Top 75 Men’s Basketball Players All-Time

We decided to create a list with our criteria for the 75 greatest players of all-time. 

Criteria

#75

Paul Pierce

paul-pierce

Paul was a player with great foot work. In 2000, he was one of the best scorers in the NBA. Deon Jones with Basketball Jones Review and Dain Ervin with Basketball Illustrated Reports fought for Paul to be on this list. 

#74

Klay Thompson

klay-thompson

The best catch and shoot player and the second best shooter of all time. Thompson scored 60 points on 11 dribbles. 

#73

Mark Aguirre

mark-aguirre-pistons

From the era of dribble-less scoring, Mark Aquirre was  ranked the number one player in the country as a high schooler, a beast at Depaul University and the number one overall pick in the 1981 draft to the Dallas Mavericks, a franchise that was only a year old.  A natural scorer, Aquirre used his 6’5″ body, butt and long arms to help the Detroit pistons win back to back championships. 

#72

Carmelo Anthony

carmelo-anthony

Melo’s ability to score off of two dribbles was crazy in his prime. The heavy bodied small forward was a load in the low post as well. Melo lead Syracuse to a national championship as a freshman. He played his best basketball in Denver, leading the NBA in scoring one season.  

GAME CHANGER

#71

Connie Hawkins

Connie_Hawkins_ABA_MVP.jpeg

We missed the best years of Connie Hawkins career with his professional career starting at 25 years old. He was blacked-balled in the 1960’s over a $200 loan (which was called a payment for point shaving) that was paid back. He was expelled from the University of Iowa as a freshman and went undrafted when then NBA commissioner J. Walter Kennedy announced that he would not approve of any contract involving “The Hawk.” He went on to play in the ABA where he won the MVP and a scoring title before being allowed to play in the NBA. His big hands and athleticism and style of play rivalled that of Dr. J. 

#70

Chris Webber

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C Webb’s talent was undeniable. His hands and ability to finish around the basket were as good as any. He was the number 1 player in the country as a high schooler. He also led the Fab Five Freshman at the University of Michigan. The Fab Five changed basketball culture on every level with the black socks and the baggy shorts. Knee injuries robbed him of a career that could have been greater. His best basketball as a pro came with the Sacramento Kings losing in the conference finals to the eventual champions the Los Angeles Lakers. 

#69

Walt Bellamy

Walt_Bellamy_1972

Walt Bellamy was a hard playing work horse. His  numbers were so gaudy it doesn’t seem real. Over the course of 14 years in the NBA his production hardly ever wavered with his best season being 31.6 points per game and 19 rebounds. 

#68

Nate Thurmond

nate_thurman

 This era of basketball was skilled in shooting and scoring. Without being a true offensive threat, Nate Thurmond averaged 15 points per game and 15 rebounds for his career. He was a stellar defender and rebounder. Offensively, he was a great finisher and high energy player who paved the way for players being a star in their role. 

GAME CHANGER

#67

Artis Gilmore

artis_gilmore

Physically, the first version of Dwight Howard. Got his start in the ABA. Athleticism was off the charts. 

#66

Bernard King

The King Of New York when he played, Bernard was a big time scorer who battled alcoholism and injury over the course of his career. A star at the University of Tennessee, he dealt with racism and prejudice coming to a head when he was beaten by a police while at the college. He fought back from what at the time was considered a career ending injury to play again before retiring.  

GAME CHANGER

#65

Adrian Dantley

adrian-dantley

If Michael Jordan had not played, Adrian Dantley would have been the best scorer during the 1980’s. Another dribble-less, efficient scorer, Dantley led the NBA in scoring twice and averaged right at or above 30 points per game five times.  Dantley was known for his aloof and sometimes difficult nature which has hurt his legacy significantly. He along with Bernard King and Alex English are the reason for guys like Paul Pierce and Carmelo Anthony.  

#64

Alex English

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Another tremendous scorer who shared the ball with Kiki Vanderweigh during his time in Denver. Unfortunately, he had to fight Magic Johnson and Lakers every year in his prime. 

#63

Alonzo Mourning

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One of the hardest playing players in the history of the game. Zo attended “Big Man U” Georgetown University. He wasn’t overly talented, but was great going to his right hand and finishing and a capable three point shooter in his prime.

GAME CHANGER

#62

Pete Maravich

Pete_Maravich_1977

Ever seen Jason “White Chocolate” Williams? Pistol Pete was first. A real Wiz with the ball, legend has it he dribbled a basketball everywhere he went as child. He also averaged 40 points a game in college playing for his dad at LSU. Legend also has it, he passed away while playing basketball. 

#61

Reggie Miller

1994-1995: Reggie Miller #31 of the Indiana Pacers plays against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

 Reggie Miller was a great shooter with an unorthodox shooting form. His sister Cheryl (considered the best women’s basketball player all time) challenged him in his youth to be the best player he could be. That, we believe translated to him being the adversary of Michael Jordan. For almost 20 years he was the best player on the Indiana Pacers. 

#60

Chris Bosh

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Bosh went from leading his Toronto team to being the third guy on a championship Miami Heat team. Solid player with a ton of skills. 

#59

Dominique Wilkins

dominique-wilkins-slam-dunk-champion

The Human Highlight Film was the best two foot jumper of his time. He windmill dunked his way through high school in South Carolina, Georgia University and the NBA. Nique was also a dynamo scoring the basketball. Left off from the 50 Greatest list, he let it be own that he was more than unhappy, as he should have been. 

#58

Kevin McHale

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McHale gave us the up and under out of the post, one of the few offensive moves that have become fundamental to the game of basketball. He was also the second best player on the Boston Celtics dynasty of the 1980’s. As the GM of the Minnesota Timberwolves drafted Kevin Garnett and gave him all of the jewels he needed to become the “KG” we know today.

#57

Nikola Jokic

Nikola Jokic

Career Under Construction

This is more projection than fact. Joker does have an MVP. He’s also the first point-center in the game. Certainly one of the best passing centers of all-time, a list that only includes Bill Walton as a comparable.

#56

Kyrie Irving

Kyrie_Irving

Career Under Construction

The best handle that the game has ever seen. Probably one of the purest basketball players that the game has ever seen. Injuries and his sometimes polarising thoughts have effected his availability to perform night in and out. 

#55

Ray Allen

Ray Allen

Top 5 shooter all-time and one of the next Michael Jordan clones of the late 90’s. Great athlete as well and very good ball handler, he was the primary player and star for the Milwaukee Bucks and the Seattle Supersonics.

#54

Bob Lanier

bob-lanier

Lanier is the best big man to put on a Detroit Pistons jersey. Big time skyhook. Face up game out the freethrow line. Great finisher. Equally as good rebounding. 

#53

Patrick Ewing

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Arguably the second best center to play for the Knicks. Never got over the hump to win a championship but was instrumental in New York being relevant.  

#52

Gary Payton

Gary Payton

GP was the standard for a defender at the point guard position. He played with Bay-Area flare and toughness. Led the Seattle Supersonics and the Los Angeles Lakers to the Championship before winning a championship the Miami Heat as a role player. 

#51

Chris Paul

chris-paul

If you’re painting a picture of the perfect point guard, CP3 is probably it. We should have reached out to music super-producer 9th Wonder as this is his Carolina brother. 

GAME CHANGER

#50

Allen Iverson

Allen_Iverson

NBA cultural Icon in the mid 90’s and 2000’s. Braids and tattoos were unheard of before him (with the exception of Dennis Rodman). A.I. was an unbelievable scorer and athlete for his size and was the world’s introduction to Hip-Hop on the basketball court.  

GAME CHANGER

#49

Bob Cousy

Bob_Cousy

There are a lot of things to say about Cousy. He had the first signature shoe, the PF Flyer. He was the first to be creative off of the bounce. He won championships. The easiest thing to say is that he is the Ford Model-T of the point guard position. 

#48

Clyde Drexler

clyde drexler

Athletic phenom. Clyde “The Glide” was second to Michael Jordan in the 80’s and 90’s. Clyde was the best player on a Portland Trailblazer roster that was loaded with talent, so much so that it played for championship eventually losing to the Chicago Bulls Dynasty. If he only had a left hand…

#47

Steve Nash

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The 90-50-40 guy. Has 2 MVPs that are often forgotten.

#46

Kawhi Leonard

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Career Under Construction

Second best two-way player of all-time behind Michael Jordan. Also incredibly efficient. Injuries have been a problem for him but when he does play, watch out. 

#45

Jason Kidd

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One of the best passing point guards in basketball history.

#44

Dennis Rodman

dennis rodman

Unique rebounder and defender that influenced winning. Rodman was part of two dynasties; Chicago Bulls and the Detroit Pistons. Reinvented himself into a premier rebounder and a cultural icon midway through his career. 

#43

Earl Monroe

earl-monroe

First true transferable handle in the game of basketball. Was called Black Jesus on the basketball court coming up in New York city. 

#42

Jamaal Wilkes

jamaal-wilkes

One the most talent players the game has ever seen. One of the most distinct jump shots forms as well.    

#41

Wes Unsled

wes_unseld

First big to master the full court pass after a rebound. Undersized center with toughness and grit. Unseld led the Washington Bullets to its only championship.

#40

Charles Barkley

Charles-Barkley

Undersized power forward, great rebounder and scorer.

#39

Dwight Howard

Dwight_Howard

Arguably the most athletic center the game has ever seen. Where his offense lacked is where his defense shined. 

Dwight had a run in the NBA that was legendary until the Boston Celtics stopped double teaming him in the playoffs. At that point we all figured out that he could not score one on one. When that happened, his role changed from defender to rebounder. As a rebounder, he was part of a championship team with the Los Angeles Lakers. 

GAME CHANGER

#38

Bill Walton

bill_waton

Arguably the best passing center the game has seen and one of the most skilled. Big Bill, a 70’s hippie and flower child was a winner at every level. Led the Portland Trailblazers to their only championship. He dominated college basketball at UCLA leading them to multiple national championships. Bill is another great player who was robbed of his best years with knee and ankle injuries. He was able to reinvent himself as a Sixth Man on the Boston Celtics on its way to a championship. 

#37

Willis Reed

Willis_Reed

Solid center and figure head for the New York Knicks, leading them to a couple of championships. His legacy looms large in the biggest city in the United States. 

GAME CHANGER

#36

Nate "Tiny" Archibald

Nate_Archibald

New York guard with a picture game. Beautiful jump shot and uncanny passing ability. Led the NBA in scoring and assist in the same season. 

Tiny can the considered the reason for the New York point guard. Before NYC Icon’s Kenny Anderson, Stephon Marbury and Rafer Alston, Archibald proved that the point guard position could lead a team in ways only bigs were thought to be able to accomplish. He also coached Fatman TRAV, the knowledgeable and polarising sports voice and host of Rich Risings on ClubHouse

GAME CHANGER

#35

George Gervin

george_gervin

Introduce the finger roll with flare to the game. Smooth player in his era. Started his career in the ABA. Entered the NBA via the merger. An admitted cocaine user, Gervin was one of the best at scoring the basketball with every little effort. 

GAME CHANGER

#34

Rick Barry

rick_barry

One of the best shooters and scorers during his era. Best known for shooting free throws under hand.

 With unpaid incentive monies due him, Barry shocked the basketball world when he jumped to the ABA’s Oakland Oaks, who overwhelmed him with a historic contract offer. Barry became the first marquee NBA player to jump to the rival league. Not only was the three-year agreement worth a reported $500,000, which would make him one of basketball’s highest-paid players, it afforded him the opportunity to play for his former college coach Bruce Hale, who was also his father-in-law. In addition, Barry received 15 percent ownership in the franchise as well as 5 percent of all ticket sales in excess of $600,000 for home games. He later returned to the NBA where he finished his career.

 

#33

John Stockton

john_stockton

Solid player who finished his career first in assists and steals in the NBA. “Stockton to Malone” became a catch phrase that was heard for more than a decade in Salt Lake City Utah. Stockton was one of the hardest screeners and notoriously tough. 

He was one of the first players to put Gonzaga on the map for basketball.  

GAME CHANGER

#32

Russell Westbrook

Russell_Westbrook_Rockets

Career Under Construction

Russ is probably, pound for pound the best athlete the NBA has seen. Couple that with averaging a triple-double 3 times for his career, He’s probably the hardest guy to stay in front of defensively and plays as hard as anyone in the league history.

Coming out of UCLA, Russ was drafted as an athlete by the Oklahoma CIty thunder. Paired with Kevin Durant and eventually James Harden, OKC went on to play for the championship and all three players have won an MVP. 

#31

James Worthy

James_Worthy

The best finisher during the 80’s. Active and athletic, he ran the floor better than any of the fowards in his era. He was part of the Los Angeles Lakers dynasty that led to him being the finals MVP. 

At the University of North Carolina, he was one of the best players on a national championship team that beat the Georgetown Hoyas.

#30

Scottie Pippen

SCOTTIE PIPPEN33

The original Swiss Army knife of basketball players. Scottie was the second best player in the NBA during the Bulls first championship run according to some great basketball minds and former players. 

GAME CHANGER

#29

James Harden

James-Hardenjpg

Career Under Construction

James is the most underrated player of all time. Has complete control of his offensive game. Arguably the best combo guard of all-time, maybe the best offensive player all-time. 

James’ effect on the fundamentals of basketball rivals that of Wilt Chamberlain. He developed a unique step-back jumper (sometimes considered a travel depending on who you ask), the “Zero Gather” and remastered the “Jail Dribble.”  He’s also the cause of the NBA changing its rule on initiating contact to draw fouls on defenders. James plays at a deliberate pace making the game poetic. If he could just win a championship… 

#28

Dwyane Wade

Dwyane-Wade

Freakishly athletic power guard. Played the game like a 6’9″ player at only 6’3″. Great rebounder, shot blocker and scorer.

D Wade, a Chicago native burst on to the scene after an incredible run in the NCAA National Basketball Tournament. He carried Marquette to the Final Four. He then turned Dade County into Wade County winning three championships.

#27

Manu Ginobili

Manu_Ginobili

This will catch some people off guard. 4x NBA Champion. NBA Sixth Man of the Year. Euro League Champ and Euro Finals MVP. FIBA Euro-cup MVP. Summer Olympics Basketball Tournament MVP. Didn’t invent the euro-step but definitely mastered it. Manu cold have started and always closed games. Some guys were just born to hoop. 

#26

Elvin Hayes

elvin_hayes

One of the best scorers in his era. Instrumental in establishing the power forward position.

#25

Elgin Baylor

Elgin_Baylor

Arguably the first of the scoring small forwards.

#24

Jerry West

jerry-west

The first combo guard to dominate in all phases of the game. One of the best clutch players in the history of the game. The NBA logo is Jerry West. 

GAME CHANGER

#23

Stephen Curry

Stephen_Curry

Career Under Construction

Best all around shooter of all time. Best regular season team record of all time, 73-9. The shooting depth that he has is uncanny. Although slated as a point guard, he’s more shooting guard. Curry plays with a freedom and joy that trickles down to the last player on the bench. 

His dad Dell Curry played in the NBA for a number of years as a three point marksman primarily with the Charlotte Hornets. A young Steph was able to shoot on NBA courts as a pre-teen developing the depth perception needed to shoot from distance. A lot of his success should be attributed to Mark Jackson who coached Curry at the start of his NBA career and encouraged Steph and Klay Thompson to shoot more three point shots than anyone had ever seen on a per game basis up to that point. Since everry team has implemented the philosophy. He’s also a gifted golfer.  

#22

Dirk Nowitzki

dirk_Nowitski

Dirk was the greatest shooter over 7’o” tall. The German national put the world on notice when won a NBA championship beating the Miami Heat led by Lebron James.

#21

David Robinson

david_robinson

The Admiral was a great scorer and rebounder for the San Antonio Spurs. Nothing flashy, just quick, athletic and skills that you would typically find in a power forward or a center.  

#20

Moses Malone

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Malone is the second player to make the jump from high school to the pros (Reggie Harding was the first). He touched down in the ABA and dominated the glass before winning a championship with the Philadelphia 76ers. 

#19

Kevin Garnett

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High school phenom that turned pro. KG played with the highest level of intensity of any player to grace the basketball court. 

#18

Isiah Thomas

Isiah-Thomas

Chicago’s finest, Zeke showed that the little guy could win  championships. The overall numbers were not high but the Detroit Pistons benefitted from his leadership and toughness. 

#17

Karl Malone

Karl_Malone

A man’s man on the court, Karl Malone’s game kept developing as he aged in the NBA. He mastered the mid-range jump shot. He mastered the rim run. Malone was one of the toughest (sometimes dirty) players to ever play.

#16

Bob McAdoo

Mcadoo_1973

An undersized center with the skill set of  a small forward. One of the best scorers and rebounders in the history of the game. The biggest difference between he and others like him this list is he won championships. McAdoo was a snub from the NBA 50 Greatest list somehow. 

GAME CHANGER

#15

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Bucks at Wizards 1/15/18

Career Under Construction

The Greek Freak embodies the imperfect perfection of a basketball player. The Nigerian born, Greek National is not the best shooter, but is one of the best finishers. He’s a lack luster free-throw shooter but great ball handler, especially in the full court. He outplays his matchup on both ends of the floor. He’s the most feared match up in the NBA. He will continue to move up the list year after year. 

GAME CHANGER

#14

Julius "Dr. J" Erving

julius-dr.j-erving

The creative high flying act and heart stopping dunks were started by Doc (and Connie Hawkins) in the ABA and on the playgrounds of New York. His large hands and long arms allowed him to move the ball around in traffic and finish. He’s revered as a true professional and first class man.  

GAME CHANGER

#13

Oscar Robertson

The predecessor to Russell Westbrook, the Big O was the  first player to average a triple double for a season in the NBA. 

GAME CHANGER

#12

Kevin Durant

kevin_durant

Career Under Construction

Most efficient scorer in NBA history with four scoring titles to prove it. KD’s guard skills at 6’11” make him impossible to guard. 

#11

Bill Russell

bill Russell

The Model T of the center position, William Felton Russell played hard and blocked shots at as high level as any player in league history. The most winning player in NBA history. Boston’s Sis Run founder Greg Canzater should enjoy this. 

#10

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant

The best one on one player the game has ever seen. Facts over Feelings on Clubhouse co-founder Andrea Black won’t like this but Kobe draws comparisons to Michael Jordan, but he wasn’t the same force. He was incredible with his ability dissect defenders and create scoring opportunities along with being a great on ball defender. If there is a draw back to Kobe’s career, its that he was the second best player on his team during the Laker’s three-peat. Shaquille O’Neal was such a force, one could argue that the Lakers were going to win with any of the premier shooting guards at that time. 

Kobe’s unfortunate passing has left a void in basketball. He was doing is best work in basketball after his career with his daughter, women’s basketball and the globalisation of the game. His following loves him and would want him ranked higher but if we are being fair, this is where he should be.

GAME CHANGER

#9

Hakeem Olajuwon

Father of footwork, Olajuwon morphed into a basketball ballet dancer in the low post, making some of the greatest centers in the game look mediocre. He still influences the game of basketball with his summer workouts and sponsoring African born players coming to the United States. 

#8

Tim Duncan

Arguably the best power forward of all time. Prototypical and sound at the position. Reinvented the bank shot. A good rebounder for the time and plenty of championships to go along with his play. Coachable and quiet, he went about the business of winning. 

#7

Larry Bird

larry_bird

French Lick Indiana’s own Larry “Legend” Bird skill and feel for the game rival any player in the history of the game. Bird is one of the best shooters, scorers and passers that the game has seen. With very little athleticism, he filled stat sheets and the Boston Garden, trashing talking his opponents the entire time, so much so that Dr. J punched him in the mouth. 

GAME CHANGER

#6

Wilt Chamberlain

The second most dominant player that the game has ever seen. Wilt’s numbers are gaudy, scoring 100 points in a game and averaging 50.4 points and 25.7 rebounds per game in a season.

GAME CHANGER

#5

Shaquille O'Neal

Shaquille_O'Neal

Shaq is the most dominant force that the game has seen. In his prime at 7’2″ and 300 pounds his agility and strength were off the meter.  Where he lacked in skill, he more than made up in brute force and production. 

GAME CHANGER

#4

Earvin "Magic" Johnson

The greatest point guard and passer the game has ever seen. At 6’9″, he could see and make every play and added flare to the game creating a cult that still follows the Los Angles Lakers. Magic contracted HIV in the latter part his career shutting down his career.

GAME CHANGER

#3

Lebron James

Right out of high school, dominated the NBA. Lebron is a combination of Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson on and off the court. His size, strength and speed was uncanny in his prime. Add one most intelligent players and great passers that the game has seen from the forward spot.  Nurse Practitioner and basketball enthusiast Shannon Griffin will have Lebron at number one which is also ok. 

GAME CHANGER

#2

Michael Jordan

If your building the perfect perimeter scorer, MJ is the mold. His overall athleticism is amazing and got the most out himself every night. His overall quickness is the stuff of legend. Basketball scout and connoisseur Ian Powers had to remind us that they called him the “Black Cat.” As good on defense as offense and possibly the most competitive athlete in any sport, MJ started his career with a lot of athletic ability and left us with a fadeaway jumper that no one could guard. The Bulls were the first team to build a dynasty without having a dominant big. MJ’s influence on the culture with his shoe line is legendary and may not be duplicated.   

GAME CHANGER

#1

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

A shock to some and sobering for others, Lew Alcidor was the number one player in high school before converting to Islam and changing his name to Kareem Abdul Jabbar.

Jabbar finished his high school career with over 2,000 points and 2,000 rebounds. His team went 95-6 in a three-year span.

He became one of the biggest recruiting prizes in sports history, and one that paid off when he arrived at UCLA. He won three national championships and two National Player of the Year awards as a Bruin.

Kareem Adbul Jabbar is dominated NBA for 20 years, college and high school basketball while leaving us with the most unstoppable move in NBA history, the Sky Hook.  

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Randy Holcomb

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