With the NBA season on hiatus, what better time to rank the greatest to play the game. 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 30 through 21. Make sure to read the articles on players 50 through 41, and players 40 through 31 if you missed them.
30. George Gervin
George Gervin, also known as the Iceman, was the best pure scorer of the 1970s. For a period of ten years from 1975 to 1985 nobody in professional basketball scored more points than Gervin, who scored over 26,000 during his career. He won four scoring titles during his time with the San Antonio Spurs, the third most of all time, behind only Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain. His jump shot was silky smooth and many consider it the greatest ever. Although his playoff success was lacking, Gervin was still one of the most exciting pure scorers in the history of the league.
29. Kawhi Leonard
Kawhi Leonard’s legacy is not based on any sort of counting stats but rather his incredible sense of the moment. During his three NBA finals appearances, he has won finals MVP in two of them. His near superhuman performance in the 2019 NBA playoffs to drag Toronto to its first NBA title is enough to put him on this list on its own but he also happens to be the best defensive player of his generation. Kawhi has already won two finals MVPs and two DPOYs at the age of just 28, the sky is truly the limit for one of the games greatest current talents.
28. Allen Iverson
Possibly no man in the history of the NBA has been more entertaining than Allen Iverson. Whether it be his infamous practice rant or his stepover of Tyron Lue in the 2000 Finals, Iverson always found a way to leave everyone speechless. His incredible dribble moves made him one of the best ball handlers of all time, he always seemed to be able to make a sliver of space to be able to cut or get off a shot. Like Gervin, AI was a four-time scoring champion, culminating in back to back 30 point per game seasons in 2000 and 2001. Iverson was tragically shackled with a lackluster supporting cast for much of his prime, leading us to wonder what could have been if the Philadelphia front office could have kept a good team around him.
27. Rick Barry
Even though he is reviled by much of the basketball world, including by many of his former teammates, there is no denying that Rick Barry is one of the greatest to ever play the game. His NBA career started off with two wildly successful seasons in which he won rookie of the year followed by a scoring title. Barry then became the biggest star to make the switch from the NBA to the ABA, where he spent the next four years. Barry then returned to the NBA with the Golden State Warriors where he enjoyed his most successful run of form, immortalizing himself by leading the Warriors to their first NBA title in 1975.
26. John Stockton
John Stockton is most known for his incredible durability, which allowed him to become the NBA’s career leader in both assists and steals. He played his entire career with the Utah Jazz, forming the backbone of one the 90s greatest teams with teammate Karl Malone. Many consider him to be one of the greatest passers in league history, which his nine straight assist tiles can attest to. He was also a very good defender for an undersized guard, making five all-defensive teams.
25. David Robinson
The fact that David Robinson was taken first overall in the 1987 NBA draft even though he would have to sit out two seasons doing mandatory military service attests to just how coveted his talent was. Nicknamed the Admiral for his time in the navy, Robinson was one of the most consistently dominant centers of the 1990s. He was an incredible scorer (even leading the league in 1994), a ferocious rebounder and a historically great shot blocker, ranking sixth all-time. In the latter half of his career, he helped lead the San Antonio Spurs to two NBA championships along with superstar teammate Tim Duncan.
24. Isiah Thomas
The passionate leader of the infamous Bad Boy Piston teams, Isiah Thomas is one of the most iconic players of the 1980s, along with Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. A player who would do anything to win, Isiah was known for his incredible grit and toughness. The most famous example of this was his heroic game six performance vs Los Angeles in the 1988 NBA finals when he scored 43 points on a sprained ankle. A supremely gifted passer Isiah ranks 9th all-time in career assists and 5th in assists per game.
23. Scottie Pippen
Unequivocally the greatest wingman in the history of the league, Scottie Pippen was the ultimate teammate. Pippen was a swiss army knife type of player, able to do a myriad of different things to help the team win. He was an effective scorer, he averaged over 20 points per game four times, a surprisingly gifted passer for a man his height, and a supreme defender who made ten all-defensive teams. Most importantly of all, Pippen was a winner, winning six titles with teammate Michael Jordan as a leader of the Chicago Bulls dynasty.
22. Dwyane Wade
A member of the legendary 2003 draft class and the greatest player in Miami Heat history, Dwyane Wade is truly one of the modern NBAs greatest icons. An athletic marvel with an incredible motor, Wade dominated on offense due to an incredible ability to finish around the rim and a reliable mid-range game. He helped lead Miami to three NBA titles during his 15 years in the city, including a dominating performance in the 2006 NBA finals that won him Finals MVP.
21. Stephen Curry
Considered by many to be the greatest shooter of all time, Steph Curry is one of the modern games’ biggest stars. His style of basketball focused on high volume long-range shooting has completely revolutionized the way the game is played. Winner of back to back MVPs in 2015 and 2016, he has led the Golden State Warriors to three NBA championships along with teammates Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson. Besides lacking a finals MVP, Curry has an incredible resume that ranks him among the NBA’s upper echelon.
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