Top 10 Passers In The NBA
Top NBA Passers For 2012 Season
Like most fans, I love the NBA because of the highlight material that it offers the viewers. I love the posterizing dunks, the buzzer-beating three pointers and the seemingly impossible shots that the stars make look easy. One thing that it seems nobody pays attention to is the people who make all of that happen; the passer. The guy with the ball is usually the one who sets the shooter up with the game winner or the alley-op or the clutch shot.
When watching highlights we watch the player with the ball but never who gives them the ball. But they are the ones who deserve the recognition. While they might not be the high fliers or physical specimens that their counter parts are they are still the reason a play goes the way it does. They -in some cases- can be credited for making the superstars as good as they are.
The all-time record for assists in a single game is 30 dimes dished out by Scott Skiles but who is next on that list? The answer is Kevin Porter with 29 dimes but who is the most recent active player on that list? The answer to that question is Jason Kidd with 25 assists.
Over the past years, the NBA has seen its blueprint of what a guard is expected to be radically change. Instead of a pass first, shoot second type of guard the league has welcomed shoot first, pass second guards. It's not just the ball handlers that are changing though, its all of the positions. Every position now has to have the skill set not always identified when they entered the league. Were seeing more centers and power forwards who can handle the ball well and pass even better. In the scheme of the league, this is new. No one is saying the transition is bad and in fact it may even be good it offers fans more versatility of every player on the floor.
In light of players versatility despite their position here is a list of the top 10 passers that the league has to offer.
10. Joakim Noah
When you think of passers your mind automatically thinks of guards. Small, crafty guards who can weave in and out of the lane and make circus passes to teammates that the opponents didn't even know were open. Joakim Noah is looking to change that. As a center most people don't expect much from him in the category of passing and yes he only averages four assists per game. But numbers don't always tell the full story. Noah exhibits qualities only reserved for guards. He can handle the ball extremely well for a big man and he can pass like no other big man in the game. He is always aware of the open man and when double teamed in the lane can always hit the open player. His assists indicate that his passes don't usually end up in points but they don't always have to. Basketball is a game of rotation and if one pass leads to another which leads to a bucket then the passer did his job.
9. Greivis Vasquez
It's only the second year for guard Greivis Vasquez and already he is turning heads with his ability to pass the ball expertly. The pick-and-roll chemistry he had with Chris Kaman was one of the best big-little combo's to watch and even his days with the Maryland Terapins were covered in highlights. He may be young but having averaged 5.4 assists last season you can see that this kid is going to be a bright star, and dominating guard and an elite player.
8. Dwayne Wade
Dwayne Wade has a skill unlike many other players in the league; his ability to go up for a shot and at the top most point end up passing it. Without LeBron James he was a dangerous passer so combine him with one of the most prolific dunkers and physical specimen like James and you know that plays are gonna be made. We all remember the full court alley-oop pass to James and there were many more that season and many more for seasons to come. His 5.1 assists per game last season are a good measure of his effectiveness as a passer but its more the types of passes he makes as opposed to the number of passes he makes. It's the quality of his passes that draw attention not the quantity.
7. Tony Parker
When Tony Parker entered the league he was often criticized by coach Gregg Popovich. He was criticized about his style of play, they way he ran the point and the way he communicated with teammates. So why did Parker take it for so many seasons? Why did he sign a 6-year contract in 2004 to stay with the San Antonio Spurs? According to Popovich, it was what he called the "care factor." Parker knew that his coach was right in his criticisms and he knew that they were aimed at only improving him as a player and indeed they have. Parker is only averaging 5.5 assists in his career but it's the manner he does it in that makes him an elite passer. His ball handling is devastating, his spin move is unstoppable and his court vision for longtime teammates Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili is always on target. With additions like sharp shooters Matt Boner and Danny Green it is clear that Parker's numbers are going to continue to increase.
6. Deron Williams
Last season with the now Brooklyn Nets guard Deron Williams averaged 8.4 assists per game. This might come as a shock to some people as the Nets went on to win only 22 games during the season. These numbers should be a clear indicator of how good of a passer he his though. His ability to create opportunities for his teammates regardless of their record is unprecedented. Expect to see William's value as the floor general and team captain go up as with the arrival of Joe Johnson and C.J Watson the health of Brooke Lopez returning.
5. Ricky Rubio
The Minnesota Timberwolves felt defeated when Ricky Rubio hit the floor with an injury, here was their second best player down for the count and diagnosed with a season ending injury. Rubio made a name for himself quickly upon his arrival with is acrobatic passes, highlight appearances and the chemistry he developed with shooting big man, Kevin Love. His court vision took not just the team by storm but the whole league. In one season he averaged 8.4 assists (really only half a season since he played only 41 games.) News broke this week that he was returning to practice which is good news for the Timberwolves fans and fans of the acrobatic passer from Spain.
4. Jason Kdd
No list of top passers is complete without the name Jason Kidd on it. Kidd has played in the league since 1994 and is still going. He is averaging 7.7 assists for his career and it's not hard to understand why. When playing with stars early in his career like Kenyon Martin, Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson and then later in his career with names like Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry, Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire it's not hard to understand how Kidd has made it to second on the list of all time assists. Kidd's court vision, leadership, basketball IQ and tempo of play is why teams covet him despite the fact that he is 39 years old.
3. Chris Paul
There is a theory that great passers are usually recognized when they have talented targets. Chris Paul might support this theory. Paul is a great passer, it's not because he has big targets like Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan (although that helps) it's because he has a pass-first shoot second kind of mentality. Paul keeps his vision down court at all times and is always looking for the open man and it shows in his numbers. He has never averaged less than 7.8 assists per game in a season (including playoffs) and it can be argued that his passing is what is making the Los Angeles Clippers a serious contender.
2. Steve Nash
Steve Nash has been in the league since 1996 and has played for three different teams. And no matter what jersey he dons he still manages to become the best distributor on the team. He has averaged 8.5 assists per game throughout his career and averaged 10.3 assists last season.
This season has been difficult for Nash seeing as he has been injured for the majority of his time with the Los Angeles Lakers and his numbers are showing it. He is only averaging four assists per game but he has also only played in two games. With a basketball IQ paralleled by very few, an accurate three point shot and an ability to get out of traffic and double teams easily it is understandable why Nash is considered one of the best passers in the league.
1. Rajon Rondo
Rajon Rondo is one of the most prolific passers that the league has to offer, and his numbers show it. He is averaging 9.5 assists per game this season and is was on a 37 game streak of averaging a double-double. Unfortunately for him-and the record he was chasing- the streak ended when he was ejected in a game against the Brooklyn Nets. The down side for Rondo is the other side of the offense, shooting. Rondo is not a good shooter which is a shame. If Rondo could improve his shooting he would also in turn create more opportunities to make impossible passes.