Recently, I had put out a two-part series of articles about the Best Players to wear #’s 00-10 in NBA History. I got such good feedback from that series, that I have decided to keep it going.
Below, is part 1 of another 2-part series, MY opinion on the best players to wear #’s 11-15 throughout the NBA’s 76 year history. Just a quick reminder, that my only criteria is the player I choose, has to have worn the jersey # for at least 3+ years.
#11-Bob McAdoo, C/PF (7 Teams ,1972-1986)
Starting off with a fairly solid battle for #11. There have been so many really good/great players to wear the double-1’s. Isiah Thomas, Elvin Hayes, Yao Ming, to name a few. But as you can see, I ultimately landed on Bob McAdoo as my choice.
The #2 pick in the 1972 Draft out of the University of North Carolina. McAdoo was one of the pioneering scoring big men. While he was only 6 foot 9 playing primarily as Center, he grabbed almost 10 Rebounds a game (9.4) for his career. Along with putting up over 20 points a game (22.1), at a 50.3% FG clip overall. That scoring prowess at his position led to 3 scoring titles, 5 All-Star selections, and an NBA MVP (1974-75). His amazing career was recognized with an induction into the NBA HOF in 2000.
McAdoo’s NBA career may have ended in 1986 at the age of 35. But he didn’t stop playing professionally altogether. After the 1985-86 NBA season, he signed with Tracer Milan, of the Italian Pro League. At 35 he led them to a European Championship averaging over 25 points and 10 rebounds a game. By the time he retired from Italy in 1992 at 41 years old, his averages were about what he did in the first year overseas (26.6 and 8.7).
So, if you add in the Italian League stats, this jersey # competition isn’t as close as it is without them.
#12- John Stockton, PG, (UTA, 1984-2003)
If you look up best pass first Point Guard, Stockton will be one of the first pictures to pop up. The All-Time assists king (15,806), averaged almost as many assists a game (10.5), as he did points (13.1). He didn’t just dish out the ball at a high rate, he took it away at a high rate as well. Top 10 in steals per game (2.17)
The former Gonazaga Bulldog, has plenty of accolades to his name. First and foremost, a Hall of Famer, along with being a 10x All-Star, 5x All-Defensive Team and 9x AST Champ. But never became an NBA Champion. It was within reach many times, but always fell out of reach in the end. If it weren’t for Michael Jordan, Stockton and longtime teammate Karl Malone, may have 2 rings each.
Looking back at the 1984 Draft, where Stockton (16th) and Jordan (3rd) were both selected. 4 of the players selected before Stockton combined for only 4 more years of NBA seasons (23) than Stockton played himself (19). Those same 4 players also combined for almost 10,000 points less than Stockton scored, and almost 14,000 less assists than the Assist King.
Safe to say, those four teams missed out big time on letting Stockton fall that low.
“Wilt The Stilt”, “The Big Dipper”, and “The Record Book”. Those are all some of the nicknames that the 4x MVP and Hall of Famer went by. Some say the era Chamberlain played in, attributed big time to his stat book and accolades. Which that may be true.
To my knowledge, he started his career when the NBA was still very young, and not very diverse in the sense of skin color (only 18 black people in NBA in 1959). As well as not very diverse in the sense of height either. At 7-foot-1, the former Kansas Jayhawk, towered over probably 90% of his competition. Which definitely didn’t hurt his path to being an 11x REB Champ (22.9 career avg/game), and a 7x Scoring Champ (30.1 career avg/game).
There is one bad thing you can say about his career stat line though. He has the 4th worst FT% in NBA History at just 51.1%. He attempted 11.4 FTs a game, and made 5.8 a game. It’s crazy that there are 3 guys in history worse than that. But, to no surprise, all 3 are Centers (Ben Wallace, Andre Drummond, Deandre Jordan).
14. Oscar Robertson, PG, (SAC/MIL, 1961-1974)
Before we had Russell Westbrook, lighting up the stat sheet with Triple Double after Triple Double. There was “Mr. Triple Double” himself, Oscar Palmer Robertson. From the end of his career in 1974, until the 2021 season. The former #1 overall pick, held the Career Triple-Double record with 181. On May 10, 2021, Russell Westbrook broke that record, with is 182nd Trip-Dub (he currently has 198)
You probably wouldn’t think, that the top two guys on that list would be guards. Like Roberston and Westbrook. With one of the main components being rebounds. But the next closest “Big Man” on the list is Nikola Jokic with 91. Then Wilt Chamberlain behind him with 78. The fact that Wilt Chamberlain only has 78 came as a big shock to me.
From 1960-1966 (ages 22-27), the “Big O”, garnered 81% of his career Triple Doubles (148). Never reaching above double digits in that specific stat again all the way through his retirement in 1974.
15. Vince Carter, SF, (8 Teams, 1998-2020)
You might be saying “Where’s Melo?”. Well, for the sake of keeping the list fresh, I went with “Vinsanity” instead of Carmelo. Since I chose Melo for #7 in my part 2 of my last list. Should I have kept him for #15 and chose someone else for #7? Maybe. But there was more competition for #15 than #7. Which, ultimately led me to my decision.
Carter wasn’t a slouch of a player by any means. The former #5 overall pick, was Rookie of The Year for the 1998-99 season. Throughout his 20+ year career, he was an 8x All-Star, and a 2x All-NBA selection. He can also hold above every other player as the only player ever, to play in the NBA in four different decades (1990’s, 2000’s, 2010’s and 2020’s).
When I think of the best dunkers in NBA history, two names immediately come to mind. Dominique Wilkins, and Vince Carter. The man dubbed “Air Canada”, at one point in his career, pulled of some of the most amazing dunks the human eye will ever see. Including his epic Slam Dunk Contest win in 2000, which everyone that was alive to see or has seen clips of will remember forever.
One thing I wish had happened for Vince was winning a Championship. Something he only got close to once, reaching the ECF with Orlando in 2010. But not winning a championship, doesn’t take away from all the great things he did on the court.
There is part 1 of my best NBA players to wear #’s 11-20. Be on the lookout for part 2 soon!