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Ranking the Greatest Players in NBA History Nos. 20-11

With the NBA season on hiatus, what better time to rank the NBA’s greatest players. TGH NBA staff writers voted for their top 50 players in league history on a points system, and then the players were ranked by points in a final aggregate list. Today’s article covers players 20 through 11. Make sure to read the articles on players 50 through 41, players 40 through 31, and players 30 through 21 if you missed them

20. Dirk Nowitzki

The greatest talent to ever come out of Europe, Dirk Nowitzki is one of the most iconic players of the 21st century. He was a one-team man. playing the entirety of his 21 season career with the Dallas Mavericks. During his time in the league, Dirk became one of just eight players to amass over 30,000 points, won an MVP in 2006-2007 and brought Dallas their first and only NBA championship in 2011. His title in 2011 pushes him into the upper echelon of all-time greats, becoming one of the few players to win a title this century as his team’s only star.

19. Charles Barkley

When taking a player’s height into account, Charles Barkley has to be in the discussion as the greatest rebounder of all time. Even though he stood just 6-foot-6 tall, Barkley was still one of the most dominating rebounders of his era, even leading the league in 1986-1987. He was especially tenacious on the offensive glass, ranking in the top 10 in league history in offensive rebounds. His incredible motor also allowed him to be a prolific scorer, peaking out at over 28 points per game in 1988. Although his numbers were great, Barkley was never able to win a ring, making him one of, if not the, greatest player to have never done so.

18. Kevin Garnett

Kevin Garnett never lacked for passion, courtesy of vulture

What made Kevin Garnett so special on a basketball court was his ability to do whatever his team happened to need at the team. He could be a dominating scorer or a defensive anchor, an intimidating shot blocker or a deft pick-pocket, an offensive focal point or a put-back artist. The stats back this up, Garnett is the only player in the history of basketball to rank in the top 50 all-time in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks. Although he never brought Minnesota a championship, he did bring one to Boston, their first title in over 20 years, and one that made him an instant legend in New England.

17. Karl Malone

While a dominating player at times, Karl Malone’s legacy is mainly based on the sheer volume of his numbers. During his 19 seasons in the league, the Mailman scored over 36,000 points, more than anyone not named Kareem. He and teammate John Stockton made Utah one of the best teams of the 1990s but were never able to get over the hump and win that elusive NBA championship, losing twice at the hands of Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. Along with Barkley, Malone stands as one of the true all-time greats to never have won a ring.

16. Julius Erving

If this list were solely based on a player’s importance to the game of basketball, Julius Erving might rank number one. He was the epitome of cool. With his huge afro, his acrobatic layups and his soaring dunks, Dr. J helped get a whole new generation of fans interested in the game of basketball like never before. He started off in the ABA, where he quickly cemented himself as the league’s greatest ever player, winning 3 ABA MVPs. He won another MVP in the NBA, as well as an NBA championship with the Philadelphia 76ers. Erving is most known for his incredible highlights such as his dunk from the free-throw line in the ABA all-star game, his behind the basket layup in the 1980 NBA finals and his rock the baby dunk versus Los Angeles in 1983.

15. Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant showing off his range, courtesy of bleacher report

When discussing the best scorer of the 2010s, it’s hard to pick anyone else but Kevin Durant. Throughout his career, he was won nearly every accolade there is including four scoring championships, rookie of the year, MVP and two Finals MVPs. He was never able to bring a coveted title to Oklahoma City but a controversial move to Golden State brought him his first championship in 2017, followed by another one the following year. Durant is still in the prime of his career but coming off an ACL tear and on a new team, it will be tough for him to regain the form that made him a legend of the game.

14. Moses Malone

Moses Malone is the most under talked about and under-appreciated superstar possibly of all time, a symptom of his simple, yet effective, style of play. A pure back to the basket center, Malone was a master of the post, using his imposing form to bully his way into good shots. He also used his incredible strength to dominate on the glass, becoming one of the greatest rebounders of all time, especially on the offensive glass where he became the only player to ever average over seven offensive rebounds per game for an entire season. During his historic career, Malone won three MVPs, led the league in rebounds six times, and won the 1982-1983 NBA championship with Philadelphia.

13. Jerry West

There are few bigger signs of greatness than featuring as the logo of the league you played in. Jerry West is one of basketball’s greatest early stars and by all accounts of those who saw him play and the film we have of him is one of the most dynamic and exciting players to ever touch a court. He was one of the first do-it-all point guards, jumping well above his height for rebounds, defending the other teams best guard and running the Lakers offense to perfection. For much of his career, he was dogged by Bill Russell’s Celtics, who thwarted his chance at a championship until 1971-1972, when he won his first and only championship.

12. Oscar Robertson

Robertson gets the nod over his contemporary Jerry West mainly because of his reinvention of the point guard position. Robertson was a trailblazing point guard because he was his team’s main scoring threat at a time when nearly every NBA team ran through their big man, including West’s Lakers who were led in scoring by Elgin Baylor. The Big O changed all that, being the Cincinnati Royals’ primary scorer and passer, as well as one of their best rebounders and defenders. This new playstyle allowed him to be the first player to ever average a triple-double for an entire season, which only he and Russell Westbrook have done.

11. Bill Russell

Bill Russell was one of the first great NBA defenders, courtesy of medium

The ultimate teammate in NBA history, Russell is synonymous with winning. During his 13 seasons with the Boston Celtics, he led them to 11 championships, including the last two as a player-coach. While never a serious offensive threat, Russell made up for it by being the best defensive player of the 1960s as well as being one of the first great passing big men. His talents were recognized by his fellow players, who voted him as league MVP five times, second-most in NBA history. He is the face of the greatest dynasty in league history and deservingly ranks among the game’s very best players.

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