Bleacher Report's All-Time Player Rankings: NBA's Top 50 Revealed

Andy Bailey@@AndrewDBaileyFeatured ColumnistSeptember 26, 2019

Bleacher Report's All-Time Player Rankings: NBA's Top 50 Revealed

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    Chuck Burton/Associated Press

    A total of 4,374 players have appeared in at least one NBA game. How can anyone whittle that number down to the top 50?

    Attempting to create that list is an excruciating endeavor. The number of painful omissions may be about as large as the list itself. Individual debates like Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James or Magic Johnson vs. Larry Bird pop up all over the place.

    The NBA has showcased a wealth of talent over the course of 70-plus years. And even though a definitive top 50 is likely impossible to uncover, that won't prevent us from digging.

    You've already seen the top 10s for each of the five primary positions: point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward and center. Now, it's time to put everyone together.

    As has been the case throughout this series, the criteria were mostly subjective, though heavily influenced by both basic and advanced statistics.

    Catch-all metrics like box plus/minus (available from the 1973-74 season on) and win shares per 48 minutes came into play. And you'll see pace- and playing-time-adjusted numbers (in the form of "per 75 possessions"). But intangibles have to be factored into these conversations, as well.

    In the end, the most difficult calls often came down to instincts.

    And again, some of the cuts that had to be made went way beyond difficult. Those players still deserve a shoutout, so you'll find them in the honorable mentions before we get to the top 50.

    And so, without further delay, here we go.

    *Note: Text for most players has been taken from the positional rankings, some of which has been edited for length and context.

Honorable Mentions

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    Dick Raphael/Getty Images

    Here are some of those painful omissions, listed in alphabetical order:

    • Alvan Adams
    • Carmelo Anthony
    • Chauncey Billups
    • Chris Bosh
    • Elton Brand
    • Vince Carter
    • Dave Cowens
    • Alex English
    • Artis Gilmore
    • Blake Griffin
    • Grant Hill
    • Al Horford
    • Jeff Hornacek
    • Allen Iverson
    • Kevin Johnson
    • Marques Johnson
    • Neil Johnston
    • Bobby Jones
    • Sam Jones
    • Andrei Kirilenko
    • Bob Lanier
    • Damian Lillard
    • Kevin Love
    • Kyle Lowry
    • Jerry Lucas
    • Pete Maravich
    • Shawn Marion
    • Bob McAdoo
    • Tracy McGrady
    • George Mikan
    • Sidney Moncrief
    • Alonzo Mourning
    • Chris Mullin
    • Dikembe Mutombo
    • Robert Parish
    • Tony Parker
    • Gary Payton
    • Willis Reed
    • Dennis Rodman
    • Arvydas Sabonis
    • Jack Sikma
    • Nate Thurmond
    • Wes Unseld
    • Chris Webber
    • Dominique Wilkins

    Again, there are probably arguments for any of the above to make the top 50. There are probably arguments for some who aren't even here.

    Given the number of phenomenal basketball players who've passed through the NBA, figuring out the top 50 may well be impossible. But here goes a shot at it.

50. Rick Barry

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    Dick Raphael/Getty Images

    Per Game: 23.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 2.0 steals

    Per 75 Possessions: 20.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 1.9 steals

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: +0.3

    Net Rating Swing: N/A

    Box Plus/Minus: 3.2

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: 0.162        

    One of the NBA's early playmaking forwards, Rick Barry did a little bit of everything for the Golden State Warriors of the 1960s and '70s.

    "He was Larry Bird before there was a Larry Bird," former New Jersey Nets director of player personnel Al Menendez said of Barry, per Sports Illustrated.

    Only 10 players in NBA history had more seasons than Barry's two with an average of 30-plus points per game (and that's not even counting two more he had in the ABA). And his 35.6 in 1966-67 remains the eighth-highest single-season average of all time.

    Then, there's the rebounding. He was 31st among players his height or shorter in rebounds per game.

    And finally, there's the passing. Over the course of Barry's NBA career, Reggie Theus and Wilt Chamberlain were the only 6'7"-plus players who averaged more assists per game.

    "He was a great artist. A Mozart. A Picasso. A Caruso," Barry's former coach, Lou Carnesecca, said. "I'd diagram a play, and Rick would instinctively see four or five options that I'd never even imagined. In 35 years of coaching I've never had another guy like that."

    Barry's brilliance on the floor culminated in a 1974-75 title with the Warriors. That year, he averaged 29.5 points, 5.0 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 3.5 steals in a Finals sweep of the Washington Bullets. To no one's surprise, he was named Finals MVP.

49. Elvin Hayes

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    Vernon Biever/Getty Images

    Per Game: 21.0 points, 12.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.0 steals, 2.0 blocks

    Per 75 Possessions: 17.8 points, 10.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.9 steals, 1.8 blocks

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: -2.6

    Net Rating Swing: N/A

    Box Plus/Minus: +0.9

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: 0.116

    Like plenty of professional athletes before and since, Elvin Hayes often struggled with the aspects of sports and stardom that existed outside the game itself.

    "To many basketball fans, Hayes is known as one of the original bad actors of sports' big-money era, a troublemaker who has doomed to certain failure every professional team he ever played for," Sports Illustrated's John Papanek wrote in 1978.

    The piece goes on to detail less-than-pleasant run-ins with coaches, teammates and media. It also shares a nugget from Hayes himself.

    "Finally winning the championship completes the picture. because no one can ever again say that E's not a champion. But the one thing they've taken away from me that I feel I have deserved is the MVP. And I don't think I'll ever get it, because I think, more than anything else, people want to see me fail."

    Hayes would never win that MVP, despite leading the league in scoring once, rebounding twice and minutes per game twice. Over his first 10 years in the league, his 23.9 points per game ranked 10th, and his 14.7 rebounds ranked fourth.

    He was absurdly productive, but his interactions with others and his lack of a title until his 10th season influenced the way he was perceived. That sounds like James Harden or Russell Westbrook, right?

    Decades before social media put its onerous imprint on sports, there were still plenty of misunderstood stars. Hayes never won an MVP award, but he's in the Hall of Fame and has to be considered one of the greatest power forwards of all time.

48. Walt Frazier

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    Richard Drew/Associated Press

    Per Game: 18.9 points, 6.1 assists, 5.9 rebounds, 1.9 steals

    Per 75 Possessions: 16.8 points, 5.3 assists, 5.1 rebounds, 1.7 steals

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: +3.3

    Net Rating Swing: N/A

    Box Plus/Minus: 4.1

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: 0.176

    Many of today's NBA fans may know Walt "Clyde" Frazier as the rhyme-dropping, extravagant-suit-wearing color commentator on the New York Knicks' local broadcasts. 

    In the 1960s and '70s, he was one of the leaders of the only New York Knicks teams to win NBA championships.

    And while his counting stats were plenty impressive when he was in action, his biggest strength may have been on the side of the floor that doesn't get as much love from box scores.

    Frazier himself explained his love of defense to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated:

    "When I was [a freshman] in college [Southern Illinois], I was ineligible to play, so every day at practice the coach made me play defense. And I fell in love with defense. The way I would get back at the coach, it was me and four guys against the varsity. I would be creating so much havoc that the coach would say, 'Frazier. Sit down.' They couldn't run any plays. I was stealing the ball, talking trash.

    "That is when I mastered the technique. The stance. If you ask me about any guy, I know whether he had that one step, Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, Earl 'The Pearl' [Monroe], Dave Bing, [Nate] 'Tiny' Archibald. I perfected the system."

    On top of his seven All-Star appearances, six All-NBA selections and two NBA titles, Frazier also tallied seven All-Defensive selections.

47. Isiah Thomas

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    Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

    Per Game: 19.2 points, 9.3 assists, 3.6 rebounds, 1.9 steals

    Per 75 Possessions: 19.3 points, 9.3 assists, 3.6 rebounds, 1.9 steals

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: -2.0

    Net Rating Swing: N/A

    Box Plus/Minus: 2.2

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: 0.109

    As you make your way through this piece, you'll find that Isiah Thomas' advanced numbers are significantly lower than the others on the list.

    "The point guard was never particularly efficient, but his defense and leadership more than made up for the deficits," Bleacher Report's Adam Fromal wrote. "Plus, he was on stacked teams with players who were made better by his sheer presence, so in a way, he actually earned more win shares than he produced solely as an individual."

    This is a rare win for the "eye test over numbers" crowd, but the two camps don't need to be completely at odds when it comes to Thomas. Common ground can be found when examining his playoff numbers.

    Thomas' 6.4 playoff box plus/minus is far better than his regular-season mark, and it ranks 12th all time (sixth among point guards).

    His basic postseason numbers of 20.4 points, 8.9 assists and 2.1 steals are unmatched across league history. And if you relax the qualifiers to 20 points, eight assists and two steals, Chris Paul is the only name added to the list.

    Add 12 All-Star appearances, five All-NBA selections, two titles and a Finals MVP to that resume, and it isn't difficult to see why Thomas' advanced numbers couldn't keep him out of the top 50. 

46. Pau Gasol

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    Per Game: 17.0 points, 9.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.6 blocks

    Per 75 Possessions: 19.8 points, 10.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.8 blocks

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: +2.7

    Net Rating Swing: +3.1

    Box Plus/Minus: 3.5

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: 0.169

    Pau Gasol may not have as many accolades as most of the others on this list. But for well over a decade, he was one of the steadiest inside presences in the league.

    LeBron James, Chris Paul, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki and Dwyane Wade are the only players with more wins over replacement player over the course of Pau's career.

    Gasol's influence on the game has to be considered, as well. He arrived on the scene within a few years of Garnett and Nowitzki. Together, they helped change what's expected of a big man.

    The lumbering power games of bigs from the past gave way to the skill-heavy games Gasol helped pioneer. Sure, outliers such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Walton and Alvan Adams preceded him, but he helped make passing bigs the norm.

    Among 7-footers, only Kareem and Wilt have more career assists.

    The exclamation points are his two titles with Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. His playoff numbers on the way to those back-to-back championships? An excellent 18.9 points, 11.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.0 blocks per game.

    Plus, his 6.4 box plus/minus over those two postseasons was comparable to Kobe's 6.7.

45. George Gervin

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    Dick Raphael/Getty Images

    Per Game: 26.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.8 blocks

    Per 75 Possessions: 26.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.9 blocks

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: +4.0

    Net Rating Swing: N/A

    Box Plus/Minus: 1.5

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: 0.159

    Before we dive into George Gervin's resume, it should be noted that his numbers come exclusively from his NBA seasons: 1976-77 to 1985-86.

    His ABA numbers across four seasons were great, especially on the boards, but this is an NBA list. Even with his first four professional campaigns omitted, the Iceman did enough to get into the top 50. And his transition—along with those of his ABA contemporaries—to the NBA helped energize the league.

    "It was the best thing that could happen to us when we made that merger," Gervin told The Post Game's Jeff Eisenband. "The NBA needed a shock. I think the ABA merger really helped the foundation. They always say Magic [Johnson] and [Larry] Bird saved them. I think the ABA did. It gave them the youth, talent."

    Gervin may have been more of a lightning bolt than a shock to his new league.

    During his 10-year NBA run, Gervin's 26.2 points per game trailed only Adrian Dantley's 26.5. And he won four scoring titles, topping out at 33.1 points in 1979-80.

    In the final game of his 1977-78 campaign, Gervin dropped 63 points to wrap up his first scoring crown.

    David Thompson, who finished second that season, recounted his experience with Gervin's 63-point game after scoring 73 earlier in the day (h/t

    "When I finally made it home, I scanned the dial on the radio and attempted to pick up the San Antonio versus New Orleans broadcast. If it had been any player other than 'The Iceman,' I wouldn't have even bothered. But George was ultra-competitive, and he already knew what I had done earlier in the day. He needed 58 points to win the scoring title, and I knew that was not far from his reach. George could fill up the bucket so fast you would swear it was raining basketballs.

    "I caught the game early into the second quarter, and by halftime Gervin had fired in 53 points. I knew then that my 73 had been in vain. George scored 63 points on 23 of 49 shots from the floor and ended up winning the scoring title in the closest race in NBA history, 27.22 to 27.15.

    "George's 63 points that night in New Orleans meant that I had only held the scoring lead for about seven hours..."

    Gervin was one of the most prolific scorers basketball has ever produced. Despite only playing 10 NBA seasons, he's 40th all-time in points scored. If you go by points per game, he rockets up to ninth.

44. Ray Allen

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    Jeff Reinking/Getty Images

    Per Game: 18.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 2.3 threes, 1.1 steals

    Per 75 Possessions: 21.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 2.6 threes, 1.2 steals

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: +4.9

    Net Rating Swing: +4.9

    Box Plus/Minus: 3.0

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: 0.150

    When you think of the prettiest shooting forms in NBA history, Ray Allen's almost always comes up. That's a big plus for a shooting guard.

    A person of meticulous habit, Allen once told the Boston Globe's Jackie MacMullan that he felt insulted when people referred to his jump shot as a God-given gift.

    "God could care less whether I can shoot a jump shot," Allen said.

    His picturesque form came from countless hours of repetition—thousands of jumpers both in front of crowds and in empty gyms.

    And it was that career-long dedication to his craft that made Allen one of the greatest shooters in the game's history.

    In the wake of the recent three-point revolution, players are likely to pass Allen's total for career threes. But for now, his 2,973 still have him at No. 1.

    Allen was more than a shooter, though. Sure, it's the foundation of his all-time legacy, but he also had five seasons in which he averaged at least four dimes. And he even competed in the 1997 Slam Dunk Contest.

    He was also a critical component of two title-winning teams. In 2008, he trailed only Kevin Garnett among Boston Celtics in playoff win shares. He made 2.1 threes per game that postseason and shot 39.6 percent from deep.

    Then, five years later, he hit one of the biggest shots in NBA history as a member of the Miami Heat. With time winding down in Game 6 of the 2013 Finals, and the San Antonio Spurs' trophy literally being wheeled onto the floor, Allen hit a game-tying three that preserved Miami's hopes and gave the team a chance at a Game 7. Of course, the Heat went on to win the title.

    "I honestly can say I gave myself a great opportunity, a great chance to make that shot," Allen said of his legendary moment, per SB Nation's Paul Flannery. "And it wasn't unfamiliar to me positionally. When it went in, I was ecstatic. But at the same time I was expecting to make it."

43. Reggie Miller

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    Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

    Per Game: 18.2 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.8 threes, 1.1 steals

    Per 75 Possessions: 20.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 2.1 threes, 1.2 steals

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: +8.5

    Net Rating Swing: N/A

    Box Plus/Minus: 3.3

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: 0.176   

    During his 2018 Hall of Fame speech, Allen praised his sharpshooting predecessor, Reggie Miller:

    "As I stand here on the stage today before you, I know a lot has been said about me being a great shooter. Being one of the best. But what I know is this person who is presenting me tonight, Reggie Miller, is the best shooter that I've ever seen in my life.

    "Reggie has had a profound effect on my early years in the NBA. I would come out to the floor thinking I was early, and he was already out there, and Reggie had a Superman shirt. And when you see somebody, your opponent, wearing a Superman shirt, you have to ask yourself 'how do I beat Superman tonight?'

    "It was impossible to guard you, Reggie. Reggie would grab my arms and he would throw me in one direction, then go in the other. And then the coach would get mad at me! And I said 'Coach Calhoun didn't teach me that in college.'"

    On top of his combination of competitiveness and craftiness, Miller was an absurdly efficient scorer.

    He had 13 seasons with 500-plus minutes, a double-digit scoring average and a 60-plus true shooting percentage. His closest competition on that front consists of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Steve Nash and John Stockton, each of whom had 11 such seasons.

    If you up the points-per-game qualifier to 15, Miller still holds a 12-11 lead over Kareem.

    On top of the numbers, Miller, who is second all-time in threes made, had a killer instinct that made him one of the league's top scorers for well over a decade.

    And that was never more evident than when Miller scored eight points in nine seconds during the 1995 playoffs.

    Sports Illustrated recounted the legendary performance:

    "Miller's theatrics Sunday were witnessed by millions of people, most of whom no doubt are still trying to figure out what they saw. Miller made two three-pointers in the span of 3.1 seconds (the second trey after he intercepted an inbounds pass) to tie the score at 105-105. After the Knicks' John Starks missed two free throws, Miller won the game by hitting two foul shots with 7.5 seconds remaining. And he did it all while yapping at Knick court jester Spike Lee and gloating in the faces of the stunned New York players."

    Like Allen, Miller was more than just a shooter. He could leverage his shooting ability into results that devastated opponents.

42. Kawhi Leonard

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    Mark Blinch/Getty Images

    Per Game: 17.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.8 steals, 1.4 threes, 0.7 blocks

    Per 75 Possessions: 21.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.2 steals, 1.7 threes, 0.8 blocks

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: +5.5

    Net Rating Swing: +4.6

    Box Plus/Minus: 6.1

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: 0.219

    Yes, Kawhi Leonard only has eight seasons of NBA experience to his name. And he only made nine appearances in one of those seasons. But Kawhi is already one of the most accomplished postseason performers in NBA history, as evidenced by a few all-time ranks.

    • Playoff box plus/minus: fifth (second among small forwards)
    • Playoff value over replacement player: 25th (sixth among small forwards)
    • Playoff win shares per 48 minutes: fourth (second among small forwards)
    • Playoff win shares: 28th (seventh among small forwards)

    In 2019, Leonard solidified those ranks and his status among the game's best players with a historic playoff run. In 24 games, he averaged 30.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 2.3 threes and 1.7 steals. His true shooting percentage was 61.9.

    Here's the complete list of players who played at least 500 minutes, averaged 30-plus points and had a 60-plus true shooting percentage in a single postseason: LeBron James (three times), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Alex English, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal and Kawhi Leonard.

    In the 2019 Finals alone, Leonard averaged 28.5 points. And after he and the Toronto Raptors eliminated the Golden State Warriors, he was named Finals MVP for the second time in his career.

    He joined Kareem and LeBron as the only players in NBA history to win that award with more than one team.

    On top of the loaded playoff resume, Kawhi also has two Defensive Player of the Year wins, five All-Defensive selections, three All-NBA selections and three All-Star selections.

    In this context, all his lack of experience really means is he'll probably climb higher by the time he's done.

41. Paul Pierce

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    Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

    Per Game: 19.7 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.6 threes, 1.3 steals

    Per 75 Possessions: 22.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.8 threes, 1.5 steals

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: +3.5

    Net Rating Swing: +6.3

    Box Plus/Minus: 3.3

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: 0.157

    On March 13, 2001, third-year Boston Celtic Paul Pierce went 13-of-19 from the field on the way to 42 points against his hometown Los Angeles Lakers, who also happened to be the reigning champions that year.

    "Take this down," reigning MVP Shaquille O'Neal said after that game, per NBC's A. Sherrod Blakely. "My name is Shaquille O'Neal and Paul Pierce is the motherf--king truth. Quote me on that and don't take nothing out."

    Pierce scored another 42 points two days later in Phoenix. And over the rest of his career, he was one of the game's most prolific and consistent scorers.

    By the time he retired in 2017, Pierce had racked up 26,397 points, 6,918 free throws and 2,143 threes. Today, he ranks 15th, ninth and eighth, respectively, in those three categories.

    On top of his steady scoring (he's second in Celtics history in points scored), Pierce was also a solid secondary playmaker (3.5 assists per game) and a reliable defender (part of six top-five defenses in Boston).

    He was also the leading scorer on the 2007-08 title-winning Celtics.

40. Adrian Dantley

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    Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

    Per Game: 24.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.0 steals

    Per 75 Possessions: 23.9 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.0 steals

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: +8.3

    Net Rating Swing: N/A

    Box Plus/Minus: 3.1

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: 0.189

    Adrian Dantley is one of the most efficient scorers in league history.

    There are 64 players with at least 5,000 minutes and a scoring average at 20 or more. Only six of those players have a 60-plus true shooting percentage. And Stephen Curry (62.4) and Karl-Anthony Towns (61.9) are the only two ahead of Dantley (61.7).

    Perhaps even more remarkable, Dantley posted four seasons in which he averaged at least 30 points per game with a 60-plus true shooting percentage. There are a grand total of 16 such seasons in NBA history. Four each belong to Dantley and Michael Jordan. No one else has more than two.

    That Dantley did this at 6'5" and long before threes were in vogue (he only hit seven in his career) is remarkable.

    Perhaps Dantley's dominance was due in part to the fact he never played like he was 6'5".

    "He always seems to know where that crack in the wall is," former Celtics coach K.C. Jones said, per Thomas Bonk of the Los Angeles Times. "If I put Kevin McHale or Bill Walton on him, he just yawns and says 'Oh, well, another little guy on me.'"

    In the same Times piece, Dantley's own coach, Frank Layden, expounded further:

    "What's happened is that Adrian may be the greatest scorer ever to play in the NBA. That's quite a statement, I know. But we're talking now about a long period of time, all right? This is his 10th year in the NBA. He's a scoring machine. And it isn't 50 points one night and 15 another. It's 30 every night. He doesn't slip.

    "He is so great at getting his position near the basket. Then he uses his drop steps, holds his man off, pump-fakes, all the things we talk about but seldom are used. There's nobody who plays the pivot better than him, whether you're 7 foot or not. His footwork and his pump fakes and his ability to get position are a clinic...a masterpiece."

    In today's game, we're unlikely to see anyone play quite like Dantley did. At that size, you better be able to shoot threes nowadays. But his combination of strength, fundamentals and craftiness made him one of the best scorers we've ever seen, regardless of what era of players you compare him to.

39. Bill Walton

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    NBA Photos/Getty Images

    Per Game: 13.3 points, 10.5 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 2.2 blocks, 0.8 steals

    Per 75 Possessions: 16.2 points, 12.9 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 2.7 blocks, 1.0 steals

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: +2.2

    Net Rating Swing: N/A

    Box Plus/Minus: 4.4

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: 0.142

    Injuries robbed the basketball world of a long career from one of the greatest passing bigs of all time and the precursor to Jokic.

    The difference between Jokic and Bill Walton, though, was that the latter was also dominant on defense. Over the course of his first four seasons, he was third in the NBA in defensive box plus/minus, seventh in block percentage and first in defensive rebounding percentage.

    He was named first-team All-Defensive in both 1976-77 and 1977-78. And again, we're just talking about one side of the ball.

    Combine the playmaking with Walton's scoring and defense and you had a player who, if healthy, would've been much higher on this list.

    "If you talk to people who have been around the league, they'll tell you that if Bill Walton would have been healthy for a longer period, he might have gone down as the best center ever," longtime Portland Trail Blazers play-by-play man Bill Schonely said, per Portland Monthly's Casey Jarman.

    Sadly, he really only had two peak seasons. Over the course of his third and fourth campaigns, Walton averaged 18.8 points, 13.8 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 2.9 blocks and 1.0 steals in 34.1 minutes per game. He won Finals MVP in 1976-77 after leading his Blazers to a title over the Philadelphia 76ers. And he won league MVP the following regular season.

    "Between that season and the next, it was probably the greatest stretch of a center that I ever saw play," former NBA player and coach Mike Dunleavy said, per Jarman. "He did virtually everything."

    But injuries derailed Walton's unique career after that fourth season.

    "I had 30 operations," he told Slam Online's Alan Paul.

    All of that cost him three full seasons in his prime (1978-79, 1980-81 and 1981-82). Walton was never quite the same when he came back, though he found new life with the 1985-86 Boston Celtics. That season, alongside Larry Bird, he won Sixth Man of the Year and earned his second title.

38. Patrick Ewing

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    Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

    Per Game: 21.0 points, 9.8 rebounds, 2.4 blocks, 1.9 assists, 1.0 steals

    Per 75 Possessions: 23.3 points, 10.9 rebounds, 2.7 blocks, 2.1 assists, 1.1 steals

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: +2.1

    Net Rating Swing: N/A

    Box Plus/Minus: 2.0

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: 0.150

    Patrick Ewing averaged at least 20 points in each of his first 13 seasons. He averaged at least 20 points and 10 rebounds during each of nine straight seasons from 1989-90 to 1997-98.

    For over a decade, Ewing was the steady presence in the middle who made the New York Knicks relevant. From his 1988-89 campaign to his last with the Knicks in 1999-00, New York trailed only Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls in Eastern Conference simple rating system, which combines point differential and strength of schedule.

    If you sort every season in Knicks history by simple rating system, a Ewing-led team fills two of the top four spots and seven of the top 15.

    And he didn't just lead the Knicks to all those wins by virtue of his defense and massive frame. Over the first few years of his career, he developed a well-rounded game on offense that included a soft jumper and a variety of moves on the low block.

    Sports Illustrated's Jack McCallum explained in 1990:

    "The power, the intimidation, the fearlessness are still there, but so are grace and finesse and economy of movement, terms previously associated with Houston's [Hakeem] Olajuwon, Ewing's yardstick through most of the '80s, and San Antonio rookie David Robinson, the only other NBA center currently mentioned in the same breath with Ewing and Olajuwon."

    Like a couple of members of this list, Karl Malone and Charles Barkley, Ewing's peak was unfortunately timed. Jordan was around for the majority of it.

    Ewing had his shot at a title in 1994 when Jordan was in the middle of his fling with baseball. That year, the Knicks made it all the way to Game 7 of the NBA Finals, only to fall to Olajuwon's Houston Rockets.

37. Manu Ginobili

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    Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images

    Per Game: 13.3 points, 3.8 assists, 3.5 rebounds, 1.4 threes, 1.3 steals

    Per 75 Possessions: 20.6 points, 5.9 assists, 5.4 rebounds, 2.2 threes, 2.0 steals

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: +4.4

    Net Rating Swing: +6.5

    Box Plus/Minus: 4.9

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: 0.190 

    Believe it or not, a blind poll pitting the per-75-possession stats from Manu Ginobili's 10-year peak against the same for Kobe Bryant yielded a 54-46 win for the San Antonio Spurs' super sixth man.

    It's probably not a fair comparison. Kobe played a significantly different and more demanding role than Manu. There's a reason Ginobili's on the list now, while Kobe will show up later.

    But those per-75-possession numbers from Manu's 10-year peak are plenty impressive: 22.1 points, 5.9 assists, 5.8 rebounds and 2.1 steals with a 59.1 true shooting percentage.

    Now, the obvious reaction to that is: Well, Manu only had to play against backups. And while there's some truth to that, it's probably overblown.

    According to PBP Stats, Ginobili logged over 10,000 minutes alongside longtime Spurs starters Tim Duncan and Tony Parker. And in those 10,000-plus minutes, San Antonio scored 112.8 points per 100 possessions while allowing just 100.8—good for a plus-12.0 net rating.

    The trio logged an additional 3,000-plus minutes in the playoffs with a plus-7.2 net rating.

    To attempt to discredit Ginobili for coming off the bench is to ignore one of the 21st century's most impactful basketball players.

    On top of his four NBA titles, two All-Star appearances, two top-10 MVP finishes, two All-NBA selections and 2008 Sixth Man of the Year award, Manu has one of the game's most impressive international resumes.

    "To San Antonio fans, he is the most loved Spurs player ever," noted. "To Argentina, he is a national hero. To the world, he is the person who made Team USA beatable and forced the United States to reassess how it approached international basketball."

    Long before Team USA's recent misstep at the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup, Argentina pulled off a shocking upset of basketball's juggernaut at the 2004 Olympics.

    The Associated Press (via ESPN) reported after the game that changed international basketball:

    "Manu Ginobili scored 29 points to lead his nation to another victory over the country that used to dominate the sport, an 89-81 win in the Olympic semifinals Friday night.

    "For the first time since 1988, the gold medal will not go to the Americans.

    "And for the first time since pro players were added for the original Dream Team in 1992, the United States will not be the Olympic champion."

    "Even though I ended up appreciating a lot—many—of my teammates in the States, it was more of a professional achievement," Ginobili said of the difference between his NBA titles and his 2004 gold medal, per the Olympic Channel. "The other one is just pure emotion."

    Manu deserves his spot on this list even with his NBA numbers being the only criterion. But discussing his legendary career without mentioning what he did on the world stage would be a disservice.

36. Russell Westbrook

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    Zach Beeker/Getty Images

    Per Game: 23.0 points, 8.4 assists, 7.0 rebounds, 1.8 steals

    Per 75 Possessions: 25.1 points, 9.2 assists, 7.7 rebounds, 1.9 steals

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: -1.5

    Net Rating Swing: +5.3

    Box Plus/Minus: 6.6

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: 0.164      

    Four or five years ago, Oscar Robertson's distinction as the only player in NBA history to average a triple-double seemed untouchable.

    Russell Westbrook has now done it in each of the last three seasons. And when you adjust the numbers from both players so that pace and playing time line up, Westbrook's achievement is even more impressive.

    Over the last three seasons, the Oklahoma City Thunder averaged 99.1 possessions per game. At that pace, Westbrook's 35.7 minutes per game converts to about 73.7 possessions. And he averaged 26.8 points, 10.6 rebounds and 10.4 assists in those possessions.

    The game was played at a breakneck pace during Robertson's era. And if his 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 assists from his 1961-62 campaign were adjusted to match Westbrook's pace and playing time over the last three seasons, they'd drop all the way to 17.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and 6.4 assists.

    Conversely, Westbrook's numbers at Robertson's pace and playing time would be a ridiculous 47.5 points, 18.8 rebounds and 18.4 assists.

    There's no way of knowing whether Westbrook's production would hold up at that pace and for 44 minutes per game. But we're likely taking his previously unseen level of production for granted.

    Yes, some of the criticism about chasing numbers is fair. But it generally hasn't come at the expense of the team. On the contrary, OKC's net points per 100 possessions jumped an astronomical 10.3 points when he was on the floor over the last three campaigns.

    Right now, Westbrook is among the game's most divisive players. In a poll that asked whether he was a top-10 point guard of all time, 56 percent of voters said no.

    Years from now, with the benefit of hindsight, Russ should get his due.

35. Steve Nash

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Per Game: 14.3 points, 8.5 assists, 3.0 rebounds, 1.4 threes

    Per 75 Possessions: 17.4 points, 10.4 assists, 3.7 rebounds, 1.7 threes

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: +7.4

    Net Rating Swing: +7.5

    Box Plus/Minus: 1.3

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: 0.164

    You might get a few differences here or there, but in general, a coach would tell you that part of a point guard's job is to run the offense. There's a reason the "floor general" cliche exists, even if it's not quite as important in today's largely positionless game.

    In the early 2000s, Steve Nash was the NBA's General Patton.

    From 1998-99 to 2003-04, he was the starting point guard for the Dallas Mavericks. His team's offensive rating of 109.0 was a comfortable first leaguewide. Over his next eight seasons leading the Phoenix Suns, his team was first again. And in that stretch, the gap was even bigger.

    For more than a decade, you were almost guaranteed a top-tier offense if Nash was your point guard.

    His knack for getting into the paint (or dribbling and U-turning through it) and finding cutters or shooters at the exact right moment made him one of the league's most prolific assist men.

    He's third all-time in assists, ninth in assists per game and fifth in assist percentage.

    But what made him truly devastating was his shooting. Based on "points above average from three," Nash is the fifth-best three-point shooter of all time, trailing only Reggie Miller, Ray Allen, Kyle Korver and Stephen Curry.

    A career relative true shooting percentage of plus-7.4 is absurd. That's "big man who only dunks the ball" territory for efficiency.

    That accuracy from all over the floor opened up assist opportunities for the passing maestro. As he came off screens from Dirk Nowitzki, Amar'e Stoudemire or any other big, defenders knew they had to respect Nash's pull-up. That made it more difficult to help onto the rolling or popping big.

    Nash's deadeye shooting is a big part of why Nowitzki got so many open looks and why Stoudemire had so many throwdowns.

    With his combination of shooting and passing, Nash was an offense unto himself.

34. Kevin McHale

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    Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

    Per Game: 17.9 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.7 blocks

    Per 75 Possessions: 20.8 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 2.0 blocks

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: +6.8

    Net Rating Swing: N/A

    Box Plus/Minus: 2.5

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: 0.180

    Unselfishness was a staple of Kevin McHale's Hall of Fame career. After being selected with the third overall pick in the 1980 NBA draft, McHale started just over 20 percent of the games he played in his first five seasons.

    "On this team, there is so much talent," McHale said of the Boston Celtics, per Alex Ward of the New York Times. "It's never bothered me."

    Over those five seasons, McHale averaged 15.2 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.9 blocks in just 28.4 minutes. His role then expanded to 36.4 minutes per game over the next five years, during which he averaged 22.7 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.8 blocks.

    On top of the up-and-unders, offensive rebounding and shot-blocking, a big part of the brilliance of McHale's career was his willingness and ability to accept and adapt to whatever role was thrown his way.

    Regardless of the roles he had, he maintained a level of efficiency that was nearly unrivaled for his time. Among players who took at least as many shots, McHale's career 60.5 true shooting percentage ranked first.

    Despite averaging less playing time than his peers featured here, McHale made seven All-Star teams, six All-Defensive teams and one All-NBA team. He also won three titles and two Sixth Man of the Year awards.

33. Jason Kidd

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    Robert Laberge/Getty Images

    Per Game: 12.6 points, 8.7 assists, 6.3 rebounds, 1.9 steals, 1.4 threes

    Per 75 Possessions: 13.7 points, 9.5 assists, 6.8 rebounds, 2.1 steals, 1.6 threes

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: -2.5

    Net Rating Swing: +6.3

    Box Plus/Minus: 4.2

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: 0.133      

    Long before Russ made us numb to triple-doubles, Jason Kidd helped popularize them.

    If you combine the regular season and playoffs, Kidd had a whopping 118 triple-doubles, which trails only Robertson (189), Magic Johnson (168) and Westbrook (148).

    That all-around game made Kidd one of the league's top point guards for nearly 20 years. By the time he was done, he had racked up 10 All-Star appearances, nine All-Defensive selections, six All-NBA selections and five assist titles.

    And he cemented his legacy as one of the greatest point guards of all time by playing a critical role on Nowitzki's 2011 title team.

    By that time, Kidd had undergone a fairly radical transformation. He depended largely on his plus size and athleticism for his position to average 14.5 points over his first 13 seasons. In the same stretch, he shot 33.3 percent from three.

    Over his last six seasons, he embraced floor generalship and shot 37.8 percent from deep. In two of those individual seasons, he was over 40 percent.

    "Where he was once the league's premier fast-break player, Kidd has evolved into being a tremendous spot-up shooter," SB Nation's Mike Prada wrote in 2011. "The man they once called 'Ason' because he had no J is now a 40-percent three-point shooter. He once knew all the angles in transition; now, he knows all the angles in the halfcourt."

    That adaptability helped lengthen Kidd's career. And after 19 seasons, he was 87th all-time in points scored, 10th in threes, second in steals and second in assists.

32. Clyde Drexler

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    Rocky Widner/Getty Images

    Per Game: 20.4 points, 6.1 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 2.0 steals, 0.8 threes, 0.7 blocks

    Per 75 Possessions: 21.3 points, 6.4 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 2.1 steals, 0.8 threes, 0.7 blocks

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: +1.1

    Net Rating Swing: N/A

    Box Plus/Minus: 6.0

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: 0.173

    Like plenty of individual players from the era, Clyde Drexler had the misfortune of hitting his peak while MJ was in the league. It's similar to the Houston Rockets or Los Angeles Clippers of the last five years having to battle the dynastic Golden State Warriors.

    Just imagine this five-year run in about any other era: 24.8 points, 6.9 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 2.2 steals per game with a plus-2.4 relative true shooting percentage.

    Unfortunately, Drexler was often compared to Jordan over those five years. And the run ended in 1992 when MJ had his famous "shrug game" against Drexler's Portland Trail Blazers.

    "But of course, it was intensely personal for [Jordan], the perfect challenge for a man who always wanted and always need challenges, and he used all the comparisons with Drexler, all those nonbelievers who thought Drexler as good as he was, to motivate himself," David Halberstam wrote of the Jordan-Drexler matchup (h/t USA Today). "He set out to do nothing less than destroy, not just Portland, but Drexler as well…"

    Jordan may have gotten the better of Drexler during the 1992 Finals, but the two went on to win a gold medal together as part of that summer's Dream Team.

    And Drexler gracefully transitioned into lesser roles with the Blazers and Rockets over the final six seasons of his career, eventually winning a title with Hakeem Olajuwon and Houston in 1995.

31. Dolph Schayes

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    Matty Zimmerman/Associated Press

    Per Game: 18.5 points, 12.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists

    Per 75 Possessions: 17.2 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.9 assists

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: +3.3

    Net Rating Swing: N/A

    Box Plus/Minus: N/A

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: 0.192

    Over the course of his Hall of Fame career, Dolph Schayes' 0.192 win shares per 48 minutes trailed only Bob Pettit's 0.214 among power forwards.

    And his 18.5 points per game were the product of a well-rounded scoring game.

    "People remember Dolph's long set shots," former teammate Al Bianchi said in Terry Pluto's Tall Tales (h/t the New York TimesRichard Goldstein). "But what made him great was that he could shoot running one-handers—and make them with either hand. His left was as good as his right."

    That Schayes was so comfortably above average as a shooter while taking long-range shots on a floor without a three-point line is impressive. Before threes arrived, the general goal was getting as close to the rim as possible. But Schayes was something of a floor-spacing anomaly.

    "He was the only guy who had legitimate 25-30 foot range," Hall of Fame coach Alex Hannum told ESPN's Ken Shouler. "You could add five points to his career [average] if they had the three-point shot back then."

    "...a bridge between the old game and the new one," Schayes tallied 12 All-Star selections, 12 All-NBA selections, one NBA title and one rebounding title in 15 seasons.

30. Bob Pettit

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    Dick Raphael/Getty Images

    Per Game: 26.4 points, 16.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists

    Per 75 Possessions: 21.2 points, 13.0 rebounds, 2.4 assists

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: +4.2

    Net Rating Swing: N/A

    Box Plus/Minus: N/A

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: 0.213

    Over his 11-year career, no one scored more points (20,880) than Bob Pettit. Bill Russell (15,206) was the only player who had more boards (12,849).

    The first MVP in NBA history, Pettit led the league in player efficiency rating for four straight seasons from 1955-56 through 1958-59.

    Prior to the arrival of legends like Russell and Wilt Chamberlain, Pettit was the NBA's premier big man.

    "The thing that defined me as a basketball player was my determination to succeed," Pettit told's Adam Norris.

    That determination led to 11 All-Star appearances, 11 All-NBA selections, two scoring titles, two MVPs, one rebounding title and an NBA championship.

29. John Stockton

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    Rocky Widner/Getty Images

    Per Game: 13.1 points, 10.5 assists, 2.7 rebounds, 2.2 steals

    Per 75 Possessions: 15.7 points, 12.6 assists, 3.2 rebounds, 2.6 steals

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: +7.6

    Net Rating Swing: N/A

    Box Plus/Minus: 3.5

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: 0.209

    John Stockton is the only player with more assists and steals than Kidd. And Kidd isn't even close.

    The distance between Stockton's 15,806 assists and Kidd's 12,091 is about the same as the distance between Kidd and 11th-place Andre Miller. 

    There's a similar gap in steals. Stockton's lead over Kidd there is around the same as Kidd's buffer between himself and 11th-place Alvin Robertson.

    And with regard to those assists, no, they weren't just the product of home-cooking from the scorekeeper, as the long-running myth suggests.

    "I don't like saying never, but ain't nobody catching that," Chris Paul said in February of Stockton's assist record, per the Washington Post's Ben Golliver. "I don't know who did the statistics in Utah."

    Over the course of his career, Paul has averaged 0.8 more assists per game when playing at home. That's the exact same number as the difference between Stockton's home and away numbers.

    Stockton's unreal totals are the product of nearly unparalleled durability (he's fourth all-time in games played) and a preternatural feel for the pick-and-roll.

    "If you want to teach aspiring ballers the pick-and-roll," Complex's Angel Diaz wrote, "...just put on game tape of [Stockton and Karl Malone] and walk away."

28. Chris Paul

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    Larry W. Smith/Getty Images

    Per Game: 18.5 points, 9.7 assists, 4.5 rebounds, 2.2 steals, 1.3 threes

    Per 75 Possessions: 20.6 points, 10.8 assists, 5.0 rebounds, 2.5 steals, 1.5 threes

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: +3.7

    Net Rating Swing: +10.9

    Box Plus/Minus: 7.3

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: 0.247

    If this ranking were based on nothing but advanced numbers, Paul would be much closer to the top of the list.

    He's first all-time among point guards in box plus/minus, win shares per 48 minutes and playoff box plus/minus. He trails only Magic Johnson and Jerry West among point guards in playoff win shares per 48 minutes.

    "The classic definition of a point guard, orchestrating offense and shooting when necessary," ESPN's J.A. Adande wrote of Paul. "One of the bestand quickestlob passers the game has ever seen."

    Paul's ability to put the ball on time and on target to shooters and alley-oop threats did wonders for the careers of David West, JJ Redick, DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin, just to name a few.

    And like Nash's, Paul's prowess as a shooter forces defenders to play him tight in pick-and-rolls. Over the course of his career, CP3 has shot 47.1 percent on two-pointers from five feet and out.

    As he turns the corner post-ball screen, Paul knows exactly how to get to his spots on the floor. He knows how far he needs to prod to get a three or an alley-oop. And he knows when he has to pull up for that reliable mid-range shot.

    Like Hunter Hearst Helmsley, CP3 is a cerebral assassin who can pick apart whatever defense is thrown at him. But what really sets him apart is his defensive prowess.

    ESPN's Bradford Doolittle called him "the best two-way small player in league history." And the numbers back that up.

    Defensive box plus/minus is not without its flaws, but Paul's 0.7 is third among players standing no taller than 6'0". Mookie Blaylock and Foots Walker are the only two ahead of him. And only five of the 53 are even above zero.

27. James Harden

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    Tim Warner/Getty Images

    Per Game: 24.3 points, 6.2 assists, 5.2 rebounds, 2.6 threes, 1.6 steals

    Per 75 Possessions: 26.6 points, 6.8 assists, 5.7 rebounds, 2.9 threes, 1.7 steals

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: +6.5

    Net Rating Swing: +4.7

    Box Plus/Minus: 7.1

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: 0.224

    Over the last five years, James Harden's box plus/minus is an exceptional 9.5. Jordan (11.0) is the only shooting guard in NBA history with a better five-year-peak box plus/minus.

    If you shorten the peaks to three years, the gap tightens with Harden at 10.9 and Jordan at 11.8.

    Yes, at least according to one metric, Harden is in the middle of a run that's comparable to one of the game's greatest players.

    And given the way he's scored lately, especially in 2018-19, that shouldn't be all that surprising.

    In a video for Thinking Basketball, Ben Taylor adjusted for pace and efficiency across all eras to level the playing field between players like Harden and Wilt Chamberlain.

    At the time of the video's posting (March 22, 2019), Harden was averaging 36.5 points per game. His adjusted scoring average of 36.0 was the highest of all time. And for the sake of context, Wilt's 1961-62 campaign, in which he averaged 50.4 points per game, was adjusted to 33.9, good for fifth place.

    What Harden is doing is unreal. And the way he's doing it may be even more difficult to fathom.

    This past season alone, Harden hit 342 pull-up threes (which includes his step-backs), according to That total nearly doubled second-place Kemba Walker's 175. Even more remarkable, the second-place team, the Trail Blazers, hit 325 pull-up threes.

    As if his already unique form of dominance weren't enough, Harden is apparently adding another shot to his repertoire: a one-legged, fadeaway three.

    Most of the gripes about his volume of free-throw attempts are probably fair. That aspect of his attack isn't the most aesthetically pleasing. But there's a chance we're taking Harden's historic scoring ability for granted.

    And we haven't even mentioned the rebounding and passing yet. Combining his 31.9 points over the last three seasons with 9.2 assists and 6.8 rebounds per game makes the line borderline unbelievable.

    Now, for the downside.

    These discussions never happen without some mention of titles, and Harden doesn't have one. Some of the analysis of his playoff performances is overblown. He's 13th in career playoff box plus/minus. But when things are as close as they are in a top-50 ranking, the number of championships is a fair consideration.

    Finally, it's worth mentioning that Harden just turned 30. He has a few years left of his prime to add to his resume. By the time he's done, he could rise further.

26. John Havlicek

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    Uncredited/Associated Press

    Per Game: 20.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.8 assists

    Per 75 Possessions: 17.6, 5.3 rebounds, 4.1 assists

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: -0.9

    Net Rating Swing: N/A

    Box Plus/Minus: N/A

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: 0.136

    Though there was only an average of 14.6 NBA teams per season over the course of John Havlicek's career, eight titles are eight titles. And they didn't all come alongside Bill Russell.

    In fact, two of his championships were won with Dave Cowens in the rapidly expanding NBA of the '70s. While his pace-adjusted numbers may not leap off the screen, Havlicek was still uniquely dominant for his time.

    And in his opinion, he and his contemporaries would be just fine in today's game.

    "I certainly think we could compete, and given the same latitude [as modern players]—wraparound dribbles, three or four steps to the rim—we would be even better," Havlicek told the New York Times' Harvey Araton. "For every dunk they'd get on us, we'd probably get two backdoor layups on them."

    In his own time, Havlicek was one of the game's most well-rounded players.

    Over the course of his career, Havlicek's 20.8 points per game ranked 29th. And the only players to match his combination of points, rebounds and assists over that time were Wilt Chamberlain, Rick Barry and Oscar Robertson.

    He finished with 13 All-Star appearances, 11 All-NBA selections, eight All-Defensive selections and the 1974 Finals MVP.

25. Scottie Pippen

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    Barry Gossage/Getty Images

    Per Game: 16.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 2.0 steals, 0.8 threes, 0.8 blocks

    Per 75 Possessions: 18.0 points, 7.1 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 2.2 steals, 0.9 threes, 0.9 blocks

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: +0.7

    Net Rating Swing: N/A

    Box Plus/Minus: 4.7

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: 0.146

    "Scottie Pippen is probably the innovator of the point forward," Dennis Rodman said on ESPN's The Jump. "I love Magic [Johnson]. I love [Larry] Bird. I love [Clyde] Drexler. I love all these guys, but I want the world to know, this guy right here? Smooth. ... All the guys that's 6'9" and 6'10", all you guys need to come up to Scottie and please bow down to him. Because he revolutionized that position in the NBA."

    Pippen's former teammate isn't wrong. Through the end of his career (2003-04), Pippen was one of only four 6'8"-plus players with career averages of at least 15 points, five rebounds and five assists. The other three were Grant Hill, Magic and Bird. Hill's assist average eventually dipped below that threshold.

    If you add Scottie's steals average to the mix, he stood alone.

    Since the end of his career, do-it-all players are more common. LeBron James, Ben Simmons and Nikola Jokic are the names added to the list since Pippen's career ended. And if you get rid of the height qualifier, you'll also have Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Kobe Bryant and Luka Doncic.

    With the possible exception of a reliable three-point shot, Pippen had every basketball skill. And in his era, that range wasn't nearly as important.

    What's more, he was a critical component of six title teams. To call him Michael Jordan's sidekick is a disservice. Instead, he was half of what is perhaps the greatest duo in the game's history.

    In two of the six championship runs (1996 and 1998), Pippen led the Chicago Bulls in playoff value over replacement player.

24. Elgin Baylor

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    Anonymous/Associated Press

    Per Game: 27.4 points, 13.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists

    Per 75 Possessions: 20.9 points, 10.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: +0.4

    Net Rating Swing: N/A

    Box Plus/Minus: N/A

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: 0.148

    Over the first seven years of his career, Elgin Baylor averaged 30.2 points and 15.4 rebounds. In 1961-62 alone, he put up an eye-popping 38.3 points and 18.6 rebounds per game.

    He was an All-Star in 11 of his 14 NBA seasons. And he made All-NBA 10 times.

    But what Baylor may be best known for is the way he expanded the game. Basketball was something of a ground-bound endeavor for many of Baylor's contemporaries.

    In contrast, Baylor took to the air for jumpers, rebounds and even some dunks.

    "I told them I take helium before every game," Baylor said of his response to those who used to ask him about his vertical game (h/t Gary Peterson of the Mercury News). "And they honestly believed that."

    When you follow basketball's evolutionary trails, Michael Jordan leads you back to Julius Erving. Dr. J, in many ways, can be traced back to Baylor.

    In Elgin Baylor: The Man Who Changed Basketball, Bijan C. Bayne explained Baylor's impact further (h/t Jason Reid of The Undefeated):

    "The style of basketball that we accept as conventional today all comes out of him. Go away from the stereotype of Elgin [starting] the lineage of Michael [Jordan] and Dominique [Wilkins]. People get caught up on the hang time and the elevation, but he wasn't, for most of his career, Dominique or Vince Carter; it's more subtle than that.

    "The things that we accept as routine today, like changing direction after one has left one's feet. A spin move, double-pumping, any improvisation off the dribble, hesitation dribbles, all of that comes out of Elgin. And even to some degree, for a person of his size, no-look passes. That's all from Elgin."

    Baylor was a revolutionary. And he set basketball's stage not just for his immediate successors but also for the game that's played today.

23. Moses Malone

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    Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

    Per Game: 20.6 points, 12.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.3 blocks, 0.8 steals

    Per 75 Possessions: 22.0 points, 13.0 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.4 blocks, 0.9 steals

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: +3.5

    Net Rating Swing: N/A

    Box Plus/Minus: 1.8

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: 0.178

    We can never say never, but John Stockton's record for total assists feels about as close to unbreakable as sports records get. There's a 23.5 percent decrease from Stockton's 15,806 to second-place Jason Kidd's 12,091.

    Moses Malone's cushion on the offensive rebound leaderboard is even bigger.

    There's a 31.7 percent decrease from Malone's 6,731 to second-place Robert Parish's 4,598. No active player is even close to Parish's mark.

    "The offensive rebound is always original and unscripted, as one player makes something out of nothing for his team," Bleacher Report's Kevin Ding wrote. "And it was not just Moses Malone's specialty in a dominant career; it was his personal basketball domain."

    The term "playmaker" is often reserved for guards and wings, or the occasional point center like Jokic. But offensive rebounding is absolutely a form of creation. As Ding wrote, it's "something out of nothing..."

    This may come as a surprise to some, but 29.3 percent of Rudy Gobert's career field goals are unassisted. Just 21.0 percent of Klay Thompson's career makes are unassisted.

    One reason for the discrepancy? Gobert's 13.0 offensive rebounding percentage ranks fifth among players with at least as many minutes over the course of his career. And that 13.0 percent is well behind Malone's mark.

    Over 19 NBA seasons, Malone's offensive rebounding percentage was a whopping 16.4. Over his first eight campaigns, the number was 17.9. In that stretch, he grabbed 6.2 offensive rebounds per game.

    There's certainly much more to the Chairman of the Boards than what he did on the glass, but it was the foundation of his greatness.

    Being so thoroughly dominant in one area helped Malone make 13 All-Star teams, eight All-NBA teams and two All-Defensive teams. He also won six rebounding titles, three MVPs, one NBA title and one Finals MVP.

22. Julius Erving

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    Dick Raphael/Getty Images

    Per Game: 22.0 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.8 steals, 1.5 blocks

    Per 75 Possessions: 22.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.8 steals, 1.6 blocks

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: +2.6

    Net Rating Swing: N/A

    Box Plus/Minus: 5.1

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: 0.178

    It's fitting that Elgin Baylor's final season in the NBA (1971-72) was also Julius Erving's first as a professional. Dr. J discussed the impression Baylor made on him, per Jason Reid of The Undefeated:

    "...I remember [Baylor] was the first guy I saw grab the rebound, bring it in transition and then playmake from the top of the key. He was a playmaker, he was great one-on-one, he was great using airspace … he was just ballet in basketball. And that opened a lot of doors for young players, myself in particular, to try that stuff. Suddenly it was like, 'Wow. This can actually work.'"

    Over his first five seasons as a pro, Erving dominated the ABA, averaging 28.7 points, 12.1 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 2.4 steals and 2.0 blocks. And though his numbers dipped a bit following the NBA-ABA merger, he still did more than enough to make this list.

    In 11 NBA campaigns, Dr. J made 11 All-Star teams and seven All-NBA teams. He won the league MVP in 1980-81 and led the Philadelphia 76ers to their most recent title in 1982-83.

    His well-rounded game obviously shows up on the stat sheet, but his legacy may be more about what he did after he took the baton from Baylor.

    Erving expanded the aesthetics of basketball, playing with an unprecedented flair and leveraging his athleticism in ways no one had before.

21. Dwyane Wade

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    Victor Baldizon/Getty Images

    Per Game: 22.0 points, 5.4 assists, 4.7 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 0.8 blocks

    Per 75 Possessions: 25.5 points, 6.3 assists, 5.4 rebounds, 1.8 steals, 1.0 blocks

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: +1.4

    Net Rating Swing: +5.0

    Box Plus/Minus: +4.5

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: .162

    If this list were based on nothing but career numbers, it would be difficult to keep Harden behind Dwyane Wade. The former is the physical embodiment of Morey-Ball, and his numbers show it.

    If we confine the Harden/Wade comparison to stats put up through their age-29 seasons (Harden just wrapped his up), though, things get eerily close:

    • Harden through 29: 26.6 points, 6.8 assists, 5.7 rebounds, 1.7 steals, 0.5 blocks, plus-6.5 relative true shooting percentage, plus-7.1 box plus/minus
    • Wade through 29: 27.0 points, 6.7 assists, 5.4 rebounds, 1.9 steals, 1.1 blocks, plus-3.0 relative true shooting percentage, plus-6.6 box plus/minus

    The obvious distinction between the two is Wade's 2006 championship run to cap off his age-24 campaign. That year, Wade led the Heat in playoff points (28.4), assists (5.7) and steals (2.2) per game. He also had over three times as many playoff wins over replacement player as any Miami player.

    For Wade, the two titles he later won with LeBron James could be considered legacy gravy. But even that helps in debates like these.

    Wade's willingness to accept a secondary role on one of the most talented teams ever is another feather in his cap. Plenty of superstars across history didn't display the same kind of humility for the sake of team success.

    "It was probably one of the hardest things I had to do in sports was to, in a sense, take a step back," Wade told ESPN's Israel Gutierrez in 2012. "A lot of people don't understand. They'll say, 'Why would you do that?' To me, I want more success from winning. I don't want another scoring title. I'm just trying to win."

    And win he did. Together, LeBron and Wade won back-to-back titles for the Heat in 2012 and 2013.

    And by the end of his career, Wade was a 13-time All-Star, eight-time All-NBA selection, three-time champion, three-time All-Defensive selection, one-time Finals MVP and one-time scoring champ.

    He's the all-time leader in blocks among guards. He's 29th all-time, regardless of position, in both points and steals, 41st in assists and 25th in wins over replacement player.

20. Karl Malone

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    Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

    Per Game: 25.0 points, 10.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.8 blocks

    Per 75 Possessions: 25.8 points, 10.5 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.8 blocks

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: +4.7

    Net Rating Swing: N/A

    Box Plus/Minus: 5.4

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: 0.205

    Few players in NBA history combined production and longevity quite as impressively as Karl Malone.

    He had a whopping 17 seasons with at least 500 minutes and 20-plus points per game. That puts him in a tie with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who is the only player in NBA history with more total points.

    And like Kareem, Malone wasn't just a volume scorer.

    He also had 13 seasons with 500-plus minutes and a 5.0-plus box plus/minus. Charles Barkley also had 13 such seasons, and LeBron James (15) is the only player with more.

    Another way to look at Malone's longevity is the leaderboard for single-season box plus/minuses put up by players over the age of 35. There, Malone has the top three and four of the top 13 seasons ever.

    And his post-35 wins over replacement player aren't just first. They're over 40 percent higher than second-place Kareem.

    But Malone's greatness wasn't just about holding on to such a high level for so long. His peak was ridiculous, as well.

    From 1988-89 through 1997-98, Malone averaged an eye-popping 27.6 points, 10.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.5 steals and 0.9 blocks.

    By the time he was done, the Mailman was second all-time in points scored and sixth in rebounds. He piled up 14 All-Star selections, 14 All-NBA selections, four All-Defensive selections and two MVPs.

    The knock on Malone, of course, is his lack of titles (and there's only one more player ahead of him without one). Much like so many other greats of his era, Malone had the misfortune of hitting his peak while Michael Jordan was still around.

19. Charles Barkley

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    Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

    Per Game: 22.1 points, 11.7 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.8 blocks

    Per 75 Possessions: 22.6 points, 12.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.6 steals, 0.8 blocks

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: +7.8

    Net Rating Swing: N/A

    Box Plus/Minus: 7.4

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: 0.216

    Charles Barkley's well-documented hatred of analytics has always been fascinating, in part because so many advanced numbers suggest he's one of the best players in NBA history.

    LeBron James (9.1) and Michael Jordan (8.1) are the only players with higher career box plus/minuses than Barkley (7.4). He's also 11th all-time in career win shares per 48 minutes, 21st in rebounding percentage and 11th in true shooting percentage.

    Barkley's issues with the leaguewide increase in three-point attempts are interesting, too. When he retired, he was 34th all-time in career three-point attempts even though he shot only 26.6 percent from deep.

    Remove those three-point attempts from Barkley's stat sheet, and his true shooting percentage would jump to 63.7, which would move his all-time rank from 11th to a tie with DeAndre Jordan for second.

    Yes, analytics adore Chuck, even if the feelings aren't mutual.

    In case we need to make this argument with basic numbers, Barkley had his own absurdly productive (and lengthy) peak.

    From 1985-86 through 1996-97, Barkley averaged 23.9 points, 12.0 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.7 steals and 0.9 blocks with a 61.9 true shooting percentage.

    Shaquille O'Neal (13), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (12), Wilt Chamberlain (12) and Hakeem Olajuwon (12) are the only players who had more seasons than Barkley (11) averaging at least 20 points and 10 rebounds.

    Drop the points qualifier to 10 and Barkley jumps to first place with 15 seasons, ahead of Wilt, Dwight Howard and Moses Malone (14 each). It also gives him the record for most seasons averaging a double-double (John Stockton's 10 is the high for points and assists).

    For well over a decade, the Round Mound of Rebound was about as steady as they come, dominating both on the glass and as a scorer. But like Malone, Barkley never quite cracked the championship code.

    Statistically, he has an argument for the top 10 (and maybe even the top five), but never winning a title puts him behind those yet to appear.

18. Jerry West

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    Ken Regan/Getty Images

    Per Game: 27.0 points, 6.7 assists, 5.8 rebounds

    Per 75 Possessions: 18.5 points, 4.6 assists, 4.0 rebounds

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: +5.6

    Net Rating Swing: N/A

    Box Plus/Minus: N/A

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: 0.213              

    Jerry West is more than a legend. He's the logo.

    "As relentlessly competitive and prolific as Jordan; there's a reason West's silhouette is the NBA's logo," ESPN's Rob Peterson wrote.

    And that reason is West's dominance for over a decade of the league's formative years. Beyond leading the NBA in assists in 1972, West also won a scoring title with 31.2 points per game in 1969-70.

    He generally upped his performance in the playoffs, as well. He averaged 40.6 points in the 1965 postseason. And in five postseasons from 1965 to 1969, he averaged 32.9.

    By the time he retired in 1974, West was a 14-time All-Star (he played only 14 seasons), a 12-time All-NBA selection and a five-time All-Defensive selection. He won a title in 1972 and was the only Finals MVP to come from a losing team in 1969.

    There's always a temptation to have players from this era ranked lower on all-time lists, or even excluded altogether. They played in a league with significantly fewer teams and players. The talent level was lower. The game was less evolved. And their numbers may be inflated by the pace of play, too. 

    But players such as West and Robertson are part of the fabric of the NBA. And though there was less of a basketball landscape for them to dominate, they dominated who was there.

    West's 27.0 points per game rank sixth among players with at least 5,000 minutes over the course of his career, trailing only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, Bob Pettit, Elgin Baylor and Rick Barry.

17. Dirk Nowitzki

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    Melissa Majchrzak/Getty Images

    Per Game: 20.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.3 threes, 0.8 steals, 0.8 blocks

    Per 75 Possessions: 23.9 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.5 threes, 0.9 steals, 1.0 blocks

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: +4.1

    Net Rating Swing: +9.4

    Box Plus/Minus: 3.1

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: 0.193

    Dirk Nowitzki was a basketball revolution.

    "[He] made his NBA debut in [1999].

    "Before that, a total of 40 7-footers had hit a 3P. The combined total for 3P from those 40 players was 507.

    "Dirk Nowitzki made 1,982 3P in his career.

    "Since Dirk started, 81 other 7-footers have hit 7,253 3P."

    Without Dirk, who knows where the game would be today? He expanded our expectations for 7-footers, ushering in an era more reliant on skill than any before it.

    Today, it doesn't matter what position you play or how tall you are. Every skill should be sought-after.

    Nowitzki is on the shortlist of players who truly changed the game. He had plenty of team success along the way, too.

    Over his career (1998-99 to 2018-19), the Dallas Mavericks were first in points per 100 possessions (108.9) and third in simple rating system (a combination of point differential and strength of schedule).

    And in 2011, Nowitzki led the Mavs to an unlikely championship over the Miami Heat at the dawn of the superteam era.

    Deadspin's Patrick Redford described the run:

    "Remarkably, Nowitzki's 2010-11 season was the first time he'd started slowing down a bit since his first All-Star appearance nine years earlier. Nobody thought much of the Mavericks that season, and with the Lakers still in power, the Thunder and Heat on the rise, and Dallas' core slowly aging out of relevance there was already the sense that Dirk was somewhere on the shoulder of his time as a championship contender. Teams like those Mavericks don't win titles, and yet Nowitzki was good enough for 21 games to defy that logic."

    Over those 21 games, Nowitzki averaged 27.7 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists. He shot 48.5 percent from the field and 46.0 percent from three en route to a 60.9 true shooting percentage.

    That summer, Dirk went from being an all-time great to a legend.

    In the first round of that postseason, six of 12 ESPN experts picked the Portland Trail Blazers over Dallas. In the next round, 14 of 14 picked the Los Angeles Lakers. The narrative shifted for the Western Conference Finals when 12 of 18 experts went with Dallas. Then finally, 15 of 22 went with the Miami Heat in the Finals.

    In the context of this ranking, the way Dirk put his underdog Mavericks on his back for the game's ultimate prize is worth more than the slight statistical edges players like Malone and Barkley may have over him.

16. Kevin Garnett

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    Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images

    Per Game: 17.8 points, 10.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.4 blocks

    Per 75 Possessions: 20.5 points, 11.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.5 steals, 1.6 blocks

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: +1.4

    Net Rating Swing: +11.5

    Box Plus/Minus: 5.4

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: 0.182

    Before LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo changed our perception of what frontcourt players were capable of, Kevin Garnett helped lay the foundation for today's increasingly positionless game.

    He could dominate the boards. From 1999-00 to 2007-08, Garnett led the NBA with 12.4 rebounds per game. He could create for others. Among players 6'11" and taller, KG ranks fourth in career assist percentage.

    He could defend. Garnett is first all-time in career defensive rebounds, 18th in career blocks and 18th in career steals. He won one Defensive Player of the Year and made 12 All-Defensive teams.

    And, of course, he could score. He's 17th all-time in career points, and he averaged at least 20 in nine straight seasons from 1998-99 to 2006-07.

    But Garnett's most impactful trait may have been one that isn't quite as easily measured.

    "He changed everybody, from coaches to trainers to massage therapists, to the entire organization," Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge told Bleacher Report's Howard Beck. "I think that it was just his energy and enthusiasm. But also, it was the fact that he believed. He had this strong faith in what the team could be."

    Following a 2007 trade to Boston, Garnett's leadership was at the forefront of one of the most dramatic turnarounds in NBA history.

    In 2006-07, the Celtics went 24-58. The next season, Garnett's first in Boston green, the team went 66-16 and won the title, giving us KG's famous "Anything is possible!" moment.

15. Kevin Durant

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    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    Per Game: 27.0 points, 7.1 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.8 threes, 1.1 steals, 1.1 blocks

    Per 75 Possessions: 27.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.9 threes, 1.1 steals, 1.1 blocks

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: +7.0

    Net Rating Swing: +5.0

    Box Plus/Minus: 5.1

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: 0.217

    Kevin Durant may be the most complete scorer in the history of basketball.

    He can score at the rim, in the post, in the mid-range and from the outside. And he's not just proficient at those various levels. He's among the best in every area.

    Just check out his shot chart with either the Warriors or the Thunder, and you'll see lots of red (which is good) all over the floor.

    If that's not enough, allow Andre Iguodala to explain (h/t Sports Illustrated's Ben Golliver):

    "People don't appreciate him enough. He's the most talented scorer of all time. Hands down. He's a walking 30 points. He'll get 30 on 12 shots. That's very, very hard to do. Very efficient. Most guys need to feel the ball in their hands a lot to get a rhythm. He doesn't.

    "Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were the two guys with unstoppable moves. MJ had the fadeaway and Kareem had the skyhook, but KD is a 7-footer who can hit a hesi pull-up from 50 feet out. That's his unstoppable move."

    Durant's 27.02 points per game rank sixth all-time. His true shooting percentage is a blistering 61.3. The best true shooting percentage among the rest of the top 10 scoring averages is LeBron James' 58.6.

    In fact, there isn't another player in league history who matches Durant's combination of volume and efficiency. For his career, he has a usage percentage of 30.1. Among the 15 with a 30-plus career usage percentage, he's first in both true shooting percentage and effective field-goal percentage.

    And that legendary efficiency barely wavers in the high-pressure environment of the playoffs. Durant's playoff scoring average (29.09) ranks fourth all-time. His playoff true shooting percentage (59.67) is 11th.

    But what may set Durant apart more than anything else is what he's done in the NBA Finals.

    Among players with at least 100 Finals minutes, Durant (24.7) is first in career average game score. Michael Jordan (24.5), Charles Barkley (23.4), LeBron James (22.6) and Shaquille O'Neal (22.6) round out the top five.

    Over 15 Finals games, Durant's averages are 30.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.0 steals. Perhaps most impressive, his Finals true shooting percentage is 67.4.

    It should come as no surprise, then, that Durant has two Finals MVPs in addition to 10 All-Star selections, nine All-NBA selections, four scoring titles and one league MVP.

14. Kobe Bryant

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    Tim Heitman/Getty Images

    Per Game: 25.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 1.4 threes, 1.4 steals

    Per 75 Possessions: 26.8 points, 5.6 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.5 threes, 1.6 steals

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: +1.8

    Net Rating Swing: +5.6

    Box Plus/Minus: 3.9

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: 0.170

    At the heart of Kobe Bryant's legacy is an unrelenting competitiveness. But it's his longevity that pushed him up to No. 14 on this list.

    Kobe had a whopping 17 seasons in which he played 500-plus minutes, had a usage percentage of at least 25 and posted an above-average box plus/minus.

    Karl Malone is the only other player in NBA history with 17 such seasons. Tim Duncan and LeBron James had 16. Shaquille O'Neal had 15. And then we get to the other shooting guards. Jordan and Wade had 14.

    "There's a certain commitment, a lot of sacrifice and attention to detail that goes into trying to play at a high level for a long long time," Bryant said, per Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News. "To me, it's worth it."

    If you take off the first and last seasons of Kobe's career, he averaged 26.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.4 threes in 18 yearsEighteen years of 26.4 points per game.

    Narrow that to a 10-year peak, and you get 28.5 points. Here are the 10-year peaks of a handful of other legendary scorers:

    • Michael Jordan: 32.7
    • Allen Iverson: 28.9
    • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: 28.6
    • LeBron James: 28.2
    • Kevin Durant: 28.0
    • Karl Malone: 27.7
    • George Gervin: 26.9
    • Larry Bird: 25.3
    • Pete Maravich: 24.2

    You can't compare Kobe's 26.4 over 18 years to many others. Most of the players on the list above didn't even get to 18 seasons total. Malone's 18-year scoring peak was 25.4 points. Kareem's was 25.9.

    Eighteen years.

    How many people reading this story aren't even 18 years old?

    Scoring at that level for that long is ridiculous. And it doesn't hurt his case that he won five championships, was named an All-Star 18 times (topped only by Kareem's 19), made 15 All-NBA teams and made 12 All-Defensive teams. He had two Finals MVPs, one regular-season MVP and two scoring titles.

    We could spend more time on specifics with Kobe. The 81-point game. His 35.4 points in 2005-06. The no-flinch video with Matt Barnes. The way he led the 2008 Redeem Team to gold. And on and on.

    But that his drive to dominate lasted as long as it did sets Kobe apart. And it was behind any other story or anecdote you may read about him.

13. Hakeem Olajuwon

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    Tim DeFrisco/Getty Images

    Per Game: 21.8 points, 11.1 rebounds, 3.1 blocks, 2.5 assists, 1.7 steals

    Per 75 Possessions: 22.7 points, 11.6 rebounds, 3.2 blocks, 2.6 assists, 1.8 steals

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: +2.1

    Net Rating Swing: N/A

    Box Plus/Minus: 4.9

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: 0.177      

    There are plenty of places we could start with Hakeem Olajuwon: the Dream Shake, his two titles, defense or even rebounding.

    But we'll hone in on a specific aspect of his defense at the outset. Olajuwon is the NBA's all-time leader in blocked shots, and his 3,830 place him 541 swats ahead of second-place Dikembe Mutombo.

    The Dream is also fourth all-time in games with at least 10 rejections (11) and tied for first in triple-doubles that include blocks (10). 

    And on March 29, 1990, Olajuwon posted one of the three points/rebounds/assists/blocks quadruple-doubles in NBA history. In a 120-94 win over the Milwaukee Bucks, he had 18 points, 16 rebounds, 11 blocks and 10 assists.

    He could truly do a little bit of everything, and his all-around game led to 12 All-Star appearances, 12 All-NBA selections, nine All-Defensive selections, two Defensive Player of the Year awards, two Finals MVPs, two NBA titles and an MVP.

    When asked about his all-time starting five on The Today Show in April, Shaquille O'Neal took Olajuwon over himself at center.

12. David Robinson

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    Noren Trotman/Getty Images

    Per Game: 21.1 points, 10.6 rebounds, 3.0 blocks, 2.5 assists, 1.4 steals

    Per 75 Possessions: 23.5 points, 11.9 rebounds, 3.3 blocks, 2.8 assists, 1.6 steals

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: +5.4

    Net Rating Swing: N/A

    Box Plus/Minus: 7.4

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: 0.250

    If the list were based on nothing but numbers, David Robinson would likely be even higher. He's fourth all-time in career box plus/minus, trailing only LeBron James, Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley.

    Jordan is the lone player ahead of The Admiral in career win shares per 48 minutes, and the difference there is minuscule: .2505 to .2502.

    Robinson's basic numbers paint a pretty impressive picture, as well. During his first seven years in the league, he averaged 25.6 points, 11.8 rebounds, 3.6 blocks, 3.1 assists and 1.7 steals with a 59.2 true shooting percentage.

    MJ was the only player in that stretch who had a box plus/minus better than Robinson's 8.6.

    And unlike some of the other legends of the '90s, he was able to outlast His Airness and win two championships in the post-Jordan vacuum. Sure, Tim Duncan helped on that front, but Robinson deserves far more credit than he gets for those titles.

    In 1999, when the San Antonio Spurs won their first championship with head coach Gregg Popovich, Robinson led the NBA in regular-season box plus/minus. His responsibility as a scorer had diminished by then, but he was still one of the game's best all-around players.

    Now, the elephant in the room is that Robinson is placed ahead of Olajuwon. The 1995 Western Conference Finals were a big moment in the careers of both centers. Houston won in six games, and the basic numbers of the two centers were revealing:

    • Robinson: 23.8 points, 11.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.2 blocks, 1.5 steals, 55.3 true shooting percentage
    • Olajuwon: 35.3 points, 12.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 4.2 blocks, 1.3 steals, 59.0 true shooting percentage

    But cherry-picking one series from the careers of players who each appeared in over 1,000 games (regular season and playoffs combined) doesn't cut it.

    When you look at the numbers from their entire careers, Robinson has the lead in box plus/minus, win shares per 48 minutes, true shooting percentage and playoff win shares per 48 minutes.

11. Oscar Robertson

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    Dick Raphael/Getty Images

    Per Game: 25.7 points, 9.5 assists, 7.5 rebounds

    Per 75 Possessions: 16.6 points, 6.1 assists, 4.8 rebounds

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: +7.0

    Net Rating Swing: N/A

    Box Plus/Minus: N/A

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: 0.207

    Another player from a bygone era, The Big O was the standard-bearer for point guards for roughly two decades before Magic came along.

    And the two legends share plenty in common.

    At 6'5", Robertson had great size for a point guard, especially when compared to others of his time. And like Magic, he collected triple-doubles at a rate we hadn't seen until Westbrook showed up.

    Robertson played a total of 1,126 games in the regular season and playoffs, and he notched triple-doubles in 16.8 percent of them.

    In 2013, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar sang Robertson's praises during an interview with ESPN's Colin Cowherd (h/t Phillip Barnett of Lakers Nation).

    "LeBron is awesome, MJ was awesome—but I think Oscar [Robertson] would have kicked them both in the behind. Absolutely. Oscar was awesome. He had brains. […] He had all the skills.

    "He could rebound and box out guys four and six inches taller than him. He was ruggedly built. He had fluid, quickness, and just understood the game. No flair, he just got the job done every night."

    Over the course of his career, Robertson was seventh in the league in points per game, first in assists per game and fifth in win shares per 48 minutes.

10. Stephen Curry

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    Barry Gossage/Getty Images

    Per Game: 23.5 points, 6.6 assists, 4.5 rebounds, 3.6 threes, 1.7 steals

    Per 75 Possessions: 25.1 points, 7.1 assists, 4.8 rebounds, 3.8 threes, 1.8 steals

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: +8.0

    Net Rating Swing: +12.1

    Box Plus/Minus: 6.5

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: 0.207

    Ten years into his career, Stephen Curry already has an argument as the best point guard in NBA history.

    In a blind poll that pitted Curry's career numbers up against Magic Johnson's, the former won comfortably. When the numbers were limited to six-year peaks, Curry won in a landslide.

    This shouldn't be all that surprising. Curry is on track to be the most prolific offensive player in league history, at least according to one metric.

    Right now, his 7.13 career offensive box plus/minus trails only LeBron James' 7.25. Over the last five seasons, Curry's is 9.5, compared to LeBron's 6.8. If those trends hold, Curry should be No. 1 all-time by the end of the 2019-20 campaign.

    "He is the most impactful offensive player in terms of what he does to the defensemaybe ever," Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said in 2017, per USA Today's Chris Biderman. "There are guys, obviously, Michael Jordan impacted things. But the way Steph plays, [he] puts the fear of God into defenses like nobody I've ever seen."

    Kerr is right. His point guard figuratively changes the geometry of the floor. He commands double-teams 35 feet from the rim, allowing his teammates to play 4-on-3 on countless possessions over the years.

    This is the evolution of Nash: a prolific shooter who's unleashed to launch as many threes as he can.

    Along with Michael Jordan, Dirk Nowitzki and a handful of others, Curry is among those exceptionally rare players who truly changed basketball.

9. Wilt Chamberlain

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    PAUL VATHIS/Associated Press

    Per Game: 30.1 points, 22.9 rebounds, 4.4 assists

    Per 75 Possessions: 19.5 points, 14.8 rebounds, 2.9 assists

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: +5.5

    Net Rating Swing: N/A

    Box Plus/Minus: N/A

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: 0.248

    When asked about the debate many have over Michael Jordan and LeBron James, Scottie Pippen threw a curveball, saying, "In my eye, Wilt Chamberlain is the greatest basketball player."

    In terms of basic numbers, that's a tough position to argue against.

    Everyone knows about the 100-point game and the 1961-62 campaign in which Wilt averaged 50.4 points and 25.7 rebounds.

    But for six years, Wilt averaged over 40 points per game. His exact numbers from 1959-60 to 1964-65? 40.6 points, 24.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists.

    Of course, the question with all the legends from the '50s and '60s applies here: How much do we account for the evolution of basketball over the decades? What kind of numbers would Wilt put up in today's league? What if he had access to modern knowledge and technology concerning training and nutrition? What would someone like Shaquille O'Neal have done in the '60s?

    Ultimately, these questions are probably impossible to answer but nevertheless worth considering.

    What's less debatable, though, is how much deeper and more talented the league is now. In the '60s, a total of 138 players logged at least 5,000 minutes. The number of players who hit that mark within the last 10 seasons is 402.

    And it's not just the fact that the league is up to 30 teams. Opening up the talent pool to include the entire world has done wonders for the game.

    So while Chamberlain's numbers are certainly eye-popping, they need to be read in context.

    Still, 50 points per game is 50 points per game. Regardless of era, that's wild. And while he may not have scored quite that much in today's league, rest assured he'd still be phenomenal.

    "If you define athleticism as a combination of size, speed, strength and agility," Gary M. Pomerantz wrote for The Post Game, "the young Dipper, a decathlete and basketball star who at full speed covered nearly eight feet of hardwood with each elongated stride, might have been the greatest pure athlete of the 20th century, there with Jim Thorpe, Muhammad Ali and Jim Brown."

8. Bill Russell

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    Anonymous/Associated Press

    Per Game: 22.5 rebounds, 15.1 points, 4.3 assists

    Per 75 Possessions: 15.3 rebounds, 10.2 points, 2.9 assists

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: -0.8

    Net Rating Swing: N/A

    Box Plus/Minus: N/A

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: 0.193

    Bill Russell didn't have the raw numbers Chamberlain put up, but he's one of the game's ultimate winners. And nine of his record 11 championships were won during Wilt's career.

    "Bill Russell has 11 rings," Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said when asked to weigh in on the GOAT debate on ESPN's The Jump. "Hey, eight championships in a row? Eleven rings? Come on. It's about winning the game. It's not about this stat or that stat."

    Of course, the same caveat discussed in the Chamberlain slide applies here. Over Russell's 13 NBA seasons, the league had an average of 9.3 teams per season, just over half the number of squads that make the postseason these days.

    That obviously wasn't up to Russell, though. And he deserves credit for dominating his era.

    On top of the 11 championships, Russell piled up 12 All-Star appearances, 11 All-NBA selections and five MVP trophies. Regardless of the level of competition he faced, Russell's defensive instincts and abilities may be unmatched across history.

    Ditto for his confidence.

    When he received a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017, Russell pointed at Shaquille O'Neal, David Robinson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo, and said, "I would kick your ass."

7. Tim Duncan

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    Noah Graham/Getty Images

    Per Game: 19.0 points, 10.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.2 blocks, 0.7 steals

    Per 75 Possessions: 22.2 points, 12.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.5 blocks, 0.9 steals

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: +2.0

    Net Rating Swing: +7.7

    Box Plus/Minus: 5.5

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: 0.209

    When San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich was asked in 2011 (h/t Yahoo Sports) about who would start a game at center, he responded, "Tim Duncan, like we have for the last 15 years."

    Whether Popovich was serious or just trying to add to the mythos surrounding Duncan's true position, the quote remains evidence for the "Duncan was a center" camp. Basketball Reference listing him as a center for 10 of his 19 seasons and designating 71 percent of his possessions at center from 2000-01 on drives the point home.

    Regardless of how he's classified, The Big Fundamental is undoubtedly one of the greatest basketball players of all time.

    Longevity is one of Duncan's strongest points in any argument over his place in history. His career-low box plus/minus is 2.4. That gives him 19 seasons with at least 500 minutes and a 2.0-plus box plus/minus. Jason Kidd's 18 are the second-most all-time.

    Bump the qualifying box plus/minus up to 3.0 and Duncan's all-time lead increases. His 18 seasons are well ahead of the 15 posted by Karl Malone, Charles Barkley and LeBron James (who'll likely add more).

    For nearly 20 years, Duncan was an unwavering presence for one of the most successful organizations the NBA has ever seen. Here are San Antonio's league-wide ranks over the course of his career (1997-98 to 2015-16):

    • Wins: first
    • Simple Rating System: first (and on this one, the distance between the Spurs and the second-place Dallas Mavericks is about the same as the distance between the Mavs and the 16th-place Cleveland Cavaliers.)
    • Defensive Rating: first
    • Offensive Rating: fifth
    • Effective Field-Goal Percentage: first

    Throw in 15 All-Star appearances, 15 All-NBA selections, 15 All-Defensive selections, five titles, three Finals MVPs and two league MVPs and you can see why Duncan is revered.

6. Shaquille O'Neal

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    MARK J. TERRILL/Associated Press

    Per Game: 23.7 points, 10.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2.3 blocks, 0.6 steals

    Per 75 Possessions: 26.4 points, 12.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 2.5 blocks, 0.7 steals

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: +5.4

    Net Rating Swing: +7.7

    Box Plus/Minus: 5.0

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: 0.208

    "Shaq was a beast," Olajuwon wrote of Shaquille O'Neal in The Players' Tribune. "If you let him get position, it was over. ... There won't ever be someone with Shaq's combination of size and skill."

    For the majority of the '90s and 2000s, O'Neal was the most imposing player in the game. And the only players who may have been more physically dominant compared to their eras were Chamberlain and LeBron James.

    It would have been enough for Shaq to just rely on his size and nothing else. But as Olajuwon wrote, he supplemented that natural advantage with a hefty toolbox of skills. Drop steps, turnaround hook shots, repositioning in the post, boxing out. Shaq did everything you expect of a center.

    Defenses were helpless.

    Over a 10-year statistical peak that spanned from 1993-94 to 2002-03, O'Neal averaged 28.1 points, 11.9 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.5 blocks. He shot 57.8 percent from the field and won three of his four titles during that stretch.

    But even those regular seasons may not be Shaq's most impressive feats.

    Over the course of his first seven playoff runs with the Los Angeles Lakers (100 games), O'Neal averaged 29.1 points, 13.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.5 blocks. During the Lakers' three-peat, he averaged 35.9 points, 15.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.9 blocks in 15 Finals games. 

    During the 2000 Finals alone, he put up 38.0 points, 16.7 rebounds, 2.7 blocks and 2.3 assists on the way to his first title.

    Shaq's regular-season numbers are ridiculous, but getting better as the stakes grew bigger puts him above almost every other center in league history.

5. Larry Bird

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    Jim Cummins/Getty Images

    Per Game: 24.3 points, 10.0 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 1.7 steals, 0.8 blocks, 0.7 threes

    Per 75 Possessions: 22.7 points, 9.4 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.6 steals, 0.8 blocks, 0.7 threes

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: +2.7

    Net Rating Swing: N/A

    Box Plus/Minus: +7.2

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: .203


    Over his 13-year career, Larry Bird piled up 12 All-Star selections, 10 All-NBA selections, three All-Defensive selections, three NBA championships, three league MVPs and two Finals MVPs.

    Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are the only players in NBA history with more career "NBA MVP Award Shares," defined by Basketball Reference as the number of voting points a player received divided by the total points possible.

    Bird's place at or near the top of the league throughout his career was the product of one of the most fundamentally sound individual games in the history of basketball.

    Bird did everything for the Celtics. If you frame his basic numbers as what he did relative to the league average at the time, they look even more impressive.

    • +13.2 rPTS/gm (relative points per game), +5.6 rREB/gm, +3.7 rAST/gm, +0.8 rSTL/gm, +0.3 rBLK/gm, +0.6 r3P/gm, +1.3 rFG%, +7.0 r3P%, +12.5 rFT%

    That's right. Above average at everything. Way above average in several categories.

    And Bird didn't just dominate the NBA. He did it with an unrivaled and unique brand of swagger.

    You can find plenty of collections of Bird's trash-talking stories all over the internet. One from Complex's Jose Martinez details the time Bird verbally gave it to a two-time Defensive Player of the Year:

    "Larry Bird was scared of no one. Not even Dennis Rodman. During his years with the Detroit Pistons, Rodman recalls a time when Bird made four straight baskets on The Worm and walked over to Pistons head coach Chuck Daly. 'Who's guarding me, Chuck? Is anyone guarding me? You better get someone on me or I'm gonna go for 60.'

    "On the ensuing possession, Larry Legend continued the trash talk. Rodman recalls, 'I would be all over him, trying to deny him the ball, and all Larry was doing was yelling at his teammates, 'I'm open! Hurry up before they notice nobody is guarding me!'' After knocking down another jumper on Rodman, Bird went over to Daly again, saying, 'Coach, you better get this guy out and send in somebody who's going to D me up because it's too easy when I'm wide-open like this.'"

    And that just scratches the surface. Larry Legend went beyond humiliating his opponents with his skill. He also wrecked their wills.

4. Magic Johnson

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    Brian Drake/Getty Images

    Per Game: 19.5 points, 11.2 assists, 7.2 rebounds, 1.9 steals

    Per 75 Possessions: 19.0 points, 10.9 assists, 7.0 rebounds, 1.9 steals

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: +7.3

    Net Rating Swing: N/A

    Box Plus/Minus: 7.2

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: 0.225

    While some of the numbers might favor Curry, Magic maintains a slight edge in the "best point guard of all time" debate by virtue of legacy points.

    Magic has five NBA titles compared to Curry's three and three Finals MVPs compared to Curry's zero. Magic's 12 All-Star appearances are twice as many as Curry's six. And Magic's 10 All-NBA selections are ahead of Curry's six.

    There's still time for Curry to close the gap, but Magic is hanging on for now.

    "No one was more dynamic, or magical, with the ball in the open court than Earvin Johnson," ESPN's Rob Peterson wrote. "He lifted the Lakers, and transition basketball, to ethereal levels. He was transcendent."

    Query "Magic Johnson highlights" on any search engine you want and prepare to go down a basketball rabbit hole. The way he controlled the game and manipulated defenders with his vision and passing jumps off the screen to this day.

    You can see traces of his influence in players like LeBron James and Nikola Jokic, but no one has truly surpassed Magic's level as a passer.

    In combination with his competitiveness and leadership, that helped Magic take the reins of one of the greatest teams of all time, one that included fellow Hall of Famers like Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy: the Showtime Lakers.

3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

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    Paul Shane/Associated Press

    Per Game: 24.6 points, 11.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 2.6 blocks, 0.9 steals

    Per 75 Possessions: 22.5 points, 10.0 points, 3.3 assists, 2.4 blocks, 0.9 steals

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: +6.8

    Net Rating Swing: N/A

    Box Plus/Minus: 5.8

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: 0.228

    In 20 NBA seasons, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar totaled 19 All-Star appearances (first all-time), 15 All-NBA selections (tied for first all-time), 11 All-Defensive selections (fourth all-time), six NBA titles (tied for ninth all-time), six MVPs (first all-time), four blocks titles, two scoring titles, two Finals MVPs and one rebounding title.

    His individual ranks in a handful of stats are equally impressive:

    With his unstoppable skyhook and dominant defensive abilities, Kareem ruled the NBA over multiple eras. His MVP awards were spread from 1971 to 1980. His first and last Finals MVPs (1971 and 1985) came well over a decade apart.

    As William C. Rhoden wrote of the GOAT debate for The Undefeated, "You may not put him at the top of your list, but if Abdul-Jabbar is not part of the discussion, you’re having the wrong conversation."

2. LeBron James

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    Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

    Per Game: 27.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, 7.2 assists, 1.6 steals, 1.4 threes, 0.8 blocks

    Per 75 Possessions: 27.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 1.6 steals, 1.5 threes, 0.8 blocks

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: +4.6

    Net Rating Swing: +11.4

    Box Plus/Minus: 9.1

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: 0.235

    LeBron James isn't just first all-time in box plus/minus; he's over a full point ahead of second-place Michael Jordan. And the distance between LeBron and MJ is about the same as the distance between Jordan and eighth-place James Harden.

    In the cumulative variant of box plus/minus (think of the difference between points and points per game), LeBron's lead is starting to look like one of those untouchable records, like John Stockton's total assists.

    LeBron's cushion there is about the same as the distance between second and 10th place.

    Now, let's switch to playoff value over replacement player. Of course, LeBron is first again. But if the amount of value over replacement player between LeBron and second-place MJ were its own individual player, it would rank 19th in NBA history.

    Now, box plus/minus is just one way of looking at a player's all-around contributions, and it's not without its flaws. But LeBron's vice grip on the NBA over the last 16 years is summed up well by this particular catch-all.

    His list of accolades helps, as well: 15 All-Star selections, 15 All-NBA selections, six All-Defensive selections, four MVPs, three Finals MVPs, three championships and one scoring title.

    But even all of that isn't quite enough to give LeBron the No. 1 spot. Yet. Statistically, he may be the best. But he's not the greatest. That comes from winning.

    LeBron deserves credit for his nine Finals appearances (including eight straight), but the six Finals losses also have to be considered.

    Rings shouldn't be the only factor in this debate. But when it's this close, stacking the 6-0 Finals record up against 3-6 is a fair tiebreaker.

    And by the way, calling this "close" is probably an undersell. After examining every catch-all metric and basic number imaginable from the regular season, playoffs and 10-year peaks, it's almost impossible to find any real space between these two.

    Relative dominance over each respective era was also considered. Cultural impact was a factor. The level of competition each faced and the level of talent among teammates was relevant. There are so many different angles from which to attack this impossible question.

    A 1A/1B solution would honestly be understandable, but you'll get no such politicking on this list. A definitive call must be made, and the argument that holds enough weight to create any differentiation is that six is greater than three. 

1. Michael Jordan

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    Rocky Widner/Getty Images

    Per Game: 30.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 2.3 steals, 0.8 blocks

    Per 75 Possessions: 30.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 2.4 steals, 0.8 blocks

    Relative True Shooting Percentage: +3.7

    Net Rating Swing: N/A

    Box Plus/Minus: 8.1

    Win Shares per 48 Minutes: 0.250

    In baseball, there's a simple analytical concept known as Black Ink.'s Joe Posnanski explained:

    "...Black Ink simply refers to the times when a player leads the league in a category (you know how they will show that number in bold letters in the stats...that's Black Ink).

    "Bill James came up with Black Ink but it's one of his less involved, more fun inventions. He thought it would be a cool way to predict Hall of Fame chances. He'd give players four points for every time they led the league in something people thought was hugely important, like batting average, homers or RBIs. He'd give three points for something a little bit less regarded like runs scored or hits, two points for stuff like doubles or stolen bases, and one point for the baseline stuff like games played."

    Let's talk about Jordan's Black Ink for a moment, shall we?

    He led the NBA in points per game 10 times, steals per game three times, minutes per game twice, box plus/minus five times, wins over replacement player seven times, win shares per 48 minutes eight times and win shares nine times.


    Head over to MJ's Basketball Reference page and you'll see loads of Black Ink (boldface type in our fancy digital age).

    As far as career leaderboards go, Jordan is first in points per game (30.1), usage percentage (33.3) and win shares per 48 minutes (.251). He's second to LeBron in box plus/minus.

    For much of the 1980s and '90s, he dominated the sport in a way no one had since Wilt.

    He had six seasons in which he averaged at least 30 points and five assists, tied with Oscar Robertson for the all-time lead. After those two, no one else had more than three such seasons.

    And, of course, Jordan somehow found another level for the playoffs.

    On top of his 6-0 record in Finals series, MJ averaged 33.4 points in the postseason and led the NBA in playoff points per game during 10 of the 13 years in which he participated.

    In the Finals alone, he averaged 33.6 points, 6.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists while shooting 48.1 percent from the field and 36.8 percent from three.

    Jordan isn't just the greatest shooting guard of all time; he's still the GOAT to most.

    Business Insider pollsters recently surveyed a group of people on the debate. A whopping 66 percent of respondents tabbed Jordan as the best player ever. LeBron finished second with 10.4 percent of the vote.

    Plenty of numbers favor LeBron, but absent a few more titles, he may never catch Jordan in the eyes of the average fan.


    All stats, unless otherwise indicated, courtesy of Basketball Reference.

    Assistant Coach of Team USA and Golden State Warriors head coach, Steve Kerr, joins The Full 48 with Howard Beck to discuss Team USA’s World Cup play, learning from Gregg Popovich, Klay Thompson’s injury, MVP Steph Curry, D’Angelo Russell, KD, the Warriors elite defense, developing young players, and the team’s strategy for the coming season.


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