Top 65 Players in NBA History: Where Does Dirk Rank with a Title?
The following is a list of the top 65 players in NBA history.
This list is a result of almost two years of exhaustive research.
When ranking these players, I considered number of titles won, individual statistics and awards and how well each player's statistics compared to players of his generation, players at his position and players of similar greatness all time.
All statistics and accomplishments in the ABA are disregarded for the purposes of this slideshow.
So now that we have had a week to digest and analyze the Mavericks' first franchise title, let's see how Dirk Nowitzki ranks after erasing his name from the list of all time greats without rings.
65. Earl Monroe: PG, 1967-80
Earl Monroe was the point guard on the last championship Knicks team back in 1973. Before that, Monroe appeared in consecutive Finals—in 1971 with the Baltimore Bullets and in 1972 with the Knicks.
Monroe did not enjoy a long, successful career, but found his niche as a scoring guard early and often in his career. He did, however, attain one of the most impressive per-minute careers production-wise in NBA history.
Monroe's statistics would rank better historically if he had stayed healthy. He missed nearly 10 games per season on average in his 13-season career.
1973 NBA champion
Career averages: 18.8 pts, 3.0 rebs, 3.9 ast
Three-year peak: 24-4-5 ... Career PER: 17.2 ... Playoffs PER: 16.4
Drafted second overall by the Baltimore Bullets in the 1967 NBA Draft.
64. Dennis Rodman: F/C, 1986-2000
Rodman is the most relentless rebounder in NBA history.
He led the league in rebounds per game for seven consecutive seasons from 1991 to '98, and from 1990 to '97, he led the league six times in offensive rebounds.
Rodman won two championships with Detroit in 1989 and '90 and then was part of the Bulls' second three-peat in the late '90s.
Rodman leads the NBA in career rebound percentage, grabbing 23.4 percent of his team's rebounds.
Five-time NBA Champion; 1990, 1991 Defensive Player of the Year
Career averages: 7.3 pts, 13.1 rebs
Two-year peak: 9-18 rebs .... Career PER: 14.6 ... Playoffs PER: 12.3
63. Reggie Miller: G/F, 1987-2005
Miller was a model of offensive consistency for the Indiana Pacers during his career.
He is first all time in three-point field goals made and attempts but ranks 40th in percentage.
Worth noting, Miller is the first and only player on this list without an NBA title, MVP award, Finals MVP, Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year or a first or second-team All-NBA selection.
He is ninth all time in career free throw percentage. Miller ranks second in offensive rating, sixth in true shooting Percentage, and seventh in offensive win shares all time.
Career averages: 18.2 pts, 3.0 rebs, 3.0 ast
Three-year peak: 22-3-3 ... Career PER: 18.4 ... Playoffs PER: 19.5
Drafted 11th overall by the Indiana Pacers in the 1987 NBA Draft.
62. Ray Allen: G/F, 1996-Present
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Ray Allen is one of the deadliest shooters in NBA history.
Whether you're fearful of seeing him wide open on the three-point line in a tight game, or whether he is on the foul line trying to tie the game or take the lead, or even secure a win, Allen is the NBA's greatest shooter ever.
Perhaps no two players are more similar historically than Allen and Reggie Miller at No. 63.
Allen secures the edge over Miller with a better three-year peak, one NBA title to zero and a second-team All-NBA selection compared to none for Miller.
On Feb. 10, 2011, Allen passed Miller for most three-point field goals made in a career.
2008 NBA champion
Career averages: 20.2 pts, 4.3 rebs, 3.6 ast
Three-year peak: 22-5-4 ... Career PER: 19.2 ... Playoffs PER: 17.7
61. Bernard King: F, 1977-93
King was selected to the All-NBA First Team in back-to-back seasons (1984, '85). He finished second in the MVP voting for the 1984 season.
In March of 1985, he tore his ACL, which ended his season. He still won the 1985 scoring title despite playing just 55 games. The injury forced King to miss the entire 1985-86 season.
King set the Nets' rookie scoring record (22.5) in 1978.
Only five times did King make the postseason, advancing past the first round just once. King led the league in scoring average and PER in the 1984 playoffs.
Career averages: 22.5 pts, 5.8 rebs
Four-year peak: 25-5-3 ... Career PER: 19.2 ... Playoffs PER: 22.2
Drafted seventh overall by the New York Nets in the 1977 NBA Draft.
60. George Gervin: G/F, 1976-86
"The Iceman" played four seasons in the ABA before his Spurs were part of the NBA merger in 1976.
In 1978, Gervin posted 63 points in the regular season finale to win his first scoring title, slightly edging runner-up David Thompson, who posted 73 earlier in the day. Gervin scored 53 points against the New Orleans Jazz that day, including 33 alone in the second quarter.
Gervin won four scoring titles, retiring with the most all-time for a guard before Michael Jordan passed him in 1991.
He was the MVP runner-up in 1978 and '79. During his NBA career, Gervin was named first-team All-NBA from 1978 to '82; in those same postseasons Gervin was the NBA's scoring average leader.
He retired from the NBA without ever appearing in the Finals.
Career averages: 26.2 pts, 4.6 rebs
Five-year peak: 30-5-3 ... Career PER: 21.7 ... Playoffs PER: 21.0
Drafted 40th overall (third round, fourth pick) by the Phoenix Suns in the 1974 NBA Draft.
59. Nate Archibald: PG, 1970-77; 1978-84
In 1972-73, Nate Archibald posted one of the most impressive seasons in NBA history as a member of the Kansas City-Omaha Kings.
He averaged 34.0 points and 11.4 assists per game that season, becoming the only player in league history to lead the NBA in both categories in the same season.
Also in that season, Archibald led the league in minutes, minutes per game, field goals made, field goal attempts, free throws made and free throw attempts.
The Kings, however, went only 36-46 that season, as Archibald finished third in the MVP voting, behind Dave Cowens and Kareem Abdul Jabbar.
He was named a first-team All-NBA selection that season, the first of three such honors in his career.
1981 NBA Champion
Career averages: 18.8 pts, 7.4 ast
Two-year peak: 31-10 ... Career PER: 18.0 ... Playoffs PER: 12.7
Drafted 19th overall (second round, second pick) by the Cincinnati Royals in the 1970 NBA Draft.
58. Dominique Wilkins: F/G, 1982-99
Wilkins was one of the league's most elite scorers in the 1980s.
Known for his remarkable dunking skills, his scoring ability was nearly as phenomenal. In 10 consecutive seasons, from 1985 to '94, Wilkins averaged more than 25 points per game.
In the 1985-86 season, Wilkins won his first and only scoring title and was named to the All-NBA first team for the first and only time in his career.
A glaring hole on Wilkins' postseason legacy, none of his teams ever appeared in a conference finals.
Career averages: 24.8 pts, 6.7 rebs
10-year peak: 28-7-3 ... Career PER: 21.6 ... Playoffs PER: 18.7
Drafted third overall by the Utah Jazz in the 1982 NBA Draft.
57. Paul Arizin: F/G, 1950-52; 1954-62
Not knocking Arizin, but his career is the most pedestrian of any top player on an NBA champion.
In the 1956 Finals, he led his Philadelphia Warriors with 28.9 points per game in 10 postseason games. Arizin finished as runner-up in the MVP voting in the 1955-56 season.
He also had a spectacular second season in 1951-52 and would have been a top candidate for MVP had the award started before 1956.
Arizin led the league in minutes, field goals made, field goal percentage, free throws made and attempts, points, offensive win shares and win shares. He also pulled down an average of 11.3 rebounds per game and won the All-Game MVP award.
Arizin lost some career momentum after his tremendous second season when he missed the next two NBA seasons serving in the Marines during the Korean War.
1956 NBA Champion
Career averages: 22.8 pts, 8.6 rebs
Six-year peak: 25-9 reb ... Career PER: 19.6 ... Playoffs PER: 20.3
Drafted third overall by the Philadelphia Warriors in the 1950 NBA Draft.
56. Paul Pierce: G/F, 1998-Present
A rarity in the modern NBA, Pierce has played his entire career with one franchise.
He fought through a myriad of issues early in his career. Help finally arrived in 2008 when the Celtics acquired Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. He was named Finals MVP as Boston beat the Lakers in six games.
"The Truth" has managed a memorably good career against the top crop of competition.
2008 NBA Champion; 2008 Finals MVP
Career averages: 22.2 pts, 6.1 rebs, 3.8 ast
Six-year peak: 25-7-4 ... Career PER: 20.7 ... Playoffs PER: 18.5
Drafted 10th overall by the Boston Celtics in the 1998 NBA Draft.
55. Dwight Howard: C, 2004-Present
Dwight Howard already ranks among the best defensive centers in the NBA history alongside Dikembe Mutombo, Alonzo Mourning and Ben Wallace after just seven seasons.
A three-time defensive player of the year, Howard is one of the best rebounders of all time.
Howard led the Magic to the Finals in 2009 and has averaged 15-plus rebounds in three different postseasons.
The past three seasons, he has led the NBA in total defensive rebounds, defensive rating, defensive win shares and been named first-team All-NBA and first-team All-Defense.
Seemingly the only accolade missing from Howard's legacy is an NBA championship.
Three-time Defensive Player of the Year
Career averages: 18.2 pts, 12.9 rebs
Four-year peak: 19-13 reb ... Career PER: 22.3 ... Playoffs PER: 23.7
Drafted first overall by the Orlando Magic in the 2004 NBA Draft.
54. Bob McAdoo: F/C, 1973-86
Believe it or not, Kevin Durant's career is starting out strikingly similar to Bob McAdoo's. Check this out. Durant and McAdoo:
- were both second overall picks.
- were voted as Rookie of the Year in their first seasons.
- were named All-NBA first-teamers in their third season
- led the NBA in scoring average, minutes played, field goals made, free attempts and points scored in their third seasons.
- both played at a Division I college for only one season
Not to mention,
- the No. 1 pick in their respective drafts, LaRue Martin and Greg Oden, were both selected by the Portland Trail Blazers.
- both No. 1 picks are widely considered "busts"
- they are very similar in size (Durant: 6'10", 230 lbs., McAdoo: 6'9", 225 lbs.)
This comparison doesn't validate McAdoo's career—nor Durant's—but it does bring attention to a unique historical comparison.
1982, 1985 NBA Champion; 1975 MVP
Career averages: 22.1 pts, 9.4 rebs
Three-year peak: 32-14-3 .. Career PER: 20.7 ... Playoffs PER: 18.6
Drafted second overall by the Buffalo Braves in the 1972 NBA Draft.
53. Robert Parish: C, 1976-97
Robert Parish was a remarkable model of endurance, durability and longevity in the NBA for parts of three decades.
As a member of the Celtics for 14 seasons, Parish never played in fewer than 74 games in a season, missing an average of only three games per season.
Parish is the NBA's all-time leader in games played. He started for the three championship Celtics teams in the '80s and averaged at least 15 points and nine rebounds per game in nine different seasons.
Parish was named to the NBA's 50 Greatest Players in NBA History team in 1996. The Celtics retired his number 00 in 1998.
Four-time NBA Champion
Career averages: 14.5 pts, 9.1 rebs
Four-year peak: 19-10 ... Career PER: 19.2 ... Playoffs PER: 16.6
Drafted eighth overall by the Golden State Warriors in the 1976 NBA Draft.
52. Gary Payton: PG, 1990-2007
Payton is arguably the best defensive point guard in NBA history, as he is the only player at the position to win a defensive player of the year award.
Payton finished inside the top 10 in steals eight times and is fourth all time in career steals, making the All-Defense first team a record nine consecutive times from 1994 to '02.
In his eight full seasons before being traded by Seattle in 2003, Payton averaged 21 points, four rebounds, eight assists and two steals per game, a run of seasons that is unmatched in NBA history.
In 1996, Payton led the SuperSonics to a franchise-record 64-win season, culminating in a trip to the Finals.
Payton made two other Finals appearances during his career, winning a title as a member of the Miami Heat in 2006.
2006 NBA Champion; 1996 Defensive Player of the Year
Career averages: 16.3 pts, 3.9 rebs, 6.7 ast
Eight-year peak: 21-4-8-2 stl ... Career PER: 18.9 ... Playoffs PER: 15.4
Drafted second overall by the Seattle SuperSonics in the 1990 NBA Draft.
51. Allen Iverson: G, 1996-2010
As diminutive as they come, Iverson is one of the greatest scorers in league history. Listed at 6'0" 165 lbs., he led the NBA in scoring four times and is second only to Michael Jordan in postseason scoring average.
He won his first and only MVP trophy in the 2000-01 season, leading the Philadelphia 76ers to 56 wins and an eventual Finals appearance—his first and only.
Notable off-the-court issues derailed his reputation but not his accomplishments.
Iverson—along with Dominique Wilkins, Jerry West and Michael Jordan—is one of four guards in league history to average over 25 points in 10 consecutive seasons.
"The Answer" is the only player in league history to lead the NBA in steals and scoring in back-to-back seasons (2001 and '02).
Career averages: 26.7 pts, 3.7 rebs, 6.2 ast, 2.2 stl
Three-year peak: 30-4-7-2 stl ... Career PER: 20.9 ... Playoffs PER: 21.2
Drafted first overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1996 NBA Draft.
50. Tom Heinsohn: F/C, 1956-65
Heinsohn won eight NBA championships in his nine-season career.
He won Rookie of the Year, was selected to the All-Star Game and led the Celtics in scoring during the playoffs en route to his and fellow rookie Bill Russell's first title in 1957.
Heinsohn led the Celtics in playoff scoring three other times and was a very consistent defender during his tenure with Boston. Steals and blocks were not official statistics during his career, however.
He was named a second-team All-NBA selection from 1961-64, finishing behind Elgin Baylor and Bob Pettit (both first-teamers) at the forward position.
Eight-time NBA Champion
Career averages: 18.6 pts, 8.8 rebs
Five-year peak: 21-10 reb ... Career PER: 17.8 ... Playoffs PER: 17.7
Drafted sixth overall as a territorial pick by the Boston Celtics in the 1956 NBA Draft.
49. Dennis Johnson: G, 1976-90
The SuperSonics blew a 3-2 series lead to the Bullets in the 1978 Finals, dropping Game 7—in which Johnson shot 0-of-14 from the field.
In a Finals rematch the following season, Johnson led the SuperSonics to their first and only NBA championship. He was named Finals MVP.
Johnson was one of the best defensive guards of his era. He was named a first-team All-Defense selection five consecutive seasons from 1979-83 and once more in 1987.
He won two championships as a member of the Celtics in 1984 and 1986. Johnson scored one of the most famous layups in league history in the 1987 postseason—watch here.
1979 Finals MVP
Career averages: 14.1 pts, 3.9 rebs, 5.0 ast
Three-year peak 19-5-4 ... Career PER: 14.6 ... Playoffs PER: 14.4
Drafted 29th overall (second round, ninth pick) by the Seattle SuperSonics in the 1976 NBA Draft.
48. Elvin Hayes: F/C, 1968-84
In 15 seasons, Hayes missed only nine games in his NBA career. "The Big E" retired as one of the most productive big men in NBA history, finishing third in minutes, fourth in total rebounds, seventh in defensive win shares and eighth all time in points.
Hayes, a 12-time All-Star, won the scoring title in his rookie season, with 28.4 points per game to go along with 17.1 rebounds. The next season, he led the league in rebounding average for the first of two times in his career.
Hayes, the first overall pick in the 1968 draft, was traded to the Bullets in 1972 and joined the second overall pick from that draft, Wes Unseld, to form a daunting frontcourt tandem.
In 1978, his Bullets team won the Finals with him on the bench in the final 10 minutes of Game 7. Hayes appeared in the Finals two other times—falling to the Warriors in 1975 (went 60-22 in regular season, swept in Finals) and the SuperSonics in 1979 (lost in five games despite holding home-court advantage).
1978 NBA Champion
Career averages: 21.0 pts, 12.5 rebs
Three-year peak: 28-17 reb ... Career PER: 17.7 ... Playoffs PER: 19.4
Drafted first overall by the San Diego Rockets in the 1968 NBA Draft.
47. James Worthy: F, 1982-94
Worthy was one of the best playoffs performers in NBA history. A regular season scoring average of 17.2 turned into a career postseason average of 21.1.
A major contributor to three championship Lakers teams (1985, '87, '88), Worthy—nicknamed "Big Game James"—was named Finals MVP in 1988 after scoring 28 points in Game 6 and posting a triple double (36-16-10) in Game 7 against the Pistons.
Worthy was named an All-Star in seven consecutive seasons from 1985 to '92. He appeared twice on the All-NBA third team and was a formidable third option in a lineup that featured Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson.
1988 Finals MVP
Career averages: 17.6 pts, 5.1 rebs, 3.0 ast
6-yr peak: 20-6-4 ... Career PER: 17.7 ... Playoffs PER: 18.3
Drafted first overall by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1982 NBA Draft.
46. Billy Cunningham: C/F, 1965-72; 1974-76
Cunningham was part of both championships in 76ers history—first as a player in the 1967 then as a coach in 1983.
He and the Sixers broke the Celtics' streak of eight consecutive title, then he coached the 1983 team that went 12-1 in the postseason.
He was named first-team All-NBA before leaving for the ABA in 1973, where he found huge success for two seasons before rejoining Philadelphia.
1967 NBA Champion
Career averages: 20.8 pts, 10.1 rebs, 4.0 ast
Four-year peak: 24-12-4 ... Career PER: 19.4 ... Playoffs PER: 18.4
Drafted seventh overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1967 NBA Draft.
45. Hal Greer: G/F, 1958-73
Greer was one of the best guards of the 1960s.
From 1963 to '69, he was named an All-NBA second team selection. The first five times, Jerry West was named first team at guard, while the final two times, Oscar Robertson was the selection at guard.
Greer appeared in 10 consecutive All-Star Games from 1961 to '70. He was part of the 1967 Philadelphia 76ers team that ended the Celtics' streak of eight consecutive championships, averaging a 28-6-5 in that postseason.
He retired as the NBA's career leader in games played. Greer was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1982.
1967 NBA Champion
Career averages: 19.2 pts, 5.0 rebs, 4.0 ast
Four-year peak: 22-6-4 ... Career PER: 15.7 ... Playoffs PER: 14.7
Drafted 14th overall (second round, sixth pick) by the Syracuse Nationals in the 1958 NBA Draft.
44. Sam Jones: G/F, 1957-69
Jones won the second-most championships (10) in NBA history behind teammate Bill Russell.
He was the Celtics' starting two-guard after Bill Sharman faded due to injury. The five-time All-Star made three straight all-NBA second teams from 1965-67, finishing in the top five of the MVP voting twice.
Known for a deadly accurate bank shot, Jones retired in 1969 with 11 franchise records in his name. Jones' teams went 9-0 in Game 7's in his career and 13-2 in elimination games.
10-time NBA Champion
Career averages: 17.7 pts, 4.9 rebs
Seven-year peak: 21-5-3 ... Career PER: 18.7 .... Playoffs PER: 17.5
Drafted eighth overall by the Boston Celtics in the 1957 NBA Draft.
43. Dave DeBusschere: F/G, 1962-74
DeBusschere is one of the best defensive forwards in NBA history.
Though he didn't have the benefit of all-defense teams until midway through his career, DeBusschere was a known defensive stopper—earning six consecutive first-team All-Defense selections to end his career after the honor was created in 1969. And then in his final season, the NBA began tracking steals and blocks.
DeBusschere and the Knicks won their first title in 1970 in seven games over the Lakers. The Lakers scored just 99 points in the game—the only team either team scored less than 100 points in the series. Not to mention, DeBusschere recorded 18 points and 17 rebounds.
He appeared in two other Finals against the Lakers (1972, '73), winning the latter in a series that featured nine future Hall-of-Fame players. An eight-time All-Star, he never finished inside the top 10 in MVP voting.
1970, 1973 NBA Champion
Career averages: 16.1 pts, 11.0 rebs
Four-year peak: 17-12 reb ... Career PER: 15.5 ... Playoffs PER: 15.0
Drafted fourth overall by the Detroit Pistons in the 1962 NBA Draft.
42. Clyde Drexler: G/F, 1983-98
Unfortunately for Drexler, his career spanned the shadow of Michael Jordan's, and as a result, he was the game's second-best shooting guard in late '80s and early '90s.
Drexler appeared in three Finals, winning one as a member of the Rockets in 1995.
A near-mirror image of Jordan, he averaged five-plus rebounds and assists and always was a top steals guy—seventh all time in total steals and ninth in steals per game. Drexler was a 10-time All-Star and made five total all-NBA teams.
Drexler was the MVP runner-up to Jordan in 1992.
1995 NBA Champion
Career averages: 20.4 pts, 6.1 rebs, 5.6 ast, 2.0 stl
Five-year peak: 22-6-6-2 stl ... Career PER: 21.1 ... Playoffs PER: 19.7
Drafted 14th overall by the Portland Trail Blazers in the 1983 NBA Draft.
41. Bill Sharman: G, 1950-61
Sharman was the starting two-guard on four championship Celtics teams in his five seasons with Bill Russell as a teammate.
He is lauded for being the first guard in league history to consistently shoot above 40 percent. Six times, he finished inside the top 10 in field goal percentage, including three times in the top five—a rare accomplishment for a player at the position.
Sharman and fellow backcourt teammate Bob Cousy formed one of the best guard tandems in NBA history. From 1956-59, they each were named first-team All-NBA selections—an unprecedented accomplishment in league history.
Sharman led the league in free throw percentage seven times in his 11-season career.
Four-time NBA Champion
Career averages: 17.8 pts, 3.9 rebs, 3.0 ast
Five-year peak: 20-4-3 ... Career PER: 18.2 ... Playoffs PER: 17.1
Drafted 17th overall (second round, fifth pick) by the Washington Capitols in the 1950 NBA Draft
40. Dolph Schayes: F/C, 1949-64
Dolph Schayes participated in the postseason 15 times in his 16-season career. He won his first and only NBA title in 1955.
In the following two seasons, Schayes posted a pair of historically great seasons.
In 1956-57, he led the NBA in minutes per game (39.6) and free throws made (625), was third in rebounds per game (14.0) and fourth in scoring average (22.5). In 1957-58, he again led the league in minutes played (40.5), averaged a career-high in scoring (24.9)—second highest in the league—and pulled down 14.2 rebounds per game—fourth in the NBA.
1955 NBA Champion
Career averages: 18.5 pts, 12.1 rebs, 3.1 ast
Five-year peak: 22-13-3 ... Career PER: 22.0 ... Playoffs PER: 23.3
Drafted fourth overall by the New York Knicks in the 1948 BAA Draft.
39. Wes Unseld: C/F, 1968-81
Very undersized for his position, Unseld was a remarkable defender and rebounder during his career.
In the 1968-69 season, Unseld led the Bullets to a 21-win improvement with a 13-point, 18-rebound per game average en route to becoming just the second player to that point in league history to be named MVP in his rookie season. He didn't finish inside the top eight any other time in his career.
He led the Bullets franchise to four Finals appearances, winning it all in 1978 against Seattle. Despite just averaging eight points per game for the series, Unseld was named Finals MVP.
Unseld never was listed as an all-NBA selection. He is sixth all time in rebounds per game, ninth in Defensive Rating and 10th in total rebounds.
1978 NBA Champion; 1969 MVP
Career averages: 10.8 pts, 14.0 rebs, 3.9 ast
Five-year peak: 14-16-4 ... Career PER: 16.0 ... Playoffs PER: 15.0
Drafted second overall by the Baltimore Bullets in the 1968 NBA Draft.
38. Patrick Ewing: C, 1985-2002
Ewing is one of the best all-around centers in league history and arguably the best center never to win a title. He pounded out very good regular seasons in each of his 15 seasons with the Knicks.
He won Rookie of the Year in 1986 and twice appeared in the Finals but came up empty both times.
In 1989-90, Ewing put forth a tremendous season—he ranked second in blocks, third in scoring, fifth in rebounding and sixth in field-goal percentage. He earned his first and only first-team All-NBA selection for his efforts.
The Knicks lost to the Bulls three consecutive times in the playoffs from 1991-93. Then in the 1994 playoffs, after Michael Jordan had retired, Ewing finally led the Knicks to the Finals—their first appearance since 1973.
Ewing posted a 22-20-7 with five blocks in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, but the Knicks lost the Finals in seven games to the Rockets after holding a 3-2 series lead.
Career averages: 21.0 pts, 9.8 rebs
Five-year peak: 25-11-3 blk ... Career PER: 21.0 ... Playoffs PER: 19.6
Drafted first overall by the New York Knicks in the 1985 NBA Draft.
37. Steve Nash: PG, 1996-Present
Nash is one of the purest offensive guards in league history.
An elite shooter, dribbler and passer, he earned back-to-back MVPs in 2005 and '06—becoming the 12th player in NBA history with multiple awards.
Five times he led the league in assists per game and twice in free throw percentage. He was named first-team All-NBA three consecutive seasons from 2005 to '07.
Nash, 36, has appeared in the conference finals four times but failed to advance to the Finals in each appearance. At this point, his window for a title is closing. The Suns will need to acquire some major talent in order to get Nash his first ring.
2005, 2006 MVP
Career averages: 14.6 pts, 3.0 rebs, 8.5 ast
Five-year peak: 17-3-11 ... Career PER: 20.2 ... Playoffs PER: 19.9
Drafted 15th overall by the Phoenix Suns in the 1996 NBA Draft.
36. George Mikan: C, 1948-56
Mikan, the first hugely successful big man in league history, won five titles with the Minneapolis Lakers in his seven NBA seasons. From 1949 to '54, he was named first-team All-NBA, winning his five titles in that span.
Though he didn't necessarily dominate the early form of the league, he was indeed the best player. His success sparked several rule changed that helped shape the modern form of the sport.
Physically, the 6'10", 240 lb. Mikan would not stand a chance in today's league. However, given the capacity of the league during his time, he must be credited for taking advantage of what he could at the time and executing to the tune of five championships.
Mikan suffered a broken leg in the 1951 playoffs—to that point the only season in his professional career in which Mikan did not win the championship.
Five-time NBA Champion
Career averages: 23.1 pts, 13.4 rebs
Three-year peak: 28-14-3 ... Career PER: 26.9 ... Playoffs PER: 28.5
35. Jason Kidd: PG, 1994-Present
Kidd is arguably the best all-around point guard in NBA history. With a title as a member of the Mavericks in 2011, Kidd adds to a terrific career.
Always a threat for a triple-double, he was an elite defender in his prime and was always a terrific rebounder at his position.
After missing the postseason in his first two seasons, Kidd has appeared in the last 14, making two trips to the Finals for the Nets in 2002 and '03.
Constantly looking to make his teammates better, Kidd is quite unselfish on the court. He, however, has had a few off-the-court issues and has been traded three times in his career, including once in his prime from Phoenix. Plus, he is a below average shooter, barely hovering above 40 percent from field for his career.
2011 NBA Champion
Career averages: 13.2 pts, 6.5 rebs, 9.1 ast, 2.0 stl
Five-year peak: 16-7-10-2 stl ... Career PER: 18.2 ... Playoffs PER: 17.6
Drafted second overall by the Dallas Mavericks in the 1994 NBA Draft.
34. Kevin McHale: F/C, 1980-93
McHale is one of the best all-around post players in NBA history.
As a reserve, the three-time champion won a pair of Sixth Man of the Year awards (1984, '85), averaging just over 19 points per game. Then he strived as a starter, averaging career highs in points (26.1), rebounds (9.9) and assists (2.9) in the 1986-87 season, making his first and only appearance on the All-NBA first team and finishing fourth in the MVP race.
He also became the first player in league history to shoot higher than 60 percent from the field and 80 percent from the foul line en route to back-to-back field goal percentage titles.
McHale, a seven-time All-Star, appeared on six All-Defense teams in his career, including three straight from 1985 to '87.
Three-time NBA Champion
Career averages: 17.9 pts, 7.3 rebs
Three-year peak: 23-9 reb ... Career PER: 20.0 ... Playoffs PER: 19.4
Drafted third overall by the Boston Celtics in the 1980 NBA Draft.
33. Dwyane Wade: G, 2003-Present
Wade undoubtedly is one of the game's best guards when healthy.
As his peak, Wade submitted an all-time great Finals performance in 2006, overcoming an 0-2 deficit to take four straight from the Mavericks en route to a Finals MVP award. He averaged 34.7 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.7 steals and shot a six-game Finals record of 97 free throws.
His PER of 33.8 ranks first all time in the Finals.
Wade is his generation's second-best two-guard, slightly behind Kobe Bryant. He hasn't always received credit for some of his accomplishments, but answer this. Could he have led the 2009 and 2010 Lakers to championships like Bryant? I think so.
2006 NBA Champion; 2006 Finals MVP
Career averages: 25.4 pts, 5.1 rebs, 6.3 ast
Five-year peak: 27-5-7 ... Career PER: 25.7 ... Playoffs PER: 24.6
Drafted fifth overall by the Miami Heat in the 2003 NBA Draft.
32. Dave Cowens: C/F, 1970-80; 1982-83
Cowens won two NBA championships as a member of the Celtics in the mid-1970s.
He put together a streak of four consecutive top-four finishes in the MVP race, highlighted by being named league MVP in 1973—despite being named All-NBA second team and leading the league in only one (advanced) category: defensive win shares.
Cowens did, however, lead the Celtics to 68 regular season wins and was awarded the All-Star Game MVP trophy. Boston lost to the Knicks in seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals.
He is fourth all time in Defensive Rating. Cowens was named to three All-NBA and three All-Defense teams in his 11 NBA seasons.
1974, 1976 NBA Champion; 1973 MVP
Career averages: 17.6 pts, 13.6 rebs, 3.8 ast
Four-year peak: 21-16-4 ... Career PER: 17.0 ... Playoffs PER: 16.6
Drafted fourth overall by the Boston Celtics in the 1970 NBA Draft.
31. Dirk Nowitzki: F, 1998-Present
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
A quick list of claims-to-fame that Nowitzki owns: best European player in league history and best big-man shooter in league history.
In 2011, Nowitzki led the Mavericks to a title over the Heat; the seven-footer was named Finals MVP. For the series, he averaged 26 points per game and made 45 of 46 free throws.
He is one of four players in league history to have averaged 25-plus points and 10-plus rebounds in his postseason career. In 2006 and '07, he led the NBA in PER and offensive win shares.
2011 NBA Champion; 2011 Finals MVP
Career averages: 23.0 pts, 8.4 rebs
Six-year peak: 24-9-3 ... Career PER: 23.7 ... Playoffs PER: 24.7
Drafted ninth overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 1998 NBA Draft.
30. Walt Frazier: PG, 1967-80
Frazier was the starting point guard for the two championship Knicks teams of the early 1970s.
The seven-time All-Star is widely considered one of the best defensive guards in league history and had a knack for showing up big in crucial postseason games. From 1969 to '75, he was named a first-team All-Defense selection. Four times during that span, a first-team All-NBA honor coincided.
In Game 7 of the 1970 Finals, he scored 36 points, grabbed seven rebounds, delivered 19 assists and collected five steals—one of the all time greatest playoff performances.
More often that not, Frazier's rebounding totals resembled that of a forward as opposed to a point guard.
1970, 1973 NBA Champion
Career averages: 18.9 pts, 5.9 rebs, 6.1 ast
Eight-year peak: 20-6-7 ... Career PER: 19.1 ... Playoffs PER: 19.8
Drafted fifth overall by the New York Knicks in the 1967 NBA Draft.
29. Willis Reed: C/F, 1964-74
Reed and the Knicks were the best in the Eastern Division after Bill Russell retired from the Celtics.
New York captured titles in 1970 and '73, with Reed earning Finals MVP in both years. A seven-time All-Star, he was named league MVP in 1970 along with a first-team All-NBA selection after leading the Knicks to a 60-win regular season.
Reed is most well-known for gutting it out in Game 7 of the 1970 Finals after suffering a thigh injury in Game 5. He scored two quick buckets, inspiring the Knicks squad, which went on to top the Lakers that night.
1970, 1973 NBA Champion; 1970, 1973 Finals MVP; 1970 MVP
Career averages: 18.7 pts, 12.9 rebs
Five-year peak: 21-14 ... Career PER: 18.6 ... Playoffs PER: 17.8
Drafted 10th overall (second round, first pick) in the 1964 NBA Draft.
28. Bill Walton: C/F, 1974-87
Walton could not stay healthy, and it probably cost him 20 spots in these rankings. After four outstanding seasons to begin his career, Walton had already won a title, was named Finals MVP, was named league MVP and had earned four All-NBA accolades.
He completed a storybook season in 1977-78—he won the Finals in his first postseason, placed second in the MVP race and led the league in rebounds and blocks per game. He led all postseason players in assists during the Blazers' title run.
Walton could have battled back and forth with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar his whole career for the honor of league's best center. Instead, he played in only 46.8 games per season.
1978, 1986 NBA Champion; 1978 MVP; 1977 Finals MVP
Career averages: 13.3 pts, 10.5 rebs, 3.4 ast, 2.2 blk
Four-year peak: 16-13-4 ... Career PER: 20.0 ... Playoffs PER: 18.6
Drafted first overall by the Portland Trail Blazers in the 1974 NBA Draft.
27. John Stockton: PG, 1984-2003
The NBA's all time leader in assists and steals, Stockton was a remarkable example of consistency, longevity and durability during his 19-season career. He played all 82 games 17 times and never failed to make the postseason.
Stockton led the league in assists nine consecutive seasons from 1988 to '96. Ten times, he led a postseason in assists per game. Stockton appeared on the NBA's first team in 1994 and '95.
The Jazz made two Finals appearances in Stockton's career, losing to Chicago in 1997 and '98. Despite all his success, however, his best finish in an MVP vote was seventh in 1989.
Career averages: 13.1 pts, 10.5 ast, 2.2 stl
Five-year peak: 16-3-14-3 stl ... Career PER: 21.8 ... Playoffs PER: 19.8
Drafted 16th overall by the Utah Jazz in the 1984 NBA Draft.
26. Isiah Thomas: G, 1981-94
Thomas led the Pistons to three consecutive Finals, winning twice in 1989 and '90. He earned Finals MVP in 1990. Thomas owns the Finals record for points in a quarter (25), setting that mark in the fourth quarter of Game 6 in the 1988 Finals.
Thomas, an 11-time All-Star, made three consecutive appearances on the All-NBA first team from 1984 to '86. He led the NBA in assists average in 1985.
Like Stockton, his impact didn't translate into candidacy in annual MVP finishes; Thomas' best place was fifth in 1984, appearing in the top 10 only three other times.
1989, 1990 NBA Champion; 1990 Finals MVP
Career averages: 19.2 pts, 3.6 rebs, 9.3 ast
Four-year peak: 21-4-12-2 stl ... Career PER: 18.1 ... Playoffs PER: 19.8
Drafted second overall by the Detroit Pistons in the 1981 NBA Draft.
25. David Robinson: C, 1989-2003
Robinson was an absolute force at center in his first decade in the NBA, then won two titles as a complimentary piece to Tim Duncan in the Spurs frontcourt.
By the end of his sixth season, he had already won the 1990 Rookie of the Year the 1995 MVP and the 1992 Defensive Player of the Year awards. Plus, he had won a rebounding title, a scoring title, being named to a total of six All-NBA first teams, including three defensive.
Robinson placed third or better in the MVP race four times in his career. He ranks second in win shares per 48 minutes, fourth all time in blocks per game and PER, fifth in blocks per game, sixth in defensive rating and ninth in Defensive Win Shares.
1999, 2003 NBA Champion; 1995 MVP; 1992 Defensive Player of the Year
Career averages: 21.1 pts, 10.6 rebs, 3.0 blk
Seven-year peak: 25-11-3-3 blk ... Career PER: 26.2 ... Playoffs PER: 23.0
Drafted first overall by the San Antonio Spurs in the 1987 NBA Draft.
24. Rick Barry: F, 1965-67; 1972-80
Barry amassed an outstanding career but lost five full NBA seasons during his prime.He sat out his third professional season over a contract dispute then played four seasons in the ABA.
He led the league in scoring in his second season at 35.9—only three other players have averaged higher.
In 10 NBA seasons, Barry twice appeared in the Finals—losing the 76ers in '67 and then sweeping the Bullets in 1975 in a huge upset. He was named Finals MVP, posting a series-high 29.8 points per game plus 3.5 steals per game.
Six times, Barry led the NBA in free throw percentage. He ranks third all time in career percentage. He earned five first-team All-NBA honors.
1975 NBA Champion; 1975 Finals MVP
Career averages: 23.2 pts, 6.5 rebs, 5.1 ast, 2.0 stl
Three-year peak: 27-7-6-2 stl ... Career PER: 20.2 ... Playoffs PER: 20.3
Drafted second overall by the San Francisco Warriors in the 1965 NBA Draft.
23. Elgin Baylor: F/G, 1958-72
Baylor is one of the game's greatest players, but it's hard to ignore a 0-8 record in the Finals. At this point, LeBron James' career has similarities to how Baylor's progressed.
He retired nine games into the 1971-72 season; the Lakers finally won the title in what would have been Baylor's ninth Finals appearance. Baylor holds the Finals record for most points in a game (61) set in 1962.
At just 6'5", 225, he is one of the most accomplished scorers and rebounders in NBA history; Baylor is ninth all time in rebounds per game. He is fourth all time in regular season scoring average. Five times he finished in the top 10 in points, rebounds and assists per game.
Baylor made 10 All-NBA first teams and appeared on 11 All-Star teams. He led all playoff scorers for four consecutive postseasons from 1960 to '63. In 1961, he led the league in both regular season and postseason PER.
Career averages: 27.4 pts, 13.5 rebs, 4.3 ast
Three-year peak: 35-17-5 ... Career PER: 22.7 ... Playoffs PER: 21.8
Drafted first overall by the Minneapolis Lakers in the 1958 NBA Draft.
22. Julius Erving: F/G, 1976-87
After a wildly successful five seasons in the ABA, he joined the 76ers in 1976, making five All-NBA first teams in his first seven seasons with the team.
Amid three Finals defeats, Erving took home MVP honors in 1981, then the 76ers landed Moses Malone in 1982, a huge piece of the 76ers' championship puzzle. Erving was rewarded for his patience with a championship in 1983.
Erving, an 11-time NBA All-Star, finished in the top five in the MVP voting from 1980 to '83.
"Dr. J" won three MVPs, two playoffs MVPs, two championships and ranks in the top 10 in virtually every statistical category in ABA history.
1983 NBA Champion; 1981 MVP
Career averages: 22.0 pts, 6.7 rebs, 3.9 ast
Three-year peak: 25-7-4 ... Career PER: 22.0 ... Playoffs PER: 20.0
Drafted 12th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 1972 NBA Draft.
21. LeBron James: F, 2003-Present
James is the most versatile athlete in NBA history.
At 6'8" 250 lbs., James is currently one of the fastest players in the league, one of the strongest players pound-for-pound and displays tremendous grace and athleticism.
James appeared in the Finals with the Cavaliers in 2007 and the Heat in 2011.
James is first player in NBA history to lead his team in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks for two consecutive seasons (2009 and '10). He holds 49 Cavaliers franchise records and numerous Youngest Ever records.
James is second all time in Career PER behind Michael Jordan.
2009, 2010 MVP
Career averages: 27.7 pts, 7.1 rebs, 7.0 ast
Six-year peak: 29-7-7 ... Career PER: 26.9 ... Playoffs PER: 26.3
Drafted first overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2003 NBA Draft.
20. Charles Barkley: F, 1984-2000
Don't remind him, but Barkley never won an NBA title. He is, however, one of four players in league history to amass 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 4,000 assists.
Barkley, the 1993 MVP, excelled as a forward despite being severely undersized—at least in height. He made five All-NBA first teams in six seasons from 1988 to '93.
"Sir Charles" finished in the top 10 in PER in 14 consecutive seasons from 1986 to '99. He is eighth all time in Offensive Rating and ninth in offensive win shares, win shares and win shares per 48 minutes.
Career averages: 22.1 pts, 11.7 rebs, 3.9 ast
Three-year peak: 25-13-4 ... Career PER: 24.6 ... Playoffs PER: 24.2
Drafted fifth overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1984 NBA Draft.
19. Kevin Garnett: F, 1995-Present
Garnett was an unbelievable talent at the power forward position. He was a very complete player, impacting the game in every way possible.
He won the MVP with the Timberwolves in 2004 and won Defensive Player of the Year in '08 as the anchor of the Celtics' title team.
Garnett owns four rebounding titles, led the league in PER twice and placed second in the MVP voting two other times. He is an 14-time All-Star and was named a first-team All-Defense selection nine times. He is third all time in defensive rebounds.
2008 NBA Champion; 2004 MVP; 2008 Defensive Player of the Year
Career averages: 19.5 pts, 10.7 rebs, 4.1 ast
Six-year peak: 22-13-5 ... Career PER: 23.4 ... Playoffs PER: 21.7
Drafted fifth overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 1995 NBA Draft.
18. Scottie Pippen: F/G, 1987-2004
Pippen could have been his generation's version of LeBron James had he not shared the Bulls' backcourt with Michael Jordan.
He is widely considered the best defensive forward of all time. Pippen led the league in steals and defensive rating in the 1994-95 season. He made the All-Defense first team eight consecutive times from 1992 to '99.
Pippen is sixth all time in career steals. Fives times he led a postseason in steals and twice in defensive rating. In the 1994 All-Star Game, he recorded a triple-double with four steals.
Six-time NBA Champion
Career averages: 16.1 pts, 6.4 rebs, 5.2 ast, 2.0 stl
Three-year peak: 21-8-6-2 stl ... Career PER: 18.6 ... Playoffs PER: 18.4
Drafted fifth overall by the Seattle SuperSonics in the 1987 NBA Draft.
17. Karl Malone: F, 1985-2004
Malone ranks atop many of the NBA's major categories, but he is the best player in NBA history without a championship. He appeared in three Finals—two with the Jazz, one with the Lakers.
He ranks first all time in free throws made/attempts, turnovers and defensive rebounds; second in field goals made/attempts, points and minutes played; fifth in defensive win shares; sixth in total rebounds and offensive win shares.
"The Mailman" made 11 consecutive appearances on the All-NBA first team from 1989 to '99. Malone missed only 10 games in 18 seasons with the Jazz. Fourteen times, he finished in the top five in the MVP race.
1997, 1999 MVP
Career averages: 25.0 pts, 10.1 rebs, 3.6 ast
Four-year peak: 29-11-3 ... Career PER: 23.9 ... Playoffs PER: 21.1
Drafted 13th overall by the Utah Jazz in the 1985 NBA Draft.
16. Bob Pettit: F/C, 1954-65
Pettit won two MVP awards and led the league in PER four straight times from 1956 to '59. He is one of four players in NBA history to average 25-plus points and 10-plus rebounds in his postseason career.
Starting in 1957, he and the Hawks appeared four of the next five Finals, winning the title in 1958.
Pettit appeared on the All-NBA first time 10 consecutive times to start his career, making the second team in his final season. Only twice in his career did he finish outside the top five in the MVP voting.
He ranks seventh and third all time in scoring (26.4) and rebounding (16.2) average. He made the All-Star every season of his career. He also ranks seventh in career PER.
1958 NBA Champion; 1956, 1959 MVP
Career averages: 26.4 pts, 16.2 rebs, 3.0 ast
Four-year peak: 28-18-3 ... Career PER: 25.3 ... Playoffs PER: 22.6
Drafted second overall by the Milwaukee Hawks in the 1954 NBA Draft.
15. Moses Malone: C/F, 1976-95
Malone was one of the top centers in the early 1980s and arguably the best rebounder of all time.
He led the NBA in rebounding aveage six out of seven seasons starting in 1979. Malone lost the 1981 Finals with the Rockets and signed as a free agent with 76ers in 1982 after an MVP campaign.
His first season in Philadelphia resulted in another MVP—the third of his career—and his first NBA championship. Malone led the league in PER in his back-to-back MVP seasons.
Malone is first all time in offensive rebounds and fifth in total rebounds.
1983 NBA Champion; Three-time MVP
Career averages: 20.6 pts, 12.2 rebounds
Five-year peak: 26-15 reb ... Career PER: 22.3 ... Playoffs PER: 21.4
Drafted fifth overall by the Portland Trail Blazers in the 1976 ABA Dispersal Draft.
14. Bob Cousy: PG, 1950-63; 1969-70
Cousy was the NBA's first great point guard.
He made nine consecutive All-NBA first teams from 1952 to '60. Cousy led the league in assists average eight straight times from 1953 to '60—in 1954 and '55, he finished second in scoring average.
From 1954, to '61, Cousy led the postseason in assists per game. Eight times, he finished in the top 10 in points and assists in the same season.
When he retired, Cousy finished his career with 6,945 assists—the next closest player was Dick McGuire at 4,205.
Six-time NBA Champion; 1957 MVP
Career averages: 18.4 pts, 5.2 rebs, 7.5 ast
Three-year peak: 20-6-8 ... Career PER: 19.7 ... Playoffs PER: 17.4
Drafted 13th overall by the Tri-City Blackhawks in the 1950 NBA Draft.
13. John Havlicek: F/G, 1962-78
Havlicek is the second-most complete forward in league history behind LeBron James.
Havlicek was 8-0 in the Finals during his career. Only two other players in league history have more titles than him. From 1972 to '74, he made both the All-NBA first team and the All-Defense first team.
He won the 1974 Finals MVP after leading the Celtics to a title over the Bucks led by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson.
His impact didn't translate into position in the yearly MVP award: only twice did Havlicek place in the top five with fourth being his best finish.
Eight-time NBA Champion; 1974 Finals MVP
Career averages: 20.8 pts, 6.3 rebs, 4.8 ast
Three-year peak: 27-8-7 ... Career PER: 17.5 ... Playoffs PER: 17.5
Drafted ninth overall by the Boston Celtics in the 1962 NBA Draft.
12. Oscar Robertson: G/F, 1960-74
Robertson is known most famously for being the only player in NBA history to average a triple-double in a single season. In 1961-62, he averaged posted 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 assists per game. In fact, Robertson averaged a triple-double over the span of his first five NBA seasons.
Considered the pace of play and large volume of shots at this time in the league's history, Robertson's feat would be much harder to accomplish in the modern NBA. Nonetheless, he is still one of the greatest guards in league history.
Robertson led the league in points, assists and free throw percentage in the 1967-68 season. He led the NBA in assists seven times. Robertson was named first-team All-NBA from 1961 to '69. He is now fifth all time in career assists and 10th in career points.
1971 NBA Champion
Career averages: 25.7 pts, 7.5 rebs, 9.5 ast
Five-year peak: 30-10-11 ... Career PER: 23.2 ... Playoffs PER: 21.0
Drafted first overall by the Cincinnati Royals in the 1960 NBA Draft.
11. Jerry West: G, 1960-74
West went just 1-8 in nine career Finals appearances. He is the only player in the league history to be named Finals MVP on a losing team.
He owns one scoring title and led the NBA in assists in the 1971-72 season. West led the league in PER in back-to-back seasons (1969, '70) and three times in the postseason.
West is fifth all time in scoring average. He scored 40.6 points per game in the 1965 postseason.
As an edge over Robertson, West appeared on the All-Defense teams once the honor was created in 1969. He won his first title the season (1972) after Robertson won his first title.
1972 NBA Champion; 1969 Finals MVP
Career averages: 27.0 pts, 5.8 rebs, 6.7 ast
Four-year peak: 30-6-6 ... Career PER: 22.9 ... Playoffs PER: 23.1
Drafted second overall by the Minneapolis Lakers in the 1960 NBA Draft.
10. Shaquille O'Neal: C, 1992-2011
At his peak, O'Neal was one of the most dominant athletes ever. And yet, Shaq should have won more titles than he did. Had he and Kobe Bryant stayed with the Lakers, they easily could have won nine titles each. Instead, they won that total combined.
Never one to work harder than he had to, O'Neal finished with four titles, three Finals MVPs and the 2000 MVP. He finished in the top 10 in MVP voting in 13 consecutive seasons from 1993 to 2005.
O'Neal led the league in field goal percentage 10 times. He led the NBA in PER five straight times from 1998 to 2002 and four times overall in the playoffs. O'Neal owns the record for most 20-plus points, 10-plus rebounds seasons (13) in NBA history.
Four-time NBA Champion; 2000 MVP; Three-time Finals MVP
Career averages: 23.7 pts, 10.9 rebs
Two-year peak: 29-13-4-3 blk ... Career PER: 26.4 ... Playoffs PER: 26.1
Drafted first overall by the Orlando Magic in the 1992 NBA Draft.
9. Kobe Bryant: G, 1997-Present
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
Bryant is one of the best guards in league history. In his 14 seasons in the NBA, he has appeared in seven Finals—one every two seasons.
Though his career has not always progressed smoothly, you cannot deny his desire and the success he has accumulated.
Twice he won a scoring title. Eight times, Bryant has been named to the All-NBA and All-Defense first teams in the same season. He has finished in the top five in MVP voting eight of the past nine seasons. Bryant is already sixth all time in points and free throws made.
Five-time NBA Champion; 2008 MVP; 2009, 2010 Finals MVP
Career averages: 25.3 pts, 5.3 rebs, 4.7 ast
Six-year peak: 29-6-5 .. Career PER: 23.5 ... Playoffs PER: 22.3
Drafted 13th overall by the Charlotte Hornets in the 1996 NBA Draft.
8. Hakeem Olajuwon: C, 1984-2002
Olajuwon is most complete center in NBA history. "The Dream" could score, rebound, pass and defend.
During his two championship runs in 1994 and '95, Olajuwon defeated top center contemporaries Shaquille O'Neal, Patrick Ewing and David Robinson in playoff series.
He finished his career with 5,992 combined blocks and steals. No other player in NBA history has more than 4,500. Olajuwon is first all time in career blocks and eighth in steals. He is the only Hall of Famer to average more than three blocks per game his entire career.
From 1987 to '91, he led the league in Defensive Rating. Olajuwon averaged a double-double in his first 12 seasons.
1994, 1995 NBA Champion; 1994 MVP; 1994, 1995 Finals MVP; 1993, 1994 Defensive Player of the Year
Career averages: 21.8 pts, 11.1 rebs, 3.1 blk
Four-year peak: 27-13-3 blk ... Career PER: 23.6 ... Playoffs PER: 25.7
Drafted first overall by the Houston Rockets in the 1984 NBA Draft.
7. Tim Duncan: PF, 1997-Present
Duncan is far and away the best power forward in NBA history.
He made first team All-NBA the first eight seasons of his career. The first 11 seasons of his career, Duncan finished in the top 10 in MVP voting.
Aside from the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season, the Spurs have won at least 50 games in every season of Duncan's career.
He is ninth all time in blocks, defensive rebounds and PER. From 2005 to '07, he led the league in Defensive Rating, in which he ranks second all time.
Four-time NBA Champion; 2002, 2003 MVP; Three-time Finals MVP
Career averages: 20.6 pts, 11.4 rebs, 3.1 ast
Five-year peak: 23-12-3-3 blk ... Career PER: 24.8 ... Playoffs PER: 25.4
Drafted first overall by the San Antonio Spurs in the 1997 NBA Draft.
6. Wilt Chamberlain::C, 1959-73
Say what you want about him, but Chamberlain should have been much more successful than he was.
Despite being the most offensively dominant player in league history, Chamberlain managed only two titles in his career. Much like Shaquille O'Neal, he dominated but his championship success should be legendary.
Chamberlain led the league in points, rebounds and field goal percentage an astonishing 27 times in his career. Eight times, he led the NBA in PER. He led the postseason in PER six of his first seven seasons.
He is first all time in rebounds per game and second in scoring average. Chamberlain finished in the top five in MVP voting 10 times in his career.
1967, 1972 NBA Champion; Four-time MVP; 1972 Finals MVP
Career averages: 30.1 pts, 22.9 rebs, 4.4 ast
Two-year peak: 47-25-3 ... Career PER: 26.1 ... Playoffs PER: 22.8
Drafted third overall by the Philadelphia Warriors in the 1959 NBA Draft.
5. Larry Bird: F, 1979-92
Bird was the centerpiece of the Celtics' championship teams in the 1980s. He and the Celtics won three titles in five Finals appearances.
Arguably the best passing forward of all time, Bird was a remarkable rebounder for his position. He retired averaging a double-double and 6.3 assists.
Bird was named first team All-NBA nine straight times to start his career. Starting in 1981, he finished in the top three in the MVP race eight straight times, winning it three times consecutively from 1984 to '86.
In 1986-87, he became the first player in league history to shoot .500 from the field and .900 from the foul line. He accomplished the feat again the next season on top of averaging a 28-9-7.
Three-time NBA Champion; Three-time MVP; 1984, 1986 Finals MVP
Career averages: 24.3 pts, 10.0 rebs, 6.3 ast
Five-year peak: 28-10-7 ... Career PER: 23.5 ... Playoffs PER: 21.4
Drafted sixth overall by the Boston Celtics in the 1978 NBA Draft.
4. Magic Johnson: PG, 1980-91; 1995-96
Johnson is the best point guard of all time. Some of his NBA accomplishments are considered legendary.
He led the Lakers to eight Finals appearances in the 10 seasons of the 1980s.
In the 1980 Finals, injured Lakers center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar missed Game 6 with the team leading the series 3-2. Johnson started a center, scoring 42 points with 15 rebounds, seven assists and three steals. He won his first of three Finals MVP awards, the first to win it as a rookie.
Johnson led the league in assists four times and steals twice. He led a postseason nine times in totals assists. From 1983 to '91, he was named first team All-NBA. Those same nine seasons, Johnson finished in the top three in MVP voting.
Five-time NBA Champion; Three-time MVP; Three-time Finals MVP
Career averages: 19.5 pts, 7.2 rebs, 11.2 ast
Three-year peak: 22-7-12 ... Career PER: 24.1 ... Playoffs PER: 22.9
Drafted first overall by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1979 NBA Draft.
3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: C, 1969-89
Abdul-Jabbar enjoyed the longest, most successful career in NBA history. For 20 seasons, he frequently topped the league standings in points, rebounds and blocks and commonly was named a first-team All-NBA selection.
His six MVPs are an NBA record. More impressively he won them in the same decade.
Abdul-Jabbar led the league in PER nine times. He averaged a double-double in each of his first 10 postseasons and won two Finals MVPs fourteen seasons apart.
Abdul-Jabbar is the NBA's all time leading scorer and ranks third in total rebounds and blocks. He is also the career leader in minutes played.
Six-time NBA Champion; Six-time MVP; 1971, 1985 Finals MVP
Career averages: 24.6 pts, 11.2 rebs, 3.6 ast
Seven-year peak: 26-14-4-4 blk ... Career PER: 24.6 ... Playoffs PER: 23.0
Drafted first overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 1969 NBA Draft.
2. Bill Russell: C, 1956-69
Russell is the greatest winner in the history of sports. In 11 of his 13 seasons with the Celtics, he won an NBA championship, including eight consecutively from 1959 to '66.
His rebounding and shotblocking anchored the Celtics defensively his entire career. He won the MVP five times, including four out of five from 1961 to '65. He finished in the top five in the race in all but two seasons.
Russell led the league in defensive win shares 11 of his 13 seasons. He is the second all time in total rebounds.
He never won a Finals MVP. Instead, the award is named after him. Russell averaged above 20 rebounds per game in every postseason he played.
11-time NBA Champion; Five-time MVP
Career averages: 15.1 pts, 22.5 rebs, 4.3 ast
Eight-year peak: 16-23-4 ... Career PER: 18.9 ... Playoffs PER: 19.4
Drafted second overall by the St. Louis Hawks in the 1956 NBA Draft.
1. Michael Jordan: G, 1984-98; 2001-03
Jordan is widely considered the best basketball player of all time and unanimously hailed as one of the greatest athletes of all time.
Winner of 10 scoring titles, Jordan led the Bulls' dynasty of the 1990s. He is first all time in regular season and playoffs scoring average. Ten times he led a postseason in scoring average and never scored less than 29 points per game in a postseason.
His defensive accomplishments are equally great. He owns nine first-team All-Defense selections along with a Defensive Player of the Year award. He led the league in steals three times.
He finished the top three in MVP voting 10 times. Jordan is second all time in total steals and first in career PER. He led the NBA in PER seven straight times from 1986 to '92.
Six-time NBA Champion; Five-time MVP; Six-time Finals MVP; 1988 Defensive Player of the Year
Career averages: 30.1 pts, 6.2 rebs, 5.3 ast
Three-year peak: 35-6-6-3 stl ... Career PER: 27.9 ... Playoffs PER: 28.6
Drafted third overall by the Chicago Bulls in the 1984 NBA Draft.