NBA’s Greatest 75 Players: Ranking the top peaks in NBA history, 26-50

Our countdown of the highest 75 participant peaks in NBA historical past continues.

Overlook All-Star appearances, ring counts, or profession accomplishments, we’re trying squarely at on-court skill in a participant’s absolute prime. In different phrases, When you might choose any participant in historical past, with the hopes of profitable the title instantly, not realizing the period, guidelines, coach, or teammates — who would you select?

In case you missed it, Part 1 of our countdown spanned the NBA’s complete 75-year historical past, bridging the hole from George Mikan and Bob Cousy to Joel Embiid and Derrick Rose. It included three of the best shooters of all-time, the 2 finest in-game dunkers in NBA historical past and historic clutch-time shot makers.

TOP 75 PEAKS: 75-51

Later this month, the NBA will likely be asserting its 75 biggest gamers in celebration of the league’s seventy fifth season. As an alternative of the best 75 careers, we’re placing our personal spin on it and trying as a substitute at particular person peaks. Doing so on this method permits for celebrating the fleeting, but extraordinary peaks of gamers like Rose, Penny Hardaway and Grant Hill, three gamers whose start-to-finish careers don’t precisely replicate their spectacular primes.

Take a look at Half 1 for an entire clarification of our methodology. Lengthy story brief: we polled over 50 NBA consultants and compiled all of their rankings to create our closing high 75.

At present, we’re counting down from 50 to 26. Let’s go. 

MORE: Top 50 storylines entering the NBA season

(Getty/SN Illustration)

50) Bob McAdoo

  • Highest MVP end: 1st (1975)
  • First/Second-Workforce All-NBA alternatives: 2
  • Peak personified: Averaged 37.4 factors per recreation in 1975 postseason, the identical 12 months as profitable the MVP and scoring title.

49) Kevin McHale

  • Highest MVP end : 4th (1987)
  • First/Second-Workforce All-NBA alternatives : 1
  • Peak personified: Named First-Workforce All-NBA and First-Workforce All-Protection in 1986-87, one season after main all gamers (together with each Larry Fowl and Hakeem Olajuwon) in scording throughout the NBA Finals. 

48) George Gervin

  • Highest MVP end: 2nd (1978 & 1979)
  • First/Second-Workforce All-NBA alternatives : 7
  • Peak personified: Received 4 scoring titles in 5 years, making him one among solely 5 to win a minimum of 4 scoring titles. 

47) Jason Kidd

  • Highest MVP end: 2nd (2002)
  • First/Second-Workforce All-NBA alternatives: 6
  • Peak personified : Averaged a triple-double in 2002 Jap Convention Finals, main the Nets to their first Finals for the reason that NBA merger in 1976.

46) Dwight Howard

  • Highest MVP end: 2nd (2011)
  • First/Second-Workforce All-NBA alternatives : 8
  • Peak personified : Led the Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals in the course of his Defensive Participant of the 12 months three-peat. 

McAdoo put up his finest particular person numbers bravely on non-contenders, solely to win his one and solely title as a Laker. A tune many groups know effectively.

Kidd’s signature second was a tricky one to hone in on, he would possibly let you know it was profitable a title over the Heatles in 2011 however being the final on back-to-back Finals groups nonetheless stands out.

There was a time when you might argue Howard was the second finest participant within the league, which isn’t any small feat given a few of the names he sat alongside. The displayed two-way dominance early in his profession shouldn’t be forgotten behind the shenanigans and bumpy stops later in his profession.

MORE: The Lakers have five of the NBA’s 10 oldest players

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45) Clyde Drexler

  • Highest MVP end: 2nd (1992)
  • First/Second-Workforce All-NBA alternatives : 5
  • Peak personified: Led Path Blazers to NBA Finals twice in three seasons, averaging 23.3 factors, 7.5 rebounds and seven.3 assists over that span.

44) Grant Hill

  • Highest MVP end: third (1997)
  • First/Second-Workforce All-NBA alternatives: 5
  • Peak personified: Named First or Second-Workforce All-NBA 5 straight seasons from 1995-06 through1999-00, ending within the high 10 of MVP voting in all 5 seasons.

43) Rick Barry

  • Highest MVP end: 2nd (1970)
  • First/Second-Workforce All-NBA alternatives: 6
  • Peak personified: At simply 22 years of age, Barry pumped in 40.8 PPG within the NBA Finals in opposition to the Philadelphia 76ers.  

42) John Havlicek

  • Highest MVP end: 4th (1972)
  • First/Second-Workforce All-NBA alternatives: 11
  • Peak personified: Led the Celtics in scoring in three completely different NBA Finals en path to profitable eight championships, tied for the third-most ever.

41) Tracy McGrady

  • Highest MVP end: 4th (2002 & 2003)
  • First/Second-Workforce All-NBA alternatives: 7
  • Signature accomplishment: Successful the 2002 scoring title, McGrady turned the primary participant to common 32 or extra PPG in a season since Michael Jordan. 

Was Drexler’s defining second battling with Jordan within the Finals or getting it executed over the Magic as a member of the Rockets 5 years later? Supplier’s alternative.

Folks get cheeky when discussing the early Celtics juggernaut however Hondo was no slouch throughout his titles, profitable the latter two with out Invoice Russell on the squad, the place he secured a Finals MVP for his efforts. 

McGrady and Hill are each surrounded by what-if discussions, each gamers appeared to have a shot at being the league’s high canine and noticed that chance savagely ripped away as a consequence of accidents, are they in the appropriate order right here?

(Getty; SN Illustration)

40) Bob Pettit

  • Highest MVP end: 1st (1956 & 1959)
  • First/Second-Workforce All-NBA alternatives: 11
  • Peak personified: Pettit’s Hawks beat Russell’s Celtics to safe the 1958 title and no different workforce would beat those self same Celtics over the following eight years. 

39) Russell Westbrook

  • Highest MVP end: 1st (2017)
  • First/Second-Workforce All-NBA alternatives: 9
  • Peak personified: Westbrook averaged a triple-double over the course of the season for the primary time since Oscar Robertson did it in 1961-62. (After which he did it three extra occasions for good measure.)

MORE: Is Westbrook still a top-5 point guard?

38) Luka Dončić

  • Highest MVP end: 4th (2020)
  • First/Second-Workforce All-NBA alternatives: 2
  • Peak personified: Youngest participant ever to make a number of All-NBA groups.  

37) Nikola Jokic

  • Highest MVP end: 1st (2021)
  • First/Second-Workforce All-NBA alternatives: 3
  • Peak personified: The one participant in NBA historical past to common 25 factors, 10 rebounds and 5 assists per recreation for a profession within the postseason. 

36) Anthony Davis

  • Highest MVP end: third (2018)
  • First/Second-Workforce All-NBA alternatives: 4
  • Peak personified: The one participant to attain extra factors whereas formally main the NBA in blocks per recreation is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Pettit stands alone in a grouping of in any other case trendy gamers. Few noticed Pettit play and numbers from the ‘50s inform an neutral story at finest however his identify has turn into legend. How might it not whenever you shut a finals with a 50-point vs. Russell’s Celtics.

Dončić could have had the perfect statistical three-year begin to a profession ever and he did it with out taking part in a minute within the NCAA, critics be damned. A high 40 end with out profitable a playoff sequence is madness and on the identical time, he simply averaged 36-8-10 in a playoff sequence that featured Kawhi Leonard and Paul George on the perimeter.

Westbrook, Dončić, Jokic, and Davis all ending this shut with a single voter being a lot greater in every occasion is anarchy, comedy, or each. All 4 gamers had a median score of 85 and three decimal locations have been wanted to separate Jokic and Davis. The great news is that NBA Twitter will take this calmly and  in stride, proper?

(Getty; SN Illustrations)

35) Steve Nash

  • Highest MVP end: 1st (2005 & 2006)
  • First/Second-Workforce All-NBA alternatives: 7
  • Peak personified: Received back-to-back MVP awards and led Suns to NBA’s finest offense for six straight seasons from 2004-05 by 2009-10

34) Patrick Ewing

  • Highest MVP end: 4th (1989, 1993, & 1995)
  • First/Second-Workforce All-NBA alternatives: 7 
  • Peak personified: In 1989-90, turned the primary and solely participant to common over 28 factors, 10 rebounds and 4 blocks per recreation

33) Invoice Walton 

  • Highest MVP end: 1st (1978)
  • First/Second-Workforce All-NBA alternatives: 2
  • Peak personified: Delivered Portland’s solely title after defeating Julius Erving’s 76ers and adopted that up by profitable MVP the following 12 months regardless of lacking 24 video games 

32) Chris Paul

  • Highest MVP end: 2nd (2008)
  • First/Second-Workforce All-NBA alternatives: 10
  • Peak personified: Led the NBA in each offensive win shares and steals per recreation in the identical season twice.

31) John Stockton

  • Highest MVP end: seventh (1989)
  • First/Second-Workforce All-NBA alternatives: 11
  • Peak personified: Retired with over 5,000 extra assists than some other participant. At his retirement, the hole from Stockton to second was bigger than the hole from second to forty eighth.

Nash’s peak is unassuming, the back-to-back MVP awards apart, his playstyle and Mike D’Antoni’s rules led to an offensive revolution that he didn’t absolutely get to capitalize on. There’s little doubt at the moment, Nash’s numbers can be hit with an insane quantity of juice.

Walton is perhaps the perfect instance of a peak vs. profession booster. Arguably the perfect participant within the league at his apex, he hit a title, a Finals MVP, and an MVP in a two 12 months span. Is 33 too excessive or too low for Walton?

Paul and Stockton ending neck-and-neck is perhaps maddening and but their careers shaking out fairly related from an achievements standpoint. Paul sits fifth all-time in each assists and steals chasing Stockton’s data however was Stockton truly higher at his peak, a query value chewing on.

(Getty; SN Illustration)

30) Scottie Pippen

  • Highest MVP end: third (1994)
  • First/Second-Workforce All-NBA alternatives: 7
  • Peak personified: After going 57-25 in 1992-93, Pippen’s Bulls gained 55 video games the next season regardless of Michael Jordan’s retirement

29) Allen Iverson

  • Highest MVP end: 1st (2001)
  • First/Second-Workforce All-NBA alternatives: 7
  • Peak personified: The 2001 MVP carried Sixers to the Finals and dealt the 2001 Lakers their solely lack of the playoffs

28) James Harden

  • Highest MVP end: 1st (2018)
  • First/Second-Workforce All-NBA alternatives: 7
  • Peak personified: Scored a minimum of 30 factors in 32 straight video games, the 2nd-longest streak in NBA historical past and twice so long as some other guard (subsequent: Kobe Bryant, 16)

27) Isiah Thomas

  • Highest MVP end: fifth (1984)
  • First/Second-Workforce All-NBA alternatives: 5
  • Peak personified: One of the best participant on back-to-back title groups, Thomas and his Unhealthy Boy Pistons additionally bounced Michael Jordan, Larry Fowl and Magic Johnson in the identical postseason.

26) Elgin Baylor

  • Highest MVP end: 2nd (1963)
  • First/Second-Workforce All-NBA alternatives: 10
  • Peak personified: Averaged 40.6 PPG in 1962 NBA Finals, his 61 factors in Recreation 5 are nonetheless a Finals document. 

Pippen’s six rings are his calling card. Truthful or foul, it’s exhausting to inform his story with out mentioning Jordan however the success of the Bulls within the one 12 months they have been entrusted to Pippen speaks volumes to simply how gifted he was at his peak.

We’re reaching absolutely the legend part of the record. Isiah Thomas is likely one of the most celebrated winners of all-time, Harden is likely one of the most celebrated gamers to not win of all-time, what an fascinating juxtaposition. This record seeked to free gamers, a minimum of in a part of their circumstances and simply acknowledge the expertise of every candidate at their peak. Harden is the one participant within the high 30 to not play in a finals, so maybe it’s doing simply that.

Hold your eyes out for 25-11 dropping tomorrow!

Thanks once more to the superior collaborators who took time to pitch in for this mission!

Contributors: Micah Adams, Quenton Albertie, Andy Bailey, Rod Beard, Ryan Blackburn, Shawn Coleman, Ben Collins, Kevin Cottrell, Adria Crawford, Evan Dammarell, Spencer Davies, Jabari Davis, Shamit Dua, Travonne Edwards, Farbod Esnaashari, Beau Estes, David Gardner, Andy Glockner, Dan Greenberg, Lauren Gunn, Nicolas Henkel, Chase Hughes, Josiah Johnson, Jason Jones, Dragonfly Jonez, Trey Kerby, Alex Kramers, Dieter Kurtenbach, Mitch Lawrence, Josh Lloyd, Jason Maples, Danny Marang, Oliver Maroney, Kelly Melvina, Janelle Moore, Matt Moore, Law Murray, Krishna Narsu, Eric Newman, Ashley Nicole Moss, Zak Noble, Gina Paradiso, Jeff Pearlman, Andrew Potter, Sam Quinn, Eustacchio Raulli, Billy Reinhardt, Andrew Sharp, Keith Smith, Allana Tachauer, Justin Termine, Brad Townsend, Roosh Williams, Ti Windisch, Ant Wright, Trill Withers, and Su York. | NBA’s Biggest 75 Gamers: Rating the highest peaks in NBA historical past, 26-50


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