New NBA Top 50 Team

Just over fifteen years ago, David Stern announced the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History as part of the league’s fiftieth anniversary. This NBA Top 50 team was selected by a group of players, media and team representatives irrespective of position.

For some reason, over the past month I’ve been thinking about what a revised NBA Top 50 team would look like. A team that could include current players. Then a few weeks ago I read an article by Bill Simmons about Paul Pierce, in which he mentioned that Pierce would currently be considered one of the top 50 players in NBA history. So I decided to take a look at what a revised NBA Top 50 team would look like 15 years after the first team was named.

I thought about the current and recently retired players that deserve to be considered for a spot on this new NBA Top 50 team. Kobe, LeBron, Tim Duncan, Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Steve Nash, Allen Iverson, Jason Kidd, Dwyane Wade, Gary Payton and Dirk Nowitzki all came to mind.

There’s another group of players that could be in someday, but in my mind, just haven’t played long enough or made enough impact to earn a spot on the team yet. Guys like Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Dwight Howard and Deron Williams.

So that’s eleven ‘new’ players that could be considered for the new NBA Top 50 team. Doesn’t mean all of them belong on it, but those are probably the best eleven since that initial team was named. But if any of them are going to make it on, then some players have to come off. Tougher than naming those eleven could be naming the bottom eleven off the 1996 NBA Top 50 team.

If I had to choose, I’d go with Tiny Archibald, Paul Arizin, Dave Bing, Billy Cunningham, Walt Frazier, George Gervin, Sam Jones, Jerry Lucas, Earl Monroe, Bill Walton and James Worthy.

Now let’s compare the stats of these 22 players. My thinking is that out of these 22, the top 11 get spots on the NBA Top 50 team. Keep in mind…I have a full time job…so my statistical comparison won’t match the analyses done by ESPN or SI or Bill Simmons. I just don’t have the time to get that deep into the numbers. If this was my full time job, that would be another story. You’ll see that some of the players included in this list don’t have certain stats included. That’s because those particular stats weren’t tabulated during their playing careers. For current players, the stats include their regular season numbers for the 2011-12 season:

Tiny Archibald (G): 13 seasons; 16,481 career points (18.8 ppg); 2,046 career rebounds (2.3 rpg); 6,476 career assists (7.4 apg); 719 career steals (1.1 spg); 81 career blocks (.1 bpg); 18.0 career PER

Paul Arizin (F/G): 10 seasons; 16,266 career points (22.8 ppg); 6,129 career rebounds (8.6 rpg); 1,665 career assists (2.3 apg); 19.7 career PER

Dave Bing (G): 12 seasons; 18,327 points (20.3 ppg); 3,420 career rebounds (3.8 rpg); 5,397 career assists (6.0 apg); 483 career steals (1.3 spg); 89 career blocks (.3 bpg); 17.6 career PER

Kobe Bryant (G): 16 seasons; 29,484 career points (25.4 ppg); 6,142 career rebounds (5.3 rpg); 5,418 career assists (4.7 apg); 1,722 career steals (1.5 spg); 594 career blocks (.5 bpg); 23.4 career PER

Billy Cunningham (F/C): 11 seasons; 16,310 career points (21.1 ppg); 7,981 career rebounds (10.4 rpg); 3,305 career assists (4.3 apg); 390 career steals (1.8 spg); 66 career blocks (.5 bpg); 20.0 career PER

Tim Duncan (F/C): 15 seasons; 22,558 career points (20.3 ppg); 12,533 career rebounds (11.3 rpg); 3,428 career assists (3.1 apg); 822 career steals (.7 spg); 2,469 career blocks (2.2 bpg); 24.7 career PER

Walt Frazier (G): 13 seasons; 15,581 career points (18.9 ppg); 4,830 career rebounds (5.9 rpg); 5,040 career assists (6.1 apg); 681 career steals (1.9 spg); 63 career blocks (.2 bpg); 19.1 career PER

Kevin Garnett (F): 17 seasons; 24,270 career points (19.3 ppg); 13,313 career rebounds (10.6 rpg); 5,065 career assists (4.0 apg); 1,664 career steals (1.3 spg); 1,908 career blocks (1.5 bpg); 23.3 career PER

George Gervin (G/F): 16 seasons; 26,595 career points (25.1 ppg); 5,602 career rebounds (5.3 rpg); 2,798 career assists (2.6 apg); 1,283 career steals (1.2 spg); 1,047 career blocks (1.0 bpg); 21.4 career PER

Allen Iverson (G): 14 seasons; 24,368 career points (26.7 ppg); 3,394 career rebounds (3.7 rpg); 5,624 career assists (6.2 apg); 1,983 career steals (2.2 spg); 164 career blocks (.2 bpg); 20.9 career PER

LeBron James (F/G): 9 seasons; 19,045 career points (27.6 ppg); 4,943 career rebounds (7.2 rpg); 4,751 career assists (6.9 apg); 1,194 career steals (1.7 spg); 582 career blocks (.8 bpg); 27.2 career PER

Sam Jones (G/F): 12 seasons; 15,411 career points (17.7 ppg); 4,305 career rebounds (4.9 rpg); 2,209 career assists (2.5 apg); 18.7 career PER

Jason Kidd (G): 18 seasons; 17,071 career points (13.0 ppg); 8,402 career rebounds (6.4 rpg); 11,842 career assists (9.0 apg); 2,559 career steals (1.9 spg); 425 career blocks (.3 bpg); 18.1 PER

Jerry Lucas (F/C): 11 seasons; 14,053 career points (17.0 ppg); 12,942 career rebounds (15.6 rpg); 2,732 career assists (3.3 apg); 28 career steals (.4 spg); 24 career blocks (.3 bpg); 18.9 career PER

Earl Monroe (G): 13 seasons; 17,454 career points (18.8 ppg); 2,796 career rebounds (3.0 rpg); 3.594 career assists (3.9 apg); 473 career steals (1.0 spg); 121 career blocks (.3 bpg); 17.2 career PER

Steve Nash (G): 16 seasons; 16,649 career points (14.5 ppg); 3,471 career rebounds (3.0 rpg); 9,916 career assists (8.6 apg); 862 career steals (.7 spg); 95 career blocks (.1 bpg); 20.2 career PER

Dirk Nowitzki (F): 14 seasons; 24,134 career points (22.9 ppg); 8,734 career rebounds (8.3 rpg); 2,791 career assists (2.6 apg); 926 career steals (.9 spg); 1,013 career blocks (1.0 bpg); 23.6 career PER

Gary Payton (G): 17 seasons; 21,813 career points (16.3 ppg); 5,269 career rebounds (3.9 rpg); 8,966 career assists (6.7 apg); 2,445 career steals (1.8 spg); 285 career blocks (.2 bpg);18.9 career PER

Paul Pierce (F): 14 seasons; 22,591 career points (22.0 ppg); 6,164 career rebounds (6.0 rpg); 3,935 career assists (3.8 apg); 1,499 career steals (1.5 spg); 638 career blocks (.6 bpg); 20.7 career PER

Dwyane Wade (G): 9 seasons; 14,990 career points (25.2 ppg); 3,020 career rebounds (5.1 rpg); 3,697 career assists (6.2 apg); 1,055 career steals (1.8 spg); 611 bpg (1.0 bpg); 25.7 PER

Bill Walton (C/F): 10 seasons; 6,215 career points (13.3 ppg); 4,923 career rebounds (10.5 rpg); 1,590 career assists (3.4 apg); 380 career steals (.8 spg); 1,034 career blocks (2.2 bpg); 20.0 career PER

James Worthy (F): 12 seasons; 16,320 career points (17.6 ppg); 4,708 career rebounds (5.1 rpg); 2,791 career assists (3.0 apg); 1,041 career steals (1.1 spg); 624 career blocks (.7 bpg); 17.7 career PER

I spent quite a while studying these stats and considering various factors. The original NBA Top 50 team was chosen regardless of position, so I decided to choose the top 11 from this list in the same way. That said, it’s natural for you to want to consider similar position players. How do Bill Walton’s stats look compared to Kevin Garnett? How do Dwyane Wade and Dave Bing compare? But I didn’t do straight up position swaps. I just chose who I felt were the best 11.

So who are the best 11 in my opinion? Those that earn a spot on the team (or keep one)?: Kobe Bryant, Billy Cunningham, Tim Duncan, Walt Frazier, Kevin Garnett, LeBron James, Jason Kidd, Jerry Lucas, Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce and Dwyane Wade.

Some of those were easy choices – Kobe, Duncan, LeBron. Others took a lot of thought. The last player I chose was Walt Frazier, and I chose him over Steve Nash and George Gervin. Why Jason Kidd over Steve Nash, you may ask. Although Nash has a higher career scoring average and a higher PER, Kidd seems like the more complete player. He doesn’t trail Nash by much in those two statistical categories, and he leads him in rebounds, assists, steals and blocks per game.

Jerry Lucas? He was also among the last players chosen. That rebounding average really stood out to me. Nearly 16 boards a game over a career? That’s pretty crazy for a big man. The other big guys on this list don’t come near that. Duncan average 11 and Garnett and Walton each averaged just over 10.

This isn’t a science, it’s all opinion. So what’s yours? Where did I get it right? Where did I screw it up?