Ranking the Top 10 Best Ball Handlers in NBA History

Throughout history, the NBA has seen some of the finest ball handlers in the game who have mesmerized the world with their excellent dribbling abilities. Playmakers on the court, point guards in particular, are quite vital for a team’s offense and therefore it calls for outstanding ball-handling abilities.

From dazzling dribbling displays to pinpoint passes and clutch performances, today we take a look at the top 10 best ball handlers in NBA history.

#10. Rajon Rondo

Even without flashy crossovers like some other players in the NBA, Rajon Rondo was a sensational ball-handler in the league. His outstanding ball-handling prowess and inventiveness made up for his somewhat laid-back shooting.

Rondo used a variety of techniques, including a trick ball fake that is reminiscent of Hakeem Olajuwon’s trademark play, and frequently fooled big men in the opposition. His all-round abilities saw him record one of the most triple doubles in NBA playoffs.

A turning point in Rondo’s career occurred during the 2011 postseason when, despite having a dislocated elbow, he bravely confronted the Miami Heat while playing with just one functional arm while displaying elite level of ball-handling performance. His accomplishments include two NBA championships and being a part of the All-star team four times.

#9. Jamal Crawford

Defenders were often embarrassed by the three-time NBA Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford’s mesmerizing dribbling abilities. Despite having a frail 6’5 physique, Crawford was able to expertly maneuver between defensive gaps while launching his trademark pull-up midrange jumpers or dribbling to the basket.

His hang dribble gave him a variety of choices, and his long arms allowed for fluid switching between tight and prolonged dribbles. Crawford’s north-south strategy substantially increased his effect as a dynamic scoring threat by making his movements more useful than merely spectacular.

He displayed his expertise with signature crossovers, in-and-outs, and behind-the-back dribbles. Even as a substitute, Crawford’s scoring prowess backed by his ball-handling abilities allowed him to stand out as a prolific scorer during his time in the NBA.

#8. Magic Johnson

Magic Johnson is regarded as one of the finest point guards in NBA history. Magic had an exceptional ability to handle the ball during his 13-year career for the Los Angeles Lakers. His height of 6’9 and power provided him a distinct edge on the court.

He provided his teammates with scoring opportunities with his superb passing abilities and court vision. Magic’s ability to score and grab rebounds further cemented his position as one of the finest players to have graced the court.

The influence Magic Johnson had on the game and his extraordinary dribbling abilities are still inspirational. During his illustrious career in the NBA, his won five NBA championships, three MVP and Finals MVP awards amongst many others.

#7. Jason Williams

Jason Williams, also known as “White Chocolate”, was a basketball magician who dazzled spectators with his superb passing and deft ball-handling abilities. He was a tiny lead guard, but his exceptional talent allowed him to have a lengthy and fruitful career.

On the court, Williams showed excellent control and speed, gliding past opponents with a combination of foundational strokes and showy blow-by plays.

He drove the Miami Heat to win the NBA title in 2006 against all odds. Williams led the team in assists per contest during the Finals, helping them defeat the Dallas Mavericks in six games.

#6. Chirs Paul

Chris Paul known as the “Point God” is a dependable floor general for his abilities. He stood out from many other players because of his capacity to guard the ball and make plays for his teammates. CP3 is a master of stressful situations and made significant midrange plays thanks to his excellent ball security.

He exhibits selflessness, actively includes his teammates, and offers stability during crucial moments as a real lead guard. His handles can be seen in his pick-and-roll execution and occasional use of fancy plays like the “Shammgod”.

Paul has been nominated a total of 12 times in the NBA All-Star team, testament of his on-court dominance. His exceptional assist ratios are a reflection of his all-around performance as a top-tier lead guard, while his popularity among fans has made him one of the most followed NBA stars across social media platforms.

#5. Isiah Thomas

Isiah “Zeke” Thomas, a renowned NBA point guard, enthralled spectators with his skills during his career with the Detroit Pistons. He was able to evade defenders and move through confined places with ease, because of his speed, agility, and accurate control.

Renowned for his skill with the ball as well as his fierce defense and scoring abilities, Isiah Thomas stood out as one of the best talents in the NBA during his time. As a Pistons player, he has won two NBA championships, the 1999 Finals MVP as well as twice being named the NBA All-Star MVP.

#4. Steve Nash

A two-time MVP and member of the NBA Hall of Fame, Steve Nash had huge offensive talents. He had an outstanding basketball IQ while his exceptional ball handling skills laid the groundwork for his all-round abilities.

With his practical and dependable handling, Nash was able to succeed at passing and appearing on highlight reels. Nash seldom gave in to mistakes or ball pressure because of his powerful handle and had exceptional selection and intelligence as a facilitator.

He was able to control the game’s tempo to his advantage because of his steady dribbling throughout his illustrious NBA career.

#3. Stephen Curry

Steph Curry is widely regarded as the best 3-point shooter of all time. When assessing defenders, he displays exceptional footwork, balance, and ambidexterity. Curry’s rapid movement from the floor to the shooting pocket to the release point enables him to efficiently fire his lethal jump shot.

Steph Curry can read and react to opponents with ease thanks to his excellent dribbling, which allows him to get past the defense with agility. Even the toughest defenders are frequently embarrassed and stopped in their tracks by his expert fake jumpers and crafty behind-the-back movements.

Curry has numerous accolades to his name which include four NBA championships, two MVP awards, and an NBA finals MVP.

#2. Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving is often hailed by many as the best ball handler in today’s NBA. He can maneuver through confined areas and generate scoring opportunities because of his remarkable control and skill with the ball.

Defenses are left in awe of Irving’s lightning-fast direction shifts and flawless footwork. The task for opponents trying to stop him is increased by his capacity to make difficult shots.

Beyond flashy dribbling techniques, Irving has mesmerizing ballhandling abilities. His playmaking skills are improved by his exceptional timing and spacing awareness. His great career has cemented his position as the best ball handler over the last few years.

The eight-time NBA All-Stars had been a big factor in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ championship win in 2016, due to his passing and scoring ability. His other achievements include Rookie of the Year and an All-Star MVP.

#1. Allen Iverson

With his aggressive style of play, the dynamic and tenacious NBA guard Allen Iverson confounded expectations. His incredible handles and explosive crossover revealed a whole new level of scoring asset during his time in the league.

To gain an advantage and demonstrate his shot-making skills from various parts of the court, AI used hesi moves, crossovers, step-backs, and snatch-backs.

Iverson bravely attacked the hoop despite having a frail 165-pound physique, using his elusive handling to get past opponents. Although Kyrie Irving might be better according to some, in terms of dribbling abilities, his crossovers are something that NBA has never seen before.

Although Allen Iverson has not won a championship, the Hall of Famer has an NBA Rookie of the Year as well as an MVP award.

These 10 legendary ball-handlers have made their place in the annals of history by their exceptional dribbling abilities. The league has also seen some of the best talents in terms of ball-handling skills who deserve to sit on the same table. Here are the honorable mentions:

  • Bob Cousy (Boston Celtics 1950-63, Cincinnati Royals 1969-70)
  • James Harden (Active – LA Clippers)
  • Pete Maravich (Atlanta Hawks 1970-74, Utah Jazz 1974-80, Boston Celtics 1980)
  • Tim Hardaway (Golden State Warriors 1989-96, Miami Heat 1996-2001, Dallas Mavericks 2001-02, Denver Nuggets 2003)
  • Walt Frazier (New York Knicks 1967-77, Cleveland Cavaliers 1977-79)

Do you have any honorable mentions for the greatest ball-handlers in the NBA? Let us know down in the comments.

Sami Haider

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Sami Haider is an NBA writer at SportsKnot. His foray into basketball scriptwriting started in 2020, when he was enthralled by the Los Angeles Lakers' NBA championship victory. His previous experience was limited to dribbling and dunking as a neighborhood kid. His insightful writings show how much he loves the sport. His writing goes beyond numbers and scores, giving readers a unique viewpoint on the players, teams, and events that define the basketball scene. Whether you're a die-hard fan or a casual observer, Sami's work is essential for anybody trying to expand their knowledge and love of the NBA.


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