Top 20 greatest NBA players by position

Now that the NBA season has ended (and what a season it was!) now comes to time to revisit the top 100 greatest players of all time, as well as the top NBA players by position. I’ve decided to discard my old post on this since that post was made back in 2013, and this one has been updated through the new NBA season, with top 20 per position making a total of 100 players here.

These are all gleaned by my composite score for each player, all ranked by tallying their stats and awards together. You can download it here

I’ve also agreed with Rick Barry’s assertion that we should judge NBA players by position, because how can you compare Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain and definitively say one is better than the other when they play totally different positions? You can’t. So let’s go by position. Here’s the new list:

Point Guard

1. Magic Johnson
19.5 PPG/7.2 RPG/11.2 APG, 5x Champion, 3x MVP, 3x Finals MVP, 10x All-NBA, 12x All-Star, 9x Finals Appearances (1980, 1982-1985, 1987-1989, 1991)

2. Oscar Robertson
25.7 PPG/7.5 RPG/9.5 APG, 1x Champion, 1x MVP, 11x All-NBA, 12x All-Star, 2x Finals Appearances (1971, 1974)

3. John Stockton
13.1 PPG/2.7 RPG/10.5 APG, 11x All-NBA, 10x All Star, 2x Finals Appearances (1997-1998)

4. Bob Cousy
18.4 PPG/5.2 RPG/7.5 APG, 6x Champion, 1x MVP, 12x All-NBA, 13x All Star, 7x Finals Appearances (1957-1963)

5. Isiah Thomas
19.2 PPG/3.6 RPG/9.3 APG, 2x Champion, 1x Finals MVP, 5x All-NBA, 12x All-Star, 3x Finals Appearances (1988-1990)

6. Jason Kidd
12.6 PPG/6.3 RPG/8.7 APG, 1x Champion, 6x All-NBA, 10x All Star, 3x Finals Appearances (2002-2003, 2011)

7. Chris Paul
18.7 PPG/4.4 RPG/9.9 APG, 7x All-NBA, 9x All Star

8. Steve Nash
14.3 PPG/3.0 RPG/8.5 APG, 2x MVP, 7x All-NBA, 8x All Star

9. Stephen Curry
20.9 PPG/4.4 RPG/6.8 APG, 2x Champion, 2x MVP, 3x All-NBA, 4x All Star, 3x Finals Appearances (2015-2017)

10. Russell Westbrook
22.7 PPG/6.2 RPG/7.9 APG, 1x MVP, 6x All-NBA, 6x All Star

11. Walt Frazier
18.9 PPG/5.9 RPG/6.1 APG, 2x Champion, 6x All-NBA, 7x All Star, 3x Finals Appearances (1970, 1972-1973)

12. Tiny Archibald
18.8 PPG/2.3 RPG/7.4 APG, 1x Champion, 5x All-NBA, 6x All Star, 1x Finals Appearance (1981)

13. Gary Payton
16.3 PPG/3.9 RPG/6.7 APG, 1x Champion, 9x All-NBA, 9x All Star, 3x Finals Appearances (1996, 2004, 2006)

14. Dennis Johnson
14.9 PPG/3.9 RPG/5.0 APG, 3x Champion, 1x Finals MVP, 2x All-NBA, 5x All Star, 6x Finals Appearances (1978-1979, 1984-1987)

15. Jo Jo White
17.2 PPG/4.0 RPG/4.9 APG, 2x Champion, 1x Finals MVP, 2x All-NBA, 7x All Star, 2x Finals Appearances (1974, 1976)

16. Tony Parker
16.2 PPG/2.8 RPG/5.8 APG, 4x Champion, 1x Finals MVP, 4x All-NBA, 6x All Star, 5x Finals Appearances (2003, 2005, 2007, 2013-2014)

17. Lenny Wilkens
16.5 PPG/4.7 RPG/6.7 APG, 9x All Star

18. Tim Hardaway
17.7 PPG/3.3 RPG/8.2 APG, 5x All-NBA, 5x All Star

19. Kevin Johnson
17.9 PPG/3.3 RPG/9.1 APG, 5x All-NBA, 3x All Star, 1x Finals Appearance (1993)

20. Slater Martin
9.8 PPG/3.4 RPG/4.2 APG, 5x Champion, 5x All-NBA, 7x All Star, 7x Finals Appearances (1950, 1954-1956, 1957-1958, 1960)

Shooting Guard

1. Michael Jordan
30.1 PPG/6.2 RPG/5.3 APG, 6x Champion, 5x MVP, 6x Finals MVP, 11x All-NBA, 14x All Star, 6x Finals Appearances (1991-1993, 1996-1998)

2. Kobe Bryant
25.5 PPG/5.3 RPG/4.8 APG, 5x Champion, 1x MVP, 2x Finals MVP, 15x All-NBA, 18x All Star, 7x Finals Appearances (2000-2002, 2004, 2008-2010)

3. Jerry West
27.0 PPG/5.8 RPG/6.7 APG, 1x Champion, 1x Finals MVP, 12x All-NBA, 14x All Star, 9x Finals Appearances (1962-1963, 1965-1966, 1968-1970, 1972-1973)

4. Dwyane Wade
24.3 PPG/5.0 RPG/6.0 APG, 3x Champion, 1x Finals MVP, 8x All-NBA, 12x All Star, 5x Finals Appearances (2006, 2011-2014)

5. Allen Iverson
26.7 PPG/3.7 RPG/6.2 APG, 1x MVP, 7x All-NBA, 11x All Star, 1x Finals Appearance (2001)

6. George Gervin
25.1 PPG/5.2 RPG/2.5 APG, 9x All-NBA, 12x All Star

7. Clyde Drexler
20.4 PPG/6.1 RPG/5.6 APG, 1x Champion, 5x All-NBA, 10x All Star, 3x Finals Appearances (1990, 1992, 1995)

8. Sam Jones
17.7 PPG/4.9 RPG/2.5 APG, 10x Champion, 3x All-NBA, 5x All Star, 11x Finals Appearances (1958-1966, 1968-1969)

9. Bill Sharman
17.8 PPG/3.9 RPG/3.0 APG, 4x Champion, 7x All-NBA, 8x All Star, 5x Finals Appearances (1957-1961)

10. Hal Greer
19.2 PPG/5.0 RPG/4.0 APG, 1x Champion, 7x All-NBA, 10x All Star, 1x Finals Appearance (1967)

11. Roger Brown
17.4 PPG/6.2 RPG/3.8 APG, 3x Champion, 1x Finals MVP, 3x All-ABA, 4x All Star, 5x Finals Appearances (1969-1970, 1972-1973, 1975)

12. Pete Maravich
24.2 PPG/4.2 RPG/5.4 APG, 4x All-ABA, 5x All Star

13. David Thompson
22.1 PPG/4.1 RPG/3.3 APG, 2x All-NBA, 5x All Star

14. Dave Bing
20.3 PPG/3.8 RPG/6.0 APG, 3x All-NBA, 7x All-Star

15. Ray Allen
18.9 PPG/4.1 RPG/3.4 APG, 2x Champion, 2x All-NBA, 10x All-Star, 4x Finals Appearances (2008, 2010, 2013-2014)

16. Vince Carter
18.2 PPG/4.6 RPG/3.3 APG, 2x All-NBA, 8x All-Star

17. Sidney Moncrief
15.6 PPG/4.7 RPG/3.6 APG, 5x All-NBA, 5x All Star

18. Joe Dumars
16.1 PPG/2.2 RPG/4.5 APG, 2x Champion, 1x Finals MVP, 3x All-NBA, 6x All Star, 3x Finals Appearances (1988-1990)

19. James Harden
22.1 PPG/5.0 RPG/5.7 APG, 4x All-NBA, 5x All Star

20. Mitch Richmond
21.0 PPG/3.9 RPG/3.5 APG, 1x Champion, 5x All-NBA, 6x All Star, 1x Finals Appearance (2002)

Small Forwards

1. Lebron James
27.5 PPG/7.2 RPG/6.9 APG, 2x Champion, 4x MVP, 2x Finals MVP, 11x All-NBA, 12x All Star, 8x Finals Appearances (2007, 2011-2017)

2. Larry Bird
24.3 PPG/10.0 RPG/6.3 APG, 3x Champion, 3x MVP, 2x Finals MVP, 10x All-NBA, 12x All Star, 5x Finals Appearances (1981, 1984-1987)

3. Julius Erving
24.2 PPG/6.7 RPG/4.2 APG, 3x Champion, 4x MVP, 2x Finals MVP, 12x All-NBA, 17x All Star, 6x Finals Appearances (1972, 1974, 1976, 1980, 1982-1983)

4. John Havlicek
20.8 PPG/6.3 RPG/4.8 APG, 8x Champion, 1x Finals MVP, 11x All-NBA, 13x All Star, 8x Finals Appearances (1963-1966, 1968-1969, 1974, 1976)

5. Elgin Baylor
27.4 PPG/13.5 RPG/4.6 APG, 10x All-NBA, 11x All Star, 8x Finals Appearances (1959, 1962-1963, 1965-1966, 1968-1970)

6. Rick Barry
24.8 PPG/6.7 RPG/4.9 APG, 2x Champion, 1x Finals MVP, 6x All-NBA, 8x All Star, 3x Finals Appearances (1967, 1969, 1975)

7. Kevin Durant
27.4 PPG/6.9 RPG/3.5 APG, 1x Champion, 1x MVP, 1x Finals MVP, 5x All-NBA, 5x All Star, 2x Finals Appearances (2012, 2017)

8. Scottie Pippen
16.1 PPG/6.4 RPG/5.2 APG, 6x Champion, 7x All-NBA, 7x All Star, 6x Finals Appearances (1991-1993, 1996-1998)

9. Paul Arizin
22.8 PPG/8.6 RPG/2.3 APG, 1x Champion, 4x All-NBA, 10x All Star, 1x Finals Appearance (1956)

10. Paul Pierce
19.7 PPG/5.6 RPG/3.5 APG, 1x Champion, 1x Finals MVP, 4x All-NBA, 10x All Star, 2x Finals Appearances (2008, 2010)

11. Dominique Wilkins
24.8 PPG/6.7 RPG/2.5 APG, 7x All-NBA, 9x All Star

12. Billy Cunningham
21.2 PPG/10.4 RPG/4.3 APG, 1x Champion, 1x MVP, 5x All-NBA, 5x All-Star, 1x Finals Appearance (1967)

13. Carmelo Anthony
24.8 PPG/6.6 RPG/3.1 APG, 6x All-NBA, 10x All Star

14. James Worthy
17.6 PPG/5.1 RPG/3.0 APG, 3x Champion, 1x Finals MVP, 2x All-NBA, 7x All Star, 7x Finals Appearances (1983-1985, 1987-1989, 1991)

15. Adrian Dantley
24.3 PPG/5.7 RPG/3.0 APG, 2x All-NBA, 6x All Star, 1x Finals Appearance (1988)

16. Alex English
21.5 PPG/5.5 RPG/3.6 APG, 3x All-NBA, 8x All Star

17. Tracy McGrady
19.6 PPG/5.6 RPG/4.4 APG, 7x All-NBA, 7x All Star

18. Bernard King
22.5 PPG/5.8 RPG/3.3 APG, 4x All-NBA, 4x All Star

19. Jim Pollard
13.2 PPG/7.8 RPG/3.2 APG, 5x Champion, 4x All-NBA, 4x All Star, 5x Finals Appearances (1949-1950, 1952-1954)

20. Grant Hill
16.7 PPG/6.0 RPG/4.1 APG, 5x All-NBA, 7x All Star

Power Forward

1. Tim Duncan
19.9 PPG/11.1 RPG/3.1 APG, 5x Champion, 2x MVP, 3x Finals MVP, 15x All-NBA, 15x All Star, 6x Finals Appearances (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2013-2014)

2. Karl Malone
25.0 PPG/10.1 RPG/3.6 APG, 2x MVP, 14x All-NBA, 14x All Star, 2x Finals Appearances (1997-1998)

3. Bob Pettit
26.4 PPG/16.2 RPG/3.0 APG, 1x Champion, 2x MVP, 11x All-NBA, 11x All Star, 4x Finals Appearances (1957-1958, 1960-1961)

4. Charles Barkley
22.1 PPG/11.7 RPG/3.9 APG, 1x MVP, 11x All-NBA, 11x All Star, 1x Finals Appearance (1993)

5. Kevin Garnett
18.6 PPG/10.3 RPG/3.9 APG, 1x Champion, 1x MVP, 9x All-NBA, 15x All Star, 2x Finals Appearances (2008, 2010)

6. Dirk Nowitzki
22.5 PPG/8.1 RPG/2.6 APG, 1x Champion, 1x MVP, 1x Finals MVP, 12x All-NBA, 12x All Star, 2x Finals Appearances (2006, 2011)

7. Elvin Hayes
21.0 PPG/12.5 RPG/1.8 APG, 1x Champion, 6x All-NBA, 12x All Star, 3x Finals Appearances (1975, 1978-1979)

8. Dolph Schayes
18.2 PPG/12.1 RPG/3.1 APG, 1x Champion, 12x All-NBA, 12x All Star, 1x Finals Appearance (1955)

9. Kevin McHale
17.9 PPG/7.3 RPG/1.7 APG, 3x Champion, 1x All-NBA, 7x All Star, 5x Finals Appearances (1981, 1984-1987)

10. Bob McAdoo
22.1 PPG/9.4 RPG/2.3 APG, 2x Champion, 1x MVP, 2x All-NBA, 5x All Star, 4x Finals Appearances (1982-1985)

11. Jerry Lucas
17.0 PPG/15.6 RPG/3.3 APG, 1x Champion, 5x All-NBA, 7x All Star, 2x Finals Appearances (1972-1973)

12. Tom Heinsohn
18.6 PPG/8.8 RPG/2.0 APG, 8x Champion, 4x All-NBA, 6x All Star, 9x Finals Appearances (1957-1965)

13. George McGinnis
20.2 PPG/11.0 RPG/3.7 APG, 2x Champion, 1x MVP, 1x Finals MVP, 5x All-NBA, 6x All Star, 3x Finals Appearances (1972-1973, 1975)

14. Connie Hawkins
18.7 PPG/8.8 RPG/4.1 APG, 1x Champion, 1x MVP, 1x Finals MVP, 3x All-NBA, 5x All Star, 1x Finals Appearance (1968)

15. Dan Issel
22.6 PPG/9.1 RPG/2.4 APG, 1x Champion, 5x All-NBA, 7x All Star, 3x Finals Appearances (1971, 1973, 1975)

16. Spencer Haywood
20.3 PPG/10.3 RPG/1.8 APG, 1x Champion, 1x MVP, 5x All-NBA, 5x All Star, 1x Finals Appearance (1980)

17. Chris Webber
20.7 PPG/9.8 RPG/4.2 APG, 5x All-NBA, 5x All Star

18. Pau Gasol
17.9 PPG/9.4 RPG/3.2 APG, 2x Champion, 4x All-NBA, 6x All Star, 3x Finals Appearances (2008-2010)

19. Dennis Rodman
7.3 PPG/13.1 RPG/1.8 APG, 5x Champion, 2x All-NBA, 2x All Star, 6x Finals Appearances (1988-1990, 1996-1998)

20. Dave DeBusschere
16.1 PPG/11.0 RPG/2.9 APG, 2x Champion, 1x All-NBA, 8x All Star, 3x Finals Appearances (1970, 1972-1973)

Center

1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
24.6 PPG/11.2 RPG/3.6 APG, 6x Champion, 6x MVP, 2x Finals MVP, 15x All-NBA, 19x All Star, 10x Finals Appearances (1971, 1974, 1980, 1982-1985, 1987-1989)

2. Wilt Chamberlain
30.1 PPG/22.9 RPG/4.4 APG, 2x Champion, 4x MVP, 1x Finals MVP, 10x All-NBA, 13x All Star, 6x Finals Appearances (1964, 1967, 1969-1970, 1972-1973)

3. Bill Russell
15.1 PPG/22.5 RPG/4.3 APG, 11x Champion, 5x MVP, 11x All-NBA, 12x All Star, 12x Finals Appearances (1957-1966, 1968-1969)

4. Shaquille O’Neal
23.7 PPG/10.9 RPG/2.5 APG, 4x Champion, 1x MVP, 3x Finals MVP, 14x All-NBA, 15x All Star, 6x Finals Appearances (1995, 2000-2002, 2004, 2006)

5. Hakeem Olajuwon
21.8 PPG/11.1 RPG/2.5 APG, 2x Champion, 1x MVP, 2x Finals MVP, 12x All-NBA, 12x All Star, 3x Finals Appearances (1986, 1994-1995)

6. Moses Malone
20.6 PPG/12.2 RPG/1.4 APG, 1x Champion, 3x MVP, 1x Finals MVP, 8x All-NBA, 12x All Star, 2x Finals Appearances (1981, 1983)

7. David Robinson
21.1 PPG/10.6 RPG/2.5 APG, 2x Champion, 1x MVP, 10x All-NBA, 10x All Star, 2x Finals Appearances (1999, 2003)

8. Willis Reed
18.7 PPG/12.9 RPG/1.8 APG, 2x Champion, 1x MVP, 2x Finals MVP, 5x All-NBA, 7x All Star, 3x Finals Appearances (1970, 1972-1973)

9. Bill Walton
13.3 PPG/10.5 RPG/3.4 APG, 2x Champion, 1x MVP, 1x Finals MVP, 2x All-NBA, 2x All Star, 2x Finals Appearances (1977, 1986)

10. George Mikan
22.6 PPG/13.4 RPG/2.8 APG, 7x Champion, 1x MVP, 6x All-NBA, 4x All Star, 7x Finals Appearances (1947-1950, 1952-1954)

11. Artis Gilmore
18.8 PPG/12.3 RPG/2.3 APG, 1x Champion, 1x MVP, 1x Finals MVP, 5x All-ABA, 11x All Star, 3x Finals Appearances (1971, 1973, 1975)

12. Mel Daniels
18.4 PPG/14.9 RPG/1.8 APG, 3x Champion, 2x MVP, 5x All-ABA, 7x All Star, 5x Finals Appearances (1969-1970, 1972-1973, 1975)

13. Dwight Howard
17.5 PPG/12.7 RPG/1.5 APG, 8x All-NBA, 8x All Star, 1x Finals Appearance (2009)

14. Dave Cowens
17.6 PPG/13.6 RPG/3.8 APG, 2x Champion, 1x MVP, 3x All-NBA, 8x All Star, 2x Finals Appearances (1974, 1976)

15. Patrick Ewing
21.0 PPG/9.8 RPG/2.0 APG, 7x All-NBA, 11x All Star, 1x Finals Appearance (1994)

16. Wes Unseld
10.8 PPG/14.0 RPG/3.9 APG, 1x Champion, 1x MVP, 1x Finals MVP, 1x All-NBA, 5x All Star, 3x Finals Appearances (1975, 1978-1979)

17. Neil Johnston
19.4 PPG/11.3 RPG/2.5 APG, 1x Champion, 5x All-NBA, 6x All Star, 1x Finals Appearance (1956)

18. Nate Thurmond
15.0 PPG/15.0 RPG/2.7 APG, 7x All Star, 2x Finals Appearances (1964, 1967)

19. Robert Parish
14.5 PPG/9.1 RPG/1.4 APG, 4x Champion, 2x All-NBA, 9x All Star, 6x Finals Appearances (1981, 1984-1987, 1997)

20. Bob Lanier
20.1 PPG/10.1 RPG/3.1 APG, 8x All Star

Greatest white players in NBA history
1. Larry Bird
2. Jerry West
3. John Havlicek
4. Bob Pettit
5. Bob Cousy
6. John Stockton
7. Rick Barry
8. Dirk Nowitzki
9. Steve Nash
10. Bill Walton
11. George Mikan
12. Dolph Schayes
13. Paul Arizin
14. Dave Cowens
15. Dan Issel
16. Kevin McHale
17. Billy Cunningham
18. Jerry Lucas
19. Pete Maravich
20. Neil Johnston

All-NBA team for each decade
1950s:
PG: Bob Cousy/Slater Martin
SG: Bill Sharman/Richie Guerin
SF: Paul Arizin/Jim Pollard
PF: Dolph Schayes/Tom Heinsohn
C: George Mikan/Neil Johnston

1960s:
PG: Oscar Robertson/Lenny Wilkens
SG: Jerry West/Hal Greer
SF: Elgin Baylor/Billy Cunningham
PF: Bob Pettit/Jerry Lucas
C: Bill Russell/Wilt Chamberlain

1970s:
PG: Walt Frazier/Tiny Archibald
SG: George Gervin/Pete Maravich
SF: Rick Barry/John Havlicek
PF: Elvin Hayes/Dave Cowens
C: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar/Artis Gilmore

1980s:
PG: Magic Johnson/Isiah Thomas
SG: Sidney Moncrief/Joe Dumars
SF: Larry Bird/Julius Erving
PF: Kevin McHale/Bob McAdoo
C: Moses Malone/Patrick Ewing

1990s:
PG: John Stockton/Gary Payton
SG: Michael Jordan/Clyde Drexler
SF: Scottie Pippen/Grant Hill
PF: Karl Malone/Charles Barkley
C: Hakeem Olajuwon/David Robinson

2000s:
PG: Jason Kidd/Steve Nash
SG: Kobe Bryant/Dwayne Wade
SF: Paul Pierce/Tracy McGrady
PF: Tim Duncan/Kevin Garnett
C: Shaquille O’Neal/Dwight Howard

2010s:
PG: Chris Paul/Stephen Curry
SG: Russell Westbrook/James Harden
SF: Lebron James/Kevin Durant
PF: Dirk Nowitzki/Blake Griffin
C: Anthony Davis/Kevin Love

Top 10 what-if? careers in NBA history and unluckiest NBA franchise

Top 10 NBA (hall of fame) what-if careers:

1. Bill Walton
2x champion, 1x mvp, 1x finals mvp, 2x all star, 2x first team. What if Walton was healthy is the biggest what if in hall of famer history because he only had 2 healthy seasons when he was in the NBA. during those 2 healthy seasons, he won 2 rings, an MVP, a finals mvp, 2x all star and 2x all-NBA. That’s as good a 2 year stretch as any of the greatest players ever. He had various foot and ankle injuries after 1978, that season was also his best season averaging 19/13/5 the most Russell like stats out of any center in recent memory. Had he not been injured? Maybe he would be considered on par with Kareem who is one of the top 3 greatest players of all time.

2. Arvydas Sabonis
Considered one of the best European players of all time, he was never able to play for the NBA in his prime due to the Soviet Union restricting him. By the time he came to the NBA in 1995 (he was drafted in 1986) he was a shell of himself due to many injuries. We will never know how good a prime Sabonis would have been in the NBA, but his best season was in 1998 averaging 16/10/3. If he hadn’t been injured? Maybe he would have become a top 5 center of all time.

3. Maurice Stokes
3x All star, 3x All NBA, HOF the most tragic story on here, Maurice stokes led the league in rebounds in 1958, and only played 3 seasons before suffering a career ending head injury and stroke thus becoming permanently paralyzed on his last regular season game in 1958. one could only imagine how good he could have been. his average was 17/18/6 in 1958 before the injury. Maybe he could have ended up a top 20 or top 15 player of all time.

4. David Thompson
4x All star, 2x all NBA, HOF the player who stopped UCLA’s 88 game winning streak. Had 73 points in a game before and was considered Michael Jordan’s idol. never got injured but had a drug problem. Because of his cocaine habits, he was averaging 27/5/5 a game in 1978 his best season before those stats steadily declining since. He wasn’t even in his prime yet, and who knows? He could’ve been a pseudo-Jordan if he didn’t do drugs.

5. Grant Hill
7x All star, 5x all NBA, was a triple double machine and considered the next Magic or Oscar when he was playing with the Pistons. Right after he got traded to the Magic he had various ankle injuries and was never the same again. best season was in 1997, averaging 21/9/7/2. Maybe he could’ve been a top 5 SF of all time if he wasn’t injured.

6. Drazen Petrovic
Never an All star or all NBA, but was a rising star on the Nets before his untimely death at age 28 in a car accident. the previous season in 1993 he was averaging 22/3/3.5. Maybe he would’ve been a top 15-20 shooting guard if he didn’t die.

7. Tracy McGrady
7x All star, 8x all NBA, was scoring champion 2x, since 2006 suffered recurring injuries and never was able to sustain his excellence. Was considered on par with Kobe for being the best shooting guards at that time before those injuries. Best season was in 2003 averaging 32/6.5/5.5. Maybe he would have been a top 10 shooting guard if he wasn’t injured.

8. Bernard King
4x All star, 4x all NBA, HOF was the 1985 scoring champion when he tore his ACL which at that time was a career ending injury. He was averaging 33 points a game before this injury. best season was in 1985, averaging 33/6/4. Could have been a top 10 SF if he wasn’t injured.

9. Derrick Rose
3x All star, 1x all NBA, 1x MVP – No one will know what Derrick Rose could have been if he didn’t suffer his ACL tear in 2012 during the playoffs; he was considered one of the best players in the league before then, and won an MVP before in his best season in 2011, averaging 25/4/8 a game. Could’ve been similar to Russell Westbrook, a top 15 point guard, if he wasn’t injured.

10. Penny Hardaway
4x All star, 3x all NBA, had persistent injuries from the 1998 season onwards. Was considered then next Magic Johnson due to his combination of size and passing ability. Best season was in 1996, averaging 22/4/7. Maybe would have been a top 15 point guard if he wasn’t injured.

Honorable Mention: Yao Ming
8x All star, 5x all NBA, HOF, had persistent ankle foot injuries during 2006 and never was fully healthy again. only had 3 full healthy seasons in the NBA, best season was in 2007 averaging 25/9/2. Maybe would have been a top 15-20 center if he wasn’t injured.

The Blazers have to be most unluckiest NBA franchise:

1972 – Larue Martin, possibly the biggest #1 draft pick bust of all time
1975 – Bill Walton – only had 1.5 healthy seasons for the Blazers
1984 – missed Jordan and picked Sam Bowie who was also injured his whole career
1995 – got Sabonis who was far past his prime and also injured
2006 – Brandon Roy, had to retire from degenerative knee condition
2007 – Greg Oden, another one of the biggest draft busts ever

has there been an unluckier NBA franchise?

Top 15 greatest offensive players + Top 15 greatest defensive players in NBA history

I wrote a post a while back about the greatest offensive scorers in NBA history using criteria as the # of seasons scoring over 25 points a game, number of scoring titles, best season scoring average, etc.

Now today, I want to go back and revise that and also give you the top defensive players in NBA history, using criteria as # of seasons with more than 3 blocks + steals a game (stocks), number of defensive player of the year awards, number of all defensive 1st team selections, etc. Of course I know this isn’t fair to old players who didn’t have blocks, steals or DPOY but I will rank them accordingly to what their contemporaries said about them.

Top 15 greatest offensive players of all time

1. Michael Jordan
Number of scoring seasons of 25 points or greater: 12/15
Number of scoring titles: 10
Best season scoring average: 37.1 (1987)

Doesn’t get better than Jordan. 10 scoring titles, most ever. 37 points a game at his peak. He has the single game playoff record of 63 points. A whopping 80% of his career he scored over 25ppg. His 33 points per game in the playoffs is the best playoff scoring average all time. The GOAT.

2. Wilt Chamberlain
Number of scoring seasons of 25 points or greater: 9/13
Number of scoring titles: 7
Best season scoring average: 50.4 (1962)

The Big Dipper. 70% of his career he scored over 25 ppg, but 7 scoring titles is second most all time. And a peak of a whopping 50 ppg is the highest scoring average in NBA history. He also holds the single game scoring record at 100 points.

3. Kobe Bryant
Number of scoring seasons of 25 points or greater: 12/20
Number of scoring titles: 2
Best season scoring average: 35.4 (2006)

The Black Mamba. 60% of his career scored more than 25 ppg. 2 scoring titles, and a beastly 35 points a game at his peak, he was one of the most dominant scorers of all time. Also holds the second greatest scoring game at 81 points.

4. Jerry West
Number of scoring seasons of 25 points or greater: 11/14
Number of scoring titles: 1
Best season scoring average: 31.3 (1966)

The Logo. A whopping 78% of his career he scored over 25 points a game while also dishing out 7 assists a game. He was truly one of the most versatile players ever. A peak scoring average of 31 points a game, and holds the playoff scoring record for a series at 44 points a game.

5. Allen Iverson
Number of scoring seasons of 25 points or greater: 11/17
Number of scoring titles: 4
Best season scoring average: 33.0 (2006)

The Answer might have been the best small shooting guard ever, scoring over 25ppg, 65% of his career. He has 4 scoring titles, tied with Gervin and Durant for third most all time, and topped out at 33 points a game in 2006. He has the second highest playoff scoring average all time at 30 points a game.

6. Kareem Abdul Jabbar
Number of scoring seasons of 25 points or greater: 10/20
Number of scoring titles: 2
Best season scoring average: 34.8 (1972)

The NBA’s all time leading scorer has 2 scoring titles, scored over 25ppg over 50% of his career, had the most unstoppable move in basketball, and topped out at a pretty impressive 35 points a game back in 72.

7. Karl Malone
Number of scoring seasons of 25 points or greater: 12/19
Number of scoring titles: 0
Best season scoring average: 31.0 (1990)

The Mailman doesn’t have any scoring titles thanks to MJ, but he is the second all time leading scorer in NBA history, and 63% of his career averaged over 25ppg. He topped out at 31 ppg back in 1990.

8. Dominique Wilkins
Number of scoring seasons of 25 points or greater: 11/16
Number of scoring titles: 1
Best season scoring average: 30.3 (1986)

In an era of lots of scoring SFs like Adrian Dantley, Alex English and Bernard King, Dominique Wilkins scored more than all of them. 69% of his career he scored over 25ppg, and his best season average is 30ppg back in 86.

9. George Gervin
Number of scoring seasons of 25 points or greater: 8/15
Number of scoring titles: 4
Best season scoring average: 33.1 (1980)

Tied for third most scoring titles all time. 53% of his career scored over 25ppg, and his best ppg average coming at 33 points a game back in 1980.

10. Lebron James
Number of scoring seasons of 25 points or greater: 12/13
Number of scoring titles: 1
Best season scoring average: 31.4 (2006)

People might not think of Lebron James as a scorer, but he’s scored over 25ppg over 92% of his career. There’s only one season where he averaged less than that. He does this while also being a great rebounder and assister as well. He won the scoring title once, and he topped out at 31ppg back in 2006.

11. Kevin Durant
Number of scoring seasons of 25 points or greater: 8/9
Number of scoring titles: 4
Best season scoring average: 32.0 (2014)

Right behind Lebron is Durant, who can score just as well as he can but is much better from range. He has the third most scoring titles of all time, tied with some other guys I mentioned earlier, and 88% of his career he scored over 25 ppg, topping out at 32ppg back in 2014.

12. Elgin Baylor
Number of scoring seasons of 25 points or greater: 8/14
Number of scoring titles: 0
Best season scoring average: 38.3 (1962)

Elgin Baylor doesn’t have any scoring titles, but he does have the third highest career scoring average of all time at 27.4 points a game. And his peak is just ridiculous. 57% of his career he scored over 25ppg, his best season being a whopping 38 points a game back in 62. He scored over 71 points in a game before, and his 61 points in a Finals is still a record that stands today.

13. Oscar Robertson
Number of scoring seasons of 25 points or greater: 9/14
Number of scoring titles: 0
Best season scoring average: 31.4 (1964)

The Big O could do everything, including score. 64% of his career he averaged over 25ppg, with his best coming in 1964 at 31 points a game. He was basically Lebron back in the 60s, able to score, rebound and assist as well as anyone.

14. Rick Barry
Number of scoring seasons of 25 points or greater: 8/14
Number of scoring titles: 1
Best season scoring average: 35.6 (1967)

Rick Barry was one of the most lethal scorers back in the day. 57% of his career he scored over 25ppg, and in just his second season in the league he topped out at 36 points a game. He has one of the highest playoff scoring averages at 27 points per game.

15. Bob Pettit
Number of scoring seasons of 25 points or greater: 7/12
Number of scoring titles: 2
Best season scoring average: 31.1 (1962)

Big Bob Pettit was one of the most lethal scoring and rebounding big men back in the day, along with Wilt. 58% of his career her averaged over 25ppg, and he never averaged under 20 points a game in his whole career. He has 2 scoring titles, and his best scoring average at 31 points a game back in 62.

Top 15 greatest defensive players of all time

1. Bill Russell
Number of seasons with over 3 stocks a game: N/A
Number of DPOY titles: N/A
All defensive 1st team selections: 1

How could it not be? Russell is acknowledged by many as the greatest defensive presence ever, even if blocks and steals weren’t tracked back in the day. But you can see from available archive footage how great a defensive player he was. He blocks the ball to start fast breaks, and many times in the footage he would block over 10 shots a game. That’s just incredible. No one made a more defensive impact than Russell did.

2. Wilt Chamberlain
Number of seasons with over 3 stocks a game: N/A
Number of DPOY titles: N/A
All defensive 1st team selections: 2

The NBA’s all time rebounding leader, and also the second greatest offensive player is also the second greatest defensive player, proving how great Wilt was on both ends of the floor. Like Russell, blocks and steals weren’t tracked back in his time, but from archival footage that exists, you can see how many games he blocked over 10 shots, and even one game he blocked over 20 shots! Possibly the greatest all around player not named Michael Jordan.

3. Hakeem Olajuwon
Number of seasons with over 3 stocks a game: 15
Number of DPOY titles: 2
All defensive 1st team selections: 5

The Dream was a defensive beast. He’s the NBA’s all time leader in blocked shots, he had over 3 steals + blocks 15 seasons in his career. He’s also a 2 time defensive player of the year. One of the greatest two way players ever along with Wilt and Jordan.

4. Dikembe Mutombo
Number of seasons with over 3 stocks a game: 11
Number of DPOY titles: 4
All defensive 1st team selections: 3

Tied for the most number of DPOY awards at 4, and 11 seasons in his career he had over 3 steals+blocks a game. He’s also second all time in blocked shots.

5. Ben Wallace
Number of seasons with over 3 stocks a game: 9
Number of DPOY titles: 4
All defensive 1st team selections: 5

Ben Wallace coming up this high might be a surprise to some of you, but don’t be. He was a 4x DPOY, tied for most all time. 9 seasons he had over 3 steals+blocks a game. He’s the reason why the Pistons were a powerhouse in the mid 2000s.

6. Michael Jordan
Number of seasons with over 3 stocks a game: 9
Number of DPOY titles: 1
All defensive 1st team selections: 9

One of the greatest two way players in NBA history not only was Jordan the best offensive player of all time, he’s a top 10 defensive player all time as well. 9 time All-Defensive 1st team + 9 seasons with over 3 steals+blocks a game. He’s the best defensive guard of all time.

7. David Robinson
Number of seasons with over 3 stocks a game: 11
Number of DPOY titles: 1
All defensive 1st team selections: 4

David Robinson is an all time great two way player, kind of like a lesser but still great version of Hakeem. He had 11 seasons with over 3 steals+blocks a game.

8. Nate Thurmond
Number of seasons with over 3 stocks a game: 2
Number of DPOY titles: 0
All defensive 1st team selections: 2

Nate Thurmond is considered one of the all time great defensive centers, with Wilt and Kareem considering him on par with Russell on defense.

9. Tim Duncan
Number of seasons with over 3 stocks a game: 10
Number of DPOY titles: 0
All defensive 1st team selections: 8

Tim Duncan doesn’t need a DPOY award to prove how great defensively he was. He was an 8 time all defensive team selection, and is still blocking shots at a high level into his 40s. He has 10 seasons with over 3 steals+blocks, and 1 of those seasons came when he was 36 years old, which is crazy.

10. Kareem Abdul Jabbar
Number of seasons with over 3 stocks a game: 10
Number of DPOY titles: 0
All defensive 1st team selections: 5

Kareem was like Wilt, a great defensive player in addition to being a great offensive player. 10 times he had over 3 steals/blocks a game which is very impressive when you consider for the first 4 seasons of his career steals/blocks weren’t even tracked. Plus the 5 time all defensive 1st team, Kareem was a great all around player, though not to the same level Hakeem or Wilt was.

11. Kevin Garnett
Number of seasons with over 3 stocks a game: 6
Number of DPOY titles: 1
All defensive 1st team selections: 9

Kevin Garnett has a DPOY award unlike Duncan, and he was just a great a defender, but I put him below because he has just 6 seasons with over 3 steals/blocks compared to Duncan and unlike Duncan is not playing at a high level into his old age. But he is still one of the greatest defenders especially at the PF position.

12. Dennis Rodman
Number of seasons with over 3 stocks a game: 0
Number of DPOY titles: 2
All defensive 1st team selections: 7

I debated over whether Pippen or Rodman was a better defender but went with Rodman. He’s a 2x DPOY, and could defend any position. He’s one of the greatest rebounders of all time. He doesn’t have any seasons with over 3 steals and blocks, but he didn’t need to, he was one of those players that had defensive intangibles.

13. Scottie Pippen
Number of seasons with over 3 stocks a game: 6
Number of DPOY titles: 0
All defensive 1st team selections: 8

Even though Pippen didn’t have any DPOY awards, he had 6 seasons with over 6 steals+blocks and just like Rodman, could defend any position. His 8 time defensive 1st team selections is a testament to that.

14. Dwight Howard
Number of seasons with over 3 stocks a game: 6
Number of DPOY titles: 3
All defensive 1st team selections: 4

Dwight Howard was a dominant defensive presence for most of the 2000s. He is a 3x DPOY, that’s second most all time, and one of the great rebounders in recent history. He has 6 seasons with over 6 steals+blocks.

15. Walt Frazier
Number of seasons with over 3 stocks a game: 1
Number of DPOY titles: N/A
All defensive 1st team selections: 7

That he only had 1 season of over 3 steals+blocks is misleading. Most of his career, blocks and steals weren’t tracked, and Frazier was one of the best defenders in the guard position in NBA history. He would have a lot more career steals if they had been tracked back in the day. His 7 time defensive 1st team selection proves that.

Honorable Mentions
Offensive: Adrian Dantley, Alex English, Shaquille O’Neal, Carmelo Anthony, Bob McAdoo
Defensive: Gary Payton, Alonzo Mourning, Sidney Moncrief, Bobby Jones, Alvin Robertson, Mark Eaton