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And if you had to choose players based just on your prime and on-court ability at the top of their powers, quite than ~ above the totality and also success of their careers, how different is the all-time list? 


A arsenal of end 50 NBA win writers, nationwide media members, and #NBATwitter stars sweet in come answer exactly that. ~ above a range of 1-100 through 100 gift the absolute best, every member of our panel assessed end 250 various players. We then averaged every ballot to recognize the last order. 

TOP 75 PEAKS: 11-25 | 26-50 | 51-75


Our countdown of the height 75 peaks concludes with the best of the best, the 10 football player with greater peaks 보다 anyone else.

You are watching: Best players in the nba history

Who finished higher: Jordan or LeBron? What around Russell, Wilt, Kareem and Shaq? would you rather have actually Kobe or KD? 

Check out component 1 because that a finish explanation of our methodology. And also if friend missed the remainder of ours countdown, be sure to inspect out 11-75.

Today, we"re finally crossing the finishing line through the 10 best primes in NBA history.

MORE: MJ or LeBron? Debating which NBA legend had the higher peak

10) Kevin Durant

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Highest MVP finish:  first (2014)First/Second-Team All-NBA selections: 9Peak personified:  Durant winner back-to-back Finals MVPs against LeBron James, the very first of which to be punctuated with a clutch 3 over James

The coldest scorer in the history of the video game finishes 10th. Durant finishes two back of Kobe Bryant and two increase on Steph Curry, a placement the of course no one will certainly quibble about. But you feel about Durant’s job or the decisions he made within it, it’s very clear that the consensus views his peak amongst the absolute ideal ever. Durant’s video game is seamless, it’s sharp prefer skates and from the outside it shows up mechanical however not rigid. Durant provides the stupendously innovative look utterly basic with an unrivaled capacity to score off the bounce unparalleled by any player in the history of the game. The male is a herbal born hooper and also if us did this list again in 5 years, i’m not sure he doesn’t climb further. You might legitimately controversy the version of Durant we experienced last year in the playoffs to be the finest iteration the his game to date, remarkable given he’s 33 and on the heels of completely recovering indigenous a take it Achilles.

MORE: 5 burning concerns for KD entering his signature season

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9) invoice Russell

Highest MVP finish: first (1958, 1961, 1962, 1963 & 1965)First/Second-Team All-NBA selections: 11Peak personified:  In a year whereby Wilt average 50 and big O average a triple-double, Russell beat castle both out for MVP and won his 5th ring

Russell top the league’s many unstoppable juggernaut because that over a decade lands him ninth on the list. Although the was ultimately far much more successful than his contemporary challenger, wilt Chamberlain, the does finish behind him here with the focus once again being placed on player peaks. Russell’s capability to lead a team and also contribute every little thing was essential to acquire the job done, transcends the tape and those who got to see him play. His most iconic game can be the 30-point, 38-rebound decimation that Pettit’s falken to close the 1961 Finals. A reminder that the Finals MVP is his award and is a testament to him playing his finest when it supposed the most.

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8) Kobe Bryant

Highest MVP finish:  1st (2008)First/Second-Team All-NBA selections: 15Peak personified:  First-team All-NBA, First-Team All-Defense and also Finals MVP throughout both back-to-back championship seasons in 2008-09 and also 2009-10

Before any type of controversies, profession requests, inner feuds or flipping that the Gasol brothers, over there was, “ Bryant come Shaq! ” simply a young, up and coming Mamba bursting top top the scene, giving the civilization no an option but to take an alert of this increasing super tandem and the havoc they were about to unleash ~ above the league. Bryant’s 81 is iconic, his 2008 and 2012 Olympic heroics space unforgettable, and winning two an ext rings ~ the O’Neal divorce was delivery that manifest destiny. When was Bryant’s peak? to be it in ~ the end of the three-peat, between the titles or did that come together Pau Gasol year later? A storied career because that one of, if not the most celebrated personality to ever touch the hardwood.

RANKING EVERY STARTER through POSITION: PG | SG | SF | PF | C

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7) Larry Bird

Highest MVP finish:  1st (1984, 1985 & 1986)First/Second-Team All-NBA selections: 10Peak personified:  one of three players in NBA background to victory three right MVPs (Bill Russell and also Wilt Chamberlain)

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6) Magic Johnson

Highest MVP finish:  1st (1987, 1989 & 1990)First/Second-Team All-NBA selections:  10Peak personified:  42 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists while instead of an hurt Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at facility as a rookie come clinch the NBA location in 1980 

Even though his best moment may have actually come play center, Magic maintains his position as the greatest allude guard that all-time. Despite his height came later, his video game 6 vs. Philadelphia in 1980 still has an debate for the greatest Finals game of all-time. The 1987 Lakers winner 65 games and defeated Bird’s Celtics in the rubber enhance bout. Johnson was the best player in the series averaging just over 26 points, 8 rebounds, and also 13 assists in the Finals. Come date, only LeBron James deserve to boast a comparable or better skill set at Magic’s size, one anomaly the the rest of the league could not solve. Uneven Bryant, Magic never won without his superstar to run mate yet he was able to secure three of the five ever before elusive Finals MVP awards throughout their run together.

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5) Shaquille O"Neal

Highest MVP finish:  first (2000)First/Second-Team All-NBA selections:  14Peak personified:  ~ securing the 2000 MVP, Shaq was an pure tyrant in the 2000 Finals, averaging 38 PPG, to go along with practically 17 rebounds per contest

Every player in the peak 10 to be unstoppable at your peak however the organization didn’t even really have resistance bands for at an early stage ‘00s O’Neal. Adhering to the 1999-00 season in which he won MVP, Finals MPV and an NBA title, O’Neal was robbed the a second MVP award and also retaliated by smoking cigarettes the Philadelphia 76ers, who had both the reigning MVP (Allen Iverson) and Defensive Player that the Year (Dikembe Mutombo) top top the roster. O’Neal and also his Orlando Magic were additionally the just team come send Michael Jordan’s Bulls home throughout the double-threepeat era. Jordan’s reduce season aside, you could argue the faster, leaner O’Neal had actually an nearly equally damaging peak to the later Lakers iteration.

MORE: Is Giannis the brand-new Shaq?

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4) wilt Chamberlain

Highest MVP finish:  first (1960, 1966, 1967 & 1968)First/Second-Team All-NBA selections: 10 NBAPeak personified:  50.4 PPG for whole season remains a record as does his 100 in a solitary game. No is in any type of real danger of being surpassed.

Though at times a questionable teammate, one insane contender obsessed through all the numbers and all the records, it was a provided that Chamberlain would finish very high ~ above the list. It’s well documented that Chamberlain might prioritize his very own numbers end winning but it’s straightforward to see why as soon as there to be nothing the he couldn’t do on the court. Once he got referred to as selfish, he accused just made decision to command the organization in assists. Although his team come up short against Russell’s Celtics often, he practically doubled his rival in points and also shot a much greater percentage from the field. Return ballots throughout the job varied greatly, over 2 thirds of the ballots score Chamberlain’s peak as a perfect 100 the end of 100, in fact, only Jordan received much more nods in ~ the century mark.

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3) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Highest MVP finish:  1st (1971, 1972, 1974, 1976, 1977 & 1980)First/Second-Team All-NBA selections:  15Peak personified: Nobody has won much more MVPs or scored more points 보다 Abdul-Jabbar

Coming in at number 3 is Cap. One of the league’s most eloquent speakers and captivating thinkers was additionally perhaps the most leading player. Every year, in line through mock draft etiquette, pan will case that the next college phenom is going to be the best player ever, the next Bryant, Nowitzki, or James however that was likely true of young Lew Alcindor indigenous the minute he stepped ~ above the court. He to be All-NBA in his very first season; the MVP, Finals MVP, and also a champion in his second. He winner MVP awards ripe years apart and won three an ext titles in his so late thirties. Not unlike countless of the height 20, his exact peak is tough to locate because he was exceptional for so countless years. 

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2) LeBron James

Highest MVP finish:  first (2009, 2010, 2012 & 2013)First/Second-Team All-NBA selections:  12Peak personified:  played in eight directly NBA Finals

As stated in the initial part of this project, LeBron’s top is debatable. That said, the most iconic minute of his job is not. After falling under 3-1 against the Warriors, James and the Cavaliers seemed hooped. The most staunch James fans to be understandably cynical and then, through his back against the wall, it just showed up like that hit another level. The went because that 41-points in back-to-back games and also averaged one inexplicable line of 36 PPG, 12 RPG, 10 APG, 3 SPG, and also 3 BPG in the three right games encountering elimination to complete the comeback. The smashed the most iconic block in the history of the sport, Kyrie Irving nailed the shot and the story the the season got a critical minute rewrite. You might argue 2018 experienced him at an additional level of offensive poise or the 2008 James was a far superior athlete, or also that 2013 split the distance yet he will never ever play a an ext memorable trio of gamings than the did in those 2016 Finals.

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MORE: Is AD much better than D-Wade? Ranking the best LeBron teammates

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1) Michael Jordan

Highest MVP finish:  1st (1988, 1991, 1992, 1996, & 1998)First/Second-Team All-NBA selections: 11Signature accomplishment: 6-0 all-time document in NBA Finals through 6 Finals MVPs

If you room curious, His Airness edged out the King through 0.8 because that the top spot. Only eight voter didn’t offer Jordan the best rating of 100. The last Dance aired just in time! Sarcasm aside, the track document is unassailable. You don’t need to be bordering top top insane levels of competitive journey to victory an NBA championship yet Jordan’s style was definitely successful. The man won 10 scoring titles and five MVP awards covering three very different step of his career. Many would controversy his top came before the location runs when the Detroit Pistons were sending him residence every year, others would argue that his much more refined pat style throughout the very first three-peat was his apex. In 1996, fresh off acquiring slapped by O’Neal, penny Hardaway and also the Magic, the Bulls reloaded and came back with a vengeance, winning 72-games and their fourth overall title. Mine money was on the run. He was rested and unnecessarily but all the same extra motivated. 

Thanks again to the awesome collaborators who take it time to key in for this project! Make certain to give them a follow together we head into the NBA’s historic 75th season!

Thanks again come the awesome partners who take it time to key in because that this project!

Contributors: Micah Adams, Quenton Albertie, Andy Bailey, rod Beard, Ryan Blackburn, Shawn Coleman, Ben Collins, Kevin Cottrell, Adria Crawford, Evan Dammarell, Spencer Davies, Jabari Davis, Shamit Dua, Travonne Edwards, Farbod Esnaashari  , Beau Estes  , David Gardner  , Andy Glockner  , Dan Greenberg  , Lauren Gunn  , Nicolas Henkel  , follow Hughes  , Josiah Johnson  , Jason Jones  , Dragonfly Jonez  , Trey Kerby  , Alex Kramers  , Dieter Kurtenbach  , Mitch Lawrence  , mockery Lloyd  , Jason Maples  , Danny Marang  , Oliver Maroney  , Kelly Melvina  , Janelle Moore  , Matt Moore  , regulation Murray  , Krishna Narsu  , Eric Newman  , Ashley Nicole Moss  , Zak Noble  , Gina Paradiso  , Jeff Pearlman  , Andrew Potter  , Sam Quinn  , Eustacchio Raulli  , Billy Reinhardt  , Andrew Sharp  , Keith Smith  , Allana Tachauer  , Justin Termine  , Brad Townsend  , Roosh Williams  , Ti Windisch  , Ant Wright  , Trill Withers  , and Su York .