“This is the first year where I’m like, ‘You know what, there are not a lot of white guys in the NBA.' I was looking at the free agent list of guys still out there. I saw Chris Kaman, Kirk Hinrich. Those guys have all been in the league since I’ve been in the league. ... I was messing with Doc Rivers about it. The best white guy is probably Kevin Love. It’s interesting. Someone who has way more time on their hands, it would be an interesting idea to kind of figure out what is happening.” -- J.J. Redick
Well, we're not going to do any heavy research on what's happening, but let's talk about the lack of white NBA players by reminiscing on some of the league's best white point guards. Don't you love it when I make things simple?
The ground rules for this list are simple: players with Caucasian heritage born overseas (i.e. the family was a military family) are eligible, as are players from the United States, Canada, and U.S. owned territories; Steve Nash, a Canadian born in South Africa, is eligible. However, players like Goran Dragic, who are white but come from European countries, are not eligible.
Also, there's no statue of limitations on this with regards to time period, though the majority of the "worst" point guards will be more recent. We do try to take the game's changes into account, so consider today a history trip and a chance to talk about the greatness of Jason Kidd. Win-win!
15 15. Best: Scott Skiles
Honestly, this one came down to Scott Skiles and Danny Ainge, but I gave the former Milwaukee Buck and Orlando Magic player the nod not because Ainge fleeced the Brooklyn Nets, but because Skiles was more of a complete point guard. Yes, the 30 assist game certainly helped his case, but Skiles averaged 12 points and 6.9 assists per night from 1988-95 with the Indiana Pacers, Orlando Magic, and Washington Bullets.
Given those numbers came in a time when the point guard game was John Stockton and then a long drop, those are solid stats we easily forget about. Maybe that's because we only think of Skiles as a head coach, but give the guy a break! Skiles was a great floor general and his passing highlights never get old.
14 14. Worst: Mike Bibby
In his defense, Mike Bibby was not an awful point guard and actually had some really good years with the Sacramento Kings in the mid 2000s, which is why he ranks so high (low?) on this list. However, my issue with Bibby is that he really never lived up to the expectations that come with being the 2nd overall pick in the 1998 NBA Draft.
If you use the eye test even of his days in Sacramento, you see he's putting up those numbers because he's the guy. But, those teams were also really fun to watch (why haven't they been added as classic teams in NBA 2K yet?), so this one is up for debate. Given how dangerous those offenses were, I would have liked to see Bibby play more of a floor general role where he could score and dish out assists, but again, the game has changed.
13 13. Best: Richie Guerin
Who? Well, like Patrick Ewing, John Starks, and Carmelo Anthony, Richie Guerin was a fantastic New York Knicks player that never won a championship and spent time on mostly awful teams in the 1950s and 1960s. Putting Guerin on this list instead of someone like Kirk Hinrich may seem unfair because how different the NBA was then, but let's be honest: the league is different than how it was ten, even five years ago, so the age argument doesn't really work.
In 14 seasons with the Knicks and Hawks, Guerin averaged 17.3 points, five rebounds, and five assists a night while also serving as a player-coach. Not bad! Even better is this: Guerin, a six-time All-Star and 2013 Hall of Fame inductee, is actually still alive today and going at the age of 85!
12 12. Worst: John Paxson
Say what you want about how John Paxson runs the Chicago Bulls and how that team is arguably a bigger mess than the New York Knicks, but we're going to focus solely on his playing career today. Paxson winning three rings with the Bulls as their point guard is good and all, but he winds up on this list because we seem to overrate him for being on those legendary Michael Jordan-led teams. Paxson definitely had some good years - and his 1986-87 where he averaged 11.3 points and 5.7 assists per night helped Jordan's development - but I don't see what makes Paxson this fantastic point guard.
At best, he was a player that benefited from playing with the greatest of all time, and maybe that's enough for some people. For me? I would have liked to see more from Paxson, so this is more of a "disappointing" pick than a "worst."
11 11. Best: Bob Davies
Putting a player with only seven seasons on his resume is a risk, so putting him this high is probably an even bigger risk! The thing with Bob Davies, an All-Star point guard for the Rochester Royals from 1948-55, is that he was the first TRUE point guard and a sign of things to come - he could score, averaging 14.3 points per game, and he could dish out assists at a time when that stat was a bit of novelty.
Bill Simmons has called the early NBA a bunch of "white, Jewish guys" and while Davies exemplifies that, he also was one of the league's first true stars. Without Davies averaging 4.8 assists in the league's early days, maybe we'd have forgotten about the point guard position entirely...
10 10. Worst: Jason Williams
Listen, I get why people like Jason Williams - and I'm a fan of the White Chocolate nickname - but to say this guy wasn't overrated is a bad take. The seventh overall pick in 1998, Williams battled injuries and off-the-field issues with fans while never showing WHY the Kings used such a high pick on him; the scoring highlights were there, sure, but Williams should have been so much better than he was.
I've had this theory for a while that Williams would have been best coming off the bench as a sixth man, but he also played primarily in a time when teams wouldn't make that type of risk with a former first-rounder so early in his career. I like today's NBA because coaches - the smart ones, at least - will play guys where they're going to have an impact!
9 9. Best: Mark Price
That earlier point about NBA point guards in the late 1980s to early 1990s being John Stockton and than everyone else is unfortunate, because All-Stars like Mark Price get forgotten with ease. Perhaps the greatest player to suit up for the Cleveland Cavaliers before LeBron James was even headed for the NBA, Price averaged 16.4 points and 7.2 assists in nine seasons with the Cavaliers from 1986 to 1995 and made four All-Star Games.
For Price's career, he averaged 15.2 points, 2.6 rebounds, 6.7 assists, and 1.2 steals a night...but we still forget about him because that time period for point guards is like a black hole. More or less, that time period for point guards is what the dominant post big man who can't shoot free throws or threes like DeAndre Jordan is now.
8 8. Worst: Jordan Farmar
Listen, we like Jordan Farmar and he's certainly had his moments in the NBA, but he never really was anything too special. Unlike Jason Williams, the Los Angeles Lakers did at least realize that Farmar could be a valuable tool off the bench as a sixth man; the former first-rounder averaged 7.7 points on 43 percent from the field in 229 games from 2007-10 with Farmar coming off the bench for all of those games. However, Farmar was a player that was best in short bursts, but not long enough to make him a long-term option at sixth man.
And, if you go back to the eye test, Farmar was much more of a shooting guard than a point guard, so that hurts his case. Why teams routinely kept him at the point isn't clear to us, but this is the NBA we're talking about. What ever does make sense?
7 7. Best: Jason Kidd
Given my own bias and love for Jason Kidd, the pain of choosing between him and Steve Nash for this spot was actually tougher than you might think. However, Kidd being a spot below Nash doesn't mean the current Milwaukee Bucks coach was at all a bad point guard; if you've yet to do the math, this means that among white point guards, Jason Kidd is the fourth-best of all-time and has a legitimate case for the top five point guards of all-time regardless of skin color.
A ten-time All-Star, Kidd's success best came with the New Jersey Nets from 2001-08 as he helped the team to two NBA Finals appearances (and helping get a Westchester kid into rooting for the Nets) before being traded back to the Dallas Mavericks for Devin Harris. Too bad things ended sourly between Kidd and the Nets when they reunited a few years ago...
6 6. Worst: Jimmer Fredette
Look, I like Jimmer Fredette and genuinely do want him to succeed if he gets another chance to play in the NBA, but there's not much positives that came from him as a point guard. Fredette always had that shooting guard mold, which the Sacramento Kings noticed after playing him primarily at the point in his rookie year, but he struggled at both positions...and people still think teams are too hard on him?
Come on. Fredette was a fringe lottery prospect at best, but the Bucks took him because of how hyped he was after his final season at BYU. Overseas in places like China where guys like Fredette and Stephon Marbury can afford to score as much as they want and take as many shots as they prefer, Jimmer and his brand work, but in today's NBA? No.
5 5. Best: Steve Nash
I think we can all agree that Steve Nash's resume - eight All-Star Games, seven All-NBA teams, nearly making the NBA Finals several times, and two NBA MVP awards (one of which he robbed from Kobe Bryant) - should speak for itself. With that said, let's talk a bit about why I chose to push Nash over Kidd here because it's an interesting debate. Nash was a better scorer and really excelled in Mike D'Antoni's Phoenix Suns offesne, but Kidd was a constant triple-double threat and played for more successful teams.
But all of my bias for Kidd aside, I do think Nash was a superior player in his prime - barely, though. Again, it's a conversation that I don't think has a wrong answer and I do genuinely want to know what you think, but for me, Nash gets the very slight advantage.
4 4. Travis Diener
First off, it's Travis Diener, not Travis Deiner as people commonly get wrong. Second, this guy was an absolute pain to watch, even when the Indiana Pacers tried making him their main point guard in the 2007-08 season; don't read into his career-high 6.9 points and 3.8 assists per game that year because his field goal rate was 37 percent and he was worth -0.2 VORP. In other words, this guy was worse than a replacement player. The advanced stats matter, folks.
So, what went wrong with Travis Diener? Simply put, the guy just wasn't that good a point guard, so that's all we really need to say about him. Who knows? With how badly positioned the Pacers are for the future after trading Paul George, maybe Diener can make a comeback?
3 3. Best: Jerry West
Given that Jerry West is literally The Icon, am I doing him a disservice by putting him as the second best white point guard of all-time? For me, and I really did think about this, John Stockton has a more compelling case, but we'll get to him shortly. West, a 14-time All-Star that averaged 27 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 6.7 assists for the Lakers - both in Minneapolis and Los Angeles - was a national treasure and one of the most influential players in the game's history.
For how much the sport has changed over the years, I still do think it's possible for a young point guard to watch Jerry West's highlights, try modeling himself after The Icon, and succeed. Speaking of succeeding, keep an eye on West over the next few years. After succeeding with the Golden State Warriors in a front office role, can West succeed with the Los Angeles Clippers and keep them in playoff contention?
2 2. Worst: Chris Quinn
That Chris Quinn spent 25 games with the New Jersey Nets during their infamous 2009-10 season where they lost 72 games and I didn't remember him probably says something about his legacy. I'm sure Chris Quinn is a nice guy and I wish him luck with the Miami Heat as an assistant coach - and the head coach for this year's Summer League team, but there were times where you could understand why Quinn went undrafted in 2006.
For his career, Quinn averaged 4.5 points and 1.9 assists per night, but here's where things get bad: for his career, the poor guy was nearly a full VORP point lower than a replacement player. That is not good at all. Good luck with the Heat as a coach, Chris!
1 1. Best: John Stockton
Putting John Stockton over Jerry West, even with the latter's accolades and place as The Icon, was tough, I won't lie. But for me, Stockton played in a much more competitive era (I know I've tried to avoid comparing time periods, but this is important) where there wasn't just one or two good teams.
Every year when West played, you knew it was going to be the Lakers and Celtics squaring up in the NBA Finals, but things were different in Stockton's prime; the Lakers, Houston Rockets, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, Seattle SuperSonics, and even pre-Tim Duncan San Antonio Spurs all could give the Jazz a legitimate fight.
And remember, West only won one ring with the Lakers, so the ring argument only means so much. I'll let everyone in the comment sections argue West vs. Stockton, but my feeling is Stockton's career numbers - especially his league record numbers for assists (15,806) and steals (3,265) - means more.
Which of these white NBA point guards do you think was the best? Who was the worst? Make sure to let us know in the comment section below!
Leave A Comment
Looking for an AD FREE EXPERIENCE on TheSportster?Get Your Free Access Now!