Top 74 NBA players of all time per ESPN

Raze

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Look, I totally understand that top-whatever lists are subjective and ripe for ridicule. We've had are own debates on here about top players, but most people are reasonable. So I usually take everything with a grain of salt, but we're in quarantine so...

How in the hell do they have Steph Curry #13 all time!?! Sure, he's the greatest shooter (in his era) and he's very good at anticipating passes (1.7 SPG). I won't argue those. But he's hardly average at everything else and he's a sub average one on one defender (You know, the other 50% of the game). This is a "PG" who's only been in the top 5 of APG once in his career. ONCE. His career A:TO is 2.1 (which is only ok). And I'm not arguing that he sucks or shouldn't be in the top 74... but #13!?!

The argument that ANYONE would take him over these guys is asinine:

Charles Barkley
Moses Malone
Dr. J
Jerry West
Elgin Baylor
Kawhi Leonard

I wouldn't take him over Durant... his own teammate who they have at #14.

PG-wise, I'd be hard pressed to take him over Isiah Thomas or Chris Paul. I'd NEVER take him over John Stockton. I'd take him over Iverson. (I'm notably leaving out Suns PGs to cover any bias).

As for the "era" argument does anyone really think he'd have survived in any era but his? This reeks of recency bias and playing to the "era" audience.

https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/29105681/ranking-top-74-nba-players-all-nos-40-11

https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/29105801/ranking-top-74-nba-players-all-nos-10-1
 

GatorAZ

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I’d take peak-Steph over most those guys. You can pick nits about his defense but his impact stats don’t lie and he was the best player on a title team.
 

Finito

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I got a lot of problems with this list

guys like Iverson, Nash and Stockton over Isiah? Seriously? Isiah is the second best PG of all time.

guys like Karl Malone, Pippen or KG above Barkley? All good players even great but not better than Barkley.

Steph revolutionized the NBA game. For all his faults he’s a special player. He’s an offensive weapon like we’ve never seen.
 

Hoop Head

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I’d take peak-Steph over most those guys. You can pick nits about his defense but his impact stats don’t lie and he was the best player on a title team.

Do you take him as the starting PG or do you take another PG with him to cover for his lack of playmaking ability? I think he's a great player but like Allen Iverson, he's not a real PG and I'm not sure why he's labeled as one so often. Draymond Green has run the Warriors offense for most of their title run and would be considered the PG based on his role in the offense but he's always listed at PF or C.

I know during the Warriors run there was a lot of talk of where Curry ranks all time amongst the great PG's and I was never a fan of that discussion because I never thought he was a true PG. It's not even like others where you debate "pass first" or "score first", Steph just happens to be slotted into the lineup at "PG" despite not really being one. He's behind Magic, Stockton, and Isiah Thomas. I can't see him surpassing any of those guys and if we're judging him solely as a PG then I'd put him around the #6 or #7 spot with Gary Payton. I'd have Oscar Robertson at #4, for the record. Maybe he's as high as #4 or #5. I just have trouble viewing him as more than a fantastic shooter. Greatest shooter of all time? No doubt, but it's debatable whether he was the best player on the championship teams he was part of.*


I said that wrong but since it's been called into question already, I won't change it but want to note that what I meant to say is it's questionable whether he was the best player in the championship series he was part of. He won 3 titles but hasn't won a single Finals MVP despite winning the title the year he was the first ever unanimous regular season MVP.
 
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Finito

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Do you take him as the starting PG or do you take another PG with him to cover for his lack of playmaking ability? I think he's a great player but like Allen Iverson, he's not a real PG and I'm not sure why he's labeled as one so often. Draymond Green has run the Warriors offense for most of their title run and would be considered the PG based on his role in the offense but he's always listed at PF or C.

I know during the Warriors run there was a lot of talk of where Curry ranks all time amongst the great PG's and I was never a fan of that discussion because I never thought he was a true PG. It's not even like others where you debate "pass first" or "score first", Steph just happens to be slotted into the lineup at "PG" despite not really being one. He's behind Magic, Stockton, and Isiah Thomas. I can't see him surpassing any of those guys and if we're judging him solely as a PG then I'd put him around the #6 or #7 spot with Gary Payton. I'd have Oscar Robertson at #4, for the record. Maybe he's as high as #4 or #5. I just have trouble viewing him as more than a fantastic shooter. Greatest shooter of all time? No doubt, but it's debatable whether he was the best player on the championship teams he was part of.

lol

I swear to god you better not try and say Klay or Draymond are better cause they got a ring before KD was even on the team
 

Hoop Head

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#74-41 are full of head scratchers also. I don't see how Vince Carter is ahead of guys like Clyde Drexler or Ray Allen also. Gary Payton being so low, #55, is crazy to me. To win Defensive Player of the Year in 96 as a PG is crazy. He averaged 19.3 ppg and 7.5 apg with 2.9 steals a game on a team that won 64 games. It's not just how he played defense then but he was viewed as more impactful than prime Mutombo and Mourning, Hakeem on the tail end of his prime, and a motivated Shaq. Payton's legacy seemed to take a hit for how he ended his career chasing a title but he was a beast in Seattle and led that team to the finals.

Admittedly, I was a big Payton fan growing up in the 90's and am surprised he's gotten a raw deal here. He's someone who I think deserves a spot in the top 50, at the very least.

They have Anthony Davis at #45 right now, for what? Leading the Pelicans nowhere and forcing his way to the Lakers? That is the most success he's had though, forcing a trade to where he wanted to go. That doesn't make him better than Mutombo, Mourning, Rodman, or even Pau Gasol, who they had at #65.


https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/29105574/ranking-top-74-nba-players-all-nos-74-41
 

Hoop Head

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lol

I swear to god you better not try and say Klay or Draymond are better cause they got a ring before KD was even on the team

I think Iggy was better than Steph in that first title series. I should have said that statement better. Steph was the best player on that year's team, no doubt about that, but he wasn't the best player in that championship series. I'd say Iggy was the best player in that finals, and he has the MVP to back that up, but Steph wasn't that great in that series and wasn't clearly ahead of Draymond or Klay.
 

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Do you take him as the starting PG or do you take another PG with him to cover for his lack of playmaking ability? I think he's a great player but like Allen Iverson, he's not a real PG and I'm not sure why he's labeled as one so often. Draymond Green has run the Warriors offense for most of their title run and would be considered the PG based on his role in the offense but he's always listed at PF or C.

I know during the Warriors run there was a lot of talk of where Curry ranks all time amongst the great PG's and I was never a fan of that discussion because I never thought he was a true PG. It's not even like others where you debate "pass first" or "score first", Steph just happens to be slotted into the lineup at "PG" despite not really being one. He's behind Magic, Stockton, and Isiah Thomas. I can't see him surpassing any of those guys and if we're judging him solely as a PG then I'd put him around the #6 or #7 spot with Gary Payton. I'd have Oscar Robertson at #4, for the record. Maybe he's as high as #4 or #5. I just have trouble viewing him as more than a fantastic shooter. Greatest shooter of all time? No doubt, but it's debatable whether he was the best player on the championship teams he was part of.

I’m not too worried about position labels. Steph won b2b MVP’s as the team’s primary ball-handler while shattering efficiency records for a guard.
 

Raze

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I think Iggy was better than Steph in that first title series. I should have said that statement better. Steph was the best player on that year's team, no doubt about that, but he wasn't the best player in that championship series. I'd say Iggy was the best player in that finals, and he has the MVP to back that up, but Steph wasn't that great in that series and wasn't clearly ahead of Draymond or Klay.
... and then he wasn't the best player in the next 2 championships, KD was better than him. Granted, Steph still put up gawdy numbers, just not as good as KD.

And just to keep us grounded, this discussion isn't IF Steph is an all time great player... he absolutely IS. The debate is who is he better than and where does he rank. Since comparing them all is exhausting, for now let's address if he is better than KD.

Here's one way to look at it, if I had to start a franchise with a peak KD or a peak Steph and surround either of them with average players, I wouldn't for a heartbeat pass on KD. It's not even really close. I just can't see Steph carrying a team that far on his own. His success has always been coupled with future HoFs and in many ways they've protected him. (His first time without them, early this year for 5 games, he was completely inefficient. Small sample size, but still telling.) KD doesn't need protecting.

One more bothersome thing about Steph: I've heard he's 0 for 9 on lead changing shots with 24 seconds left on the clock in Finals games (haven't confirmed this number). Point is, there continues to be questions on how clutch he is in big games. On the other hand, KD is famous for being clutch when it matters.

FWIW, I asked my buddy who's a big GS fan what he thought of the rankings. He agrees Steph is way too high and agrees with myself and Finito that Isiah is way too low. (What Isiah did in that era is unbelievable, ie. in '89 he had to get through Jordan and Magic to win it all). He'd have Steph behind Pippen around #22. I'd still put him lower than that firmly behind Stockton and Isiah.
 

elindholm

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Here's one way to look at it, if I had to start a franchise with a peak KD or a peak Steph and surround either of them with average players, I wouldn't for a heartbeat pass on KD. It's not even really close. I just can't see Steph carrying a team that far on his own.

Huh? Durant hasn't done anything on his own. The stacked Thunder teams he was on always under-performed in the playoffs. The Warriors won a title led by Curry, and were a game away from winning back-to-back, before Durant even showed up.

I agree that Curry is too high, but no matter where you put him, he has to be ahead of Durant. Durant is the Dominique Wilkins of his era. He put up gaudy numbers in the playoffs because opposing defenses keyed on Curry, correctly identifying him as the biggest threat.
 

Mainstreet

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If I'm starting a team from scratch give me Stephen Curry over Durant as well.

Something magical happens when Curry is running a team. If the Suns would have been able to trade Amare for Curry (which was proposed) they might well have a championship.
 

Raze

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Huh? Durant hasn't done anything on his own. The stacked Thunder teams he was on always under-performed in the playoffs. The Warriors won a title led by Curry, and were a game away from winning back-to-back, before Durant even showed up.

I agree that Curry is too high, but no matter where you put him, he has to be ahead of Durant. Durant is the Dominique Wilkins of his era. He put up gaudy numbers in the playoffs because opposing defenses keyed on Curry, correctly identifying him as the biggest threat.
True, Durant has never done anything on his own. But he did get to prove how good he was without Westbrook for 27 straight games in '13-14 when he went 35.0/7.5/6.3 on 52/40/88 shooting and went 20-7 winning 10 in a row. (I wouldn't call any team stacked when Westbrook is on the floor.)

In 5 games this year without Klay, Steph went 20.8/5.2/6.6 on 40.2/24.5/100.0 shooting and went 1-4 losing by about 13 a game. Again, small sample size, but telling.

Also true that Curry won a title without KD. But was nearly outplayed by Lebron and 6 of the scrubbiest supporting cast members I've ever seen. Lebron should have won Finals MVP that year. It would be hard to believe the Warriors win that series if Kyrie doesn't fracture his kneecap in game 1; and that's all without Kevin Love. I can't argue that GS won a title, but I can argue it's not that impressive of one given the circumstances (almost identical to Toronto's).

Then the next year they blow a 3-1 lead. That's not something GS fans think of as a positive. That's like celebrating that the Falcons were up 25 points on the Patriots.

Again... Steph is still AMAZING. I just think KD is more AMAZING.
 

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