If you follow NBA basketball, you’ve probably noticed that having a competent point guard is a must for any team in the modern era. That’s kind of how the evolution of the game has gone and if we try to look a bit further, we could probably predict that the next big thing in the NBA will be a tall point guard.
A tall point guard is more versatile defensively, can disrupt opponent’s offensive flow, see the floor above opponent’s defense and make plays that smaller point guards simply won’t be able to make because of their size limitations.
We can see the trend in a couple of recent drafts already, where a number of teams clearly reached for a tall, rangy point-guard and potential that he brings. Look at Philly taking Michael Carter-Williams in 2013, Utah with Dante Exum and Orlando with Elfrid Payton in 2014, D’Angelo Russell to the Lakers in 2015. Finally look how Kentucky’s Jamal Murray is shooting up the draft boards this year.
Considering the new tendency and how much fun we had writing our tallest NBA players of all-time blog post, we’ve decided to rundown top-10 6’4 and taller point guards in the history of the NBA.
10. Derek Harper
Now, contrary to what many people might think, Dirk Nowitzki wasn’t always playing for the Dallas Mavericks.
Back in 1983, when Dirk was five years old, the Mavs drafted Derek Harper, 6’5 point guard out of Illinois.
Derek went on to have a nice career in Dallas: during his 12 seasons in Texas he averaged 16 points, 6.6 assists per game and also was one heck of a thief, adding 2 steals a game to his solid stat line.
9. Ron Harper
Let’s pay homage to winning with this one: Ron Harper’s name doesn’t pop up when we talk about great point guards in the history of the sport, and Harper didn’t come to the NBA as a point guard…
Ron spent his best years, statistically speaking, at the two, averaging a shade over 20 points per game through his first 10 years with Cleveland and LA Clippers.
But most basketball fans know Ron Harper as a hard-nosed, 6’6 defensive minded backcourt sidekick to Michael Jordan and later Kobe Bryant. Good company, huh? 5 NBA titles as a point guard doesn’t hurt his resume either!
8. Dennis Johnson
Speaking about hard-nosed defense-first converted shooting guards, here is one more name to the list: Dennis Johnson, one of the all-time great Celtics and at the same time one of the most underrated players in the history of the NBA.
DJ, standing 6’4, started playing point for Boston in the second half of his basketball career and was often tasked with shutting down opponent’s top backcourt player.
Besides that Dennis simply thrived in the clutch and built a reputation of the iron man, having played less than 75 games just once in his 14-year career.
7. Pete Maravich
Pistol Pete, the single greatest scorer in the history of college basketball, often gets denoted as a shooting guard or just guard in the record books or statistical databases.
Make no mistake: the 6’5 Pistol is one of the first awesome show-time ball handlers, often THE primary ball handler for his team during his prime AND one helluva passer, both aesthetically and statistically speaking.
Maravich possesses career assists average of 5.5 and cleared the 6 assists mark in four different seasons.
Those numbers become even more impressive when you couple it with the fact that the top-of-his-game Pete Maravich was the high-volume shooter and the team’s top-scorer.
Fun Fact: He’s certainly not the tallest on this list but Pete Maravich has the biggest feet in the NBA list here with a whopping size 15 shoe.
6. Anfernee Hardaway
Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway is the ultimate “what if” case on this list. Dabbed early as the next generational talent, with smooth athleticism and oozing with potential, the 6’7 phenom took the league by storm.
His individual performances were dazzling, his play with young Shaquille O’Neal and the rest of up-and-coming Orlando Magic was a pleasure to watch.
Penny averaged close to 20 points, 6.6 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 1.8 steals through his first four years. After that things went south: first Shaq left to Los Angeles, then knee injuries started to mount and took Penny’s game and confidence away. Once promising point guard never got back to his early form.
5. Walt Frazier
Called by some pundits “the greatest Knickerbocker ever”, 6’4 Walt “Clyde” Frazier definitely deserves to be in the conversation and on this list.
Pick any statistical category, and Clyde is likely to be at or near the top of it in the Knick’s history (second perhaps only to Patrick Ewing).
Basketball Hall of Fame member, floor general, great scorer, outstanding defender, on-and-off the court icon, Walt Frazier helped to bring two championships to the New York Knicks, the only two titles in franchise history.
He consistently averaged 20 points and 6 assists a game for New York in the 1970s and was selected to NBA All-Defensive First Team from 1969 to 1975.
Also some sneaker-head trivia: Clyde was the first NBA player to have a signature shoe.
4. Gary Payton
They call Gary Payton “The Glove” for a reason. 6’4 and 180 lbs of pure trash talk and suffocating defense, Payton could get in any player’s head and in any ball handler’s pocket.
Opposing guards hated going against the Glove, teammates loved playing with him and coaches praised GP for his competitiveness and professionalism.
Payton spent 19 years in the NBA. In his first 13 seasons he played in less than 79 games just once… ONCE!
That’s not to mention his success playing with the Seattle Supersonics under coach George Carl in the 1990s.
3. Jason Kidd
To quote my college coach: “If you want to be a better point, watch J-Kidd play”. And I never stopped watching till Jason Kidd retired.
Kidd is as true point guard as they come, a coach on the floor, a complete player, *pick your favorite basketball proverb and insert it here*.
He almost singlehandedly willed the New Jersey Nets into the NBA Finals two years in a row in 2002 against the Lakers and 2003 against the Spurs.
J-Kidd ranks fifth all-time in 3-pointers made, third for triple-doubles and second in career assists and steals.
2. Oscar Robertson
The Big O opens our top-2 and boy, what a top-2 it is. How many point guards do you know who averaged a triple double per game throughout an NBA season? How about one?
How about Oscar Robertson is the only player in NBA history to do that? The Big O was probably the first point guard in basketball to dominate the game on so many levels.
Also one of the well-known pioneers of the game, Oscar fought against racism and for better conditions and salaries for NBA players. The NBA we know now wouldn’t even exist without him.
1. Magic Johnson
You’ve probably heard of the guy, haven’t you?
Hall of Fame member, five NBA titles, three NBA Finals MVPs, three NBA regular season MVPs, 12 times NBA All-Star, nine times All-NBA First Team, NBA all-time leader in assists per game in single season with 11.2, Olympic Gold Medalist with the Dream Team in 1992.
Standing 6’9, Magic is the tallest point guard on the list. Nuff’ said, right?
All stats and images courtesy of basketball-reference.com
Have a different opinion? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.