Who were the best 2 Players for Each Franchise? Part 1 - Western Conference

The playoffs should be on right now but instead all we got was an NBA 2K Challenge won by Devin Booker and a Horse Competition won by the the ambidextrous Mike Conley.  

So all we can do is watch some old games, look at the past and try to do some fun player rankings and comparisons.  This week I am looking at who were the best 2 players to ever play for each NBA Franchise, and I will start with the Western Conference Teams.

Pacific Division

Los Angeles Lakers (Also Minneapolis Lakers)

Kobe Bryant

20 seasons, 25 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 4.7 apg

5 Titles (7 Finals), 2 Finals MVP, 1 MVP

18 x All Star (4 MVP)

15 x All NBA Team (11 1st), 13 x All Defense (9 1st) 

Magic Johnson 

13 seasons, 19.5 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 11.2 apg 

5 Titles (9 Finals), 3 Finals MVP, 3 MVP

12 x All Star (2 MVP), 10 x All NBA Team (9 1st) 

Honourable Mentions

Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Jerry West, Shaquille O'Neal, Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain 

No Franchise not even the Boston Celtics, can claim to have as many NBA Legends as the Lakers.  More than half of the Top 10 Players Ever are Laker Legends (Magic, Kobe, Lebron, Kareem, Wilt and Shaq) and 6 out of the Top 8 scorers of All Time have donned the famous Purple and Gold. 

And yet with all the greatness on display, 2 players clearly stand out above the rest, Magic Johnson and the Late Great Kobe Bryant, God rest his soul. 

Kareem Abdul Jabbar with 5 Championships, 3 MVPs and 10 All NBA selections (and that's just with the Lakers!) would be an easy choice for the GOAT for any Franchise, but incredibly he can't even crack the top 2!

Then you got the 2 most Dominant Big Men Ever Shaq and Wilt, both winning titles and Finals MVPs in La La Land.  But it was the Diesel who was in his prime in LA getting 3 of each (in a row!) and making an All NBA Team all 8 Years he played in LA (6 of them 1st Team Selections).         

Finally you have to give a shout out to legendary duo Jerry West and Elgin Baylor who both spent their entire Careers in LA, making 25 All Star Appearances combined while both making the All NBA 1st Team an incredible 10 times each.  For their Careers Baylor and West both AVERAGED over 27 ppg, good for 3rd and 4th All Time with only Jordan and Wilt above them!

But you cannot deny The Black Mamba and the Magic Man.  One of them spent 20 years there and is the All Time Laker Scoring Leader with 33,643 pts and the other is the All Time Laker Assist Leader, spearheading the Showtime Lakers in the 80s, while making the finals almost every year for over a decade.  Both won 5 titles each in 16 Finals appearances combined, and they have an astounding 30 All Star and 25 All NBA Selections between them.      

Golden State Warriors (Also San Francisco and Philadelphia Warriors)

Stephen Curry

11 seasons, 23.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 5.9 apg   

3 Titles (5 Finals), 2 MVP

6 x All Star, 6 x All NBA Team (3 1st) 

Wilt Chamberlain

5.5 seasons, 41.5 ppg, 25.1 rpg, 3 apg

1 Finals, 1 MVP, 6 x All Star (1 MVP)

6 x All NBA Team (4 1st) 

Honourable Mentions:

Rick Barry, Kevin Durant, Nate Thurmond, Klay Thompson, Chris Mullin

The most successful Franchise of the 2010s, the Warriors have an easy choice for the 1st Spot - Back to Back MVP and 3 Time Champion Stephen Curry.  But the 2nd spot is still not clear cut with Wilt Chamberlain and Rick Barry having the strongest cases.

First lets start with Curry, the Greatest Shooter of All Time and undoubtedly the most beloved player in Franchise history.  Nobody can get a crowd going like Steph and his infectious joy for the game and flair for the dramatic makes him one of the most exciting players to watch in the history of the NBA. 

But it's not just style over substance.  The impact he has on his team and winning is clearly evidenced by the 3 titles and record breaking 73-9 win season in 2016.  His gravity and the attention he draws as soon as he crosses the halfway line is unprecedented, and his long range shooting and audacious shot making has forever changed the game. 

Now for the 2nd spot, if you go by pure numbers Wilt is by far and away the choice as he played 429 games for the Dubs averaging an out of this world 41.5 ppg, 25.1 rpg in 47.2 min per game!  These are numbers that will never ever be matched by another player in any Franchise and he is still the Warriors All Time Leading Scorer (17,783 pts) even though he was there just over 5 seasons!

But if you go by service and team success, Rick Barry has a strong case too.  Wilt won a title for the Lakers and 76ers but for all the numbers he put up for the Warriors, he only made 1 Finals and lost to Bill Russell time and time again.  Barry on the other hand played 8 seasons in the Bay Area, averaging 25.6 pts (3rd after Wilt and KD) and single handedly leading them to their only championship before 2015, sweeping the Bullets in 1975. 

Barry averaged over 30ppg that season and had another season averaging 35.6pts and 9.2 rebounds so it wasn't like he was slouch in the stats department.  No doubt Barry was a Warrior Legend but Wilt's never before seen dominance gives him the edge here. 

Honourable mentions go to current active players Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, KD for being the better player and winning 2 Finals MVPs and Klay for being Steph's backcourt mate for the whole decade and winning one more title than Durant.  Finally a shout out to the Late Nate Thurmond who played 11 Hall of Fame Seasons (making 7 A ll Star Games) and original Dream Teamer Chris Mullin who made 5 All Star Games and played a franchise record 807 Games for the Dubs.

Phoenix Suns

Steve Nash

10 seasons, 14.4 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 9.4 apg

2 MVP, 4 x 50-40-90 club

6 x All Star, 5 x All NBA Team (3 1st) 

Charles Barkley

4 seasons, 23.4 ppg, 11.5 rpg, 4.4 apg

1 Finals, 1 MVP

4 x All Star, 4 x All NBA Team (1 1st)

Honourable Mentions:

Kevin Johnson, Amare Stoudemire, Shawn Marion, Paul Westphal, Jason Kidd

Like the Warriors, the Suns have a clear greatest Franchise Player in 2 Time MVP and 5 x assist leader Steve Nash, but there are a lot of candidates for the 2nd spot.    

I am going with Sir Charles even though he was only there 4 years because it was 4 spectacular years including his best ever season in 1993, beating out none other than a prime Michael Jordan for the MVP Award and leading the Suns to the Finals, a feat they have yet to replicate almost 30 years later.   

Kevin Johnson, Shawn Marion and Amare Stoudemire all have a strong case due to their years of service and the fact all 3 identify themselves as Suns players through and through whereas Barkley played his most seasons in Philly.  

KJ played 10 years and made 3 All Star Games, Marion played 9 years and made 4 All Star Games and Stoudemire played 8 years and made 5 All Star Games as well as 5 All NBA Teams.  But Barkley had more individual and playoff success even though he was there for half the time and nobody comes close to matching Barkley's impact on the court and off the court as he put the Suns on the map in the 90s. 

Also an Honourable Mention to Paul Westphal who most fans know as the coach of Barkley's Suns but he was also a 4 Time All Star, a Hall of Famer and lead the Suns to the 1976 Finals. Westphal had a major role in the 'Greatest Game Ever Played' when the Suns lost the critical Game 5 of the Finals in Triple OT against the Celtics, eventually losing the title in 6 games.    

Sacramento Kings (also Cincinnati Royals)

Oscar Robertson

10 seasons, 29.3 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 10.3 apg

1 MVP, Triple Double Season

10 x All Star (3 MVP), 11 x All NBA Team (9 1st) 

Chris Webber

7 seasons, 23.5 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 4.8 apg

4 x All Star, 5 x All NBA Team (1 1st) 

Honourable Mentions:

Mitch Richmond, Jerry Lucas, Tiny Archibald, Jack Twyman, Peja Stojakovic

Once again there is a clear cut Franchise Player in Oscar Robertson and a few guys fighting for the 2nd spot.

The Big O is undoubtedly the greatest player in Kings History, averaging almost 30pts and over 10 assists in 10 incredible seasons where he made 9 All NBA 1st Teams (and one 2nd Team) and won the 1964 MVP (over Wilt and Russell!).  He is the Franchise Leader in minutes, field goals, free throws, points, assists and P.E.R and he AVERAGED a triple double over his 1st 5 seasons in the league!

A long list of candidates are vying for the 2nd spot including 6 x All Stars Jack Twyman, Jerry Lucas and Mitch Richmond, 4 x All Stars Chris Webber and DeMarcus Cousins and 3 x All Stars Tiny Archibald and Peja Stojakovic.

Twyman (11 years) and Peja (8 years) played for the Kings the longest but only made 3 All NBA Teams between them so they are further down the list.  Tiny was their star of the 70s, Richmond was their star of the 90s and Cousins was their star of the 10s but none of them had any success whatsoever. Tiny and Mitch made the playoffs just once each and Cuz couldn't even make the playoffs once in 7 seasons. 

So it comes down to Chris Webber and Jerry Lucas.  From a pure numbers point of view it is hard to match Lucas who was literaly averaging a 20/20 during his time as a King (19.6pts / 19.1 reb!).  But I am giving the slight edge to C-Webb who for a 5 year period was one of the best players in the league going toe to toe with Duncan, KG and Dirk.  He was the star of one of the greatest teams to never make the finals and he lead the Kings to more playoff success than at anytime in their history including being just 1 game away from making the NBA Finals in 2002.   

Los Angeles Clippers (Also San Diego Clippers and Buffalo Braves)

Blake Griffin

8 seasons, 21.6 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 4.2 apg

5 x All Star, 4 x All NBA Team (1 1st)

Chris Paul

6 seasons, 18.8 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 9.8 apg

6 x All Star, 5 x All NBA Team (3 1st), 6 x All Defense 1st Team 

Honourable Mentions:

Bob McAdoo, Randy Smith, Elton Brand, Corey Maggette, DeAndre Jordan, Danny Manning

The Clippers may just be the worst franchise in NBA history and they have not had many Star players to choose from so I am going with Lob City Duo Blake Griffin and Chris Paul.  They were a fringe contender during the 2010's and between them they have a Franchise Best 9 All NBA Selections and 11 All Star Appearances (4 straight years they both made it together).  

But it was close between them and Bob McAdoo who was a Superstar and the best scorer in the league in the mid 70s back when the Clippers were the Buffalo Braves.  He was Rookie of the Year and then lead the league in scoring 3 straight years averaging 30+ pts each season and peaking at 34.5ppg in 1975 when he won MVP.  If he played longer than 4 years with the Clippers (Braves) then he probably would be Top 2 All Time.      

Honourable mentions go to 2 Time All Stars Elton Brand, Danny Manning and the Iron Man Randy Smith.  DeAndre Jordan also played 10 years in LA making the All Star Game once and Corey Maggette was a fan favourite and lead them in scoring multiple times in the early 2000s.  

Northwest Division

Utah Jazz (Also New Orleans Jazz)

Karl Malone

18 seasons, 25.4 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 3.5 apg

2 Finals, 2 MVP, 14 x All Star (2 MVP)

14 x All NBA Team (11 1st), 4 x All Defense (3 1st) 

John Stockton

19 seasons, 13.1 ppg, 10.5 apg, 2.2 spg

2 Finals, 10 x All Star (1 MVP)

11 x All NBA Team (2 1st), 5 x All Defense 

Honourable Mentions:

Adrian Dantley, Pistol Pete, Darrell Griffith, Mark Eaton, Deron Williams, Andrei Kirilenko, Carlos Boozer, Rudy Gobert.

Maybe the easiest 2 selections out of all the teams in the West, there is absolutely no doubt that Karl Malone and John Stockton are the best 2 players in Utah Jazz history.  One of them the runaway All Time Leader in Assists, the other 2nd All Time in Scoring behind only Kareem.  They played 19 years together, made the playoffs ALL 19 of those years and barely missed a game the whole time. 

Without question the greatest passing to scoring duo ever as well as the best duo to not win a title, Malone and Stockton have an incredible 24 All Star and 24 All NBA Appearances together.  Malone won 2 MVPs and Stockton won 9 assist titles and if it wasn't for Michael Jordan returning just in time for their Peak, they would be having at least 2 titles on their resume. 

Hall of Famers Adrian Dantley and Pistol Pete Maravich are next on the list, both with an incredible ability to score the basketball.  Dantley averaged over 25pts all 7 years he played for the Jazz, including 4 straight seasons over 30ppg, a feat only matched by Michael Jordan since the NBA/ABA Merger!  And the Pistol was the flashiest player in the league and also had his Career Best 31.1 ppg season with the Jazz making the All NBA 1st Team twice in a row in the late 70s when the Jazz played in New Orelans.

Then there was the duo of Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer who couldn't quite emulate Stockton and Malone but they still combined for 5 All Star Games and some playoff success in 2000s.  Also a shout out to Dr. Dunkenstein Darrell Griffith and AK47 Andrei Kirilenko who both played over 10 years with the Jazz, while Big Men Mark Eaton and Rudy Gobert have both won 2 Defensive Player of the Years.  And current leading scorer Donovan Mitchell is looking on course to be a future Jazz legend.

Portland Trail Blazers

Clyde Drexler

12 seasons, 20.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 5.7 apg

1 Title (3 Finals), 8 x All Star 

5 x All NBA Team (1 1st) 

Damian Lillard

8 seasons, 24 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 6.5 apg

5 x All Star, 4 x All NBA Team (1 1st) 

Honourable Mentions:

Bill Walton, Terry Porter, Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, Rasheed Wallace

For Portland I am going with the Franchise's 2 Leading Scorers who have made more All Star Appearances than any other Blazer in History (Clyde 8, Dame 5).

Clyde The 'Glide' who was part of the Original Dream Team had a famous battle with Jordan when he was at his Peak in the 1992 Finals.  Drexler was 2nd in MVP voting that year and there was a legitimate argument at the time that he was almost as good as MJ!  I think few people would argue that he is currently the greatest Blazer ever, although fan favourite Damian Lillard is quickly gaining on him. 

Speaking of Dame, what he did against OKC last year and his incredible stretch just before the All Star Break was nothing short of historic.  He is the only player with Michael Jordan to have 2 Series ending Buzzer Beaters (against Houston in 2014 and OKC in 2019) and he is the only one to do it while scoring 50pts. 

And then in January this year Lillard just went insane, reeling off 6 straight games of 61,47,50,36,48 and 51pts (49ppg avg !) with assist totals of 7,8,13,11,10,12 (10.2 avg) and even averaging over 7 rebounds while notching his 1st Career Triple Double.  Yes Dame averaged a 49/10/7 for a 2 week period!  

Bill Walton is the only other player who could claim to be Top 2, especially since he is the only Blazer to win a Title, Finals MVP and Regular Season MVP during an incredible 2 year stretch in the late 70s.  But since he only played 4 injury plagued years and just over 200 games total, he is firmly in 3rd position.

Honourable Mentions go to Clyde's backcourt mate Terry Porter, Big Men Rasheed Wallace and LaMarcus Aldridge and fan favorite Brandon Roy who spent 5 memorable years in Portland and was one of the best Shooting Guards in the league before a knee injury sadly forced his early retirement at just 28 years of age.         

Oklahoma City Thunder (Also Seattle Supersonics)

Russell Westbrook

11 seasons, 23 ppg, 7 rpg, 8.4 apg

1 Finals, 1 MVP, Triple Double Season x 3

8 x All Star (2 MVP), 8 x All NBA Team (2 1st) 

Kevin Durant

9 seasons, 27 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 4.1 apg

1 Finals, 1 MVP

7 x All Star (1 MVP), 6 x All NBA Team (5 1st)

Honourable Mentions:

Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, Jack Sikma, Fred Brown, Gus Williams, Ray Allen

This Franchise has had 2 superstar Guard/Forward duos, one in the 90s when they were in Seattle and of course KD and Russ in the 2010s.  And as great as Kemp and especially Payton were, I have to go with Westbrook and Durant as the 2 Greatest. 

They both won MVPs for the Franchise, something no other player has achieved with KD having one of the greatest offensive seasons ever in 2014, and Russ getting the 1st of his 3 historic triple double seasons in 2017.  They have combined for 15 All Star Appearance and 13 All NBA appearances and one was the better player when they were together while the other was more loyal to the Thunder, ultimately passing KD (and GP) to become the Franchise's All Time Leading Scorer.  

The one player sandwiched between Russ (18,859 pts and KD 17,566 pts) is Sonics Legend and the greatest defensive point guard of All Time, The Glove Gary Payton.  He finished with over 18,000 pts for Seattle and he made 9 All Star Teams, 9 All NBA Teams and 9 All Defense Teams.  He also won Defensive Player of the Year while leading the Sonics to the Finals, putting the clamps on MJ and taking the Bulls to 6 Games in 1996.  Add in the fact he is the Franchise's Leader in Games, Field Goals Made, Assists, Steals, Win Shares as well as 2nd in Points, and GP has a legitimate case to be included in the Top 2. 

Shawn Kemp wasn't quite the player Payton turned out to be.  But earlier in his Career, Kemp was the man and he was just the coolest player in the league for anyone growing up in the 90s.  Nothing was better than watching a GP to Reign Man Alley-oop and to this day nobody throws a better lob and nobody finishes with more power than GP and Shawn. 

Also shoutouts to the Franchise's leading rebounder, Hall of Famer and 7 time All Star Jack Sikma, Gus Williams, and 'Downtown' Fred Brown who all helped the Sonics win their only title in 1979.  Hall of Famer Ray Allen also enjoyed his prime years as a Sonic averaging almost 25ppg in 5 seasons.  

Denver Nuggets

Alex English

11 seasons, 25.9 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 4.4 apg

8 x All Star, 3 x All NBA Team  

Carmelo Anthony

7.5 seasons, 24.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 3.1 apg

3 x All Star, 4 x All NBA Team (1 1st) 

Honourable Mentions:

David Thompson, Dan Issel, Dikembe Mutombo, Fat Lever, Nikola Jokic

With over 21,000 pts and by far the most All Star Appearances for any Nugget with 7, Alex English is a clear choice for best player in franchise history.  English actually scored more points than any other player in the 80s, averaging over 20ppg every year of the decade, including an incredible 8 straight years averaging 25+ pts.

Carmelo Anthony edges out Dan Issel and David Thompson but it was not an easy decision.  Melo is 3rd All Time in scoring for the Nuggets and he also has 8 straight seasons scoring over 20ppg including a Career High 28.9ppg in 2007. Only Alex English has made more All Star Games than Anthony's 4 and Melo was just 2 games from the NBA Finals when he lost to Kobe's Lakers in 2009.

Hall of Famer Issel who spent 9 seasons in Denver averaging over 20ppg during that time just misses out, as does his teammate Skywalker David Thompson who averaged almost 25ppg in 6 entertaining seasons during the late 70s.      

Also Honourable Mention to Big Man Dikembe Mutombo who won DPOY for the Nuggets while leading them to one of the biggest playoff upsets of All Time beating the Top seeded Sonics as an 8 seed in 1994.  Nikola Jokic also has the potential to be the best Nugget ever as he made his 1st All NBA 1st Team last year while averaging an impressive 25pts, 13 reb and 8.5 ast in his 1st playoffs - one of the greatest ever playoff debuts in NBA History.   

Minnesota Timberwolves

Kevin Garnett

14 seasons, 19.8 ppg, 11 rpg, 4.3 apg

1 MVP, 1 DPOY, 10 x All Star (1 MVP)

8 x All NBA Team (3 1st), 8 x All Defense (6 1st) 

Karl Anthony Towns

5 seasons, 22.7 ppg, 11.8 rpg, 2.8 apg

2 x All Star, 1 x All NBA 3rd Team  

Honourable Mentions:

Kevin Love, Andrew Wiggins, Wally Szczerbiak, Stephon Marbury

Not many teams have a further gap between the greatest Franchise Player and the 2nd greatest than the Wolves do with Kevin Garnett.  

KG in his prime was quite simply one of the greatest two way players ever, leading his team in all 5 categories while making All NBA and All Defense Teams every single year as well as 10 straight All Star Games for the Wolves.  His 19,201 career points and 10,718 rebounds for Minnesota more than doubles the 2nd place player, and he is the only player in NBA History who is their franchise's leader in all 5 major categories Points, Rebounds, Assists, Steals and Blocks!  And he has a clear lead in each category! 

For 2nd spot, it is between K.A.T and Kevin Love who both have only played 5 years for the Wolves but there is literally not even one other player to consider.  K.A.T gets the slight edge just because he at least made 1 playoffs and he looks to be the future of the Wolves.  

The fact that Andrew Wiggins was a huge disappointment but is still the Wolves 2nd All Time leading scorer at just 24 years old tells you all you need to know about the calibre of the other choices available.

Midwest Division

San Antonio Spurs

Tim Duncan

19 seasons, 19 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 3 apg

5 Titles (6 Finals), 3 Finals MVP, 2 MVP

15 x All Star (1 MVP)

15 x All NBA Team (10 1st), 15 x All Defense (8 1st) 

David Robinson

14 seasons, 21.1 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 3 bpg

2 Titles, 1 MVP, 1 DPOY, 10 x All Star

10 x All NBA Team (4 1st), 8 x All Defense (4 1st) 

Honourable Mentions:

George Gervin, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard

The Spurs have had some great All Time legends but Twin Towers Tim Duncan and David Robinson have to be on top.

Duncan is unmatched with a combined 45 All Star, All NBA and All Defense Teams, an incredible 15 of each!  These accolades and of course 5 titles, 3 Finals MVPs and a pair of MVPs makes Timmy one of the most decorated players of All Time.  He is the only player ever to win a title in 3 different decades, establishing the longest dynasty in all of sports.  Easily the best Spur of All Time.

The Admiral is the only other Spur to win an MVP and he also won 2 titles with Duncan.  At his Peak he was the best Center in the NBA, routinely making the 1st Team All NBA and 1st Team All Defense Teams over other Hall of Fame Big Men like Olajuwon, Shaq and Ewing. 

And George Gervin was absolutely sick back in the day.  He may not have won a title and he may have just missed out on a couple MVP awards but make no mistake The 'Iceman' was unstoppable for an entire decade.  He averaged over 20 pts in all 9 seasons he played with the Spurs in the NBA, making the All Star Game each year and winning 4 scoring titles, topping out at 33.1ppg in 1980.  His legendary finger roll was impossible to block and along with Dr. J and Kareem, The Iceman was one of the true superstars of the league before Magic and Bird appeared.  

Honourable mentions and huge props go to 4 time Champs Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili who were both essential to Duncan and the Spurs success.  Time and time again one or the other would have huge games to carry the Spurs, especially in the 2nd half of Duncan's career when he took a backseat to both of them on many occasions.     

Houston Rockets

Hakeem Olajuwon

17 seasons, 21.8 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 3.1 bpg

2 Titles (3 Finals), 2 Finals MVP, 1 MVP

12 x All Star 12 x All NBA Team (6 1st),

1 DPOY, 9 x All Defense (5 1st) 

James Harden

8 seasons, 29.6 ppg, 6 rpg, 7.7 apg

1 MVP, 8 x All Star

6 x All NBA Team (5 1st) 

Honourable Mentions:

Moses Malone, Elvin Hayes, Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming

Two Time Finals MVP, 2 Time Defensive Player of the Year and 2 Time Champion Hakeem Olajuwon is far and away the greatest Rocket ever. 

The Dream's play at the Center position between 93-95 is probably the highest level on both sides that we have ever seen a Center play.  The way he took apart league MVP David Robinson in 1995, while winning ALL 4 playoff series on the road was one of the most impressive feats in NBA History.  It's going to take a lot for the guy below to catch him.

James Harden may not have reached the Finals with the Rockets, but in 8 seasons he has achieved more than any other Rocket not named Hakeem.  The Beard won MVP in 2018 and finished 2nd on 3 separate occasions. He is averaging 29.6ppg in 8 seasons since he joined the Rockets, including 36.1 ppg last season and 34.4 ppg this year.  He has 23 50 point games (4th All Time behind Wilt, Jordan and Kobe), and the incredible thing is 18 of those games have come in just the last 2 years! 

For the reasons above, The Beard comfortably beats out Hall of Famer Moses Malone who enjoyed some Peak seasons with the Rockets, winning 2 MVPs including his last season in 1982 (before moving to Philly), where Big Mo averaged a Career High 31.1pts and 14.7 reb per game.     

A quartet of Hall of Famers including a duo from the 70s (Elvin Hayes and Calvin Murphy) and a duo from the 90s (T-Mac and Yao Ming) get the Honourable Mentions.

Dallas Mavericks

Dirk Nowitzki

21 seasons, 20.7 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 2.4 apg

1 Title (2 Finals), 1 Finals MVP, 1 MVP

14 x All Star, 12 x All NBA Team (4 1st) 

Mark Aguirre

8 seasons, 24.6 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 3.8 apg

3 x All Star 

Honourable Mentions:

Rolando Blackman, Jason Kidd, Derek Harper, Michael Finley, Steve Nash

Dirk. Dirk. Dirk.  When you think of Dallas you just think of Dirk.  Over 32,000 points (5th All Time), 14 All Star Selections and an NBA record 21 years - all for the Dallas Mavericks.  And don't forget the only Mav to win an MVP and of course a Finals MVP and most importantly the only title in Mavs history.  His playoff run in 2011 along with Hakeem in 1994 are the two greatest lone All Star Titles, except Dirk beat one of the greatest teams ever assembled with 3 Future Hall of Famers all in their prime.    

2nd Spot is much more in the air and I am going with 80s leading scorer Mark Aguirre over Rolando Blackman and Jason Kidd.  Even though Blackman made 4 All Star Games to Aguirre's 3, it was Aguirre who was usually their leading scorer and go to guy when they were teammates in the 80s.  Overall Aguirre averaged 24.6pts in 8 seasons for the Mavs leading them within 1 game of the NBA Finals in 1988 losing to Magic's Lakers in 7 games. 

But Blackman was a Mav for 11 seasons and is 2nd behind Dirk in points, minutes, field goals made and free throws.  Derek Harper also deserves a mention forming a formidable trio with Blackman and Aguirre, playing 12 seasons and being the All Time Franchise Leader in Assists and Steals.

J-Kidd played his first 2 years in Dallas and although he won Rookie of the Year and came back to win a title with Dirk, he was already 35 and more of a role player by then.  He is undoubtedly the best player in Nets history but he just didn't do enough in a Mavs uniform to put him over Aguirre or even Blackman.  

New Orleans Pelicans (Also New Orleans Hornets)

Chris Paul

6 Seasons, 18.7ppg, 4.6 rpg, 9.9 apg

14 x All Star (2 MVP)

2 x All NBA Team (1 1st), 3 x All Defense (1 1st) 

Anthony Davis

6.5 seasons, 23.7 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 2.4 bpg

6 x All Star (1 MVP)

3 x All NBA 1st Team, 3 x All Defense (1 1st) 

Honourable Mentions:

Jrue Holiday, David West

A young franchise less than 20 years old will naturally only have a few candidates to consider.  And the best 2 are without doubt Chris Paul who is the Franchise leader in Assists and Steals, and Anthony Davis who is the Franchise leader in Points, Rebounds and Blocks.

Both players had MVP calibre seasons playing for New Orleans, and both lead their team to the 2nd round once, with CP3 coming within a Home Game 7 away in 2008 from reaching the Conference Finals. 

Paul had his best individual seasons in New Orleans averaging a Career High 22.8 ppg in 2009, along with 11 assists and 2.8 steals - both tops in the NBA at the time.  And this was one year after finishing 2nd to Kobe in the MVP voting at just age 22 averaging 21.1 pts, a Career High 11.6 ast and 2.7 stl (again both ast and stl were No. 1 in the league). 

AD also had some historically good seasons averaging at least 24/10/2blk for 5 years straight and making 6 All Star Appearances and 3 All NBA 1st Teams in his 7 years there before an ugly exit before this season.  

David West gets an Honorable mention for playing 8 solid seasons averaging 16.4pts, while making 2 All Star Games and being the Franchise leader in Games and Minutes Played.  Jrue Holiday also played 7 solid years and although he didn't make an All Star Game for the Hornets, he did make 2 All Defense Teams.

Zion Williamson in less than 20 games is looking like a future Superstar in this league so expect him to make a run at AD and CP3 in the future.    

Memphis Grizzlies (Also Vancouver Grizzlies)

Marc Gasol

11 seasons, 14.7 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 3.4 apg

1 DPOY, 3 x All Star 

2 x All NBA Team (1 1st), 1 x All Defense  

Mike Conley

12 seasons, 14.8 ppg, 3 rpg, 5.7 apg

1 x All Defense  

Honourable Mentions:

Zach Randolph, Pau Gasol, Rudy Gay, Shareef Adbur Rahim

Like the Pelicans, this Franchise is young so all the candidates are recent players or players still playing in the league.  

There are 4 players that can be considered but I am going with Mike Conley Jr and little brother Marc Gasol who are the 2 Franchise leaders in Games Played and Points.  Conley also leads in Assists and Steals while Marc is the Franchise leader in Rebounds and Blocks as well as winning Defensive Player of the Year in 2013 and making 3 All Star Games.  

Together along with Zach Randolph and Tony Allen, they formed the Grit N Grind Grizzlies who outworked and out hustled opponents to make some deep playoff runs, most notably in 2011 when they shocked the Spurs as an 8th seed, and 2012 when they reached their only Western Conference Finals after beating the Clippers and Thunder.  

Z-Bo was actually the leading scorer and rebounder of those teams and he averaged a double double on 5 separate occasions for the Grizz.

Honourable mention to Marc's Big Brother Pau who was Rookie of the Year and the Franchise's 1st Ever All Star, averaging 18.8 pts and 8.6 reb in 7 productive seasons.  Also Shout Out to Shareef Abdur Rahim from the Vancouver days who averaged over 20pts and 8 reb in 5 years just before they moved to Memphis. 

And finally Ja Morant like Zion could easily be a future All Time Great for the Grizzlies...that is if they can hang on to him long term.  


Thanks for reading!  Check back next week for the East's Best 2 Players for each Franchise! 









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