Ranking the top 74 NBA players of all time: Nos. 40-11

D-Wade's greatest moments with the Heat (1:41)

Take a look back at 13-time NBA All-Star Dwyane Wade's greatest moments, including his three NBA championships with the Heat. (1:41)

LeBron James or Michael Jordan? Bill Russell or Wilt Chamberlain? Stephen Curry or Kevin Durant? Old school or new school?

These debates rage on endlessly in every corner of NBA fandom, and our experts have done their best to answer them, ranking the greatest players in the league's 74-year history.

ESPN's NBA expert panel voted on thousands of head-to-head matchups, taking into consideration both total career value and peak performance.

To be snubbed is one thing, but there's always a more fiery debate about who isn't ranked high enough -- or the dreaded "underrated" tag. Our list rolls on with players ranked 40th through 11th, commemorating the extraordinary players who arguably played key roles in defining their respective eras.

All-time NBArank: Nos. 74-41

40. Chris Paul

Paul will get knocked by some for his failure to lead a team to a championship, but that shouldn't take away from what he has accomplished on the floor. Paul has been named to eight All-NBA teams, including to the first team four times. He's fourth in career assists per game, and he has been one of the game's peskiest defenders, with nine NBA All-Defensive team selections while leading the league in steals six times.
-- Andrew Lopez

CP3 has been a do-it-all playmaker for OKC

Chris Paul has been nothing short of an MVP-caliber player for the Thunder in his first season with the team.

39. Walt Frazier

The epitome of cool and the face of the legendary Knicks teams of the 1970s, Frazier had a smooth offensive game and his tenacious defense left no holes for opponents to attack. He won two championships with the Knicks, and he made seven All-Star teams, seven All-Defensive teams and six All-NBA teams. Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals is remembered as the "Willis Reed Game" after he limped out of the locker room and hit two early shots, but it was Frazier -- who had 36 points, 19 assists, seven rebounds and six steals -- who powered the Knicks to their first NBA title.
-- Tim Bontemps

38. Bob Pettit

  • 1954-55 Milwaukee Hawks, 1955-65 St. Louis Hawks

  • 26.4 PPG, 16.2 RPG, 3.0 APG

Pettit was simply one of the most dominant players of his era. He played 11 seasons in the NBA and was named to the All-NBA first team 10 times; he made the second team in his final season. He won the MVP award twice, finished in the top four of MVP voting eight times and was a four-time All-Star Game MVP. He led the St. Louis Hawks to the NBA championship in 1958.
-- Lopez

37. Patrick Ewing

  • 1985-2000 New York Knicks; 2000-01 Seattle SuperSonics; 2001-02 Orlando Magic

  • 21.0 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 2.4 BPG

Ewing is the greatest Knick of all time, yet New York often dwells on what he didn't do. Ewing leads the storied franchise in several statistical categories, including career points (23,665), rebounds (10,759) and blocks (2,758). He made the Knicks title contenders despite never truly having a second superstar to play alongside him in his prime. With one of the best fallaway jumpers a big man has ever had, Ewing led the Knicks to 13 straight postseasons. The 7-footer just couldn't deliver a championship during an era ruled by Michael Jordan.
-- Ohm Youngmisuk

36. Kevin McHale

McHale was a seven-time All Star and three-time champion while playing on one of the most legendary front lines in NBA history, next to Hall of Fame teammates Larry Bird and Robert Parish. Known for his vast array of post moves and long arms that helped him earn six All-Defensive nods, McHale peaked as a first-team All-NBA selection in 1986-87 with 26.1 points and 9.9 rebounds per game on 60% shooting from the field.
-- Andre Snellings

35. Jason Kidd

  • 1994-96, 2008-12 Dallas Mavericks; 1996-2001 Phoenix Suns; 2001-08 New Jersey Nets; 2012-13 New York Knicks

  • 12.6 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 8.7 APG, 1.9 SPG, 1.4 3s PG

With Gary Payton's hard-love tutelage, Kidd lived up to his pre-NBA hype, becoming one of the greatest point guards to play the game. Kidd dominated games with his passing, rebounding, defense and ability to spark fast breaks; his 12,091 assists and 2,684 steals are second only to John Stockton in NBA history. Kidd, who has two Olympic gold medals and one NBA title (with Dallas), took what was previously a laughingstock franchise in New Jersey to two straight NBA Finals. And despite entering the league with little to no jumper, Kidd made 1,988 3-pointers, 10th all time.
-- Youngmisuk

34. George Mikan

  • 1948-49 (BAA), 1949-54, 1956 Minneapolis Lakers

  • 23.1 PPG, 13.4 RPG, 2.8 APG

No player presents a greater challenge in all-time rankings than Mikan, who reigned over an embryonic league with a style of play that would soon be outdated. Towering over opponents, Mikan spurred the creation of a goaltending rule and the expansion of the paint to limit his advantages. Yet Mikan remained a force, leading Minneapolis to six championships in seven seasons across three leagues (the NBL, the BAA and finally the NBA). Despite playing before the schedule expanded to 82 games, Mikan still owns three of the top 12 seasons ever by Basketball-Reference.com win shares estimates.
-- Kevin Pelton

33. John Havlicek

  • 1962-78 Boston Celtics

  • 20.8 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 4.8 APG, 1.2 SPG

"Hondo," as he was known in Boston, was said by Red Auerbach to be the "guts" of those great Celtics teams of the 1960s, and Havlicek proved time and again he was willing to do whatever it took to win. He spent a significant portion of his career coming off the bench -- a precursor to standout sixth men like Manu Ginobili -- and was one of the elite two-way players of his era, making 11 All-NBA teams and earning eight All-Defense selections. Havlicek was a part of eight title-winning teams and is still Boston's leader in points scored.

-- Bontemps

32. James Harden

  • 2009-12 Oklahoma City Thunder; 2012-20 Houston Rockets

  • 25.1 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 6.3 APG, 1.6 SPG, 2.8 3s PG

Harden has developed into the ultimate offensive weapon of the analytics era, owning three scoring titles and an assists title. His step-back jumper has become one of the most potent signature shots in NBA history, allowing him to be a historic volume 3-point shooter who gets the rest of his points in the paint and at the free throw line. His 2018-19 season was the most efficient (.616 true shooting percentage) ever for a player who averaged more than 35 points per game.
-- Tim MacMahon

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31. Isiah Thomas

Love him or hate him, Thomas is one of the greatest players in NBA history. There's no debate about that, even though the "Bad Boys" Pistons didn't make a lot of friends with their physical brand of basketball. The 6-foot-1 Thomas guided Detroit to two championships, and he was the 1990 Finals MVP and a two-time All-Star Game MVP, among many accomplishments. He's one of the few players in league history who can boast about taking down a prime Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan when it mattered most. Winning a gold medal with the Dream Team would've been the icing on the cake.
-- Eric Woodyard

30. Steve Nash

  • 1996-98, 2004-12 Phoenix Suns; 1998-2004 Dallas Mavericks; 2012-14 Los Angeles Lakers

  • 14.3 PPG, 8.5 APG; 42.8 3P%, 1.4 3PG

Nash found a perfect partner in coach Mike D'Antoni, whose "seven seconds or less" offense empowered the back-to-back league MVP (2005 and 2006) to use his expert handles and passing genius. The Suns, in turn, became one of the great teams to never win a title. For a nine-year stretch in Dallas and Phoenix in the 2000s, Nash led the league's most efficient offense. He is third in career assists and led the league in that category five of his 18 seasons. He was also a marksman, shooting 42.8% from 3 for his career.
-- Dave McMenamin

29. Allen Iverson

Often labeled the best pound-for-pound player in NBA history, Iverson was an icon. The 6-foot point guard led the league in scoring four times and capped off a magical MVP campaign in 2000-01 with the Sixers by leading them to the Finals in just his fifth year in the league. His 48 points in Game 1 to beat the Shaq-Kobe Lakers in overtime will forever be the NBA's David and Goliath moment.
-- McMenamin

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28. John Stockton

  • 1984-2003 Utah Jazz

  • 13.1 PPG, 10.5 APG, 2.2 SPG

The ultimate pass-first point guard, Stockton never averaged more than 17.2 points but led the NBA in assists per game nine consecutive seasons. Unparalleled in consistency, Stockton played every game on the schedule 17 times in 19 years and returned from microfracture knee surgery to play effectively until his retirement at age 41. Stockton is the league's career leader in assists (3,715 more than runner-up Jason Kidd) and steals (581 more than Kidd) by margins that make those records unlikely to fall any time soon.
-- Pelton

27. Giannis Antetokounmpo

You don't have to look further than the name to understand Antetokounmpo's ascent in the NBA at the age of 25. Before "Giannis" became a household name, he was often called "The Greek Freak" by those who couldn't pronounce his last name. The reigning MVP was on pace to win the award for a second straight season while seemingly getting better by the day, putting up career numbers before the NBA suspended action because of the coronavirus pandemic. His best years seem to be ahead of him.
-- Woodyard

Giannis Antetokounmpo not slowing down after MVP season

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26. Dwyane Wade

Wade was more than just a sidekick to LeBron James during the duo's run to four NBA Finals with the Heat. In just his third NBA season, Wade was named Finals MVP after helping lead Miami to a title in 2006 with Shaquille O'Neal. Wade, one of the better shot-blocking guards in history, never finished higher than third in MVP voting, but he was an eight-time All-NBA selection.
-- Lopez

25. Kawhi Leonard

Leonard has already played nine seasons, but it feels like he's just getting going. Leonard won his first championship and Finals MVP with the Spurs in 2014, but that was alongside Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. He showed last season he can carry an entire franchise, leading the Raptors to their first championship. And when the stakes are at their highest, Leonard rises to the challenge, whether it's his elite defense, Game 7-clinching buzzer-beater against Philadelphia, or winning a second Finals MVP at the expense of the Warriors' dynasty.
-- Youngmisuk

Kawhi's ridiculous moments in his first season in LA

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24. David Robinson

  • 1989-2003 San Antonio Spurs

  • 21.1 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.4 SPG, 3.0 BPG

"The Admiral" didn't make his NBA debut until he was 24, two years after being the top pick in the draft, due to his service commitment to the Navy. He earned All-Star appearances in his first six seasons, winning Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and MVP honors, as well as rebounding, blocked shots and scoring titles during that span. Back and foot injuries forced Robinson to miss almost all of his eighth season -- helping deliver Tim Duncan to San Antonio, a major reason why Robinson won two titles.
-- MacMahon

23. Charles Barkley

  • 1984-92 Philadelphia 76ers; 1992-96 Phoenix Suns; 1996-2000 Houston Rockets

  • 22.1 PPG, 11.7 RPG, 3.9 APG, 1.5 SPG

The Hall of Fame forward carved out a niche on the floor by being a double-double machine. Barkley earned the 1992-93 MVP award while leading Phoenix to the NBA Finals, and he won gold medals for Team USA in '92 and '96 Olympics. He won the rebounding title for Philadelphia in 1986-87, despite generously being listed at 6-6. Off the floor, the affable Barkley became arguably the most popular basketball analyst ever while working for TNT's "Inside the NBA."
-- Nick Friedell

22. Elgin Baylor

  • 1958-60 Minneapolis Lakers, 1960-72 Los Angeles Lakers

  • 27.4 PPG, 13.5 RPG, 4.3 APG

Baylor was one of the NBA's first acrobatic, high-scoring wings, a stylistic progenitor to Dr. J, Air Jordan and King James. He was one of the most prolific scorers in NBA history, peaking at 38.3 PPG in 1961-62 while actively enlisted in the military and only playing games on weekends. He set the NBA record with 61 points in a playoff game, a mark not topped until Jordan broke it in 1986.
-- Snellings

21. Scottie Pippen

  • 1987-98, 2003-04 Chicago Bulls; 1999 Houston Rockets; 1999-2003 Portland Trail Blazers

  • 16.1 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 5.2 APG, 2.0 SPG

Michael Jordan's greatness made many think of Pippen as an all-time great sidekick. But Pippen is a legend in his own right as one of the most versatile players the NBA has ever seen. With his 6-8 height and endless wingspan, Pippen made the All-Defensive first team eight times while stifling some of the NBA's greatest stars. When Jordan left to play baseball in 1993-94, Pippen averaged 22 points, 8.7 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 2.9 steals while leading the Bulls to a 55-win season before losing to the Knicks in the East semifinals. Pippen earned six rings and made the playoffs 16 straight times, a streak that didn't end until his final season.
-- Youngmisuk

20. Kevin Garnett

The former MVP and Defensive Player of the Year didn't find much success in the playoffs during his run with Minnesota, but he finally became an NBA champion after going to Boston to form a Big Three with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen in 2007-08. Garnett, who is tied for second in NBA history after playing 21 seasons in the league, ranks in the top 20 in career blocks and steals and is also 10th in career rebounds.
-- Lopez

19. Dirk Nowitzki

  • 1998-2019 Dallas Mavericks

  • 20.7 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 1.3 3s PG

Nowitzki forever changed the game, setting the trend for 7-footers who dominated with shooting touch and proving that type of player could be the centerpiece of a perennial contender. Dirk's Mavericks join Bill Russell's Celtics, Magic Johnson's Lakers and Tim Duncan's Spurs as the only franchises to string together a decade-plus run of seasons with 50 wins or more. Nowitzki shattered the "soft Euro" stereotype by leading Dallas to the 2010-11 title as the Mavs' lone All-Star.
-- MacMahon

18. Moses Malone

  • 1974-75 Utah Stars (ABA); 1975-76 Spirits of St. Louis (ABA); 1976 Buffalo Braves; 1976-82 Houston Rockets; 1982-86, 1993-94 Philadelphia 76ers; 1986-88 Washington Bullets; 1988-91 Atlanta Hawks; 1991-93 Milwaukee Bucks; 1994-95 San Antonio Spurs

  • 20.3 PPG, 12.3 RPG, 1.3 BPG

Malone was one of the original preps-to-pros players, joining the ABA as a teenager. He was a dominant scorer and rebounder who was peerless on the offensive glass, averaging 6.1 offensive boards during an eight-year span where he led the NBA in boards six times. Malone was a three-time NBA MVP, including in the 1982-83 season, when he also was Finals MVP for the Sixers and won his only championship ring.
-- Snellings

17. Karl Malone

  • 1985-2003 Utah Jazz; 2003-04 Los Angeles Lakers

  • 25.0 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 3.6 APG, 1.4 SPG

They didn't call Karl Malone "The Mailman" for no reason. He always delivered on the basketball court. Although he didn't win an NBA title despite three trips to the Finals, Malone is still the league's No. 2 scorer, behind the legendary Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Malone's statue is planted outside of Salt Lake City's Vivint Smart Home Arena, next to that of his running mate, John Stockton.
-- Woodyard

16. Jerry West

  • 1960-74 Los Angeles Lakers

  • 27.0 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 6.7 APG

Considered a top-five player of all time at his position, shooting guard, West had the tortured NBA existence of making it to the NBA Finals nine times but winning only once. A 27 PPG regular-season scorer, West upped his average to 29.1 per game in the playoffs. Immortalized in the league's history, as his silhouette appears as a red, white and blue symbol to signify the best basketball in the world, "The Logo" was an All-Star all 14 seasons he played.
-- McMenamin

15. Julius Erving

  • 1971-73 Virginia Squires (ABA); 1973-76 New York Nets (ABA); 1976-87 Philadelphia 76ers

  • 24.2 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 4.2 APG

As the premier above-the-rim player of his era, Dr. J's legend would probably be even greater had he not spent the first five years of his career in the ABA. Erving was named NBA MVP in 1981 and won the championship in 1983 -- who could forget his "rock the baby" dunk against the Lakers that season, serving as a prelude to his Finals win? His career NBA averages of 22 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.5 blocks tell the story of his all-around game.
-- McMenamin

Dr. J rocks the baby for huge slam

On Jan. 5, 1983, Julius Erving completes his famous "Rock the Baby" dunk, with Michael Cooper wanting no part of the vicious jam in a 76ers win.

14. Kevin Durant

  • 2007-08 Seattle SuperSonics, 2008-16 Oklahoma City Thunder; 2016-19 Golden State Warriors; 2019-20 Brooklyn Nets

  • 27.0 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 4.1 APG, 1.1 SPG, 1.1 BPG, 1.8 3s PG

Coming off an Achilles injury, Durant's climb back into the elite of the league isn't a given, but even if he retired tomorrow, he has stacked an all-time career. His eight years in OKC featured his best individual basketball, with four scoring titles and an MVP. No matter how you view his two championships with the Warriors -- both of which included Finals MVPs -- they will forever be high on the bullet points of his overall résumé. Another title in a less controversial fashion could vault Durant into the top 10, and if he recovers to be even close to his pre-injury self, he could challenge some massive career numbers.
-- Royce Young

13. Stephen Curry

  • 2009-20 Golden State Warriors

  • 23.5 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 6.6 APG, 1.7 SPG, 3.6 3s PG

The greatest shooter of all time. Curry's ability to hit shots from all over the floor changed the way the game is played. He has led the Warriors to three NBA championships and earned two MVP awards, becoming the first unanimous MVP in league history in 2015-16. Curry's influence on the game is seen on every level of basketball as younger generations shoot more than ever while trying to replicate his game.
-- Friedell

The best of Steph Curry's handles

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12. Hakeem Olajuwon

  • 1984-2001 Houston Rockets; 2001-02 Toronto Raptors

  • 21.8 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 1.7 SPG, 3.1 BPG

"The Dream," with all due respect to Kevin McHale, is the premier low-post technician to ever catch an entry pass. Olajuwon, a two-time Finals MVP who averaged 30.9 points, 10.7 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 3.4 blocks and 1.5 steals during the playoffs of the Rockets' back-to-back title runs, is also one of the all-time dominant defensive anchors. His NBA record of 3,830 blocks might never be approached, much less broken.
-- MacMahon

11. Oscar Robertson

  • 1960-70 Cincinnati Royals; 1970-74 Milwaukee Bucks

  • 25.7 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 9.5 APG

"The Big O" burst onto the scene as a rookie in 1960, and by the time his sophomore season was wrapped up, he had become the first player to average a triple-double in a single season. Robertson picked up his only NBA title when he went to Milwaukee and teamed up with a young Lew Alcindor. Robertson is still the only player in NBA history who sits in the top 10 in points per game and assists per game.
-- Lopez

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