The Point Guard position has changed its primary role over the past couple of decades. Turning from the player who leads the offense without much scoring to the guy who can put up 20 ppg regularly, times have changed and so has basketball.
However, as we look back to previous years, the ball-handling and passing point guard become more prevalent. However, one of the most underrated and most important traits of a good point guard in the NBA is their defensive ability.
Point Guards in the NBA tend to find a lack of recognition on the defensive side of the ball when they tend to be doing the most work. With that being said, some of the best defensive players in NBA history were PGs, and deserve significantly more respect.
5. John Stockton
The all-time steals leader is better known for his playmaking, but he made an incredible defensive player. Averaging 2.2 steals per game over the entirety of his career, he was more than capable of locking down a team’s No. 1 option.
His accolades make it difficult for him to rise in the rankings. Only a 5-time defensive team player and never making the first team, it’s difficult to rank him higher. His swiping ability was elite, however, and puts him on this list.
4. Jason Kidd
Another guy who could steal the ball at will, the historically sneaky Kidd was an excellent point defender. Averaging exactly 2.0 steals per game and a block every 3, his size didn’t take away from his ability.
What makes him a great player for this list is his longevity. He never once averaged less than 1.5 steals per game, even in his last season at 39 years old. Having 1.5 steals per game and playing less than 30 minutes is another level of elite, and not many players are able to accomplish that even in their prime.
3. Dennis Johnson
The 9-time all-defensive player may not have been an elite stealer like the two players previously mentioned, but he was an all-around workhorse on-ball player. The 6’4” point guard was an elite blocker for the position, averaging over half a block per game.
DJ actually had 2 seasons on the Supersonics where he averaged over a block per game, but at that height and position, maintaining that consistency is difficult. This paired with his 6 all-defensive first teams makes him a perfect candidate for this list.
2. Walt Frazier
Frazier is considered by many to be the best defensive point guard of all time, leading the Knicks to 2 championships. Although he may have paved the way for ball hog defenders, I can’t put him at No. 1.
This doesn’t change his level of success. Alongside averaging 20 ppg for multiple years, he managed 7 all-defensive first-team honors. The first year that the steal was recorded in the NBA, Frazier has 2 per game followed by a season with 2.4. Who knows what his averages would be beforehand? If the stat was recorded prior and his defensive efforts were more heavily recognized, he may be the best on this list.
1. Gary Payton
The Glove is hands down the best defender a the point guard position. Payton is one of two point guards to have ever won the Defensive Player of the Year, and his stats show it.
In his rookie year, he was already averaging 2 steals per game with 0.2 blocks. Then, after a single down year, he had y straight years of 2 steals per game or more.
Payton was always tasked with marking the best perimeter player on the court. You may not think he statistically matches up to players prior, the 9x all-defensive first team player, 1996 steals leader, and 1996 NBA DPOY takes the crown.