In this article, the team here at The Jump Hub have put our heads together and come up with a list of our favourite, if-not-necessarily-best, ball-handlers from any era in NBA history.
This is generally the realm of the point guard and that’s why so many of them are represented here.
Disagree with our choices?
Come at us on Twitter or Instagram and give us your reasons and your alternative NBA players.
The Jump Hub is not only about the NBA. Here, we review some of The Best NCAA Basketball Teams.
DRIBBLING SKILLS COME FIRST
Just like learning to walk before you can run, in the game of basketball you have to learn how to dribble, or at least ‘handle’ the ball before you can shoot it.
It’s the most fundamental skill in the game of basketball and seems easy enough to learn at first glance.
That’s probably true, but to go all the way to the top and end up on a list here at The Jump Hub, you’re going to need to work a little harder than that.
It’s clearly an extremely difficult skill to master but for those who can, it is an incredible weapon to add to their arsenal.
The best ball handlers effortlessly control the ebb and flow of games by being unpredictable and cunning.
Having the ball ‘on a string’ and under your total control at all times must be an incredible advantage to have in offense.
Defenders find it virtually impossible to predict which way you’re going to turn, and get frustrated beyond belief when they are made to look foolish by falling for yet another dummy.
We recommend Australian sportsbook PlayUp for all your NBA Betting. They have great offers and promotions, keen NBA odds, and a huge array of other sports to have a bet on. Read our full review of PlayUp.
18+ | You know the score | Stay in control | Gamble responsibly
UNIQUE SKILLS AND BALL-HANDLING
Sure, the flashy slam dunk, or the last-second 3-point shot are the heart-stoppingly exciting parts of our beloved NBA that keep us coming back for more time and again.
But, in terms of just sitting back and admiring a player’s sheer skill and command of the basketball, there is little that we love more than to see masterful ball-handling skills that scatter defenders and create impossible chances where none existed before.
IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER, THEN…
ISIAH THOMAS OF THE DETROIT PISTONS
12-time All-Star Isiah Thomas is so much more than just the curmudgeon we saw on The Last Dance. He was successful in 2 NBA finals for a start…
As point guard, Thomas was a superb ball-handler with incredible dribbling, passing, and scoring skills.
He is sadly best remembered for getting owned by Michael Jordan in the 80s and 90s, but those 2 NBA titles didn’t win themselves and no player on a team has a greater influence than the point guard.
We feel he is somewhat underrated in the conversation about the best handlers in NBA history, so here he is…
TIM HARDAWAY OF THE GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
From 1990 to 2003, five times All-Star Tim Hardaway played a huge role for the Golden State Warriors. He even created his own version of a crossover that was nicknamed the ‘UTEP 2 step’ (because it was developed during his time at the University of Texas and El Paso) and he used it to great effect in 6 seasons with the Golden State Warriors and 6 with the Miami Heat, turning defenders inside out for fun.
It became a standard tool for all talented ball-handlers, and remains so to this day, so we pay homage to the man who brought it to life here and tip our hats.
Not every player can say they have made their mark on NBA history.
JASON WILLIAMS OF THE SACRAMENTO KINGS
Can it really have been 10 years since we marvelled at the silky ball-handling of Jason Williams and watched him twirl defenses around his little finger?
HOW TIME FLIES.
Williams also spent some time with the Memphis Grizzlies, Orlando Magic, and Miami Heat.
Creativity and style were off the scale with this player and, as ball-handlers go, he genuinely produced some of the flashiest, most memorable examples that we have ever had the pleasure to witness. He makes the list easily.
At The Jump Hub, we review the latest odds for the NBA futures markets, including one of the most popular NBA Futures bets, the NBA Most Improved Player Betting market.
PETE MARAVICH OF THE ATLANTA HAWKS/ NEW ORLEANS JAZZ
Five-time All-Star Pete Maravich played in the NBA from 1970 to 1980, also spending one season with both the Utah Jazz and the Boston Celtics, and is widely regarded as having been one of the most creative players in NBA history.
He was a consummate dribbler and handler, with a great eye for a killer pass and a propensity to score too.
Any 80s kids like us surely remember his VHS series – Pistol Pete’s Homework Basketball’. Those tips and pieces of advice remain strong to this day and are a great legacy to the one and only Pistol.
Tragically, the game that Pete loved so much became his downfall and he died from a heart defect during a pick-up game at the young age of 40.
He rightly earned a spot in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and will always have a place in our hearts.
CHRIS PAUL OF THE PHOENIX SUNS
The 11-time All-Star, former Rookie of the Year Chris Paul is perhaps not as unpredictable or flashy as some of the other players here. If you’re looking for a showboat then Chris Paul is not your man.
When he is your man, however, is if you are looking for a rock-solid point guard who can dominate the opposition and make them all play along to his tune.
He consistently chooses the right pass and finds his teammates where others would miss the opportunity and always seems to be in the right place at the right time.
With a silky-smooth crossover that has wrong-footed countless defenders on a basketball court.
Add to that – dribbling and shooting skills for days, and there is no denying that Chris Paul is a top-drawer ball-handler.
He just won’t set the world on fire as he bamboozles you with his trademark ‘pullback’ dribble, passes you, and scores.
Check out Chris Paul’s amazing top ten handles this season alone and you’ll understand why he is on this list and is widely regarded to be one of the best passers and handlers in NBA history.
STEPHEN CURRY OF THE GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
7-time All-Star Stephen Curry also has three NBA championships under his belt and is already destined to be remembered as the greatest shooter in NBA history.
What fewer people might remember Stephen Curry for is his immaculate handling skills and ability to keep the dribble alive.
Since 2010, Stephen Curry has been an incredible threat from anywhere on the court and teams underestimate him at their peril. These days very few do.
He is exceptionally entertaining to watch and after 12 seasons in the NBA he is unquestionably one of the best point guards to ever play the game.
KYRIE IRVING OF THE BROOKLYN NETS
7-time All-Star, NBA Champion Kyrie Irving doesn’t always come across as the most likable of chaps, but that’s not what this article is about.
We respect his staggering ability to handle the ball and split defenders, seemingly at will and so he has to be included for the sake of integrity.
OURS, NOT HIS.
Kyrie Irving is, perhaps, the most captivating player to watch in the NBA right now and has more moves and counter-moves than most teams combined.
One of the top ball-handlers of all-time, Kyrie Irving spins and whirls with the ball.
He dribbles it like it is a part of his arm and can genuinely take the ball past any player in the league.
He is both flashy and subtle as the moment dictates and honestly handles the NBA basketball as well as anyone we’ve ever seen.
MAGIC JOHNSON OF THE LOS ANGELES LAKERS
12-time All-Star, 5-time NBA championship winner Magic Johnson needs no introduction from us.
He is arguably the best point guard in all NBA and was virtually impossible to steal the ball from.
He dictated play in both directions and struck fear into the hearts of the opposition who knew that they would very seldom be able to de-possess him.
His dribbling was exemplary, as was his passing.
A worthy addition to any list of NBA legends.
ALLEN IVERSON OF THE PHILADELPHIA 76ERS
11-time All-Star Allen Iverson has a list of accolades as long as your arm.
He makes this list because of his legendary dribbling skills and, of course, because he was one of the only players to ever make Michael Jordan look a chump on a basketball court.
Well, not really, but that’s as close as it gets with Jordan.
Allen Iverson pulled a crossover that left Michael Jordan for dust and it remains one of the only times you ever got to see Jordan’s fallibility on the court.
The greatest defenders of the time all fell foul of Iverson’s handling skills at point guard and he deserves the last true spot on our list.
HONORARY MENTIONS GO TO…
We didn’t have room for a full write-up on all the best ball handlers we could think of, but it seemed only fair to tip our collective hats to these characters:
Steve Nash – an innovative, unpredictable point guard who confused and threw off defenders throughout his whole career.
Jamal Crawford has perhaps the smoothest dribble in all NBA.
After 19 years as a point guard, leaving defenders sitting on the floor he has earned his dues here.
Kemba Walker is another point guard who has one of the best handles in the league.
He clearly still works tirelessly to try and perfect his craft, and we have maximum respect for that.
Whether it be in an All-Star Game or the Eastern Conference finals, it is clear that no NBA game can ever be a success without its fair share of NBA players who can handle well and control the game through possession and distribution.
In fact, it’s fair to say that dreams of making the NBA finals are just that without the presence of such players.