When evaluating the top passers in NBA history, one might be tempted to make a fast break for the record books and simply count down which players had the most assists.
That’s a good place to start, since no one would dispute Jason Kidd, Steve Nash, John Stockton and Magic Johnson put on some of the game's most mesmerizing passing displays.
But any student of the sport knows that passing the ball is about more than nifty court generals going behind their backs or lobbing perfect alley-oops on their way to highlights shows.
Some of the sport’s most gifted passers were prolific shooters and dominant big men who had an innate sense for the perfect moment to distribute the ball just as defenses were closing in. Their keen instincts and dead-eye accuracy in moving the ball to the right player at the right time could be overlooked among their other feats on the court.
That's why the 20 greatest passers in NBA history are a combination of statistical leaders, acrobatic showmen and all-around greats better known for taking the ball to the hoop than handing it off.
Note: All numbers for active players are through Feb. 10, 2019.