Alright this is it. This is the hardest NBA Twitter Quarantine debate exercise I've seen. I thought nothing would top this bad boy
from a few weeks ago and yet here we are. What an evil thing to ask of someone to rank. We're talking about arguably four of the best point guards to ever play in the NBA. It doesn't matter what order you choose, it's going to hurt. People are going to call you names. It's diabolical really. Well I haven't shied away from one of these yet and I have no plans on stopping so let's break it down.
OK so the exercise is about the primes of all these guys, and to me Kidd's prime fell between 1998 and 2003-04. This numbers from that timeframe? A nice 16.3/6.8/9.8/2.2 on 41/32% shooting with 1.2 3PM a night. He made 6 All Star teams, 5x All NBA First Team, 1x All NBA Second Team, 3x All NBA Defensive First Team, 3x All NBA Defensive Second Team, led the league in assists 5 times and basically carried those Nets teams to back to back Finals appearances. Kidd was just as nasty in the postseason during that run, averaging 17.1/7.2/9.1/1.9 in 64 games. That's the sort of do it all production that you won't really find as we continue this exercise
A lot of younger stoolies may not be all that familiar with The Glove, but when it comes to defensive point guards he might be the greatest ever. For him, I would say his prime was 1993 through like 1999-2000. Payton sort of had two eras of dominance if we're being honest because he was just as nasty in his age 31 through 34 season but for the sake of this exercise let's focus on the '93-'00. Over that timeframe he threw up 20.4/4.5/7.6/2.3 on 47/33% splits with 1.3 3PM a night. He made 6 All Star Teams, 2x All NBA First Team, 4x All NBA Second Team, 7x All NBA Defensive First Teams, 1x DPOY, and led the league in steals with 2.9 in 1995-96. His playoff numbers during that time were pretty much on pace with what he did during the year, putting up 21.7/4.8/7.1/1.8 on 46/37% shooting with 1.7 3PM a night.
The Point God. Given that name for good reason, Paul might have had the longest "prime" of any of the guards mentioned so far. For me I'd say it ran from 2008 to 2016 where he put up 19.2/4.3/10.3/2.4 on 48/37% with 1.2 3PM a night. During that run he never averaged under 9.1 assists and finished with 6 double digit assist seasons, leading the league in four of them. When it came to steals he was even better than Payton, leading the league 6 times and having only one season under 2.0. Paul made 9 All Star Teams, 4x All NBA First Team, 3x All NBA Second Teams, 1x All NBA Third Team, 6x All NBA Defensive First Team, 2x All NBA Defensive Second Team, and in the playoffs backed it up with 21.0/4.7/9.4/2.3 on 48/38% with 1.5 3PM a night.
I told you, this was going to be a real bitch. Iverson might be the best pound for pound scoring point guard in league history. He was never efficient, but that didn't matter. Nobody could stop him. To me his prime lasted from 1998 to 2007-08 where he put up 28.9/3.8/6.2/2.3 on 42/31% splits with 1.2 3PM a night. Iverson made 9 All Star teams, 3x All NBA First Teams, 3x All NBA Second Teams, 1x All NBA Third Team. He led the NBA in scoring four times while also leading the lead in steals a total of three times. Two of those came while also leading the league in scoring in the same season. Nobody played more minutes than Iverson, he led the league seven times during this stretch, and as we know basically carried the Sixers to their last Finals appearance. His postseason averages of 29.7/3.8/6.0/2.1 on 40/32% shooting was pretty crazy, including the 31/2/10 he averaged in the 2004-05 playoffs. I'd argue he was also had the biggest cultural influence during his prime, we all wanted to be like AI.
Alright, so now that we went through the specifics it's time to nut up and pick an order 1-4. I went over this time and time again, changed my order a bunch and ultimtely this is where I netted out as my personal ranking
1. Allen Iverson
2. Jason Kidd
3. Chris Paul
4. Gary Payton
I imagine if you're a little older you may have a problem with where I put Payton, but I think Paul's prime stacks up better, it's as simple as that. Like I said, no matter how you end up you're going to feel wrong about it, that's what makes this such a great debate topic.
Now it's your turn. Don't be a coward, list your 4.