Throughout the years, the Boston Celtics have done their damage with their wings and big men. During their last two titles, they’ve been led by a Big Three, with none of the three being point guards.
In 2008, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen guided the Celtics to their most recent championship in their first year together. Their previous title, way back in 1986, was highlighted by the play of Larry Bird, Robert Parish, and Kevin McHale, arguably the best frontcourt in NBA history.
Although point guards necessarily haven’t been the strength of the team throughout the years, the Celtics certainly have had their share of impressive floor leaders. Players like Isaiah Thomas and Kyrie Irving had their signature moments running the show while in Boston, but their stay was too short and didn’t crack our list of the team’s top five point guards in franchise history.
No. 5: Nate ‘Tiny’ Archibald, 1978-1983
Archibald played for three organizations before settling in with the Celtics. Technically, he “played” for two. The New York Nets traded him to the Buffalo Braves after an injury-plagued 1976-77 season, but he tore his Achilles and missed the entire 1977-78 season and never played a regular-season game for the Braves, who shipped him off to the Celtics.
In his first season in Boston, he averaged 11.0 points and 4.7 assists before making three straight All-Star Game appearances beginning with the 1979-80 season.
Archibald quarterbacked the team during their 1981 championship season, averaging 13.8 points and 7.7 assists. He spent five seasons with the Celtics.
No. 4: Rajon Rondo, 2006-2015
Rondo was the man who made the 2008 championship team go. While Garnett, Allen, and Pierce got the headlines, Rondo got the job done.
The Celtics selected Rondo with the No. 21 pick in the 2006 NBA Draft. In his second year, he helped Boston win its first title since 1986. Garnett and Allen came to Boston in separate deals before the 2007-08 season, but it was Rondo who ran the show.
Rondo spent nine seasons with the Celtics. In his last three years, he averaged better than 11 assists per game, twice leading the NBA in that stretch. Rondo was named an All-Star for four straight seasons. He’s known for coming up big on the bigger stage, earning the nickname “Playoff Rondo.”
No. 3: Jo Jo White, 1969-1979
Jo Jo White was the ninth pick in the 1969 NBA Draft. The Celtics selected the Kansas point guard, who rattled off seven straight All-star appearances beginning with his second year in the league.
In that second year, White improved his scoring average from 12.2 points as a rookie to 21.3. He also had 5.0 rebounds and 4.8 assists in his sophomore season. A two-time NBA champion, White was named the MVP of the 1976 NBA Finals.
White averaged 18.4 points and 5.1 assists during his stint in Boston. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015.
No. 2: Dennis Johnson, 1983-1990
Like Rondo, Johnson was overshadowed by his own Big Three of Bird, McHale, and Parish. The Celtics acquired Johnson in a deal with the Phoenix Suns before the 1983-84 season.
The Celtics had trouble defending guards in the early 1980s and brought in Johnson, who was known for his tough defense. In his first year in Boston, the Celtics won the 1984 NBA Finals. He came up big during the second half of that series against the Lakers, helping the Celtics clamp down Magic Johnson.
Johnson averaged 12.6 points and 6.4 assists in his career with the Celtics. He won two championships in Boston, three for his career.
Johnson was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010.
No. 1: Bob Cousy, 1950-1963
Although JJ Redick said he played against a bunch of plumbers, Cousy is clearly the best point guard the Celtics have ever had.
Cousy led the NBA in assists for eight straight seasons but was much more than a flashy passer. Cousy also showed he could fill the bucket, averaging 18.5 points over his career. His best statistical year came during the 1954-55 season when he put up 21.2 points and 7.8 assists.
A 13-time All-Star, Cousy won six championships, teaming with the legendary Bill Russell to form arguably the best inside-outside combo.
Cousy was named MVP in 1957. He also was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1971.