St. Louis Hawks: Bob Pettit
While it’s easy to forget since he played during a time when the NBA was trying to gain traction nationally, Bob Pettit is one of the greatest players in the history of the sport. As of 2018, he ranks eighth in career points per game, 13th in win shares per 48 minutes (WS/48) and 20th in Player Efficiency Rating (PER).
His relatively short playing career — which lasted 11 seasons — precluded him from accumulating the gaudy counting stats that others on this list have. But make no mistake, he was one of the all-time great frontcourt players.
At 6-foot-9 and 205 pounds, Pettit excelled as a scorer — he averaged at least 20 points per game every season of his career — and as a rebounder. How good of a rebounder was Pettit?
Well, when he retired, the only players that averaged more rebounds per game than Pettit were Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell. You’re doing something right when your name is mentioned in the same breath as the preeminent big men of your era.
Drafted second overall in the 1954 NBA Draft, the former LSU standout spent his entire career with the Hawks organization (the team was located in Milwaukee and St. Louis when Pettit played for them).
As of 2018, he still holds the franchise records for total rebounds (12,849) and rebounds per game (16.2). Pettit was a force on the glass; he never averaged less than 12.4 boards and is one of only five players to average 20 in a single season.
Pettit’s legacy suffers from both the passage of time and from playing during the same time as Chamberlain and Russell, but there’s not questioning the two-time scoring champ’s greatness, especially when it came to grabbing rebounds.