Ranking the 50 greatest NBA players of all time

The Last Dance, Michael Jordan, LeBron James (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
The Last Dance, Michael Jordan, LeBron James (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /
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Photo by Bill Smith/NBAE via Getty Images /

44. Dominique Wilkins

  • Resume: 15 seasons, 7-time All-NBA selection, 9-time NBA All-Star, 1-time NBA leader in scoring, Atlanta Hawks’ all-time leading scorer, 2-time Slam Dunk champion, Hall-of-Famer
  • Stats: 24.8 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.3 SPG, .461/.319/.811 shooting splits, 21.6 career PER, 117.5 win shares

Despite the fact that he was one of the brightest stars of the 1980s, Dominique Wilkins’ career was marred by the fact that he never made a conference finals. But his career resume has a few things to say about that:

  • Averaged 28 points per game over the span of a decade (1985-94)
  • Quite possibly the greatest in-game dunker of all time
  • Definitely one of the best NBA nicknames ever
  • Easily one of the two greatest players in Atlanta Hawks history

But the biggest thing to remember about “The Human Highlight Film” is that he was one of the most dominant players in the league during one of the most competitive eras in NBA history.

You want to know why ‘Nique never made a conference finals? Because he had to face Larry Bird’s Celtics, the Bad Boys Detroit Pistons and Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls in the East during his prime … with guys like Doc Rivers and Kevin Willis as his best teammates.

A dynamic scorer, Wilkins made dunking an art form. Julius Erving was graceful with his dunks. Wilkins was just downright violent with the way he relentlessly punished the rim and put people on posters. Nothing ignited the home crowd or silenced opposing fans quite like a Dominique Wilkins tomahawk jam.

Had ‘Nique played in a different era, or had he enjoyed the company of better teammates, we might remember him differently, but the Hawks still won at least 50 games for five straight seasons with him at the wheel.

If you need anymore proof that he was legit, go back and watch him carry his team in Clash of the Titans-esque duels with MJ or Game 7 of the 1988 Eastern Conference semifinals against Larry Bird. Human Highlight Film, indeed.