Top 10 Greatest NBA Players in History

Top 10 Greatest NBA Players in History: Professional sports are dominated by statistics. There are many reasons for this stats-based takeover of our screens. Pure curiosity from fans. Pre-game analytics by journalists and broadcasters. Betting lines. The stats tell the story. They provide a place for prediction and perhaps even precaution. In the NBA alone, stats range from individual points per game to total team steals, along with a wide variety of numbers in between.


According to The Game Day, a new study provides shocking results in regard to the best players of all time, at least from a statistical standpoint. Their collected data claims to conclude the greatest NBA player debate. But their so-called best player will certainly cause great disruption among basketball circles. The Game Day is correct in labeling this man as a great player, but it’s a bit of a stretch to consider him in the greatest of all time conversation.

List of Top 10 Greatest NBA Players in History

10 Michael Jordan

It’s common to consider Michael Jordan the best basketball player of all time, but according to The Game Day’s study, he only cracks the top ten. This immediately calls into question the validity of statistical rankings. Simply put, there are not nine players better than Jordan, who during his time in the NBA redefined what it meant to be a franchise player. Jordan was a once-in-a-generation talent who cannot be placed at number ten on any all-time list.

Dirk Nowitzki

Dirk Nowitzki at number nine is feasible. Nowitzki led the Dallas Mavericks to an NBA championship victory, taking MVP honors in the process. His play was steady and consistent, a sturdy power forward who finished his career with a 20.7 points per game average. Nowitzki, a native of West Germany, is often regarded as the greatest European player in NBA history, but to be ranked overall at number nine might raise some eyebrows. It’s not a far-fetched ranking, but some will consider Nowitzki as a player in top twenty territory.

Magic Johnson

The Los Angeles Lakers have produced numerous NBA legends over the course of their franchise’s history. Magic Johnson is one of the more polarizing greats from the Lakers’ lengthy list of superstar players. A five-time NBA champion and three–time league MVP, it should come as no surprise to find Johnson on a top ten list. The Game Day’s statistical study ranks Johnson as the eighth-best NBA player of all time, which is fair, maybe even a little too low.

Jayson Tatum

With the number seven spot, The Game Day’s study begins to falter. Jayson Tatum is a phenomenal player, one of the best in the current NBA, but after five seasons in the league, he cannot be considered the seventh-best player of all time.


Tatum is already a three-time All-Star with a current career average of 20.9 points per game, but he hasn’t qualified for a true top ten list. At the age of twenty-four, the future is bright for Tatum, so maybe one day, but certainly not now.

LeBron James

Much like Michael Jordan, it’s common to consider LeBron James the best basketball player of all time, but The Game Day’s study has him listed just outside the top five. Again, this calls into question ranking players on statistics alone. James has been the twenty-first century king of the NBA, the single best player to emerge since Jordan. A ranking of six is far too low, especially since James is a prime subject in the greatest of all time debate.

Karl Anthony-Towns

It would be difficult to justify placing Karl-Anthony Towns in the top five of a list about the greatest NBA players of all time. He doesn’t fit the top five, or ten, not at this point in his career. Once again, The Game Day’s study can be scoffed at with this selection. Towns has played seven seasons for the Minnesota Timberwolves, and holds a current average of 23.2 points and 11.3 rebounds per game, which is impressive. Towns is a star, no question about it, but the fifth-best NBA player of all time is too much of a reach.

Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard has played on two NBA championship teams, winning with the San Antonio Spurs and the Toronto Raptors. Currently, with the Los Angeles Clippers, Leonard has continued to produce numbers and build upon an already solid career. Leonard’s first three seasons in the league were a feeling-out process, but he eventually found his footing and turned into a reliable player, even an NBA Finals MVP. But in the grand scheme of things, including statistics, Leonard is not the fourth-best basketball player of all time.

Larry Bird

The number three spot provides some credibility to The Game Day’s study. Larry Bird is an NBA legend, who produced a line of 24.3 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 6.3 assists per game. Bird also played a pivotal part in three Boston Celtics NBA championships.


Bird coming in at number three doesn’t feel wrong, or at least not far off from where he should be. The three-time league MVP played at a high level throughout his career, and is widely regarded as one of the best shooters to ever step foot on an NBA court.

Nikola Jokić

Nikola Jokić is the NBA’s reigning back-to-back MVP. A new-age big man who has proved just how dominant he can be, Jokić will be a player to watch for years to come. The Denver Nuggets have a true superstar on their hands. But again, The Game Day’s study ranking Jokić at number two all time is premature. After seven seasons in the league, it’s too early to rank him this high. Jokić is a player on the right path, and maybe one day he will be considered number two all time, but for now, that spot does not belong to him.

Kevin Durant

Without diminishing the career of Kevin Durant, he’s simply not the greatest NBA player of all time, despite what the stats say. This spot is usually reserved for Michael Jordan or LeBron James in what might be the biggest basketball-related argument today. The Game Day’s study is interesting, but not seeing the likes of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell, and Tim Duncan on their list makes their findings feel too robotic. The truth is, when it comes to the greatest NBA players of all time, computers cannot compete with human conversation.


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By Stephanie

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