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April 18, 2023

Ranking every Sixers point guard ever

Who's the best Sixers point guard ever? We rank them, including Maurice Cheeks, Ben Simmons and more.

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Ben Simmons Mansion LA Kate Frese/for PhillyVoice

Former Sixers All-Star point guard Ben Simmons.

The Sixers have had some really good point guards in their history. They've had even more fan favorite, sentimental point guards who might be a little better in our memories than they objectively were in the stat sheets.

We've done our best to peruse that issue and compile a list of the top PG's in team history. We've already ranked the best shooting guards, small forwards, power forwards and centers in team history using the same set of guidelines — they have to be known for being a Sixer and have 200 games player for the team at a minimum.

That leaves a few household names off our list. Before we reveal our rankings, here's a look at some point guards whose tenure in Philly wasn't long enough to make our rankings:

Tyrese Maxey19615.4 PPG
James Harden7921 PPG, 10.6 APG
Tony Wroten11013.8 PPG
Markelle Fultz337.7 PPG
Speedy Claxton677.2 PPG
Vernon Maxwell9913.5 PPG
Lionel Hollins19010.5 PPG
Dana Barros173
16.9 PPG, 6.4 APG

There's certainly some very interesting recent history here for point guards, from Tony Wroten to Markelle Fultz to James Harden. Tyrese Maxey is just four games short of our 200 cut off — where will he rank on this list next season?

And also there's a gigantic Ben Simmons' sized question mark out there. He has to be one of the franchise's best despite all the drama right?

Our sports staff ranked the following players at the point guard spot in the lineup. Here's how we think they should be quantified:

1. Maurice Cheeks (1978-89)

12.2 PPG | 7.3 APG | 4 All-Star, 5 All-Defense, 1983 NBA title | NBA HOF

Evan Macy: Cheeks was the point guard who helped lead the 1983 team to glory. He spent his 20s in Philadelphia, appearing in 20 playoff series and was an all-time great defender and distributor of the basketball. He is third on the franchise list for games played, and has the most steals and assists ever as a Sixer by a wide margin. He's a no-brainer choice for No. 1 on our list.

2. Ben Simmons (2016-22)

15.9 PPG | 8.1 RPG | 7.7 APG | 3 All-Star, All-NBA, Rookie of the Year

Nick Tricome: Okay, where do we go with this one?

Let's just start from the beginning, when the Sixers got that first overall pick and used it on Simmons. It was a monumental moment. We had to wait another year because of a foot injury, sure, but that moment, he was it. The Sixers got their superstar. The Process worked. 

And those first two years Simmons and Joel Embiid were on the floor together, oh man, did it look like the Process worked. The Sixers were good again, they had stars worth talking about, and there were some problems to iron out, but both were still young, so you just assumed that they would get fixed with time. 

But Simmons' issues – shooting – never did, and it regressed over the years. A lack of confidence, too much arrogance, or a little of both? Who knows, but an infamous passed-up dunk, a messy holdout and relief of a trade later (well, for the Sixers at least), and Philly's rolling with James Harden now while Simmons isn't even playing for the Nets, and when he did, was just a shell of himself. 

He had so much potential, and a good player, for sure to start. But he could've been great, and ended up just going backwards. 

Still, he was good enough to get near the top of this list, and I'm not sure what that really says about the Sixers' point guard history. 

Shamus Clancy: Ben Simmons insisting on being named a point guard when he was not a real point guard was a part of his downfall in Philly. The roster construction that was needed to appease him and his branding hamstrung that Sixers. 

3. Jrue Holiday (2009-13)

13.4 PPG | 5.8 APG | All-Star

Shamus: Jrue Holiday will likely go down in Sixers history as the big domino that helped kick off the Process when Sam Hinkie traded him to the Pelicans during the 2013 NBA Draft. The Sixers would ultimately receive the picks that led to Nerlens Noel and Dario Saric. Holiday has, rather easily, had a much better career than both, but the "losses" that came in return for Holiday resulted in Joel Embiid being a Sixer. Things worked themselves out!

Holiday would ultimately turn into a defensive ace and a championship winner with the Bucks, but the roots of that leap he took were seeded in Philadelphia. He oozed potential his first few years in the league, making the All-Star team in 2013. If the Sixers weren't in the midst of disastrous roster management, I'd love to have seen an actual competitive team around him. 

It's funny. Holiday was the type of guard the Sixers eternally searched for during the Ben Simmons era: a guy who could nail threes, bring a little playmaking of his own and guard both 1s and 2s. That's the story of the Sixers. 

4. Wali Jones (1965-71, 1976)

11.5 PPG | 1967 NBA title

NickAnother homegrown product and a Sixer for seven seasons, Jones filled out the backcourt with Hal Greer on that stacked '67 team that rolled right to the NBA title. 

5. Lou Williams (2005-12)

11.3 PPG

Shamus: I was at the Sixers' Easter afternoon playoff win over the Heat in 2011 when Lou Williams hit a game-winning pull-up three in Dwyane Wade's face:

The Sixers would go on to lose that series in five games. Quite sadly, that was perhaps the best Sixers moment I witnessed in person in the pre-Joel Embiid days.

6. Andre Miller (2006-09)

15.9 PPG | 6.9 APG

Evan: Miller spent three seasons in Philly, twice losing in the first round of the playoffs with the squad before he moved on to Portland. Miller was a professional point guard, and was one of the last remnants of a team that tried to compete before The Process years.

7. Eric Snow (1997-04)

9.7 PPG | 6.6 APG | All-defense

NickA perfect compliment to Iverson in the backcourt, Snow excelled at moving the ball and getting back to cover, which allowed Iverson to take over on offense, which snowballed into the scoring title, the MVP award, and the 2001 Finals before they knew it. 

He also had a segment on Nick GaS back in the day, if anyone remembers what Nick GaS was.

8. Archie Clark (1968-72)

18.2 PPG

Evan: Clark was an All-Star the year before he came to Philly (with the Lakers) and an All-Star the year after (with the Bullets). In between he was a good scorer for the post 1967 champion Sixers as they continued to contend, but would start to fall off in the 70s.

9. Henry Bibby (1976-80)

10.1 PPG

Shamus: Henry Bibby, the second-best point guard in his family, was a starter on the Sixers' 1977 NBA Finals team that lost to Portland and a key bench player on their 1980 Finals squad that lost to the Lakers (lots of losing, huh?). 

10. Paul Neumann (1961-65)

9.1 PPG

Shamus: This blurb is about Paul Neumann, not Paul Newman. Originally a member of the Syracuse Nationals, Neumann was on the franchise's first Philadelphia team in 1964. Neumann's greatest contribution to the Sixers? He was one of the players they traded to the Warriors for Wilt Chamberlain. Thanks, Paul!

The rest...

11T.J McConnell6.4 PPG, 4.7 APG
12George King10.4 PPG, 4.7 APG
13Freddie Boyd8.9 PPG
14Al Bianchi8.1 PPG
15Al Cervi7.9 PPG 
16Sedale Threatt6.9 PPG
17Kevin Ollie2.7 PPG
18Larry Costello12.9 PPG

Shamus: T.J. McConnell's buzzer-beating turnaround jumper against the Knicks during the 2017 season stands as one of the greatest Sixers highlights of the last decade. Enthralling as it was, that says more about the Sixers than McConnell, who was a fan-favorite bench player with a penchant for inbound pass steals. 

Evan: I am a pretty well-informed Sixers' fan and I never heard of pretty much all of these guys, save for Kevin Ollie, who signed my jersey in Sixers Camp back in the early 2000s (and also coached at UConn when I worked as a sportswriter in Connecticut).

Follow Evan on Twitter:@evan_macy

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