96. Tom Chambers. "Chambers filled the wing splendidly on fast breaks, scored effectively in the half-court, and shone during the single most competitive stretch in NBA history ('86 to '93, an era that included twelve of the top twenty-four guys on this list and nineteen of the top fifty) as the go-to guy on three conference finalists ('87 Sonics, '89 Suns, '90 Suns)."
95. Jo Jo White. "A postseason ace whose career playoff averages exceeded his three-year regular season peak, Jo Jo finished as the best guard on two title teams plus a 68-win team."
94. Jack Twyman. "One of my favorite random moments writing this book: spending a solid hour picking between Cliff Hagan and Twyman for the 'white forward from the fifties and sixties' cutoff spot, then deciding Hagan was slightly better because he won a title and was elected to the Hall five years before Twyman in 1978 (even though he retired four years after Twyman)."
93. Kevin Johnson. "…no point guard brazenly attacked the basket, dunked on bigger guys and destroyed guys off the dribble quite like KJ in his prime; it wasn't that opponents couldn't stay in front of him as much as how they instinctively backed up before he made a move."
92. Bob Lanier. "Lanier and his size 21 sneakers narrowly edge Sikma and his kick-ass blondafroperm for the cutoff center spot, only because Sikma was blessed with talented Seattle/Milwaukee teams and poor Lanier was stuck in NBA hell (Detroit) for the entire seventies."
91. Bailey Howell. "A physical small forward (like a more efficient Ron Artest, without the crazy), Howell made six straight All-Star Games and played a pivotal role on Boston's last two title teams."
90. Chris Paul. "The Evolutionary Isiah. Although Paul struggled through an unhappy '10 season (the lowlight: a torn meniscus, a fired coach, declining attendance, and a lottery appearance), his '08 and '09 season remain the best two-year statistical stretch by any point guard since Oscar."
89. Vince Carter. "His most famous moment? The time he leapfrogged Frederic Weis for a monster throwdown in the 2000 Olympics. (Anytime someone's career highlight involves Fred Weis, really, what more can be said?)"
88. Shawn Kemp. "With the notable exception of Howard and Young Shaq, there hasn't been a force of nature like Young Kemp: he ran the floor better than any big man ever, finished off alley-oops from every conceivable angle (and some that hadn't been conceived yet) and dunked on everyone in sight (his '92 playoff dunks on Alton Lister and Chris Gatling reside in the Dunk Pantheon)."
87. Gail Goodrich. "One of the better-scoring guards from the confusing ABA/NBA era, the crafty southpaw gets bonus points for being a top-three player on a 69-win Lakers team and abusing Earl Monroe in the '72 Finals, as well as having an unorthodox low-post game, punishing smaller guards down low, and attacking the rim like a crazed Manu Ginobili (attempting 550-plus FTs four different times)."
86. Connie Hawkins. "Although we'll never know how good Hawkins could have been, he was the first modern power forward with athleticism and length (a good seven to ten years ahead of Gus Johnson and Spencer Haywood), a prototype for the Kemps and Garnetts, someone who played above the rim before his knees started going on him."
85. Arvydas Sabonis. "Thank God for YouTube, where a young and healthy Saba lives on breaking backboards, draining threes and throwing no-look passes; there's a reason everyone compared him to Walton with 25-foot range."
84. Robert Horry. "He was a terrific help defender who constantly covered for teammates: big enough to handle low-post players, quick enough to handle perimeter scorers. He only asserted himself when his team truly needed him, never caring about stats or touches--giving him something in common with maybe 1.87 percent of the league--and routinely getting better when it mattered."
83. Cliff Hagan. "A valuable playoff piece for St. Louis during their underrated playoff peak (one title, four Finals appearances). If you played for ten years in the fifties and sixties, peaked for five, and starred for a champion and a couple of runner-ups, that was a really good career during the Mad Men era, when everyone traveled coach, shared hotel rooms with teammates, smoked butts and drank coffee, got plastered after games, didn't work out, didn't eat right, didn't care of their bodies and banged bodies like they were playing rugby."
82. Chris Mullin. "Even though he crested a little late, few modern players were more entertaining or intelligent on the offensive end; he was like a left-handed, miniature version of Larry Bird, only with worse hair, paler skin and an accent that made him sound like a cross between Boston Rob and Mike Francesa."
81. Dave Bing. "Bing rode the ABA/expansion statistical surge and put up impressive numbers during his offensive peak ('67 to '73), when he played with the likes of Dave DeBusschere and Bob Lanier and only made the playoffs once."
80. Bobby Dandridge. "You could call Bobby D. a cross between Caron Butler and Big Shot Brob, someone who did all the little things, drifted between three positions, defended every type of forward (famously out dueling Julius Erving in the '78 Playoffs) and routinely draining monster shots (like the game-winner against a triple-team in Game 7 of the '79 Spurs series, which happened after he had been switched to a scalding-hot George Gervin and shut Ice down for the final few minutes)."
79. Paul Westphal. "He's remembered as the league's best guard for five years ('76 to '80), as well as a memorably entertaining All-Star Game performer and the starting two-guard on the White Guys Who Played Like Black Guys team (don't worry, we're getting there)."
78. Dwight Howard. "Howard only wants to run around, jump over guys, ram a few dunks home, block a few shots out of bounds, flex his muscles, smile to the crowd and interview himself during halftime shows….Alpha dog pedigree, sidekick mindset. Too bad."
77. Tracy McGrady. "A resume jarringly similar to Pete Maravich's even if McGrady was significantly better defensively. Both were known by nicknames ("T-Mac" and "Pistol"). Both carried lousy teams for much of their primes. Both were ridiculously gifted offensive players who had unusual weight among their peers, although McGrady was never discussed reverentially like Maravich was and is."
76. Dan Issel. "There's something to be said for a perimeter center who never missed games and gave his teams somewhere between a 19-8 and a 25-11 every night, averaging 29.9 points as a rookie in '71 and 19.8 as a fourteen-year veteran in '84."
75. Artis Gilmore. "Without any big rivals who could handle him in a quicker ABA, Artis dominated just like the token tall guy dominates an intramural game in college. He never enjoyed the same success in the NBA, but there are worse things than a center giving you a 20-12 every night, clogging the paint, shooting 60 percent and looking like he's about to film a Dracula movie."
74. Joe Dumars. "Dumars was the one decent soul on those bad-boy squads, a splendid team player who lifted his game when it mattered, a gifted defender who handled MJ better than anyone except John Starks. When the Association struggled with character issues in the mid-nineties, Joe D stood out for his class and professionalism."
73. Sidney Moncrief. "Moncrief was one of the defining what-if guys. If not for chronic knee problems that eventually derailed his career, Moncrief would have been the best all-around guard of the eighties and one of the top forty-five Pyramid guys."
72. Chris Webber. "You wouldn't say C-Webb had an atrocious career or anything. He made five All-Star teams, an All-NBA first team and three All-NBA second teams. He won Rookie of the Year and a rebounding title. Starring for a series of memorably entertaining Sacramento teams from 1999 to 2003, he was the league's second-best power forward and submitted a three-year peak of 25-11-5."
71. Lenny Wilkens. "Wilkens was very good and not great. The statistics and win totals back that up, and that's before we tackle how the ABA/expansion dynamic skewed everyone's stats from 1969 to 1976….If Lenny was a B-plus for eight years, he jumped to an A-minus in a depleted/diluted league."
70. David Thompson. "The dude soared through the air like a Bud Light daredevil bouncing off a trampoline. What really separated him was his zero-to-sixty explosiveness in traffic. Surrounded by four or five taller players, time and time again Thompson took your breath away by springing four feet to block a shot or dunk on someone's head."
69. Dennis Rodman. "He played for ten conference finalists in three cities, ten 50-win teams and five 60-win teams, and he missed the playoffs once in his career (a 40-win Pistons team in '93)….He guarded Larry Bird better than anyone. Nobody else came close….During his last good season on the '98 Bulls--at age 36, when he was partying incessantly, to the point that MJ and Jackson had an intervention with him--Rodman played 80 regular-season games (15.0 RPG), then another 20 playoff games (11.8 RPG), logging nearly 3,600 minutes in all. The man was a physical freak. We'll see another fifty Horace Grants before we see another Dennis Rodman. And thank God. I think one was enough."
68. Pete Maravich. "In every conceivable way, Pistol Pete was ahead of his time. Seeing him in person was like seeing twelve Globetrotters rolled into one: no pass was too far-fetched, no shot too far away. He'd glide across the court--all rubbery limbs, ball attached to his hand like a yo-yo, blank expression on his face--and you never knew what would happen next, just that ht scoreboard never mattered as much as the show."
67. Earl Monroe. "We're invoking the Walton Corollary here: even if a guy peaked for just two or three years as a truly great players, that's more appealing than someone who never peaked at all. You know someone was great when he had two playground nicknames (Black Jesus and Magic) and a mainstream nickname (Earl the Pearl); moved Woody ALlen to write a Sport magazine profile about him; invented a specific signature move (the spin move); became immortalized in He Got Game even though the movie was released twenty-five years after his prime; and owned such an unconventional offensive game based on spins and herky-jerky hesitation moves that nobody has replicated it since."
66. Adrian Dantley. "Okay, so when will we see another Dantley? Really, a six-foot-three post-up player with a hundred different uptakes and herky-jerky moves who creates wiggle room in the paint with his abnormally gigantic ass? He was the J-Lo of NBA players."
65. Alex English. "English was a lanky forward who never seemed to get hot--he'd score 7-8 points per quarter and end up around 30 every game, only you barely noticed him except for the fact that he never seemed to miss."
64. Jerry Lucas. "That's the question with Lucas--were those numbers accomplished because of the style of play (run-and-gun, lots of possessions) and lack of athletic forwards? Partially, yes. Still, those numbers were mildly mind-blowing: Lucas nearly averaged a 20-20 for four straight years, giving Oscar a running mate when the Royals extended Boston to two deciding games. During a five-year stretch in a loaded league (1964-68), he made three first-team All-NBAs and two second teams."
63. Reggie Miller. "At no point was Reggie considered one of the NBA's top ten players for a single season. Nine of his contemporaries at shooting guard made All-NBA (first or second): Jordan, Drexler, Dumars, Latrell Sprewell, Mitch Richmond, Kobe, T-Mac, Iverson, and Ray Allen. Reggie only made third-team All-NBA three times ('95, '96, and '98). That's it. And his reputation as a 'great' playoffs player has been slightly overblown."
62. Ray Allen. "For his nine-year prime (1999-2007), Ray-Ray was remarkably efficient (23-5-4, 45% FG, 40% 3FG, 90% FT), had the prettiest jumper of any star player and rarely attempted anything he couldn't do. If he were a baseball player, he would have been Wade Boggs--not a franchise guy, but someone with a few elite skills (milking pitch counts, getting on base, stroking singles and rarely missing a game, in Boggs' case) that made him a genuine asset as long as you surrounded him with other quality players."
92. Tim Hardaway. An addition Simmons overlooked, I am highlighting Hardaway because he belongs in the modern explosive point guard category alongside Kevin Johnson, Chris Paul, Gary Payton, and Steve Nash. Like KJ, Hardaway missed significant time, but he managed 867 games to Johnson's 735 while averaging 17-8 to KJ's 17-9, piloting contenders in Golden State and Miami, and finishing 65th in MVP Win Shares to Johnson's 101st.
brilliant piece on two of the league's top point guards, Ethan Sherwood Strauss equated last year's Chris Paul-Stephen Curry playoff matchup to a Peyton Manning-Brett Favre showdown. Curry's maverick shooting and showy handles wow crowds and win plenty of games and acclaim in a daring manner reminiscent of Favre, but Paul usually is heralded as the league's best point guard by virtue of the control he wields over the floor and the other nine hoopsters sharing the hardwood just as Manning manipulates the pieces around him on the gridiron. Prior to his knee problems, Paul carried Hornets teams to franchise heights. Now he's got a bonafide star beside him in Blake Griffin, a savvy coach in Doc Rivers, and a full assortment of complementary pieces. Can Paul's brilliant basketball mind deliver wins to a franchise that was historically bad prior to his arrival?