Which players have the most assists in NBA history? Just like soccer, an assist is credited to a player whose pass sets up a teammate to make a basket. Assists are one of the most appreciated statistics in the NBA after the points. We have written on the all-time leaders for rebounds and we shall soon be writing on blocks and steals too. Today, however, is for the assists.
While a lot of attention is on the players that score the points, it is important to know that one tree does not make a forest. Such players have teammates who make the crucial passes that lead to the points. This article is for the best players in this aspect of the game of basketball. Here is our countdown of the top 10 players with the most assists in NBA history.
10. Gary Payton
Payton is from Oakland, California. He played college basketball with Oregon State from 1986 to 1990 before he was drafted into the NBA by Seattle Supersonics. Payton would go on to play as a point guard for the next 17 years. After leaving the SuperSonics, he went on to star for Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, and Miami Heat. He won the NBA championship with Miami Heat in 2006 with two Olympic gold medals to boot. He retired with 8,966 assists averaging 6.7 per game.
9. Isiah Thomas
The next man on our list was also a point guard. Thomas was drafted into the NBA by Detroit Pistons in 1981 as the second overall pick in the first round. Indiana was where he played at the college level. His career lasted for 13 long years with the Pistons winning the champions twice (1989 and 1990). He retired in 1994 and ventured into coaching in the year 2000 before calling it quits in 2012. He coached the Indiana Pacers, New York Knicks, and FIU. Thomas has 9,061 assists.
8. LeBron James
LeBron James is the first active player on our list as he still plays for the Los Angeles Lakers. James is not only one of the players with the most assists in NBA history. He is also one of the greatest to ever play the game. He was drafted into the NBA in 2003 by the Cleveland Cavaliers whom he left after seven years to play for Miami Heat. Two of his three NBA championships came in his spell with Miami Heats which lasted from 2010 to 2014. James has made 16 consecutive appearances in the NBA all-star team from 2005 to 2020 and has 9,298 assists so far.
7. Chris Paul
Chris Paul is also another active player on our list of players with most assists in NBA history. Paul was drafted into the NBA by New Orleans Hornets in 2005 after completing his college basketball with Wake Forest. He left the Hornets in 2011 before playing for Los Angeles Clippers (2011-2017) and Houston Rockets (2017-2019). Paul currently plays as Oklahoma City Thunder’s point guard. He has had a stellar career so far with 9,607 assists but yet to win the championship.
6. Oscar Robertson
Robertson played as a point guard in his 14-year career which began in the year 1960. He was drafted into the NBA by the Cincinnati Royals in the territorial picking format. He spent 10 years with the Royals before playing for Milwaukee Bucks from 1970-1974. His only NBA championship came in 1971 with the bucks. The 12-time NBA all-star made 9,887 assists before he retired. Robertson also has an Olympic gold medal which he won at the 1960 games in Rome.
5. Magic Johnson
The top half of our list of basketball players with most assists in NBA history begins with the popular Magic Johnson. The Michigan native had a very successful career that saw him win the championship five times playing for the Los Angeles Lakers. He was so key for them that they retired the No.32 shirts in his honor. Johnson retired in 1991 but came out of retirement in 1996 before going back again. He holds a record of 10,141 assists.
4. Mark Jackson
Jackson probably has the least stellar career of all players on our list of most assists in NBA history. He was drafted into the NBA in 1987 as the 18th overall pick in round 1. He went on to play for seven teams in his 17-year career making the NBA all-star team once in 1989 while playing for the New York Knicks. He retired with Houston Rockets in 2004 with a record of 10,334 assists to his name. He coached the Golden State Warriors from 2011 to 2014 before he was removed from the office.
3. Steve Nash
Nash was born in South Africa but he is a citizen of Canada by birth. He was drafted into the NBA in 1996 by the Phoenix Suns as the 15th overall pick in round 1. His 19-year career saw him play for the Suns, Dallas Mavericks, and Los Angeles Lakers. He was part of the NBA all-star team 8 times and won the assist leader award from 2005 to 2007. The point guard narrowly edged Mark Jackson with 10,335 assists.
2. Jason Kidd
After playing college football at California, Kidd was drafted into the NBA by Dallas Mavericks in 1994 as the second overall pick. His career spanned 19 years as he played for Phoenix Suns, New Jersey Nets, and New York Knicks. The 10-time NBA all-star won the championship once before retiring in 2013 with 12,091 assists. He ventured into coaching after and currently serves as Los Angeles Lakers’ assistant coach.
1. John Stockton
Stockton is our number one man. He leads the pack of players on our list of most assists in NBA history. He played for Utah Jazz from 1984 to 2003 with no championship to his name. Stockton was part of the NBA all-star team 10 times and assisted 15,806 baskets before retiring. He is currently the assistant coach of Montana State.