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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17.    Magic Johnson-24.11

Before triple doubles became commonplace like they are today, Magic Johnson helped to popularize them during his Hall of Fame career with the Los Angeles Lakers. As a 6'9 playmaker, Magic was one of the most versatile players in league history and played every position at least once, including center, in a legendary performance in Game 6 of the 1980 NBA Finals. 

In that game, Magic dropped 42 points, 17 rebounds, and nine assists to clinch his first ever NBA championship. Magic will go on to win a total of five championships after leading the Lakers to nine NBA Finals appearances.

He accomplished that by being the greatest passer the NBA has ever seen, averaging more than 11 assists per game over his career. And despite not being known as a scorer, Johnson averaged 19.5 points per game while shooting 52% from the field over the course of his 13-year career.  

Factor in that he also averaged 7.2 rebounds and 1.9  steals and he put up some truly outstanding numbers that cause him to rank 17th all the time in PER. All things considered, that is surprisingly close to the general consensus on magic.

While he is generally seen as a top-10 player all time and the greatest point guard ever, he was forced to retire in his early thirties, and while he did come back briefly at the age of 36, he doesn't rank as highly in most cumulative stats due to those four missing seasons.

PER having him within a few spots of where many would rank him despite not having as much data for him suggests that the stat may not be as far as many believe it to be.