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NBA Power Rankings: 23 Greatest Wingmen in NBA History

Ethan SAnalyst IJanuary 10, 2017

NBA Power Rankings: 23 Greatest Wingmen in NBA History

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    MIAMI, FL - MARCH 10:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat posts up Kobe Bryant #24 of  the Los Angeles Lakers  during a game at American Airlines Arena on March 10, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downl
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    There are many different kinds of players that grace the courts of the NBA.

    In the middle are the centers and power forwards, usually the strongest and tallest athletes on the court who are known for protecting the basket and getting easier scoring opportunities in the post.

    The offensive attack is usually led by the point guard, who is known for ball-handling abilities and is seen as the “quarterback” of the team.

    Finally, there are the wingmen of the NBA. Many of the most premier scorers (especially in today’s league) are wing players—those that tend to play closer to the sides of the NBA court. They are known for all-around abilities including athleticism, shooting, dribbling, rebounding and playmaking. The best players at these positions also exerted dominance on the defensive end.

    This article breaks down the top 23 greatest wing players in NBA history. The list was composed by analyzing a number of factors, including career statistics, playing abilities and accomplishments. Those with intangibles such as clutch ability and leadership also benefited. Lastly, career length was a factor.

    Some players barely missed the cut today due to having been in the league for just a few seasons (Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony, for example). Other players that also barely missed making this list were Bernard King, Earl Monroe and Adrian Dantley.

    Enjoy the journey back through NBA history. As always, your comments are welcome. Feel free to let me know if any players should have made the list that didn’t, or if any players are ranked too high or too low.

23. Joe Dumars

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    1989-1990:  Guard Joe Dumars of the Detroit Pistons moves the ball during a game. Mandatory Credit: ALLSPORT USA  /Allsport Mandatory Credit: ALLSPORT USA  /Allsport
    Getty Images/Getty Images

    16.1 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 4.5 apg, 0.1 bpg, 0.9 spg, 46 percent FG, 38 percent 3FG, 84 percent FT

    All-Star: Six-time

    NBA Finals MVP: One time 

    All-NBA Team: Second Team one time, Third Team two times

    All-Defensive Team: First Team four times, Second Team one time

    Championships: Two

    During his playing days in the NBA, Joe Dumars shined on both ends of the court. An able scorer, he would earn the NBA Finals MVP Award after averaging 27.3 ppg in the 1989 championship series.

    Yet, Dumars earned his greatest reputation on the defensive end of the court. As a member of the “Bad Boys” teams of Detroit, he was the main defender assigned to guard Michael Jordan as the team instituted the “Jordan Rules”—which were meant to limit Jordan’s role in the offense. Jordan often mentioned that Dumars was the greatest defender he faced in the league.

    Despite being a part of those teams, Dumars also gained a reputation as a stand-up guy and was the first recipient of the Sportsmanship Award, which has since been named in his honor.

22. Reggie Miller

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    AUBURN HILLS, MI - MAY 28:  Portrait of Reggie Miller #31 of the Indiana Pacers shoots over Rasheed Wallace #30 of the Detroit Pistons in Game four of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2004 NBA Playoffs at The Palace of Auburn Hills on May 28, 2004
    Tom Pidgeon/Getty Images

    18.2 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 3.0 apg, 0.2 bpg, 1.1 spg, 47 percent FG, 40 percent 3FG, 89 percent FT

    All-Star: Five-time

    All-NBA Team: Third Team three times

    Championships: Zero

    While his steadfast loyalty to his team may have kept him from winning a championship, Reggie Miller will go down as one of the greatest shooters in the history of the NBA.

    Miller was a master at coming off of screens to hit wide-open shots to perfection, as well as drawing fouls by kicking out his legs and causing contact with defenders. He was also known for stepping up his play in the postseason, having epic battles with Michael Jordan’s Bulls and Patrick Ewing’s Knicks.

    One of the most memorable Reggie Miller moments came when he scored eight points in 8.9 seconds in a 1995 playoff game against the Knicks.

    Miller currently ranks second in NBA history in three-pointers made and 14th in points scored.

21. Sam Jones

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    17.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2.5 apg, 46 percent FG, 80 percent FT

    All-Star: Five-time

    All-NBA Team: Second Team three times

    Championships: 10

    Sam Jones ranks second as a player in NBA titles won with ten. Jones was known for being highly effective at taking bank shots.  Over his career with Boston, he led the team in scoring three times and held the team’s single-game scoring record (51 points) until Larry Bird broke it.

    The five-time All-Star teamed with K.C. Jones to form a dominant Celtics backcourt. Jones was known as “The Shooter,” as he had a seemingly perfected jump shot.

    His teammates also called him “Mr. Clutch.” An example of Sam Jones’ clutch ability was when he shined in Game 7 of the 1962 Eastern Division finals. With the score tied at 107 with two seconds left, he hit a jumper over the outstretched arms of Wilt Chamberlain to win the series.

20. James Worthy

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    17.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 3.0 apg, 0.7 bpg, 1.1 spg, 52 percent FG, 77 percent FT

    All-Star: Seven-time

    Finals MVP: One time

    All-NBA Team: Third Team two times

    Championships: Three

    James Worthy may be one of the most underrated players in NBA history. During the “Showtime” era for the Los Angeles Lakers, the seven-time All-Star proved himself as perhaps the best finisher of all-time on the fast break.

    With a well-rounded offense that included an excellent post-up game, Worthy earned the nickname “Big Game James” by performing well in playoff games. In the postseason, Worthy increased his averages to 21.1 ppg on .544 field goal shooting.

    Worthy’s best game came in Game 7 of the 1988 Finals against the Detroit Pistons when he tallied 36 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists to earn the Finals MVP award, a game that has been heralded as one of the greatest in NBA history.

19. Ray Allen

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    MIAMI, FL - MAY 11: Ray Allen #20 of the Boston Celtics shoots a jump shot during Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2011 NBA Playoffs against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on May 11, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: Us
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    20.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.6 apg, 0.2 bpg, 1.2 spg, 45 percent FG, 40 percent 3FG, 89 percent FT

    All-Star: 10-time

    All-NBA Team: Second Team one time, Third Team one time

    Championships: One

    Ray Allen has proven himself as one of the best shooters in NBA history. With an underrated all-around game, Ray Allen became the franchise player for the Seattle Supersonics, posting a career high of 26.4 ppg in 2006-2007.

    Following that season, Allen joined forces with veteran players Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to earn an NBA championship with the Boston Celtics. He currently ranks first all-time in three-pointers made.

    Ray Allen also ranks sixthall-time in free throw percentage and 24th in total points.

18. Alex English

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    1989-1990:  Guard Alex English #2 of the Denver Nuggets screens forward Chris Mullin of the Golden State Warriors from the ball during a game at the McNichols Sports Arena in Denver, Colorado. Mandatory Credit: Tim DeFrisco  /Allsport Mandatory Credit: Ti
    Tim DeFrisco/Getty Images

    21.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 3.6 apg, 0.7 bpg, 0.9 spg, 51 percent FG, 22 percent 3FG, 83 percent FT

    All-Star: Eight-time

    All-NBA Team: Second Team three times

    Championships: Zero

    Alex English was one of the best offensive players of all-time. He was the first player ever to string together eight straight 2,000 point seasons, and ended the 1980s as the decade's leading scorer.

    English had his best years while playing for the Denver Nuggets, where he led the franchise to nine consecutive playoffs. In addition to making eight All-Star teams, English also led the league in scoring in 1983.

    During those years, the Nuggets were known as a high scoring team that fed off of Alex English's style. He liked playing in an up-tempo style that was described as smooth and elegant.

    What's especially amazing was that English accomplished all this scoring while playing in the Mile High City, where players often struggle due to the lower oxygen levels. After leading a great basketball career, English currently ranks 13th all-time in NBA history in total points.

17. Pete Maravich

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    24.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 5.4 apg, 0.3 bpg, 1.4 spg, 44 percent FG, 82 percent FT

    All-Star: Five-time

    All-NBA Team: First Team two times, Second Team two times

    Championships: 0

    “Pistol Pete” Maravich was a player ahead of his times. Maravich possessed a creativity that led to awe-inspiring skills worthy of rivaling moves at a Harlem Globetrotters game.

    The five-time All-Star led the NBA in scoring in 1977. While Maravich played for very few good teams during his career, he helped make the league more popular during the 1970s, as fans would pack the arenas to watch him play.

    While some knock him for not being a winner, he said that being a basketball showman and entertaining fans was what he wanted to be remembered for. While it’s unfortunate that Pete Maravich died young at the age of 40, his legacy will live on.

16. Paul Pierce

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    BOSTON, MA - MAY 07:  Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics celebrates a shot in the second half against the Miami Heat in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 7, 2011 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.
    Elsa/Getty Images

    22.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 3.8 apg, 0.6 bpg, 1.5 spg, 45 percent FG, 37 percent 3FG, 81 percent FT

    All-Star: Nine-time

    Finals MVP: One

    All-NBA Team: Second Team one time, Third Team three times

    Championships: One

    Paul Pierce, nicknamed “The Truth,” has slowly built up an impressive career as one of the all-time Celtics greats. What makes Pierce stand out from other players is his all-around game of excelling in scoring, shooting, defense and clutch ability.

    Pierce is a good outside shooter, currently ranked ninth all-time in three-pointers made and 30th in points scored. Along with his signature step-back jumper, he has been named to nine All-Star teams and led the Boston Celtics to an NBA title in 2008 by earning a Finals MVP Award.

     His stellar career is even more remarkable in that he barely survived a stabbing incident, where he was inflicted 11 times in the face, neck and back on September 25, 2000. In his last few years in the NBA, he will likely only build on his career accomplishments.

15. Dominique Wilkins

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    1985:  Dominique Wilkins #21 of the Atlanta Hawks goes up for a layup during a 1985 NBA season game.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    24.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 2.5 apg, 0.6 bpg, 1.3 spg, 46 percent FG, 32 percent 3FG, 81 percent FT

    All-Star: Nine-time

    All-NBA Team: First Team once, Second Team four times, Third Team two times

    Championships: Zero

    The Human Highlight Film, Dominique Wilkins, was one of the faces of the NBA during the 1980s. Known for his high flying act and signature windmill dunks, he twice captured the slam dunk title. 

    His battle with Michael Jordan in the 1988 Slam Dunk Championship is legendary. Yet, Dominique Wilkins was one of the premier scorers of his generation with a reliable mid-range jump shot. The nine-time All-Star also led the NBA in scoring in 1986 and put together a string of 10 consecutive years of averaging at least 25.9 ppg.

    He was not a premier defender and never led his teams to an NBA title. However, his constant appearances on SportsCenter's highlights made him one of the most popular players during an era when the NBA was starting to become a global brand.

    Wilkins currently ranks 11th all-time in total points, 13th in scoring average and 10th in field goals made in NBA history.

14. Allen Iverson

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    CHICAGO - FEBRUARY 20: Allen Iverson #3 of the Philadelphia 76ers moves against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on February 20, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the 76ers 122-90. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees tha
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    26.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 6.2 apg, 0.2 bpg, 2.2 spg, 43 percent FG, 31 percent 3FG, 78 percent FT

    All-Star: 11-time

    MVP: Once   

    All-Star MVP: Twice

    All-NBA Team: First Team three times, Second Team three times, Third Team one time

    Championships: Zero

    Allen Iverson is perhaps the best scorer ever among small players. Standing only six feet tall, Iverson used his speed and skill to score around bigger and taller players throughout his career. 

    He came into the league as a sensation, displaying his killer crossover move on premier defenders including Michael Jordan.

    Iverson's career perhaps peaked in 2001, when he was named the league's MVP and took the 76ers to the NBA Finals. The 11-time All-Star also would go on to claim four scoring titles and lead the NBA in steals three times.

    Like many great players who couldn't lead a team to an NBA championship, Iverson become a journeyman over the last few years of his NBA career.

    While Iverson ranks sixth in scoring average and ninth in steals per game in NBA history, he fails to rank higher on the all-time list because of his inability to win, including as a member of the sole US Team with NBA players that failed to win gold at the Olympics.

13. Rick Barry

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    23.2 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 5.1 apg, 0.5 bpg, 2.0 spg, 45 percent FG, 33 percent 3FG, 90 percent FT

    All-Star: Eight-time

    Finals MVP: Once

    All-Star  MVP: Once

    All-NBA Team: First Team six times, 2nd Team once

    Championships: One

    Rick Barry had a career exemplifying one of the best pure small forwards in NBA history. He remains the only player to lead the NCAA, ABA and NBA in scoring for a season. His offensive repertoire included a reliable outside jump shot and a two-handed finger roll that was near impossible to block.

    Barry averaged 40.8 ppg in the NBA Finals, a scoring average only eclipsed by Michael Jordan. Perhaps he is best remembered by his signature underhanded free throws, a technique that led him to be the third most accurate free throw shooter in NBA history.

    A gifted passer, the eight-time All-Star also held his own on the defensive end and led the league in steals in the 1974-1975 season.

    The highlight of his career was being named Finals MVP en route to winning the 1975 NBA championship with the Golden State Warriors. His strong clutch play was a consistent part of his game.

    With his all-around game and his relentless will to win, Rick Barry was certainly one of the all-time greats.

12. George Gervin

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    26.2 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 2.8 apg, 0.8 bpg, 1.2 spg, 51 percent FG, 30 percent 3FG, 84 percent FT

    All-Star: Nine-time

    MVP: One-time   

    All-Star MVP: One-time

    All-NBA Team: First Team five times, Second Team two times

    Championships: Zero

    George Gervin translated a successful ABA career into a dominating one in the NBA. Known as “The Iceman,” Gervin was known for his finger roll shot, which he mastered using in dozens of offensive moves.

    The nine-time All-Star would lead the NBA in scoring four times, including in 1978, when he narrowly beat out David Thompson by scoring 73 points in the final game of the season.

    The scoring title would be the first of three consecutive from 1978 to 1980, an accomplishment matched only by Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan.

    Besides popularizing the finger roll shot, George Gervin perhaps more importantly led the San Antonio Spurs in a successful transition from the ABA to the NBA.

    Gervin currently ranks eighth in ppg in league history. Although he ultimately failed to win an NBA championship, he will be remembered as one of the greatest offensive players in NBA history.

11. Clyde Drexler

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    Guard Clyde Drexler of the Portland Trail Blazers goes up for two during a game.
    Mike Powell/Getty Images

    20.4 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 5.6 apg, 0.7 bpg, 2.0 spg, 47 percent FG, 32 percent 3FG, 79 percent FT

    All-Star: 10-time

    All-NBA Team: First Team once, Second Team two times, Third Team two times

    Championships: One

    Clyde “The Glide” Drexler gained fame and attention in the NBA with his aerial exploits. With his magnificent leaping ability, Drexler rivaled Dominique Wilkins and Michael Jordan as one of the best dunkers in the NBA during the 1980s and 1990s.

    Regarded by many as the best player in Portland Trailblazers’ history, Clyde Drexler developed one of the best all-around games among shooting guards. He was a premier ball-handler, playmaker and defender year after year.

    Coach Phil Jackson once described Drexler as being the player who came closest to Michael Jordan in the 1990s in terms of talent.

    Although bested by Jordan’s Bulls in the 1992 Finals, Drexler would redeem himself in winning a title in 1995 with former college teammate Hakeem Olajuwon.

    As a member of the Houston Rockets, Drexler formed a Big Three with Olajuwon and Charles Barkley.  Although that team fell short of a title, Drexler left the game as a winner and one of the best shooting guards of all-time.

10. Dwyane Wade

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    25.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 6.3 apg, 1.0 bpg, 1.8 spg, 49 percent FG, 29 percent 3FG, 77 percent FT

    All-Star: Seven-time

    Finals MVP: Once 

    All-Star  MVP: Once

    All-NBA Team: First Team two times, Second Team three times, Third Team one time

    All-Defensive Team: Second Team three times

    Championships: One

    Dwyane Wade has only played eight seasons but already he has built himself a legacy with the Miami Heat. Capable of playing both guard positions, Wade has a great all-around game. He has proven to be one of the premier scorers, help defenders and clutch players in the league. 

    The seven-time All-Star is one of the best at drawing fouls and earning trips to the line, as well as converting difficult layups.

    Like other great players, he has been able to improve different parts of his game over the years, such as his post-up game and outside shooting.

    Wade's career highlight so far was his dominant performance in the 2006 Finals. He also led the 2008 US Olympic team in scoring despite coming off the bench.

    Currently, Wade ranks 10th in the NBA in scoring average. In teaming with LeBron James and Chris Bosh, he will have the opportunity to lead his team to a few more championships before he retires. Doing so will only move Wade up to a higher all-time ranking.

9. Scottie Pippen

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    13 Feb 1998:  Guard Scottie Pippen of the Chicago Bulls goes up for two during a game against the Atlanta Hawks at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois.  The Bulls won the game, 112-110. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Daniel  /Allsport
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    16.1 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 5.2 apg, 0.8 bpg, 2.0 spg, 47 percent FG, 33 percent 3FG, 70 percent FT

    All-Star: Seven-time

    All-Star MVP: One-time

    All-NBA Team: First Team three times, Second Team two times, Third Team two times

    All-Defensive Team: First Team eight times, Second Team two times

    Championships: Six

    Scottie Pippen is thought of by many as just “Michael Jordan’s sidekick,” but that is a gross understatement. Pippen revolutionized the role of point-forward and was one of the greatest all-around players in NBA history.

    During the Chicago Bulls dynasty of the 1990s, Pippen usually guarded the opposing teams’ best perimeter players. His defense on Magic Johnson in the 1991 Finals was masterful and was one of the deciding factors that led to Chicago winning. Along with his dominant help defense, Pippen may be the best perimeter defender of all-time.

    His best individual season came in 1993-1994, when he led the Bulls without Michael Jordan to 55 wins—just two less than the year before when Jordan was with the team. That season, Pippen led the team in all five major statistical areas (points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals), as well as leading the entire league in steals.

    Overall, Pippen ranks 16th all-time in steals per game and sixth in total steals in NBA history.

8. John Havlicek

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    20.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 4.8 apg, 0.3 bpg, 1.2 spg, 44 percent FG, 82 percent FT

    All-Star: 13-time

    Finals MVP: One time

    All-NBA Team: First Team four times, Second Team seven times

    All-Defensive Team: First Team five times, Second Team three times

    Championships: Eight

    During his career, John Havlicek revolutionized the role of the NBA’s sixth man. Known for his hustle play, Havlicek (known affectionately as “Hondo”) helped energize his Boston Celtics teams.

    It is fitting that his most memorable play came when he stole Hal Greer’s pass in the 1965 Eastern Conference championship game, as he was known as a tenacious defender.

    He was known as an all-around player who could rebound and make plays. In addition, he was quite effective as a scorer, and currently ranks 12th all-time in scoring and ninth in field goals made in NBA history.

    More importantly perhaps, for the team with the most NBA championships, Havlicek is the greatest scorer of them all.

7. Elgin Baylor

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    27.4 ppg, 13.5 rpg, 4.3 apg, 43 percent FG, 78 percent FT

    All-Star: 11-time

    All-Star MVP: Once

    All-NBA Team: First Team 10 times

    Championships: Zero

    Before the NBA games were televised prominently around the world, Elgin Baylor was the first superstar to elevate his game above the court. While being a dominant shooter and rebounder, Baylor became known for his acrobatic moves through the air.

    With his signature hanging jump shot, Baylor dominated the league for over a decade. His 61 points in Game 5 of the 1962 Finals is still a record for most points scored in a Finals game, as well as most playoff points scored in regulation.

    Baylor’s 19.8 rpg average during the 1960-1961 season has only been exceeded by five players in history—all of whom were at least four inches taller.

    With his superior athletic ability and all-around game, Baylor was said to have saved the Minneapolis Lakers franchise from going bankrupt.

    Overall, Baylor ranks fourth in scoring average, 22nd in scoring total and ninth in rpg.

6. Julius Erving

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    LOS ANGELES - 1987:  Julius Erving #6 of the Philadelphia 76ers rests during the 1987 game against the Los Angeles Lakers at the Great Western Forum in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    22.0 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 3.9 apg, 1.5 bpg, 1.8 spg, 51 percent FG, 26 percent 3FG, 78 percent FT

    All-Star: 11 times in the NBA (Five times in the ABA)

    MVP: Once in NBA (three times in ABA)   

    All-Star MVP: Two times

    All-NBA Team: First Team five times in NBA (four times in ABA), Second Team two times in NBA (one time in ABA)

    Championships: one

    While Elgin Baylor might have been “First in Flight” in the NBA, Julius (Dr. J) Erving took aerial acrobatics to new heights over the court. With his amazing vertical leaping ability, Erving seemed to invent new moves every night.

    He became famous throughout his years in the ABA and NBA for his dunking ability, including his signature dunks from the foul line. Erving is perhaps most remembered for his famous behind-the-backboard shot during the 1980 Finals.

    When counting both NBA and ABA All-Star appearances, only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has more than Erving’s 16 selections. If combining both NBA and ABA statistics, Erving would also rank fifth all-time in scoring.

5. LeBron James

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    MIAMI, FL - JUNE 12:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat drives against Shawn Marion #0 of the Dallas Mavericks in the second half of Game Six of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 12, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressl
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    27.7 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 7.1 apg, 0.8 bpg, 1.7 spg, 48 percent FG, 33 percent 3FG, 74 percent FT

    All-Star: Seven times

    MVP: Two times 

    All-Star MVP: Two times

    All-NBA Team: First Team five times, Second Team two times

    All-Defensive Team: First Team three times

    Championships: Zero

    Few players in NBA history have had the all-around statistics as LeBron James. Along with the hype of the media coming out of high school, Lebron James was said to have the scoring ability of Michael Jordan and passing ability of Magic Johnson.

    Although James is an excellent scorer and playmaker, he has a ways to go to match the level of those two legends. Yet, through just half of his likely career, James has won two MVP awards and has improved remarkably on the defensive end of the court the past few seasons.

    One memorable moment came during the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals when James scored his team’s final 25 points, including a game-winning layup against the Pistons in Game 5.  That win helped propel James to his first championship series.

    Now teamed with superstars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, James has a golden opportunity to win a few titles. In order to do so, however, he’ll have to step up his game after his first two Finals appearances. If James can continue to dominate the league and find a way to win multiple championships, he has a chance of jumping up a couple of places on this list.

    Overall, James currently ranks third all-time in scoring average in the NBA.

4. Jerry West

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    27.0 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 6.7 apg, 47 percent FG, 81 percent FT

    All-Star: 14 times

    Finals MVP: Once 

    All-Star MVP: Once

    All-NBA Team: First Team 10 times, Second Team two times

    All-Defensive Team: First Team four times, Second Team one times

    Championships: One

    Jerry West (aka “Mr. Clutch”) was one of the best all-around players in NBA history. Possessing one of the best jump shots in the game, West became one of the most dominant scorers in the league.

    He earned a reputation for being clutch by hitting several last second shots and stepping up his game in the playoffs. His 29.1 playoff scoring average currently ranks third all-time. One of his most impressive performances came during the first round of the 1965 playoffs, when West made up for the absence of Elgin Baylor by averaging 46.3 ppg in the series, a mark that still stands as an NBA record.

    Although defensive stats weren’t kept for most of his career, West was one of the premier ball thieves in the NBA and was reported to even have a game with 10 blocks. Although the All-Defensive teams weren’t introduced until he was 32 years old, West was selected to the first five teams.

    Currently, West ranks fifth all-time in scoring average, 15th in points scored and 17th in field goals made.

3. Larry Bird

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    1985:  Boston Celtis forward Larry Bird shoots during game. Mandatory Credit: Allsport  /Allsport
    Getty Images/Getty Images

    24.3 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 6.3 apg, 0.8 bpg, 1.7 spg, 50 percent FG, 38 percent 3FG, 89 percent FT

    All-Star: 12 times

    MVP: Three-time  

    Finals MVP: Two-time  

    All-Star MVP: One-time

    All-NBA Team: First Team nine times, Second Team one time

    All-Defensive Team: Second Team three times

    Championships: Three

    Larry Bird ranks as the best small forward of all-time in NBA history. As one of the smartest players in the league, his court vision was among the best ever seen. In combining his shooting touch, rebounding ability and playmaking skills, Bird was one of the most well-rounded players.

    Bird put up several amazing moments in the playoffs and led one of the most potent front courts of all-time, along with Kevin McHale and Robert Parish.

    Bird currently ranks fifth all-time in triple doubles with 59 and was the first player to shoot greater than 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from three-point territory and 90 percent of his free throws over the course of an entire season. And he accomplished that feat twice.

    Overall, Bird ranks 16th in scoring average, 20th in field goals made and 10th in free throw percentage in NBA history.

2. Kobe Bryant

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    25.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 4.7 apg, 0.5 bpg, 1.5 spg, 45 percent FG, 34 percent 3FG, 84 percent FT

    All-Star: 13-time

    MVP: One-time  

    Finals MVP: Two-time  

    All-Star  MVP: Four-time

    All-NBA Team: First Team nine times, Second Team two times, Third Team two times

    All-Defensive Team: First Team nine times, Second Team two times

    Championships: Five

    When it comes to NBA legends, few have accomplished more than Kobe Bryant. With his amazing scoring ability and his stellar defense, Kobe Bryant has a similar well-rounded game like most at the top of this list.

    Kobe ranks as one of just four players with at least five championships and two Finals MVP awards (along with Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson). In addition, Bryant is one of only two players to have at least nine First Team selections to both the All-NBA and All-Defensive teams (along with Jordan).

    Bryant has had many standout moments throughout his career, such as when he scored 81 points against the Raptors in 2006 and became the only player in NBA history to outscore an entire team through three quarters (62-61 against the Mavericks).

    He remains the only player to have scored 30 points in a quarter twice, as well as the only player to have scored at least 60 points twice while playing less than 40 minutes in a game. In addition, Bryant holds the modern NBA record for most game-winning shots.

    Overall, Kobe ranks 11th all-time in scoring average, sixth in points scored, 11th in field goals made, 18th in three-pointers made and sixth in free throws made in NBA history.

1. Michael Jordan

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    30.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 5.3 apg, 0.8 bpg, 2.4 spg, 50 percent FG, 33 percent 3FG, 84 percent FT

    All-Star: 14-time

    MVP: Five-time   

    Finals MVP: Six-time  

    All-Star MVP: Three-time 

    Defensive Player of the Year: Once

    All-NBA Team: First Team 10 times, Second Team one time

    All-Defensive Team: First Team nine times

    Championships: Six

    No surprise here; Michael Jordan is at the top of many all-time greatest NBA players lists. Jordan accomplished more accolades than any other wing player in NBA history.

    He is one of three guards to have won the Defensive Player of the Year award, and the only player to win that award and win a scoring title (of course, Jordan earned 10 of those titles).

    Jordan ranks second to Wilt Chamberlain in 40-point games with 173. Jordan does, however, lead all players with eight 50-point games in the postseason, and his 33.5 points per game scoring average in the playoffs is the highest mark of all-time.

    His six Finals MVP awards also mark an NBA record. Jordan’s clutch ability (including game-winning shots, key defensive stops and assists) helps to separate him from other superstars.

    Overall, Jordan ranks first all-time in scoring average, third in points scored, fourth in free throws made, fourth in field goals made, fifth in steals per game and second in total steals.

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