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Ranking the top 10 ball handlers in NBA history

Kyrie Irving and Stephen Curry in the 2016 NBA Finals.
Kyrie Irving and Stephen Curry in the 2016 NBA Finals.

Ball-handling is one of the most essential skills in basketball, especially for guards and forwards in the NBA. Throughout league history, ball-handling has evolved as players find new, creative ways to get to their spots on an NBA court.

10 Greatest ball handlers in NBA history

NBA basketball has come a long way since Bob Cousy's videos of extraordinary dribbling techniques in the 1950s and 60s. We now have some of the most renowned ball-handlers ever seen in the world's greatest basketball league.

In this article, we rank the 10 greatest ball-handlers in NBA history. The list will include names that will surprise some fans. Few players on the list were known for other unique skills, but their dribbling ability was underrated.

Without further ado, let us take a look.


#10 Bob Cousy

Cousy was a superstar at the PG position.
Cousy was a superstar at the PG position.

Bob Cousy was a legendary point guard for the 1950s and 1960s Boston Celtics, who led the league in assists eight times. Cousy was an extraordinary dribbler for his era and was arguably the original flashy dribbler and passer in NBA history.

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Known as the 'Houdini of the Hardwood', Cousy remains a true icon of the Boston Celtics and a living basketball legend. He was a 13-time All-Star, six-time NBA champion, NBA MVP and was selected 12 times to the All-NBA teams.


#9 Jason Williams

Williams in 2010.
Williams in 2010.

Arguably the flashiest dribbler and passer in NBA history. Jason Williams earns a place on this list for his creative approach on offense and hours of highlight reels filled with just his ball-handling ability.

Williams played in the NBA from 1999 to 2011. He played for the Sacramento Kings, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat and Orlando Magic. Williams won the NBA championship in 2006 with the Miami Heat as their starting point guard.


#8 Pete Maravich

'Pistol Pete'.
'Pistol Pete'.

Pete Maravich played in the NBA from 1970 to 1980 and is well-remembered as one of the most creative players in league history. He also earned a spot in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

He is widely regarded as one of the best players of his era and was a creative offensive weapon who could dribble in any way he wanted. He was also a great passer and a solid scorer.

Maravich made it to five All-Star games and earned four All-NBA selections, alongside one scoring title.


#7 Tim Hardaway

Hardaway in 1996.
Hardaway in 1996.

Tim Hardaway is the owner of one of the greatest crossovers in NBA history. His performances from 1989 to 2003 were full of flashy ball-handling moments. Hardaway was one of the biggest pieces for the Golden State Warriors from 1989 to 1996.

At Golden State, he was a member of the Run TMC trio with Mitch Richmond and Chris Mullins.

Hardaway made it to the All-Star Game five times and earned five All-NBA selections too.


#6 Chris Paul

Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns.
Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns.

Chris Paul is often referred to as the 'point god' for his ability to control the offense and shred opposing defenses mainly with his basketball IQ. He also consistently finds his teammates in the right spots to hurt the rival.

CP3 is a highly-skilled, six-foot point guard who is a tremendous passer and can find his shot consistently too. A great dribbler, Paul is one of those point guards who has the defenders on their heels each time and a player who can keep his dribble alive at every moment.

Paul is an 11-time All-Star and has been selected nine times to the All-NBA and All-Defensive teams.


#5 Magic Johnson

Magic Johnson.
Magic Johnson.

This could come as a shock to some. Magic Johnson is the greatest point guard in NBA history. He controlled the offense and made his teammates better on every possession.

Though his ability to push the tempo and pass the ball are probably the most memorable, Magic was an extraordinary dribbler that defenders were scared of facing. It was virtually impossible to take the ball away from his hands.

Magic also kept the defenses on their toes because they could not double him due to his court vision. Johnson won three MVPs, three Finals MVPs, five NBA championships and earned 10 All-NBA selections with the LA Lakers.


#4 Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors.
Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors.

Stephen Curry is one of the greatest point guards in the league's history. Even though he is mostly known for his shooting prowess, Curry is also a tremendous dribbler, which makes him an unbelievable offensive threat at every area of the basketball court.

Curry also has a great ability to push the offense's tempo and the Golden State Warriors have often shined when he is able to apply that pressure on their rivals.

Curry has won three NBA championships in his NBA career, two regular-season MVPs and one scoring championship in his career, among many other accolades.


#3 Allen Iverson

Allen Iverson in 1996.
Allen Iverson in 1996.

Allen Iverson's dribbling was legendary. And at just six feet, he needed all of his ability to score and impact the game regularly.

Iverson was able to create huge problems for opposing defenses with his scoring, and it all started with his ability to get out of every situation with his legendary dribble.

Even great defenders such as Michael Jordan, fell victim to Iverson's crossover and dribbling skills.

Iverson won a regular-season MVP and four scoring championships. He also went to 11 All-Star games, and was a seven-time All-NBA player.


#2 Isiah Thomas

Isiah Thomas in 1990.
Isiah Thomas in 1990.

Isiah Thomas has become an underrated figure for some NBA fans who mostly remember him as Michael Jordan's antagonist in the late 1980s and early 1990s. However, Thomas is a basketball legend who was an unbelievable point guard with his dribbling, passing and scoring abilities.

Thomas had an impressively efficient crossover, and even though it was not as flashy as others on this list, it proved effective on many occasions. Thomas led the Detroit Pistons to two NBA titles in an era in which the team had to go through Jordan's Chicago Bulls, Larry Bird's Boston Celtics, and the 'Showtime' LA Lakers.

Thomas won one Finals MVP, two titles and two All-Star MVPs. He also went to 12 All-Star games, and earned five All-NBA selections.


#1 Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets.
Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets.

Kyrie Irving is the most exciting player to watch in the NBA today. He is also the greatest ball-handler the league has ever seen. Irving has every tool in his ball-handling kit and can score at any opportunity. Kyrie Irving in isolation is one of the most dangerous plays in basketball since he can dribble past anybody in the league.

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Irving has it all in the ball-handling department. He can be flashy and out of the box with his dribble. He can also be incredibly efficient with subtle moves.

He has won one NBA championship and has made it to seven All-Star games. He has also won an All-Star MVP and earned a couple of All-NBA selections in his career so far.


Also read: Top 3 players being currently linked with Boston Celtics | NBA Trade Deadline 2021

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Edited by Utathya Ghosh
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