As we head into the next Los Angeles Lakers season, and a new era in Lakers basketball, the staff here at Lakers Nation has decided to take a look back and rank the 20 greatest Lakers of all-time.
Our staff analyzed the ins and out of each Lakers player, determining their impact on the franchise during their tenure there. Stemming from awards to clutch performances, many contributing players were the difference during the 16 championship runs.
This list has been trimmed down to 20 Lakers, counting down these players strictly based on their accomplishments during their time with the franchise.
Seasons with Lakers: 13 (11 as player, 2 as coach)
Statistics: 15.1 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.2 steals, 48.2 FG%, 37.0 3PT%
Accolades: 3x NBA Champion (1985, 1987-88), All-Rookie First Team (1984)
Byron Scott might be most-known to younger fans of the Los Angeles Lakers for his fruitless tenure as head coach of the team, but that shouldn’t be his only legacy. Older fans know it’s not, and Scott is actually one of the most underrated players in the history of the franchise, a three-and-D dynamo who was probably ahead of his time in terms of style of play.
Scott was was consistently one of the best 3-point shooters in a version of the NBA that valued that skill a lot less than it’s coveted today and his career mark of 37 percent allowed him to ably space the floor for the Showtime Lakers’ unstoppable fastbreak offense.
Scott may not have felt that 3-pointers helped teams win championships as a coach, but his long-range prowess certainly helped the Lakers rack up a few of their 16 banners as he raised his 3-point percentage to 39.5 percent in the postseason.
More than just a shooter, Scott was also another rangy athlete for Magic Johnson to target on the break as the Lakers literally ran roughshod over the league, finishing Johnson’s preternatural passes at the rim on countless occasions.
Scott also used his athleticism and quickness to be a menace defensively for those Lakers teams, starting off plenty of fast breaks with his tenacity by swiping 1,038 steals during his tenure in purple and gold while also contributing 232 blocks.
His best year with the Lakers came in 1988, the last of the ‘Showtime’ championship teams. He led the team in scoring averaging 21.7 points on an impressive 52.7 percent from the field. He also chipped in 4.1 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 1.9 steals.
While he may have been a shell of the player he once was by the time he returned to Los Angeles for his final NBA season in 1996, Scott also took a young Laker by the name of Kobe Bryant under his wing. He mentored the precocious and insanely hard-working wing who would go on to easily rank as one of the best players not only in Lakers history, but of all time as well.
It would be unfair and innacurate to give Scott all of the credit for Bryant’s rise, but him giving a young Kobe all of the mentoring he could handle as he was still building the habits that would allow him to become a surefire first-ballot Hall of Famer can’t go ignored on Scott’s resume.
His tenure as a coach may have left a bitter taste in the mouth of many fans, but it shouldn’t detract from how great he was as a player, which is why Scott still ranks as the 16th-greatest Laker of all time.
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