One of the biggest debates amongst NBA fans is who are the top 10 greatest players in NBA History. While names vary in the conversation, people usually have a strict template of the top players; as certain names are solicited frequently. However, my top 10 list is different than most.
10. Hakeem Olajuwon – Houston Rockets, Toronto Raptors
Hakeem Olajuwon is considered one of the toughest defensive centers to ever touch the hardwood. For his 18 year career, he averaged 21.8 points, 11.1 rebounds and 3.1 blocks. With this stat line, he is also the league leader in All Time Total Blocks.
9. Wilt Chamberlin- Philadephia Warriors, San Fransisco Warriors, Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Lakers
Wilt Chamberlin has arguably the greatest individual seasons in NBA History. In 1961, Wilt Chamberlin averaged an astronomical 50.4 points and 25.7 rebounds per game. For his 14 year career, he averaged 30.1 points per game with 22.9 rebounds a game. Wilt Chamberlin reigns one of the most dominating centers to ever play the game. Unfortunately, due to the era he played in and the lack of competition, his statistics don’t hold well to players who played in developed eras.
8. Larry Bird-Boston Celtics
For his 13 year career, Larry Bird was considered one of the better shooters in the 80’s and early 90’s. Averaging 24.3 points per game was only part of his greatness. He also averaged 10 rebounds and 6.3 assists a game for his career.
7. Tim Duncan-San Antonio Spurs
Tim Duncan is universally recognized as the greatest Power Forward in NBA History. Averaging 19 points and 10.8 rebounds for his 19 year career, Duncan proved to be a major force. Being one of the core three players for the San Antonio Spurs helped the team win 5 NBA championships.
6. Kevin Durant-Oklahoma City Thunder, Golden State Warriors
Now I know some of you may be puzzled or angered by the fact that Kevin Durant’s name is anywhere near a top 10 discussion. However, the following question may put things in a different light. Who else in NBA history can score like Kevin Durant? Kevin Durant’s MVP season he put up ridiculous numbers. He averaged 32 points on just 20.8 shots. His field goal for his career is 48.8% and shoots 87.3% from the free-throw line. What isn’t top 10 about Kevin Durant?
5. Shaquille O’Neal- Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics
Shaq, Diesel, The Big Aristotle, Shaq Daddy, whatever nickname you decided to use was appropriate to describe how dominating Shaquille O’Neal was. For his 18 year career, he averaged 23.7 points pregame and 10.9 rebounds. He also was a dominating force in the paint defensively as he averaged 2.3 blocks per game.
4. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar- Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers
Kareem Abdul Jabbar is currently the leading scorer in NBA History. Abdul-Jabbar has 38,387 points for his total career. With his unstoppable move, the sky hook, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar left defenders in a daze. Averaging 24.6 points and 11.2 rebounds, Kareem was simply a specimen to watch.
3. Earvin “Magic” Johnson- Los Angeles Lakers
Magic Johnson is considered the best point guard of all time. Standing 6’9″, teams had to strategize how to guard a point guard who is the size of a center. Magic Johnson was an outstanding distributor of the basketball. He averaged 11.2 assists for his career and averaged 19.5 points per game.
2. Michael Jordan-Chicago Bulls, Washington Wizards
Here is where a lot of people may go crazy. “Michael Jordan went six for six in the finals! How could he be anywhere other than number 1?” Yes, Michael Jordan did receive great achievements in the NBA. He won six NBA championships with six Finals MVP’s. But I am not debating the legacy of these players. I am debating strictly skill. Michael Jordan as an individual player was dynamic. He was the first player in NBA to be considered truly “unguardable”. He averaged 30.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.3 assists a game for his career. Michael Jordan was ferocious and intimidated opponents.
1. LeBron James- Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat
Now here me out…skill wise, what can’t LeBron James do? James can play point guard, he can defend, he can shoot, he can rebound, he can be a leader on and off the court, he is one of the most durable players in NBA History, etc. There is so much to LeBron James’ arsenal that it doesn’t end. For LeBron James’ career, he averages 27.1 points, 7.3 total rebounds and 7 assists a game. Not only is he a stat sheet stuffer in the regular season, but he also performs amazingly in the playoffs. Despite the Dallas Maverick series in 2011, LeBron James was the best player on the floor for every other NBA Finals.