.8 2.9 1.4 2.9 9.0 9.0 -5.33

Allen Iverson

Year Ag Tm Lg G Min P/40 TS% AS/40 OR/40 DR/40 TO/40 ST/40 BK/40 PF/40 V.I. MPG SPM
1997 21 PHI N 76 3045 22.2 51.3 7.0 1.4 2.4 4.2 2.0 0.3 2.9 8.5 40.1 1.66
1998 22 PHI N 80 3150 22.3 53.5 6.3 1.1 2.7 3.1 2.2 0.3 2.5 8.1 39.4 4.13
1999 23 PHI N 48 1990 25.9 50.8 4.5 1.3 3.4 3.4 2.2 0.1 2.0 8.2 41.5 5.53
2000 24 PHI N 70 2853 28.0 49.6 4.6 1.0 2.8 3.2 2.0 0.1 2.3 7.9 40.8 4.76
2001 25 PHI N 71 2979 29.9 51.8 4.4 0.7 3.0 3.2 2.4 0.3 2.0 7.9 42.0 8.27
2002 26 PHI N 60 2622 29.3 48.9 5.2 0.7 3.5 3.7 2.6 0.2 1.6 8.6 43.7 6.79
2003 27 PHI N 82 3485 25.8 50.0 5.2 0.8 3.2 3.3 2.6 0.1 1.7 8.1 42.5 4.51
2004 28 PHI N 48 2040 25.4 47.8 6.5 0.7 2.9 4.2 2.3 0.1 1.7 8.4 42.5 3.25
2005 29 PHI N 75 3174 27.8 53.2 7.2 0.6 3.0 4.2 2.2 0.1 1.7 9.0 42.3 4.69
2006 30 PHI N 72 3103 29.9 54.3 6.7 0.6 2.4 3.1 1.8 0.1 1.5 8.4 43.1 5.35
2007 31 TOT N 65 2761 23.8 54.0 6.5 0.3 2.4 3.7 1.7 0.2 1.3 7.4 42.5 1.19
2008 32 DEN N 82 3424 23.4 56.7 6.3 0.5 2.1 2.7 1.7 0.1 1.2 7.3 41.8 2.19
2009 33 TOT N 57 2090 20.0 50.4 5.7 0.6 2.9 2.9 1.8 0.1 1.7 7.3 36.7 -0.26

Magic Johnson

Year Ag Tm Lg G Min P/40 TS% AS/40 OR/40 DR/40 TO/40 ST/40 BK/40 PF/40 V.I. MPG SPM
1980 20 LAL N 77 2795 19.7 60.2 8.0 2.4 6.1 4.3 2.7 0.6 3.1 11.0 36.3 6.95
1981 21 LAL N 37 1371 23.1 58.2 9.2 2.9 6.3 4.1 3.7 0.8 2.9 12.5 37.1 12.19
1982 22 LAL N 78 2991 18.9 59.0 9.7 3.3 6.5 3.7 2.7 0.4 2.9 12.2 38.3 9.95
1983 23 LAL N 79 2907 18.1 60.3 11.3 2.9 6.4 4.1 2.4 0.6 2.7 12.4 36.8 8.72
1984 24 LAL N 67 2567 18.0 62.8 13.3 1.5 6.0 4.7 2.3 0.7 2.6 12.1 38.3 7.40
1985 25 LAL N 77 2781 20.0 63.7 13.8 1.3 5.5 4.3 1.6 0.4 2.2 12.3 36.1 6.68
1986 26 LAL N 72 2578 20.9 61.0 14.0 1.3 5.3 4.2 1.7 0.2 2.1 12.4 35.8 7.23
1987 27 LAL N 80 2904 26.1 60.2 13.4 1.7 5.2 4.1 1.9 0.5 2.3 13.4 36.3 10.14
1988 28 LAL N 72 2637 21.5 58.1 13.1 1.3 5.5 4.1 1.7 0.2 2.2 12.4 36.6 6.54
1989 29 LAL N 77 2886 24.1 62.5 13.8 1.5 6.9 4.3 1.9 0.3 2.4 14.1 37.5 11.34
1990 30 LAL N 79 2937 24.5 62.2 12.6 1.8 5.5 4.0 1.8 0.5 2.3 13.1 37.2 11.66
1991 31 LAL N 79 2933 21.7 62.3 14.0 1.5 6.3 4.5 1.4 0.2 2.1 13.3 37.1 9.75
1996 36 LAL N 32 958 19.4 61.2 9.1 1.7 5.9 4.3 1.1 0.5 2.0 11.0 29.9 3.72

Jason Kidd

Year Ag Tm Lg G Min P/40 TS% AS/40 OR/40 DR/40 TO/40 ST/40 BK/40 PF/40 V.I. MPG SPM
1995 21 DAL N 79 2668 13.6 47.1 8.9 2.2 4.1 3.7 2.2 0.4 2.1 9.1 33.8 1.63
1996 22 DAL N 81 3034 17.1 46.8 9.9 2.6 4.4 4.2 2.2 0.3 2.0 10.6 37.5 1.95
1997 23 TOT N 55 1964 12.0 49.7 10.0 1.3 3.7 2.9 2.5 0.4 2.3 8.4 35.7 3.90
1998 24 PHO N 82 3118 12.1 50.2 9.4 1.4 5.1 3.3 2.1 0.3 1.8 9.0 38.0 2.41
1999 25 PHO N 50 2060 16.2 52.7 10.3 1.7 4.8 2.9 2.2 0.4 2.1 10.3 41.2 6.15
2000 26 PHO N 67 2616 14.5 49.8 10.3 1.5 5.9 3.4 2.0 0.4 2.2 10.3 39.0 3.92
2001 27 PHO N 77 3065 16.6 51.0 9.6 1.2 5.2 3.7 2.1 0.3 2.2 10.0 39.8 4.41
2002 28 NJN N 82 3056 15.6 48.4 10.4 1.7 6.0 3.7 2.3 0.3 1.8 10.8 37.3 3.98
2003 29 NJN N 80 2989 19.9 52.6 9.5 1.5 5.2 3.9 2.4 0.3 1.7 10.8 37.4 6.31
2004 30 NJN N 67 2450 17.0 48.5 10.2 1.4 5.6 3.5 2.0 0.2 1.8 10.7 36.6 3.62
2005 31 NJN N 66 2435 15.9 50.6 9.1 1.6 6.6 2.8 2.1 0.2 1.8 10.6 36.9 5.17
2006 32 NJN N 80 2975 14.4 52.6 9.1 1.2 6.7 2.6 2.0 0.4 2.1 10.1 37.2 5.81
2007 33 NJN N 80 2933 14.3 51.6 10.1 1.9 7.1 2.9 1.7 0.3 2.0 10.9 36.7 4.95
2008 34 TOT N 80 2906 12.1 49.9 11.3 1.3 7.1 3.7 1.9 0.4 2.3 10.4 36.4 2.29
2009 35 DAL N 78 2768 10.2 55.4 9.8 1.1 5.8 2.6 2.3 0.5 2.3 8.8 35.5 5.64

Gary Payton

Year Ag Tm Lg G Min P/40 TS% AS/40 OR/40 DR/40 TO/40 ST/40 BK/40 PF/40 V.I. MPG SPM
1991 22 SEA N 82 2244 10.7 47.6 9.6 2.0 2.4 3.3 3.0 0.3 4.5 7.7 27.4 1.24
1992 23 SEA N 81 2549 12.1 47.8 8.0 2.0 2.7 2.8 2.3 0.3 3.9 7.7 31.5 0.92
1993 24 SEA N 82 2548 17.6 52.9 6.3 1.5 2.9 2.3 2.8 0.3 4.0 7.9 31.1 3.32
1994 25 SEA N 82 2881 18.7 52.6 6.9 1.5 2.3 2.4 2.6 0.3 3.2 7.8 35.1 2.46
1995 26 SEA N 82 3015 21.8 56.4 7.5 1.4 2.2 2.6 2.6 0.2 2.7 8.4 36.8 4.66
1996 27 SEA N 81 3162 19.3 55.4 7.5 1.3 2.9 3.2 2.9 0.2 2.7 8.5 39.0 4.70
1997 28 SEA N 82 3213 22.2 54.5 7.2 1.3 3.4 2.7 2.4 0.2 2.6 9.1 39.2 5.82
1998 29 SEA N 82 3145 20.1 54.4 8.7 1.0 3.8 2.9 2.4 0.2 2.5 9.4 38.4 5.54
1999 30 SEA N 50 2008 21.4 51.9 8.6 1.2 3.6 3.0 2.2 0.2 2.3 9.6 40.2 6.07
2000 31 SEA N 82 3425 23.1 53.5 8.5 1.2 5.0 2.6 1.8 0.2 2.1 10.7 41.8 7.43
2001 32 SEA N 79 3244 22.4 52.2 7.9 0.9 3.5 2.6 1.6 0.3 2.3 9.2 41.1 4.36
2002 33 SEA N 82 3301 22.4 52.6 9.1 1.0 3.9 2.6 1.6 0.3 2.2 10.0 40.3 4.87
2003 34 TOT N 80 3208 20.9 50.4 8.5 1.0 3.3 2.4 1.7 0.3 2.3 9.1 40.1 3.24
2004 35 LAL N 82 2825 16.6 52.8 6.2 1.0 3.7 2.1 1.3 0.3 2.3 7.9 34.5 1.48
2005 36 BOS N 77 2541 13.4 53.7 7.2 0.7 2.9 2.3 1.4 0.2 1.9 7.0 33.0 -0.14
2006 37 MIA N 81 2305 10.7 52.0 4.4 0.6 3.4 1.7 1.2 0.2 2.9 5.7 28.5 -0.43
2007 38 MIA N 68 1503 9.7 45.8 5.5 0.5 3.1 1.8 1.2 0.1 3.2 5.8 22.1 -3.11

Terry Porter

Year Ag Tm Lg G Min P/40 TS% AS/40 OR/40 DR/40 TO/40 ST/40 BK/40 PF/40 V.I. MPG SPM
1986 22 POR N 79 1214 18.1 54.5 6.4 1.1 2.6 3.4 2.6 0.0 4.4 7.6 15.4 -0.63
1987 23 POR N 80 2714 14.8 57.0 10.1 1.0 3.8 3.6 2.2 0.1 2.7 8.9 33.9 1.83
1988 24 POR N 82 2991 15.7 59.2 10.7 0.8 4.0 3.1 1.9 0.2 2.6 9.3 36.5 3.30
1989 25 POR N 81 3102 17.9 55.5 9.6 1.1 3.5 3.1 1.8 0.1 2.3 9.2 38.3 2.50
1990 26 POR N 80 2781 19.4 59.7 10.0 0.8 2.9 3.4 2.1 0.1 2.1 9.0 34.8 5.34
1991 27 POR N 81 2665 20.2 63.2 9.5 0.8 3.4 2.8 2.3 0.2 2.2 9.2 32.9 7.50
1992 28 POR N 82 2784 20.8 57.5 6.7 0.7 2.9 2.6 1.8 0.2 2.2 7.9 34.0 3.40
1993 29 POR N 81 2883 20.0 57.7 5.7 0.8 3.5 2.7 1.4 0.1 1.7 7.9 35.6 1.91
1994 30 POR N 77 2074 18.7 53.8 7.4 0.8 3.2 3.1 1.5 0.3 2.5 8.2 26.9 0.91
1995 31 POR N 35 770 16.1 51.5 6.8 0.9 3.2 3.0 1.5 0.1 3.1 7.7 22.0 -0.20
1996 32 MIN N 82 2072 14.7 55.2 8.6 0.7 3.3 3.3 1.7 0.3 2.9 8.0 25.3 0.38
1997 33 MIN N 82 1568 14.4 54.4 7.5 0.8 3.7 3.2 1.4 0.3 2.6 7.8 19.1 -1.18
1998 34 MIN N 82 1786 17.0 58.6 5.9 0.8 2.9 2.3 1.4 0.3 2.2 7.2 21.8 1.56
1999 35 MIA N 50 1365 16.1 60.3 4.5 0.4 3.9 2.3 1.5 0.3 3.0 6.8 27.3 3.33
2000 36 SAS N 68 1613 16.3 59.6 5.6 0.6 4.2 2.5 1.3 0.2 2.0 7.6 23.7 2.67
2001 37 SAS N 80 1678 13.9 58.3 6.1 0.6 4.3 2.5 1.3 0.3 2.1 7.5 21.0 1.50
2002 38 SAS N 72 1294 12.4 55.8 6.4 0.4 4.7 2.6 1.4 0.5 2.8 7.4 18.0 0.91

Oscar Robertson

Year Ag Tm Lg G Min P/40 TS% AS/40 OR/40 DR/40 TO/40 ST/40 BK/40 PF/40 V.I. MPG SPM
1961 22 CIN N 71 3032 29.2 55.5 9.3 3.3 6.4 5.8 1.6 0.7 3.0 13.8 42.7 10.53
1962 23 CIN N 79 3503 27.9 55.4 10.3 3.9 7.5 5.8 1.7 0.9 3.0 14.8 44.3 11.70
1963 24 CIN N 80 3521 25.5 58.8 8.5 3.0 6.4 5.4 1.4 0.9 3.3 12.7 44.0 9.72
1964 25 CIN N 79 3559 28.0 57.6 9.8 2.7 6.1 5.8 1.6 0.6 3.2 13.4 45.1 11.87
1965 26 CIN N 75 3421 26.9 56.1 10.2 2.4 5.5 5.6 1.7 0.5 2.4 13.0 45.6 10.34
1966 27 CIN N 76 3493 27.3 56.3 9.7 2.0 4.7 5.6 1.6 0.3 2.6 12.2 46.0 9.23
1967 28 CIN N 79 3468 28.4 58.3 10.0 1.6 4.1 5.3 1.8 0.2 2.7 11.7 43.9 9.52
1968 29 CIN N 65 2765 28.4 58.8 9.5 1.7 4.2 5.4 1.6 0.3 3.0 11.7 42.5 7.95
1969 30 CIN N 79 3461 23.0 57.9 9.1 1.6 4.3 4.3 2.0 0.3 2.7 10.7 43.8 6.28
1970 31 CIN N 69 2865 24.2 57.7 7.7 1.8 4.0 3.6 2.3 0.3 2.4 10.3 41.5 6.87
1971 32 MIL N 81 3194 20.1 56.3 8.5 1.4 4.5 3.3 2.1 0.4 2.6 10.0 39.4 4.46
1972 33 MIL N 64 2390 18.8 54.0 8.3 1.2 4.2 3.2 2.0 0.4 2.0 9.5 37.3 3.06
1973 34 MIL N 73 2737 16.9 51.1 8.2 1.2 4.2 3.3 1.9 0.3 2.5 9.1 37.5 2.47
1974 35 MIL N 70 2477 14.7 50.2 7.4 1.2 3.4 3.3 1.3 0.1 2.2 7.9 35.4 -0.61

John Stockton

Year Ag Tm Lg G Min P/40 TS% AS/40 OR/40 DR/40 TO/40 ST/40 BK/40 PF/40 V.I. MPG SPM
1985 22 UTA N 82 1490 11.9 54.8 10.8 0.7 2.1 3.9 2.8 0.3 5.3 7.1 18.2 0.27
1986 23 UTA N 82 1935 12.9 56.6 12.5 0.7 3.0 3.4 3.2 0.2 4.6 8.4 23.6 3.20
1987 24 UTA N 82 1858 13.6 57.5 14.1 0.7 2.5 3.4 3.7 0.3 4.7 8.5 22.7 5.37
1988 25 UTA N 82 2842 16.6 64.5 15.6 0.7 2.5 3.6 3.3 0.2 3.4 9.5 34.7 7.66
1989 26 UTA N 82 3171 18.1 62.4 14.5 1.1 2.1 4.0 3.4 0.2 3.1 9.5 38.7 7.85
1990 27 UTA N 78 2915 18.9 60.7 15.9 0.8 2.1 3.8 2.9 0.3 3.3 9.5 37.4 6.38
1991 28 UTA N 82 3103 18.7 60.4 15.4 0.6 2.5 3.9 3.1 0.2 3.1 9.7 37.8 6.45
1992 29 UTA N 82 3002 17.5 59.0 15.2 0.9 2.7 3.9 3.3 0.3 3.2 9.9 36.6 7.34
1993 30 UTA N 82 2863 17.4 58.4 13.8 0.9 2.4 3.7 2.8 0.3 3.1 9.3 34.9 5.28
1994 31 UTA N 82 2969 17.0 60.8 14.2 1.0 2.6 3.7 2.7 0.3 3.2 9.5 36.2 6.40
1995 32 UTA N 82 2867 16.9 65.1 14.1 0.8 2.7 3.7 2.7 0.3 3.0 9.4 35.0 6.81
1996 33 UTA N 82 2915 16.9 64.2 12.8 0.8 2.4 3.4 2.0 0.2 2.9 8.8 35.5 4.77
1997 34 UTA N 82 2896 16.4 65.6 11.9 0.6 2.5 3.4 2.3 0.2 2.7 8.5 35.3 5.13
1998 35 UTA N 64 1858 16.8 62.8 11.8 0.8 2.9 3.5 1.9 0.2 3.0 9.0 29.0 3.83
1999 36 UTA N 50 1410 16.0 57.1 10.8 0.9 3.3 3.2 2.3 0.4 3.1 9.0 28.2 5.69
2000 37 UTA N 82 2432 16.9 59.1 12.0 0.8 2.9 3.1 2.4 0.3 3.3 9.1 29.7 5.63
2001 38 UTA N 82 2397 16.0 61.0 12.1 0.9 2.9 3.4 2.2 0.4 3.3 9.1 29.2 5.23
2002 39 UTA N 82 2566 17.3 60.1 10.6 0.9 3.2 3.3 2.4 0.4 3.3 9.1 31.3 4.73
2003 40 UTA N 82 2275 15.8 57.7 11.3 0.9 2.7 3.3 2.5 0.3 3.3 8.6 27.7 4.00

Lenny Wilkens

Year Ag Tm Lg G Min P/40 TS% AS/40 OR/40 DR/40 TO/40 ST/40 BK/40 PF/40 V.I. MPG SPM
1961 23 STL N 75 1898 18.4 48.1 4.4 2.7 4.3 4.0 1.4 1.0 4.5 8.3 25.3 -0.77
1962 24 STL N 20 870 16.8 44.1 5.4 2.1 3.9 3.9 1.3 0.7 2.9 8.2 43.5 -3.19
1963 25 STL N 75 2569 14.3 45.6 6.1 2.3 4.2 3.9 1.5 0.9 4.1 8.3 34.3 -0.61
1964 26 STL N 78 2526 15.2 48.4 5.8 1.9 3.5 3.9 1.5 0.7 4.6 7.8 32.4 0.05
1965 27 STL N 78 2854 18.4 49.6 6.2 1.9 3.4 4.4 1.6 0.5 4.1 8.4 36.6 2.40
1966 28 STL N 69 2692 19.1 52.4 6.6 1.6 3.3 4.4 1.5 0.4 3.8 8.5 39.0 2.57
1967 29 STL N 78 2974 18.7 52.4 6.1 1.9 3.8 4.4 1.5 0.6 3.9 8.7 38.1 2.65
1968 30 STL N 82 3169 21.7 52.5 9.0 1.8 4.0 5.1 1.7 0.3 3.4 10.4 38.6 3.27
1969 31 SEA N 82 3463 21.0 51.7 7.7 1.9 3.9 4.0 2.1 0.2 3.4 9.8 42.2 4.04
1970 32 SEA N 75 2802 19.0 50.9 9.7 1.6 3.8 4.1 2.1 0.1 3.0 10.0 37.4 1.72
1971 33 SEA N 71 2641 21.3 50.9 9.9 1.4 3.4 4.1 2.1 0.0 3.0 10.1 37.2 3.30
1972 34 SEA N 80 2989 19.5 55.3 10.4 1.0 3.6 3.9 2.1 0.0 2.8 9.8 37.4 4.52
1973 35 CLE N 75 2973 21.1 51.8 8.6 1.3 3.4 3.6 2.1 0.0 3.0 9.5 39.6 3.77
1974 36 CLE N 74 2483 20.2 52.6 8.7 1.3 3.3 3.6 1.6 0.3 2.8 9.3 33.6 3.28
1975 37 POR N 65 1161 14.4 53.6 8.1 1.3 2.8 4.0 2.6 0.3 3.3 7.8 17.9 1.66

Just missed the cut: Chauncey Billups, Mookie Blaylock, Tim Hardaway, Derek Harper, Mark Jackson, Dennis Johnson, Fat Lever, Doc Rivers, Alvin Robertson, Rod Strickland, Isiah Thomas

Over/under-valued: At first glance, people are probably thinking, "where's Isiah?" We've been down that road before, though, and I don't think there's a metric out there that considers Isiah Thomas to be truly great. Good? Sure. But not great. You could take that one of two ways: 1) The stats don't truly capture Isiah's contribution (maybe, but we sort of deflated his über-clutch reputation when we found that John Stockton's playoff numbers were actually better than Thomas'); or 2) Isiah Thomas has simply been overrated this whole time. We'll leave it up to you do decide which is true.

(Bob Cousy is also noticably low in the PG rankings, another casualty of nonexistent stats -- and what stats we do have on him, after adjusting for pace, aren't really blowing anyone away.)

After that, the only real question is, "what in blazes is Terry Porter doing in the Top 10?" A fair question, seeing as Porter's somewhat meager career averages (12.2 PPG, 5.6 APG) don't quite scream Top 10 of anything. But TP has some things going for him:

  1. He played a ton. He's currently 16th all-time in games played and 46th in minutes, having suited up for 4 different teams (never once being traded, I might add) in 17 seasons.
  2. He was secretly very efficient at both ends. TP's averages don't wow you, but his career True Shooting % is 57.6, 54th-best all-time. He's also in the top 60 all-time in Assist% and Steal%, 34th in career offensive efficiency, and his defensive rating of 107 was better than the average of the day. Consequently, he ranks 28th in career Win Shares despite the lack of eye-popping PTS/REB/AST stats.
  3. His peak numbers are better than his career averages. In his Blazers prime, TP was capable of averaging 17-18 PPG and 9-10 APG, to go with the aforementioned efficiency. By playing a long career (some of which was as a reserve), his lifetime numbers are deflated by stats accumulated in old age.
  4. His teams always won. Porter only missed the playoffs once in a 17-year career. A lot of that had to do with suiting up alongside greats like Clyde Drexler, Kevin Garnett, Alonzo Mourning, David Robinson, & Tim Duncan, but you don't play 35,000 NBA minutes without being a major contributor to your teams' performance, and Porter's teams almost universally performed well.

Am I saying Porter is legitimately one of the 10 best PGs of all time? No. But what I am saying is that he's pretty underrated in the pantheon of all-time great point guards.

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32 Responses to “The Top 10 Point Guards of All Time (*according to statistical +/-)”

  1. Ben Says:

    I know it's pretty early, but it would've been neat to have a discussion of Chris Paul in there too. Also curious as to where the mayor of Sacremento ranks...

  2. Jason J Says:

    Love seeing Cheeks and Porter on there. Very surprised Kevin Johnson is not on this list. More so than Cousy (who played in such a different time, when stat keepers were much stingier with crediting assists and fg%s were very low across the board) or Isiah who sacrificed his own stats for the good of his team.

    I think that's an important point when you use metrics as ranking devices. Sometimes for a player to help his team most, he has to cut back on his personal statistical production. That's true almost across the board really. Wilt never won a title in any of the years he led the league in scoring. Jordan's best statistical seasons were when he was 24 and 25, and he started winning at 27 - when he gave up control of the ball to Pippen and embraced the triangle. Kobe barely made the playoffs while firing in 35 pts / gm, but since he scaled it back and gave shots to Pau, he's a perennial contender. Stockton wasn't averaging 17 points and 14 assists when his team was going to the finals. He was sharing the play-making duties. Bird certainly could have put up more shots and pulled down more boards if he didn't share a front court with McHale and Parish - though his ring collection would be a lot smaller.

    I hate defending Isiah who I just despised (being both a Celtics and Bulls fan), but I always feel like he gets painfully underrated by these metrics. Isiah's best statistical years came when he was 23 & 24. He didn't suffer any major injuries thereafter (played over 75 games every year until 91), but his production dropped off. Why? Adrian Dantley and Mark Aguire. Two great individual scorers who excelled more in the half court than the assist-friendly end to end fastbreak style and did not need to be set up. Joe Dumars and Vinnie Johnson, guards who could take advantage of mismatches when teams locked their best perimeter defenders on Thomas, also took the ball out of Zeke's hands.

    If history wants to bury Isiah under a mountain of metrics that's fine, but when people look back and wonder how this team with no superstars managed to beat Magic & Worthy, Bird & McHale, and Jordan & Pippen, hopefully there will be somebody who grew up without a cell phone or a dvd player around to let them know about this tiny PG who pressed like hell, broke into the lane at will, and had the chops to take over 4th quarters when he had to.

  3. Warren Says:

    I'm not even going to argue but do any of these 10 players have two MVPs? So where is steve nash's name among the elite PGs of all time? Also CP3 is well on his way to maybe topping this list with Deron Williams pushing for a spot...and AI is a 2 guard to me even though hes short hes statistically better than everyone on this list except the big O.

  4. AYC Says:

    Hmmm. Zeke, Cooz and Nash don't make the cut, and KJ (most underrated player in history!) doesn't even get a mention? Maybe the problem isn't with their stats, maybe it's your precious metrics!

    Presumably, Zeke is hurt by playing a lot of minutes, in a fast-paced era and his just-average shooting%. Well, the stats I trust say he avgd over 19 ppg and 9 apg; Oscar and Magic are the only others to do it.

    I don't care too much about per minute stats unless we're talking about role players; I'm interested in what players actually did, not what they MIGHT have done if they played more minutes. We can't assume that statistical production is absolutely correlated to minutes played, OR to pace. A faster pace leads to more balance(role players do better); at a slower pace, stars like Zeke are still going to get theirs.

    PS. I'm really surprised KJ didn't make the cut, since he shot the ball so efficiently

  5. 94by50 Says:

    I share Jason J's concern, especially about Thomas, who seems to be underrecognized historically, mainly because of his brief career. Just from his reputation, not being familiar with Thomas' play first-hand, he was better than the "mountain of metrics" give him credit for.

    As for Nash, his two MVPs were mistakes. He's a good player, but was never the most valuable in the league. Nor do those MVPs have anything to do with the point of this exercise.

  6. 94by50 Says:

    Re: Thomas - I meant to say that his reputation is that he was better than his stats make him look, and the little video I've seen of him supports his rep.

  7. Ben Says:

    Come to think of it, why don't you post the totals for your method? You must've consciously decided to leave it out, but I don't recall seeing you explain why.

  8. Neil Paine Says:

    This entire exercise was simply an experiment to see what kinds of players SPM overrated, which players it underrated, and which players it could perhaps identify as being underrated by other metrics or the general public. I didn't want readers to get caught up in the exact rankings, but instead I wanted them to focus on what types of players at each position were showing up (perhaps) unexpectedly in the various tiers. This metric is certainly not "precious" to me; I said from the start that I was testing it. I still prefer the various stats employed by Dean Oliver in Basketball on Paper, but I do think this metric can be valuable in terms of discovering underrated players, like Porter or Larry Nance.

  9. AYC Says:

    Sorry Neil, I hope I wasn't too harsh.

    One question: Just wondering what KJ's results looked like. The fact that you didn't even mention KJ makes me wonder if he was even included. I mean, his stats to my untrained eye look much better than alot of those who were. I can't imagine how Hardaway ranks higher.

  10. Shawn Alexander Says:

    Allen Iverson may be short, but he's not a PG. He's a SG. 19 & 9 (only a little short of 20-10) should guarantee Zeke a spot on this list, especially because during his era, he was only 2nd to Magic Johnson (the G.(PG) O.A.T.)

  11. latopia Says:

    Great stuff.

    And I see nothing implausible about IT's absence from thes list.

    Look at the numbers? Yes, let's do examine the numbers -- of his teammates -- especially Joe Dumars (during their championship seasons).

    Also, Mark Aguirre. Dennis Rodman. Adrian Dantley. Rick Mahorn. John Salley. Let's examine a supporting cast peppered with All-Stars and All-Defensive teammates who carried their own load and often carried Thomas when IT delivered his usual quota of 3-pt bricks (career 3PT% = 29%) and careless miscues.

    Sure, Thomas had cajones and played with guile. But his teammats often played smarter and just as tough without the mouth.

    Numbers? Thomas only cracked PERs of 20+ 3 x in his career (1983-85) -- when the Pistons never made it past the 2nd round (2 x 1st-round bounces). Detroit saw its first conference Finals after Dumars cracked the starting lineup and only took the whole enchilada (twice) after Dumars started to get his share of touches (Usg% > 20%) as an emerging star.

    Otherwise, the twopeat earned by the Pistons from 89-90 really was a team effor evidence a 10-man rotation of mostly 15+ PERs and low-100 DRtgs.

  12. Duff Soviet Union Says:

    Put me in the "Isiah was massively overrated" camp. I don't agree with the theory that "he could have done more but he was too unselfish and a winner". He used more possessions than anyone else on that team. The reason he didn't produce more was because he wasn't a good shooter and he turned the ball over too much. As many others have pointed out, the Pistons first and foremost won with defense and Isiah was probably their worst or second worst defensive starter. I also find the "would Stockton have two rings with those guys" question to be beside the point. The Pistons had those guys because they knew how to complement, build around and at times cover for Isiah Thomas. Stockton was a completely different type of player.

  13. Knick with the Knack Says:

    Over about 3 years, 1990-1993, FIVE of the guys listed above played for the Knicks (Cheeks, Harper, Jackson, Rivers, Strickland). And it seemed to me the complaint at the time was always that the Knicks needed a point guard. (Of course, Cheeks, Harper, and Rivers were all past their prime by the time they got to New York.)

  14. AYC Says:

    All you Isaiah haters are full of it; Zeke didn't turn the ball over any worse than Magic, the best PG of all-time. Ditto for 3-pointers, Magic wasn't any better at that either.

    And was Zeke's supporting cast better than Magic's? Or Bird's? Or MJ's? I guess I missed the second guy on DET who was as good as Kareem, Mchale or Pippen (or K.Malone for that matter!). And don't say Dumars; he wasn't any better than Dennis Johnson!

    Thomas was the best player on consecutive champions, in the MOST COMPETITIVE ERA IN NBA HISTORY!

  15. sfjayp Says:

    Here's a second (or 3rd...or 4th...) to see KJ's numbers up as well.

  16. Bradlee Says:

    The Isiah bias is very apparent in this post. I especially loved Latopia comment that Isiah ‘only took the whole enchilada (twice)’. Sure, like leading a team a title in that era was easy. Heck, Erving and Moses Malone only one title. Oh and also Bird only lead his team to three titles how bad did he suck. Why don’t if you want to rail on Isiah you try to be a little objective.

    I think what we have arrived at a point where a lot of basketball fans the either didn’t see Isiah play but have seen him as a colossal failure since he left basketball. This would be especially true of Knick fans, CBA fans, and soon to be FIU fans. This more than anything is impacting the perception of Isiah’s playing career for many.

    I love KJ also, but I think the problem with him is he missed too many games at critical times in his career. If he stayed health I really think he would have won a title in Phoenix (at least my wishful thinking).

    Greatness is measured in two ways how great your peek was (McAdoo had a great peek) or how long you were good (Parish had a great long career). I do know one thing; if you have Terry porter in your top 10 then you are weighting longevity too much.

  17. Bradlee Says:

    ....also no mention for Tiny Archibald. Not top 10 but worth a mention.

  18. daniel f Says:

    Allen Iverson , are you kidding me. He shot 42% from the field. Your system is way overvalueing him. He was/is terrible. Without L Brown surrounding him with 4 defenders/rebounders he would never have been anything. Read wages of win blog on how bad he is for further confirmation. i have nothing to do with that site , just a reader

  19. latopia Says:

    In a post asserting a statistical basis for IT's absence from the Top 10 Point Guards of All Time, IT's defenders -- surprise! -- assert no credible counterargument, statistical or otherwise, aside from pleas for "peeks" and mandates to "don’t say Dumars."

    So, just because we can, here's another statistical annoyance which Zekers will surely counter with more fuming, sputtering, mutterings, i.e., the twinkie defense.

    When Neil mentioned "win-shares" as a factor for the inclusion of Porter, I thought yeah, why not? BR's win-share leaderboard, for example, could be used as an objective, credible, sensible guide to the oft-subjective, frequently hysterical nonsense of annual "MVP." Ergo, why not win-shares as a cross-check to any determination of top players at any position, including point?

    Voila. After eyeballing the top-10 point list & checking off those that had enough data to compute win-shares over their careers, Thomas still misses the cut. Consider Porter. Porter amassed 112.7 win-shares over 17 yrs. for a career average of 6.63. Thomas, 80.3 win-shares over 13 yrs. for a c/a of 6.18. Porter never won a single ring, yet, advantage = Porter.

    Next, Magic. Notice how the Zekers here have certain rules about "mixed company" that don't preclude mentioning Zeke and Magic in the same breath?

    What. A. Joke.

    Magic, 155.8 win-shares, 13yrs, c/a of 12 (11.98). Cf. Zeke at 6.18. Who in their effin minds would dare compare Magic to Isiah?

    Unfortunately, look around. Zeke and ye shall find.

  20. AYC Says:

    No credible defense of Isiah? I think 19 and 9 speaks for itself, since only 2 other players in history have done it!

    Win shares and PER are NOT objective stats, they are SUBJECTIVE formulas for evaluating real stats (like points, rebounds and assists). Give me real stats and I will judge them for myself.

    Let's talk POSTSEASON stats, a good measure of how a player really is (assuming a large enough sample size). Zeke's playoff stats are pretty darn good:

    Isiah: 20.4 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 8.9 apg, .346 3PT%, 3.3 to, 38.0 mpg
    Magic: 19.5 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 12.3 apg, .241 3PT%, 3.7 to, 39.7 mpg

    Zeke avgd more points , shot much better from 3 and turned the ball over less. I'm not saying he was better than Magic; Johnson was much better from the field and FT line; but it's hardly an outrage to compare the two. It takes some balls to say 20/5/9 with 2 titles isn't top 10 PG material. Did you forget that Zeke outplayed Magic head to head in the finals (Terry porter too for that matter)?

    And no, Dumars wasn't on the same level as Kareem, K. Malone, Pippen and McHale.

  21. latopia Says:

    I think 19 and 9 speaks for itself, since only 2 other players in history have done it!

    Really? "Only" 2? What. Are the Big O and CP3 Teletubbies? Or is it Magic?

    Win shares and PER are NOT objective stats, they are SUBJECTIVE formulas for evaluating real stats (like points, rebounds and assists). Give me real stats and I will judge them for myself.

    Is English your native language or were you magma cum lousy in your school of fish? Pray tell, how are win shares "subjective?" Also, what is a "real stat." Not that I have any to give.

    And no, Dumars wasn’t on the same level as Kareem, K. Malone, Pippen and McHale.

    HA. "Same level?" What "level"? Same scoring "level"? Same "level" of offensive output? Same defensive aptitude or points allowed? Same boards, blocks, steals? Same help defense? Same stops? Same breath mints? Same barber? Same shoes? Same socks? Same trailer park where Zeke lovers unite?

    Quote: "Look at the numbers? Yes, let’s do examine the numbers — of his teammates — especially Joe Dumars (during their championship seasons). Also, Mark Aguirre. Dennis Rodman. Adrian Dantley. Rick Mahorn. John Salley. Let’s examine a supporting cast peppered with All-Stars and All-Defensive teammates who carried their own load and often carried Thomas..."

    Reepeet: Dumars. Laimbeer. Aguirre. Dantley. All-Stars. Rodman. Mahorn. Salley. All-Defense.

    Did I lump them with Kareem? No.

    Did ANYONE? No, that is no one except YOU.

    Quote: "The twopeat earned by the Pistons from 89-90 really was a team effort evidence a 10-man rotation of mostly 15+ PERs and low-100 DRtgs."

    Translation: Detroit won their rings with DEFENSE. The Lakers, offense. The Lakers never finished lower than 1st or 2nd in ORtg over 5 championship seasons, never ranked higher than 7th in DRtg over the same. Whereas, the Pistons ranked 7th and 11th in ORtg over their 2peat, 2nd & 3rd in DRtg over the same.

    So geeneeus, which team PREDICTABLY featured more Hall of Fame "scorers" -- a fact that no one actually disputes? DUH.

  22. latopia Says:

    Let’s talk POSTSEASON stats, a good measure of how a player really is ...

    Yes let's.

    Isiah: 12.2 postseason win-shares, 111 postseason games.

    Magic: 33.2 postseason win-shares, 190 postseason games.

    Isiah: 12.2/111 = .109 win-shares per postseason game.

    Magic: 33.2/190 = .174 win-shares per postseason game.

    .174 (Magic) - .109 (Isiah) = .065 / .109 = .596 or 60%.

    60% is way too modest but yeah, you could say Magic is at least 60% better than Isiah.

  23. Furious O Says:

    "As for Nash, his two MVP's were a mistake"

    Spare me! Just because he didn't shoot every trip down the floor like Kobe it doesn't mean he wasn't the most valuable player in those years. He made that team - look at how Marion has been since he got traded. He went from an All-Star with Nash to an average NBA starter without the open shots he got from playing with a great point. And hes just one of the teammates Nash made better.

  24. AYC Says:

    Latopia, I find it amusing that you question my grasp of the english language, when your reading comprehension is so poor. "Only 2 others" means 2 others besides Isiah (Magic and Oscar); a first-grader would've understood that. I didn't count CP3 for the same reason Neil didn't; he's played for what, 3 years?

    More poor reading comprehension: I explained pretty clearly why Win-shares are subjective. Let me dumb it down for you: points, rebounds and assists are real objective stats (as I said before!), win-shares and per take real stats, and weight them SUBJECTIVELY in order to come up with a rating. Deciding the relative value of different stats and adding them up together in one all-purpose number is a subjective process masquerading as an objective one.

    Finally, there's one major problem with your attempt to compare Dumars to those other great second-fiddles: Kareem, Malone, Pippen and Mchale were all great defenders too. So the fact that Joe D was a great defender doesn't close the huge gap between them.

  25. Jason J Says:

    This is not directed at Neil who already knows it, but I gotta say players are not made by numbers. Numbers are made by players.

    Not to compare Zeke to Magic (which is ludicrous - Magic is a legit GOAT candidate & a consensus pick as the best PG ever), but all kinds of factors add up to determining a player's final stats.

    It is an assist to drop it into Kareem and watch him swing a skyhook in over a perfectly positioned defender. Did you do anything besides make a nice entry pass? No. But you get that assist. Is it an assist to drive the lane, draw two defenders, and give Rick Mahorn an easy tip in as your floater comes off the rim? Not only is it not an assist, even though you did positive work creating the scoring opportunity for your teammate, but it negatively impacts your stats because it is a missed shot.

    Again, Magic >>>>> Isiah, but this sudden belief that metrics tell us what happened is wrong. Metrics tell us the end results - sometimes - not why or how.

    But my main point remains my first post (#2 above). It makes no sense to conjecture that Isiah hit a statistical production wall at age 25 and then call him an overrated hack because his numbers don't match up well. It makes a ton of sense to credit his lower stat production to team goals when you remember that he adjusted his game and the pace of the team to accommodate super efficient one on one scorer Adrian Dantley (later replaced by highly efficient one on one scorer Mark Aguire) when Dantley replaced wing runner / jump shooter / defensive liability Kelly Tripucka as the team's first option.

    Oh, and to whoever said that Isiah outplayed Magic in the finals... did you know Magic had two leg injuries and barely played in that series? Only suited up for 3 of them and averaged 25 minutes.

  26. jarett Says:

    I'm happy to see GP on the list, too bad trash talking isn't a quantifiable stat or GP would be number 2.

  27. Regenerator Says:

    "Nashty" got completely jobbed on this, proving once again what an underrated player he really is! I know it sounds crazy to say that because of the two MVP's, but some here said he didn't deserve them, and even those who may not share that opinion don't seem to understand his versatility and place amongst some of the greatest players ever. Aside from being an assist machine, a peerless play-maker, and the best fast-break player of our generation, he is also arguably one of the 10 best straight-up shooters of all-time. Just look at these numbers - 2nd all-time in FT%, 5th all-time in 3-Pt%, led the league twice in True Shooting%, once in eFG%, once in Offensive Rating, 11th all-time in Offensive Rating... Maybe he doesn't make this list by the strict statistical standards you've outlined, but certainly he deserves a mention!

  28. Regenerator Says:

    Oh, I forgot the obvious numbers (all career) -
    9th in Total Assists
    8th in Assist %
    12th in Assists per Game

  29. jenn Says:

    I grew up on Isiah....ask Jordon, Majic, and Bird why they hated the bad boys. Back to Back champs...Isiah lead team.. Dumars can take the credit for doing more post Bad Boys era, but Isiah was unbelievable.

  30. Eddy Says:

    Shawn Marion hasn't been struggling mainly because he isn't playing with Nash .. he's been struggling mainly because he's been playing small forward (with Miami & Toronto) as opposed to power forward (with Phoenix).

  31. Furious O Says:

    And the wide open threes and dunks that he was getting but now doesnt get aren't making a difference?

  32. Matthew Cornwell Says:

    Lets look where Steve Nash falls using various sabermetric tools:

    Career Win Shares: 6th all-time for point guards
    Win Shares per 48: 7th all-time for point guards
    PER: 5th all-time for point guards
    Offensive Win Shares: 4th all time for point guards

    82games.com has Nash near or in the top 10 in Roland ratings 5 of the past 6 seasons (2007 still in the top 20)
    B-Value.com has Nash 2nd in the league in 2 year adjusted +/- behind James

    SPM has Nash behind Mookie Blaylock, Fat Lever, and Derek Harper. "One of these things is not like the other..."

    It looks to me like the much maligned subjective criteria that loves Nash (2 MVPs, 7 All-Star games, 7-time 1st, 2nd, or 3rd All-NBA team member), etc. are closer to the meat and majority of sabermetric data out there than SPM is to the rest of the sabermetric data.

    Maybe it is time to recognize that sabermetrics love Nash too.