Some people think that the only thing that matters is scoring but great players always find a way to make an impact. Either if it is with their defense, their playmaking, their rebounding, or basketball IQ, you can not be a dominant scorer and still be a legend.
We rarely mention the players who didn’t average a lot of points per game when we discuss the greatest players of all time. However, when you take an in-depth look at some guys’ contributions in other aspects of the game, you have to reconsider that stance.
There are countless NBA greats who never even cracked the 20.0 points per game plateau throughout a single season, yet they made it to the Hall of Fame or are heading there. Today, we’re going to talk about the All-Time ‘never averaged 20+ points per game’ lineup.
PG – Steve Nash
(14.3 PPG, Career-High 18.8 PPG)
Steve Nash isn’t just one of the best players of his generation but also one of the greatest point guards of all time. He was the most influential playmaker on his day and pulled the strings of the most explosive offense the league had ever seen at the time.
Nash won back-to-back MVPs, led the league in assists per game 5 times, was an 8-time All-Star, and one of the few members of the 50/40/90 club. He was as efficient as you could ask for, even though he was never much of a volume scorer. Still, he holds a career-high of 42.
SG – Manu Ginóbili
(13.3 PPG, Career-High 19.5 PPG)
It goes without saying that Manu Ginóbili is one of the greatest -if not the greatest – Sixth Men of all time. He was an extension of Gregg Popovich on the hardwood and a guy able to contribute to every single aspect of the stat sheet any given night.
Manu could pull up from beyond the arc, hit you with the euro-step, create for others, pile up steals at a high rate, and even block some shots. Despite his offensive versatility, he never averaged more than 19.5 points but he did have a 48-point outing in his third season in the league.
SF – Andre Iguodala
(12.0 PPG, Career-High 19.9 PPG)
Andre Iguodala deserves a lot of credit for the way he managed to stay relevant through time. He was an All-Star and the Philadelphia 76ers’ go-to-guy before becoming more of a defensive specialist, and later embracing a lesser role with the Denver Nuggets and Golden State Warriors.
Iguodala won the 2014-15 Finals MVP for his outstanding defense on LeBron James. He was also another ball-handler for a Warriors team that thrived off moving the ball. He played a huge role in 3 NBA Championships and has a career-high of 34 points.
PF – Dennis Rodman
(7.3 PPG, Career-High 11.6 PPG)
Dennis Rodman is the ultimate definition of: Know your role. He only averaged double-digits in scoring during his second year in the league and then focused on just a couple of things that he could do better than anybody else: rebounding and locking up people on defense.
Rodman could go 48 minutes without even attempting a shot and end with a 0 points-20 rebounds game. That helped him win 7 rebounding titles, 2 Defensive Player of the Year awards, and 5 NBA Championships despite never scoring more than 34 points. For those wondering, his career-high for rebounds is also 34.
C – Bill Russell
(15.1 PPG, Career-High 18.9 PPG)
Who could argue that Bill Russell is one of the greatest players of all time? He’s got the résumé to be the GOAT after winning 11 NBA Championships in 13 seasons, even if the league wasn’t actually that competitive at all during his career.
More impressively, Russell made that huge impact not thanks to his scoring but because of his lockdown defense and ability to dominate the glass. He led the league in rebounds five times and holds the second-highest career average for rebounds per game at 22.5. He averaged double-digits in scoring in all but his final season and never scored more than 37 points.