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Top 10 Ball Handlers in the NBA: Who Has the Best Handles?

Publish Date: 01/17/2024
Fact checked by: Simon Briffa

Who were the greatest ball handlers of all time? Today we will take a look at that question and give our best answer. Nothing in an NBA game is as exhilarating as watching a guard with handles control the game. It is mesmerizing to watch the men on this list control the game. A great guard is like an artist; today we will look at the greatest artists in NBA history.

Criteria

The criteria for ball handlers are easy. Can you control the tempo of the game with your dribble? Do you make the players around you better with how you can control the game? Stats are, as always, a huge deal, but the eye test may be the most important criterion on this list.

 

10) Jason Williams

Jason Williams may well be one of the greatest ball handlers and passers in NBA history, earning himself a place on this list due to his innovative offensive approaches and highlight-reel-worthy ball-handling skills. William was known as “White Chocolate.” He was reminiscent of the great Pete Maravich.

Williams competed in the NBA from 1999 to 2011, playing for the Sacramento Kings, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat and Orlando Magic. Williams won an NBA championship while serving as the starting point guard of the Miami Heat in 2006.

  • NBA Champion
  • NBA All-Rookie Team
Video: Jason Williams Top 10 Career Plays

Jason Williams Top 10 Career Plays

9) Walt Frazier

Frazier is noted on this list for being a great ball-handler as well as what he did with those handles after using them to get past defenders. Frazier possessed a beautiful combination of speed, control, agility, and situational awareness that made him one of the best point guards of the 1970s with the New York Knicks and Cleveland Cavaliers. Frazier was also a great defender and was on one of the greatest defensive teams in NBA history.

Frazier’s abilities never won him a scoring title or an assists title either, but he does have two NBA championships with New York that he played a major part in accomplishing. His superior handles and smart decision-making are what made the Knicks such a formidable opponent during the decade, and it carried throughout his career. Frazier was also a seven-time NBA All-Star and a four-time member of the All-NBA First Team.

  • 2 Time NBA Champion
  • 7 Time NBA All-Star
  • NBA All-Star Game MVP 1975
  • 7 Time All-Defensive Team
  • NBA All-Rookie Team
Video: Walt Frazier Career Highlights - CLYDE!

Walt Frazier Career Highlights – CLYDE!

8) Chris Paul

Chris Paul is known as the ‘Point God’ due to his ability to control offense and break down opposing defenses with ease using his basketball IQ alone. Additionally, Chris often finds his teammates in crucial spots and makes his teammates better by the way he controls the game.

CP3 is a highly skilled six-foot point guard who excels as both an incredible passer and shotmaker. A great dribbler, Paul has his defenders scrambling every time they encounter him while still managing to keep his dribble going from moment to moment. Paul is an 11-time All-Star and has been honored nine times to both the All-NBA and All-Defensive Teams. Paul would rank higher but has had issues winning big games.

  • 12 Time NBA All-Star
  • NBA All-Star Game MVP 2013
  • 7 Time All-NBA Defensive Team
  • NBA Rookie of the Year 2006
  • 5 Time NBA Assist Leader
  • 6 Time NBA Steals Leader
  • NBA 75th Anniversary Team
Video: Top 10 Chris Paul HANDLES & FINISHES This Season! ☀

Top 10 Chris Paul HANDLES & FINISHES This Season! ☀

7) Tim Hardaway

Tim Hardaway had one of the greatest crossovers in NBA history. From 1989 to 2003, his performances showcased impressive ball-handling moments – making him one of the key pieces for the Golden State Warriors during that period. He formed the Run TMC trio with Mitch Richmond and Chris Mullins at Golden State. They were a high-scoring offense that made up for their lack of defense by pointing a ton of points on the scoreboard.

Hardaway made five All-Star Games and earned five All-NBA selections during his time. Many have forgotten just how great Hardaway was in his prime. His teams were always exciting to watch, win or lose.

  • 5 Time NBA All-Star
  • NBA All-Rookie Team 1990
Video: Tim Hardaway Top Career Crossovers! | #22HoopClass

Tim Hardaway Top Career Crossovers! | #22HoopClass

6) Steph Curry

Stephen Curry stands as one of the greatest point guards in NBA history. Although widely recognized for his shooting prowess, Curry also excels as an adept dribbler, providing an immense offensive threat across every part of the court. Curry was also on one of the greatest NBA teams not to win a championship!

Curry has a fantastic ability to spread the court out and control the action with his ball-handling skills. He has in inate ability to control the opposing teams defense with his gall handling skills. Curry has won four NBA championships during his NBA career, two regular-season MVP awards, one scoring championship title and numerous other honors.

  • 4 Time NBA Champion
  • NBA Finals MVP 2022
  • 2 Time NBA MVP
  • 9 Time NBA All-Star
  • NBA All-Star Game MVP 2022
  • NBA All-Rookie Team
  • 2 Time NBA Scoring Champion
  • NBA Steals Leader 2016
Video: 35 Minutes of Stephen Curry's CAREER BEST HANDLES👀

35 Minutes of Stephen Curry’s CAREER BEST HANDLES👀

5) Magic Johnson

Magic Johnson was unquestionably the greatest point guard in NBA history. He controlled the game while improving each of his teammates and making them better with every possession.

Magic was best known for his remarkable tempo setting and passing abilities, but also an exceptional dribbler who terrified defenders with every pass he made dribbling around them – defenders couldn’t remove the ball from his grasp!

Magic Johnson kept opponents guessing with his court vision and kept opponents from double-teaming him, winning three MVPs, three Finals MVPs, five NBA championships and 10 All-NBA selections with the Los Angeles Lakers.

  • 5 Time NBA Champion
  • 3 Time NBA Finals MVP
  • 3 Time NBA MVP
  • 12 Time NBA All-Star
  • 4 Time NBA Assists Leader
  • 2 Time NBA Steals Leader
  • NBA 75th Anniversary Team
Video: Magic Johnson ULTIMATE Career Mixtape! 🌟

Magic Johnson ULTIMATE Career Mixtape! 🌟

4) Isiah Thomas

Isiah Thomas may have become underrated among some NBA fans who only remember him as Michael Jordan’s adversary in the late 1980s and early ’90s. Yet Thomas remains an incredible point guard who demonstrated dribbling, passing and scoring abilities with ease.

Thomas had an outstandingly efficient crossover that was often effective. Thomas led the Detroit Pistons to two NBA championships during an era that pitted them against Jordan’s Chicago Bulls, Larry Bird’s Boston Celtics, and the ‘Showtime’ LA Lakers – three formidable opponents! Thomas was best in the clutch, and his most significant game was game six of the 1988 NBA Finals, where he was terrific even after spraining his ankle.

  • 2 Time NBA Champion
  • NBA Finals MVP
  • 12 Time NBA All-Star
  • 2 Time NBA All-Star MVP
  • NBA All-Rookie Team
  • NBA Assists Leader 1985
  • NBA 75th Anniversary Team
Video: Isiah Thomas Top 11 Crossovers

Isiah Thomas Top 11 Crossovers

3) Allen Iverson

At only six feet tall, he needed every bit of his ability to consistently score and influence the game. Iverson had the power to cause havoc for opposing defences with his scoring, starting from his iconic dribble, which allowed him to get himself out of any situation quickly and effortlessly.

Even great defenders like Michael Jordan were powerless against Iverson’s crossover and dribbling skills.

Iverson earned four scoring championships and 11 All-Star appearances during his time in the NBA; additionally, he was honored as an All-NBA performer seven times over.

Iverson led the 2001 76ers to the NBA Finals and led the 76ers to an upset win in game one as Iverson played one of the greatest games in Finals history.

  • NBA MVP 2001
  • 11 Time NBA All-Star
  • 2 Time All-Star game MVP
  • NBA Rookie of the Year 1997
  • 4 Time NBA Scoring Champion
  • 3 Time NBA Steals Leader
  • NBA 75th Anniversary Team
Video: Allen Iverson's Sick Handle

Allen Iverson’s Sick Handle

2) Kyrie Irving

Every night on the court, Irving utilizes all his body control, spins, agility, quickness, fakes and fakeouts for an impressive score or assist from one of his teammates. Within just seconds, he adjusts to any defence in front of him before weaving his way through for an acrobatic score or assist that finds one of his teammates. Every move and every dribble has a purpose – no move goes to waste on meaningless possessions for Irving; in creating the ideal NBA player.

Kyrie Irving has it all and then some. Irving stands out as not only one of the most visually stunning ball-handlers ever, moving through reps with artistic fluidity. Additionally, his ability to contort his body to complete increasingly difficult shots at the rim makes him perhaps one of the most exciting point guards ever.

  • NBA Champion
  • 8 Time NBA All-Star
  • NBA All-Star Game MVP 2014
  • NBA Rookie of the Year 2012
  • NBA Three-Point Champion
Video: 20 Times Kyrie Irving Proved He Has The Best Handles In The World 🌍

20 Times Kyrie Irving Proved He Has The Best Handles In The World 🌍

1) Pete Maravich

Pete Maravich played for the NBA from 1970 to 1980 and is widely remembered as one of its most innovative players, earning himself induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He was widely recognized as one of the great players of his era. He was an effective offensive weapon who could dribble any way he wanted and was an outstanding passer and scorer.

Maravich earned five All-Star Game selections and four All-NBA honours and claimed one scoring title. He averaged over 40 points per game in college with no three-point line and continued his offensive dominance throughout his NBA career. Maravich was a legendary scorer, but his ability to be a basketball magician keeps him fresh in fan’s minds today. Maravich is considered one of the Greatest White American basketball players.

  • 5 Time NBA All-Star Game
  • NBA All-Rookie Team
  • NBA Scoring Champion 1977
  • NBA 50th and 75 Anniversary Teams
Video: Pete Maravich Dribbling Drills Video Preview

Pete Maravich Dribbling Drills Video Preview

 

Honorable Mentions

Bob Cousy

Bob Cousy was an icon among Boston Celtics players during the 1950s and 60s, leading the league in assists eight times during his time. Cousy is often considered the most incredible dribbler of his era – perhaps one of the original flashy passers. Cousy was the original flashy point guard. He may not compare with what we have seen over the last thirty years, but he is on this list because he was the pioneer of great ball handlers.

Nick Van Exel

Van Exel was one of the video-game ball-handlers. His ability to manipulate his dribble created space for him to take outside shots at a time when many players didn’t use that part of their games. With his adept use of his handle, he could effortlessly break into and knife through lanes with ease, a skill that earned him an All-Star selection in 1998 but no NBA championship victory.

James Harden

While maneuvering the ball between his legs like a machine gun, Harden will bait defenders. In one quick move, Harden would throw a counter move that showed he was on the attack. If the defender committed to the lane, Harden would hit him with a stepback three that he hit at a high rate. If the defender was overexcited, it was one Euro step and to the rim for Harden from there. It was beautiful to watch in all its glory, and there weren’t many, if any, who could slow the attack down.

Steve Nash

Nash was unmatched when it came to running offenses quickly and precisely, which made his offenses extremely hard to defend or keep up with. His effortless moves would slice through defenses with seemingly little effort while finding teammates for easy buckets. No one kept their dribble alive as effectively in tight situations as Nash did during his prime, manoeuvring past defenders without breaking stride – his handles may not dazzle with flash, but they certainly leave an impression!

Jamal Crawford

Jamal Crawford made the exaggerated crossover work like never before. He would use it to freeze off defenders with hesitation before giving his man two hard dribbles before either pulling up or passing by him to the basket. It is one of those moves that remains vivid when I reflect on it and its results; Crawford was an expert at creating space with flash and style.

 

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