As the NBA lockout continues and because I am a huge fan of the 90s NBA era, which I like to call the ‘golden’ era, I would seize the opportunity to enumerate the top ten point guards of that era according to my opinion and my criteria. So, every player in order to qualify for the top ten, except from his stats, his overall performance, his abilities and my judgment, he had to be an NBA player for at least five seasons during the decade that starts from season 1989-90 and ends on season 1998-99.
10. Mookie Blaylock
I have chosen Mookie Blaylock as the 10th best point guard of the 90s, mostly, because of his unselfishness and his ability to defend. He has been named at the NBA All-Defensive Team two times (1993-94, 1994-95) and four times (1995-96, 1996-97, 1997-98 and 1998-99) at the NBA All-Defensive Second Team. He was selected as reserve for eastern squad at the 1994 NBA All Star Game and he led the NBA in Steals per game for two consecutive seasons (1996-97, 1997-98). He was also a great rebounder, considering that he was only 6-1. Blaylock was not a fancy player, I don’t remember any of us, young kids back then, picking Blaylock as our favourite player but he was a guy that was doing his job night in night out.
9. Kenny Anderson
Kenny Anderson was a great talent, a player that the NBA expected a lot and on the other hand an underrated player that most of the people used to forget when they were talking about the best point guards of the game at 90s. He was a basketball prodigy and a basketball legend of the New York City from his high school years. This is a huge accomplishment for any basketball player. But his NBA career was not exactly what it was expected from him. His NBA career highlights can be summarized in an all star appearance (1994) and a second place in assists per game during the 1994-95 season. In his best season (1993-94) he averaged 18,8 ppg. 9,6 ast. and 1,9 stl. as a player of the New Jersey Nets.
8. Mark Jackson
Mark Jackson was the definition of the playmaker, an unselfish player that knew how to run a team on the court. He was one of top players in assists per game every year that he played and he was able to take the best out of his teammates. He knew where, when and how to find them on the court. So, it is not a surprise that he ranks third in all-time assists leaders with 10334 behind only John Stockton and Jason Kidd. Jackson never made the All-Star team during the 90s (he was an All-Star at 1988-89 season) and in general I could say that he was underrated, mostly because of the way he was playing the game.
7. Mark Price
Mark Price was the eastern version of John Stockton during the 90s although he never reached Stockton’s ability he always enjoyed respect from the other point guards of the league and from the NBA as well, because of his character and his abilities, and this resulted in his selection for the “Dream Team II” squad that played at 1994 World Championship at Toronto. I do remember him being a really fast and smart point guard and another thing that made him special was his shooting. He has only recently been passed by Steve Nash as the best free-throw shooter that ever played in the NBA (90.39%).
6. Jason Kidd
Some of you, probably the younger ones, may think that it is unfair to rank Jason Kidd at number 6. If you do, I will have to remind you that this is his ranking for the 90s where I believe and according to his performance during that period, that there were better point guards than Jason Kidd. Nevertheless, during the 90s, Kidd was always at the top-ten in assists and steals per game and he led the league in assists per game in 1998-99 season with 10.8 ast.. He was a starter for the West all-stars in 1996 and a reserve in 1998. He was a member of the all-rookie team in 1994-95 season and he was voted as a member of the All-NBA first team at 1998-99 and NBA’s All-defensive team the same season.
5. Anfernee Hardaway
He was considered by many, as the next “Magic” Johnson, then Michael Jordan picked him as his successor but fate had other plans for him. I could pick him, easily, in the top ten of the unluckiest players of all-time. Even if he never reached his full potential, even if he never won a championship, he was one of the most impressive and talented players to watch. There is a list of active NBA players, including Lebron James, Tracy Mcgrady, Gilbert Arenas, Joe Johnson and Tyreke Evans, that idolized Hardaway. Penny Hardaway was to tall for a point guard, 6-7, but he was a really smart player with ‘mad’ skills that made him able to play both guard and even the small forward positions equally well. He played in four consecutive all-star games (three of them as a starter) from 1994 to 1998 for the eastern conference and he was named a “Dream-teamer” as he was chosen to play for the US Olympic basketball team at 1996 alongside other NBA superstars.
4. Tim Hardaway
This Hardaway of the 90s was a real point guard, a player known for his ability to crossover his opponents with inconceivable quickness and his ability to score. Those two abilities of him were so exceptional, amongst the point guards of his era, that his even great ability to run the offence for the team that he was playing was always overlooked. Hardaway was named an all-star five times, 3 consecutive for the West (1991-1993) and two consecutive for the East (1997-1998) but started only once, at 1997 for the East. He started his career at the Golden State Warriors where he played from 1989-90 season until 1995-96 (22 of February 1996) when he was traded to the Miami Heat and those were the two teams that he played during the 90s. While he was playing for the Warriors he has also been selected as a member of “Dream Team II” that won the World Championship in Canada at 1994.
3. Kevin Johnson
KJ is my favourite point guard of the 90s era. In my view he was the prototype for the point guards that we now watch in the league. Players whose height is less than 1.90cm (almost 6-2) and dunk the ball in any possible way, score more than 20ppg. and run the game as well. That type of player was Kevin Johnson, those of us that had the opportunity to watch him play will never forget the unbelievable dunk on Hakeem Olajuwon (I am sure that neither Hakeem will ever forget). Kevin Johnson is one of only two players in NBA history (Magic Johnson is the other) to have twice averaged at least 20.0 points and 10.0 assists per game over the course of a season while shooting at least .500 from the field. His other accomplishments are equally astonishing as his team was the only one that has defeated Magic Johnson’s Lakers and John Stockton’s Jazz in the same post season, in 1990 and he is the Suns all-time leader in assists, free throws made and attempted.
2. Gary Payton
Gary Payton show just a little of his abilities during his first two NBA seasons and many believed that he was overrated, shouldn’t be a number two overall draft, will never play at a high level and so on, so forth. But they were wrong he was determined to prove his worth and based on his mad defensive skills, his anticipation and smart play, led the Sonics and developed as one of the dominating point guards of the 90s. In 1996 Bill Walton, commentating for NBC at the time, said Payton “outplayed” Jordan during the second half of the series. “(In Game 4, Jordan had his) lowest output in a Finals game, much of it with Payton guarding him. Though afterwards, Jordan refused to give Payton credit, saying ‘No one can stop me, I can only stop myself. I missed some easy shots.’ The truth is, Jordan finds the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year (Payton) annoying. He views the (young Payton) as impudent, and he would love to have a big game at (Payton’s) expense.” (NBA on NBC Preview, Game 5).
1. John Stockton
I believe that Stockton’s individual ability was unique; he could make all of his teammates better. His teaming up with Karl Malone benefited them both and probably Malone was the luckiest one. I cannot imagine any big guy in the game basketball that wouldn’t want to play alongside John Stockton. This short white guy that didn’t look like a basketball player and definitely an NBA superstar is the all-time NBA leader in assists (15806) and steals (3265). He also holds the record for assists per game over a single season with 14.5 in 1989-90. Stockton led the NBA in assists per game 9 consecutive times (1987-88 to 1995-96) throughout his career and 7 of them was during the 90s. They could have been ten but in 1996-97 season he came second. He also led the league in steals per game two times (1988-89, 1991-92) and was named an all-star 10 times, 9 of them in a row (1989-1997) and one time in 2000 (in 5 of them he has been voted as a starter by the fans). He has also been named co-MVP, alongside his teammate Karl Malone; in the 1993 NBA all-star game that held in Utah. Additionally, he has been named in the All-NBA first team 2 times (1993-94 and 1994-95), 6 times in all-NBA second team (3 of them during the 90s) and 3 more times in the All-NBA third team (all 3 of them in the 90s). As a great defender, that he was, he has been named in the second all-defensive team 5 times (4 of them in the 90s).