HOOP Top 50, 20-11

Last week, HOOP Magazine’s Hot Takes and Shot Fakes launched their Top 50 All-Time players discussion.

Hosts Josh Eberley and Jabari Davis, along with super producer Jaime Oppenheim each compiled their own list and spent the majority of the podcast going over the merit and inconsistencies of each pick.

If you missed it, you can catch the banter on iTunes here or on Soundcloud here.

Below is a summary of picks 20-11.

50-41 can be found here

40-31 can be found here

30-21 can be found here

Jabari Davis Josh Eberley Jaime Oppenheim
20. Karl Malone Charles Barkley Isiah Thomas
19. John Stockton Kevin Garnett Dirk Nowitzki
18. Oscar Robertson Dirk Nowitzki Bob Pettit
17. Elgin Baylor Julius Erving Steph Curry
16. Moses Malone Jerry West Kevin Durant
15. Julius Erving Oscar Robertson Jerry West
14. Jerry West Kevin Durant Kobe Bryant
13. Steph Curry Steph Curry Shaquille O’Neal
12. Kevin Durant Moses Malone Moses Malone
11. Tim Duncan Kobe Bryant Julius Erving

20.

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Davis: Karl Malone

Easily one of the greatest power forwards of all time, as we mentioned last week, 2nd all-time in scoring. Just so happened to play at a time when the Lakers were the dominant team in the West early in his career and once they were no longer the main road block, he was dealing with the back half of Jordan’s prime.

 

Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Eberley: Charles Barkley

It really is a shame concepts like true shooting percentage and player efficiency rating give The Round Mound of Rebound hives because they prop up his greatness. Barkley was a force, physically but also as an efficient scorer who could stretch the floor.

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Oppenheim: Isiah Thomas

It’s easy to forget that before Steph Curry, point guards being the best player on a championship team wasn’t really a thing. Isiah Thomas was the lone exception. Zeke was a winner, and his impact on basketball-frantic Chicago remains massive.

19.

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Davis: John Stockton

If we are not counting Magic Johnson as a “pure point guard” due to the height advantage he enjoyed at the position, as has been intimated in a previous episode, then Stockton would have to be considered the best “pure point.” Whether you’ve got him at No. 1 or somewhere in the top three at the position, that’s incredible company to be with. Leads the league in assists by a wide margin and he is still the all-time steals leader.

David Sherman/NBAE/Getty Images

Eberley: Kevin Garnett

Garnett wasn’t given the Finals MVP, but he was the best player on a championship team. It launched the era of super teams and his success prior to Boston was limited but Garnett had no fatal flaw. Elite as a defender with the ability to run an offense and stretch the floor from the four slot.

Glenn James/NBAE/Getty Images

Oppenheim: Dirk Nowitzki

You can count on one hand the number of players in NBA history who had an unguardable shot – Dirk’s one of them. He’s got the ring, the MVP trophy, and the game to rank this high. The only question left is can he supplant the late Drazen Petrovic as the most impactful European player ever.

18.

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Davis: Oscar Robertson

The Big O was one of those guys that played during the ‘60s and ‘70s but would probably fit relatively well in today’s game. He was a 6’5, hybrid point guard that rebounded and assisted similarly to what we’ve seen out of Westbrook over the last few years, only Robertson did it throughout his entire career. 12x All-Star, MVP (’64), Hall of Fame.

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Eberley: Dirk Nowitzki

His offense wasn’t just great, it was elite. It opened doors many teams didn’t know existed and his iconic shot has been replicated by the best scorer in today’s game (Durant). Nowitzki toiled for 50-win team after 50-win team and finally reached the pinnacle in 2011. They don’t make them like Dirk anymore.

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Oppenheim: Bob Pettit

The first player to win the NBA MVP award. The first two-time MVP award winner. The first player to score 20,000 points in a career. Third highest rebounding average in league history, behind Wilt and Russell. At some point you have to stop criticizing the 50’s and 60’s and just respect the accomplishments.

17.

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Davis: Elgin Baylor

Baylor was another guy that would probably fare well against today’s competition as he was a 6’5 small forward with great athleticism especially for the time when he played. Always felt for him as he actually retired the season the Lakers finally won a ring with that group in the early 70s, but Baylor still goes down as one of the all-time greats even without the benefit of the title to polish things off.

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Eberley: Julius Erving

Discounted slightly for lesser competition in the ABA, Dr. J won titles and awards in both leagues. A freak athlete that could rebound and distribute as well. Side note, an MVP tie is so lame!

Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

Oppenheim: Steph Curry

Curry won’t stay this low for long and has a legitimate chance at cracking the top 10 when all is said and done. He’s not only the greatest shooter of all time and a two-time MVP, he’s been a major influence in the evolution of the current game.

16.

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Davis: Moses Malone

So, this is a name you may remember from such fun moments as me mistakenly placing him at 36 a couple episodes again. Well, all is right in the world and this 3x MVP, Hall of Famer and former champion is right where he belongs this time around.

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Eberley: Jerry West

The Logo! I didn’t give him executive points like Oppenheim, but he doesn’t need them. A freak shooter and scorer without a three-point line to boot. Stuck between a rock and the Celtics dynasty, the one ring is underwhelming but understandable.

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Oppenheim: Kevin Durant

It’s hard to separate Durant and Curry. Steph should get the nod for winning without Durant, but KD is bigger and a better defender. If you were going to start a team with one of the two, you’d probably pick Durant.

15.

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Davis: Julius Erving

Erving, essentially, fulfilled the Michael Jordan role prior to Jordan entering the league and did it in both the ABA and NBA. Combined, the Hall of Famer was a 4x MVP, was a champion in both leagues and was a 16x All-Star.

Vernon Beiver/NBAE via Getty Images

Eberley: Oscar Robertson

The conversation on Robertson was fluid. Underrated or overrated, hard to say. What we know is his talent and physical attributes were unmatched by any other guard in the era. However, like Kobe Bryant or Russell Westbrook, the high usage and accrual of bulk numbers may have limited team success early on.

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Oppenheim: Jerry West

The League’s best executive was also a pretty good hooper way back when. West was a pure scorer who topped 30 points per game four times in his career without the benefit of the three-point line. He finally got a ring in his 13th NBA season and then added eight more in the front office.

14.

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Davis: Jerry West

He’s the Logo for a reason. Had West was a combo-guard that had a career scoring average of 27.0 ppg without the benefit of the three-point line (introduced to the NBA in 1979-80). He’s a 14x All-Star, 5x All-Defensive player and could be considered the greatest shooter of the late ’60s and early ’70s.

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Eberley: Kevin Durant

Four scoring titles, two rings, two Finals MVP awards and a regular season MVP. Durant’s resume is growing rapidly and you can’t ignore it regardless of how you feel about the decision to join Golden State.

Nathaniel S. Butler/ NBAE via Getty Images

Oppenheim: Kobe Bryant

I know he won two Finals MVP awards, but Kobe didn’t exactly light up basketball’s biggest stage without Shaq. In six trips to the Finals, Kobe only shot better than 43 percent once. He’s got the five rings, but I’m still not sure if he deserves as much credit for those as Jordan and LeBron.

13.

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Davis: Steph Curry

Greatest shooter of all time. Period. Not sure why so many people were hell-bent on diminishing his initial rise, but Curry has done a great deal to silence those that doubted him. He’ll probably wind up being considered a top-3/4 player in the history of his position when all is said and done.

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Eberley: Steph Curry

Three rings, a unanimous MVP, the best player on a 73-win team and he’s not done yet. It felt weird to place both Curry and Durant this high–it’ll be even weirder three-to-four years from now when top 10 isn’t out of the question.

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Oppenheim: Shaquille O’Neal

There’s no arguing that Shaq wasn’t one of the most dominant forces in NBA history, but he should’ve been so much more. With his size and athleticism, he never became an elite defensive player, and although his game was more nuanced than people give him credit for, he doesn’t compare with the top tier.

12.

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Davis: Kevin Durant

Durant, like his current partner in crime in Steph Curry, will undoubtedly move higher on this proverbial list once he hangs them up. For now, even with what he’s already accomplished, it is safe to put him in the top-20. As much as the narratives are against him now, history will be far kinder as his resume is going to be impossible to deny.

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Eberley: Moses Malone

Three MVP awards shouldn’t make him the often-forgotten man in the all-time big-man conversation, but he often is. A hellacious prime and stupid longevity should make it impossible to forget the Chairman of the Boards, but some do. *Looks at J.D.*

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Oppenheim: Moses Malone

Malone has three MVP awards, the same as Magic and Bird. You can make a legitimate claim that he’s the best rebounder in NBA history. The only thing keeping him outside of the top 10 is only having one ring.

11.

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Davis: Tim Duncan

Whether you consider him a power forward or a center, Duncan is one of the greatest big men to ever lace them up. He can get caught up in the “peaks vs longevity” conversations when it comes to these lists, but there is no question whether his name belongs among the greatest big men the game has seen.

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Eberley: Kobe Bryant

One MVP, five rings, two Finals MVP awards, and one hell of a long run as a top player. Bryant is the most polarizing figure of my lifetime and his fans and critics alike bang loud, as evidenced by the last podcast. All his successes and all his faults aside, he’s one of the absolute best to ever touch a ball and his scoring was a thing of beauty.

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Oppenheim: Julius Erving

If you combine his ABA and NBA award tally, Erving’s resume is as good as any: four MVP awards and three championships. If the ABA was a lesser league, the Doctor proved he could get the job done post-merger and might just be the coolest player to ever lace ’em up. That counts.