The 75 greatest players in NBA history, ranked by Player Efficiency Rating (PER)

The 75 greatest NBA players of all-time, ranked by PER

Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant
Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant / Harry How/GettyImages
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22.    Larry Bird-23.50

NBA icon and Boston Celtics great Larry Bird helped take the league to new heights thanks to his rivalry with Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers. Although both players had relatively short careers, they both put up monster numbers, particularly Bird, who scored 21,791 points in 13 seasons, even after missing virtually all of the 1988–89 season.

Not only was he a sizzling scorer but also a strong rebounder, passer, and underrated defender, averaging 10 rebounds, 6.3 assists, and 1.7 steals for his career. He was also one of the best shooters of his era, shooting 49.6 from the field, 37.6% from three, and 88.6% from the line.

While some doubt whether he'd be able to score at the same level in today's NBA, he attempted fewer than two threes per game during his career but would probably take at least triple that amount. He'd probably also play power forward, like he did to start his career, and be equally lethal.

Unfortunately for Bird and the NBA, his career was cut short after he hurt his back shoveling gravel in the 1985 offseason. He lasted a few more years but wasn't the same player and retired while still at a star level, albeit not an MVP level. Ultimately, Bird ranks 22 in PER, which may be lower than most would have him but probably not much lower.