Every NBA franchise has their own best player in the team’s history. Some teams have one player in their history that stands out above the rest and other franchises have multiple players that could be deserving of the title as the best player in their teams history. A combination of personal success and team success, as well as overall impact and legacy on their team’s franchise, played a huge factor for each player being selected. Another factor that was considered was longevity. Lastly, this list is chosen off of the success that player had with that particular franchise. Player’s accolades on different team’s do not help them be named the best for one certain franchise.
Philadelphia 76ers- Julius Erving
Although Iverson is the bigger face of the 76ers franchise, Julius Erving did win an MVP with the 76ers in the 1980-1981 season. Julius played with Philadelphia for 11 seasons and was named an all- star in every season with Philadelphia. Julius Erving was chosen to 5 NBA first teams and 2 all NBA second teams as a member of the 76ers. He also did something Iverson could not, win a championship with the 76ers. Julius didn’t win the finals MVP but his consistency, scoring and him winning a championship gives him the edge over Allen Iverson.
Milwaukee Bucks- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
There’s no doubt Kareem earns this spot. Kareem is one of the greatest centers of all time and he dominated immediately when he entered the league. Even though Kareem’s accomplishments on the Bucks are overshadowed by his success with the Lakers, Kareem still averaged 30.4 points and 15.3 rebounds in 6 seasons with the Bucks. Kareem also brought the Bucks franchise their only championship. Kareem won 3 MVP’s, had 6 all-star appearances, and made 4 all defense teams as a member of the Bucks. Giannis has the potential to pass Kareem as the greatest Bucks player ever, but as of right now, it’s Kareem.
Chicago Bulls- Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan is considered to be the best player of all time by most, so it’s no surprise he’s the best player in Bulls history. There’s nothing to say that hasn’t already been said. Jordan is the most dynamic scorer the league has ever seen, is an elite two way player and holds countless records with the Chicago Bulls. MJ has won the Bulls all of their franchises championships and has won 5 MVP’s along side 14 all-star selections as a member of the Bulls. Jordan completely dominated an era of basketball and he also dominates the Chicago Bulls records.
Cleveland Cavaliers- Lebron James
Just like the Bulls, this is also a no brainer selection. Lebron holds countless records with the Cavaliers. Lebron also brought Cleveland their first and only championship. With his time on the Cavaliers, Lebron has won 2 MVP’s along with multiple finals appearances and all-star selections. No one in the history of the Cavaliers has even come close to Lebron James’s talent level and pure dominance.
Boston Celtics- Bill Russell
This was one of the toughest decisions to make on the list of who’s the best Celtics player of all time. Larry Bird or Bill Russell. I decided to go with Bill Russell. Bill is the winningest player in basketball history, as well as a pioneer for the game of basketball. He won 5 MVP’s with the Celtics and was a 12 time all-star. Bill is also known as one of the best defenders ever. Bill Russell helped Boston establish one of the best franchises in NBA history.
LA Clippers- Bob McAdoo
The Clippers don’t have a large selection of hall of famers to choose from, unlike their rivals the Lakers. They still have Bob McAdoo who won an MVP during the 1974-1975 season, as a member of the Buffalo Braves. McAdoo only played with the Clippers franchise for 5 seasons, but he was named an all-star 4 times and made 2 all NBA teams with the Clipper’s. McAdoo has 3 scoring titles with the Clippers and averaged above 30 points per game in 3 consecutive seasons.
Memphis Grizzlies- Marc Gasol
Marc Gasol played a huge part in establishing a winning culture in Memphis during their grit and grind era. Gasol is the only player who’s made multiple all-star teams as a member of the Grizzlies. He made the All NBA first team in the 2014-2015 season, as well as winning the defensive player of the year award in the 2012-2013 season. Marc Gasol is one of the most well rounded centers in NBA history. He became a consistent 3 point shooter later in his career, was an elite defender for multiple seasons and is one of the best passing big men of all time.
Atlanta Hawks- Bob Petit
Dominique Wilkins may be the more recognizable Hawks legend, but Petit brought more success to the Hawks franchise than Wilkins did. Petit led the Hawks to 4 finals appearances and even won the Hawks their only championship in franchise history. Petit also found individual success with the Hawks franchise. He won 2 league MVP’s as a member of the Hawks. Petit lead the league in scoring twice and was named an all-star in every season of his career with the Hawks. Wilkins may be the flashiest Atlanta Hawk player ever, but Petit is the best, both as an individual player and a team player.
Miami Heat- Dwyane Wade
It’s very difficult to not put Wade as the best Heat player of all time. Some could argue Lebron is the best Miami Heat player ever. Lebron James was in the prime of his career with the Heat. He made 4 straight NBA finals, won 2 MVP’s, 2 finals MVP’s and 2 championships with the Heat. Lebron only played with the Heat for 4 seasons. Wade played for 15 seasons with the Heat and is the most loved player in their franchise’s history. Before Lebron joined Miami, Wade won a championship with the Heat and won the finals MVP. Wade led the league in scoring during the 2008-2009 season as well as having 13 all-star appearances as a member of the Heat. Wade is considered by most to be the 3rd best shooting guard in NBA history, behind Jordan and Kobe. Lebron may be the most dominant player to ever play for the Heat, but Wade is the best Miami Heat player of all time.
Charlotte Hornets- Kemba Walker
The Hornets probably are one of the weakest franchise in the NBA, due to their short team history. When it comes to their best player of all time, the Hornets really haven’t had any notable players who’ve stood out as all-time greats. Kemba was the heart and soul of the Hornets franchise for 8 seasons. Kemba Walker is the franchise’s leader in points, 3 pointers made, and games played. He also has the 2nd most assists total in the Hornet’s franchise. Kemba made 3 all-star games with the Hornets and made them worth watching during his 8 year career with the Hornets. Larry Johnson and Glen Rice both had great short stints with the Hornets, but Kemba is the best in the franchise’s history.
Utah Jazz- Karl Malone
Karl Malone is known as one of the greatest power forwards of all time. Malone has the 2nd most points in NBA history, but surprising never led the league in scoring. He played with the Jazz for an incredible 18 seasons and was named an all-star 14 times. He won 2 MVP’s with the Jazz and made the all-defensive team 4 times in his career with the Jazz. Malone was one of the best inside scorers of all time. Malone was one of the most dominant pick and roll players in NBA history. Stockton and Malone together formed one of the greatest duos in NBA history, but for the greatest Jazz player of all time, I give the edge to Malone.
Sacramento Kings- Oscar Robertson
Nobody in King’s franchise history comes close to the Big-O. Robertson is the franchise leader in points and assists. During his prime in Sacramento, he led the league in assists 7 times and won an MVP award. Oscar also averaged a triple double during the 1961-1962 season and was 0.1 rebounds shy from averaging a triple double during the 1963-1964 season. Oscar Robertson is one of the best point guards of all time and deserves the title of the best Sacramento Kings player ever.
New York Knicks- Patrick Ewing
This was a close race between Walt Frazier and Patrick Ewing. Both are hall of famers and staples with Knicks basketball, but I gave the slight edge to Ewing. Ewing played more seasons with the Knicks and had more individual success than Frazier. You could make the argument that Frazier has the edge over Ewing because he won the Knicks 2 championships. Frazier won 2 championships and was a key part of the Knicks championships, but he never won the finals MVP. Although Ewing never won a ring, he was a victim to the Michael Jordan era of basketball. Although he never won the championship, Ewing did come close. In the 1994 NBA Finals, the Knicks lost to the Rockets in game 7 with a score of 90-84. The Knicks made another finals appearance during the 1999 NBA Finals but Ewing did not play in the finals due to an Achilles injury. Ewing is an 11 time all-star, made an all NBA team 7 times with the Knicks, and made 3 all defensive teams. Patrick Ewing is the greatest Knick of all time and the face of New York basketball.
Los Angeles Lakers- Magic Johnson
The Lakers have so many hall of famers to choose from for this spot. They’ve had legends such as Shaquille O’Neal, Kareem, Jerry West, George Mikan, Elgin Baylor and Kobe Bryant. Ultimately, I decided to go with Magic. Even though Shaquille O’Neal and even Magic Johnson have stated that Kobe is the greatest Laker player of all time, I still went with Magic. It was very close between Magic and Kobe. Both have won 5 championships, but Magic has 3 finals MVP awards and Kobe has 2. Magic has 9 finals appearances and Kobe has 7. Magic led the league in assists 4 times and led the league in steals twice. Kobe has more all NBA teams, all-star appearances and more defensive teams than Magic. This is because Kobe played in 7 more seasons than Magic Johnson. Magic is still the greatest passer and greatest playmaker of all time. Magic having more finals MVP’s, more finals appearances and more MVP’s gives him the slight edge over Kobe. Kobe may be the most loved Laker of all time, but Magic Johnson was the best.
Orlando Magic- Dwight Howard
Which Superman is the best Magic player ever? Shaquille O’Neal or Dwight Howard? Both players were elite dominant centers with their time on the Magic and they even both made the finals with the Magic. Even though Shaquille O’Neal is a better all time player, Dwight is the best Magic player of all time. Dwight made the all NBA first team for 5 seasons in a row. He was the best center in the league when he was with the Magic. Dwight also won the defensive player of the year award 3 seasons in a row with Orlando. Dwight was 23 years old when he played Lebron James in the Eastern Conference Finals, during Lebron’s MVP season. The Magic, led by Dwight beat an MVP Lebron to move on to the NBA finals. Shaquille O’Neal did make the finals with the Magic in 1995, but he only played 4 seasons with the Magic and Dwight played 8. Shaq had a better career overall than Dwight, but Dwight accomplished more while on the Magic.
Dallas Mavericks- Dirk Nowitzki
Dirk is undoubtedly the best player in Mavericks history. Dirk played with the Mavericks for an astonishing 21 seasons. He was a 14 time all-star and made an all NBA team 12 times in his career. Dirk also led the Mavericks to their 2 only finals appearances in franchise history. He even won a championship with the Mavericks and won the finals MVP. Dirk Nowitzki also won a regular season MVP award during the 2006-2007 season. Dirk is the best shooting big man in NBA history and paved the way for 3 point shooting big men. He also paved the way for international players in the NBA. Dirk Nowitzki is their best player in the team’s history and loved by the city of Dallas.
Brooklyn Nets- Jason Kidd
Although Jason Kidd’s time in Brooklyn only lasted 7 seasons, he still had a huge impact on the Nets franchise. The season prior to acquiring Kidd, they won a mere 26 games. The following season, with the addition of Kidd, the Nets made the NBA finals. Kidd also led the Nets to the finals the next season. He led the league in assists twice with the Nets, and made the all NBA first team twice. Kidd made 6 all defensive teams with the Nets and was a great floor general during his tenure in Brooklyn.
Denver Nuggets- Alex English
It’s hard to argue that Alex English isn’t the best player in Nuggets franchise history. He’s the franchise’s all-time leader in points, games played, assists, minutes played, field goals attempted and field goals made. Alex English led the league in scoring during the 1982-1983 season. He made 8 all-star appearances with the Nuggets, and made an all NBA team three times. English led the Nuggets to the conference finals during the 1984-1985 season. English places 20th on the all-time scoring list and is the best Nuggets player of all time.
Indiana Pacers- Reggie Miller
Reggie Miller is best known for his incredible 3 point shooting and him scoring 8 points in 9 seconds during a playoff game. He also spent his whole career in Indiana. Reggie was a 5 time all-star and made the all NBA third team 3 times. Reggie Miller led the Pacers to the conference finals 5 times and even led the Pacers to the NBA finals in the 1999-2000 season. He is the Pacers all-time leader in points, assists, steals, 3 pointers made and many more. Miller had such a huge impact on the Pacers franchise, he took the team to places they have never seen before and put Indiana basketball on the map.
New Orleans Pelicans- Chris Paul
The Pelicans franchise has only been around for 18 seasons and have never made it past the second round of the playoffs. The closest they’ve ever been to the conference finals was during the 2008 playoffs when they lost in game 7 to the San Antonio Spurs. The Pelicans team was led by Chris Paul, who just led his team to 56 wins. Chris Paul was second in MVP voting that season, and some people argue he should have won the award. He led the league in assists twice and led the league in steals three times during his time with New Orleans. Chris was a 4 time all-star, made 3 all NBA teams and made an NBA defensive team, during his time with the Pelicans. Chris Paul brought success to New Orleans and proved himself as an amazing teammate who made the others around him better.
Detroit Pistons- Isiah Thomas
Isiah Thomas was the leader of the Bad Boy Piston era in Detroit. Thomas led the Pistons to back to back championships and even though he only has 1 finals MVP, he was still the best player on both championship teams. Isiah played his whole career in Detroit and was named to 12 all-star games and made 5 all NBA teams in his career. Isiah is the Pistons all-time leader in assists and even led the league in assists during the 1984-1985 season. He averaged 13.9 assists that season. He also is he Pistons all-time leader in points and steals. There is no greater player in Pistons history
Toronto Raptors- Vince Carter
Vince Carter may not have made it past the second round with the Raptors. Vince may not be the all-time leader in points but he is still the best scorer in Raptors history. Carter made 6 all-star games with the Raptors and made 2 all NBA teams. Vince’s high flying put the Raptors and Canadian basketball on the map. Vince was half man, half amazing.
Houston Rockets- Hakeem Olajuwon
Hakeem is by far the best player in Rockets history. He led Houston to their only 2 titles in franchise history and won finals MVP’s in both championship runs. Hakeem won 2 defensive player of the year awards in his career and is the only player in NBA history to win the MVP, DPOY and Finals MVP in the same season. Hakeem played 17 seasons with the Rockets. In those 17 seasons, Hakeem was a 12 time all-star, made 12 all NBA teams, 9 all NBA defensive teams, lead the league in blocks 3 times and lead the league in rebounds twice. Hakeem even has a post move named after him, the Dream Shake. Hakeem is one of the best centers of all time, as well as undoubtedly the best Rockets player of all time.
San Antonio Spurs- Tim Duncan
Tim Duncan has been the key to the Spurs being one of the best franchises in the NBA. Duncan has one of the best winning percentages by an individual player. Duncan leads the Spurs franchise in numerous statistical categories and played with the Spurs for 19 seasons. During his career, Duncan was a 15 time all-star and made 15 all NBA teams, including his 10 NBA first team selections. Tim won 5 championships with the Spurs, and Duncan never missed the playoffs during his career with the Spurs. Duncan made 15 all NBA defensive teams, but surprisingly never won a defensive player of the year award. Duncan is a two time MVP and is known as the consensus best power forward of all time.
Phoenix Suns- Steve Nash
Although Nash never led the Suns to a championship, he led the Suns to 3 conference finals appearances. Nash was never a lockdown defender, but he made up for it with his incredible offensive impact. Nash led the league in assists 5 times with Phoenix and averaged 9.4 assists during his time with the Suns. Steve Nash made the 50/40/90 club 4 times with the Suns and won 2 MVP’s. Nash completely changed the NBA and how it’s played today. Nash sped up the pace of basketball and paved the way for smaller guards to succeed in the NBA.
Oklahoma City Thunder- Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant’s departure from OKC gave fans a bad image of Durant, but you can’t deny his great career in Oklahoma. Durant spent 9 seasons with the Thunder and led them to 3 conference finals and 1 NBA finals appearance. Durant led the league in scoring 4 times with the Thunder and even won the MVP in the 2013-2014 season. KD was a 7 all-star and had 5 all NBA first team selections. KD averaged 27.4 points per game while playing in a Thunder uniform and is known as one of the deadliest scorers in NBA history. Westbrook may be the more loved Thunder player, but Kevin Durant was better all time.
Minnesota Timberwolves- Kevin Garnett
The Timberwolves may not have had the best team success, and they’ve only made it to the conference finals one time in their franchise’s history. Kevin Garnett led the T-Wolves to their only conference finals appearance and was the league MVP that season. Garnett is the Timberwolves all-time leader in every main statistical category. KG made 10 all-star appearances with Minnesota, as well as 8 all NBA team selections. He was also an elite defensive player with the Timberwolves and was named to 8 all NBA defensive teams. Kevin Garnett is considered by most to be a top 3 power forward of all time and had his best years in Minnesota.
Portland Trailblazers- Clyde Drexler
Drexler’s high flying and ability to score was often second to Michael Jordan. Clyde never won a championship with the Trailblazers but he did lead them to 2 NBA finals. Clyde played in Portland for 12 seasons and averaged 20.8 points per game in that span. Drexler was an 8 time all-star and made 5 all NBA teams with Portland. He averaged 27 points per game for two straight seasons with Portland. Playing in the Michael Jordan era overshadowed Clyde’s accomplishments and legacy, but he’s still the best player ever to play for the Trailblazers.
Golden State Warriors- Stephen Curry
Stephen Curry has already done more for the Warriors franchise than any other player in their team’s history. Some could argue Wilt Chamberlain deserves this spot because he averaged an absurd 41.5 points and 25.1 rebounds during his time with the Warriors. These are crazy mind blowing all time statistics but Wilt only played 6 seasons with the Warriors franchise. Steph has already played 11 seasons with Warriors and still has plenty of gas left in the tank. Stephen Curry was the first unanimous MVP in league history and has another regular season MVP to his name. He also led the Warriors to the best regular season record in NBA history. Curry has also won 3 championships with the Warriors, and although he doesn’t have a finals MVP, he was still the Warriors leader in each of their championships. Steph is a 6 time all-star, has made 6 all NBA teams, which includes him making the first team 3 times. Stephen Curry changed the way that basketball is played today and is undoubtedly the best shooter of all time.
Washington Wizards- Wes Unseld
As of right now, Unseld is the only player in the Wizards franchise history to play his whole career in Washington. Unseld’s scoring numbers didn’t look elite, but Wes was an absolute beast. He stood at only 6″7 and averaged 14 rebounds in his career. Wes led Washington to their only championship in the franchise’s history and was awarded the finals MVP. Wes was a 5 time all-star and only made 1 all NBA team in his career, but he did win a league MVP award with Washington. Unseld was a force to be reckoned with and is well deserving of the title as the best Washington Wizards player ever.