12 Lakers make USA TODAY’s Top 75 players in NBA history list


The 2021-22 season will mark the NBA’s 75th anniversary of the league, which is a phenomenal achievement for any sporting league to have.

Throughout the league’s founding, there have been so many incredible talents that fans have grown to revere across decades and generations.

With it being the 75th season, the league will be spending time honoring its past and iconic players of the present.

That will certainly be the case for the Los Angeles Lakers. With a roster comprising LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and other future Hall of Famers, L.A.’s reputation for being a household place of talent lives on.

To honor the best players the league has seen, USA TODAY compiled a ranking of the top 75 players. Let’s look at where members of the Lakers ranked (paid subscription required):

62. Carmelo Anthony

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

From USA TODAY:

Throughout his career, Anthony – another star of the 2003 draft class – was a bucket-getter. He led the league in scoring in 2012-13 at 28.7 points per game and averaged at least 20 points in his first 14 seasons. For his career, he shot 44.7% from the field, including 47.1% on 2-pointers. A 10-time All-Star and six-time All-NBA selection, Anthony is No. 10 on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. He will move up to No. 9 this season and could pass Shaquille O’Neal for eighth place if he plays a couple of more seasons.

57. Anthony Davis

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

From USA TODAY:

Davis has established himself as one of the NBA’s best big men because of his versatility at power forward and occasionally at center. Davis can do almost everything with his post presence, rim protection and passing. After spending his first seven years with the New Orleans Pelicans failing to advance past the second round in two playoff appearances (2015, 2018), Davis demanded a trade. He received his wish to play with LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers two summers ago, and he awarded them with an NBA title. Davis has struggled to stay healthy throughout his nine-year NBA career but has mostly excelled anytime he’s on the floor.

51. James Worthy

James Worthy Lakers

James Worthy Lakers

(AP Photo/Bob Galbraith)

From USA TODAY:

He became known as “Big Game James” by excelling when the Lakers needed him the most. Worthy won Finals MVP after posting 36 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists in a Game 7 win over the Detroit Pistons in the 1998 Finals. During his 12-year NBA career, Worthy performed better in the playoffs (21.1 points, 3.2 assists) than he did during the regular season (17.6 points, 1.9 assists). Worthy still had hiccups, including a season-ending left leg injury in his rookie season and a costly crosscourt pass in Game 2 of the 1984 NBA Finals against Boston. But Worthy made up for that with otherwise consistent play.

T40. Russell Westbrook

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

From USA TODAY:

Russell Westbrook is the NBA’s triple-double king with 184, passing Oscar Robertson in 2020-21. Once Westbrook started amassing triple-doubles, he has barely slowed down with 176 of them coming in the past seven seasons. He has averaged a triple-double four times in his career, including 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists in 2016-17, the season he won MVP. He has led the league in scoring twice, assists three times and made the All-NBA team nine times and All-Star team nine times. Scoring, rebounding and passing at a Hall of Fame rate, Westbrook plays one way: all out.

19. Elgin Baylor

Elgin Baylor

Elgin Baylor

(AP Photo)

From USA TODAY:

If not for Elgin Baylor, the Lakers arguably would never have been able to move from Minneapolis to Los Angeles. If not for Baylor, other NBA stars may not have incorporated a running jump shot into their game. Those qualities partly explain why Baylor has been the NBA’s most underappreciated superstar. After the Lakers selected Baylor with their first pick in the 1958 NBA draft, former Lakers owner Bob Short believed the franchise would have gone bankrupt had he not accepted their offer. Baylor also became what most eventually valued in a modern NBA player, including strong shooting, athleticism and footwork. Baylor excelled as a player despite juggling military duties. But his career was struck short by injuries just before the Lakers’ 1972 championship season.

14. Jerry West

(AP Photo)

From USA TODAY:

West became known as Mr. Clutch for his miraculous shots, playmaking and willingness to play through pain. But West also played through a different kind of pain – the persistent losing. West cemented the worst NBA Finals record of all time (1-8), seven of those losses against the hated Boston Celtics. Very little of it had to do with West, though. West remains the only player to be named Finals MVP on a losing team when he averaged nearly 38 points in a seven-game series loss to Boston in 1969. West finally collected his first NBA championship trophy three years later with a Lakers team that had the league’s longest winning streak (33 games in 1971-72).

10. Shaquille O’Neal

By Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY.

From USA TODAY:

O’Neal became larger than life with his size, play and personality, most notably with the Orlando Magic (1992-96), Los Angeles Lakers (1996-2004) and Miami Heat (2004-08). O’Neal shattered backboards and roughed up opponents while collecting four NBA titles, three Finals MVPs and one regular-season MVP. Still, O’Neal often left others wanting more amid missed free throws, an inconsistent work ethic and personality clashes with teammates, coaches and management. Nothing personified that more than his tension with Kobe Bryant on the Lakers before being traded to Miami. O’Neal’s body then broke down in short stints in Phoenix (2008-09), Cleveland (2009-10) and Boston (2010-11).

7. Kobe Bryant

(AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

From USA TODAY:

Bryant had a whole second act left unfulfilled after he and his 9-year-old daughter, Gianna, were among nine people who died in a helicopter crash in January 2020. But Bryant already left enough of a legacy with his play alone. Bryant won five NBA titles and became the Lakers’ all-time leading scorer through an unmatched work ethic, miraculous shot-making and ability to play through pain. Bryant encountered plenty of adversities (some selfinflicted), including jumping from high school to the NBA, a sexual assault charge settled out of court and mixed support for his demanding leadership style and high-volume shooting. But Bryant sought to maximize his strengths and overcome his weaknesses through sheer will and self improvement.

5. Wilt Chamberlain

Wilt Chamberlain

Wilt Chamberlain

(AP Photo)

From USA TODAY:

Few NBA stars loomed as large as Chamberlain. His accomplishments remain mythical more than 48 years after he played his final NBA game. He still owns 72 NBA records, many considered unbreakable. He averaged 48.5 minutes during the 1961-62 season, sitting out one six-minute stretch in one game. He averaged 50.4 points per game, scored at least 40 in 63 of the 82 games and scored 50 or more in seven consecutive games. He was the only player in NBA history to average at least 30 points and 20 rebounds per game in a season, which he did nine times. He was also the only player to average those numbers for his career, finishing with 30.1 points, 22.9 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game in 14 seasons. And did we mention he had a 100-point game as well as a 55-rebound game? Chamberlain was a seven-time NBA scoring champion and an 11-time NBA rebounding champion. He also was a four-time NBA MVP and a two-time NBA champion.

4. Magic Johnson

Magic Johnson

Magic Johnson

(Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports)

From USA TODAY:

Magic Johnson helped change the NBA for the better. By the late 1970s, early 1980s, the league was in desperate need of a dynamic personality with the on-court skills to match. Johnson arrived at just the right time with an engaging smile and mesmerizing game for the Los Angeles Lakers. At 6-8, he was a point guard with extraordinary vision, skills and passing ability. As a rookie, he was named Finals MVP in 1980, averaging 21.5 points, 11.2 rebounds and 8.7 assists. It was the first of his three Finals MVPs. Johnson was a 12-time All-Star, 10-time All-NBA selection and three-time regular-season MVP and won five titles, all with the Lakers. He led the league in steals twice and assists four times and is sixth on the all-time assists list and third on the all-time triple-double list. For his career, he averaged 19.5 points, 11.2 assists, 7.2 rebounds and 1.9 steals

3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

(Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images)

From USA TODAY:

Just over 32 years have passed since his retirement, and Abdul-Jabbar still remains at the top of the NBA’s all-time scoring list. On the Milwaukee Bucks (1969-75) and Los Angeles Lakers (1975-89), Abdul-Jabbar scored most of those 38,387 points with his signature skyhook. Abdul-Jabbar perfected the move by placing the ball over his 7-foot-2 frame, elevating himself on an angle and then sinking the shot with a smooth touch. No one has since duplicated Abdul-Jabbar’s shot, he suspects, because of the work required for something unglamorous. But it yielded results for Abdul-Jabbar, who won six NBA championships and six MVPs.

2. LeBron James

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

From USA TODAY:

LeBron James entered the NBA with gargantuan and almost-impossible-to-meet expectations. He exceeded them. James is a four-time champion, four-time Finals MVP, fourtime regular-season MVP, 17-time All-NBA, 17-time All-Star, six-time All-Defense and threetime All-Star MVP. He is a complete player with a varied skill set who always seeks to improve his game. A gifted passer, accomplished scorer and dedicated rebounder, James is one of the game’s all-time greats. He is the game’s No. 3 all-time leading scorer and will pass Karl Malone for No. 2 this season or next and could challenge Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for No. 1. He has the second-best all-time player efficiency rating, and James is on pace to become the only player to end up in the top five in scoring, assists and triple-doubles. James also has produced some of the most memorable playoff and Finals moments, including leading his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers to the 2016 championship

1

1

Related Posts