The Lakers are one of the two or three most historic franchises in basketball.
Now that Lebron’s in LA, we’re waiting patiently for some form of resurgence from basketball’s most popular team. It didn’t happen this year, but the future may have brighter days. For now, it’s best to keep your eyes on the rearview mirror and enjoy the past successes of the Lakers.
Since 1960, when the team moved from Minneapolis to LA, the Lakers have seen some of the best and brightest ballers from all over the world. The 16 championships, 31 conference titles, and 23 division titles don’t lie, and you can’t have accolades like that without great players.
In this post, we’re going to rank the 12 best Lakers players of all time. Some are obvious, others may be distant memories to most fans, but all were masters of this sport we call basketball. Let’s do this thing.
The 12 Best Lakers Players Ever
What makes a great Laker? Is it stats? Or is it winning championships? The best Lakers ever come with a combination of the two, while being beloved by the fans all over the country. These 12 guys stand above the rest. Not only are they the best Lakers, but some of the best to ever do it in general.
12. Lebron James
Lebron hasn’t established himself as a true Laker just yet. He’s surrounded by young talent, but if he can’t do anything with it, it’ll be hard to keep him on this list. His skill at age 33 and his resume are what get him in the top 12. He might be the 2nd best player ever.
If Lebron can bring some hardware back to LA, then he might jump a few spots on this list, but he can’t do it alone. We’ll see what happens with the King, maybe Bronny will be the real savior in the end.
11. Jamaal Wilkes
“Silk” also won two titles in a Lakers uniform as one of Magic’s wingmen in the ’80s. His 16 points per game over 9 seasons with the team puts him at 10th on the all-time scoring list, but he also added 5 rebounds per game.
He was long, smooth, and athletic. He was maybe even ahead of his time, but that didn’t stop him from being one of the 12 best Lakers ever.
10. Byron Scott
Most people under 35 probably only know Byron Scott as a coach, including 3 forgettable seasons as the Lakers’ bench boss. His real legacy, however, was as Magic’s shooting guard on the Showtime Lakers of the ’80s.
In 10 seasons with the Lakers, he put up 15 points per game. He ranks 8th in Lakers’ history in field goals and 4th in steals. Oh, and he was around for 3 of the 5 championships from the Showtime era.
9. Bob McAdoo
Bob McAdoo wasn’t a Laker for very long, but he won 2 championships in only 4 seasons with the team. Despite his best days being behind him at the time, he was a key player off the bench for the Showtime Lakers and is remembered fondly.
He was a complete phenom in his prime, however. He won rookie of the year in 1973 and the league MVP award just two years later. He was a 5-time all-star and led the league in scoring 3 times.
8. Elgin Baylor
Elgin Baylor was undoubtedly one of the most talented Lakers ever. The big man spent his entire 14-year career with the Lakers but never won a championship. That’s what keeps him a bit lower on this list.
His 11 all-star years make him a hall of famer and his 27.4 points per game and 13.5 rebounds per game make him the 4th highest scorer in Lakers history and a top rebounder. He would still dominate, even in today’s game.
7. James Worthy
“Big Game James” averaged 17.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 3 assists per game as a member of the Lakers. He was an integral part of three championship teams in the ’80s. His hardware and numbers speak for themselves and he’s become synonymous with the Showtime era.
6. Jerry West
Jerry West is still at it today. His 2nd career as an NBA executive has been just as successful as his playing career. As a player, he spent his entire career with the Lakers and never missed an all-star game.
He was only the 3rd player ever to score 25,000 points and ranks only behind Kobe in the Pantheon of Lakers’ scorers. He was all-NBA 12 times and won the finals MVP in ’69, even though they lost. He did get his lone championship in 1972, however. His legacy looms over the Lakers franchise and the NBA as a whole.
Big Aristotle finished his prime with the Lakers. He was as dominant a big man as the game’s ever seen. If you think Giannis is the most athletic thing you’ve ever seen, watch some of Shaq’s tape when he was with the Magic.
As a member of the Lakers, Shaq was unstoppable. With Kobe, he won 3 championships, winning the MVP in all of those playoff runs. He ranks 2md in franchise history in points, rebounds, and blocks.
4. Wilt Chamberlain
The only man to ever score 100 points in a game was Wilt the Stilt. He didn’t do it as a Laker, but anyone capable of such a feat has to be high on this list. He did win one championship with the Lakers near the end of his career.
Though his best days were spent elsewhere, he leads the Lakers in rebounds per game and FG percentage. He was a 4-time MVP and averaged over 30 points for his entire career. Freakish.
3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is one of three players that you picture when you think of the Lakers. A 5-time NBA champion alongside Magic Johnson and the Showtime Lakers, he put up 22 points per game over 14 seasons. He ranks 1st in offensive and defensive rebounds, 2nd in playing time, and 3rd in scoring.
He revolutionized the game with his sky hook and made the all-star team 19 of 20 seasons in the NBA. Not only is he one of the best Lakers ever, but he’s also one of the top 10 all time.
2. Magic Johnson
The last two players are essentially a toss-up for who you think is the best Laker ever. Magic’s case is that he brought 5 championships to LA, winning 3 finals MVP awards to go along with his 3 league MVP awards. He was the face of the Showtime Lakers in the ’80s and made all of his teammates better.
In his 13 year career, Magic averaged 11.2 assists per game, which is the highest ever for an entire career. He was a dynamic playmaker and scorer, being named an all-star all but 1 year of his storied career. Most of all, he was a great teammate and leader.
1. Kobe Bryant
Kobe is widely viewed as the greatest Laker of all time. Even many of the players on this list have conceded to that fact.
During his 20 year Laker career, he was a 5-time champion, won 2 finals MVP awards and 1 league MVP, was an 18-time all-star, made 14 all-NBA teams and 12 all-defensive teams, and became the Lakers all-time scoring leader.
Both of his jersey numbers have been retired by the Lakers and he’ll go down as one of the league’s most natural scorers. Is he the best Laker ever? We think his resume speaks for itself and we wouldn’t want to cross the Mamba.
Do You Agree?
Do you agree with these guys being the 12 best Lakers players of all time? A lot of incredible players have walked through those doors, some more beloved and some forgotten. The bottom line is that the franchise wouldn’t be the pillar of basketball that we know it as today without these guys.
The beauty of lists like these is that they’re subjective. What makes a great Laker to one person doesn’t jive for someone else, so come up with your own list and argue with your friends about it.
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