As we head into the next Los Angeles Lakers season, and a new era in Lakers basketball, the staff here at Lakers Nation has decided to take a look back and rank the 20 greatest Lakers of all-time.
The staff looked over the accomplishments, accolades, moments, and impact of the greatest the Lakers organization has to offer and trimmed the list down to 20. Though there weren’t consensus agreements on everything it was a fun process.
It should be noted that we are taking into account only what was accomplished as a member of the Lakers, not entire careers. Before we get into the no. 20 selection, a couple of honorable mentions.
Mychal Thompson – Thompson spent 4 1/2 seasons with the Lakers, playing a major role for back-to-back championship teams in 1987 and ‘88. Unfortunately his best years were spent elsewhere and he just missed the cut based on lack of longevity.
A.C. Green – Never flashy, but always reliable, Green is one of the more overlooked Laker role players. He won two titles in the 80s, was an All-Star in 1990, then returned to L.A. in 2000 to start every game and win a third championship. He deserves more credit for his contributions.
Bob McAdoo – A Hall of Famer and one of the best players in the NBA during the 1970s, McAdoo came to the Lakers and was an outstanding sixth man for ‘82 and ‘85 championships teams. He especially stepped his game up in the playoffs, but with only four seasons in purple and gold he wound up a tough omission.
Eddie Jones – Jones was probably the most popular Laker of the mid-90s between the Showtime and Shaq/Kobe eras. He earned a couple of All-Star appearances, All-Rookie First Team and a second team All-Defense selection with the Lakers. He was the final cut of this list and it was not a unanimous selection.
Seasons with Lakers: 7
Statistics: 13.7 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 3.7 APG, 49.1 FG%
Accolades: 2x NBA Champion (2009 and 2010), NBA Sixth Man of the Year (2011)
No one ever questioned the talent of Lamar Odom from the moment he stepped foot in the NBA. A 6’10 phenom with power forward size and point guard skills, Odom had all the tools, but hadn’t quite put it all together.
Then the Lakers acquired Odom in the trade of Shaquille O’Neal and everything began to click. He was often times the only reliable teammate of Kobe Bryant during those mid-2000s teams that couldn’t get out of the first round, but it was when Phil Jackson returned that everything changed for Odom.
He was a perfect fit for the triangle offense and he, Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum formed an unstoppable big man trio that no team was able to match up with.
With Bynum injured for most of 2008, Odom averaged a double-double during the Lakers’ playoff run that came up just short of a championship. He then fully embraced his Sixth Man role the next year, and usually finished games anyway.
One of his most memorable moments came in the closeout game of the 2009 NBA Finals where he finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds and knocked down all three of his three-pointers as the Lakers finished off the Orlando Magic, the first of his two titles.
He was finally recognized as the league’s best Sixth Man in 2011, as he averaged 14.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 3.0 assists while shooting a career-high 53 percent from the field.
Unfortunately things didn’t end well between Odom and the Lakers as the infamous Chris Paul trade veto led to Odom demanding to be dealt away and things went downhill for Odom from there.
Regardless, Odom remains arguably the most popular Laker amongst fans over the last 10 years not named Kobe Bryant. He was talented, fun to watch, and helped bring titles to Los Angeles. There’s not much more you can ask for.