Best Passers In The NBA Of All The Time (Updated): Top 28 Players

Best Passers In The NBA Of All The Time (Updated) Top 28 Players

Who are the best passers in the NBA right now?

The best passers currently on the court are undoubtedly represented on this list, as are possibly some of the greatest NBA players ever. The top passers who are currently competing in the NBA are undoubtedly also among the best players in the league as a whole. The performance of a team on the court can be made or broken by the highly talented NBA players on this list.

They typically have excellent ball handling skills, good court awareness, and the ability to judge when to make an extra pass. These selfless athletes are masters at passing the ball and helping their teammates. Who is the NBA’s top passer at the moment?

Please keep reading to learn more details about the best passers in the NBA.

Deron Williams

Many NBA fans overlook the fact that Deron Williams was arguably a top five point guard in the league for a significant amount of time because of how quickly and suddenly his decline occurred. With the Utah Jazz, where Williams began his professional career, he averaged 9.1 assists per game. In addition, Williams had a period of four years from 2007 to 2011 during which he averaged double-digit assists each season. 

Rod Strickland

Throughout his 17-year career, Rod Strickland played for nine different teams as he was moved around the league during his time in the NBA. Even after reaching a mature age, Strickland was still given chances because of his capacity to direct an offense through both passing and scoring. Strickland averaged 7.3 assists per game over the course of his career. 

Mo Cheeks

Mo Cheeks was named to the All-Defensive teams five times, and he was most notable for being a tenacious defender. Despite never averaging more than 15 points per game in a season, Cheeks was named an all-star four times. Cheeks was regarded as an all-star in large part because of his passing abilities. Throughout his career, Cheeks averaged 6.7 assists per game. 

Gary Payton

When it comes to NBA history’s best trash talkers, Gary Payton would top the list, but he was also not too bad with the ball in his hands. As one of the best point guards in the league when he started his career, Payton played for the Seattle SuperSonics. Payton averaged 7.4 assists per game and was an all-star nine times while playing in Seattle for 13 seasons. Payton helped develop players like Shawn Kemp and Vin Baker into all-stars because he was skilled at playing the pick-and-roll with big men. 

Mark Jackson

Despite being well into his 30s, Mark Jackson continued to start games for the NBA because of his exceptional passing skills. In fact, Jackson averaged 7.4 assists per game while playing all 82 games at age 36 for the New York Knicks. Jackson’s plan as a point guard provided the ideal foundation for his coaching career. Before being fired after three years as head coach of the Golden State Warriors, Jackson is credited with helping to shape the careers of future all-stars like Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. 

Tim Hardaway

Tim Hardaway will always be remembered for his vicious crossover, which resulted in numerous ankle breaks throughout the league. Hardaway’s role as a passer who set up his teammates is not given nearly enough credit. In the first six seasons of his career, Hardaway averaged 9.3 assists per game while playing for the Golden State Warriors. After that, Hardaway played for the Miami Heat for six years, averaging 7.8 assists per contest. 

Bob Cousy

Bob Cousy was a phenomenal passer who could put the ball anywhere he wanted to on a dime. He was dubbed the “Houdini of the Hardwood” for his ability to do so. Cousy was a 13-time all-star and the point guard for Celtics teams that won six championships. During his time, Cousy led the NBA in assists eight times, making him the best passer in the NBA. 

Kevin Johnson

Kevin Johnson, one of the many outstanding point guards the Phoenix Suns have had throughout the years, was a premier ball-handler in his generation. As the Suns’ starting point guard for his first full season, Johnson averaged a staggering 12.2 assists per game in 1988–89. Johnson had an assist average of over 10 per game if the first three seasons of his career are excluded.

Lebron James

Only LeBron James is not a guard among the players on this list. You could argue that LeBron actually plays the position of point guard if you watch the way he plays. James is still among the NBA’s all-time best pure passers, as evidenced by the numerous highlight-reel passes we have received from the King over the years. LeBron continued to improve as a passer last season, nearly averaging double-digit assists for the first time (9.1). 

Rajon Rondo

People often discuss the Big Three—Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen—when talking about the 2008 Boston Celtics’ championship victory. What people frequently overlook is the fact that Rajon Rondo was arguably the team’s most crucial player. The success of the Celtics was largely due to Rondo’s ability to direct an offense, particularly one with so many players. Rondo has three times over the course of his career led the league in assists, and he still provides assists at a high level today. 

Chris Paul

Chris Paul would undoubtedly be at the top of the list if this list were for the NBA’s top passer currently or over the previous ten years. With his prowess in both offense and defense, Paul has been the best all-around point guard we have seen in a very long time. Paul has led the league in assists four times and averages nearly 10 per game. We anticipate Paul’s game to mature really well into his 30s because of his court vision and passing talents. 

Isiah Thomas

Isiah Thomas must be listed among the top passers and point guards in the NBA. Thomas coached some of the greatest Detroit Pistons teams in history and was an all-star in each of his first 12 seasons. Thomas averaged a remarkable 13.9 assists per game in the 1984–85 NBA season, leading the league in that category.

Jason Kidd

With 12,091 career assists, Jason Kidd is second on the all-time assists list. For almost two decades, Kidd was among the best point guards in the NBA. He was able to keep up his level of play by setting up his teammates’ offense. In his career, Kidd averaged 8.7 assists per game and five times led the NBA in that category. 

Oscar Robertson

As the first player to ever average a triple-double for an entire season, Oscar Robertson certainly knew how to pack a stat-sheet. Six times throughout his career, Robertson won the NBA assist championship. He also made the all-star team 11 times. Robertson averaged 9.5 assists per game over the course of 10 NBA seasons. 

Scott Skiles

Although Scott Skiles never came close to winning a championship or being selected for an NBA All-Star team, he did leave his mark on history on December. 30, 1990, when he dished out 30 assists in a laughably lopsided 155-116 victory over the His incredible record, which has stood for more than 30 years and might never be broken, belongs to the Denver Nuggets.

Before an NBA game, center Nikola Jokic (15) of the Denver Nuggets watches. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)

Nikola Jokic

Nikola Jokic, the only center on our list, has only played in the NBA for five seasons, but already he’s one of the league’s top passers. The 7’0″ “Joker” has established a legendary reputation in Denver and beyond for his no-look passes to advancing teammates, placing him in the top 15 in assists in each of the last three seasons. He will find you if you are anywhere in the arena.

Best Passers In The NBA Of All The Time (Updated) Top 28 Players
Best Passers In The NBA Of All The Time (Updated): Top 28 Players

Muggsy Bogues

Fortunately, there are no size restrictions on our ranking of the top 20 passers in NBA history, or Muggsy Bogues might not have been included. The exceptional 5’3″ dynamo was a pass-first point guard who made the most of his small stature by spotting angles that were inaccessible to his taller teammates. In terms of assists in the NBA in 1990, Bogues finished third, and from 1992 to 1995, he finished in the Top 5 four times.

Boston Celtics player Larry Bird (Photo by John M. McDonough/Icon Sportswire)

Larry Bird

Larry Legend wasn’t left off our list by mistake, did you think that? With his flawless touch passes and laser-like dimes, the three-time MVP consistently set up teammates for easy baskets. Bird, in contrast to some of the players on our list, could have scored on every possession, but he found great satisfaction in assisting his fellow Celtics and making the right play. See more about How Many Championships Does Larry Bird Have?

Maurice Cheeks

Being a great passer does not require being flashy. Ask Mo Cheeks, who, while playing for the Sixers, rose to the 13th spot on the list of all-time assists by dishing out precise, no-nonsense passes to scorers like Dr. While his passages on J and Moses Malone weren’t poetry, everyone could appreciate the workmanlike prose he used.

Rod Strickland

There must be something in the water in New York because the city has given birth to some of the best ball-handlers and passers to ever lace up their shoes. Rod Strickland, a Bronx-born maestro who averaged seven assists or more per game ten times, is example number 1,543. He led the league in assists in 1997-98.

Andre Miller

Andre Miller was ranked among the top ten NBA passers of all time by none other than George Karl. “Near the end of Miller’s illustrious career in 2014, Karl remarked, “He has a knack for doing the fundamentals and doing the little things of basketball probably as well as anybody I’ve ever coached.  “Andre is an expert at both leading teams and winning basketball games.”

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Jason Williams

You’re likely thinking, and we understand: How does a player who is ranked 83rd in career assists sneak into the top 10? Pizazz is the solution. Williams was a true ball artist who attracted hordes of admirers around the world with his fearless array of behind-the-back, between-the-legs, and off-the-backboard passes. His 1,643 turnovers show that his strategy didn’t always succeed, but when it did, it was stunning.

Guard Paul George of the Los Angeles Clippers is protecting Oklahoma City Thunder guard Chris Paul.

John Stockton

John Stockton would come in at No. 1 if this list were made solely on the basis of assists. 1. After all, during his illustrious 19-year career, the Hall of Famer distributed an NBA record 15,806 assists. Stockton, with his purple nut-huggers and blue collar game, was the complete antithesis of cool. But it’s also based on style. Even though his pick-and-roll passes to Karl Malone were consistently flawlessly executed and perfectly timed, they infrequently made it to the top 10 of anyone’s highlight reel.

Magic Johnson, a guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, receives the NBA All-Star Game MVP award. 

Magic Johnson

Put your eyes closed for a second and visualize Magic Johnson. If you’re over 30, the image of Magic leading a 3-on-2 break with teammates Michael Cooper and James Worthy in either corner is probably what comes to mind. After making both defenders overcommit by gliding into the lane, Magic looks to Coop before putting the ball directly into Worthy’s bread basket for a flawless one-handed flush. The Hall of Famer became one of the most exciting and effective passers of all time thanks to scenarios like this, which occurred thousands of times throughout the 1980s.

Standing (L-R) Phoenix Suns guard Leandro Barbosa (10), center Amare Stoudemire (1), guard Steve Nash (13) and forward Shawn Marion (31) watch as a foul shot is taken. (Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire)

Steve Nash

You probably didn’t anticipate to see a Canadian with long hair at the top of our list. The never-ending creativity of Steve Nash’s passes won over fans all over the world, despite the fact that he never won a championship. A more modest guard would have avoided the nooks and crannies that the two-time MVP expertly probed defenses into. Then, just as it appeared that he was trapped, Nash would find a teammate with a flawless no-look pass directly in the numbers. Every single season, it occurred multiple times per game, and it never, ever got old. 

Russell Westbrook

Some people might be surprised that Russell Westbrook made our Top 5, but that shouldn’t be the case. Westbrook is practically a walking triple-double.

As previously mentioned, Westbrook and Oscar Robertson are the only two players in NBA history to average a triple-double in points, assists, and rebounds throughout an entire season.

Only Westbrook has had multiple seasons with a triple-double so far.  Westbrook has surpassed Robertson for the NBA record for most triple-doubles, averaging one in four of his last five seasons.

Our Top 5 list only includes Westbrook as a current player.  Playing alongside another excellent passer who didn’t quite make our list, Lebron James, the three-time NBA Assists Leader is still racking up the assists.

Magic Johnson

You know we’re talking about a special player when their given name has nearly been replaced by their nickname, “Magic.”

Due to his exceptional ball-handling skills, Earvin “Magic” Johnson was given the nickname “Magic.”  Magic had a flair for the dramatic with his delectable dishes to teammates, especially in transition.

Only a few examples of the kind of spectacular assists Magic made throughout his illustrious NBA career include no-lookers and long bounce passes through traffic.  With what was known as “Showtime,” which was named after the quick breaks that occurred after every rebound, Johnson steered the NBA through one of its most thrilling periods.

Johnson was able to locate numerous talented and athletic players on the roster of Magic’s Los Angeles Lakers in a way that only he could.  Magic introduced a feature to the game that displayed a different kind of skill during an era of physicality and dominating big men.

Johnson largely played with the ball in his hands, dictating the tempo and course of each game. Magic’s ability to pass the ball improved those around him, making his assist totals more than just a statistic.

Before Magic arrived, Lakers supporters only knew of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.  James Worthy, Byron Scott, Michael Cooper, and, of course, Abdul-Jabbar all became household names thanks to Johnson’s passes and secured careers in the Hall of Fame.

His Lakers won five NBA titles thanks to Magic and his incredible passes.  With 19.5 PPG, 7.2 RPG, and 11.2 APG on the season, Johnson almost averaged a triple-double during his NBA career.

Steve Nash

During his 19 seasons in the NBA, Steve Nash, aka “Captain Canada,” was a premier pass-first point guard.  Nash passed the ball with some flair, but he was also incredibly precise in every pass he made.

Nash established a solid reputation as a superb passer during his time playing for Santa Clara in the NCAA.  His 501 assists at Santa Clara still stand as a school record.

Nobody was shocked to learn that Nash was an excellent passer.  Nash trained with athletes like Jason Kidd and Gary Payton while he was a student at Santa Clara, who were known for their talent for finding teammates.

Nash played for the Phoenix Suns for the vast majority of his eight-season career.  Nash received back-to-back NBA MVP honors in Phoenix.

Due to Nash’s deft passing, players like Shawn Marion and Amare Stoudemire became well-known figures.  Although Marion and Stoudemire were outstanding athletes, their career stats would have been much lower if it weren’t for Nash’s skillful passes.

With over 10,000 assists overall and an average of 8.5 per game, Nash retired.  Five times throughout his career, Nash led the NBA in assists.  Nash is still regarded as one of the best point guards of all-time despite having a Hall of Fame career that was largely based on passing the basketball. In today’s NBA, this is unusual. 


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