Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James. After 7 decades, several names are bounced around as the greatest. In cities, towns and campuses, on radio, Tv and social media, the question is asked, “who is the greatest basketball player of all time?”
The first National Basketball Association game tipped off on November 1, 1946 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It would include the National Basketball League (1937-1949) and the American Basketball Association (1967-1976). While the greatest players are not our focus yet, we can answer a quarters worth of the question. Who is the best basketball player ever, and is there a way to conclude the matter without fracturing necessary, and otherwise healthy relationships?
A definition of ‘best’, according to Merriam-Webster:
BEST adverb (1): excelling all others (2): most productive of good
The best basketball players excel in productivity. They have mastered the ability to score, rebound, assist and defensively to create turnovers—steals and blocks. These are the Black Belts of Basketball. They are also the best all-around players; generally good in two of the three offensive categories and one of the defensive, depending on position and size. For this comparison, winning and accolades are not considered. Only statistics. These statistics, facts, or, Total Average Point Score (TAPS), are the sum of the averages of points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks.
To get Total Average Point Score (TAPS), we simply add the total averages of points, rebounds assists, steals and blocks.
The game ended early for the 2019-20 NBA season early due to the pandemic. Still, we can crown the statistically best player by looking at their Total Average Point Score (TAPS). Several players are compared for good measure.
James Harden boxes out Giannis Antetokounmpo and grabs the title for best player of 2019-20 with a TAPS of 51.1. The winner requires no votes from sports writers, those who make their living writing and reporting about basketball, respectfully. It can also actively involve the casual to fanatic observer. All you need is a calculator. TAPS is objective and unbiased.
Total Average Point Score is different than the Most Valuable Player award. TAPS only deals with statistics. There are more complex formulas used to calculate basketball efficiency and productivity in today’s data driven world, and each has a place. But, for facts, the process is easy and familiar. So, for the 2019-20 regular season, James Harden is statistically, the best player in the NBA.