The playoff ranking is the definitive ranking among the Elite 16, as it represents the competitive nature of the tally. The regular season gives us the Elite 16, while the playoff statistics give us the order.
Michael Jordan jumps into first place with LeBron James close behind in second. Wilt Chamberlain drops significantly during the playoffs and falls down to tenth, after which the order of players who dropped off continue.
A deep look in to the numbers gives us additional insight. Five of the players average at least 25 points 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Jerry West are the only 3 players attain the numbers in the regular season and playoffs, representing the best all-around players. Bill Russell is close, and along with West is missing defensive statistics.
Wilt Chamberlain is the best player to ever play basketball among all players. However, ranking the best of the best, Michael Jordan reigns. The best all-around players? Magic Johnson and Larry Bird each scored 20 points and had 10 assists or rebounds, or, 5 assists or rebounds during the regular season and playoffs. Michael Jordan is the only player to average 30 points, 5 assists and 5 rebounds. Wilt Chamberlain led the league in points for 7 years years, rebounds 9 years, and overall assists in 1967. Jordan is the best offensive player, while Hakeem Olajuwon is the best defender. There is little doubt, Russell challenges, yet we do not know how many steals, blocks or offensive rebounds he accumulated. It should be noted, that considering just offensive statistics, LeBron James bests Michael Jordan in regular season statistics (points, rebounds, assists), though Michael Jordan is slightly better offensively during the playoffs. Overall, when you include offense and defense, Michael Jordan is a better player. A few notes from the sideline to consider. Michael Jordan returned with the Wizards a shell of the player he once was, and these stats are included. LeBron James is likely to decrease in output until retirement.
Table 4: Total Points Score Ranking (Playoff, Career)
It is more enjoyable to watch and celebrate the sport, than to analyze it. It can be exhausting and take away from the entertainment. On the other hand, some people live for these conversations.
The conversations will continue as we enjoy the game and its characters. With each new season, it may be necessary to remind ourselves of excellence, and to be inspired by such a collection of sports giants. This is the Elite 16, The 40 Point Club. These are the best players in NBA history.