If all NBA players were judged by their best season, what would the new greatest of all time list look like?

Let me take a crack at this. I’m just gonna focus on the statistical best seasons. First lets get the ridiculous 1962 seasons out of the way where 4 all time players peaked at the same time..

  1. 1962 Wilt Chamberlain – 50.4 PPG / 25.7 RPG / 2.4 APG
  2. 1962 Oscar Robertson – 30.8 PPG / 12.5 RPG / 11.4 APG
  3. 1962 Elgin Baylor – 38.3 PPG / 18.6 RPG / 4.6 APG
  4. 1962 Bob Pettit – 31.1 PPG / 18.7 RPG / 3.7 APG
  5. 1972 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – 34.8 PPG / 16.6 RPG / 4.6 APG
  6. 2017 Russell Westbrook – 31.6 PPG / 10.7 RPG / 10.4 APG
  7. 2000 Shaquille O’Neal – 29.7 PPG / 13.6 RPG / 3.8 APG
  8. 1989 Michael Jordan – 32.5 PPG / 8 RPG / 8 APG
  9. 1967 Rick Barry – 35.6 PPG / 9.2 RPG / 3.6 APG
  10. 1971 John Havlicek – 28.9 PPG / 9 RPG / 7.5 APG
  11. 1973 Julius Erving – 31.9 PPG / 12.2 RPG / 4.2 APG
  12. 1968 Connie Hawkins – 26.8 PPG / 13.5 RPG / 4.6 APG
  13. 2017 James Harden – 29.1 PPG / 8.1 RPG / 11.2 APG
  14. 2014 Kevin Durant – 32.0 PPG / 7.4 RPG / 5.5 APG
  15. 1968 Nate Thurmond – 20.5 PPG / 22 RPG / 4.2 APG
  16. 1960 Bill Russell – 18.2 PPG / 24 RPG / 3.7 APG
  17. 1966 Jerry Lucas – 21.5 PPG / 21.1 RPG / 2.7 APG
  18. 1962 Walt Bellamy – 31.6 PPG / 19 RPG / 2.7 APG
  19. 2008 Lebron James – 30 PPG / 7.9 RPG / 7.2 APG
  20. 1994 David Robinson – 29.8 PPG / 10.7 RPG / 4.8 APG

Jaw dropping numbers from these guys I know…

What makes Michael Jordan the best in the history of basketball?

I would revise it to mean history of NBA, not basketball. And even then I don’t think its that clear cut. Michael Jordan is the greatest of all time (GOAT) to most people because he’s a winner (6 championships, no losses in the finals), he’s super competitive, he has 5 MVPs (most out of any guard), he plays in a way that makes him electrifying to watch with lots of high flying dunks and clutch plays, he has the most awards out of any player in the modern era (6 Finals MVPs in addition to the stuff above and 10 scoring titles , DPOY, etc). Plus because people love scoring so much, he’s the penultimate scorer. The highest scoring average in NBA history both in regular season and playoffs. The most complete guard ever. Marketing wise no one else compares, Jordan earns millions a year despite the fact that he’s been retired for over 10 years. He’s the most famous basketball player still to this day.
That makes him an easy choice for GOAT for the majority of people.

There’s 4 other players that could possibly be considered the GOAT though this is for the minority of people:

Wilt Chamberlain – numerous unbroken records, most average rebounds a game, most rebounds all time, led league in assists once, rebounds 11 times, scoring 7 times, FG% several times, averaged 45 minutes a game, 100 points in a game, averaged 50 points and 25 rebounds a game before, etc. For pure statistical dominance, Wilt is at the top.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – all time NBA leading scorer, consistently great for 20 years, 6 rings, 6 MVPs, 2 Finals MVPs 14 years apart, 3rd in rebounds and blocks. He has the championship pedigree of Jordan and stats that are not quite Wilt-like but close to it.

Bill Russell – the consummate winner. 11 rings in 13 seasons. 5 MVPs. The greatest defensive player ever. the first african-american coach. The first black superstar in the league. One of the greatest teammates you can ever have. The thing that holds Russell back is his lack of offense, so he can’t really be called a ‘complete’ player like the other guys on this list.

Lebron James – modern era dominance, 7 Finals in a row, makes whatever team he’s on championship calibre, has a ridiculously long prime (pretty much the same as Jordan his entire career is his prime), excels in every category scoring rebounding assists etc. 4 MVPs, 3 rings, 3 finals mvps. The only thing that prevents Lebron from being the GOAT I think is his amount of awards that still trails Jordan. Stats wise you could make arguments that he’s surpassed Jordan in several areas already, but the amount of rings and other awards just aren’t there yet.

So yes to the majority of people, Jordan is the GOAT. the other guys are too old for this generation, weren’t marketed back in their time, and Lebron hasn’t matched up to Jordan in the key category of championships.

What would the list of the 50 greatest NBA players look like if they selected the players today?

That’s a hard one. Inevitably some really good players will get bumped off… here’s the list of NBA’s 50 greatest players originally selected in 1996: 50 Greatest Players in NBA History | Basketball-Reference.com

Let’s see who should be added in today’s NBA:

-Lebron James, obvious no brainer best SF ever to play

-Kobe Bryant, another no brainer 2nd best SG

-Tim Duncan, another no brainer best PF ever

-Dirk Nowitzki, a top 5 PF of all time

-Dwayne Wade, a top 5 SG of all time

-Allen Iverson, a top 5–10 SG of all time

-Kevin Durant, top 10 SF by this point

-Stephen Curry, another top 10 PG

-Russell Westbrook, top 10 PG

-Dwight Howard, top 15 center ever

-Chris Paul, top 10 PG

-Steve Nash, top 10 PG

-Jason Kidd, top 10 PG

-James Harden, top 10 SG

-Kevin Garnett, top 5 PF

So that’s 15 guys right there… which means 15 guys need to bumped off the old 50 greatest list. It’s hard but IMO here’s the 15 that should be bumped off

-James Worthy

-Lenny Wilkens

-Nate Thurmond

-Bill Sharman

-Robert Parish

-Earl Monroe

-Pete Maravich

-Jerry Lucas

-Hal Greer

-Dave Debusschere

-Billy Cunningham

-Dave Bing

-Tiny Archibald

-Bill Walton

-Paul Arizin

Sorry these are all great players but, you gotta make room for someone right? I’d rank these guys in the top 50–80 range rather than the top 50 now that better players have come up. This is by my estimates going by stats and awards etc and also I would add Bob McAdoo, Ray Allen, Dominique Wilkins, Paul Pierce to the top 60 range as well.

If instead, we were to expand the list to top 75 players (75 at 75 – year 2021) then my answer would be:

from PGs: Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, Jason Kidd, Steve Nash, Russell Westbrook, Gary Payton, Dennis Johnson (7)
from SGs: Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade, Allen Iverson, James Harden, Ray Allen (5)
from SFs: Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Dominique Wilkins, Paul Pierce, Carmelo Anthony, Adrian Dantley (6)
from PFs: Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol, Chris Webber, Bob McAdoo (6)
from C: Dwight Howard (1)

Those are my 25 players.

There are a few key defensive players that could be up there as well.. Dikembe Mutombo and Dennis Rodman come to mind. But they are really hard to rank given how one dimensional they were.

if ABA players are included (and they should be IMO because they are often forgotten), George McGinnis, Roger Brown, Mel Daniels, Artis Gilmore, Dan Issel and Connie Hawkins should be added to the list as well.