It’s one thing to be good, and another completely different thing is to be efficient. Coaches would much rather have a guy who makes the most of his minutes and contributes in every aspect of the game than another who scores 30 points on 30 shots.
You’re not going to win many basketball games if you don’t make the most of your touches and possessions. That’s why just a handful of players have been able to dominate the league for a very long time because they know how to make an impact and efficiently lead their team. Those are the guys with the highest PER.
For those who don’t know what PER stands for, it’s pretty much a rating of how much a player produces by the minute. Today, we’re going to honor some of the most efficient and productive players ever by letting you know about the top 10 players with the highest PER in NBA history:
10. James Harden – 24.84 PER
(25.2 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 6.3 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.5 BPG)
You may or may not like James Harden as a player but you can’t deny his productivity. The guy piles up stats at an incredibly high rate and has improved on almost every aspect of his game as the years go by. He’s one of the greatest scorers to ever do it and opposing defenses still can’t figure him out.
Even though he’s lacked success in the playoffs, he’s still put up an impressive résumé, with 8 All-Star Games, 3 Scoring titles, 1 season leading the league in assists, 7 All-NBA Teams, 1 MVP award, 1 All-Rookie selection, and 1 Most Improved Player award.
9. Chris Paul – 25.08 PER
(18.5 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 9.5 APG, 2.2 SPG, 0.1 BPG)
Even if Chris Paul never makes it to an NBA Finals, he’s still one of the top 5 greatest point guards in the history of the game. That’s just how good and impactful he’s been since he made it to the league, as he’s been the true definition of a floor general, a two-way player that can run the offense like no other.
Paul is the best playmaker of his generation and one of the peskiest backcourt stoppers you’ll find. He’s turned every team he’s been into a contender, making it to 10 All-Star Games, leading the league in steals 6 times, 4 times in assists, and getting 9 All-NBA selections, 9 All-Defensive nods, 1 All-Star MVP, and the Rookie of the Year award.
8. Kevin Durant – 25.20 PER
(27.0 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 4.1 APG, 1.1 SPG, 1.1 BPG)
Kevin Durant is the greatest pure scorer to ever shoot a basketball. He’s the ultimate cheat code, a 7-footer with the ball-handling, and shooting skills of a guard. Moreover, he’s become an elite defender as well even though he doesn’t get much credit for that. He could retire tomorrow and still have a spot in the Hall of Fame.
Throughout his successful career, Kevin Durant has already made it to 10 All-Star Games with 2 All-Star MVPs, 9 All-NBA teams, 1 All-Rookie team, the Rookie of the Year award, 4 Scoring titles, 1 MVP, 2 NBA Championships and 2 Finals MVP awards.
7. Bob Pettit – 25.34 PER
(26.4 PPG, 16.2 RPG, 3.0 APG)
Even though most young fans may not hear about Bob Pettit often, he should be considered one of the greatest players of all time. He was the epitome of productivity on a time the league didn’t even count defensive stats and the most dominant force on the boards during his prime.
Pettit was only in the NBA for eleven seasons but he made the most of every single second there. He made it to 11 All-Star Games, led the league in rebounds once, won 2 Scoring titles, 2 MVPs, 4 All-Star MVPs, won the Rookie of the Year award, and eventually made it to the Hall of Fame.
6. Wilt Chamberlain – 26.13 PER
(30.1 PPG, 22.9 RPG, 4.4 APG)
The man, the legend, the myth. There are countless stories about Wilt Chamberlain, arguably the most athletic person to ever live. He dominated his opposition at will and the league had to change some rules to prevent him from getting an unfair advantage. That’s just how good and productive he was.
Chamberlain still owns dozens of NBA records that aren’t likely to ever be topped, including his 100-point performance. He was a 13-time All-Star, 7-time Scoring champion, 11-time rebounds leader, 2-time All-Defensive, 10-time All-NBA, All-Star MVP, 4-time MVP, Rookie of the Year, 2-time NBA Champion, Finals MVP, and Hall of Famer.
5. David Robinson – 26.18 PER
(21.1 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.4 SPG, 3.0 BPG)
We don’t talk about David Robinson as often as we should. We’re talking about a physical force that dominated both ends of the floor and that put the building block for the San Antonio Spurs’ winning culture before the arrival of Tim Duncan. He’s one of the few players to ever record a quadruple-double.
Robinson was a beast and one of the best players of his time, making it to 10 All-Star Games, winning 1 Scoring title. He led the league in rebounds once, once in blocks, was an 8-time All-Defensive, 10-time All-NBA, MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year, and won a couple of NBA Championships.
4. Shaquille O’Neal – 26.43 PER
(23.7 PPG, 10.9 RPG, 2.5 APG, 0.6 SPG, 2.3 BPG)
Shaquille O’Neal will always go down as the most dominant big man in the history of the game. When he was in his prime and healthy, there wasn’t a force of nature that could guard him in the paint, nor prevent him from altering a shot in the defensive end. If he hadn’t gotten hurt, he could’ve ended up as the greatest player of all-time.
Over his career, The Big Diesel made it to 15 All-Star Games with 3 All-Star MVPs. He led the league in scoring twice, made it to 3 All-Defensive teams, 14 All-NBA teams, was the Rookie of the Year, and MVP, a 4-time NBA Champion with 3 Finals MVP and a spot in the Hall of Fame.
3. Anthony Davis – 27.42 PER
(24.0 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 2.2 APG, 1.4 SPG, 2.4 BPG)
Even though it’s still pretty early in his career – which is somehow the scariest part – I think that we can all agree that Anthony Davis has already made a case for the Hall of Fame, and even consider him the most talented two-way man in the history of the game, even ahead of legends like Tim Duncan or Hakeem Olajuwon.
Whether that’s the case or not it’s not for us to decide but he’s already piled up quite an impressive résumé. He’s a 7-time All-Star, 3-time Blocks leader, 4-time All-Defensive, All-Star MVP, NBA Champion, and is the only American to ever win the NBA Finals, NCAA Tourney, FIBA World Cup, and Olympic gold medal.
2. LeBron James – 27.49 PER
(27.1 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 7.4 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.8 BPG)
LeBron James is the definition of efficiency and productivity. We don’t think of him as a scorer despite his career average of 27 points per game because of all the other things he’s capable of doing at a high level on the hardwood. And the best part is that he’s far from done and will still be around for a very, very, long time.
Throughout his almost flawless career, LeBron has made it to 16 All-Star Games with 3 All-Star MVPs, 1 Scoring title, 1 season leading the league in assists, 16 All-NBA selections, 6 All-Defensive teams, 1 Rookie of the Year award, 4 MVPs, 4 NBA Championships, 4 Finals MVP, and he has a strong shot at retiring as the league’s all-time leading scorer.
1. Michael Jordan – 27.91 PER
(30.1 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 5.3 APG, 2.3 SPG, 0.8 BPG)
There are many reasons why most people claim that Michael Jordan is the greatest player of all time, and his productivity is one of the main. He always made the most of every single touch and could impact both ends of the court every night, regardless of the scoreboard, the rival, or the context. He wanted to win every single game.
Jordan’s legendary résumé needs no introduction. He made it to 14 All-Star Games, 11 All-NBA teams, 9 All-NBA selections, was the Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, won a league-leading 10 Scoring champions, led the league in steals three times, was a 3-time All-Star MVP, and, most notably, he’s 6-time NBA Champion with 6 Finals MVPs and a privileged spot in the Hall of Fame.