30. Patrick Ewing
Previous Rank: 37
Best Season:28.6 pts 10.9 reb 4.0 blk FG%.551 PER: 25.8
Career:21.0 pts 9.8 reb 2.4 blk FG%.504 PER: 21.0
Peak:4 Years 1988-92 25.5 pts 10.6 rebs 2.4 asts 1.1 stls 3.4 blks 53.7%FG PER 23.6 47.4 win shares
Accolades:11x AllStar (’86,’88-’97) 7x All-NBA Team (’88-’93,’97) 3x All-Defensive Team (’88-’89,’92) All Rookie First Team (’86) Rookie of the Year (’86) 20th All-Time in Career Scoring. 24th All-Time in Career Rebounds. 6th All-Time in Career Blocks.
Why he moved: I was simply disrespectful in my ranking
Ewing went to college with a lot of hype around him and came to the NBA with the same amount of expectations. Whether or not he lived up to it depends on who you speak to, but regardless you cannot deny he was a great center in a time when there were many other great big guys. Ewing had the problem pretty much every great player had in the 90s which was Jordan. Ewing and the Knicks probably would have one more if not for the killer that Jordan was alongside Scottie Pippen. The best thing Ewing did for his team was be a defensive anchor for a hard nose defense. From the moment he stepped into the NBA he was expected to do great things and became the face for the New York Knicks for more than a decade. His biggest knock is coming up short in big moments. Against the Rockets in his only finals appearance ever he actually played in Hakeem dominated him in every aspect of the game, or missing a lay-up that would have won the series against the Indiana Pacers the following year. Despite his major shortcomings dating back to college you cannot deny the man’s physical ability to be a monster on the hardwood.29. John Havelicek
Previous Rank: 29
Best Season:28.9 pts 9.0 reb 7.5 ast PER 20.8
Career: 20.8 pts 6.3 reb 4.8 ast PER 17.5
Peak:4 years 1968-72 25.5 pts 8.0 rebs 6.8 asts 44.5%FG
Accolades:8x NBA Champion (’63-66,’68-’69,’74,’76) Finals MVP (’74) 13x Allstar (’66-’78) 11x All-NBA Team (’64,’66,’68-’76) 8x All-Defensive Team (’69-’76) 13th All-Time Career Leader in Scoring.
Why he stayed: Hondo was an ultimate champion leading the Celtics to two championships in the post Bill Russell era and in the latter half of Bill Russell’s years Havelicek was the best player on the Celtics. He was a tremendous two way player. The championships separate him from the rest.
Hondo is seen by many fans that know NBA lore as the 3rd best Celtic ever. He changed the course of games a numerous amount of times. He shares the NBA Finals record for most points in an over-time. He was the first guy to be known for his clutch play and bring championships. (No offense J. West) You can’t bring him up without bringing up the 1965 NBA Finals. The Celtics were up in game 7 110-109. Bill Russell just had a late turnover giving the Sixers a chance to win the game. Hondo tipped the pass from Hal Greer and saved their ring as everyone surely knew the ball would go to Wilt. He became the first player to scored 1,000 points in 16 straight seasons. His aggressive tenacity on both sides of the ball lead the team to multiple championships. Two of those rings came without Bill Russell. Many people considered him the best all-around player at the time. Without Hondo, the Celtics do not have the large amounts of success they had throughout the 60s and 70s.
28. Scottie Pippen
Best Season:21.4pts 8.1 reb 5.2 ast 2.9 stl 1.1blk FG%.480 PER:22.6
Career:16.1 pts 6.4 reb 5.2 ast 2.0 stl FG% .473 PER 18.6
Peak:4 years 1993-97 20.7 pts 7.4 rebs 5.6 asts 2.4 stls 47.7%FG PER 22.0 48.3 win shares
Accolades:6x NBA Champion (’91-’93, ’96-’98) 7x Allstar (’90,’92-’97)7x All-NBA Team( ’92-’98)10x All-Defensive Team (’92-’00) Steals leader(’95)
Why he moved: I simply fell into the trap of MJ making him everything and not respecting Pippen as an individual player.
Michael Jordan could not be what he was without Scottie. Scottie was an elite defender. I rank him over Jordan as a defender despite Jordan having a defensive player of the year award. Scottie always took on the other team’s best player. If you believe Scottie has been overhyped because he was on Jordan’s team you would be very wrong. When Jordan took a very short retirement in the middle of the 90s, Scottie was one play away from making the Eastern Conference Finals. That last play he was not given the chance to put his team over the top like he very well could have. Later on in his career he was with the Trailblazers and was on the wrong end of a great moment against Kobe and Shaq in the playoffs. Scottie Pippen without a doubt deserves to be where he is, because remember that without him Jordan would have never gotten past the Pistons.
Previous Rank: 28
Best Season:29.8 pts 10.7 reb 4.8 ast 1.7 stl 3.3 blk FG%.507 PER 30.7
Career:21.1 pts 10.6 reb 1.4 stl 3.0 blk FG%.518 PER 26.2
Peak:3 Years 1993-96 27.5 pts 11.2 rebs 3.6 asts 1.6 stls 3.3 blks 51.7%FG PER 29.8 55.7 win shares
Accolades:2x NBA Champion (’99,’03) League MVP (’95) 10x All Star (’90-’96, ’98,’00-’01) 10x All-NBA Team(’90-’96,’98,’00-’01) 8x All-Defensive Team (’90-’96,’98) Defensive Player of the Year (’92) All-Rookie First Team (’90) Rookie of the Year (’90) Scoring Champion (’94) Rebounds Leader (’91) Blocks Leader (’92) 5th All-Time Career Leader in Blocks.
Why he moved: The Admiral was a force on both sides of the ball. He led the league in points, rebounds, and blocks. All of those show how complete of a center Robinson was. Surprisingly David Robinson moved up in my rankings because of the drop from others that were orignally above him.
The Admiral could do it all. He was a top 3 defender in his time. He could score at will. And when I say he could score at will I mean it. He wanted to take the scoring title one year so in the final game of the regular season he scored 71 points. Only five other players in history have scored 70+ points in a game. (Elgin Baylor, Kobe Bryant, Wilt Chamberlain, and David Thompson.)That happened because he simply felt like it. His rookie year he gave the Spurs the biggest season turnaround in history at that time. They won 35 more games than they had the year before. They went to the second round and lost in 7 games to the Trailblazers who went on to represent the West in the Finals. All just in his rookie year. For many years following though a ring had eluded him. In the 1996-97 season Robinson missed most of the season, which only proved to be a blessing in disguise. ( The Spurs won the lottery and drafed Tim Duncan.) Two years later Robinson alongside Tim Duncan captured a ring against the Knicks. Robinson stuck around on the team long enough to be a part of the 2003 championship team. In his final game he scored 13 points and recorded 17 rebounds.
26. Elvin Hayes
Previous Rank: 27
Best Season:28.4 pts 17.1 reb FG.447
Career:21.0 pts 12.5 reb 2.0 blk FG%.452
Peak:6 Years 1968-74 25.4 pts 16.3 rebs 51.3 win shares
Accolades NBA Champion (’78) 12x Allstar (’69-’80) 6x All-NBA Team (’73-77,’79) 2x All-Defensive Team (’74-’75) All-Rookie First Team (’69) Scoring Champion (’69) 8th All-Time Career Leader in Scoring. 4th All-Time Career Leader in Rebounds. 22nd All-Time Career Leader in Blocks.
Why he moved: Elvin Hayes gets overlooked a lot. Most of that has to do with the time he played in, which was seen as the dark ages of basketball. He had one of the shorter careers in the league, but still managed to be 8th in scoring and 4th in rebounds for a career. He could have been higher up the list for blocks as well if the stat did not come until later in his career. I previously had Hayes a bit too far back and that number 26 was the perfect place for him.
Hayes came into the league immediately making noise. He lead the league in scoring his rookie year and is the last person to ever do so. The following year he lead the league in rebounding and was the first player to do so since 1957 that was not named Wilt Chamberlain or Bill Russell. He was traded to the Baltimore Bullets and paired with Hall of Famer Wes Unseld. The two lead the team to the Finals three different seasons. (1975,1978,1979) Hayes has the Finals record of having the most offensive rebounds in a game (11). He played at least 80 games every single season showing you just how durable he was. His career numbers bring him above the competition, yet he does not get enough recognition for what he did since he was a part of the dark ages of basketball in the 70s.
25. Isiah Thomas
Previous Rank: 17
Best Season:21.2 pts 13.9 ast 4.5 reb 2.3 stl PER 22.2
Career:19.2 pts 9.3 ast 1.9 stl PER 18.1
Peak:4 Years 1983-87 21.0 pts 11.5 asts 2.2 stls 46.7%FG
Accolades:2x NBA Champion (’89-’90) Finals MVP (’90) 12x Allstar (’82-’93) 5x All-NBA Team (’83-’87) All-Rookie First Team (’82)7th All-Time Career Leader in Assists. 14th All-Time Career Leader in Steals.
Why he moved: Isiah Thomas is an amazing player, but I believe I had him ranked just a bit too high before and moved him down in favor of other modern day players.
The leader of an often forgotten Bad Boys Pistons team, Isaiah Thomas was the face of all that was wrong with the NBA in many fans’ eyes. That was because Isaiah would do anything to win and that went for his team as well. The team was not cheating or winning in a cheap way. They beat teams psychologically by beating them down physically haven took teams completely out of their games. There are many things even myself, who does not like Isaiah Thomas can admit; he was robbed of many awards that he should not have been. There was never a point in time while Thomas was in his prime that John Stockton was ever better than him. So, Isaiah missed more first all NBA teams than he should have. He was then was not allowed to play on the Dream Team as many of the players said they would refuse to play with him. He was greatness out on the court. And was able to do it all, score, pass, lockdown his man, and close out games. Isaiah Thomas had the best game of the modern era in the ’88 NBA Finals. Going down to a nasty ankle injury somehow Isaiah locked into some unimaginable focus and went back into the game with his foot the size of a cantaloupe. Putting the team on his back scoring 14 in the 3rd quarter all while not able to put pressure on his hurt ankle. Despite the loss that game everyone understood now how bad the Pistons and Isaiah wanted to win. They got redemption the following two years. Sweeping the Lakers the next year and beating the Trailblazers in 5 the following year. Whether you like him or not does not matter to him, (and believe me I don’t) you have to respect the man’s game. Sad part is the way he handled losing the torch was by him and Bill Lambier leading the team out of the Bulls arena before the game was over.
24. Chris Paul
Best Season:22.8pts 11.0ast 5.5reb 2.8stl FG%.503 PER 30.0
Career: 18.8 pts 9.9 ast 4.4 reb 2.3 stl 47.3%FG PER 25.7
Peak:3 Years 4.7 rebs 11.2 asts 2.6 stls 49.5%FG 37.7%3PT PER 27.9 43.3 win shares
Accolades 9x All-Star(’08-’16) 8x All-NBA Team(’08-’09,’11-’16) 8x All-Defensive Team(’08-’09,’11-’15) Rookie of the Year(’06) All-Rookie first team(’06) 4x assists leader(’08-’09,’14-’15) 6x Steal leader (’08-’09,’11-’14)
Chris Paul this high might seem like a surprise for some, but I believe it is warranted. As far as point guards go, he is one of the most efficient players to ever play the game. Honestly is there a flaw in his game? He is an efficient scorer, passer, great rebounder for a 6’0 guard, and is one of the best defensive players we have seen at the position. If he could finally reach that championship gold he so badly wants people would lift him to top 15 players of all time status and it would be valid. Chris Paul was tremendous in New Orleans, but lately he has been almost reaching that level of play over the last two years. There is always the idea that Chris Paul is a choker somehow in the playoffs which is so far from the truth. Chris Paul is the 4th best point guard of all time.
23. Julius Erving
Previous Rank: 19
Best Season:26.9 pts 7.4 reb 4.6 ast 2.2 stl 1.8 blk FG%.519 PER 25.9
Career:22.0 pts 6.7 reb 1.8 stl 1.5 blk FG%.506 PER 22.0
Peak:4 Years 1978-82 24.7 pts 7.4 rebs 4.4 asts 51.9%FG PER 24.1 47.6 win shares
Accolades NBA Champion (’83) League MVP (’81) 11x Allstar (’77-’87) 7x All-NBA (’77-’84)
Best Game:December 12th, 1982 against the Detroit Pistons recorded 44 points on 69.0% from the field 11 rebounds 7 assists and 8 blocks.
Why he moved: Dr. J was a tremendous player, but his one ring came at the expense of being the 2nd best player where Moses won MVP and Finals MVP during his time with Erving. That along with the fact his numbers are not insane in the NBA it knocked him down a few pegs.
Why he stayed: Julius Erving would be much higher if this list included the ABA. With that being said I was very close to dropping Dr. J a few spots. This is coming from a Philadelphia 76ers fan. I have always felt that Dr. J gets overrated for his NBA career as he was not the best player on his team as soon as Moses came along even though somehow everyone forgets about Moses. With that being said Erving was tremendous during his time in the NBA. He was an MVP and led a team to the finals very early in his NBA career. The 76ers were nothing before he came. As soon as he came to the team though they became a 50 win team and that cannot be take lightly.
The doctor was one of the best players to watch ever. His style of play has transcended the NBA. The way he glided through the air was something to watch. He dominated the ABA but that was seen as a cheap ring. First he faced Bill Walton who was a dominant center his first 2 years in the league. Then he got to go against Magic Johnson his rookie year when Magic arguably had his best game ever playing center in game 6 of that Finals. The Doctor needed help badly as he had nothing around him offensively outside of himself. Then he got Moses Malone. Moses gave him the extra boost he needed to get over the hump. He beat Magic in the second matchup in a clean sweep. Julius had his best year that Playoff run doing everything you could possibly ask him to. What he did for the game is the greatest of all of his accomplishments. Without Julius Erving there is no Michael Jordan.
22. Dwyane Wade
Previous Rank: 13
Best Season:30.2 pts 5.0 reb 7.5 ast 2.2 stl 1.3 blk 49.1%FG PER 30.4 14.7 win shares
Career:23.7 pts 4.8 reb 5.8 ast 1.7 stl 48.8%FG PER 24.7 113.8 win shares
Peak:3 years 2008-11 27.5 pts 5.4 rebs 6.2 asts 1.8 stl 1.2 blk 48.9%FG PER 28.0 40.6 win shares
Accolades:3x NBA Champion (’06,’12-’13) Finals MVP (’06) 10x Allstar (’05-’14) 8x All-NBA Team (’05-’07,’09-’13) 3x All-Defensive Team (’05,’09-’10) All-Rookie First Team (’04) Scoring champion (’09)
Why he moved: Simply because I had Wade way higher than he should have been. Also there is just too much wrong with his championship in 2006. If you do not know what happened that year then you can find multiple articles breaking it all down. With that though I still believe Wade to be a superstar talent who whether or not I agree with it has a ring. The knees have been trying to keep him down, but with the great offseason the Miami Heat just had we could be seeing more from Wade this coming year.
Wade has been struggling with his health lately but when his body allows him to do what he wants he could easily be the best player in the game. He has an inhuman touch around the rim and has the ability to come up in big moments defensively or offensively. He has been incredibly efficient throughout his career shooting nearly 50% for his career. He’s the best weak side shot blocker from any wing player ever. Even though fans of the NBA know him as LeBron’s sidekick for the last 3 years let’s not forget that Wade was the best player in the Playoffs in 2011. He averaged over 30 points a game in the Finals that year. He also had the best Finals series statistically for a guard since Jordan against the Mavs in 2006 averaging 39 points 8 rebounds 2.5 steals and a block per game for the final 4 games of that series. He’s been forced to take a backseat but do not be surprised if he comes back at full throttle now that LeBron is no longer in Miami.
21. Rick Barry
Previous Rank: 25
Best Season:35.6 pts 9.2 reb FG%.451 FT%.888
Career:23.2 pts 6.5 reb 5.1 ast 2.0 stl
Peak:4 Years 1973-74 24.6 pts 6.0 rebs 6.1 asts 2.4 stls 45.0%FG PER 20.9 41.2 win shares
AccoladesNBA Champion (’75) Finals MVP(’75) 8x Allstar (’66-67,’73-78) 6x All-NBA Team (’66-’67,’73-’76) Rookie of the Year (’66) All-Rookie First Team (’66) Scoring Champion(’67)
Why he moved: Rick Barry was a dominating player throughout his career. He has taken situations where he is the clear underdog and somehow comes out on top. He got by Cousy because of a deeper league, and because Rick Barry had his team in contention every year.
Barry had an interesting career. He went from being a completely dominant scorer to the distributer of the offense. A knee injury in the 1968-69 season caused him to change his game. Bringing his assists numbers from three to around six. He was lethal around the rim in the beginning of his career and became deadly from outside later on in his tenure as a basketball player. He lead the Warriors to a championship in 1975 beating the Bullets in a clean sweep. Nobody expected this to happen with the Bullets winning 12 more games in the regular season than the Warriors did. He’s known as the ultimate underdog as his team always came out on top with a huge gap in talent that the opposing teams had. He could potentially be even higher if I was taking the ABA into consideration on this list. He had the best career average of any player in any professional league averaging 30.5 points per game.