Being drafted number one overall was a dream that I’m sure anyone reading this post had at least once. The camera’s flashing, suits, jewelry, women watching, money to be made, ensuing sneaker deal (some of us are still seeking these things today) are all the fruits of the work that you put in to get there, but very few, actually only 36 have been blessed with this distinction since 1979. So yea all of those things are secondary and come with the territory, but the actual labor put in AFTER the draft is what separates the GOAT’s from the average pretending cats. Simply put, this list takes what and who we already know and arranges it in a concise way so as to see who is the best since the league cleaned up it’s act and became the global phenomenon that it has evolved into today.
10. Chris Webber (’93): If it wasn’t for those refs in the ’02 WCF (allegedly) CWebb would actually be more revered in hoop circles and the media. As it stands, the Fab Five superstar is the only member on this list to never make it to the NBA Finals. But in an era of dominant power forwards out West (KG, TD, Dirk, Sheed, even old man Malone) CWebb didi his thing and lead one of the better teams out there over a 5 year span. The numbers at his peak are there, he had a ton of game, and was as good of a passer at the 4 position as we have ever seen.
Chris makes it by a hair over some # 1 legends past and present (Yao, Derrick Coleman, Grandmama, DRose, Blake, John Wall, Ant Davis).
9. James Worthy (’82): The goggles are world class. Honestly I wanted to put Big Game James a little higher on this list but I had to pump my brakes. While rings do mean a lot in the league past and present James was a third, maybe even second option during the Showtime era, he was never the man, not with Magic and Kareem on the team. While I may be downplaying James because most of his work was done before I was alive I won’t ignore the ’88 Finals MVP and the numbers that he threw up in Game 7 (36pts, 16rebs, 10asts). That’s a line similar to what Bron throws up and we praise him for, let’s give Big Game James some props.
8. Allen Iverson (’96): The smallest member of this top 10 ranking hailing from Newport News, VA. Culturally AI is right up there with the Mike’s, Penny’s, and Bron’s so he tends to get boosted rankings on these kinds of lists but this is really as high as Bubba Chuck could ascend on this totem. Pound for pound we know that Allen I is the realest and that trip to the (’01) Finals however short lived will always be etched in our memories for this moment (because after this it was all what we expected).
While AI’s legacy is short of chips and now being marred by the media day in and day out, he is undoubtedly one of the greatest guards to ever live to suit up and the reason that half of us had cornrows between the years of ’98 and ’05.
7. Patrick Ewing (’85): The OG of the NBA Draft Lottery. Uncle Pat was the first first pick of the lottery era which began some 30 years back. Ewing deserved a ring, but so did Barkley, Malone and Stockton. Playing in an era where he had to get past Scottie’s Bulls just to sniff the Finals just wasn’t fair. Hell, you trade in a forgettable Game 7 in the ’94 Finals from Starks and Uncle Pat probably climbs a rung on this ladder. At his peak (in THE Golden Era for NBA centers) Pat more than held his own with 1 All-NBA First Team and 6 All-NBA Second Team berths as well as carrying New York and Madison Square Garden on his back season after season and Playoff run after Playoff run without another true All-Star to boast on the team. It hurt my soul when we had that fake appearance in ’99 when Pat was dealing with the torn Achilles tendon and couldn’t play, karma wouldn’t let the city of New York win it that way.
This has got to bring smile to Knicks fans everywhere!!
6. David Robinson (’87): If it weren’t for the other Twin Tower arriving in South Texas before the 97-98 season The Admiral may have slid a spot here. Nonetheless, Timmy arrived and 2 rings later here you have yet another giant from that Golden Era for centers. But really though, even before Timmy arrived The Admiral was the man, Rookie of the Year, MVP, and a Defensive Player of the Year award during that early to mid 90s generation, those accolades are no laughing matter. His ’95 MVP season always will have an asterisk next to it for reasons discussed later on in this post though. I never really gave The Admiral his due credit back in the day because it was hard for me to say that there were legitimately 3 centers liver than Uncle Pat, but in hindsight he really was and I got to respect that. Though I will never respect that fade that he wore deep into the baggy tee and cornrow era.
Son threw up a humble quadruple double, I’m quiet.
5. Lebron James (’03): The only player drafted after Y2K on this list, premature? Hell fuc**** no. By the time Bron has officially retired the headband x hairline he may very well creep into the top 3 on this here list but we won’t jump the gun (though it is inevitable). Truthfully there’s not much left to say about Bron that we can’t turn on ESPN and hear. The 2-3 Finals record is a slight blemish, then again 5 trips to the Finals in 11 years is an extraordinary feat. There has been some speculation that Bron’s peaked out in terms of greatness but at 29 years old I find that hard to fathom. It should be said that in a league known to be dominated by big men there have only been a handful of smaller (relatively in this case) cats who have stood toe to toe with common hoop logic and defeated it, Bron just being the latest.
5. Shaq (’92): The 4-3 battle was the toughest on this entire list. For many of us Shaq is the greatest center that we can vividly recall. In his prime the elbow-dropstep-banger was unstoppable (ask Smits, Mutombo, and McCullogh plus all the centers out West he ran through) . And even when we speculated that Kobe ran him into a scene where he’d never truly flourish again, he won another one, this time aiding then Flash now Three to a chip in Vice City. While I could definitely do without seeing any more colorways for the Shaqnosis sneak, The Diesel is the only center who had a shoe that someone under 6’8″ would proudly don. Nowadays The Big Aristotle has taken his talent for comedy to TNT and NBA TV, chances are that we will be hearing from Shaqtus for another 20 years.
3. Hakeem Olajuwon (’84): Yea, nah I had to do it, sorry Shaq. But let’s look at the tape.
No for real let’s look at the tape.
Yes this is The Dream handing out substantial amounts of work to three others on this list. And these weren’t chump games, two Finals and snatching the ’95 WCF title from the hands of David Robinson after The Admiral was awarded the league MVP (Olajuwon won it the prior season). Yes, it does seem accurate to say anybody gets it when going up versus Hakeem. Hakeem was the one who took full advantage of Mike’s retirement, not Chuck, not Pat, not Reggie, not Shaq, not The Admiral. He still remains the all time blocks leader and ranks 8th all time in steals. In the wide open, athletic age that exists today in the NBA The Dream would easily be the best player around, sh** it it wasn’t for Hoop Earring he would’ve been the man then too. Let’s not forget the work that he is doing now, in transforming cats into elegant beasts in the paint (Kobe, Bron, STAT, Dwi…..). Personally, I have Olajuwon as the greatest center of all time regardless of this….
2. Tim Duncan (’97): Tim is really the Ron Isley of hoop. These last two trips to the Finals were like when Ron put Kells in the spital in the Down Low video.
2K even hit Timmy off with a 90 rating on the latest version. It’s gonna be debated forever about who’s the greatest since Jordan retired (Timmy, Kobe or Bron), it’s close but as of the end of the 2014 season I got to give it to the Big Fundamental. He’s never truly wowed us with the athleticism of The Admiral, the grace of Olajuwon, the power of Shaq, or the touch of Uncle Pat, but there’s this humble confidence, A+ foot/post work and ever so ageless bankshot that he’s always had that are yet to fall victim to the wrath of Father Time. Even though Kawahi was rewarded with last season’s Finals MVP, Tim was still the Spurs best player (17 years and running). Give Pop much credit for cutting Duncan’s minutes for the past 6 or so seasons because it has helped prolong his career and propel him into many top 5 lists and rankings worldwide.
1. Magic Johnson (’79): Could we honestly put any other player here? The NBA as we know it began with the first pick of that 1979 Draft where the Lakers scooped the talented big point guard from Michigan State. So many players have come along being touted as the next Magic (see Penny, Grant Hill, Shaun Livingston) and none have come close, because just as there is and was only one MJ, the same sentiment must be shared for Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson. How many players could come in as a rookie on a team with Kareem and lead it to an NBA Championship? Only one. Only Magic. Over all of the highlights I’ve seen of Magic I don’t recall there being much of a challenge out West for LA once Magic hit the scene, think about that. Running skyhooks, 5 rings, assists titles, crazy furs, and women, Magic truly had the world in the palm of his hands. His flair for the game created waves that are still trying to duplicated to this day. You talk #1 picks and the list is grand but there will probably never be a player to come along and overtake Magic Johnson on this ladder.
On Wednesday’s we talk college hoops, the 2015 version. With all the 2014 superstars (most of them) moving on to the NBA and other pro leagues worldwide, we are undoubtedly left wondering who will fill those voids?
For our first article we take a look at Keifer Sykes, the 5’11” University of Wisconsin-Green Bay reigning Horizon League Player of the Year, hailing from the vaunted streets of Chiraq, Drillinois. Keif went to John Marshall Metropolitan High (same school as Arthur Agee). Chicago has always been in the race with NY, and LA for hoops supremacy stateside but the crop of hoopers repping the Windy City over the past 8 years is astounding (DRose, Ant Davis, Jabari Parker, Ryan Boatright, this cat, not to mention Jahlil Okafor and Cliff Alexander).
Yea, nah, back to son though. He’s one of those pound for pound players, if he was 6’5″ he woulda been the number one pick in this draft. Put up an easy 20 4 and 4 in his junior season, could definitely see him cathing wreck and hitting a few All-American lists in 2015. If you get a chance to see UW-GB play this season I don’t think you’d be upset, not one bit…
I guess Open Court got the convo started with “Smitty”, the Michigan State legend, we can keep it going. These were the only legit clips that I could find of Smitty (that were clean) getting to the bank in his heyday, whether that be Miami, Atlanta or Portland. You can say Smitty’s prime years came between 92 and 99, peaking in 97-98 when he went to his one and only ASG. Crazy to think that Joe Johnson really does have a similar game and career numbers and is a 7 time all star himself, says a lot about the level of play all around the A past and present. Without a doubt, with the lack of potent shooting guards in the league today, Smitty woulda been a perennial all star too if his prime were say 2002-2008 or 2012-future. As you should know, Smitty is a one time NBA Champ, teaming up with Tim Tony and Manu 12 seasons ago (02-03).
When I think of Steve Smith, firstly I think of him on NBA TV but when I think of him hooping I think more of a marksman, a shooter, a three point specialist but numbers don’t lie and that 35.8% clip from downtown is good money but it’s not fire. For comparison’s sake, Chris Paul shoots 35.7% for his career. Not knocking Smitty at all, just saying that his game was deeper than gats. You don’t get between 13-20 a night over a 14 year career by shooting just 35% from deep. Let’s give props to the non-Hall of Famers, they were real hoopers too, and look at the clips, he put Mike in the mixer a couple of nights as well.
If I had to compare him to any modern day player I do think Slow Joe would be most accurate, maybe even a little bit of James Harden with the crafty play below the rim and ability to mix it up from deep to the baja.
Kinda disappointed that some non athletic, below the rim player hasn’t put together a highlight clip of Steve doing the infamous “Smitty” to Nas “Made You Look” or something like that. If somebody can find that link us at @swishgeneration on Twitta
“Riding in the Jag and I gotta bad bitch No Limit the team we got shooters like the Mavericks” -Lil Bibby
Shout out @DawkinsMTA for creating one of the dopest YouTube pages on the internet, where he puts together clips of some of the best individual performances from some of the brightest stars of the league past and present.
No better way to spend your Sunday afternoon (or whenever you catch this) than to peep a classic Texas two-step between the Mavs GOAT and arguably the best shooting guard in the game (at the time) in his first season in H-Town.
Special Thanks: Jimmy Jackson, Andre Barrett, and Josh Howard for reminding us of our age
“I used to be jealous of Arron Afflalo” -Kendrick Lamar
Firstly, pause the whole Drake x Lance x Paul George collab.
This NBA off season is about a month deep and it’s already been on tilt. Trades, free agency, overpaid players, underpaid players, legends taking pay cuts, the Draft, and now Summer League. It doesn’t even feel like the season ever ended.
The level of disrespect in Charlotte just got ratcheted up about 10 notches today by throwing Lance in the backcourt alongside Kemba Walker. Kyle Lowry decided to stay and remain a king in Toronto (second best city in North America behind NYC), we still aren’t 100% sure that EBled will be back in the Suns purple n orange but they’d be fools not to re-sign him. Elfrid Payton and Andrew Wiggins are going to be immediate impact backcourt players in their current situations (given Wigs doesn’t get dealt for Kev Love, and Arron Afflalo going back to hoop with Ty Lawson is lowkey one move we probably overlooked but will be deadly, without a doubt.
Who would have ever thought that a ranking of the top 10 backcourts in the NBA would be complete without the Lakers or Heat making the list? Times a changing…
10. Elfrid Payton and Vic Oladipo:
Based totally on potential and this quick Summer League oop, we have to throw this young duo in the Top 10. Defensively/athletically they are already tough and probably top 3/4 backcourts in the league. The problem is they can’t shoot, like Chris, Snoop, and Mack Wilds bucking at Omar in that apartment can’t shoot. But that can and more than likely will develop with time, there are a couple older backcourts we could have honored with the 10 spots, but nah fuck that disrespect still back!
9. Kyrie Irving and Andrew Wiggins:
That athleticism can’t be taught dog, that alone gets them on this list. First thing Bron should have done when he signed with the Cavs was get Kyrie in a gym, no not for his game, but for his body (NH). I mean I don’t have the numbers in front of me but Kyrie probably played in as many games as Part Time Wade did last season. Miami definitely ends up with a better record than the Cavs if that’s the case again in 2015. But Kyrie and Andrew Wiggins obviously has the potential (esp playing alongside Bron) to sneak up this list and be top 7. Wiggins will get the chance to be a third option and Kyrie a second. That bodes well for their numbers and overall how we view them in game as the spotlight won’t totally be fixated on them.
8. Damian Lillard and Wes Matthews:
There was no reason for Portland to get smoked in that second round match versus the Spurs. At least not in my mind. They had what I thought was the better backcourt and the better post players. I was wrong about the latter, but Dame and Wes are a very underrated duo. Their shooting ability is just as lethal as Steph and Klay’s, only difference is that the Blazers didn’t live and die by it, which would explain why they fared slightly better than the Dubs. It was just a year ago that we were looking forward to seeing Dame and CJ McCollum take over that Rose City’s 2 step, the Wes Matthews sub wasn’t too shaby.
7. Ty Lawson and Arron Afflalo:
The Pistons front office didn’t do their due diligence before throwing $6.5 mil at Jodie Meeks. Truth be told, this is really a top 5 backcourt but the hype of the Suns and Thunder backcourt won’t allow me to rank them any higher than this. I bet you everyone who reads this post will tune into every single Nuggets game next season, put the bank on that. It was the Orlando Magicians but Arron Afflalo did avg a dub, and twenty is twenty. Ty will definitely free Arron up for open three’s all day, I wouldn’t be too surprised to see the Nuggets sneak into the playoffs this season, led by this duo, granted they remain healthy.
6. Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe*:
The Suns would be foolish to let Eric Bledsoe go be a star on another team. Still don’t know why they, nor other teams haven’t offered him a contract yet, but yea this clip here is type weak, I’m not gonna lie, but we all know what these cats can do on the court. Damn near 50 wins with two point guards? Respect is due, their only drawback would be defending bigger 2 guards like the top 4 backcourts possess. This might just be the most exciting backcourt duo to watch in the NBA, between Bledsoe’s hops and jets and then Dragic’s craftiness you get the best of all point guards watching a Suns game.
5. Reggie Jackson and Russell Westbrook:
If Scott Brooks has absolutely any sense, and by any I mean the slightest of sense, this will be his starting backcourt. The only reason I won’t put them higher on this list (cuz Russ alone makes them top 3) is because I don’t think Scott Brooks will start them together. Reggie Jackson has proved over the past season and a half that he’s a legit starting point guard, I mean at this point why not just start him? The Anthony Morrow signing was good money and he’s a great shooter but that’s not what the fans wanna see, not one bit. Either way you look at it, this will be the backcourt that closes out the majority of the Thunder’s games in 2015. They’d be so tough defensively and obviously there wouldn’t be more than 2 backcourts that would be able to “check” them, or even keep up. Scott Brooks really a dickhead and I didn’t realize it until this sentence.
4. Kemba Walker and Lance Stephenson:
Don’t tell me that they haven’t played a minute of NBA basketball together, fuck outta here we know what this backcourt is about. The NY connection is one thing, but it would mean absolutely nothing if they didn’t have the one-on-one skill sets that they do. Based on those they would rank second on this list, defensively they are going to be dogs the way they were brought up. They actually have more playoff experience than any of the other backcourts on here. But their weakness will be the lack of shooting between not only them but the Hornets as a whole. If the Hornets could snag a cheap shooter they will look that much better, if not, they’ll take it to the streets and we ain’t mad if that happens at all.
3. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson:
Yea nah, Drake and Chris Brown doing tracks together is the equivalent to what Steph Curry and Klay are on the basketball court. You just know it’s big buckets, possible club banger for the rest of the summer. It’s all the pretty shit in the game, call it soft call it what you want but you are going to watch Warrior games and you are gonna listen to that track. To many people, the fact that I have them ranked at 3 is disrespectful, many people would even say that they are number one. This is easily one of the best shooting backcourts that we have ever see, definitely the best in the league right now. I do respect their game I just believe that it is a little too dependent on jump shooting and nothing else. If they aren’t making shots then they really aren’t doing much else on the court and without a doubt the Warriors are not winning said game. Granted there aren’t many games where one or both of these cats isn’t knocking em down. Thompson is an underrated all around player, he does lack a little bit in the playmaking category but as long as Steph is there he won’t need to do much of that. I am very eager to see what kind of offense Steve Kerr runs and how much he lets these two shooters dedicate the outcome of the game
2. Kyle Lowry and Demar Derozan:
Yup, one year of success has landed this OVO duo at the #2 spot in the backcourt rankings. Yea they couldn’t even get passed Paul Pierce, KG and Junior Russian Mafia, but we are still giving them this #2 slot. Lowry proved throughout the season and particularly in the playoffs that he is an all-star, Derozan is already there. Plus the way that the city of Toronto showed out for the team forced my hand. Lowry is a pitbull with the rock in his hands and on defense, add Derozan’s improving offensive repertoire and it results in a top 3 exciting backcourt in the NBA today. This is probably the only duo who ranks in the top 3 in all important categories. Shooting, one-on-one playmaking, defense, and footwear. Actually scratch that last one cuz Lowry does in fact wear Shane Battier’s
1. John Wall and Bradley Beal:
So that leaves room for one duo, and of course it’s the Mambo Team holding it down here, who else? This is a premature ranking, yes I will admit that, but I really couldn’t fix my mind into thinking that any other backcourt was legitimately better than this one. Wall’s athletic/defensive ability coupled with his playmaking skills are the perfect balance to Big B’s developing offensive prowess. Think about how so many of the elite shooting guards lives would have been much easier if they had an elite point guard to GET them the ball. I’m not even sure that we’ve seen a backcourt with this much promise on both ends of the court. Lowry and Derozan are fairly old at 28 and 24 respctively, Steph and Klay aren’t even close to the defenders and all around players that Wall and Beal, taking that into account, you have to clear way and crown them in this race. They did have some shaky moments against the Pacers but think about how they dismantled the Bulls. Think about the defense that Bradley put on Lance in the Pacers series, think about how John Wall was athletically and defensively unstoppable against the Bulls. Technically this is the only starting duo here that even got to the second round in the 2014 Playoffs, so why wouldn’t I put them at the top of this list?
Few things I’m struggling with right now…firstly is what Hov thought process was like when he concluded that MCHG is better than Volume 1…and lastly, these 1 million pressing NBA issues that have me searching for understanding….
1) Why nobody pressed Mike Woodson about his goatee yet?
127,394) Who has ever seen a pair of Melo’s on anybody’s feet besides Melo?
166,711) Why everybody on this roster like fedoras so much?
201,152) Why nobody copped Bargnani a M.O.P. album to get his boards up?
205,555) Why they ain’t pass JR Smith a oz. yet so he can get his jumper back?
214,683) When are they going to get some sense and try Iman at the 1?
333,333) I’m racist for still thinking that Jeremy Lin can’t give me buckets?
340,517) Why teams still double teaming Dwight?
351,661) 5 years in now, why cant anybody stop Harden from going left?
777,368) Ya’ll realize how nice Norris Cole is?
791,427) Why hasn’t anybody on this team told Bosh that he’s gotta chill?
800,000) Why hasn’t anybody snuffed Shane Battier in 13 years?
800,002) Why LeBron & Oden embarrassed to tell us they have the same pops?
800,003-900,000) Why are the Basketball Gods trying to let Bron be better than Jordan????
Los Angeles Lakers
999,997) How mad are ya’ll going to be when we get a top 3 pick??
999,998) Nick Young scooped Iggy Azalea…..why wouldn’t everybody wanna be a Laker?
999,999) F*** is Robert Sacre doing on this court during a regulation game?
1,000,000) I’m the only one who sees the plot Kobe’s pulling?
All 30 Franchises
1,000,001) How nobody bagged Cari Champion yet???????
Bill & OG Jalen build on the early failures and surprises of the NBA season.