Greatest NBA Player #49: Dominique Wilkins-117.47
NBA legend Dominique Wilkins is primarily remembered for his elite athleticism and his amazing dunking ability. However, he was also a nine-time all-star and one of the most prolific scorers in league history. Wilkins spent the first 11+ seasons of his career with the Atlanta Hawks and turned them into a consistent playoff team thanks to his explosive offensive ability.
During that span in Atlanta, he averaged better than 25 points per game in nine straight seasons, won a scoring title, and finished second behind Michael Jordan twice for the honor. Despite making the postseason eight times, the Hawks had mixed results. They had five first-round exits and three straight second-round exits to the Celtics, Pistons, and Celtics.
Rather than staying the course, the Hawks made the controversial decision to trade Wilkins in 1994, even though he was still a top-tier offensive player and the Hawks had the best record in the East. From there, he played for the Clippers and Celtics before spending a season in Greece, returning to play for the Spurs, spending a season in Italy, and then finishing up his Hall of Fame career in Orlando.
Even late into his career, Wilkins put up impressive scoring numbers, including averaging 29.1 points for the Clippers, 17.8 for the Celtics, and 18 points in San Antonio the season before Tim Duncan got drafted. Had he not spent two seasons playing internationally, he might have reached 30,000 career points, which is reserved for the truly elite. Leaving points on the table hurt him, as did his efficiency.
Wilkins was a bit of a gunner, to say the least, as evident by his career average of 20.1 shot attempts per game—the ninth highest in NBA history—but only a 53.6 true shooting percentage. He was also a net-negative defender, which, combined with his inefficiency, definitely held him back.