NBA: 5 players ranked too high, too low on ESPN’s all-time list

NBA Portland Trail Blazers Damian Lillard (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
NBA Portland Trail Blazers Damian Lillard (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images) /

There will always be sports debates and assessing a list of the top 74 NBA players of all-time; let’s break down who was ranked too high and who was ranked too low.

I am all for what ESPN has done to create a list of the greatest NBA players of all-time to commemorate the league’s 74th anniversary. A collection of new and old players have formed the greatest sport into what it is today.

With that said, every fan has their own opinion. There is Team LeBron James vs. Team Michael Jordan, who debate every minute who is the greatest. There are those who think championships outweigh individual statistics and therefore should be considered greater players.

Each of these debates has no right or wrong answer, even though you might feel you are right and everyone else is wrong. Because of this, I am going to put in my two cents and tell you who was ranked too high and too low on ESPN’s top 74 players of all-time.

More from Sir Charles In Charge

Too high

Damian Lillard (ranked: 72)

Is Damian Lillard a great player? Absolutely. He is at least a top 15 player in the game today. Is he one of the top 74 players of all-time? Meh. Look, being ranked at 72 is not bad but considering that Dikembe Mutombo, a four-time Defensive Player of the Year is put one spot behind him is unfair. Moreover, there are players left off this list like Chris Webber, Sam Jones, or Dwight Howard who have better resumes so far than Lillard who could have cracked this list.

Vince Carter (ranked: 55)

Vince Carter was to the NBA in Canada is what Yao Ming was to the NBA in China. Carter is and was a great NBA player, no doubt about it. Outside of the longevity and some amazing years in Toronto, what has his overall body of work brought to the table that the likes of Clyde Drexler (57, more on him later) and Dennis Rodman (62) have not?

Tracy McGrady (ranked: 52)

This is by no means a knock against Tracy McGrady. T-Mac was on par with Kobe Bryant in the early 2000s when it came to scoring the ball. He could just do it all. Moreover, his domination on offense was so amazing that it landed him in the Hall of Fame and that was well deserved. But with injuries that plagued his entire career and virtually no playoff success even when he was healthy has to cap him at a certain point on this list.

Anthony Davis (ranked: 45)

By ESPN’s own admission, they put Davis this high on the list for his future potential. Really?  AD is great and with him being a three-time All-NBA, three-time All-Defense, and a seven-time All-Star, he certainly could make the case of being within the top 74. Being this high on the list, with no MVP, DPOY, or any playoff success is a hard pill to swallow for so many other players on this list who have both the stats and the hardware.

Giannis Antetokounmpo (ranked: 27)

I had to go for a walk when I saw Giannis Antetokounmpo ranked 27th on this list. Can we just wait a second before we make the Greek Freak a top 30 player of all-time? Yes, he is an MVP. Yes, he is arguably the best player in the NBA today. I just do not see the logic as to why he would be so high on this list. Are they using the Anthony Davis logic and putting him here because of his potential? That would be incredibly premature. If AD’s ranking is a tough pill to swallow for everyone behind him on the list, having Antetokounmpo even higher is just plain frustrating.

Too Low

Dave Cowens (Ranked: 66)

Dave Cowens is not a real household name nowadays. But back in the 1970s, the Celtics big man was one of the best players in the league. He was the MVP in only his third season in 1973, an eight-time all-star, and three-time All-NBA. More importantly, he seamlessly led Boston to championship glory after the great Bill Russell days were past them winning the title in both 1974 and 1976. Recency bias has led to other younger players being placed higher on this list, but it is important that we respect our elders too.

Clyde Drexler (ranked: 57)

Champion? Check. Member of the Dream Team? Check.

Need I say more?

Clyde Drexler was the second-best shooting guard in the NBA during his entire career and up until 1992, there was some talk about whether or not he was better than MJ himself (we came to find that he was not). Drexler’s resume and pure ability to score the ball should make him much higher on this list, especially past Carter and McGrady.

James Worthy (ranked: 51)

The man’s nickname is literally Big Game James. He was the prototype for Scottie Pippen; a two-way forward with an incredible ability to be both smooth and ferocious when attacking the basket. He was the perfect complement to Magic Johnson in the same way that Pippen was the perfect complement to Jordan. Worthy was a three-time champ and a Finals MVP in 1988 but is still on the outside of the top 50.

Isiah Thomas (ranked: 31)

Sure The Last Dance does not paint Isiah Thomas in a pretty light, but it is awfully hard to ignore what he was able to accomplish in his career. Beyond being a two-time champion and an NBA Finals MVP, he put Detroit Pistons basketball on the map. He was an electric point guard with an equal level of finesse and fierceness that was unparalleled. He also took down Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Michael Jordan as they were all reaching or in the midst of the peak of their careers. All three of those players are within the top seven of this list, so it seems a bit unjust that Thomas sits outside the top 30.

Kobe Bryant (ranked: 9)

Is there something that I am missing as to why Kobe Bryant is not a top 5 player of all-time? A five-time champ, Olympic champion, 2008 MVP, 15-time all-star, and a resume that just goes beyond what I am able to type.

dark. Next. NBA Playoffs: 3 teams that would benefit from play-in tournament

He is the only player to have two numbers retired for the same team. He is also probably the greatest Laker of all time, as he holds team records for nearly every major category. He intentionally modeled his game from the man who is at the top of this list, yet just breaks through the top 10.