After a lot of hard work to put this together here is my top 100. Just to make things clear I want to go over what I see as my criteria. Everything in basketball matters. It is not just stats, pure dominance, championships, winning, or how much a player has been able to carry a team. It is all about impact for me. The question I ask myself about modern players is if they retired tomorrow who would they be over? So, none of these rankings will be off potential or anything of that sort, but more so where I believe they stand today. I take into account the era players played in, so this is not all about if player X from the 60s could play in era Y. That is taken into to account as is everything else. I am open to debate so if you have any questions or challenges against those listed below feel free to comment your own opinion and start a discussion. To avoid overload and just listing all of this at once, every day following this one will release the next 10 players in the list. If you missed one of the 10 there will be links posted above and at the bottom for the following lists. Without further ado go through and criticize my list.
100. Sam Jones
Best Season:25.9 pts 5.1 rebs 45.2%FG
Career:17.7 pts 4.9 rebs 45.6%FG
Peak:3 years 1964-67 23.9 5.0 rebs 3.0 asts 45.7%
Accolades:10x NBA Champion (’59-’66,’68-’69) 5x All Star (’62,’64-‘66,’68) 3x All NBA Team (’62,’64-66,68)
Sam Jones was a key piece for all those championship Celtic teams. He was a designated scorer leading the team in points per game in three different seasons for the team and averaged 20 or more points in four consecutive years on a team that prided themselves on their teamwork and ball movement. His clutch scoring saved the team on many occasions as he was known to come up big when they needed him most. Sam Jones was not just along for the ride on 10 championship teams. He also owns the 4th highest scoring game in franchise history with 51 against the Pistons in 1965.
99. Glen Rice
Best Season:26.8 pts 4.0 reb 47.7%FG 47.0%3PT
Career:18.3 pts 4.4 reb 45.6%FG 40.0%3PT
Peak:4 years 1994-98 23.2 pts 4.4 reb 47.0%FG 43.5%3PT
Accolades:NBA Champion (’00) 3x All-Star (’96-’98) 2x All NBA Team (’97-’98)
Glen Rice was a sniper and could heat up in a hurry and scored 30 points 128 times, 40 points 16 times, and for this area of this list that is pretty impressive. Rice became the spearhead for a young and hungry Hornets team that featured him and Larry Johnson as the leading scorers. Rice even did so well that he finished top 5 in the MVP race of 96-97 getting more votes than Gary Payton, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Patrick Ewing. The team with Rice at the helm never quite found success, but for a 2-3 year stretch he was a top 10 player in the league arguably.
98. Yao Ming
Best Season:25.0 pts 9.4 rebs 2.0 blk 51.6%FG PER 26.5
Career:19.0 pts 9.2 rebs 1.9 blk 52.4%FG PER 23.0
Peak:3 years 2005-08 23.0 pts 10.2 rebs 1.9 blks 51.4%FG PER 24.8
Accolades:8x All Star (’03-’09,’11) 5x All NBA Team (’04,’06-’09) All Rookie First Team
Yao Ming was an international icon in the NBA and launched the league into a new age of foreign players from that point forward. His impact off the court was just as great as his impact on the court, but sadly we only got to see very small portions of what that could have been. Yao Ming had injuries plague him his whole life, but was absolutely dominant in the few seasons he was able to play. He was 7’6 and instead of being a banger inside like most would expect, he was a man who preferred the finesse game. He was a perfect counterpart to Shaq’s ferocity at the time, and the few battles they had were special. Yao Ming could have been one of the top 50 players to ever do it if he could have avoided so many deteriorating injuries, that ultimately forced him to retire.
97. Rajon Rondo
Best Season: 10.6 pts 4.4 rebs 11.2 asts 2.3 stls
Career:11.0 pts 4.8 rebs 8.7 asts 1.8 stls
Accolades: NBA Champion (’08) 4x All Stars (’10-’13) All NBA Team (’12) 4x All Defensive Team (’09-’12) All Rookie 2nd Team(’07) 3x Assists leader (’12-’13,’16)
Rajon Rondo has had some ups and downs lately, but there is no denying his impact during his time with the Celtics. He was a general on the floor that included the likes of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen. The game I will always personally remember him for was his game against the Miami Heat in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals, with his team down 0-1 Rondo recorded 44 points, 8 rebounds, and 10 assists, in a valiant effort to push his team to a win. Even though his team came up short it was the defining bookmark in Rajon Rondo’s career.
96. Manu Ginobli
Best Season: 19.5 pts 4.8 rebs 4.5 asts 46.0%FG 40.1%3PT
Career:14.0 pts 3.7 rebs 4.0 asts 45.0%FG 36.9%3PT
Peak:4 years 2004-08 16.8 pts 4.3 rebs 3.9 asts 46.4%FG 39.1%3PT
Accolades: 4x NBA Champion (’03,’05,’07,’14) 2x All Star (’05,’11) 2x All NBA Team (’08,’11) Sixth Man of the Year (’08)
Manu came over and gave the Spurs just about everything they needed. When his time in the league is up he will be remembered for his crafty finishes around the basket and his efficient 3 point shooting. He popularized the eurostep we see players use regularly today. Manu has been a pillar for the Spurs’ consistency over the past 15 years along with Tony Parker, and Tim Duncan. If you are too young to know about the best of Manu just think of Harden on a smaller scale and a lot less isolations. The game I remember him for would have to be during the championship run in 2005 against the Seattle Supersonics in the semifinals. It was game 5 with the series tied 2-2 after Seattle had just won game 4 fairly easily, Manu came out into game 5 and dropped 39 points
95. Shawn Marion
Best Season: 21.8 pts 11.8 rebs 52.5%FG PER 23.6 14.6 win shares
Career:15.2 pts 8.7 rebs 48.4%FG PER 18.8 124.9 win shares
Peak: 6 years 2001-07 19.7 pts 10.3 rebs 47.9%FG PER 21.3 59 win shares
Accolades:NBA Champion (’11) 4x All Star (’03,’05-’07) 2x All NBA Team (’05-’06) All Rookie Second Team (’00)
Shawn Marion has been greatly underappreciated in his time in the league. He is one of the greatest defenders of this turn of century, and was named to 0 all defensive teams. I have no clue what the writers had against him, but that is a complete travesty.Marion was a force of nature and even though he was only 6’7. He dominated the glass like a 7 footer and sent shots to the cheap seats like no man his size had ever done. That’s not to suggest he was a one sided player though either. He had two years shooting above 35% from 3 and two years scoring 20+ points a game. The fact that Larry Hughes has had an all defensive selection and Marion has not. This alone shows just how wrong the voters were on this one.
94. Dikembe Mutombo
Best Season: 11.0 pts 11.8 rebs 4.5 blk 9.4 win shares
Career:9.8 pts 10.3 rebs 2.8 blk 117.0 win shares
Peak:3 years 1993-96 11.5 pts 12.1 rebs 4.2 blk 25.7 win shares
Accolades: 8x All Star (’92,’95-’98,’00-’02) 3x All NBA team (’98,’01-’02) 4x Defensive Player of the Year (’95,’97-’98,’01) 6x All Defensive Team (’95,’97-’99,’01-’02) 2x rebounding leader (’00-’01) 3x block leader (’94-’96)
Mutombo will always be known for signature finger wag after send a man’s shot into the cheap seats. He was a defensive force throughout his career and has gone down as one of the best rim protectors and post defenders of all time. Even at the age of 35 Mutombo was such a force that he won Defensive Player of the Year in arguably his most impressive season being so dominant at that end at such an old age for NBA players. The moment of Mutombo’s that will go down in history as his greatest moment, was when the Denver Nuggets took down the #1 seeded Seattle Supersonics in a series that Mutombo averaged 6.2 blocks per game.
93. Lenny Wilkins
Best Season: 22.4 pts 6.2 rebs 8.2 asts 44.0%FG
Career:16.5 pts 4.7 rebs 6.7 asts 43.2%FG
Peak: 6 years 1967-73 19.8 pts 5.0 rebs 8.8 asts 43.9%FG
Accolades:9x All Star (’63-’65,’67-’71,’73)
Lenny Wilkins is more remembered for his coaching career than his playing career, but it is worth mentioning that he was a great player in his own right. He had the Hawks in the playoffs all the time but they were missing the piece needed to make some real noise. Basically the same Hawks of the past 40 years. His last year in Atlanta he finished 2nd in MVP voting behind Wilt Chamberlain. He was later traded to the Sonics where he eventually became a player-coach and had the team steadily improving year by year. Then the Sonics traded Wilkins in a move that baffled many Cavs where he had his last two productive years before retiring as a Trailblazer. His basketball IQ is what he is known best for which was showcased even further in his career as a coach.
92. Walt Bellamy
Best Season:31.6 pts 19.0 rebs 2.7 asts 51.9%FG
Career:20.1 pts 13.7 rebs 51.6%FG
Peak:5 years 1961-65 26.8 pts 16.5 rebs 2.5 asts 51.5%FG
Accolades: 4x All Star (’62-’65)
Walt Bellamy was a scoring and rebounding machine right out of the gate in the NBA having his best season statistically his rookie season. Many historians will point back to Wilt and Russell’s individual dominance over the big man, but he was dominant in his own right in a time when giants were running the league. Bellamy didn’t have much success in the playoffs. Some of this was due to his play and some of it was due to the team just simply being outmatched. Bellamy was extremely efficient in a time that there was not many efficient scorers in the league, which he deserves to be commended for.
91. Amar’e Stoudemire
Best Season:25.2 pts 9.1 rebs 2.1 blks 59.0%FG 14.6 win shares
Career:18.9 pts 7.8 rebs 53.7%FG
Peak:4 years 2007-11 23.9 pts 8.6 rebs 54.5%FG
Accolades: 6x All Star (’05,’07-’11) 5x All NBA Team (’05,’07-’08,’10-’11) Rookie of the Year(’03) All Rookie First Team (’03)
Amar’e was the main scoring option in the notorious 7 second offense. The Steve Nash-Amar’e Stoudemire pick & roll, was the best we have seen since the great Stockton-Malone connection. He was a dunking machine and was extremely efficient while going to the rim. Later in his career he set out to go on his own and joined the New York Knicks. Amar’e was having a hell of a season for the first 53 games averaging, 26.1 points per game, 8.6 rebounds per game, and doing so on 50.1%FG. He started to falter after the Knicks traded for Carmelo and the entire offense went into a funk not knowing quite what they wanted to be and they paid for it. What Amar’e should be remebered for though is his dominating 05 playoff run. Against Dallas in the 2nd round Amar’e averaged 28.8 points, 12.5 rebounds, and did so on 54.5%FG. Then against the Spurs a whole new beast came out. Amar’e against the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals averaged, 37.0 points per game with his lowest output being 31 points, 9.8 rebounds per game, and all while shooting 55.0%FG.