NBA Power Rankings: Top 10 Left-Handed Players of All Time
Who doesn't love a sweet shooting lefty?
If you look in the Basketball Hall of Fame, you will see mostly right-handed players. Well, what if we were to rank the top ten left-handed players of all time? Would you even know where to begin? Everyone knows Bill Russell, and most of you would probably name David Robinson shortly after that. After that, it kind of becomes a free-for-all, mentioning any left-handed All-Star that comes to your head.
Allow me to do the work for you. I've ranked the top ten, along with some current players that are making their way into the discussion. You will find the career stats for each player, along with any awards they may have racked up over their career. Let's start the discussion!
We'll start off with a couple current players that may work their way onto this list before they hang it up.
Honorable Mention: Chris Bosh
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Career Stats: 636 Games; 12,608 Points; 5,803 Rebounds; 1,352 Assists; 686 Blocks; 501 Steals; 49% FG; 80% FT
Awards: NBA All-Star (7); All-Rookie 1st Team; All-NBA 2nd Team (1); Olympic Gold Champion (1); Top 10 PER (2)
It's very possible that Chris Bosh will find himself on this list after he decides to hang it up. Bosh should probably get a couple rings, at the least, as well as add another Gold Medal to his name. If Bosh can put together a handful more 15/8 type seasons while adding a couple championships, there will be a spot in the Hall of Fame waiting for him.
Honorable Mention: Manu Ginobili
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Career Stats: 656 Games; 9,955 Points; 2,598 Rebounds; 2,573 Assists; 978 Steals; 45% FG; 37% 3PT; 83% FT
Awards: NBA All-Star (2); NBA 6th Man Of The Year; NBA All-Rookie 2nd Team; All-NBA 3rd Team (2); Top 10 PER (3); NBA Champion (3); Olympic Gold Champion (1)
There are plenty of people who call Manu Ginobili one of the most underrated players in NBA history. The odd thing is that there are just as many who claim he's one of the most overrated players in history.
There's an argument to both sides. He's won three championships, finished in the top 10 in PER a few times and has a sixth man of the year. However, he's only been an All-Star twice and made the All-NBA team twice, both being third team. Either way, the numbers don't lie, and he's close to being one of the top ten lefties to ever play the game. Just think about what could have been accomplished had he been able to stay healthy.
10. Gail Goodrich
Career Stats: 1,031 Games; 19,181 Points; 4,805 Assists; 3,279 Rebounds; 545 Steals*; 46% FG; 81% FT
Awards: NBA All-Star (5); All-NBA 1st Team (1); NBA Champion (1); Hall Of Fame (1996)
Goodrich gets a bit of a bump historically due to being a Laker, but he was still good enough to make this list. He attacked the basket like very few in the history of the game, racking up some huge free throw numbers. If it weren't for a knee injury, these numbers would be even better and he may have a couple more championships.
*Became Official Stat: 1973 (Goodrich Rookie Year: 1965)
9. Bob Lanier
Career Stats: 959 Games; 19,248 Points; 9,698 Rebounds; 3,007 Assists; 1,100 Blocks*; 777 Steals*; 51% FG; 77% FT
Awards: NBA All-Star (8); NBA All-Star Game MVP (1); NBA All-Rookie 1st Team; Top 10 PER (8); Hall Of Fame (1992)
Lanier was stuck on some rough Piston teams, but he always put up numbers. If blocks and steals would have been kept his entire career, there's a good chance he would have hit 1500/1000.
*Became Official Stat: 1973 (Lanier Rookie Year: 1970)
8. Chris Mullin
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Career Stats: 986 Games; 17,911 Points; 4,034 Rebounds; 3,450 Assists; 1,530 Steals; 549 Blocks; 51% FG; 38% 3PT; 86% FT
Awards: NBA All-Star (5); All-NBA 1st Team (1); All-NBA 2nd Team (2); All-NBA 3rd Team (1); Top 10 PER (1); Olympic Champion (2); Hall Of Fame (2011)
Chris Mullin was really good. Honestly, he was much better than his stats. He was a "must have" when the Dream Team was being put together, and the NBA was deep during that period.
If it weren't for a drinking problem early in his career, he would be remembered differently based solely on the numbers. Eventually turning it around, Mullin became one of the best offensive players in the NBA over a handful of years.
7. Nate "Tiny" Archibald
Career Stats: 876 Games; 16,481 Points; 6,476 Assists; 2,046 Rebounds; 719 Steals*; 47% FG; 81% FT
Awards: NBA All-Star (6); NBA All-Star Game MVP (1); All-NBA 1st Team (3); All-NBA 2nd Team (2); Top 10 PER (4); NBA Champion (1); Hall Of Fame (1991)
Archibald came into the NBA as a NYC playground legend. Anytime a point guard is described as being a "New York City PG" in current day, we automatically think of high shot volume and flashy passes. You can thank Archibald for that.
No one controlled the game like Archibald did, kind of like a current day Steve Nash. He probably would have cracked 1,000 steals if they would have been kept his first few years, but his numbers stand out just as they are.
*Became Official Stat: 1973 (Archibald Rookie Year: 1970)
6. Billy Cunningham
Career Stats*: 770 Games; 16,310 Points; 7,981 Rebounds; 3,305 Assists; 390 Steals**; 45% FG; 73% FT
Awards*: NBA All-Star (4); ABA All-Star (1); ABA MVP (1); NBA All-Rookie 1st Team; All-NBA 1st Team (3); All-NBA 2nd Team (1); All-ABA 1st Team (1); NBA Top 10 PER (4); ABA Top 10 PER (1); NBA Champion (1); Hall Of Fame (1986)
Another career that was cut short by a knee injury, Cunningham never really came back afterwards. He's also one of the NBA/ABA cross-stars. At his peak, Cunningham was unreal. That fact that he only played 770 games is what keeps him a little lower on my list than most.
*NBA & ABA
**Became Official Stat: 1973 (Cunningham Rookie Year: 1965)
5. Artis Gilmore
Career Stats*: 1,329 Games; 24,941 Points; 16,330 Rebounds; 3,050 Assists; 3,178 Blocks; 58% FG; 70% FT
Awards*: ABA All-Star (5); NBA All-Star (6); ABA MVP (1); ABA Rookie Of The Year; ABA All-Star Game MVP (1); All-ABA 1st Team (5); ABA All-Rookie 1st Team; ABA All-Defensive 1st Team (4); ABA Champion (1); ABA Top 10 PER (5); NBA Top 10 PER (5); Hall Of Fame (2011)
First of all, how sweet are those jerseys? Chicago really needs to revive the cursive throwbacks soon; they may sell a million Rose jerseys.
As for Gilmore, he looks a little better on paper than he was in reality. I mean, look at those numbers! He wasn't as dominant defensively as his blocks totals would make you think, but he was passable. Also, that FG percent is a little skewed by the fact that he was similar to Dwight Howard, rarely shooting outside of the paint.
*NBA & ABA
4. Willis Reed
Career Stats: 650 Games; 12,183 Points; 8,414 Rebounds; 1,186 Assists; 47% FG; 75% FT
Awards: NBA All-Star (7); NBA Rookie Of The Year; NBA All-Star Game MVP (1); NBA Finals MVP (2); NBA MVP (1); NBA All-Rookie 1st Team; All-NBA 1st Team (1); All-NBA 2nd Team (4); NBA All-Defensive 1st Team (1); Top 10 PER (4); NBA Champion (2); Hall Of Fame (1982)
I spent an hour going over the Reed/Cowens debate. I looked into the smallest of stats, read as much as I could and still didn't have a definite choice. In the end, Cowens barely edged out Reed.
My main reason was longevity. Reed was better as his peak, more dominant and got better when it mattered. On the negative side, he only played 650 games and shot less than 50 percent from the floor. There's no excuse for that. Steals and blocks were starting to be recorded in Reed's last season, so he doesn't have those numbers to boost his legacy.
3. Dave Cowens
Career Stats: 766 Games; 13,516 Points; 10,444 Rebounds; 2,910 Assists; 599 Steals*; 488 Blocks*; 46% FG; 78% FT
Awards: NBA All-Star (7); NBA Rookie Of The Year; NBA All-Star Game MVP (1); NBA MVP (1); NBA All-Rookie 1st Team; All-NBA 2nd Team (3); All-NBA Defensive 1st Team (1); All-NBA Defensive 2nd Team (2); NBA Champion (2); Hall Of Fame (1991)
Cowens played approximately 100 more games than Reed, which is kind of remarkable when you consider the style he played. He played hard, even in an era where nearly everyone played hard and it was much more difficult to stand out for it.
Most people overlook how good Cowens was across the board. There have been exactly four players who lead their team in all five categories (points/rebounds/assists/blocks/steals) for a season; LeBron James, Kevin Garnett, Scottie Pippen and Dave Cowens. Impressive.
*Became Official Stat: 1973 (Cowens Rookie Year: 1970)
2. David Robinson
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Career Stats: 987 Games; 20,790 Points; 10,497 Rebounds; 2,441 Assists; 2,954 Blocks; 1,388 Steals; 52% FG; 74% FT
Awards: NBA All-Star (10); NBA Rookie Of The Year; NBA Defensive Player Of The Year (1); NBA MVP (1); All-NBA 1st Team (4); All-NBA 2nd Team (2); All-NBA 3rd Team (4); NBA All-Defensive 1st Team (4); NBA All-Defensive 2nd Team (4); NBA All-Rookie 1st Team; Top 10 PER (11); NBA Champion (2); Hall of Fame (2009)
It becomes much easier from here, as the top two are locks. I don't need to tell you about how good David Robinson was, but I will remind you that he led the NBA in PER three times! That's when the NBA was absolutely loaded with talent.
Sad to say, what I'll always remember about Robinson is what could have been. He could have been one of the all-time greats. Seriously. Does anyone else remember Hakeem ripping him to shreds in the playoffs? Robinson is a great guy, and it would show from time to time on the court. He never really had that killer instinct.
1. Bill Russell
Career Stats: 963 Games; 14,522 Points; 21,620 Rebounds; 4,100 Assists; 44% FG; 56% FT
Awards: NBA All-Star (12); NBA All-Star Game MVP (1); NBA MVP (5); All-NBA 1st Team (3); All-NBA 2nd Team (8); NBA All-Defensive 1st Team (1); Top 10 PER (7); NBA Champion (11); Hall Of Fame (1975)
Obvious choice. Remember, Russell played before they kept track of blocks. If they would have kept track, those numbers would be jaw-dropping, I promise you. Another point I want to make from a statistical standpoint is that he actually was a little more offensively challenged than people remember. He was usually the biggest guy on the floor, and always the most athletic, but he finished with a career field goal percentage of 44.
Back to the positive, the best part about Russell was the way he played the game. Basketball was started as a team sport, and it still is to an extent, but we see a lot more stars influence each game now. Russell truly cared about one thing: winning. He involved his teammates at every opportunity and didn't care who got the credit as long as he ended up with a ring. He finished with 11 rings and the title for the best lefty of all time.