About a couple of months ago we posted the shortest players to lead the NBA in rebounds article, and we’ve decided to counter it by doing the tallest players to lead the league in assists. There were a bunch of guys who are 6’4, which made them pretty ordinary – Howie Dallmar, Don Buse, Jason Kidd and Gary Payton, but only four players taller than 6’4 that led the league in assists, and even one seven footer who managed to accomplish this.
Oscar Robertson, 6’5 (1.96)
The Big-O was one of the greatest all-time, remembered as one of the most versatile players to ever play the game, maybe the greatest triple-double threat to step on a basketball court. If you don’t remember, he finished the 1961-1962 season averaging a triple double for the entire season – 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 assists. We’re here for the assists. Robertson played as a point guard, but he was pretty much all around the place, and could play 1-4 and even as center if you really needed him to. Robertson led the league in assists six times during the 1960’s, all of them as a Cincinnati Royals. He is fifth on the all-time assist list with 9’887 in 1040 games, 9.5 per game, 4th best all-time.
Micheal Ray Richardson, 6’5 (1.96)
Whatever happened to Micheal Ray? In short – he was drafted by the Knicks (ahead of Larry Bird!!!) and was billed as the next Walt Frazier. In his second season as an NBA player (1979-1980), Richardson became the first player to lead the league in both steals and assists, the only season he led the league in assists, and his first of four times he was on top of the steals rankings. Richardson was then traded to the Warriors and from there to the Nets, where he became an All-Star and in 1984 led them to a shocking upset of the Philadelphia 76ers who were the defending champions. Richardson was banned for life from the NBA in 1986 by David Stern for violating the NBA’s drug policy three times, moving on to the CBA, UBL and later on a successful career in Europe. He is currently the head coach of the CBA’s Oklahoma Cavalry and is a poster boy of what a destructive way of living ruins a successful career. He is 93rd all time in total assists (3899) and 23rd all time on the assists per game list with 7 apg.
Magic Johnson, 6’9 (2.06)
No need to mention how good Magic was, to some the greatest basketball player ever. He played point guard, but he was everything else as well when necessary (1980 NBA Finals Game 6 – 42 points, 15 rebounds and 7 assists playing as guard, forward and center during the game). Magic led the league in assists three times, fourth on the all time assist list, but his career average (11.2) is the highest of all time, one of only three players (the others being Stockton and Chris Paul) to have a 10+ assists per game career average.
Wilt Chamberlain, 7’1 (2.16)
What?! A 7’1 giant leading the league in assists? Despite being an offensive beast, Chamberlain found time to share the ball with his teammates, especially later on in his career. In the 1967-1968 season Wilt led the league in total assists, averaging 8.6 per game. He averaged 7.6 the previous season and during his Lakers years (1968-1973) never finished with an assist average lower than 4 per game. His career average is 4.4, the highest ever for a center, 122nd all time and is 57th all time in total assists (4643).