In the midst of a golden age of point guard play, no dominant passer has truly emerged.
The league has seen nine 1,000 assist seasons, seven achieved by Hall-of-Fame guard John Stockton, but nine since his final such year in 1994-95.
To reach the mark, a player has to average 12.1 assists per game over the course of a full season and as the league is set to start its 68th season, no two players have simultaneously totaled 1,000 assists in the same year.
The 18-year drought has included just season with a player dishing out over 900 assists.
The average team dished out 22.1 assists per game last year and only three players finished with a 9.0 assist per game average.
Teams aren’t so reliant on one player setting up the offense any more, with 22 players averaging 6.0 or more assists last season, four didn’t play the point guard position.
There are plenty of options for tallying assists on any fantasy roster, but adding a pass first player early on will lessen the burden of finding competent passers for the rest of the draft.
1. Rajon Rondo– Boston Celtics
Over the past three seasons, Rondo has dished out exactly 1,800 assists, averaging 11.3 per game, more than any other player in the league during that span. The four time All-Star’s year came to an end on Jan. 25 after he tore his right ACL against Atlanta, a game he finished with 16 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, his league-leading fifth triple-double. His teammates hope he’ll return to the lineup by December and if he does, he will likely claim his third straight assist crown.
2. Chris Paul– Los Angeles Clippers
Since entering the league as the fourth overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft, Paul has dished out 10 or more assists in 52.1 percent of his career 555 regular season appearances. In his 70 games last season, Paul finished exactly half, 35, with 10 or more assists, including a stretch of seven of the last eight to close out the regular season.
3. Ricky Rubio– Minnesota Timberwolves
Minnesota’s duo of Rubio and forward Kevin Love appeared in just three games together. They failed to establish a good rapport, as Rubio has dished out just nine assists in those games. A full season with the two-time All-Star will improve Rubio’s assist total, as he has totaled 10 or more assists 30 times in 98 career games played.
4. Jrue Holiday– New Orleans Pelicans
Holiday was able to earn his first career All-Star nod while playing in the league’s worst offense. Philadelphia averaged 93.2 points per game, the lowest among all 30 franchises, but Holiday still managed 8.0 assists per game. A revamped lineup in New Orleans will give Holiday plenty of passing options, something he lacked with the 76ers, and he could be poised for a career year.
5. Greivis Vasquez– Sacramento Kings
Last summer New Orleans spent its off season trying to find an upgrade at the point guard position, but ultimately stuck with Vasquez. The patience paid off, as he led the league with 704 assists, totaling 30 games with 10 or more assists. The Pelicans offered Vasquez as the centerpiece in the Tyreke Evans deal, and by going to a team that averaged 100.1 points per game, he could once again lead the league in assists.
6. Tony Parker– San Antonio Spurs
San Antonio has relied on Parker to carry the offense, not only scoring the ball, but setting up teammates like never before. For the second consecutive year, Parker averaged more than 7.0 assists per game, the only times since he entered the league with the 28th overall pick in the 2001 NBA Draft. Parker had 17 games with a double digit assist total, the highest of his 12-year career.
7. Deron Williams– Brooklyn Nets
The Nets are still awaiting Williams to return to an elite passer. The former Illinois star recorded four straight seasons with a double digit assist average, but last year dished out 7.7 assists per game, the lowest since his rookie year. Brooklyn completed a blockbuster trade on draft night and the key will be Williams returning to a distributor role.
8. Russell Westbrook– Oklahoma City Thunder
Oklahoma City needs Westbrook to not only to score the basketball, but also set up his teammates. The dual role has been difficult for the 24-year-old to master, but he was able to take command of the offense last season, posting 16 games with 10 or more assists. Oklahoma City averages 105.7 points per game, third most in the league, giving Westbrook plenty of opportunities to set up teammates.
9. Jose Calderon– Dallas Mavericks
A mid-season trade from Toronto to Detroit couldn’t deter Calderon from being an elite passer. Calderon started 58 of his 73 appearances last year, but managed to stay on the floor for more than 40 minutes just five times. Even in limited time, he was able to average 7.1 assists per game. Over the course of 48 minutes, his numbers were even more impressive, 11.5 assists per game, fifth best in the league.
10. Goran Dragic– Phoenix Suns
In his first season as a full time starter, Dragic averaged 7.4 assists per game, tied for seventh most in the NBA. The Suns placed a huge burden on him, requiring Dragic to lead the team in scoring and assists. The 27-year-old responded, dishing out 10 or more assists on 20 occasions, including a season-high 18 assists during a win over Portland.