When LeBron James dished his 10,000th assist last season, he knew it was only a matter of time before passing Magic Johnson for the sixth most career assists in NBA history. That time finally came vs. the Milwaukee Bucks on December 2nd, officially passing Magic with less than nine minutes left in the game.
Entering the game, LeBron had 10,133 assists in his career and Magic was sitting at 10,141. James tied that mark at the start of the fourth quarter with his eighth assist of the night. A little more than two minutes later, James dished the ball to Anthony Davis, who hit a 25-foot three-point shot for a four-point lead.
James finished the game with 28 points, 8 rebounds, 11 assists, and 2 steals in just over 37 minutes of play. James has added another 30 assists in the five games since that historic day as he inches his way closer to Mark Jackson (fourth most career assists) and Steve Nash (third most career assists).
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Which NBA Players Have the Most Career Assists?
LeBron James is one of the greatest and most versatile basketball players in NBA history. He’s a prolific scorer, but also a bonafide playmaker that can dribble the ball, dish an assist, grab a rebound, and defend any position on the floor. He has the accolades and records to prove it, leaving very little up for debate.
As of December 13th, James has the second-most points all-time, 37th-most career rebounds, sixth most career assists all-time, 10th-most steals all-time, and 91st-most blocks all-time. To be in the top-100 in all five primary stat categories is pretty remarkable, but to be top-ten in three of them is simply unheard of.
In honor of James passing Magic Johnson for the sixth most career assists in NBA history, we’re going to take a look at the current top-20 in regards to all-time assists. No one will be catching No. 1 anytime soon, but the top-five could change in the coming years if LeBron and his current teammate keep playing well.
20. Bob Cousy – 6,955 assists
Bob Cousy dished 6,955 assists over his 14-year Hall of Fame career in the NBA – which he spent with the Boston Celtics and Cincinnati Royals. He led the league in total assists eight years in a row between 1952 and 1960 – including a career-high 715 assists (9.5 assists per game) during the 1959-60 season.
Cousy retired for the first time after the 1962-63 season, making a brief return in 1969-70 before retiring for good. He averaged 18.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 7.5 assists in 924 career games played – 917 of which were with the Celtics. He was a 13-time All-Star, six-time champion, and won the MVP in 1956-57.
19. Tony Parker – 7,036 assists
Tony Parker had 7,036 assists over his 18-year career in the NBA – which he spent with the San Antonio Spurs (17 years) and Charlotte Hornets (1 year). He never led the league in total assists, but consistently put up more than 5.0 assists per game and averaged a career-high 7.7 assists per game in 2011-12.
Parker retired after the 2018-19 season – it was the only time he finished a season with 0 starts. He averaged 15.5 points, 2.7 rebounds, 5.6 assists, and 0.8 steals in 1,254 career games played – 1,198 of which were with the Spurs. He was a six-time All-Star, four-time champion, and 2006-07 NBA Finals MVP.
18. Tim Hardaway – 7,095 assists
Tim Hardaway dished 7,095 assists over his 13-year Hall of Fame career in the NBA – which he mostly spent with the Golden State Warriors (6 seasons) and Miami Heat (6 seasons). He never led the league in assists, but he did average double-digit assists in two consecutive seasons – including 10.6 in 1992-93.
Hardaway retired after the 2002-03 season – he played in just 10 games that season, none of which were starts. He averaged 17.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, 8.2 assists, and 1.6 steals in 867 career games played. He was a five-time All-Star, five-time All-NBA point guard, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2022.
17. Terry Porter – 7,160 assists
Terry Porter dished 7,160 assists over his 17-year career in the NBA – which he spent with the Trail Blazers (10 years), Timberwolves (3 seasons), Spurs (3 seasons), and Heat (1 season). He put up a career-high 10.1 assists per game in 1987-88 and had at least 8.0 assists per game four other times.
Porter retired after the 2001-02 season after seeing his numbers reach all-time lows off the bench – including a career-low 5.5 points per game. He averaged 12.2 points, 3.0 rebounds, 5.6 assists, and 1.2 steals in 1,274 games – 758 of which were with the Trail Blazers. He was named an All-Star twice.
16. Lenny Wilkens – 7,211 assists
Lenny Wilkens dished 7,211 assists over his 15-year Hall of Fame career in the NBA. He led the league in assists per game and total assists in 1969-70 – also leading the league in total assists in 1971-72. He never averaged a double-double, but had at least 9.0 assists per game in three consecutive seasons.
Wilkens retired after the 1874-75 season after putting up a career-low 6.5 points per game. He averaged 16.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 6.7 assists in 1,077 career games played – 555 of which were with the St. Louis Hawks. He also had at least 20.0 points per game three times – 1967-68, 1968-69, and 1972-73.
15. Maurice Cheeks – 7,392 assists
Maurice Cheeks dished 7,392 assists over his 15-year Hall of Fame career in the NBA – which was primarily spent with the Philadelphia 76ers (11 seasons) and New York Knicks (2 seasons). He never averaged a double-double, but he had a career-high 9.2 assists per game during the 1985-86 season.
Cheeks retired after the 1992-93 season after putting up career-low numbers – he hadn’t started a game in two years. He averaged 11.1 points, 2.8 rebounds, 6.7 assists, and 2.1 steals in 1,101 career games played – 853 of which were with the 76ers. He was a four-time All-Star and five-time All-Defensive player.
14. Rajon Rondo – 7,584 assists (and counting)
Rajon Rondo currently has 7,584 assists since entering the league in 2006 – he spent the first nine years of his career with the Boston Celtics before jumping around the NBA. He led the NBA in assists per game on three occasions and total assists once. His career-high was 11.7 assists per game (he did it twice).
Rondo last played for the Cleveland Cavaliers, but is currently listed as a free agent and is likely nearing retirement. He has averaged 9.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 7.9 assists, and 1.6 steals in 957 games played over the past 16 years. He’s a two-time NBA champion and four-time All-Defensive point guard.
13. Rod Strickland – 7,987 assists
Rod Strickland dished 7,987 assists over his 17-year career in the NBA – most of which was spent with the Trail Blazers (5 years), Bullets/Wizards (5 years), Spurs (3 years), and Knicks (2 years). He led the league in assists per game (10.5) and total assists (801) in 1997-98, both of which were career-highs.
Strickland retired after the 2004-05 season after bouncing around the league for five years. He averaged 13.2 points, 3.7 rebounds, 7.3 assists, and 1.5 steals in 1,094 career games played. He was named to the All-Rookie squad in 1988-89 and was an All-NBA point guard during his coveted 1997-98 campaign.
12. Andre Miller – 8,524 assists
Andre Miller dished 8,524 assists over his 17-year career in the NBA – which he spent with nine different teams, including five in his final three seasons. He was a prolific playmaker earlier in his career, leading the league in assists per game (10.9) and total assists (882) during the 2001-02 season with the Cavs.
Miller retired after the 2015-16 season after playing just 39 games split between the Timberwolves and Spurs. He averaged 12.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 6.5 assists, and 1.2 steals in 1,304 career games played – 447 of which were with the Denver Nuggets. He was named to the All-Rookie team after his first season.
11. Russell Westbrook – 8,805 assists (and counting)
Russell Westbrook has dished 8,805 assists since entering the league as the No. 4 overall draft pick in 2008 – he spent the first 11 years of his career with the Thunder before jumping around the league. He has led the NBA in assists per game and total assists three times – 2017-18, 2018-19, and 2020-21.
Westbrook is currently playing in his second season with the Los Angeles Lakers. In 1,048 career games played, he is averaging 22.6 points, 7.4 rebounds, 8.4 assists, and 1.6 steals in 34.5 minutes per game. He’s a nine-time All-Star, two-time scoring champ, nine-time All-NBA point guard, and 2016-17 MVP.
10. Gary Payton – 8,966 assists
Gary Payton dished 8,966 assists over his 17-year Hall of Fame career – which was mostly spent with the Seattle Supersonics (13 seasons) and Miami Heat (2 seasons). He never led the league in assists per game, but he did lead the league in total assists (732) in 1999-00 – he was also the leader in 3PM.
Payton retired after the 2006-07 season – just one year removed from winning the NBA Championship with the Heat in 2006. He averaged 16.3 points, 3.9 rebounds, 6.7 assists, and 1.8 steals in 1,335 career games played. He was a nine-time All-Star, nine-time All-Defensive, and nine-time All-NBA point guard.
9. Isiah Thomas – 9,061 assists
Isiah Thomas dished 9,061 assists over his 13-year Hall of Fame career in the NBA – he spent his entire career with the Detroit Pistons. Thomas averaged at least 10.0 assists per game in four consecutive seasons between 1983 and 1987, leading the league with 13.9 assists per game in the 1984-85 season.
Thomas retired after the 1993-94 season after playing in 979 career games with the Pistons – 971 of which were starts. He finished his career with 19.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, 9.3 assists, and 1.9 steals in 36.3 minutes per game. He was a 12-time All-Star, two-time champion, and five-time All-NBA point guard.
8. Oscar Robertson – 9,887 assists
Oscar Robertson dished 9,887 assists over his 14-year Hall of Fame career in the NBA, which he spent with the Cincinnati Royals (10 seasons) and Milwaukee Bucks (4 seasons). He led the league in assists per game on seven occasions and total assists on six occasions – separating himself from opponents.
Robertson retired after the 1973-74 season after seeing his numbers dip for the fourth consecutive year. He finished his career with 25.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 9.5 assists in 42.2 minutes per game – he played in 1040 career games. He was a 12-time All-Star, one-time champion, and one-time MVP.
7. Magic Johnson – 10,141 assists
Magic Johnson dished 10,141 assists over his 13-year Hall of Fame career in the NBA – all of which was spent with the Los Angeles Lakers. He led the league in the assists per game on four occasions and total assists on three occasions – including a career-high 13.1 assists per game in his 1983-84 campaign.
Johnson retired after the 1990-91 season due to his diagnosis with HIV and made a brief return in 1995 before retiring for good. He averaged 19.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, 11.2 assists, and 1.9 steals in 906 games played. He was a 12-time All-Star, five-time champion, three-time MVP, and three-time Finals MVP.
6. LeBron James – 10,178 assists (and counting)
LeBron James has dished 10,178 assists since entering the league as the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2003 – he has played for the Cavaliers (11 seasons), Lakers (5 seasons), and Heat (4 seasons). He led the league in assists per game (10.2) and total assists (684) during the 2019-20 season with the Lakers.
James is currently playing in his 20th season in the NBA and fifth season with the Lakers. So far in his career, he is putting up 27.1 points, 7.5 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 1.6 steals, and 0.8 blocks through 1,387 games played. He’s an 18-time All-Star, four-time champion, four-time MVP, and four-time Finals MVP.
5. Mark Jackson – 10,334 assists
Mark Jackson dished 10,334 assists over his 17-year career in the NBA – most of which was spent with the Knicks (7 seasons), Pacers (6 seasons), and Clippers (2 seasons). He led the league in assists per game (11.4) and total assists (935) during the 1996-97 season – he was traded midway through the year.
Jackson retired after the 2003-04 season after only having three starts in the previous two seasons. He finished his career with 9.6 points, 3.8 rebounds, 8.0 assists, and 1.2 steals in 1,296 games played. He was named Rookie of the Year in 1987-88 and was named an All-Star during the 1988-89 season.
4. Steve Nash – 10,335 assists
Steve Nash dished 10,335 assists over his 18-year Hall of Fame career in the NBA – which he spent with the Suns (10 seasons), Mavericks (6 seasons), and Lakers (2 seasons). He led the league in assists per game five times and total assists six times – including seven seasons of at least 10.0 assists per game.
Nash retired after the 2013-14 season after only playing 15 games in his second year with the Lakers. He finished his career with 14.3 points, 3.0 rebounds, 8.5 assists, and 0.7 steals in 1,217 games played. He was an eight-time All-Star, two-time MVP, and seven-time All-NBA point guard – one of the all-time best.
3. Chris Paul – 11,113 assists (and counting)
Chris Paul has dished 11,113 assists since entering the league as the No. 4 overall draft pick in 2005 – he has played for the Hornets, Clippers, Suns, Rockets, and Thunder. He has led the league in assists five times – including last year – and total assists three times. He’s one of the game’s best playmakers.
Paul is currently playing in his 18th season in the league and third season with the Phoenix Suns. Through 1,170 games played, Paul is averaging 18.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 9.5 assists, and 2.1 steals in 34.5 minutes per game. He’s a 12-time All-Star, nine-time All-Defensive, and 11-time All-Pro point guard.
2. Jason Kidd – 12,091 assists
Jason Kidd dished 12,091 assists over his 19-year Hall of Fame career in the NBA – most of which was spent with the Nets (7 seasons), Mavericks (8 seasons), and Suns (5 seasons). He led the league in assists per game five times in a six-year span and total assists three times in that same timeframe.
Kidd retired after the 2012-13 season and is the closest person to ever reach John Stockton’s all-time best 15,806 assists – unfortunately, he was still 3,715 assists short. It goes to show just how incredible Stockton’s milestone is. Kidd averaged 12.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, 8.7 assists, and 1.9 steals in his career.
1. John Stockton – 15,806 assists
John Stockton dished 15,806 assists over his 19-year Hall of Fame career – he spent his entire career with the Utah Jazz between 1984 and 2003. He led the league in assists per game and total assists nine consecutive seasons between 1987 and 1996, including a career-high 14.5 assists per game in 1989-90.
Stockton’s all-time assists mark is one of the hardest records to beat in the NBA and one no one will touch for at least another 20 years. He retired after the 2002-03 season with 13.1 points, 2.7 rebounds, 10.5 assists, and 2.2 steals in 1,504 career games played. He was a 10-time All-Star, five-time All-Defensive, and 11-time All-NBA point guard.
Other Active Players With the Most Career Assists
As of December 13th, only four active NBA players can be found in the top-20 for most career assists in NBA history – Chris Paul (Suns), LeBron James (Lakers), Russell Westbrook (Lakers), and Rajon Rondo (free agent). Outside of those four, 10 other NBA players currently find themselves in the top-75.
Those 10 players include Kyle Lowry (No. 25), James Harden (No. 27), John Wall (No. 45), Stephen Curry (No. 50), Mike Conley (No. 51), Jrue Holiday (No. 52), Andre Iguodala (No. 67), Ricky Rubio (No. 69), and Damian Lillard (No. 75). All of these players will continue to climb the all-time leaderboard.
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With that said, none of them will make a push for John Stockton and his all-time record 15,806 assists. It’s an outrageous number that not even Jason Kidd or Chris Paul came close to. As for LeBron James, he will likely end his career with the fourth most career assists – behind Paul, Kidd and Stockton.
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