HOOP Top 50: 50-41

By Josh Eberley #41, Jabari Davis #24, Jaime Oppenheim #7

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 the first 10 picks from each guy and some justification for the selection.

Jabari Davis Josh Eberley Jaime Oppenheim
50. Bill Walton Allen Iverson Anthony Davis
49. Dominique Wilkins Vince Carter Gary Payton
48. George Gervin Manu Ginobili Chris Paul
47. Carmelo Anthony Reggie Miller Dwight Howard
46. Dwight Howard Kawhi Leonard Patrick Ewing
45. Gary Payton Bob Cousy James Harden
44. Clyde Drexler Ray Allen Dolph Schayes
43. Rick Barry Bob Pettit John Stockton
42. Kevin McHale George Gervin Willis Reed
41. James Worthy Walt Frazier Paul Pierce

 

50.

Vernon Biever/NBAE via Getty Images

Davis: Bill Walton

Walton would have absolutely been a candidate for the top-20 in League history had injuries not decimated so much of his career during what would have been his prime years. He’s a Hall of Famer, 2x champion, Finals MVP (1977 with Portland) and multi-time All-Star. His best year was the 1976-77 season in which his Blazers eventually won the title: 18.6 PPG, 14.4 RPG (led league), 3.8 APG, 3.2 BPG (led League) on 52.8 percent from the floor and 69.7 from the line.

Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images/NBAE

Eberley: Allen Iverson

An MVP, 11x All-Star, and 4x scoring champ with an iconic playoff run to boot. Iverson’s style and flair made him impossible to root against. Despite being undersized and at times a volume shooter, Iverson still found a way to be one of the most impactful players of his generation on and off the court.

Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images

Oppenheim: Anthony Davis

This wouldn’t be a controversial selection if Davis wasn’t drafted by the Pelicans. It’s not his fault neither the city nor the owners care about basketball. Davis has performed at an incredibly elevated level on both ends of the floor since his second season.

49.

Jonathan Daniel/NBAE/Getty Images

Davis: Dominique Wilkins

Affectionately known as ‘The Human Highlight Film’ during his playing days, Wilkins was exactly that. Wilkins was the perfect blend of sheer athleticism and power to go with the grace and fluidity of a smaller guy at from his era. He’s another guy that would likely be higher on this list. Only difference is, his injury came later in his career, so his positioning is more of a result of his lack of overall playoff success.  He is a Basketball Hall of Famer and was a 9x All-Star. Best year: probably the ’85-86 season where he finished 2nd in MVP voting and averaged 30.3 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 2.6 APG, 1.8 SPG on 46.8 percent from the field and 81.8% from the line.

Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images

Eberley: Vince Carter

Carter is an eight time All-Star, he’s heading into his 21st season, and he’s the greatest in-game dunker of all-time. But all of those accomplishments pale in comparison to what he did for the Canadian fan base and basketball in Canada. Carter was the iron that stirred the hearth, getting Canadian’s across the nation to take note of the Toronto Raptors and the NBA on a whole. Beyond that, his elite scoring and borderline supernatural athleticism made him must watch TV for a decade.

Jeff Reinking/NBAE/Getty Images

Oppenheim: Gary Payton

The Glove is the best defensive point guard I’ve ever seen – no one played Jordan tougher in the Finals. I wonder if we would appreciate those Sonics teams more if basketball in Seattle didn’t get sucked into a black hole.

48.

Anthony Neste/NBAE via Getty Images

Davis: George Gervin

While lazy player comparisons are far too common, we’re absolutely going to make a convenient one in saying: Imagine a slightly shorter KD (as a scorer) that did much of his damage from inside the arc and you have the lethal scoring force that was George “Iceman” Gervin.  Gervin is a Hall of Famer, 12x All-Star, 4x scoring champ and finished second in MVP voting in 1977-78 and 1978-79. Gervin’s best year was probably the 1979-80 season: 33.1 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 2.6 APG on 52.8 percent from the floor and 85.2 from the line.

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Eberley: Manu Ginobili

There’s only one collection of Olympic gold in the last 30 years that does not belong to the USA and it’s the array of medals handed out to Argentina in 2004. Ginobili lifted Argentina over the indomitable Americans (in the process triggering a reform to USA Basketball) and cemented his place in history as an all-time great. Throw in four NBA championships, two All-NBA acknowledgements, and a stifling level of awareness and sacrifice—there was no way he could be left off this list.

Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images

Oppenheim: Chris Paul

CP3’s resume speaks for itself: 9x All-Star, 8x All-NBA, and 9x All-Defensive Team. That said, I don’t consider him a “special” player and wanted to keep him off my list. I’ve never been convinced he makes teammates better and his lack of playoff success is well-documented.

47.

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Davis: Carmelo Anthony

Much like others that will undoubtedly appear later in this list, we must be careful not to judge Anthony based solely on what his current status may tell us about his game. As an active player, we’ll just sum it up with his Hall of Fame claim: NCAA champion, 4x Olympic medalist (three gold, one bronze), he’s already top-20 All-Time in scoring (19), he’s been a 10x All-Star and has a scoring title in in 2012-13 to boot. Best season: a bunch of relatively consistent years to choose from, but probably 2013-14 where he put up 27.4 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 3.1 APG on 45.2/40.2/84.8 shooting.

Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images

Eberley: Reggie Miller

Eight points in nine seconds. One of the most memorable and mind-blowing moments in NBA history. Miller was never the best player, nor the most dominant but his steady hand and consistent ability to hit the big shot when it mattered guided the Indiana Pacers to six Conference Finals over his time with the franchise. The five time All-Star never reached the crest, but his name lives on because of how special and ahead of the game (he’d be pretty scary in today’s game) his skill set was.

Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images

Oppenheim: Dwight Howard

The shift in how centers are used in today’s NBA and the narrative surrounding Howard has swallowed up the truth about Howard’s career. He was an MVP candidate for most of his earlier years as one of the best defensive players of all time (3x Defensive Player of the Year), a great rebounder, and when it’s all said and done (he’s only 32) will end up with over 20,000 points.

46.

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Davis: Dwight Howard

Howard might now be the butt of a never-ending string of social media jokes—some of which, he would probably have to acknowledge bringing upon himself—one cannot permit perceived personality issues to cloud how Howard is judged as a player. He’s a 3x DPOY, has been an 8x All-Star and he has been a 5x rebounding champ. Add to that an impressive Finals run that consisted of dethroning the defending-champion Boston Celtics and a LeBron James-led Cavs team before falling to the Lakers in the Finals. Best season: probably ’09-10 where he averaged 18.3 PPG, 13.2 RPG (led league), 2.8 BPG (led League) and shot a career-high 61.2 percent from the floor.

Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Eberley: Kawhi Leonard

Leonard may seem like a reach at this point but the list of players to accomplish what he has is thin. Perimeter players to win Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY) twice: Leonard and Sidney Moncrief. Players to win a DPOY award and the Finals MVP: Leonard, Michael Jordan, and Hakeem Olajuwon. Leonard’s seven-year run has been short (and his future is murky) but he’s one of the best perimeter defenders in NBA history and his résumé makes many players with 10-plus years of service green with envy.

Bill Baptist/ NBAE/ Getty Images

Oppenheim: Patrick Ewing

Growing up in the ’90s in New York, Ewing always felt larger than life, something that’s not easy to achieve in New York City. He propped up Knicks basketball for a decade and a half. Unfortunately, he ended up playing second (and third, and fourth) fiddle to his peers, but he was a stellar defender with a sweet jumper.

45.

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Davis: Gary Payton

The Glove was truly something special to watch (and listen to) on both ends of the court for the duration of his Hall of Fame career. Payton is easily one of the most well-rounded players of his generation as he was not only the floor general of the high-powered ’90s Seattle Supersonics offenses, but also an absolute ball hawk on the other end of the court. His ability to also let you know exactly what he was doing to you is the stuff of legends as well. He didn’t wind up winning a title until he was a role player late in his career, but he was one of the few players able to somehow make Michael Jordan look remotely human when the two faced one another in the 1996 Finals. Best year: 1999-00 season of 24.2 PPG, 8.9 APG, 6.5 RPG on 44.8/34/73.5 shooting.

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Eberley: Bob Cousy

Cousy had to be here. Despite the obvious changes in the game, a more competitive league and the superior talent today. The man was the man in his era. An MVP, six championships and he led the League in APG eight straight times. Would’ve felt gross leaving off the 13-time All-Star.

Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images

Oppenheim: James Harden

The numbers Harden has produced in six seasons in Houston border on the absurd: just under 28 points, 8 assists and 6 rebounds per game. His defense at times was intolerable, but few players have ever had a stretch like this.

44.

Bill Baptist/ NBAE/ Getty Images

Davis: Clyde Drexler

Drexler is a guy that might have a claim at being a top-3/4 player at his position that rarely gets mentioned when the greats are discussed. Drexler was an absolute menace in the open court, but found a way to round out his offensive game by adding a reliable 3pt shot as his career progressed.  It just so happens that his Blazers teams were often overshadowed by the 80’s Lakers squads and he faced the same fate as all other Jordan contemporaries when they faced one another in the Finals. He’s a Hall of Famer, a 10x All-Star and partnered with Hakeem Olajuwon to win a title in ’94-95. Best year: the ’88-89 season where he averaged 27.2 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 5.8 APG, 2.7 SPG on 49.6/26/79.9 shooting.

Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Eberley: Ray Allen

Allen gets unfairly listed as just shooter. Don’t get it twisted, he’s one of the five best shooters ever but he could handle the ball and his athleticism was embarrassingly underrated. Allen and the Bucks were one quarter away from being the Eastern Conference representative to get squashed by the Los Angeles Lakers in 2001, don’t forget that. Two championships, 10 trips to the All-Star game and the biggest shot of my life in Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals.

NBA PHOTOS/ NBAE/ Getty Images

Oppenheim: Dolph Schayes

Often referred to as one of the League’s first superstars, Schayes was a 12x All-Star, a 12x All-NBA selection, and won the 1955 NBA Championship with the Syracuse Nationals. He also shot 38 percent for his career, which is a fun reminder that basketball was different then.

43.

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Davis: Rick Barry

Barry is another one of those all-time great scorers (ABA and NBA) that doesn’t quite receive the acknowledgement he probably deserves due to not playing during a more recent era where we could have at least seen him on television with the frequency of the ’80s and ’90s players, let alone today’s highly successful social media presence in how the League is broken down and covered these days. Beyond his iconic, underhanded free throw style (89.3 percent lifetime from the line), Barry also had four seasons of averaging 30 or more, was a 12x All-Star and a Finals MVP (1974-75). Best season: Probably his sophomore campaign in 1966-67, where Barry averaged 35.6 PPG, 9.2 RPG and 3.6 APG on 45.1/88.4 shooting.

NBA PHOTOS/ NBAE/ Getty Images

Eberley: Bob Pettit

Another MVP, not unlike Cousy, who would’ve been higher on this list if accolades were the only criteria. Petitt did the impossible: He was an MVP who won a ring in the middle of the Celtics dynasty. Pettit’s Hawks won the 1958 Championship over the reigning title holding Celtics and those same Celtics would win 10 of the next 11. Pettit’s thick résumé also holds 11 All-NBA acknowledgements and two scoring titles.

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Oppenheim: John Stockton

Stockton might be synonymous with passing—he is, after all, the all-time leader in assists—but he doesn’t get enough credit for being a well-rounded player. Beyond his pick-and-roll genius, Stockton was a great shooter by any era’s standards and a supreme defender—he is the all-time leader in steals . He wasn’t just a compiler, he was legit.

42.

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Davis: Kevin McHale

Outside of possibly Hakeem Olajuwon and a few others, McHale may very well have possessed some of the more impressive post footwork we’ve seen. McHale was absolutely a pivotal force on a loaded Boston Celtics team throughout the ’80s. He’s a Hall of Famer, 3x champion, 7x All-Star, 6x All-Defensive and was a 2x Sixth Man of the Year, something that often goes unmentioned. Best year: Definitely 1986-87 of 26.1 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 2.6 APG on 60.4 percent from the floor and 83.6 from the line.

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Eberley: George Gervin

Davis’ summation that he had Durant-like qualities before Durant was not wrong. He was a runner up MVP, the best scorer in the game, and never had the right fit of pieces to win it all. The 12x All-Star, 7x All-NBA member, and 4x scoring champ is the best pure scorer to never win the title.

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Oppenheim: Willis Reed

Injuries robbed Reed of a long career, but he made the most of his 10 seasons in the League: 7x All-Star, 5x All-NBA, two Championship rings and Finals MVP awards, and one iconic moment.

41.

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Davis: James Worthy

Worthy earned his “Big Game James” moniker by simply showing up to play well in the biggest moments and on the grandest stages and it just so happened to often come in the postseason and particularly the Finals. Whether against the Celtics or Pistons, Worthy found a way to stand out on a talent-laced squad with two other fellow Hall of Famers. He’s a 3x champion, 7x All-Star and was the 1988 Finals MVP.

Vernon Biever/NBAE via Getty Images

Eberley: Walt Frazier

Frazier was an all-around point guard and he did something seemingly no one else could, nor done since—the man won as a Knick. Two rings with the League’s premier franchise and seven trips to the All-Defense team highlight a special career from a man who continues to be Mr. Cool long after he hung it up.

Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Oppenheim: Paul Pierce

Pierce’s inclusion on this list feels like it’s all about the ring he won in 2008, but that’s unfair. The Truth was always a gamer come playoff time, first carrying the Celtics when Antoine Walker shied away from the moment, then later carrying the Nets to a win over Toronto.