We filled in spots #75-100 on ESPN’s list of the greatest NBA players of all-time #NBArank

For better and worse, we published out the full list of ESPN’s top 74 greatest NBA players of all-time a few days ago. In that same post, we provided the sports network’s rankings from their 2016 list to see which new players made an appearance on the list (Kawhi Leonard, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard), which player jumped the most spots (James Harden and Allen Iverson) and which player dropped the most (Clyde Drexler).

There were several problems with that list and we detailed out a few examples of the clear biases and major issues we found on the list. If you’re interested, you can read us complain here.

One of the bigger issues is that the list is “incomplete” in that it only ranked 74 players; leaving us wondering how the remaining 26 spots would have sussed out had they completed it. The good news? We did our best to populate those missing positions. Jump to see our #75-100 rankings, otherwise, here’s the list as ESPN ranked the greatest NBA players of all-time.

ESPN's Top 74 Players in NBA History
Rank Player
1 Michael Jordan
2 LeBron James
3 Kareem-Abdul Jabbar
4 Bill Russell
5 Magic Johnson
6 Wilt Chamberlain
7 Larry Bird
8 Tim Duncan
9 Kobe Bryant
10 Shaquille O'Neal
11 Oscar Robertson
12 Hakeem Olajuwon
13 Stephen Curry
14 Kevin Durant
15 Julius Erving
16 Jerry West
17 Karl Malone
18 Moses Malone
19 Dirk Nowitzki
20 Kevin Garnett
21 Scottie Pippen
22 Elgin Baylor
23 Charles Barkley
24 David Robinson
25 Kawhi Leonard
26 Dwyane Wade
27 Giannis Antetokounmpo
28 John Stockton
29 Allen Iverson
30 Steve Nash
31 Isiah Thomas
32 James Harden
33 John Havlicek
34 George Mikan
35 Jason Kidd
36 Kevin McHale
37 Patrick Ewing
38 Bob Pettit
39 Walt Frazier
40 Chris Paul
41 Bob Cousy
42 Russell Westbrook
43 Rick Barry
44 Elvin Hayes
45 Anthony Davis
46 Dominique Wilkins
47 George Gervin
48 Bill Walton
49 Reggie Miller
50 Wes Unseld
51 James Worthy
52 Tracy McGrady
53 Gary Payton
54 Paul Pierce
55 Vince Carter
56 Ray Allen
57 Clyde Drexler
58 Manu Ginobili
59 Bob McAdoo
60 Willis Reed
61 Robert Parish
62 Dennis Rodman
63 Alonzo Mourning
64 Earl Monroe
65 Pau Gasol
66 Dave Cowens
67 Alex English
68 Pete Maravich
69 Bernard King
70 Tony Parker
71 Bob Lanier
72 Damian Lillard
73 Dikembe Mutombo
74 Artis Gilmore

At the top of the list, Bill Russell made a relatively HUGE jump from #7 in 2016 to #4. In that process, 11-time NBA champion Russell leapfrogged over Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain and Magic Johnson.

Kobe Bryant jumped three spots from off into the top ten. In 2016, ESPN pissed off Kobe Stans when he appeared at #12. This year, he’s at #9 right before Lakers teammate Shaquille O’Neal, and putting Kobe over Oscar Robertson and Hakeem Olajuwon.

No NBA betting guides would have predicted that Scottie Pippen would move up four spots from #25 to #21, leaping over former Houston Rockets teammate Charles Barkley, who fell five spots from #18 to #23. We have no problem with the biggest improvement going to James Harden. The bearded one jump up an amazing 65 spots from #97 to #32. In the span of those four years, Harden has elevated his status; winning an MVP, leading the NBA in scoring three times and assists once.

What about #75-100?

One of the many problems with this year’s list is that they only ranked 74 players whereas the 2016 list placed 100 players. It’s cute that ESPN wanted to create a list based on the league’s 74th year, but without those remaining 26 spots, we wondered where a player like Carmelo Anthony would have ultimately landed.

So without the real thing, we decided to take on that task and re-rank the missing players from the 2016 list while  adding a couple new faces that we think deserve one of these coveted spots in the top 100.

Assuming ESPN got their list correct, which is a big leap in itself, here’s how we saw the remaining list of the 100 greatest NBA players filling out from #75 to #100.

The Greatest Players in NBA History #75-83
Rank Player 2016
75 Dolph Schayes 74
76 Carmelo Anthony 59
77 Hal Greer NR
78 Dwight Howard 67
79 Klay Thompson NR
80 Paul Arizin 90
81 Adrian Dantley 72
82 Tiny Archibald 76
83 Joe Dumars 77

The biggest recognizable snubs from ESPN’s 2016 list are Carmelo Anthony (#59) and Dwight Howard (#67), the two didn’t make the 2020 list and we’re not sure where they fell. But all due respect to Melo and Dwight, we’re going to pay respect to a few older names that should have been way higher up. Those three names names that you probably don’t recognize are Dolph Schayes, Hal Greer, and Paul Arizin.

Schayes played in the 1950’s so it’s somewhat understandable that his career isn’t at the forefront of people’s minds, but for an NBA champion that was a 12x All Star and 12x All-NBA selection that averaged a double-double in points and rebounds for an entire decade, it’s hugely disrespectful for him not to be higher up. All due respect to Carmelo Anthony, but Schayes deserves to be the first name on the snub list.

Behind Oscar Robertson (#11) and Jerry West (#16), Greer was widely considered the third-best guard in the 1960s, so there’s a big disconnect to see him at #77, but here we are. Starting out with the Syracuse Nationals, he moved onto the Philadelphia 76ers where Greer was second banana to Wilt when they teamed to win the 1967 NBA championship. Greer is a 10-time NBA All-Star, was named to the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Time Team, has his #15 jersey retired by the Sixers and one of the few dozen players that have scored over 20,000 career points. In 2016, Greer didn’t even make ESPN’s list!

An NBA-All Star every year of his 10 year career, Arizin is another forgotten player from the 1950’s. His relatively-short career doesn’t do him any favors, but considering he was a two time scoring champion and an NBA champion during his time, Arizin should be on the list because he was one of the best players from that decade. His impact was evident in 1996 when, like Schayes and Greer, was named one of top 50 players in NBA history.

Active and modern NBA snubs

Since four years have passed since the 2016 list, there are a handful of active players that have cemented their status among the all-time greats. The first player is the Golden State Warriors’ Klay Thompson at #80. The other half of the Splash Brothers is a five-time all-star, a three-time NBA champion and owns the record for most-three pointers in one NBA game (14). He also scored an NBA record 37 points in an quarter on his way to 60 points on just 11 dribbles.

Next up, are the final 17 spots with 12x NBA All-Star Chris Bosh leading this section; staying at #86. He’s the only double-digit all-star to be listed this low.

Best NBA Players of All-Time #84-100
Rank Player 2016
84 Chris Bosh 86
85 Paul George NR
86 Mitch Richmond NR
87 Kyrie Irving NR
88 Jerry Lucas 79
89 David Thompson 82
90 Dennis Johnson 84
91 Grant Hill 80
92 Sam Jones 78
93 Gail Goodrich 97
94 Bill Sharman NR
95 Chauncey Billups 87
96 Dave DeBusschere 85
97 Chris Webber 66
98 Blake Griffin 81
99 LaMarcus Aldridge NR
100 Chris Mullin 83

Paul George is the next newcomer on our list at #87. The 6x All-Star and 5x All-NBA is not only an offensive threat from anyone where on the floor, but also a great defensive player having made four all-defensive teams. George is just coming into his peak and teaming with Kawhi Leonard as a contender with the Los Angeles Clippers.

The next player that didn’t make the 2016 list, but should have was the severely underrated Mitch Richmond. The 6x NBA All-Star and 5x All-NBA selection averaged 21.9 points or higher for ten straight years; that helped him become one of the 40 or so players that have scored 20,000 in their careers. Despite not being named to an All-Defensive Team, the “Rock” was a tough defender his entire career so much so that Jordan once considered Richmond to be his toughest defender.

That takes us to Kyrie Irving. No matter what you think of the mercurial guard, he’s a six-time all-star and the former NBA Rookie of the Year and one-time NBA champion has a handle that is envied by every NBA player. The oft-injured Irving is just getting into the peak of his offensive powers, so if he can maintain his health, Irving will go down as a player that revolutionized the game by inspiring kids everywhere to mimic his sublime handles; the best the NBA has ever seen.

Here’s the full list including our supplementary 26 spots.

ESPN's Top 100 Players in NBA History (2020)
Rank Player 2016 Rank
1 Michael Jordan 1
2 LeBron James 3
3 Kareem-Abdul Jabbar 2
4 Bill Russell 7
5 Magic Johnson 4
6 Wilt Chamberlain 5
7 Larry Bird 7
8 Tim Duncan 8
9 Kobe Bryant 12
10 Shaquille O'Neal 9
11 Oscar Robertson 11
12  Hakeem Olajuwon 10
13 Stephen Curry 23
14 Kevin Durant 22
15 Julius Erving 14
16 Jerry West 13
17 Karl Malone 16
18 Moses Malone 15
19 Dirk Nowitzki 17
20 Kevin Garnett 21
21 Scottie Pippen 25
22 Elgin Baylor 24
23 Charles Barkley 18
24 David Robinson 20
25 Kawhi Leonard NR
26 Dwyane Wade 27
27 Giannis Antetokounmpo NR
28 John Stockton 19
29 Allen Iverson 46
30 Steve Nash 30
31 Isiah Thomas 26
32 James Harden 97
33 John Havlicek 28
34 George Mikan 33
35 Jason Kidd 35
36 Kevin McHale 31
37 Patrick Ewing 32
38 Bob Pettit 34
39 Walt Frazier 38
40 Chris Paul 29
41 Bob Cousy 39
42 Russell Westbrook 49
43 Rick Barry 37
44 Elvin Hayes 40
45 Anthony Davis NR
46 Dominique Wilkins 44
47 George Gervin 47
48 Bill Walton 42
49 Reggie Miller 51
50 Wes Unseld 53
51 James Worthy 43
52 Tracy McGrady 63
53 Gary Payton 41
54 Paul Pierce 45
55 Vince Carter 69
56 Ray Allen 50
57 Clyde Drexler 35
58 Manu Ginobili 61
59 Bob McAdoo 52
60 Willis Reed 48
61 Robert Parish 57
62 Dennis Rodman 64
63 Alonzo Mourning 65
64 Earl Monroe 60
65 Pau Gasol 56
66 Dave Cowens 55
67 Alex English 62
68 Pete Maravich 71
69 Bernard King 54
70 Tony Parker 58
71 Bob Lanier 68
72 Damian Lillard NR
73 Dikembe Mutombo 73
74 Artis Gilmore 70
75 Dolph Schayes 74
76 Carmelo Anthony 59
77 Hal Greer NR
78 Dwight Howard 67
79 Klay Thompson NR
80 Paul Arizin 90
81 Adrian Dantley 72
82 Tiny Archibald 76
83 Joe Dumars 77
84 Chris Bosh 86
85 Paul George NR
86 Mitch Richmond NR
87 Kyrie Irving NR
88 Jerry Lucas 79
89 David Thompson 82
90 Dennis Johnson 84
91 Grant Hill 80
92 Sam Jones 78
93 Gail Goodrich 97
94 Bill Sharman NR
95 Chauncey Billups 87
96 Dave DeBusschere 85
97 Chris Webber 66
98 Blake Griffin 81
99 LaMarcus Aldridge NR
100 Chris Mullin 83

An Honorable Mention for the ages

One hundred players in the 74 years of NBA basketball seems like a lot, but like with any list, there are going to be very very very good and great players that didn’t make the list. We leave with you an honorable mention of players that found themselves right outside the list, in alphabetical order by first name: Billy Cunningham, Dave Bing, Harry Gallatin, Ed Macauley, Gus Johnson, Jo Jo White, Joe Johnson, Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, Larry Foust, Lenny Wilkens, Mark Price, Marc Gasol, Maurice Cheeks, Nate Thurmond, Shawn Kemp, Sidney Moncrief, Tim Hardaway, Walt Bellamy and Yao Ming.

Leave a Reply