Games and Minutes played
Games and minutes are important in determining which guard contributed most to the team. The more time a player spends on the court, the bigger his potential impact.
Derek Harper leads the way with 872 games and 27,985 minutes played, logging around 32 minutes a game.
Jason Kidd is second with 500 games and 17,303 minutes played. Kidd averaged 34 minutes per game.
Nash is third with 408 games and 13,348 minutes played. He averaged 32.7 minutes per game
Average Mavs Point Guard: For reference, Devin Harris played 431 games (9,496 minutes) and averaged 22.0 minutes per game.
Clearly, Derek Harper has the advantage in this category. He appeared in almost twice as many games as Nash or Kidd and played close to 30,000 minutes in his career. Harper's longevity as a Maverick makes it all the more impressive that his stats still stand up to those of Nash and Kidd.
Points per game and shooting percentages
Point guards are a huge part of their team's success on offense. Dallas has historically been a good offensive team, and this group of point guards shows you why. Aside from their passing and play-making abilities, which we will discuss in a moment, here is how the guards stack up on the scoring side.
Steve Nash leads the group in scoring with 14.6 points per game and posted shooting percentages of 46 percent from the field, 41 percent on threes, and 89 percent from the foul line.
Derek Harper is second in scoring with 14.4 points per game. He shot 47 percent from the field, 35 percent from behind the 3-point line, and 77 percent from the free throw stripe.
Jason Kidd lags Harper and Nash, averaging just 10.5 points per game, and posted the worst shooting numbers of the group with 39 percent from the field, 36 percent from downtown and 79 percent from the charity stripe.
Average Mavs Point Guard: Darren Collison in his single season with Dallas averaged 12.0 points per game and shot 88 percent from the free throw line, 47 percent from the field, and 35 percent from downtown.
I've gotta give Harper the edge here. His combination of accurate 3-point shooting, consistency from the free throw line, and ability to finish with contact in the paint makes him a more versatile offensive player than Kidd. Nash almost edged out Harper as the most offensively talented, but Harper was more of a pure scorer than Nash, and he primarily scored in the paint and from mid-range, making him a more reliable threat both as part of the offense and one-on-one.
Assists and turnovers per game
Passing, ball-handling, and play-making are the biggest indicators of how effectively and efficiently a point guard runs an offense. I come from the pure point guard school of thought, so the pass-first, flashy dime-dropping style of Kidd and Nash will always have a special place in my heart.
Jason Kidd makes up for his poor shooting and scoring by averaging 8.4 assists per game and 2.8 turnovers, giving him an assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.00.
Steve Nash, who is the best passer of this generation in my opinion, averaged 7.2 assists and 2.5 turnovers, leaving his assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.88.
Derek Harper was not known as a great passer the way that Nash and Kidd were. Still, although he only averaged 5.9 assists (compared to 2.0 turnovers), he has the second best assist-to-turnover ratio with 2.95.
Average Mavs Point Guard: Jose Calderon averaged 4.7 assists and 1.3 turnovers per game, with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.6.
J-Kidd takes the win here. His 8.4 assists per game is the franchise leading mark. Nash is second in assists per game and Harper is third, which is exactly how I would rank them in terms of passing. Despite playing more minutes per game than Nash and Harper, Kidd still maintained the best assist-to-turnover ratio, showing that he can take care of the ball and set up his teammates very efficiently.
Rebounds, blocks, and steals
Jason Kidd, one of the best rebounding guards ever, snagged 4.3 defensive rebounds per game during his time in Dallas. He also averaged 1.9 steals and 0.4 blocks, leading Nash and Harper in each of these metrics.
Derek Harper averaged 1.9 defensive rebounds, 1.8 steals and 0.3 blocks.
Steve Nash is defensively several levels below Harper and Kidd. He averaged 2.2 defensive rebounds, 0.9 steals and 0.1 blocks with Dallas.
Average Mavs Point Guard: Brad Davis, a long time Mav and one of the better point guards in franchise history, averaged 1.9 rebounds, 0.8 steals and 0.2 blocks per game in his 12 year career with Dallas.
Kidd once again gets the W. His combination of size and ability to establish position allowed him to be sixth in Mavs franchise history in defensive rebounds. His quick hands and good vision made him a nightmare on the defensive end, putting him first in franchise history in steals per game and third in total steals. Harper was a close second here, and his mediocre rebounding numbers are the only thing holding him back from surpassing Kidd. Nash is barely in this conversation.
All-NBA honors and playoff success
The individual accolades a player receives is one way to measure the success of his career, so I also looked at each player's All-Star games and All-NBA selections (including defense), as well as their playoff accomplishments.
Steve Nash was selected to two All-Star teams and two All-NBA Third Teams. He made the playoffs four times with Dallas.
Jason Kidd won Co-Rookie of the Year in 1995, was named to three All-Star teams, appeared in the playoffs five times, and was the starting point guard for the 2011 NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks.
Derek Harper was named to the All-NBA Defensive 2nd team twice in his career and appeared in the playoffs six times.
Average Mavs Point Guard: No other Dallas point guard has been named to an All-Star team, an All-NBA team, or an All-NBA Defense team. This just goes to show you that these three guards are head and shoulders above the rest of the point guards that have suited up for Dallas.
It was very difficult to choose a winner from this section. On one hand, Nash and Kidd each appeared in multiple All-Star games. Nash has the two All-NBA Third Team selections under his belt, but Kidd appeared in more playoff games and won a title with Dallas. Derek Harper was selected to two All-NBA Defensive Teams and his six playoff appearances include a trip to the Conference Finals.
I think Harper just barely sneaks by with the victory in this section. His lack of All-NBA or All-Star game selections is a result of him playing alongside two great scorers in Rolondo Blackman and Mark Aguirre, who took most of the attention off of Harper as far as league-wide recognition goes. Not to mention, his accomplishments are made more impressive by the fact that in the late 80s and early 90s, when Harper was in his prime, the Western Conference was loaded with point guards like Magic Johnson, John Stockton, Kevin Johnson, and Tim Hardaway. Nash and Kidd, on the other hand, were competing with an aging Gary Payton and the exciting but not very consistent Stephon Marbury and Steve Francis.
Winner: Derek Harper
Derek Harper gets the edge over Nash and Kidd due to his longevity as a Maverick and combination of offensive and defensive ability. Nash beats Harper in terms of scoring and shooting efficiency, but Harper was a far superior defender and all-around player. Alternatively, Kidd has the advantage over Harper on the defensive end and was a superior rebounder, but Harper's offensive prowess and ability to more consistently stretch the floor gives him the edge.
What do you think? Is Harper the best point guard the Mavericks have ever had? Tell us in the comments, and check back next week as we discuss shooting guards!
Graphic by Andi Harman