Throughout the franchises’s history, the Spurs have made a habit of having a strong point guard on the floor. Some of them have been excellent passers, others have been dominant scorers. All of them had at least one success full year with the Silver & Black to earn a spot on this list.
7. John Lucas
A college superstar for Maryland and the first pick of the 1976 draft, John Lucas II was a solid performer at the point position for his entire career. He only spent the 1983-84 season with the San Antonio Spurs, but he was a fantastic floor general that season. Lucas averaged a double double in just 28 minutes of playing time. Not to delve to far into Spurs cliches, but his per 36 minutes stats? 13.7 points per game and 13.1 assists per game with just 2.9 turnovers. That’s one of the most efficient passing seasons anybody’s ever had. Lucas was hampered by injuries (along with a coke addiction) and only played in 63 games with limited minutes. He left the Spurs for Houston the next year. Otherwise, he may have found himself much higher on this list.
1 Year: 10.9 PPG 10.7 APG 2.9 RPG 1.5 SPG FG 46%
6. Johnny Dawkins
You may know him better now as the Stanford basketball coach with a nightmarish hairline. But the 6 foot 2 Duke alum was also drafted by the Spurs in 1986 with the tenth pick. Dawkins was a quick combo guard that carried down the ball for the Spurs for three years, although he came off the bench his rookie season. His metric stats tell the story of a poor on ball defender, but he nonetheless was a player with a great deal of energy, and provided a nice spark for the Spurs offense in his tenure. He wasn’t as effective as John Lucas, but he played a significantly greater amount of games. After his time with San Antonio he would go on to become a key player for the Philadelphia 76ers and play alongside Charles Barkley and crew.
3 Years: 13.0 PPG 5.6 APG 2.7 RPG 1.2 SPG
5. Rod Strickland
Spurs fans might remember him most for one haunting play. With 32 seconds left in the Western Conference semi-finals, Game 7, David Robinson passed out of a jump shot to hit Strickland. Sean Elliot was open for a jump shot as soon as the ball entered Strickland’s hands. The issue was a miscommunication more than anything. Strickland saw that Portland’s Kevin Duckworth—the Trailblazers’ biggest rim protector—had left the paint to contest David Robinson, leaving only the smaller Jerome Kersey down low. “Hot Rod” Strickland assumed that his teammate would cut, hypothetically making Kersey commit and leaving Willie Anderson open at the rim for the extra pass. He dished the ball behind his back without looking, resulting in a costly turnover that would essentially be the end of the 1990 Spurs. You can watch the whole thing transpire in the video below, at the 26:50 mark.
But while Strickland may have turned over the series to the Trailblazers, he was a heavy contributor for the team for three years. He was an offensive threat and multiple ways and also posted a Defensive Box Plus-Minus (similar to ESPN’s popular Real Plus-Minus) of +0.9 throughout his San Antonio tenure. That statistical nugget portrays Strickland as one of the elite defensive point guards during those years. (Most NBA point guards were in the negatives) He was an important part of a talented Spurs team, and that’s good enough for the fifth spot on this list.
3 Years: 13.9 PPG 8.2 APG 4.2 RPG 2.0 SPG FG%47
4. James Silas
Step into the Delorean. James Silas came into the league when the Spurs were an ABA team called the Dallas Chaparrals and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was the reigning MVP of the NBA. The Stephen F. Austin graduate was a natural scorer who’s shoot-first mentality didn’t fit the prototypical point guard mold. That doesn’t take away from his contributions, though. While injuries and the arrival of young rising star Johnny Moore cut into his playing time, Silas scored a consistent 2o points per 36 minutes over his career. He was a franchise player for eight seasons and a 2 time all star.
8 years: 16.7 PPG 3.9 APG 3.2 RPG 1.1 SPG FG%49
3. Avery Johnson
This morsel sized point guard bounced around the league for a while before finally landing a job with the Spurs as a starter. He was known as one of the speediest players in the NBA and a great on-court leader. After becoming accustomed to working with David Robinson, Johnson and the Spurs were blessed with the first pick of the draft that turned out to be Tim Duncan. From there, history was made. “The Little General” got some extra motivation in the 1999 playoffs when fellow point guard Damon Stoudamire made the bold prediction that no NBA team with Avery Johnson as the starting point guard would ever win a championship. The Spurs would go on to win their first in franchise history that year. Johnson was still the starting point guard for the team at 34 years old, which is impressive for any guard, not to mention one that relies so much on their speed. He was one of the best passers the Spurs ever had and one of the only two different starting point guards in the franchise’s history to ever win a championship.
10 years: 10.0 PPG 6.9 APG 2.0 RPG 1.1 SPG
Next: Johnny Moore
2. Johnny Moore
In January of 1986, Spurs fans were hit with some bad news. Their crafty floor general, Johnny Moore, was diagnosed with a rare illness called Valley Fever. According to a 1986 Daily News article penned by Bernard Fernandez, Johnny was told the disease might be fatal for him. Within weeks of treatment, doctor’s realized he was going to survive, and maybe even play basketball again. He did return to the team the next year and tried to play even further on but played in very few games. Ultimately, the illness forced his early retirement in the middle of a really successful NBA career.
Still, Moore had several good years with the Spurs. He was a pick-pocket of epic proportions and moved the ball around the court fluently and effectively. He edged out Magic Johnson for the league lead in assists (9.6) in 1981-82 despite the fact that Magic Johnson averaged 9 more minutes per game that year. Just like seemingly every great Spurs player, Moore’s lack of minutes undersold his production a bit. Using his per 36 minutes stats, Johnny Moore handily posted a double-double from his second year in the league all the way up until his injury. Even with Moore’s early retirement, he proved himself to be the greatest passer in franchise history.
9 years: 9,4 PPG 7.4 APG 3.0 RPG 2.0 SPG
1. Tony Parker
The best Spurs point guard is still adding lines to the back of his trading card. Tony has been dressed head to toe in white, silver, and black ever since he came into the league, and his contract all but assures he’ll never wear another jersey.
The French point guard was stolen from the talent pool with the 28th pick of the 2001 NBA draft and became the finals MVP in 2007. He’s got four championship rings to go with that coveted award, and he had a few seasons where he was in the regular season MVP discussion. And while his stats are excellent on their own, they can’t totally show just how productive he has been throughout his career. He instigates the movement for the Spurs offense. He runs the pick and roll to perfection and finishes opportunities inside with phenomenal efficiency.
This year we saw a bit of a dip in production in Tony Parker, but he’s likely a future Hall of Fame player and has been without a doubt the best point guard the Spurs have ever had. He’ll probably be the last of the big 3 to retire. We hope he takes his precious time.
14 years: 16.9 PPG 5.9 APG 2.9 RPG 0.9 SPG