Who are the best point guards in Celtics history? Ranking the Top 10
The Boston Celtics have enjoyed a profusion of talent at the point guard position throughout the team’s history.
Heck, Brad Stevens has coached four All-Stars in seven seasons here. But trying to rank all the talented ball handlers is no easy task.
Here’s our attempt at sorting Boston’s top 10 point guards of all-time:
10. Kemba Walker
OK, file this under “planning ahead,” so if someone clicks on this in 2024 they’re not furious that Walker isn't included. His first 50 games in green have been solid with Walker averaging 21.2 points and earning an All-Star nod.
Childhood nostalgia said to put Sherman Douglas in this spot, but every other Celtics point guard to earn an All-Star spot made the list so Walker gets the benefit of the doubt about what’s ahead during his time in Boston.
9. Danny Ainge
Quibble if you want that Ainge was more of a shooting guard while playing alongside Dennis Johnson but Ainge averaged 5.5 assists per game from 1984 until he was traded in 1989. He had 14 assists in a playoff game in 1988.
Ainge was a willing playmaker who loved to crank the tempo and zip the ball around to Boston’s original Big Three. Bonus points for shifting to point guard of the front office after his playing days.
8. Kyrie Irving
I can hear you booing and hissing through your internet browser.
Yes, Irving was a spectator for most of Boston’s playoff success during his two seasons here and he definitely checked out near the finish line of his final year (the one where he promised to come back and then bolted for Brooklyn). But he was also downright spectacular for those two seasons, landing on the All-NBA second team in 2019 while posting some of the most efficient numbers of his career. His handles were unmatched and he was undeniably entertaining to watch with his playmaking wizardry.
7. Isaiah Thomas
Thomas crammed an awful lot of activity into 2 1/2 seasons in Boston. But it was his 2016-17 campaign that boosted his spot on this list.
Thomas didn’t just earn his second straight All-Star nod that year, he finished fifth in MVP voting while averaging 28.9 points per game and carrying Boston to the Eastern Conference Finals on a bad hip. Thomas deserved a better ending and, had he been healthier, might have been a cornerstone of this franchise.
6. K.C. Jones
No one is digging through old film to make a K.C. Jones mixtape but his accomplishments are undeniable. Jones won NBA titles in his first eight seasons, first serving as Bob Cousy’s backup and then enduring the daunting challenge of having to fill the Cooz's shoes.
Jones ranks ninth all-time on the franchise’s assists list and, more importantly, played a gritty brand of defense that defined his playing career. Bonus points for shifting to point guard of the whiteboard while coaching the Celtics to 410 wins and two titles from 1983-1988.
5. Nate 'Tiny' Archibald
Archibald was 30 and coming off an Achilles injury when he arrived in Boston in 1978. He wasn’t quite the player he was in his early days with Kansas City, and yet he still earned three All-Star nods in five seasons with Boston, all while helping the team to a 1981 title.
Despite playing only 363 games in Boston, he sits just outside the franchise's Top 10 in career assists (2,563).
4. Rajon Rondo
Sometimes we wonder if Boston’s most recent Big Three had won another title, or if Rondo had spent more time here in the group’s aftermath, whether he would have cracked the top 3 on this list.
A 22-year-old Rondo was vital to Boston’s 2008 title and he went on to earn four All-Star nods from 2010-13. He might have been the Celtics’ most valuable player during two other long playoff runs. Rondo sits fourth on the team’s all-time list for assists with 4,474 helpers in 527 career games. He seemed like a player to build around before his ACL injury in 2013 and got shipped to Dallas as the team embraced an on-the-fly makeover.
3. Dennis Johnson
He didn’t possess the flashiness of the others on this list but Johnson was exactly the sort of gritty, defensive bulldog that those early 80s Celtics squad needed. More importantly, Johnson was a playoff monster, averaging 16.5 points and 6.8 assists over seven appearances with Boston, while winning titles in 1984 and 1986.
The man affectionately known as DJ had a knack for the clutch shots (like finishing the layup after Larry Bird stole the ball in the 1987 Conference Finals against the Pistons) and was always ready to take on the challenge of guarding someone like Magic Johnson.
2. Jo Jo White
Criminally underrated in the conversation about Boston’s greatest players, White strung together seven All-Star seasons and won two titles with the Celtics.
He always had the pure scoring ability but embraced playmaking for others. White was Finals MVP in 1976 and, in six total playoff appearances, averaged 21.5 points and 5.7 assists while playing an astounding 42.9 minutes per game.
1. Bob Cousy
The Houdini of the Hardwood, Cousy was way ahead of his time. His slick ball-handling and passing skills were the perfect complement to big man Bill Russell, and the Celtics won six titles with Cousy at the helm.
A 13-time All-Star, Cousy was the league MVP in 1957. He’s the Celtics all-time assists leader with 6,945, or nearly 2,500 more than the next pure point guard on the list. A slam dunk for our top spot, it’s easy to see why that Celtic fan screamed, “We love ya, Cooz” at his retirement ceremony.