Perhaps the most fundamental skill in basketball is passing. Before dribbling became an effective way to beat defenders, passing was the sole way in which offenses flourished. Old tapes of professional basketball in its incipient years show players hardly using their dribbles, opting to pass the ball around like a game of European handball. Today, these tapes are nothing more than a remnant of a bygone era, but they elucidate the timelessness of good passing.
As the game has evolved, with offenses spreading the floor and defenses collapsing space, passing has become a more important skill, if offenses want to succeed. Little, imperceptible differences separate good passers from bad passers. For instance, when a player without the ball spots up for a three, the speed and location of the pass makes the difference between an easy, uncontested shot and a difficult, contested shot. Casual NBA fans rarely recognise that passing heavily influences shooting percentages and offensive efficiency.
In most cases, the league’s best passers are point guards, who quarterback their respective offenses. An adept passer facilitates the offense, exploiting porous defenses and giving their receivers a better chance of scoring. From Oscar Robertson to Magic Johnson to Steve Nash, the NBA has never had a dearth of passing talent.
This list looks at the Top 10 passers in NBA history. If available, each player’s career earnings have been listed. As the list will show, good passers often play on relatively successful teams—but that should not come as a surprise.
10. Andre Miller – Career Salary:$91,593,701
In the 2001-2002 season, Andre Miller led the league in assists, averaging 10.9 per game. He has generally been underrated throughout his career, as he has never quite ascended high enough to be considered one of the league’s best point guards. If, after he retires, Miller is forgotten, it will be a shame, as Miller has been one of the steadiest point guards since entering the league in 1999.