The NBA has seen some legendary squads throughout its history. Some of the greatest players ever have teamed up to dominate the league, while others have built a dynasty and legacy of their own, even if that meant retiring with a Championship.
Whatever the case may be, it’s pretty clear that some ballers have put together a resume that stands out from the rest of the pack. They’ve become marquee men in basketball history and there’s just no way to talk about the game without bringing their names up.
Thus, if you could put together the ultimate squad in NBA history, which players would you choose? If you had a salary cap of, say, $15; who’d you go with? Just for fun and the sake of the argument, we’ve put together these tiers so you can play GM this time:
$5 – Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Tim Duncan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
5$ tier features the creme of the crop, five franchise players that’s could turn a team around on their own, five legends and winners that left a huge blueprint in the history of basketball, and honestly, you can’t go wrong with any of them.
At the point guard position, we have Magic Johnson, the first-ever point forward. Magic’s combination of size, skills, basketball IQ, and never-seen playmaking abilities made him the greatest point guard of all time. He was the cornerstone of the Showtime Lakers.
Then, at the two spot, we find the greatest player of all time: Michael Jordan. Jordan is the most dominant player ever. He’s one of the few guards to have won the Defensive Player of the Year but he also holds the record for most Scoring titles with 10. He’s the ultimate champion.
LeBron James gets the nod as our top-tier small forward. If you’re looking for an overall player that can run the point, rebound, and score at a high clip; then James is your guy on this Draft. He’s got the highest basketball IQ of all time and he can play and guard all five spots on the court.
If you’re looking for a hard-working guy that’ll lead by example, your guy has to be Tim Duncan, the greatest power forward – arguably big man – of all time. He can play lockdown defense on the perimeter and the paint, and his old-school post game is just unstoppable.
But if you’re more into old-school big men, then you have to lean towards the league’s all-time leading scorer: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Kareem’s shot was unblockable and he was also one of the deadliest rim protectors of all time. He’ll completely dominate both sides of the glass.
$4 – Stephen Curry, Kobe Bryant, Larry Bird, Karl Malone, Shaquille O’Neal
If you had a tough time deciding which player to take from the $5 tier, then $4 won’t be any easier. I mean, those five guys could also lead a franchise to multiple championships and are some of the most influential players in the history of the game.
Stephen Curry is the most influential player of the decade. He may not be your average pass-first point guard but he’s a top-notch playmaker that’ll play team-ball if needed. He’s also the greatest shooter in the history of the game and a top-3 player scoring off the ball.
Kobe Bryant is the ultimate leader. He’s an alpha dog and won’t take anything less than 150% effort from his peers. His leadership will grant you multiple championships, as well as his grittiness and determination on both ends of the court. If you missed on Jordan, you can get the closest to him on Kobe.
If you want a small forward that can run the point and be a walking triple-double threat, while also being a better three-point shooter than most players to ever live, then you must turn your attention towards Larry Bird, one of the most versatile scorers of all time.
But if you’re more into a low-post game and an old-school kind of offense, then Karl Malone should be your go-to-guy. Malone was stronger and bigger than most of his rivals and even though he lacked the range of modern power forwards, he was still going to get his own every night out there.
Shaquille O’Neal, A.K.A ‘The Most Dominant Ever’ rounds up this tier at center. There isn’t a human being that’s strong enough to keep up with a prime Shaq down low. His combination of strength, athleticism, and footwork made him just unstoppable.
$3 – Isiah Thomas, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant, Charles Barkley, Wilt Chamberlain
Tier $3 features five players that we just don’t appreciate enough. Four of them were NBA Champions but all of them completely dominated the scene throughout their entire career. They were either the best or second-best on their position for over a decade.
Isiah Thomas doesn’t get enough love from history books, fans, or the media, mostly because he led the infamous ‘Bad Boys’ pistons and was often Michael Jordan’s antagonist. But make no mistake, he was a more dominant version of Chris Paul, a top-tier backcourt stopper and playmaker that’ll perfectly suit your team.
Then, we find another underrated player in Dwyane Wade. Don’t get me wrong, he always got the praise he deserved, but he was never the best shooting guard in the league because of Kobe Bryant. Wade is one of the best defensive guards to ever live and we already know what he’s able of doing in the offensive end.
Kevin Durant is the ultimate cheat code. Should you choose him as your team’s small forward, he’ll give you plenty of versatility given his length and wingspan. He’s arguably the best scorer of all time and has also grown to be a top-notch rim protector.
If you want a hard-nosed competitor and top-notch trash talker, rebounder, and scorer at the power forward spot, then go ahead and choose Charles Barkley. Chuck was undersized but made up for it with never-ending hustle and brains. He embarrassed bigger opposition every night out there.
Old-school fans would be thrilled to get Wilt Chamberlain for just $3. Wilt was the ultimate record man, a guy that dominant that the league had to change the rules to make it fairer for everybody else. He was bigger, stronger, and more athletic than every other player. By a long stretch.
$2 – Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, Julius Erving, Kevin Garnett, Bill Russell
$2 tier features mostly old-school legends of the game. Some of them went down as a couple of the greatest two-way players a basketball court has ever seen, and all of them won at least one NBA Championship. They’d be the perfect complement for your team, and could even take things into their own hands any given night.
If you’re into versatile players that could fill up the stat sheet, then you must pick Oscar Robertson. The Big O was the first player in NBA history to average a triple-double for a full season, a two-way dominant guard that could literally do it all.
Jerry West comes as the shooting guard for the $2 tier. He had quick hands and great instincts to dive for the ball and play lockdown defense, while also being crafty enough to get whatever he wanted in the offensive end of the floor. He was one of the first two-way greats.
If you still need a starting small forward, then Julius Erving won’t be a bad choice at all. He inspired countless NBA legends with his flashy moves and had unprecedented athleticism for a guy on his spot. He’s also one of the league’s finest dunkers of all time.
Fans of tough and competitive players would love to get Kevin Garnett on their team. He’s the ultimate trash-talker and most outspoken leader you’ll find, and a guy whose offensive impact is only topped by his restless effort in the defensive end.
Last, but not least, we find the winningest player of all time. Bill Russell was faster, bigger, stronger, and savvier than literally all players in the league back in the day. He was a one-man fast break and perhaps the best defender of all time.
$1 – John Stockton, Allen Iverson, Elgin Baylor, Dirk Nowitzki, Hakeem Olajuwon
$1 tier could compete for a Championship on their own. It has three of the most unstoppable scorers of all time, the greatest rim protector to ever live, and the ultimate two-way point guard. They’d round up the most unstoppable lineup basketball has ever seen.
John Stockton doesn’t get enough credit. He’s the all-time leader in assists in steals and is arguably the most durable player in NBA history. He’d be the perfect guy to pull the strings of your offense, especially if he’s surrounded by scorers.
Allen Iverson will put on a show every night. He’s the most talented player never to win an NBA Championship and a guy that could score over 30 points per game in the modern era. He’d be thrilled to finally have an elite supporting cast, should you choose him.
If you want a big, savvy scorer at the small forward spot, then you must turn your attention towards Elgin Baylor, the first great scoring three in the history of basketball. You can’t go wrong with him, although you’d want to surround him with shooters.
Talking about shooters, there are few shooters in NBA history that could score more consistently than Dirk Nowitzki. You know he’s not going to give you much of an interior defense but he’d put up a lot of points in no time with his signature one-legged shot.
But if you’re in need of a big man, the Hakeem Olajuwon would gladly jump on board. He has a case for being the best two-way center to ever live, the all-time leader in blocked shots, and the guy that set the standard for the footwork and skill set needed to thrive in the league. That’s a huge bargain for just $1.
Our team: Stephen Curry, Michael Jordan, Kevin Durant, Kevin Garnett, Hakeem Olajuwon