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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11.    Neil Johnston-24.86

Few fans of the NBA, myself included, were around to watch Neil Johnson play, let alone remember his place in history. Fortunately, PER gives us an idea of how good he was during his short eight-season career in the NBA. Johnson spent all of his career with the Philadelphia Warriors—now the Golden State Warriors—and was an early star of the then-young NBA.

Johnson led the NBA in scoring three straight seasons and the league in field goal percentage five times, though his best season saw him only shoot 45.7. That is far lower than the average today, even with players shooting a high volume of threes, which wasn't even around back in the 1950s. Additionally, steals, blocks, and even pace weren't counted, with the later being an estimate.

That may actually help Johnson, who put up strong scoring and rebounding numbers with great efficiency for the era and retired before he began to decline. As a result, he has a terrific PER of 24.8, the 11th highest ever, ahead of the greats like Kobe Bryant, Moses Malone, and Dwyane Wade.

With players playing far longer than nine seasons, it will be hard for most to surpass that number since it would require them to play at an MVP level on average over their career, with only a select few having done so.