Greatest NBA Player #23: Magic Johnson-155.79
Magic Johnson probably appears earlier on this list than many would expect. After all, to many, he is the greatest point guard ever, even if there are three ahead of him in terms of win shares. Why? Because Magic is one of the most important players in league history, and certainly in the last 45 years. A 6’9 player who could dribble and pass like he could was a revolutionary concept, and while he didn’t play point guard full-time, he certainly helped popularize the point forward.
That paved the way for the likes of LeBron, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Luka Doncic. Aside from being the forerunner to some of the best players in the NBA today, he was really good at basketball. Johnson helped lead the Lakers to the NBA Finals as a rookie, where he dropped 42 points, 17 rebounds, and 9 assists in a Game 7 win over the Philadelphia 76ers.
He would later lead the Lakers to eight other NBA Finals and win four championships while proving to be arguably the greatest passer ever. After all, he holds the NBA record for most assists per game over a career with 11.2.
For reference, the league leader in assists in the 2022–23 season averaged 10.7, while the Magic averaged more than that over 907 career games. With playmaking like that, it’s near impossible to have a bad offense, and his up-tempo playmaking made the Showtime Lakers a Juggernaut during the 1980s.
Factor in that he was a terrific rebounder and still managed to average nearly 20 points despite not being known as a scorer, and Magic ranking high in win shares makes plenty of sense. Obviously, he would be even higher on the list had he not been forced to retire for four seasons before returning, but he is still high enough to confirm his greatness.