The 100 Greatest Players in NBA History

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

As composed by taking each player's combined Win Shares from the NBA regular season and playoffs.  To my knowledge, this is a list of first impression.

There are methodological weaknesses.

1. I prefer to combine multiple forms of career aggregation, such as in my baseball lists.  Here, although I'm using both regular season and playoffs, the only number used is Win Shares.  If the other computations of total value become available to the extent of Win Shares, I'll reconsider this ranking.
2. Pre-82 game seasons are not adjusted.  Pre playoff round/game expansion totals are not adjusted.  If you played fewer games, you get less credit.
3. This penalizes older players and players on bad teams.

This bothers me less than it might; Shaq retired the week I'm composing this, and when ranking all time centers, Michael Wilbon on PTI placed Shaq below George Mikan.  I believe this is true in all sports; our fetishizing of the past is largely a fiction that allows us to make lists like this.  One can say Jesse Owens is the greatest sprinter of all time, but there's a clock that is evidence to the contrary.  We undergo some mental gymastics to argue that smaller, slower, weaker athletes of the past are really superior to today's athletes.

I do it too - Babe Ruth's number one on my baseball list - but if Babe Ruth, who didn't face a flurry of relief specialists, didn't face a fraction of the best athletes in the world, who played an athletically embryonic version of today's baseball - were dropped into the middle of the Yankee lineup today, he'd hit .225, punch out some kid taking cell phone video of him coming out of a strip club, and wonder why all the black players got to stay in the team hotel.

LeBron James outweighs Bill Russell by 30 pounds; you put them both on the floor and there's not a person in the world who says Russell's a better basketball player.  It's fiction.  It's useful fiction, because it allows for listmaking, but it's fiction.

I try to accommodate what I think is that clear truth in my methodological consequences; its a list largely skewing modern, largely skewing toward winning players (and it doesn't include ABA stats, which is also a big hit for a few players who you'd subjectively rank higher.)

It's also just career, cumulative value, without some type of leavening for peak.  Play more=worth more.  Throughout the list, I keep a running all time roster that reflects peak; its more of a subjective, "well, if you consider all time value plus peak value, I am deciding this is who is better" calculation being made there.

Let's start like this.

101. Isiah Thomas  G  Detroit 1981-94 93.2 Best Season: '84-5 (12.4 WS combined, reg+play)
Zeke is in a clump with a dozen guys who might be 101; I put him here just to point out that Isiah Thomas isn't  on my list of the hundred greatest players in NBA history.  Think of his career, 979 regular season games, 111 playoff games, a total of 93.2 win shares as the bar that must be cleared to enter the list.   Zeke had two years where his combined regular season and playoff total Win Shares passed 10.  Throughout the list I'll be comparing players to Isiah in terms of games played - so, if they have as much value as Zeke in fewer games played, its indicative that they were better players.  The longer it took to accumulate value, the less value they were able to accumulate in any particular year, and maybe you want to think of that player in a diminished way.

Now let's do this - here are active players not on the list, but they can see it from their homes.  Some, who are closer, have perhaps less value left - some, who are further away, have a little more.(I'm editing in the 2011-12 results now)

Andre Miller 92.4
Antawn Jamison86.5
Jason Terry 96.6 - so this ties him with Cousy for overall value at 90th; Terry's at the Isiah number of 1100 games played, so you should think of him in that group
Marcus Camby87
Manu Ginobli 101.55 - in 300 fewer games than Isiah; for overall value he's between Barry and Rodman.  7 seasons with 10+ WS.  
Amare Stoudemire87.4
Dwight Howard 95.8 - he goes just ahead of Cowens for overall value at only 680 games played, that's gonna stick him well up the subjective list, I'll edit that in below)
Chris Paul94-almost 600 fewer games than Isiah.  5 seasons with 10+ WS; I'll edit him into the subjective rosters below)
Lamar Odom83.1
Tony Parker89.7

If there's a full NBA season in 2011-12 and if Manu Ginobli (who is now past Thomas, and should be thought as such with essentially the same career value in 300 fewer games; if he never plays another game, you should absolutely think of Manu Ginobli as having been a better basketball player than Isiah Thomas.) duplicates his 2010-11, he not only cracks the top 100, he cracks the top 75, that's how closely grouped guys are at this end of the list.  We'd have to knock off the current bottom 20 guys on the list to get there - but having every player with a combined 100 Win Shares would fulfill my sense of purpose for this project.

Here's the list, the most representative teams are the ones listed, not each team.

100. George Gervin       G/F 1976-86  San Antonio 93.9, Best season '78-9 (13.7)
If you add in his ABA totals Gervin's in the top 50; you cant straight add them, the quality of competition isn't the same; once we go down that road it opens up Europe - hell, it opens up college, if a 4 year college player who didn't hit the NBA until he was 23 is competing for career value with Kobe Bryant.  NBA totals only. Gervin had 7 NBA seasons with WS of 10+ if you want to jigger the formula to take into account peak; we'll see how far we have to go through the list to get someone with more than 7 seasons over 10 WS.  Gervin's got 200+ fewer NBA games than Isiah and the same amount of career value.  Subjectively - if you said "George Gervin is the 50th best basketball player who ever lived" I wouldn't disagree, but that's the highest you could put him.

98. Anthony Mason    F  1989-03    New York/Charlotte 95 Best season: '95-6 (12)
Mase was 10 years of solid; the heart of his career was a decade averaging just shy of a double/double every year.  He had 4 seasons over 10 WS, he deserves his spot.            

97. Bob McAdoo   F  1972-86    Buffalo/Los Angeles Lakers   95.4 Best season: '74-5 (18.9)
Buffalo, of course, is now the Clips; I'm unlikely to do a "best players in Clips franchise history" thing anytime soon, but McAdoo would be on the list.  His '74-5 might have been the best season they ever had, and it's the best season on the list so far.  He had 4 seasons over 10WS; he was done as an elite player at the age of 26.  

96. Dale Davis     F     1991-07   Indiana/Portland  95.7  Best season '99-00 (9.4)
Now, Davis wouldn't make a subjective top 100; not any years over 10 Win Shares; unlike Mason his value is really focused on consistent accumulation.  Steady is good, but without even one year as good as Mason's 4 best years, I'll take Mase.   

95. Dave Cowens     C   1970-83   Boston  95.7  Best season '75-6 (13.4)
Cowens is similar to Ice; two hundred fewer games than Isiah; a half dozen 10+ WS seasons; if you're drafting, you bump him up.  If you see Cowens ranked say in the 60s on a subjective list, I'd understand that.      

94. Dennis Johnson  G  1977-90  Seattle/Phoenix/Boston 95.8 Best season '80-1 (9.3)
I know important Boston-centered 1980s protective hoops opinion makers would like you to believe otherwise, but DJ is the equivalent of Dale Davis; Johnson played 150 more games than Isiah; he never had a 10+ WS season; he was a career full of steady.  That's good; you should think of him as good, but he shouldnt be in your subjective top hundred; he wouldn't get my HOF vote.  I liked him too.  

93. James Worthy    F   1982-94  LA Lakers  96 Best season '85-6 (12.2)
DWade's turning 30; that's when Worthy fell off the cliff; he was a consistent all star, 10WS type player every year - right up until he wasn't; the first bad year of his career was his age 30 season, and his age 32 year was the end of his career.  Worthy had 5 10+WS years, really taking advantage of 3 strong playoff performances in the mid 80s to push him over the top. Maybe you'd tick up Worthy a notch higher subjectively, but I wouldn't put him any higher than the very back of the top 75, in fact, he'd probably be just outside.      

92. Joe Dumars       G   1985-99  Detroit  96.3 Best season '90-1 (11.7)
So, was Dumars better than Isiah?  Not really, no - Dumars had fifty more games to accumulate essentially the same value; two 10+ seasons like Zeke, his best season approximates Isiah's.  You'd like them both right about here, at the bottom of the 100 best players list; if you wanted to put Isiah on and kick Dumars off, or put them both on ahead of DJ, that makes sense to me.

91. Dwayne Wade G 2003- Miami 106.7 Best season '05-06 (19.2)
Wade turns 30 next year, after his 30th birthday, Gervin, just for reference, had 30 WS left, and that's how many it will take for DWade to crack the top 50. That's the new best season on the list; Wade now has 5 10+ WS seasons. 400 fewer games than Isiah through 2010-11. Updated through 2011-12, Wade goes all the way past Iverson for career value with 330 games fewer than Thomas.

90. Bob Cousy        G  1950-70   Boston 96.6 Best season '56-7 (10)
Cousy's got 50 fewer games than Isiah to have the same career; in a list with he and Dumars and Zeke and Cassell, you'd probably put Cousy first, but you should think of them all together

89. Chris Mullin     F   1985-01   GSW  96.9  Best season '90-1 (13)
Mullin's my guy; not many Warriors on this list, and he's the only one from my NBA watching lifetime, as I really caught the very tail end of Rick Barry.  Mullin had four big years, right in the middle of his 20s, 4 10+WS years without the help of any playoff boost at all.  Worthy is a good comparison; wherever you want to slot Worthy, put Mullin right next to him; I think it's fair for a Warriors fan to put him the space ahead, and right about here is reasonable.  If you were to say that subjectively Mullin's the 75th and Worthy the 76th best player of all time (or flip it) I think that makes sense.  

88. PJ Brown        F  1993-08      NJ/Miami/Charlotte  97.1 Best season '02-03 (10.8)
Not as good as Anthony Mason, you'd rank PJ subjectively right next to Dale Davis, probably somewhere just outside the top 100.  

87. Alonzo Mourning C  1992-08   Miami  97.2  Best season '99-00 (14.6)
Zo or Cowens?  Approximately the same number of games, approximately the same value - Zo only has two 10+WS seasons, and that's where Cowens gets him, his best was better than Zo's best.  This is a good slotting for Mourning.  

86. Terry Cummings F  1982-00   Milwaukee/San Antonio 98.1  Best season '84-5 (11.9)
2 10+ seasons with a ton of games played; he and PJ Brown had very similar aggregate careers.

85. Hersey Hawkins G  1988-01   Philadelphia/Seattle 98.2 Best season '96-7 (12.4)
Who was better, Hawkins or Mitch Richmond?

As a GSW fan, I would instantly say Mitch, and during their careers, I thought of it in those terms. 

Let's go to the tape.

88-9 - Their rookie year goes to Mitch. 6 to 3.7
89-90  Year 2 was Hawkins, 8.9 to 5.2                 
90-1  Year 3 was Hawkins, 11.2 to 7.5
91-2  Year 4 was Hawkins, 7.8 to 4.9; Mitch was now in Sacramento
92-3  Year 5 was Hawkins, 8.5 to 3.1
93-4  Year 6 was a flat tie; each was 6.4, Hersey was now a Hornet.

I'll stop now, but you see the point.  Hawkins was better, and solidly underrated - 4 10+WS seasons in a the same number of games as Isiah; this is right - Hawkins is one of the 100 best basketball players who ever lived, and he should be thought of right about here.  

84. Sidney Moncrief G  1979-91  Milwaukee 98.2 Best season '82-3 (14.1)
Two hundred fewer games than Zeke; Moncrief was absolutely better - absolutely.  6 10+ WS seasons; he's right there with Gervin.  If you're drafting from this bottom 20, you take Wade, then Gervin, then Moncrief, and then the guy coming next - the guy coming next you take before Cowens.  True fact.  

83. Elton Brand       F    1999-        LAClippers/Philly  98.6 Best season '05-06 (17.2)
Elton Brand was more Frank Thomas than anything else; just blasting out big years in relative anonymity; 4 10+ WS seasons; he's got 300 fewer games than Isiah, as he's a victim of adding playoff performance to the calculation.  As far up the list as you want to subjectively push Cowens - he wasn't better than Elton Brand.

Here's where we are when thinking subjectively.

C CowensEdit - after 2011-12, it's now Howard, he had the same overall value as Cowens in a couple hundred fewer games.  Howard was solidly better.  
F Brand
F Gervin
G Wade
G Moncrief(CP3 is better than Moncrief)

Sure, there's no real point guard on that team; Wade's gonna be the ball handler.  That's the five you'd pick if you were choosing sides from the list so far.  

82. Shawn Kemp F  '89-03  Seattle/Cleveland  99  Best season '95-6 (14.2)
Aw, yeah - the Rainman.  5 straight years with 10+ WS.  Kemp is on the heavy side, pun intended, of games played, but with the heavy peak - you'd subjectively toss him ahead of Davis/Brown, and just ahead of Mason - but behind Elton Brand.  Kemp's one of the top 100 of all time.  

81. Lenny Wilkens G '60--75 St Louis/Seattle 99.8 Best season '67-8 (10.6)
About fifty games played north of Thomas; you'd think of him in that group with Dumars and Cassell; this is his only 10+ year.  

80. Mark Jackson  G  '87-04   NY/Indiana   100.1  Best season '92-3 (8.4)
Jackson's on the extreme end of compiling numbers; he never had a season particularly close to a great season; it is a long career, 400 games north of Isiah, and you just would not put him on a subjective list.

79. Tracy McGrady F '97-      Toronto/Orlando/Houston 100.2  Best season '02-03 (17.3)
In '02-03 the best offensive player in the NBA was TMac; his isn't a story of wasted potential; he was a great player from the ages of 21-27 and by the time he turned 29 he was done.  He's no cautionary tale of the pampered modern athlete; he had 4 10+ seasons; he's halfway in games played between Isiah and Elton Brand; he's one of the hundred best basketball players who ever lived, think of him right alongside Mullin and Worthy.  

78. Charles Oakley F '85-04   New York  100.9  Best season '93-4 (13.6)
Like Mark Jackson; here because of longevity, but he had the one standout year that Jackson didn't have - a year better than any for Cummings or Mason.  He might be subjectively the 100th best player who ever lived, you could say his top end season gives him the advantage over Mason, if one were in and one were out.    

77. Grant Hill           F '94-       Detroit/Orlando/Phoenix       102.7 Best season '96-7 (14.8)
4 10+ seasons; he ranks right there with TMac and Worthy and Mullin in a small forward clump.  

76. Dennis Rodman F  '86-00   Detroit/Chicago      101.5  Best season '91-2 (13.1)
Only 2 10+ seasons, but he didn't compile either, he played almost an exact number of games as Isiah; he's in the top 100 players of all time; subjectively, he's not better than Elton Brand - when you're thinking about power forwards on this all time list so far, it's fair to slide him ahead of Kemp/Mason, but he's after Brand.  

75. Rick Barry F   '65-80         Golden St.          101.7  Best season '66-7 (16)
Recall back when we met Gervin I asked how long it would be on the list before someone topped his 7 seasons of 10+ Win Shares?  It still hasn't happened, but Barry is the first to match him; they were the same player, almost exactly the same number of games - with the ABA stint depressing their overall rank on this list.  If you added Barry's ABA totals - he'd be in the top 30.  That's probably too high; I said Gervin was probably like the 50th best basketball player who ever lived - Barry's probably the 40th.  I'm gonna say that if you're picking a squad, you still pick DWade first of the guys so far, but Barry's second and complaining about it.    

74. Paul Arizin   F/G   '50-62    Philadelphia Warriors   102  Best season '51-2 (16.5)
Arizin is Wade, at least so far - he's got 350 fewer games than Isiah. the only guy on the list so far with fewer is Wade, and 5 seasons of 10+, just like Wade.  If Gervin/Moncrief are, say 50th/51st best basetball players who ever lived and Barry is 40th, then Wade/Arizin are 30/31.  Take those 5 guys, then Brand/Cowens, say at 60/61, then that Mullin/Worthy/Hill/TMac group from 75-80.  

73. Kevin Johnson G  '87-00   Phoenix 102.2     Best season '88-9 (14.2)
KJ was absolutely a better basketball player than Isiah; more value in 240 fewer games.  A better best season, and more 10+ seasons (5).  Put him in that Brand/Cowens group, say before both of them - maybe halfway between Moncrief and Brand.  He's the best PG we've met so far.  

72. Jerry Lucas F  '63-74    Cincinnati/New York  103.3 Best season '71-2 (13.6)
5 10+ seasons in a couple hundred fewer games than Isiah; he and KJ should be ranked next to each other; if KJ is the 55th best basketball player who ever lived, Lucas is 56th.  

71. Vlade Divac C  '89-05   Los Angeles/Sacramento  105 Best Season '94-5 (10.2)
2 10+ WS seasons; ton of games played - he's the top so far of the Terry Cummings/PJ Brown group.

So - 30 players in:

C Cowens (Howard)
PF Lucas, Brand
SF Barry, Gervin
PG Johnson(CP3 over KJ)
SG Wade, Arizin, Moncrief(Ginobli over both Arizin and Moncrief)

If you were picking 3 more to get to 12; you'd take any from Mullin/Worthy/TMac/Hill.  That would probably be my order for them, but they could be slotted any way you like.

70. Allen Iverson G  '96-10       Philadelphia  106.3  Best season  00-01 (14.5)
Ninety fewer games than Zeke, but that means 150 more than KJ; 4 10+ WS seasons, which is one fewer, although his best year was just a tick better than KJ's.  KJ was better than AI, not by a lot, but he was a better basketball player.

69. Alex English F   '76-91        Denver     107.2  Best season '84-5 (11.3)
3 10+ WS seasons.  English played a lot of games; hundred fifty more than Zeke; in that list of small forwards, my inclination is to rank him behind all 4 in that Mullin group.  

68. Sam Jones G/F  '57-69        Boston    107.5  Best season '64-5 (14.8)
5 straight 10+ WS seasons; he's got 50 fewer games than Isiah, but that puts him with way more games than the rest of those shooting guard types; my inclination is to put him behind Moncrief.

67. Ben Wallace F/C  '96-         Detroit   107.5   Best season '03-04 (13.8)
5 straight 10+ WS seasons; he's got 50 more games than Isiah.  Not as good as Lucas (but better than Rodman, absolutely); I'd still take Elton Brand - but if Iverson is now the backup PG on the all time team from the list; Wallace is the backup center to Cowens.  Make Mullin the third small forward, and a third of the way through the list - here's who you pick if you're picking sides.

C Cowens, Wallace(Howard)
PF Lucas, Brand
SF Barry, Gervin, Mullin
PG Johnson, Iverson(Still CP3)
SG Wade, Arizin, Moncrief(Still Ginobli)

66. Eddie Jones G    '94-08   LA Lakers/Miami   107.9  Best season '97-98 (11.8)
40 fewer games and more value - Eddie Jones was a better basketball player than Isiah Thomas.  5 10+ WS seasons; just like all those other 2 guards; Eddie Jones and Sam Jones had just about identical careers when you add it all up.  

65. Vince Carter G  '98-11   Toronto/NJersey  108.9   Best season 00-01 (14.9)
100 games less than Zeke; 4 10+ WS seasons.  Toss him in the group with Jones/Jones in whichever order you prefer.

64. AC Green F      '85-01     LA Lakers/Phoenix 109.3  Best season '88-89 (10.4)
2 10+ seasons, some 350 more games played than Isiah; he approximates Vlade.  

63. Hal Greer G/F   '58-73   Syracuse/Philadelphia    109.9  Best season '67-8 (12.9)
150 more games than Zeke, that's his only season over 10 WS; his best comparison here is Lenny Wilkens.  

62. Artis Gilmore '76-88      Chicago/San Antonio    110.1  Best season '78-9 (12.7)
Guess how many seasons of 10+ WS.  Guess.  7.  And you knew that because he's the third ABA guy, and, through curious coincidence, Gervin, Barry, and now Gilmore each had the same number of elite NBA seasons, in addition to all the ABA value that didn't count.  How much value for Gilmore that doesn't count?  He'd be in the top 10 if you added in the ABA.  Now, he'd have hundreds more games than Isiah then, and without counting the ABA, he's about 130 fewer.  He's now the best big, going by Lucas/Brand/Cowens - and I'm going to say he's the best player, now - gun to my head, I'd pick Wade - but if Wade never plays another game, my subjective ranking would have Gilmore ahead.  Gilmore's the best player currently on the board.  In three years, I assume I'll have a different Wade/Gilmore view.  

61. Pau Gasol  F/C   '01-11   Memphis/LA Lakers   110.7  Best season '10-11 (15.6)
250 games fewer than Isiah; 5 10+ WS seasons, including the last 3, which, as you note, culminate in his just completed best season ever.  Gasol just finished his age 30 year, so it's fair to look for his decline to start - but he's the second best big on the list so far, sliding in just ahead of Lucas.

40 down.  60 left.  And here's our current roster.
C Gilmore/Cowens(Howard's got 300 fewer games than Gilmore and 20 fewer wins...I'll slot him just below Gilmore for one more season)
F Gasol/Lucas/Brand
F Barry/Gervin
G Johnson/Iverson(Still CP3)
G Wade/Arizin/Moncrief(Ginobli)

60. Otis Thorpe F  '84-01       Houston   111.9  Best season '93-4 (12.2)
2 10+ seasons, a couple hundred games more than Zeke; Thorpe's at the top of the AC Green/Vlade/Terry Cummings list.  

59. Sam Perkins F/C   '84-01   Dallas/Seattle   115.9  Best season '90-1 (10.3)
Basically the same career as Thorpe; lot of games to accumulate a lot of value.  You'd rank him just a little ahead. 

58. Detlef Schrempf F  '85-01  Dallas/Indiana/Seattle 116.2 Best season '94-5 (13.2)
Now residing, curiously, in Pawnee.  4 10+ WS seasons; he'd rank just ahead of Alex English somewhere in that Mullin group - he might be first in that group; if you said Detlef's total value advantage over Mullin/Worthy is enough to put him first in that group I wouldn't disagree.  

57. Bill Laimbeer C   '80-94    Detroit    116.3  Best season  '89-90 (12.7)
Hundred games more than Zeke; a half dozen 10+ WS seasons.  Cowens is his best comp; you'd rank Laimbeer just ahead of Cowens - I think also ahead of Lucas/Brand.  That's my inclination, to say it's Gilmore/Gasol/Laimbeer in the list of bigs.  It's not by an enormous margin - but I would say Laimbeer is the best player from those Pistons teams; you can rank Rodman/Zeke/Dumars any way you like - but I'd say those teams were Laimbeer's.  

56. Maurice Cheeks G  '78-93   Philadelphia   116.6  Best season '85-6 (12.1)
5 10+ WS seasons in about a hundred fifty more games than Zeke.  Just below the KJ/AI PG team currently on the all-time roster.  

55. Larry Nance F   '81-94       Phoenix/Cleveland 116.7  Best season '91-2 (14.2)
A hundred fewer games than Isiah; a half dozen 10+ WS seasons; Nance was a great player almost up until retirement; I'll tell you what - it's Gasol who is the best comp on the list so far; Larry Nance was a better basketball player than Jerry Lucas - a better player than James Worthy and Chris Mullin.  On the all time roster, Laimbeer knocks off Cowens and Nance slides past Lucas and knocks off Elton Brand.

54. Shawn Marion F  '99-        Phoenix   118.7  Best season '06-6 (17.3) 
A hundred fewer games than Isiah; 5 10+ seasons; I'll tell you what - you gotta say Shawn Marion was better than Moncrief, and is maybe better than Gervin.  

53. Elgin Baylor F   '58-72     Los Angeles Lakers  119.6  Best season '60-1 (17.2)
A hundred fewer games than Isiah; 5 10+ seasons.  He's right there, just about exactly with Marion and Nance; Baylor's gonna knock Gervin off the list and become Rick Barry's backup at the 3.  

52. Rasheed Wallace F/C '95-10  Portland/Detroit   119.7 Best season '99-00 (11.5)
150 more games than Isiah; 3 10+ seasons; better than Thorpe and Perkins, not as good as Wallace, Ben.

51. Jack Sikma C  '77-91           Seattle/Milwaukee  120.4  Best season '81-2 (13.9) 
The second 50 ends with the best NBA player of all time I ever met in a men's room. 130 games more than Zeke; 3 10+ seasons; he should be ranked right with Sheed.

So, halfway home.  Those are the 2nd 50 careers in NBA history in terms of career value.

If you're trying to also think about peak - if you're saying "now, who was the best of those players" - here's who you take out of this 50.

C Gilmore, Laimbeer(Howard over Laimbeer)
PF Gasol, Nance, Lucas
SF Barry, Baylor, Marion
PG Johnson, Iverson(Halfway through the top 100, Wade, Gasol and Paul are all in the starting 5 all time)
SG Wade, Arizin(Ginobli)

50. Dominique Wilkins F '82-99       Atlanta  121.1  Best season '86-7 (12.9)
50 more games than Zeke; 7 seasons of 10+ WS.  I think you wedge Nique between Barry and Baylor, and if you rank him ahead of Barry I don't disagree necessarily; Nique's number of additional games played beyond Barry outweighs his value advantage I think, but I'd accept the contrary position.  That's gonna knock Marion off the team, as he can't take Arizin's spot.  

50. George Mikan C '48-56   Minneapolis  121.9  Best season '50-1 (25.1)
600 fewer games than Isiah, 6 10+ seasons, 3 20+ seasons.  This is an edit-in.

49. Terry Porter G  '85-02   Portland/Minnesota  122  Best season '90-1 (15.2)
300 more games than Isiah, 4 seasons over 10+ WS; ranked with Cheeks, just below KJ/AI.  

48. Bailey Howell F '59-71  Detroit/Boston 122  Best season '62-3 (14.3)
Goddamn - look how good Bailey Howell was.  40 games less than Zeke; 7 seasons of 10+ WS; better than Nance, which knocks Jerry Lucas off the team...and maybe better than Gasol.  Yeah, I'm gonna say Howell goes by Gasol and is the new starter on the all time team.  

47. Julius Erving F '76-87  Philadelphia  122.6  Best season '81-2 (16.3)
About a hundred thirty fewer NBA games than Isiah, as, like Gilmore/Barry/Gervin, he left a lot of his value in the ABA; in the Gilmore comment I said he's be just inside the top 10 if the ABA value counted, Doc would be 6th.  Doc can't break the 7 10+ WS seasons glass ceiling.  Erving's the new SF, Barry backs up and Nique is holding onto the third spot - that knocks Elgin Baylor off the team.  

46. Wes Unseld C/F  '68-81 Bullets  122.8  Best season   '74-5 (13.1)
Just about the same number of games as Isiah, and like Dr. J, Unseld had 7 seasons of 10+WS.  7 matches Gilmore, in more games - but Unseld's got the total value advantage.  Gilmore's ABA value, while not existing in this total ranking, nudges him over Unseld in trying to determine which is them was the better basketball player.  But Unseld kicks Laimbeer off the all time team.  

45. Jeff Hornacek G '86-00   Phoenix/Utah  123.3 Best season '95-6 (13.3)
One of the most underrated players of recent years; about a hundred thirty more games than Isiah, but 7 10+ seasons.  Hornacek...I'm gonna say it's Nance he kicks off, that Hornacek goes past Arizin and becomes Wade's backup, moving Arizin to the third guard; with Wilkens as the third small forward, that means its Nance who is off the club.  

44. Bob Lanier C  '70-84    Detroit/Milwaukee  125.7  Best season '73-4 (15.9)
About fifty games less than Zeke; a half dozen 10+ seasons - just a nightmare now, Lanier/Gilmore/Unseld...I'm going to say Gilmore was better with that ABA value not counting for this career ranking, but hard to ignore when subjectively comparing them as ballplayers.  Unseld's slightly better peak just makes up for Lanier's slightly better career.  Here, it becomes a question of Arizin vs. Lanier...Lanier goes by him and is the new 12th man.  

43. Dikembe Mutombo C '91-09   Denver/Atlanta/Houston  126.9  Best season '96-7 (13.1)
A hundred games more than Zeke; 4 10+ seasons, that's not going to be enough to knock off Lanier.  

42. Chet Walker F/G  '62-75   Philadelphia/Chicago 127.7  Best season '71-2 (14.6)
About 30 games more than Isiah - and 8, count them, Chet Walker is the very first player on the list with 8 seasons of 10 or more Win Shares.  He's your new starting big guard, moving Wade to the bench, and its going to be Hornacek who gets kicked off the team.  One more to get to the top 40. I'm going to say after 2011-12 Wade's gone by Walker.

41. Buck Williams F '81-98  New Jersey/Portland  128.1  Best season '82-3 (11.7)
Couple hundred more games than Isiah, 3 10+ WS seasons, that's not going to make the current roster.

C Gilmore/Unseld/Lanier(Howards off the team now, his overall value isn't heavy enough yet to move him past Lanier, but that won't be true for long; Mikan was edited in to this section and he's solidly the starting center; Howard already has more games played than Mikan did and less value)
PF Howell/ Gasol
SF Erving/Barry/Wilkens
PG Johnson/Iverson(Only 40 left and CP3 is still the starting PG; he turns 27 in 2012-13 and he's a HOF'er right now)
SG Wade/Walker

Fair to question Gasol right now - Unseld could slide into the backup at the 4 and Hornacek could come back to be the third off guard.  I won't do that given the disparity in games played between Gasol/Hornacek, but it's a reasonable swap.  

40. Dolph Schayes F/C  '49-64  Syracuse  129.3  Best season '53-4 (17.1)
Same number of games as Isiah; Chet Walker just broke that 7 10+ ceiling, and now Schayes goes Bonds to Walker's McGwire, as he had 9.  9 seasons of 10+ WS.  Let's make Schayes the starter at PF, and that knocks Gasol off the team.  

39. Walt Frazier G  '67-80  New York 129.4 Best season '70-1 (18.1)
That '70-1 season is the third best (behind Wade/McAdoo's best) of anyone on the list so far; Clyde's a low games played guy, 200 fewer than Isiah to accumulate all this value; 7 10+ WS seasons, all in a row.  Clyde's the new starting PG.

38. Steve Nash G '96-       Dallas/Phoenix  137  Best season '05-6 (15)
Already 120 games more than Zeke, and that means 300+ more than Frazier; he's got 7 10+ seasons and knocks KJ off the team, but he's backing up Frazier.  

37. Elvin Hayes F  '68-84    San Diego/Washington 132.5  Best season '74-5 (14.7)
Two hundred more games played than Zeke; and 6 10+ seasons - Elvin Hayes can't get past Lanier which means he doesn't make the current team.  

36. Kevin McHale F '80-93  Boston   133.7  Best season '86-7 (16.9)
40 more games than Isiah; 7 straight 10+ seasons...he goes by Unseld and knocks Lanier off the club; let's move Schayes to center to start, Gilmore now backs up; Howell starts at PF and McHale backs up; Unseld is the fifth big.  

35. Walt Bellamy C '61-75   New York/Atlanta 134.7  Best season '61-2 (16.3)
Same number of games as Isiah, 7 10+ WS seasons.  Schayes is the best big; Gilmore is next; then Bellamy; then Howell; then McHale - that means its Unseld who loses his spot.  

34. Paul Pierce F  '98-     Boston   145.9  Best season '07-8 (15.4)
About 30 games less than Zeke....9 10+ WS seasons.  9.  9!  Paul Pierce and Dolph Schayes.  Man...I'm gonna say Paul Pierce is the new all time starting small forward.  It's tough to move Doc to the bench, but in the way that Schayes moved past Gilmore, Pierce moves past Doc - and that knocks Nique off the team. Following 2011, Pierce is now in the top 30 for overall value.

33 to go

C Schayes/Gilmore/Bellamy(Mikan over all of them)
PF Howell/McHale
SF Pierce/Erving/Barry
PG Frazier/Nash(CP3 has 400 fewer games than Clyde, but the overall value gap is too great, I haven't done the Nash update yet, but I'll assume he stays ahead of Paul too, so this is as far as it gets for CP3. I've done the update, my thoughts are unchanged.)
SG Wade/Walker

33. LeBron James F '03- Cleveland 157.7 Best season '08-9 (25.1)
LeBron's '08-09 isn't only the best single season by anyone on the list so far, its by leaps and bounds the best season by anyone so far, almost double the value of Nique's best ever year, and Nique was every bit as good as you think he was.  He's 380 games less than Zeke; the fewest games of anyone on the list so far - 7 of his 8 seasons have been over 10WS; two of them over 20, meaning LeBron has the two best seasons of anyone on the list.  James is the new SF, kicking Barry off the list and making Doc the 11th man on the team. After the 2012 season, James moves between GP and the Chief for career value. This was his third season with more than 20 WS; he's now about 290 fewer games played than Isiah.

32. Horace Grant F/C  '87-04   Chicago/Orlando  138.2  Best season: '91-2 (17.4)
230 games more than Zeke; making him 270 more than McHale, the last big on the roster.  5 10+WS seasons, but that's going to leave him short of Kevin. 

31. Chauncey Billups G '97-    Detroit  140.9  Best season: '05-6 (18.2)
40 games north of Zeke, but that's fewer than Nash - with a better top end - and more value - and 8 10+ WS seasons.  Billups knocks Steve Nash off the team and is the new backup point guard.

30 to go.

30. Patrick Ewing C '85-02    New York  140.5  Best season '93-4 (16.3)
7 10+ WS seasons. 220 more games played than Zeke...that's not enough, he stays behind Bellamy and McHale. 

29. Adrian Dantley F/G '76-91  Utah 143.2 Best season '83-4 (16.6)
80 less than Isiah; 8 10+ seasons; Dantley is the new starting off guard, kicking Walker to the backup and Wade to the third spot - which knocks McHale off the team, Schayes comes down to start at PF, with Howell as his backup - and Gilmore is once again starting in the middle.

28. Jason Kidd G '94- Dallas/Phoenix/NJersey 147.4 Best season '02-3 (13.9)
Hundreds of games more than Zeke and 4 10+ seasons - Kidd can't make the team, he wasn't as good as Billups.

27. Ray Allen G  '96-       Milwaukee/Seattle/Boston  151.2  Best season '00-01 (17.3)
Hundred more games than Isiah; a half dozen 10+WS seasons.  Allen's going to fall short of taking Wade's spot. Following 2011, Allen is now in the top 25 for overall value.  

26. Bob Pettit F/C  '54-65  St Louis 147.7 Best season '60-1 (16.6)
230 fewer games than Zeke; Pettit hits double digits in WS seasons, 10 of his 11 seasons hit the number.  In order, here are the bigs: Pettit, Schayes, Gilmore, Bellamy - Howell is who goes, Wade keeps the 12th spot.  Gilmore and Bellamy are the centers, Pettit and Schayes the power forwards.

So, with 25 left - here's the subjective best team ever.

C Gilmore/Bellamy(Mikan is the starter)
PF Pettit/Schayes
SF James/Pierce/Erving
PG Frazier/Billups
SG Dantley/Wade/Walker

Fun to do. 
25. Scottie Pippen F '87-04          Chicago  148.7      Best season '91-2 (15.8)
270 games more than Zeke; 7 straight 10+ WS seasons, straight out of the guts of his career;
Scottie can't crack the roster - Doc is the last small forward on the roster, Pippen has more total value but in a ton, a ton more games, over 400 more, and they had the same NBA peak. 

24. John Havlicek '62-78   F/G   Boston     150.1  Best season '71-2 (13.9)
Same number of games as Scottie, just a truckload of games played.  9 10+ WS seasons. He knocks Wade off the team and settles in as the new last perimeter guy on the roster, he/Walker/Dantley really clumped in together at the off guard.   

23. Clyde Drexler '83-98 G/F Portland 151.1 Best season '94-5 (14.7)
120 more games than Zeke, 7 10+ seasons, that's not quite going to make the roster.

22. Gary Payton '90-07   G       Seattle  156.6  Best season '99-00 (14.6)
380 more games played than Isiah, I think the new leader in quantity.  6 10+ WS seasons.  Love GP, but he wasn't better than Billups and can't make the squad.  One more, then the top 20.

21. Robert Parish C  '76-97      Boston  162.6  Best season '83-4 (12.7)
700 more games than Isiah, we're talking over a thousand more than Wade and LeBron.  9 seasons with 10+_ WS...this just becomes super hard to evalute now; the number of games played is just crazy...I'll split the difference and say Chief was better than Bellamy and not as good as Gilmore, he's the new backup center. 

C Gilmore/Parish(Mikan)
PF Pettit/Schayes
SF James/Pierce/Erving
PG Frazier/Billups
SG Dantley/Havlicek/Wade

20. Larry Bird F  '79-92    Boston  170.6  Best season '85-6 (20)
And now we hit some deeper water.  35 games less than Isiah; 9 10+ WS seasons, the first nine of his career.  Bird joins James as the only guys with a 20+ WS season. (LeBron has two).  LeBron's better - Bird passes Erving and just gets by Pierce, but James has 300 games left to pass Bird's career and peak, and its almost inconceivable he does not.   LeBron James was a better basketball player than Larry Bird, and Dr. J is no longer on the all time team.

19. Moses Malone C '74-95 Houston/Philadelphia/Atlanta 180.8 Best season '82-3 (17.9)
300 more games than Zeke; so 400 fewer than Chief - but 430 more than Gilmore.  9 10+ seasons.  So, without any question he goes past Parish, there is no argument to the contrary. More value, higher top end, fewer games to get it.  And he gets Gilmore too - the total accumulated value is just so much more for Moses - with 18 players left, we have a new starting center. 

18. Kobe Bryant G  '96-       Los Angeles Lakers 190.9  Best season '08-9 (17.4)
200 more games played than Isiah; Kobe's the new leader in 10+ WS seasons with 11; I'm going to change my mind on Walker/Havlicek and say its Walker who goes as Kobe is the new off guard and Dantley the backup. In overall value he passed West in 2011-12

17. Dirk Nowitzki F '98-    Dallas 191.5  Best season 2005-6 (23.1)
Like 20 games more than Isiah; good to recognize that, right now, Dirk's played about 50 more games than Bird did in his entire career.  Dirk catches Bryant in number of 10+WS seasons with 11 - the most recent 11 of his career as of the end of 2010-11.  Nowitzki's the 3rd player on the list with a 20+ WS season.  Dirk was better than Bird, more total value, better peak value.  If he retired today you'd think of them as close, but Dirk would be better.  And he isn't retiring today.  Dirk's the best player so far on the list; it's gonna be 3 more years at least, assuming Dirk keeps playing, before LeBron might slip past him.  Nowitzki's the new all time 4, Schayes moves to backup Moses at center, and Gilmore's finally off the club. After 2011-12, Dirk went past Russell for career value.  He's already in my all time starting 5, so nothing he'll do in his career changes that.

16. Hakeem Olajuwon C  '84-02  Houston  185.4  Best season '93-4 (18.6)
11 10+ WS seasons, just like Dirk and Kobe.  280 more games played than Isiah; its not by a ton - but clearly Olajuwon was better than Moses.  It's gonna be Havlicek who is off the team, with Schayes beating him out as the 12th man. 

With only 15 players left, here's the all time NBA team.

C Olajuwon/Malone(Mikan over Moses)
PF Nowitzki/Pettit/Schayes
SF James/Bird/Pierce
PG Frazier/Billups
SG Bryant/Dantley

15. Kevin Garnett F '95-   Minnesota/Boston  196.7  Best season '03-4 (21)
KG joins James, Bird, and Nowitzki in the 20 WS in one season club.  200 more games than Isiah for Garnett; "only" 9 seasons with 10+ WS.  There's now a tremendous value difference between KG and Pierce, greater than the difference in their games played - but its going to be Schayes who goes.  Now, where to slot Garnett - behind LeBron, Bird, Dirk.  Behind Pettit too.  In whatever space there is between Pettit and Pierce is Garnett.  The Celtic teammates are 11 and 12th men.  14 to go. Following 2011, KG has the same overall value as Barkley

14. Magic Johnson G   '79-96   Los Angeles Lakers      188.4  Best season '86-7 (19.6)
Almost exactly the same number of games as Isiah, and a tick over twice the value.  11 seasons of 10+ WS, and that's become the new ceiling.  Magic pushes Clyde to the backup spot and a big hand for Chauncey Billups, one of the greatest point guards in NBA history. 

13. Jerry West G '60-74   Los Angeles Lakers  189.5 Best season '65-6 (20.2)
James, KG, Dirk, Bird, and now West with a 20+ WS season (LeBron's had 2, and LeBron's hit 25).  West had almost exactly the same number of games as Isiah and Magic.  West becomes the first man on the list with 12 seasons of 10+ WS.  West was better than Kobe and given the number of games played that separates them already - its unlikely that evaluation will change.  It's Dantley who is off the club.

12. Bill Russell C '56-69  Boston  191.3 Best season '64-5 (20.2)
About 30 more games than Isiah; Russell joins the group with a 20+ season; and the group with 11 seasons of 10+ WS.  He was better than Olajuwon;  that knocks off Paul Pierce.  One more and then the top 10. 
You'll be surprised who is next.

11. Reggie Miller G/F  '87-05  Indiana 194.3 Best season '93-4 (14.5)
About 420 more games played than Zeke; Reggie played forever.  And 13 of those seasons, a new high for the list, were 10+ WS seasons.  That makes this evaluation a pain in the ass - I think, with 10 players left, the all time roster looks like this. 

C Russell/Olajuwon
PF Nowitzki/Pettit/Garnett
SF James/Bird
PG Johnson/Frazier
SG West/Bryant/Miller

I'm not sure KG should stay over Moses; it's close, but KG has value left to get.  I'm not sure Kobe should be ranked over Miller; I'm really not sure Bird should be ranked over Miller.  When its time to start cutting - and with 10 guys still to come, obviously most of the names on this current roster, perhaps all but two, will get cut - we'll see how it works.  Oh - put Reggie Miller in the Hall of Fame.  It's shameful. 

10. David Robinson C  '89-03   San Antonio  196.19  Best season '93-4 (20.3)
6 players now with 20+ seasons.  Robinson hit 10+ in 12 seasons and accumulated his value in about the same number of games as Isiah.  Meaning - he had almost an identical career to Russell.  The Admiral is your new starting all time center.  Its KG who is off the all time team. 

9. Charles Barkley F  '84-00    Philadelphia/Phoenix/Houston  196.7  Best season '92-3 (19)
12 10+ seasons.  A hundred games more than Isiah.  Dirk and Barkley are almost exactly the same; if Dirk never plays another game, you rank him behind Barkley - but he'll play more, and just, by a tick, he stays ahead.  I gotta tell might be Bird who goes.  Pettit was better; it's not - it's Miller who goes, by a nudge he leaves ahead of Bird or Kobe. No - it's Kobe.  Kobe goes, Miller stays.  No - it's Bird.  Bird goes.  Man. 

I changed my mind after sleeping on it.  It's LeBron who goes.  His total value is now last on the list, his number of 10+ WS seasons is last on the list - he's doing it in a ridiculously small number of games, about 800 fewer than Miller, for example, but when we're this thick in the value atmosphere, he has to put in...two more seasons to go by Bird.

8 players left.  At least 4 of the following make the All-time roster.

C Robinson/Russell/Olajuwon
PF Nowitzki/Barkley/Pettit
SF Bird/Miller
PG Johnson/Frazier
SG West/Bryant

8. Tim Duncan  F/C  '97-           San Antonio  206  Best season  '02-3 (22.8)

7 players with a season of 20+ WS.  2010-11 was the first season of his career that Duncan didn't have at least 10 WS; that makes 13 seasons, the same as Miller, but in only about 130 games more than Thomas (or about 300 less than Reggie).  He's the best player on the board thusfar.  Pettit is who goes, really for the same reason as James, a lot fewer games than the rest of the club, but now the value disparity is just too great to keep them.  Duncan's the new PF; Dirk is the new SF.  After the 2011 season, Duncan goes past Oscar for career value.  

7. Oscar Robertson G  '60-74  202.8  Cincinnati/Milwaukee Best season '63-4 (23)
8 players with a season of 20+ WS.  LeBron's the only one with two.  Oscar played about 20 more than Zeke and Magic.  11 seasons of 10+WS, the first 11 of his career. He kicks Clyde off the team, and no, I did  not think of Frazier as a top 5 all time PG before this exercise, and now I do.  Oscar and Magic are almost identical, but Oscar had a little more value in not many more games.  Making the current team:

C Robinson/Russell/Olajuwon
PF Duncan/Barkley
SF Nowitzki/Bird/James (that's the change after 2012, James passes Miller)
PG Robertson/Johnson
SG West/Bryant

6. Shaquille O’Neal C  '92-11    Orlando/Los Angeles Lakers/Miami 212.8 Best season '99-00 (23.6)
9 players with a 20+ season.  LeBron is still the only one with two and the only one to hit 25.  Shaq played a ton of games, 320 more than Isiah.  11 10+ seasons.  So, we have 5 bigs on the squad.  Does he knock any of them off?  Yes, Shaq was better than Olajuwon, more value, just a few more games played; it's close - but you take Shaq.  The games played disparity puts him behind Robinson/Russell.  When I have to decide between Shaq and Barkley I'll cross that bridge. 

5. John Stockton G  '84-93     Utah    229.1  Best season '96-7 (16.7)
580 games more than Isiah and Magic.  Wow.  14 seasons with 10+ WS, like Reggie Miller but better - and that might be important when determing who gets taken off the roster.  Oscar keeps the starting PG job - but now there's a real value disparity between Magic and Stockton, the question - is it greater than the games played difference?  I'm gonna say yes - Stockton and Miller are really similar, its really interesting - and worth comparing them both, say to Bird and Magic; Bird and Magic were better, but Stockton and Miller accumulated more value, and that's a trade the subjective roster is constantly trying to figure.  I'm going to say Stockton gets them both - moves into the backup spot behind Oscar to knock Magic to third string.

C Robinson/Russell/O'Neal
PF Duncan/Barkley
SF Nowitzki/Bird
PG Robertson/Stockton/Johnson
SG West/Bryant

4 to go.  I'm guessing you know who they are. 

4. Michael Jordan G  '84-03        Chicago        253.8  Best season '95-6 (25.1)
9.   So, you know how we've been keeping track of all of the seasons of 20 Win Shares or more?  How 9 players have had a season with 20, but only LeBron's had two? 

Jordan had 9.  He tied the record for best season, 25.1, he did it twice.  Jordan had 11 seasons with 10+ WS in about 160 games more than Isiah.  9. The very best players who ever lived have maybe had one and that's only the very best.  Jordan had 9.  Who goes - Kobe. 

3. Karl Malone F  '85-04          Utah          257.6  Best season '98-9 (16.7)
570 more games than Zeke; Stocktone and Malone are probably still playing together in Uzebekistan.  13 10+ WS seasons.  So, same as Duncan - and he's got a ton more overall value in a ton more games.  I'll say Malone is the new starter at PF, the overall value just too much to turn down.  Meaning - it's time to answer that Shaq v. Barkley question, 'cause one of them is headed off the roster unless it's Miller.  Yeah.  Miller.

C Robinson/Russell/O' Neal
PF Malone/Duncan
SF Nowitzki/Barkley
PG Robertson/Stockton/Johnson
SG Jordan/West

2. Wilt Chamberlain C  '59-73  278.8  Warriors/Philadelphia/Los Angeles Lakers Best season '63-4 (28.8)
A hundred games more than Zeke; that means he had more value in fewer games than Jordan.  His '63-4 season, as a member of the San Francisco Warriors, was the greatest season in NBA history.  13 of his 14 seasons were 10+; Wilt had 7 20+ seasons.  There's Wilt, there's Michael, then there's everyone else.  And its in that order.  The greatest basketball player who ever lived is Wilt Chamberlain.

C Chamberlain/Robinson/Russell
PF Malone/Duncan
SF Nowitzki/Barkley
PG Robertson/Stockton/Johnson
SG Jordan/West

1. Kareem Abdul Jabbar C  '69-89 Milwaukee/Los Angeles Lakers  309 Best season '71-2 (27)
600 more games played than Zeke.  Which is a helluva lot of games.  5 seasons of 20+.  The first 17 of which were 10+  17 10+ seasons.  There's a case that Kareem is better than Jordan.  In fact...yeah, it's a hard trade...yeah, I'm going to reconsider. 

The best basketball player who ever lived was Wilt.  Kareem was second.  Jordan was third.  Karl Malone was fourth, but Duncan and Dirk aren't far behind and still have more game left.  Oscar was fifth.  Stockton 6th.  Duncan 7th, Dirk 8th (so, Rick Carlisle was right).  Robinson 9th and Russell 10th.

1st team
C Chamberlain/Abdul-Jabbar/Robinson
PF Malone/Duncan/Russell
SF Nowitzki/Barkley
PG Robertson/Stockton
SG Jordan/West

2nd team
C O'Neal/Olajuwon/Mikan
PF Pettit/Garnett
SF Bird/James/Pierce
PG Johnson/Frazier
SG Bryant/Miller

3rd team
C Malone/Gilmore/Parish
PF Schayes/Howell/McHale
SF Erving/Havlicek
PG Billups/Nash
SG Dantley/Walker

4th team
C Bellamy/Ewing/Unseld
PF Hayes/Baylor
SF Barry/Pippen
PG Payton/Kidd
SG Drexler/Allen/Wade

SI had a small piece this week in which their writers picked all time rosters, with the idea being setting up your best possible roster for one season.  If, when you think "all time roster" - thats what you think about, a dozen guys at their best, what's the best squad, it's this.

C Chamberlain/Abdul-Jabbar/Mikan
PF Duncan/Garnett
SF James/Bird/Nowitzki
PG Robertson/Johnson
SG Jordan/West

If I were drafting, I'd probably take Jordan first  The depth at center is significant, with Russell/Robinson also worthy of being on this team.


Blog said...

Jordan also played for Washington.

Does Jordan have a shot at becoming the GOAT if he doesn't take his talents to the Barons, Scorpions, and Wizards?

Jim said...


He lost about 40 Win Shares, looking at his averages both before and after, from the first retirement. That gets him past Wilt. He missed 3 seasons in the second retirement, his ages 35-37 seasons. Reasonably, we can say that he needs a total of 20 WS in those three seasons to pass Kareem, which is a pretty safe bet. Absent the two retirements, he's number one for career value. That would put his games played at Kareem's, so you'd rank him ahead of Kareem - but Wilt's value would be then in significantly fewer games, so I'd subjectively still rank him first.

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