Ranking the Top 25 Players in LA Clippers History

Jeff NisiusContributor IIAugust 1, 2013

Ranking the Top 25 Players in LA Clippers History

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    Compiling a list of the top 25 players in Los Angeles Clippers history is not easy, especially with 44 seasons and hundreds of players to sort through.

    However, the factors considered to be ranked on this list are two-fold. One, a player needs to be in the top 10 in a career category or has to have had a historic season with the Clippers—meaning winning a league award, a top statistical season or being  a key contributor to a playoff run.

    There are plenty of great players in Clippers history, but who will take the crown as the franchise’s best player ever?

    Note: All statistics courtesy of basketball-reference.com

25. Brent Barry

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    Although he was initially known more for being Rick Barry’s son, Brent Barry was able to make a name for himself during his rookie season after being traded to the Los Angeles Clippers on draft night.

    Barry started 44 games as a rookie and managed to score 10 points per game. However, it would be during the All-Star break in 1996 where Barry entered Clipper lore.

    After being asked to participate in the Slam Dunk Contest, Barry took home the title with a Dr. J-like dunk from the free-throw line. While he only played two seasons as a Clipper, his dunk from the foul line earns him a spot on this list due to the number of times it is played on NBA highlights.

24. Terry Dehere

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    One of the best point guards in team history, Terry Dehere is also one of the best three-point shooters the team has ever had.

    Dehere sits sixth all time in three-pointers made, with 262. Additionally, he recorded the best seasons of his career as a Los Angeles Clipper. Dehere’s best season coming in 1995-96, where he scored 12.4 points per game and dished out 4.3 assists.

    Despite only starting 47 games as a Clipper, Dehere was one of the best bench players the franchise ever had. He helped the Clippers make the playoffs in 1996-97 in limited playing time by averaging 16.1 points and 5.4 assists on a per-36-minute basis. 

23. Pooh Richardson

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    Pooh Richardson finished his career with a five-year stint for the Los Angeles Clippers, but unfortunately was never able to translate his statistics into wins.

    Richardson’s Clippers were never able to win more than 36 games in a season, but they did manage to sneak into the playoffs in 1996-97, although they lost in the first round.

    Richardson bridged the gap from a string of miserable Clippers teams to the high-flying squads that debuted in the early 2000s. He also finished eighth in team history in total assists with 1,397.

22. Sam Cassell

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    Sam Cassell was one of the major reasons for the Los Angeles Clippers making a deep run to the conference semifinals in 2005-06.

    His leadership at point guard and ability to set up his teammates helped the team improve their win total by 10 games. Furthermore, the brash point guard was able to put up 17.2 points and 6.3 assists per game.

    While he did not spend much time as a Clipper, only playing a shade over two full seasons, his impact on the franchise was monumental.

21. Cuttino Mobley

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    Although Cuttino Mobley was on the down slope of his career when he became a Los Angeles Clipper, he was a major contributor to one of the most successful teams in franchise history.

    In 2005-06, Mobley was the starting shooting guard on the 47-win Clippers, which currently ranks third all-time. Mobley averaged 14.8 points and dominated smaller guards in the paint.

20. Charles Smith

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    One of the few players on this list to average 20 points over consecutive seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers, Charles Smith was an impact forward.

    Smith was the third overall pick by the Clippers in 1988 and played up to expectations during his four years in Los Angeles. His best season came in 1990-91 when he averaged 20.0 points and 8.2 rebounds.

19. Ken Norman

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    Known for his consistent scoring ability, Ken Norman is one of the most effective Los Angeles Clipper forwards ever.

    He ranks seventh in total points, ninth in steals and eighth in total rebounds. The 6’8" forward recorded his best season in year two with the Clippers, scoring 18.1 points and grabbing 8.3 rebounds per game.

    Finally, he is one of the few Clippers in history to have played in back-to-back playoff series with the team, from 1991-93.

18. Swen Nater

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    The name may not be familiar unless you followed the team when they became the San Diego Clippers, but Swen Nater was one of the best big men the franchise ever had.

    Nater averaged a double-double for his career, but no season was more impressive than the 1979-80 campaign. During the team's second season in San Diego, Nater scored 13.4 points and pulled down an astonishing 15.0 rebounds per game.

    Nater also ranks third in offensive and defensive rebounds and fourth in total rebounds. He was simply dominant on the glass.

17. Gar Heard

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    The University of Oklahoma product played during the golden years while the franchise was still the Buffalo Braves. Gar Heard helped lead the Braves to three straight conference semifinals appearances.

    Heard also posted impressive numbers, averaging double-doubles in 1973-74 with 15.3 points and 11.7 rebounds and in 1975-76 with 11.0 points and 10.1 rebounds.

16. Benoit Benjamin

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    Before bouncing around the league, Benoit Benjamin was yet another third overall pick by the Los Angeles Clippers. While his time spent in Los Angeles did not result in many wins or even a single playoff appearance, he developed into a potent center.

    Benjamin sits ninth in career games played and sixth in total rebounds. Furthermore, he also blocked the most shots (1,117) and averaged more blocks per game (2.8) than any other Clipper. 

15. Bill Walton

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    Bill Walton is better known for his accomplishments as a Portland Trail Blazer, but he spent four seasons as a San Diego and Los Angeles Clipper.

    Unfortunately, upon becoming a Clipper, Walton suffered multiple serious foot injuries that would derail his career. When he did play, he was a shade of the player so beloved in Portland, but he still nearly managed four double-double seasons.

    Walton’s best season came in 1982-1983 where he scored 14.1 points and 9.8 rebounds.

14. Loy Vaught

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    Loy Vaught spent eight of his 11 years in the league with the Los Angeles Clippers, but it took him a while to develop his game into a starting power forward.

    Vaught barely played 20 minutes a night each of his first three seasons, but in year four, his game elevated. In year five, he averaged 17.5 points and 9.7 rebounds, but it would be the following two seasons that put him into the record books.

    Vaught is one of the few players to average consecutive double-doubles, but more importantly, is one of the few players who made the playoffs three times with the franchise.

13. Gary Grant

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    The Los Angeles Clippers have lacked their fair share of star point guards, but Gary Grant is as solid as there has been in team history.

    Grant played seven seasons in Los Angeles, finishing seventh in games played, second in assists and second in steals. The University of Michigan product enjoyed his best the years of his career during his first two in L.A.

    Grant scored 11.9 points and 7.1 assists per game as a rookie and averaged a double-double in year two with 13.1 points and 10.0 assists.

12. Bob Kauffman

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    Despite a short career, only seven years, Kauffman managed to turn in three All-Star seasons. His final All-Star season, Kauffman helped lead the Buffalo Braves to their franchise’s first playoff appearance.

    Additionally, Kauffman averaged three straight double-double seasons as a Brave. Not many players in league history have put up a 20-point-and-10-rebound season, but Kauffman’s talents helped turn the franchise into of the of most exciting during the early 1970s.

11. Chris Kaman

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    After eight seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers, Chris Kaman’s relationship with the team finally ended. However, it concluded with Kaman as one of the most productive and important centers the team has ever had.

    Kaman is fifth in games played, ninth in points and fifth in total rebounds. The fundamental center was a mainstay in the starting lineup and formed quite the duo with Elton Brand. His best season came in 2007-08 when Kaman put up 15.7 points and 12.7 rebounds per game.

10. Eric Piatkowski

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    Dubbed the “Polish Rifle,” Eric Piatkowski was a fan favorite because of his ability to knock down threes. Piatkowski shot 40 percent from deep as a Los Angeles Clipper and has nearly double the threes made over the second-place Corey Maggette.

    During his nine seasons as a Clipper, Pike played in 616 games, placing him second to Randy Smith. Unfortunately, he only managed to make the playoffs once in his illustrious Clippers career.

9. Ron Harper

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    Yes, Ron Harper played, and starred, for the Los Angeles Clippers. Harper never averaged fewer than 18 points for the Clippers, but it would be in Chicago where he would become more revered than he was in Los Angeles.

    Harper is the eighth all-time leading scorer in team history, but he will forever be defined by his tenures on championship teams with the Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers.

8. Corey Maggette

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    A bowling ball attacking the rim, Corey Maggette is well known for his talents at drawing fouls and getting to the free-throw line.

    His superior strength and athleticism allowed him to create and withstand contact. As a result, Corey is the Clippers’ all-time leader in free throws made and attempted.  Additionally, he also led the league in free throws made during the 2003-04 season. 

7. Danny Manning

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    Danny Manning was as talented a forward as there was in the league when healthy. Unfortunately, Manning was plagued by knee injuries throughout his career.

    Regardless, Manning helped lead the Clippers to two of their five playoff appearances and still ranks fifth on the franchise scoring list. He also helped end a 16-year franchise playoff drought in 1991-92.

6. World B. Free

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    Lloyd Bernard Free played two short seasons with the San Diego Clippers, but holds the all-time franchise record for career points per game with 29.4.

    Free was known for his signature dunks and aerial assaults on the rim. His scoring prowess earned him an All-Star appearance with the Clippers while scoring 30.2 points per game for the 1979-80 season.

5. Blake Griffin

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    How high Blake Griffin warrants on any all-time Los Angeles Clippers list is debatable. However, using the predetermined criteria, Griffin’s accomplishments bump him near the top of the list.

    Despite being only 24, Griffin has played in three All-Star games and started in two, been named Second Team All-NBA twice, won Rookie of the Year and the Slam Dunk Contest.

    While those accolades are nice, he has also made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, which is a limited feat in Clippers history. Finally, he boasts an amazing three-year career average of 20.4 points, 10.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists. He is truly one of the most dynamic Clippers ever already.

4. Randy Smith

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    There were few players in franchise history who could score and impact a game in as many ways as Randy Smith could.

    Smith teamed up with Bob McAdoo to turn the Buffalo Braves into one of the most exciting teams in the league, before the franchise moved to San Diego. Smith also holds numerous franchise records such as games and minutes played, field goals made and attempted, assists and steals.

    He was truly one of the franchise’s first impact players.

3. Chris Paul

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    Despite his short history as a Clipper, Paul has already been twice named All-NBA first team, All-Star MVP, started on the Olympic team and started in two All-Star games. Those accomplishments already make him one of the most decorated Clippers in franchise history.

    Factor in his arrival in Los Angeles transforming the culture of the team into a Western Conference powerhouse and his averages of 18 points and nine assists since being acquired, and it is easy to see why Paul vaults up the all-time ranks.

2. Elton Brand

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    No player came to play every night in team history harder than Elton Brand. He is the all-time leader in total and offensive rebounds and even led the league in offensive rebounding during his first season with Los Angeles.

    While many fans are still upset with Brand for bolting Los Angeles for the Philadelphia 76ers in the summer of 2008, he was the face of the franchise for years.

    Still, the most memorable seasons of Brand’s career will have been played as a Clipper. He recorded two 20-point-and-10-rebound seasons, none more memorable than 2005-06. Brand scored 24.7 and pulled down 10.0 rebounds, was an MVP candidate and led the Clippers to the conference semifinals.

1. Bob McAdoo

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    Bob McAdoo had a sensational career in the NBA and is the greatest player in the franchise’s history. McAdoo won three straight scoring titles as a Buffalo Brave, from 1973-74 through 1975-76. He also won the NBA Most Valuable Player Award, made First- and Second-Team All-NBA and was named Rookie of the Year.

    McAdoo could do it all. He could run the floor, hit open jumpers and play harder than most centers in the league. He recorded the three most impressive seasons in team history, although none better than when he scored 34.5 points and grabbed 14.1 rebounds in 1974-75.