Over the last couple of decades, the state of Ohio wasn’t really known for their success in sports, and other than the Ohio State Buckeyes, they didn’t have much to brag about when it came to banners.
Nowadays, things have changed a lot, mostly because of the Cleveland Cavaliers surging as the most dominant force in the Eastern Conference ever since LeBron James entered the league 15 seasons ago.
Nonetheless, there have been other great basketball players born in Ohio, and today, we’re going to let you know about the top 10 best NBA and ABA players in the history of the beautiful game of basketball.
Honorable Mention: CJ McCollum
10. Michael Redd
Born and raised in Columbus, Ohio; Michael Redd was one of the most talented ballers of his generation, even making it to the Olympics with Team USA due to his lights out scoring ability and defensive awareness at the wings as well.
Redd Hot is one of the greatest 2nd round picks in the history of the game, and he even owns the record for most three-pointers scored in a half with 8. Also, he won the Olympic Gold with his national team, made it to 1 All-Star and averaged 19 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.
9. Larry Jones
All through the 60’s and mid 70’s, Larry Jones was one of the craftiest playmakers in both the ABA and the NBA, running the point for the Philadelphia 76ers, the Denver Rockets, Floridians, Utah Stars and Dallas Chaparrals.
Jones was drafted 22nd overall in the 3rd round of the 1964 NBA Draft, made it to 3 All-ABA teams and made it to 4 ABA All-Stars, posting career averages of 19.1 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.2 steals per game.
8. Kevin Martin
Even though Kevin Martin never truly achieved his full potential, he was always one of the most talented shooters and streaky scorers on the floor when he wasn’t sidelined with an injury, and he’s by far one of the most underrated offensive players of the last decade.
K-Mart was a walking bucket from 2004 to 2016, playing for the Kings, Rockets, Thunder, Timberwolves and Spurs over that span. After leading the NCAA in scoring twice, he was only able to put career averages of 17.4 points, 3.2 boards and 1.9 dimes per game.
7. Gus Johnson
Gus “Honeycomb” Johnson was one of the most impressive players in early basketball stage, an explosive dunker and physical scorer that even shattered three backboards with his emphatic dunks over the course of his career.
The Akron native was also one of the league’s fiercest defenders during his prime, making it to 2 All-Defensive teams throughout his 14 season career with the Cleveland Carneys, Baltimore Bullets, Phoenix Suns and Indiana Pacers, posting career averages of 16.2 points, 12.1 rebounds and 2.5 dimes per game.
6. Jerry Lucas
Back in the day, Jerry Lucas was one of the most dominant big men in the league by a long shot, staying in the league for over a decade as a member of the Cincinnati Royals, the San Francisco Warriors and the New York Knicks, a team he led to an NBA Championship in 1973.
Lucas was a major force in both ends of the glass, taking the league for assault as the 1965 Rookie of the Year and making it to 7 All-Stars with 1 All-Star MVP. Over his career, he averaged 17 points and 15.6 rebounds, the highest rebounding average by any Ohio native ever.
5. Neil Johnston
Most young fans haven’t heard about him, but during the 1950 decade, Neil Johnston was one of the best scorers in the world, leading the league in scoring in 3 different seasons and once in boards, spending all of his career with the Philadelphia Warriors.
Johnston led the team to a Championship in 1956 and made it to 6 All-Star games, posting career averages of 23.2 points and 11.3 rebounds a game before becoming the team’s coach, even coaching Wilt Chamberlain over the first couple of years of his career.
4. Nate Thurmond
Nate “The Great” Thurmond was considered to be the most dominant defensive center in the game, feared and respected by legends like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and Bob Pettit, and he even made the list of the top 50 greatest basketball players in history.
Thurmond was such a physical presence down low that he made it to a couple of All-Defensive teams and even the Hall of Fame, posting career averages of 15 points, 15 boards and 2.1 blocks per game, and he was the first player to ever record a quadruple-double.
3. John Havlicek
John Havlicek is one of the greatest players in Boston Celtics history, leading the franchise in points scored and being the first player ever to score 1000 points or more in 16 consecutive seasons, leading the Celtics to 8 NBA Championships over the course of his career.
Hondo was a dominant in the offensive end of the floor as he was on defense, as he made it to 5 All-Defensive squads, made it to 11 All-NBA teams, 13 All-Stars and won 1 Finals MVP, posting career averages of 20.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.8 dimes and 1.2 steals per game.
2. Stephen Curry
Being a diehard Panthers fan, most people think Stephen Curry is a Carolina native, while he was actually born in Akron, Ohio. The greatest shooter that has ever seen has piled up milestone after milestone, and if his ankle injuries don’t bother him anymore, he’s en route to win at least a couple of more rings.
Curry has already won 2 Championships and 2 MVPs, and he was the best player in the team with the best record in NBA history. Throughout his career, the 5-time All-Star has posted averages of 22.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 6.8 dimes with 1.8 steals per game, as well as owning pretty much every single three-point shooting related record.
1. LeBron James
And obviously, Ohio’s best basketball player is also their greatest athlete and perhaps most significant person, The Man in the Arena, the guy that promised the city a Championship and was able to deliver with one after coming back from the Miami Heat.
James put Akron on the map and is already considered to be a top 5 player in the history of basketball, winning 3 NBA Championships, 4 MVPs, 3 Finals MVPs, the ROY, 1 Scoring title, 13 All-NBA teams, 14 All-Stars, 5 All-Defensive teams and 2 All-Star MVPs, as well as being the Cavs all-time scoring leader.