Basketball was invented in 1891 and during those times, dribbling wasn’t such a big thing and flashy moves were nowhere to be found. Years later, the idea of dribbling was introduced which changed the game completely.
In this article, we created a list of every NBA team’s best ball handler. Since there’s really no metric or standard to measure how good a player handles the ball, the only way to see how good someone dribbles is by watching and observing.
Best Ball Handler in every NBA team
So, what are you waiting for? Let’s bounce right over to the list!
Philadelphia 76ers & Denver Nuggets – Allen Iverson
Career Averages: 914 GP, 41.1 MPG, 26.7 PTS (42.5 FG%, 31.3 3PT%), 3.7 REB, 6.2 AST, 2.2 STL, 0.2 BLK
Notable achievements: 1x NBA Most Valuable Player, 11× NBA All-Star, 2x NBA All-Star MVP, 7× All-NBA First Team, 3x NBA Scoring Champion, 3x NBA Steals Leader, 75th Anniversary Team
Arguably one of the best ball handlers the NBA has ever seen, “The Answer” is only one of the few people who crossed the GOAT of basketball. He also stepped over Ty Lue after dropping him in a crossover step-back jumper.
AI’s quickness and shiftiness help him switch directions effectively which leaves the defender behind all the time. He also has a solid perimeter game so he can shoot consistently off the dribble.
Milwaukee Bucks & Sacramento Kings – Oscar Robertson
Career Averages: 1,040 GP, 42.2 MPG, 25.7 PTS (48.5 FG%), 7.5 REB, 9.5 AST, 0.1 STL, 0.0 BLK
Notable achievements: 1x NBA Champion, 1x NBA Most Valuable Player, 12× NBA All-Star, 9× All-NBA First Team, NBA 50th and 75th Anniversary Teams
One of the best dribblers in his era, Oscar was the true definition of point guard back in the day. An assist was harder to get in the 60’s and 70’s as the rule states that the receiving player must shoot the ball right after the pass and any action after the pass voids the assist.
For Oscar to survey the court as the floor general, dribble effectively, and dish an astonishing 9.5 assists per game, he’s more than deserving to be a part of this list.
Chicago Bulls – Michael Jordan
Career Averages: 1,072 GP, 38.3 MPG, 30.1 PTS (49.7 FG%, 32.7 3PT%), 6.2 REB, 5.3 AST, 2.3 STL, 0.8 BLK
Notable achievements: 6× NBA champion, 6× NBA Finals MVP, 5× NBA Most Valuable Player, 1x NBA Defensive Player of the Year, 10x NBA Scoring Champion, 3x NBA Steals Leader, 14× NBA All-Star, 10× All-NBA First Team, 1984 NBA Rookie of the Year, NBA 50th and 75th Anniversary Teams
Some of you might think that it’s a casual pick and Derrick Rose should be the one up here since he’s an actual point guard and we would have picked him if it weren’t for the injuries that slowed down his career as a Bull.
Despite playing under Phil Jackson’s triangle offense, MJ still proved that he has the ball-handling skills to evade multiple defenders and drive coast to coast with no hesitation. And I don’t think we need to remind you about the crossover that Michael pulled off before making “The Shot” that secured him his 6th title.
Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics & Brooklyn Nets – Kyrie Irving
Career Averages: 611 GP, 34.0 MPG, 23.1 PTS (47.0 FG%, 39.3 3PT%), 3.8 REB, 5.7 AST, 1.3 STL, 0.4 BLK
Notable achievements: 1× NBA champion, 7× NBA All-Star, 1x NBA-All Star MVP, 1× All-NBA Second Team, 2x, All-NBA Third Team, 2012 NBA Rookie of the Year, 2012 NBA All-Rookie First Team
This one is one of the obvious picks in this list because we’re all aware that Kyrie’s handles are top tier and he can be considered as this generation’s best ball handler, if not in the history of the league.
Kyrie’s ability to break ankles, finish at the rim, and dribble past multiple defenders is honestly second to none and he’s definitely the best ball handler in the history of all of the teams that he’s played for.
Los Angeles Clippers, New Orleans Pelicans, Phoenix Suns & Oklahoma City Thunder – Chris Paul
Career Averages: 1,155 GP, 34.5 MPG, 18.1 PTS (47.3 FG%, 36.9 3PT%), 4.5 REB, 9.5 AST, 2.1 STL, 0.1 BLK
Notable Achievements: 12× NBA All-Star, 4× All-NBA First Team, 5× All-NBA Second Team, 2× All-NBA Third Team, 7× All-Defensive First Team, 2× All-Defensive Second Team, 1x All-Star MVP, 2006 NBA Rookie of the Year, NBA All-Rookie First Team
Again, one of the obvious choices in this list and it’s the “Point God” himself, Chris is arguably the best point guard in the modern NBA, and no one’s even remotely close.
What secured his place in four, yes you heard that right, four NBA team’s best ball handler of all time is his elite ball-handling skills and craftiness which helped him lead all of those teams in the deep playoffs and some championship runs.
Some might disagree that Chris also got the Phoenix suns in this list and think that Steve Nash should be the one in his place, but if we were to talk about dribbling exclusively, Chris is definitely better at creating space to score through dribbling.
Memphis Grizzlies – Ja Morant
Career Averages: 187 GP, 32.2 MPG, 21.2 PTS (47.4 FG%, 32.7 3PT%), 4.5 REB, 7.1, 1 STL, 0.3 BLK
Notable achievements: 1x All-Star, 2022 NBA Most Improved Player
You might be thinking that this spot should go to AI since he also played for the Grizzlies but let’s be honest, AI barely played for the squad and we should give the honors to a player that played long enough for the team and that is Ja.
Ja is a freak of nature and he wouldn’t be able to attack the rim endlessly if it weren’t for his amazing ball-handling skills that leave his defenders behind.
Atlanta Hawks – Trae Young
Career Averages: 280 GP, 33.6 MPG, 25.3 PTS (44.0 FG%, 35.5 3PT%), 3.9 REB, 9.1 AST, 0.9 STL, 0.1 BLK
Notable achievements: 2× NBA All-Star, 1× All-NBA Third Team, 2019 All-NBA Rookie First Team, 2018 Wayman Tisdale Award, 2018 Big 12 Freshman of the Year, 2018 NCAA Season Scoring Leader
Apart from Ice Trae’s insane three-point shooting, he’s also very good at handling the ball. He uses his quickness to escape double teams and dribble under his defender’s legs like it’s a walk in the park. Trae is also exceptional in shooting right off the dribble from deep and also inside the paint with his floaters.
Miami Heat & Los Angeles Lakers – LeBron James
Career Averages: 1,366 GP, 38.2 MPG, 27.1 PTS (50.5 FG%, 34.6 3PT%), 7.5 REB, 7.4 AST, 1.6 STL, 0.8 BLK
Notable achievements: 4× NBA champion, 4× NBA Finals MVP, 4× NBA Most Valuable Player, 18× NBA All-Star, 13× All-NBA First Team, 3x All-Star Game MVP, 2004 NBA Rookie of the Year, 5x All-NBA Defensive First Team, 1x NBA Scoring Champion, 1x NBA Assist Leader, 75th Anniversary Team
This might stir debates but our pick for Miami and Los Angeles’ best ball handler of all time is LeBron James and before you shake your head and scroll past this portion of the list, hear us out!
LeBron is considered as an amazing offensive weapon and passer and it wouldn’t be possible with his underrated dribbling. The fact that he dribbles like a guard with a frame of a big forward proves that he’s fast with the ball and strong with the finish. He could also be both fast and slow with the ball which is a difficult aspect of dribbling to pull off.
Charlotte Hornets – Muggsy Bogues
Career Averages: 889 GP, 28.6 MPG, 7.7 PTS (45.8 FG%, 27.8 3PT%), 2.6 REB, 7.6 AST, 1.5 STL
Notable achievements: 1987 USBL Rookie of the Year, 1987 Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award, 1987 First Team All-ACC
The smallest NBA player in history deserves a nod in this post because he used his creative dribbling skills to compensate for his lack of height in a league full of towering players. To say that Muggsy is quick is an understatement and he never slowed down with the ball. Muggsy took advantage of his low profile and handled the ball really well for a point guard.
Utah Jazz – Pete Maravich
Career Averages: 658 GP, 37.0 MPG, 24.2 PTS (44.1 FG%, 66.7 3PT%), 4.2 REB, 5.4 AST, 0.9 STL, 0.2 BLK
Notable achievements: NCAA Record Most Career Points (3,667), NCAA Record Highest Career Scoring Average (44.2 PPG), NCAA Record Most Field Goals Made (1,387) and Attempted (3,166), NCAA Record Most 50-point games (28)
This list wouldn’t be complete without the legendary Pistol Pete and he’s definitely a part of the dribbling Mount Rushmore. John Stockton comes at a close second but if we were to look at dribbling exclusively, this list is all Pete’s as Utah’s greatest dribbler.
In his era, Pete dribbled like no other and he incorporated his amazing dribbling moves with his passing which made him a very effective point guard inside the court.
New York Knicks – Jamal Crawford
Career Averages: 1,327 GP, 29.4 MPG, 14.6 PTS (41.0 FG%, 34.8 3PT%), 2.2 REB, 3.4 AST, 0.9 STL, 0.2 BLK
Notable achievement: 3x NBA Sixth Man of the Year
Prime Jamal was a force offensively and he can score whenever and however he liked and it’s all thanks to his insane ball-handling. Jamal was able to shift and move along with the ball easily which made him an automatic bucket.
Jamal also claimed to have never practiced any dribbling drill which makes his inclusion in this list more solid.
Orlando Magic – Penny Hardaway
Career Averages: 704 GP, 33.7 MPG, 15.2 PTS (45.8 FG%, 31.6 3PT%), 4.5 REB, 5.0 AST, 1.6 STL, 0.4 BLK
Notable achievements: 4× NBA All-Star, 2× All-NBA First Team, 1x All-NBA Third Team, 1994 All-NBA First Rookie Team
Penny is the obvious choice for the Magic and if he wasn’t plagued with injuries, he would’ve probably won a ring or two with Shaq. Standing at 6’7”, Penny is a point forward with the skills and speed of a small guard.
Penny’s ball-handling could easily manipulate the defense and his length also made it difficult to stop him inside and on the perimeter.
Dallas Mavericks – Steve Nash
Career Averages: 1,217 GP, 31.3 MPG, 14.3 PTS (49.0 FG%, 42.8 3PT%), 3.0 REB, 8.5 AST, 0.7 STL, 0.1 BLK
Notable achievements: 2× NBA Most Valuable Player, 8× NBA All-Star, 3× All-NBA First Team, 2x All-NBA Second Team, 2x All-NBA Third Team, 5x NBA Assists Leader, Phoenix Suns Ring of Honor
This was a tough choice between Steve and Jason Kidd but Nash’s speed and creativity with the ball secured his spot on this list. Steve can change directions at any given time and his court mobility is second to none.
Some might argue that this should be Jason’s or even Luka Doncic but Steve’s speed and effectiveness while dribbling won him his spot on this list.
Indiana Pacers – Paul George
Career Averages: 737 GP, 33.6 MPG, 20.4 PTS (43.5 FG%, 38.2 3PT%), 6.4 REB, 3.6 AST,
1.7 STL, 0.4 BLK
Notable achievements: 7× NBA All-Star, 1× All-NBA First Team, 5x All-NBA Third Team, 2x NBA All-Defensive First Team, 2x NBA All-Defensive Second Team, 1x NBA Steals Leader, 2011 NBA All-Rookie Second Team, 2013 NBA Most Improved Player
This would’ve been Tim Hardaway if he played for more than 10 games with the Pacers but our choice here is Paul and it’s pretty obvious why. For a forward his height and build, Paul can cross his defenders effortlessly and his quick first step could leave anybody behind.
Paul’s career slowed down and stagnated after his scary injury prior to the Olympics but he soon rebounded strongly with his stint in the Oklahoma City Thunder and his current team, the Los Angeles Clippers.
Detroit Pistons – Isiah Thomas
Career Averages: 19.2 points (45.2 FG%, 29 3pt%), 3.6 rebounds, 9.3 assists, 1.9 steals, 0.3 blocks @ 36.3 min/game
Notable Achievements: 2× NBA champion, 1x NBA Finals MVP, 12× NBA All-Star, 2× NBA All-Star Game MVP, 3× All-NBA First Team, 2× All-NBA Second Team, NBA All-Rookie First Team, 1985 NBA Assist leader, NBA 75th Anniversary Team
This list wouldn’t be complete without Isiah and we’re sure nobody will question that. Even though AI played 54 games for the Pistons, Isiah deserves to be the Piston’s greatest ball handler of all time.
Isiah’s speed and creativity with handling the ball helped him create open space in the floor for him to either score or pass off the ball inside.
Toronto Raptors – Rafer Alston
Career Averages: 671 GP, 28.9 MPG, 10.1 PTS (38.3 FG%, 35.4 3PT%), 2.8 REB, 4.8 AST, 1.2 STL, 0.2 BLK
This might be a weird take for some, but Rafer handled the ball like it has a Yoyo string on it and he wouldn’t be a street baller after his stint in the NBA for nothing. He’s an excellent crossover dribbler and his mobility leaves any defender chasing from behind.
Despite not having a glamorous NBA career like the other players on this list, Rafer definitely deserves the spot on this list as Toronto’s greatest ball-handler.
Houston Rockets – James Harden
Career Averages: 942 GP, 34.6 MPG, 24.9 PTS (44.2 FG%, 36.1 3PT%), 5.6 REB, 6.8 AST, 1.5 STL, 0.5 BLK
Notable achievements: 1× NBA Most Valuable Player, 10× NBA All-Star, 6× All-NBA First Team, 1x All-NBA Third Team, 1x NBA Assists Leader, 2012 NBA Sixth Man of the Year, 2010 NBA All-Rookie Second Team
Rafer also played for the Rockets but how can we not give it to the step-back master himself? James was a lethal offensive weapon for the Rockets and it’s because of his dribbling. His insane scoring abilities make up for his also insanely high usage rate of the ball.
Even though James is a shooting guard, he runs the floor like a shoot-first point guard with a good eye for passing as well.
San Antonio Spurs – Tony Parker
Career Averages: 1,254 GP, 30.5 MPG, 15.5 PTS (49.1 FG%, 32.4 3PT%), 2.7 REB, 5.6 AST, 0.8 STL, 0.1 BLK
Notable achievements: 4× NBA champion, 1× NBA Finals MVP, 6× NBA All-Star, 3× All-NBA Second Team, 1x All-NBA Third Team, 2002 NBA All-Rookie First Team, 1x FIBA EuroBasket MVP
This list wouldn’t be complete without the spin cycle maestro himself. Tony Parker was a key player for all of San Antonio’s championship runs and it’s all thanks to his effective dribbling skills. Tony was able to leave any defenders behind with his dribbling and he made it look so easy too.
Minnesota Timberwolves – Ricky Rubio
Career Averages: 665 GP, 30.3 MPG, 11.1 PTS (38.9 FG%, 32.6 3PT%), 4.2 REB, 7.6 AST, 1.8 STL, 0.1 BLK
Another underrated selection but during Ricky’s time with the Timberwolves, he surely proved that he can dribble really well. He might not have the flashiest moves or the best stats for a guard, but he can handle the ball any way he wants.
Portland Trail Blazers – Damian Lillard
Career Averages: 711 GP, 36.3 MPG, 24.6 PTS (43.7 FG%, 37.3 3PT%), 4.2 REB, 6.6 AST, 1.0 STL, 0.3 BLK
Notable achievements: 6× NBA All-Star, 1× All-NBA First Team, 4x All-NBA Second Team, 1x All-NBA Third Team, 2020 NBA Bubble MVP, 2x NBA-All Star Skills Challenge Winner, 2013 NBA Rookie of the Year, 75th Anniversary Team
This one’s a no-brainer as well as there’s no other Blazer who should be up in this list except for Damian Lillard. Often overshadowed by his long-range three-bombs and highlight reel dunks, Damian has a lot of dribbling moves in the bag and he incorporates it well with his game and scoring arsenal.
Golden State Warriors – Stephen Curry
Career Averages: 826 GP, 34.3 MPG, 24.3 PTS (47.3 FG%, 42.8 3PT%), 4.6 REB, 6.5 AST, 1.7 STL, 0.2 BLK
Notable achievements: 4× NBA champion, 1× NBA Finals MVP, 2× NBA Most Valuable Player, 2x NBA Scoring Champion, 1x NBA Steals Leader, 8× NBA All-Star, 1x NBA-All Star MVP, 2x NBA All-Star Three Point Champion, 4× All-NBA First Team, 3x All-NBA Second Team, 1x All-NBA Third Team, 2010 All-Rookie First Team, 75th Anniversary Team, Most Three-Pointers Made in NBA History (3,117)
Again, obvious choice for the Golden State Warriors and its Steph. Steph can shoot the lights out, go hard in the paint and float the ball miles up in the air, or pass it to his teammates, all of this is thanks to his amazing dribbling skills.
When combined with his quick feet, Steph can leave any defender behind with his flashy yet effective dribbling. Not to mention how good he escapes double teams way up the court to get a clean look in the three-point land.
Washington Wizards – John Wall
Career Averages: 613 GP, 35.6 MPG 19.1 PTS (43.1 FG%, 32.3 3PT%), 4.3 REB, 9.1 AST, 1.7 STL, 0.7 BLK
Notable achievements: 5× NBA All-Star, 1x All-NBA Third Team, 1x All-NBA Defensive Second Team, 2011 NBA All-Rookie First Team, 2014 NBA Slam Dunk Champion
This is one of the obvious picks as well for this list as there’s no other Wizard that is as close as to what John brings to the table. As one of the fastest players in the league, John doesn’t slow down when he dribbles the ball and he uses his dribbling skills to finish hard inside all the time.
John has a pretty solid perimeter game too which makes it easy for him to switch it up and stop in the perimeter off the dribble to score an easy jumper.
In the modern era of the NBA, dribbling has become an important aspect of playing that even Power Forwards or Centers practice it. Dribbling is also a great source of entertainment for the fans as crossovers can make defenders shake and fall on the floor.
This list is just a general overview of every NBA team’s best ball handler; this may vary if other factors are weighed in. We hope that this article helped determine every NBA team’s best ball handler.
We hope to see you in our next posts!