An all-around player is someone who does multiple things on the court. Regardless of their ultimate strength, there should not be a glaring weakness that makes it easy for opponents to expose. Furthermore, it is important to avoid bias towards a player’s position when judging talent as it is unfair to expect most big men to hit threes and dish assists with regularity the same way with guards protecting the rim on every defensive possession.
Here are the top 10 greatest all-around players with scoring prowess, knack for rebounding, penchant for assists, and defensive mindset in NBA history, starting with number 10:
10 – Draymond Green
As much as we hate mentioning a Warrior on here, Draymond Green has had a pair of very good years for the Golden State Warriors, and its hard to keep him off this list. Although he may be a product of the very good system in Oakland, he dramatically increased all his numbers from last year, and it helped the Dubs get a record 73 wins this season. After putting up 11.7 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.6 steals, and 1.3 blocks per game on 44% from the field and 33% from downtown last season, Green upped those numbers to 14 points, 9.5 rebounds, 7.4 assists, 1.5 steals, and 1.4 blocks per game on 49% from the field and 38.8% from downtown. He’s a solid 6’8″ but plays defense like an active seven footer.
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9 – Kobe Bryant
For all the heat that Kobe Bryant has received throughout his career for allegedly being a ball hog, he still manages to put up across the board numbers. Bryant was able to feed his teammates 4.8 times per game throughout his career which is not a bad number considering the amount of shots that he’s been releasing. Outside of his passing skills, Kobe can score on opponents in a multitude of ways while also being a doberman on the defensive end. He can shoot the lights out from deep, slash to the hoop at his own will, and school defenders on the post while giving nightmares to his unfortunate man on defense with his aggressive, in-your-face type of defense. Kobe’s wide skillset easily puts his name in the list.
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8 – Jason Kidd
One of the best point guards in NBA history, Jason Kidd had the unique ability to dominate a game, quietly, by impacting every area possible despite not scoring in bunches. Some call Kidd’s triple doubles as “cheap” ones but the guy has 107 in total for his career which is good for third all-time behind Magic and The Big O; nothing cheap in that. His best season may have been in 2002-2003 where he was a very strong candidate for Most Valuable Player, which some felt he deserved, after averaging 18.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, 8.9 assists, and 2.2 steals while leading an unheralded New Jersey Nets squad to a 49-33 record and an NBA Finals appearance. His all around brilliance even extends to outside of the statsheet as Kidd is an absolute extension of the coach on the floor.
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7 – Scottie Pippen
Let’s face it, Michael Jordan would not be where he is today without Scottie Pippen. The versatile forward was the Chicago Bulls best defensive stopper over the course of his playing career in the Windy City. Not only did Pippen defended the opposing team’s best player, he did it with elite level defense. He was a Bull but was more of a bloodhound. But with all of Scottie Pippen’s defensive brilliance, he was also a very capable scorer and a good passer with range. In the 1991-1992 season, Pippen averaged 21 points, 7.7 rebounds, 7 assists, 1.9 steals, and 1.1. blocks per game while playing alongside a certain prolific player. When Jordan retired in 1993, Pippen carried the franchise on his shoulders, averaging 22 points, 8.7 rebounds, 5.6 assists, and 2.9 steals during the 1993-1994 season.
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6 – Jerry West
Mr. Clutch. The Logo. Jerry West is as iconic as any NBA player can be. A Los Angeles Lakers all-time great, West was one of the most prolific scorers the league has ever seen averaging 27 points for his career. Despite his scrawny 6’2” and 175 lbs frame, the man whose silhouette is featured in the NBA logo was able to rough it up with the big guys as he averaged, at one point, 7.9 rebounds per game (5.8 for his career). He was also an above average playmaker and this was highlighted best during the 1971-1972 season where he dished out 9.7 dimes per contest (6.7 for his career).
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5 – Larry Bird
A 3-time Most Valuable Player, Larry Bird was the cornerstone of the Celtic championship teams in the 1980s. While he’s widely known for scoring (24.3 career scorer) and shooting prowess (37.6% career shooter from beyond), Bird was a fierce competitor off the glass, averaging double digits rebounds in 6 seasons. He may not look the part but Bird was also a tough defender out of pure smarts and effort. Larry Legend also got a bird’s eye view of the court allowing him to make sweet dishes every now and then. His most complete statistical season was in 1984-1985 where he normed 28.7 points, 10.5 boards, 6.6 dimes, 1.6 steals, and 1.2 blocks while shooting 42.7% from distance.
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4 – Michael Jordan
This might come as a bit of a surprise to a few but Michael Jordan is indeed an all-around player. What could be more puzzling is why the GOAT is at number four. Well, the players from number three down to one have more balanced games. This is no knock on MJ though because he is still freaking Michael Jeffrey Jordan for crying out loud. Michael’s numbers shine brightest in the points category and he’s also very popular for being a vicious defender, but his passing game is also an area that needs to be noticed. With all the attention that’s being given to him and the effort that he’s been putting up in scoring and defending, it’s amazing how he still manages to be a career 5.3 per game passer and it only goes to show the level of mental toughness that he’s on. His Airness’ most balanced season in terms of his numbers could very well be in 1988-1989 where he averaged 32.5 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists, and 2.9 steals.
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3 – Magic Johnson
Earvin “Magic” Johnson is one of the very few NBA players of his size that are gifted with the skillset that he possess. His court vision and basketball IQ are off the charts that they allow him to see plays before they even happen. Magic is second in the all-time leader in triple doubles with 138 over 13 years. In his third season, Johnson came close to averaging a triple double when he had a line of 18.6 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 9.5 assists. His career numbers are 19.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, 11.2 assists, and 1.9 steals per game. Magic Johnson is a big point guard alright but in the 1980 NBA Finals against the Philadelphia 76ers, his rookie season, he started Game 6 at center for the Los Angeles Lakers and finished the game with 42 points, 15 rebounds, and 7 assists to give his team the championship. Not bad for a greenhorn.
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2 – LeBron James
LeBron Raymone James. The 4-time Most Valuable Player and 2-time NBA champion already has a nice spot reserved for him in the Hall of Fame. From day one, LeBron’s game has been predicated on all-around brilliance and over the years, we have seen him improve by scary leaps and bounds in terms of his defense. His combination of size, strength, skills, and basketball IQ allow him to do everything on the basketball court. There is no weakness in his game that opposing teams can capitalize on the way “hack-a-Shaq” works. Statistically speaking, The King’s most prolific season was ironically on a non-MVP year (2007-2008) where he averaged 30 points, 7.9 rebounds, 7.2 assists, 1.8 steals, and 1.1 blocks. While LeBron has cooled down a bit over the years (by cooling down, it means going for around 25-7-7 on a regular basis), he is always able to turn it on come playoff time.
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1 – Oscar Robertson
Oscar Robertson revolutionized the game by being the first highly successful big guard. He was a vicious statistical monster and he solidified that title by being the only player in league history to average a triple double. He did that in the 1961-1962 season where he averaged 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 11.4 assists. Not only that, The Big O also had a number of close calls in duplicating that feat as he was consistently scoring close to 30 points in multiple seasons while putting up double figures in either assists or rebounds and eventually falling short of a “trips” by a single board or dime. Robertson wounded up averaging 25.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 9.5 assists for his entire career.