Originally Posted by D-Fence
The next point guard on this list should be Bob Cousy--not Isiah Thomas, John Stockton, Walt Frazier, or anyone else at that position.
Cousy dominated his position in his era more than the others did. He won an MVP for the 1956-57 season and probably would have won another in 1953-54 if they had an MVP then (he led the league in 1st Team votes that season).
Cousy led the league in assists for 8 consecutive seasons. Often he did so by very convincing margins. In 1955-56 he averaged 8.9 APG to 2nd place Jack George with 6.4 APG. In 1959-60 he had 9.5 APG to Guy Rodgers 7.1 APG. Moreover, Cousy's assists numbers are deflated due to the era he played in, as the game was played differently and assists weren't as generously awarded.
Cousy was also a scorer. He was 2nd in the league in PPG twice and was within the top 10 in PPG 8 times, and he averaged at least 20 PPG in 4 different seasons.
In the 1950s the second best player who would be considered a point guard today was probably Bob Davies, who averaged 14.3 PPG, 4.9 APG and 2.9 RPG for his career to Cousy's 18.4 PPG, 7.5 APG and 5.2 RPG. He was finally dethroned as the unquestioned best guard in the NBA in the 1960s by Oscar Robertson and Jerry West. Cousy was about 32 to 33 years old and had about 1 or 2 full seasons left in his career of 14 seasons. Back then, that was especially old for an athlete.
Cousy was a member of 6 championship teams, and some (although many of them likely racists) even considered Cousy the best player on a few of those teams. Honestly, it was always Bill Russell's team, but it's not as though Cousy wasn't a leader of that team and usually it's second best player.
Cousy was more influential to the game than the other available point guards--combining showmanship and substance--being one of the game's first ball magicians. He was an outstanding and creative passer and an excellent ball handler and dribbler for any era. And, he ran the fast break better than anyone in those days.
The greatest shooting guard left is probably Kobe Bryant, but he hasn't been as important to the game as those at other positions, nor as dominating in his era, nor the greatest.
At small forward, I can go along with John Havlicek. And, it's close between him and Cousy for the greatest Celtic left, but Cousy has been more inluential to the game. And, Havlicek was never as dominant at his position as Cousy was at his.
Karl Malone is the power forward, but no rings and some shaky big-game performances don't bode well for him, especially with winners like Cousy, Havlicek and Mikan available.
At center, I say George Mikan. David Robinson or Willis Reed may have been the MVP and best at thier position for a couple of seasons, but George Mikan flat out dominated his era. Did Mikan face inferior competition? I say so. Could he even play in today's game? I doubt it--maybe if allowed modern advances to reshape him as a player.
This guy disagrees, though. Zeke Sinicola, who played a couple seasons in the Mikan era and still follows the NBA:
Mikan was rough player in a rough era. I've read about how he got bruises all over his body after games, and I also know that he led the league in personal fouls for 3 consecutive seasons! He averaged 4.2 personal fouls per game over his career. It was a different game, and while many point out how poorly Mikan might do in later eras, I'd wager many would do poorly in Mikan's very physical era.
Additionally, although players from those days report how physical Mikan was, they really don't seem to hold anything against him. He's greately respected as a fierce competitor and a great guy (off the court, at least).
Anyhow, there's no doubting Mikan's tremendous influence on the game and his dominance of his era. His points and rebounds averages are even deflated due to the rough, dead-ball era he played in. So, his 23.1 PPG career average was more like 30-35 or more PPG when brought up for pace. He may not thrive in another era and pace to do those numbers--it just shows how much more valuable a basket was from him in those days than another player from another era.
Mikan led his teams to 7 titles in 8 seasons in the NBL, BAA and NBA. He won 6 of those titles with the Lakers and 5 of them while in the BAA and NBA. How did they win? Even when Mikan started declining in his offensive, scoring dominance, how did they still win? Rebounding for ball control and defense as part of controlling tempo. The Lakers practically invented how to win NBA championships.
I think I'll vote for George Mikan this time.