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Top 10 Best NBA Players of All Time Rankings

Ranking the best basketball players of all time in honor of the 75 year anniversary of the NBA

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By admin | October 27, 2021

The question all NBA experts and fans love to debate is who the Top 10 NBA Players of All-Time are and which of those ten NBA greats is the greatest of All-Time. While the debate can be made for many of those ten options, it is very difficult to put an exact correct order list together as the game has evolved from the start of the game to what is played on the court today. From the evolution of dunking to the insertion of the three point shot to the physical attributes and skills of today’s players.

Despite the question mark of who is the greatest, a few of the same names show up on each Top 10 NBA Players of All-Time debate. Those same names include four time MVP Wilt Chamberlain, five time NBA MVP Michael Jordan, 11 time NBA Champion Bill Russell and three time NBA MVP Magic Johnson. While these are on four of those ten greats, they each shared many things in common including the league MVP awards, NBA Championships and NBA Finals MVP awards. 

Since we are now entering the 75th anniversary of the NBA the debate is even bigger. As the debate over who should be number one continues, here is our list of the Top 10 NBA Players of All-Time. 

Honorable Mention

Larry Bird

Team(s): Boston Celtics

Career Stats: 24.3 Pts, 10 Rebs, 6.3 Asts

Outside the NBA Top 10 NBA Players of All-Time is Larry Bird. However, it is hard to look past Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics and his ability to shoot the basketball.

Bird, who is considered one of the NBA greatest shooters and three point threats, while finishing his career averaging 24.3 points a game to go with 10 rebounds and 6.3 assists per contests.

The Celtics Great won three straight Three Point Championships, won three NBA MVP Awards, two NBA Finals MVP Awards and helped lead the Celtics to three NBA Championships. Bird was one of nine players currently who is a part of the 50-40-90 club (50% field goal percentage, 40% three point percentage and 90% free throw percentage) during an NBA Season. 

Accolades:

  • 3x Most Valuable Player (1984 – 1986)
  • 2x Finals Most Valuable Player (1984, 1986)
  • Rookie of the Year (1980)
  • All-Star Game Most Valuable Player (1982)
  • 12x All-Star (1980 – 1988, 1990 – 1992)

Top 10 NBA Players

10. Hakeem Olajuwon

Team(s): Houston Rockets & Toronto Raptors

Career Stats: 21.8 Pts, 11.1 Rebs

Looking at some of the Greatest NBA Players of All-Time, Hakeem Olajuwon is one name that is well deserving of a spot within or near the Top 10 in the history of the NBA.

Olajuwon who was drafted number one overall by the Houston Rockets during the 1984 NBA Draft out of Houston put together a stellar NBA career while delivering the Houston Rockets back to back NBA Championships in 1994 and 1995.

During the 1994 NBA Season, Olajuwon not only helped lead the Rockets to the NBA Championship but he also took home the NBA MVP award and Defensive Player of the Year award during the regular season becoming the first player to play in the NBA to accomplish the feat.

Over his career, Olajuwon averaged 21.8 points a game to go with 11.1 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game. In his 18 year career, Olajuwon averaged at least 20 points in 13 of those seasons and at least 10 rebounds 12 times.

His production on the court led to him being named to 12 NBA All-Star teams, six all NBA First Team honors, two Defensive Player of the Year awards, five NBA All-Defensive First team honors while leading the NBA twice in rebounds and three times in blocks.

Accolades:

  • 2x Defensive Player of the Year (1993 – 1994)
  • 2x Finals Most Valuable Player (1994 – 1995)
  • Most Valuable Player (1994)
  • 12x All-Star (1985 – 1990, 1992 – 1997)

9. Wilt Chamberlain

Team(s): Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors, Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Lakers

Career Stats: 30.1 Pts, 22.9 Rebs

Wilt Chamberlain may get overlooked now as the game of basketball has evolved but it is hard to not appreciate what he could do on the hardwood. In a game that featured no three point shot, no dunking and a style that is not played today.

Despite that, Chamberlain was as good as any player in the history of the NBA on both ends of the floor and a proven double-double machine. Over his NBA Career, Chamberlain averaged 30.1 points a game to go with 22.9 rebounds a game becoming the first and only NBA player to ever average at least 30 points and 20 rebounds.

When his career ended, Chamberlain held multiple NBA records including holding the record for most points in a single NBA game finishing with 100 points. Other impressive feats include averaging over 30 points a game in nine straight seasons including averaging 44.8 points in 1962-1963 and 50.4 points in 1961-1962.

Accolades:

  • 4x Most Valuable Player (1960, 1966 – 1968)
  • 13x All-Star (1960 – 1969, 1971 – 1973)
  • All-Star Game Most Valuable Player (1960)
  • Rookie of the Year (1960)
  • Finals Most Valuable Player (1972)

8. Shaquille O’Neal

Team(s): Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics

Career Stats: 23.7 Points, 10.9 Rebounds, 2.3 Blocks

The man, the myth and the legend named Shaq was as dominant and as forceful as any player on the list of the Top 10 NBA Players of All-Time. Over his NBA career, Shaquille O’Neal showcased his power, shattering NBA backboards to even bringing the hoop down to the floor.

His power made him a force to stop within the paint and one that nearly no one in the NBA could slow down. This helped Shaq to one NBA MVP award while leading his teams to four NBA championships including three straight with the Los Angeles Lakers and fellow great Kobe Bryant.

When his career was over, O’Neal averaged 23.7 points a game to go with 10.9 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game while winning three NBA Finals MVP Awards, making 15 NBA All-Star teams, winning the 1993 NBA Rookie of the Year Award and leading the NBA in scoring in two different seasons.

Accolades:

  • Most Valuable Player (2000)
  • 3x Finals Most Valuable Player (2000 – 2002)
  • Rookie of the Year (1993)
  • 3x All-Star Game Most Valuable Player (2000, 2004, 2009)
  • 15x All-Star (1993 – 1998, 2000 – 2007, 2009)

7. Tim Duncan

Team(s): San Antonio Spurs

Career Stats:  19 Pts, 10.8 Rebs, 3 Ast

Since his arrival at the NBA stage, Tim Duncan showcased his ability to be a leader and one of the best players in the NBA. Duncan who in his early stages of his career helped for the Twin Towers and another San Antonio Spurs great David Robinson can play both the four and five spots while being one of the most polished players of his generation.

His leadership and skills helped the Spurs to win five NBA Championships while taking home three NBA Finals MVP awards while earning two NBA MVP Awards.

Duncan was one of the best defensive players in the game earning eight selections to the NBA All-Defensive First team. When his career ended, Duncan averaged 19 points a game to go with 10.8 rebounds and three assists per game.

Accolade(s):

  • 15x All-Star (1998, 2000-2011, 2013, 2015)
  • Rookie of the Year (1998)
  • 3x Finals Most Valuable Player (1999, 2003, 2005)
  • All-Star Game Most Valuable Player (2000)
  • 2x Most Valuable Player (2002-2003)

6. Bill Russell

Team(s): Boston Celtics

Career Stats: 15.1 Pts, 22.5 Rebs, 4.3 Asts

When thinking about the Top 10 NBA Players of All-Time it is hard to look past the man who helped the Boston Celtics to become the dynasty they were during the late 1950’s and throughout the 1960’s.

Over that stretch, the Celtics won 11 NBA Championships while Russell took home five NBA MVP Awards including three straight from 1961 to 1963. In addition, Russell led the NBA in rebounds in four different seasons, grabbed 50 rebounds in a single game and finished his career averaging 15.1 points a game to go with 22.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game.

Accolades:

  • 5x Most Valuable Player (1958, 1961 – 1963, 1965)
  • 12x All-Star (1958 – 1969)
  • All-Star Game Most Valuable Player (1963)

5. Magic Johnson

Team(s): Los Angeles Lakers

Career Stats: 19.5 Pts, 7.2 Rebs, 11.2 Asts

One man who could do it all is the former Los Angeles Lakers great and NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson. Johnson, who was classified as an NBA point guard, could play all five spots on the hardwood and play them at a high level.

Long before the transition of athletic big men handling the offense, Johnson accomplished that feat while becoming one if not the greatest point guard of All-Time.

Johnson, who dominated at the college level put together a stellar NBA career finishing with three NBA MVP Awards, three NBA Finals MVP Awards, led the NBA in assists four different seasons and led the NBA in steals in two different seasons. This success on the floor helped Johnson to average 19.5 points a game over his career to go with 7.2 rebounds and 11.2 assists per contest.

Accolade(s):

  • 3x Most Valuable Player (1987, 1989, 1990)
  • 3x Finals Most Valuable Player (1980, 1982, 1987)
  • 2x All-Star Game Most Valuable Player (1990 – 1992)
  • 12x All-Star (1980, 1982 – 1992)
  • 4x Assists Leader (1983 – 1984, 1986 – 1987)

4. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Team(s): Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers

Career Stats: 24.6 Pts, 11.2 Rebs, 2.6 Blks, 3.6 Asts

As good as anyone on this list is the former Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The man who was known for his sky hook and his ability to score, ended his NBA career averaging 24.6 points a game to go with 11.

Rebounds and 3.6 assists. His 38,387 points a game led him past Chamberlain for All-Time scoring leader and a record that still stands in 2021. His performance on the floor helped his teams to six NBA championships while he also earned two NBA Finals MVP.

Other accolades for Abdul-Jabbar included being a six time NBA MVP, the NBA Rookie of the Year in 1970, five time NBA Defensive First Team and a 19 time NBA All-Star.

Accolades:

  • 6x Most Valuable Player (1971, 1972, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1980)
  • 2x Finals Most Valuable Player (1971, 1985)
  • Rookie of the Year (1970)
  • 19x All-Star (1970 – 1977, 1979 – 1989)
  • 2x Scoring Champion (1971, 1972)

3. LeBron James

Team(s): Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers

Career Stats: 27 Pts, 7.4 Rebs, 7.4 Asts

The one man who could eventually pass Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA All-Time scoring leader is current Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James. James currently sits number three All-Time just behind Karl Malone and only 3,020 points behind the top spot.

As his career continues, James continues to move up the rankings while dominating the game. James, who has been known for his ability to play any spot on the floor has helped lead his teams to four NBA Championships while he took home four NBA Finals MVP Awards.

James is a 17 time NBA All-Star while winning four NBA MVP Awards, leading the NBA in scoring and assists and was named NBA Rookie of the Year. While his legacy ranks near the top of the game, his career is still not over as he continues to rank as one of the NBA top stars year in and year out.

Accolades:

  • 4x Most Valuable Player (2009, 2010, 2012, 2013)
  • 4x Finals Most Valuable Player (2012, 2013, 2016, 2020)
  • Rookie of the Year (2004)
  • 3x All-Star Game Most Valuable Player (2006, 2008, 2018)
  • 17x All-Star (2005 – 2021)
  • Scoring Champion (2008)

2. Kobe Bryant

Team(s): Los Angeles Lakers

Career Stats: 25.0 Pts, 5.2 Rebs, 4.7 Asts, 1.4 Stls

One thing is for certain and that is the Los Angeles Lakers have produced a few of the Top 10 NBA Players of All-Time. Another name and former Lakers on this list is the great Kobe Bryant who was drafted out of high school and eventually becoming one of the greatest of All-Time.

Bryant finished his career with five NBA Championships, two NBA Finals MVP, an NBA MVP award, 18 trips to the NBA All-Star Game and led the NBA in scoring in two different seasons.

Along with his performance on the offensive side of the floor, Bryant was one of the best defensive players of his generation earning nine spots on the NBA All-Defensive first team. Bryant finished his career averaging 25 points a game to go with 5.2 rebounds and 4.7 assists.

Accolades:

  • Most Valuable Player (2008)
  • 2x Finals Most Valuable Player (2009, 2010)
  • 2x All-Star Game Most Valuable Player (2009, 2011)
  • 18x All-Star (1998, 2000 – 2016)
  • 2x Scoring Champion (2006, 2007)

1. Michael Jordan

Team(s): Chicago Bulls, Washington Wizards

Career Stats: 30.1 Pts, 6.2 Rebs, 5.3 Asts, 2.3 Stls

The top overall spot of the Top 10 NBA Players of All-Time could have easily gone to one of the other top four or five players on the list. However in the end, Michael Jordan put together a resume that compares or out performs any other resume that can be displayed.

Jordan was a six time NBA Champion, six time NBA Finals MVP and five time NBA MVP. Along with those numbers Jordan was a 10 time NBA Scoring Champion, scored 32,292 points over his career, averaged 30.1 points a game and won the NBA Rookie of the Year Award.

On top of his offensive performance, Jordan was one of the best defenders in the NBA when on the floor winning a defensive Player of the Year Award in 1988 while earning nine spots on the All-Defensive First team. Jordan could do it all on the hardwood and it helps him to be considered the Great NBA Player of All-Time.

Accolades:

  • 5x Most Valuable Player (1988, 1991, 1992, 1996, 1998)
  • 6x Finals Most Valuable Player (1991 – 1993, 1996 – 1998)
  • Rookie of the Year (1985)
  • 3x All-Star Game Most Valuable Player (1988, 1996, 1998)
  • 14x All-Star (1985 – 1993, 1996 – 1998, 2002, 2003)
  • 10x Scoring Champion (1987 – 1993, 1996 – 1998)
  • Defensive Player of the Year (1988)

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Players Count 10
  1. Kevin Garnett

    G.O.A.T.
  2. Karl Malone

    G.O.A.T.
  3. Elvin Hayes

    G.O.A.T.
  4. Kevin McHale

    G.O.A.T.
  5. Elgin Baylor

    G.O.A.T.
  6. James Worthy

    G.O.A.T.
  7. Dominique Wilkins

    G.O.A.T.
  8. Jerry West

    G.O.A.T.
  9. Oscar Robertson

    G.O.A.T.
  10. Dirk Nowitzki

    G.O.A.T.
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