You've already gotten a bit of a sneak peek if you read my controversial Top 10 Point Guards of All Time article. But now we open it up to ALL positions, and that's when things get really tricky. Ya'll know how I feel about intros - let's just get right into this...
Steve Nash, PG
Resume: Officially named as one of the top 75 players of all time; 4th all time in assists, 2 MVP awards
Yeah, I know... Nash would be in pretty much everybody's top 50. But not mine. Of the "greatest of all time," Nash is probably the worst defender and - by far - the most detrimental defensive liability to his team. Anybody in the league could post him up. Anybody in the league could take him to town, forcing his teammates to double and consequently opening up shooters for the opposing team.
He's also NEVER been to an NBA Finals. Forget about winning one... he's never even been there! I think - all things considered - Nash might actually be one of the most overrated players in league history. We all know Kobe deserved that second MVP award, anyway.
Russell Westbrook, PG
Resume: Officially named as one of the top 75 players of all time; 11th all time in assists, 30th in points
Come on, I think you know where this one is going... everywhere Russ goes, things seem to fall apart somehow. To me - like the guy coming next on this list - Westbrook is one of the greatest statistical players in the history of basketball. But like, what does that really even mean? He's never won a championship, and he just went to a team that won a title just two seasons ago... and they didn't even make the playoffs this year!
It's simple, when the going gets tough in clutch spots, Russell Westbrook turns the ball over, takes bad shots and makes boneheaded plays.
James Harden, G
Resume: Officially named as one of the top 75 players of all time; 3rd all time in threes made, 9th in FT made, 28th in points
"The Beard" can be summarized rather easily: In the playoffs, in the most important spots, he doesn't even WANT the ball. Forget about having the ball and making key plays... he doesn't even want it. If you compare his playoff percentages to the regular season, it's just laughable. I'd rank Westbrook over him just out of principle - at least Russ will take the ball and TRY to make something good happen for his team when it really matters. Harden simply wants to run away and hide.
Dwight Howard, C
Resume: 10th all time in rebounds, 13th in blocks, 1 ring, 3x Defensive Player of the Year
If Steve Nash is overrated - which he most certainly is - then I'd say Howard is criminally underrated for his career. Somehow, he was NOT named one of the NBA's top 75 players of all time. In the top 13 all time in both rebounds and blocks, and he has a ring - that's not good enough for the top 75? How does that make any logical sense?
Howard is easily one of the best "true" big men of his generation. He ended up getting his ring in The Bubble with LeBron and the Lakers, which was cosmic karma for getting that weak Orlando Magic team into the Finals in the past. All's well that ends well, I suppose.
George Mikan, C
Resume: Officially named as one of the top 75 players of all time; 5 championship rings
On my middle school team, we always used to practice "The Mikan Drill" - righty one-hand layup, catch it, quickly switch to left and do the same with your "weak" hand (if applicable). Mikan is the OG of the center position; he paved the way for fellow legends Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and more of the like.
And 5 rings ain't half bad, either!
John Frascella's Top 50 NBA Players of All Time
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Virtually everyone on here was named to the "Top 75 of all time" so I won't be listing that as a redundant accolade from here on out.)
50. Luka Doncic, PG
Resume: 3-time All-Star (out of only 4 seasons); 3-time All-NBA Team (most through age 22 along with only Kobe and LeBron); Rookie of the Year; 2nd all time in playoff PPG behind Jordan
Yeah, yeah, I know... the kid is only 23 years young. But it's really as simple as this for me: I've been watching basketball intently for roughly 31 years now, and I need to use my knowledge to answer this simple question: Who is a better NBA player, Luka Doncic or Steve Nash?
And that's really all it came down to, for me. Nash and Luka are in the same boat for now - Nash never reached an NBA Finals and Luka recently lost his first Conference Final 4-1 to the Warriors - but I think we can assume there’s serious winning in Luka’s undoubtedly bright future. Look, I appreciate the effort that Jason Kidd coaxes out of the current Mavs, but let's be real - this is one of the weakest all-around teams to reach a Conference Final in many years, now. And it's truly all because of Luka's singular dominance. The Ringer gives us some really good context on this, overall. Plain and simple, I need to win a big game and someone is gonna have the rock in his hands throughout, I want Luka to be that guy over Nash, all day everyday and twice on Sunday.
Admittedly, neither are good defenders, but at least Luka's pure size gives him more flexibility and potential impact as a space clogger.
49. Robert Parish, C
Resume: 8th all time in rebounds; 10th in blocks; 4 championship rings; 29th in points
On resume alone, Parish is a lot better than 49th all time. But he's what Patrick Beverley would refer to as "a compiler" (his words on Chris Paul). On teams led by Larry Bird and Kevin McHale, Parish was more of a defensive anchor and overall glue player. But still, he's a pure winner. He's the type of two-way unselfish teammate who allows for four championship rings in totality. Quite possibly one of the most underrated players the game has ever seen, because others always seem to get the credit before he does.
48. Vince Carter, SG/SF
Resume: 19th in points, 10-time All-Star, greatest dunk champion of all time
He feels right at home here, because the following two legends were precursors to Vince's style and showmanship. All three were pure scorers who could fly and play well above the rim. Vince is a weird one to gauge - he made only one Conference Final, but he's also up there amongst the all-time leaders in game-winning shots. As a Nets fan, when he played for us, he was consistently clutch in tight spots, making incredibly difficult, well-defended shots down the stretch. Should have kept the band together with T-Mac in Toronto; perhaps VC would have a conference title or championship ring to his name, in that event.
47. Dominique Wilkins, F
Resume: 14th all-time in scoring; 11-time All-Star (consecutively, as well)
It's really pick your poison with a handful of these guys, here - Wilkins, Carter and Nos. 45 and 46 were all prolific individual scorers who didn't win championships in their primes (one got one right as his career was winding to a close). I'm not gonna argue with ya in any one direction; I can be sold on all four of these all-time offensive greats.
Wilkins, like Carter, is a Slam Dunk legend, which is fun and contributes to the tapestry and history of the NBA. He remains a great ambassador for the game, currently. Now, that doesn't have much to do with on-court stuff in his prime, but I do believe we have to consider the overall context of the player and personality when splitting hairs between very close competitors. Wilkins presents a very nice overall package, with the one exception being that ring missing from his championship finger.
46. Clyde Drexler, SG/SF
Resume: 34th in points, 1 championship ring, 10-time All-Star
"Clyde the Glide" was one of The Unfortunate: Nobody else was winning when Michael Jordan was in his prime. MJ took down Drexler, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Patrick Ewing and more of the like. Still, Clyde was skilled, smooth and prolific. A beautiful player to watch who eventually got his title when he teamed with the great Hakeem Olajuwon (who was drafted two spots ahead of Jordan, actually).
45. James Worthy, PF
Resume: 3 championship rings, 7-time All-Star
A "winning player" like the aforementioned Robert Parish. Teaming with legends Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - also like Parish - Worthy could often get lost in the shuffle in terms of accolades and recognition, but the true "basketball people" wholly understand and appreciate his value on the court. Here's a power forward who played both ends of the floor tenaciously, and ran the court beautifully, a skill that worked wonders within Magic's "Showtime" run-and-gun offense.
44. Patrick Ewing, C
Resume: 7th all time in blocks; 24th in points; 25th in rebounds; 11-time All-Star
One of the greatest to never win a title, for sure. Ewing was a star in New York, yet he was always branded with the "Choker" label by the very same fans who adored him for his productivity and consistency. Ewing was most certainly a reliable two-way big man in the paint for the Knickerbockers from The Big City.
And ya know, it was just a freakin' brutal time for centers. You had Hakeem Olajuwon, doing his beautiful "Dream Shake" and essentially dominating the league on both ends of the floor. You had young Shaq, who was legitimately physically unstoppable. No one had EVER seen anything like young Shaq before, tearing down rims and eating opposing centers for voracious three-course meals. Then there was "The Admiral" David Robinson, a two-way monster and quietly effective leader for a franchise on the verge of a similarly quiet dynasty. And don't forget about Dikembe Mutombo, wagging his finger and blocking bigs as well - or better than - anyone to ever play the game of basketball.
So yeah, it was hard out there for a pimp! (To quote Hustle & Flow, an excellent movie, check it out.) And Ewing really held his own; just could never get that ring, ultimately. I mean, Michael Jordan was makin' it hurt on him, too.
43. Allen Iverson, G
Resume: 7th all time in PPG, 26th in total points, 1 MVP, 11-time All-Star
A tough one for me, because I couldn't stand "AI" aka "The Answer" when he was an active player. Maybe because I was always on that Kobe Bandwagon; or maybe because he crossed up my main man MJ. Most notably, I didn't like him because of his low-percentage "chucker" style of individual offense.
Yet and still, Iverson did some incredible things with very weak supporting casts. Yes, there was immense volume, but AI made an awful lot happen with that volume. His scoring accolades speak for themselves, ultimately. The key to making these lists honestly is to remove personal biases; so yeah, I may not have liked Iverson - and I really still don't now - but I do believe this is a completely fair ranking in relativity to his career statistics and overall impact.
42. Walt Frazier, PG
Resume: 2 championship rings, 7-time All-Star
We had "Clyde the Glide" Drexler at No. 46, and now we have the legendary Walt "Clyde" Frazier at 42. This guy really is just a freakin' legend in New York. He's still the Mac Daddy as the lead analyst for the Knicks' televised games on MSG. On the court, he was The Leader who could do it all - how about the greatest Game 7 performance in NBA Finals history? "Clyde" was the total package - cool, calm, smooth, marketable and most importantly... clutch.
41. Tony Parker, PG
Resume: 4 championship rings, 6-time All-Star, top 10 in playoff points AND assists
One of my favorite players of all time - I once wrote that he was the most underrated player in the entire NBA. Hell, he might be the most underrated player in the history of the game. Sure, he had great company in Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard over time, but there were plenty of playoff instances where Parker was the stone-cold killer and closer in the clutch. He always played with confidence and never waivered, mentally. He was a deadly midrange shooter in the pick-and-roll and his pullup was lightning quick. He was a sneaky, effective finisher at the rim, too. Just a fantastic player and all-around winner I would take on my team 100% of the time, or more than 100 if possible.
40. Julius Erving, SF
Resume: 1 championship ring, 1 MVP, 11-Time NBA All-Star (3-time ABA MVP, 5-time ABA All-Star)
This is an NBA-only list, so I can't go any higher than this for "Dr J". On the bright side? He was an All-Star for all 11 of his NBA seasons and he had a profound impact on the next generation of high flyers, including Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins, Clyde Drexler and more of the like. On the down side? He had five incredible seasons in the ABA (including three MVPs) and I simply cannot give them weight on this particular list. Still, any way you slice it, Dr. J had a major impact on NBA culture and its overall "cool" factor. Just a beautiful player to watch; a natural talent who proved to be aspirational for future generations of basketball stars.
39. Bob Cousy, PG
Resume: 6 championship rings; 13-time All-Star (consecutively, at that)
I've already discussed Cousy in my recent Top 10 Point Guards of All Time article, so I won't go into much further detail here. The easiest summary is this: He doesn't show up much in the counting stats, but he shows up where it matters the most... in the Win column. Like George Mikan – mentioned earlier - Cousy was a true pioneer and developer of his position. For Mikan it was center; for Cousy, point guard and floor general.
38. Chris Paul, PG
Resume: 3rd all time in assists, 4th in steals, 39th in points, 12-time All-Star
At this point he might be the most difficult player to rank of all time, right? Again, check out my Top 10 Point Guards of All Time for more detail and a deeper analysis. The long and short of it is this: Are CP3's individual stats so impressive that we can ignore the absence of a championship ring? Depends on who you ask, really. I used to have CP3 as one of the top-five point guards of all time, but his epic collapse vs. Luka and the Mavs really put a bad taste in my mouth.
37. Reggie Miller, SG
Resume: 4th all time in threes; 22nd in points; 5-time All-Star
You know, there are some guys who don't have rings - like say, Westbrook, Harden, Patrick Ewing and more of the like - where we might think hey, maybe THEY were the problem in the clutch spots. Maybe they are to blame for their own lack of bling bling.
But we know that's not the case with Reggie Miller, the man who turned Spike Lee's hopeful dreams to nightmares for many years. Reggie was a stone-cold killer in the clutch, scoring in bunches within timeframes that seemed physically impossible.
And of course - to me, at least - Reggie is one of "The Godfathers" of the three-point arc. It's totally commonplace nowadays, but back in Reggie's day he was a true pioneer of prolific trey totals. He's the fourth "pioneer" I've mentioned thus far: Bob Cousy for the point guard position, George Mikan for the center position, Dr. J for high-flying acrobatics and Reggie for deadly three-point shooting. Being a pioneer is a persuasive distinction within an all-time top 50 list.
36. Ray Allen, SG
Resume: 2nd all-time in threes; 2 championship rings; 25th in points; 10-time All-Star; beat Denzel Washington in one-on-one
To me, he's the other "Godfather" of the three-point arc. Reggie and Ray-Ray really set the tone for future generations of perimeter-oriented players. And quite simply, he has the championship rings that Reggie lacks. He was also an elite perimeter defender in his prime, while Reggie would certainly Ole! from time to time. It's close, but I'm taking Ray Allen as the better and more successful all-around NBA legend.
35. Nikola Jokic, C
Resume: 2 MVPs, 3rd all-time in Efficiency; 4-time All-Star (consecutively)
"The Joker" is doing things we've never seen before in the NBA. He completely dominates the game for 48 minutes, and he does it without missing shots AND without turning the ball over. He's a perfect offensive machine at the center position, and he probably just posted the greatest statistical season of all time. Jokic became the first player in the history of the game to amass over 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 500 assists in the same season. Like I said, perfect.
We have to assume the championships will come if (A) Denver can get Jamal Murray 100% healthy and back to "Bubble" form or (B) Denver's management makes a serious attempt to improve Jokic's surrounding talent, on the whole.
34. George Gervin, SF
Resume: 9th all-time in PPG; 43rd in total points, 14-time All-Star (in a row, too!)
"The Iceman" is simply one of those legendary figures. Like Dr. J, Gervin was known for being smooth, silky, slick and an unstoppable scoring machine. Once you get into the top 10 all time in points per game? Now we're talkin' about the real "big boys" in the history of the game. Fourteen all-star appearances in a row? Bonkers.
33. Charles Barkley, PF
Resume: 27th all time in points; 11-time All-Star, 1 MVP; at time of retirement, one of only 4 players to have 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds & 3,500 assists
You can see some similarities to Jokic in that resume, there. Chuck was a bizarre "power forward" on the whole - listed at 6'6", he actually admitted to being 6'4" and change - he always played bigger and tougher than his actual stature, but he could also handle the ball and keep his teammates fed and happy. In a way, "Sir Charles" was a very sabermetric or Analytics-type player, ahead of his time in terms of efficiency and overall impact. Just a terrific all-around basketball player and all-time great personality.
32. Gary Payton, PG
Resume: 5th all time in steals; 10th in assists; 35th in points; 1 championship ring; 1st PG to win Defensive Player of the Year
"The Glove" was also featured in my Top 10 Point Guards of All Time article; check him out. I think one of his resume bullet points (above) tells you everything you need to know: First point guard to win Defensive Player of the Year. Here's a super underrated all-around player who could drive, dish, score and defend with the best of 'em, across the board. Great physical and mental leader, as well.
31. Jason Kidd, PG
Resume: 2nd all time in assists; 2nd in steals; 1 championship ring; 12-time All-Star
If you've heard this once, you've heard it a thousand times... check him out in my Top 10 Point Guards of All Time article. You'll get some further detail, there. In a nutshell? Jason Kidd was the IDEAL teammate. Never played for himself. Always was pushing and striving to make his teammates better, and ultimately, his team better. Such a rare thing to find at the game's highest level.
Please be sure to tune in next time when we burst through the door of my Top 30!!
John Frascella is a published sports author who has been covering the NBA, NFL and MLB for more than half his life. Follow him on Twitter @LegendSports7 for all things basketball, football and baseball!