Should Klay Thompson Be On The NBA 75th Anniversary Team?

What is the Top 75 List?

The NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team is a list that the NBA dropped at the beginning of the 2021-22 season, naming the 75 best players in the league’s history. The list was compiled by several current and former players, coaches, and essential media members. To no surprise, the voters were mostly older, with Steph Curry, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Lisa Leslie, Sue Bird, Dirk Nowitzki, and Chris Paul being a few of the younger voters. Any list inherently brings controversy, and some of the snubbed players are undoubtedly all-time greats. It should be noted that every player from the Top 50 list, which was constructed 25 years ago, made this year’s list. That brings about the fundamental question, “Should you make the list based on how great a player was in their given era or how well they would be in any given era with the same resources and rule changes that the game has undergone over the years?”

Biggest Snubs From Top 75 List

As with any list that comes out that is so exclusive and difficult to make, there will be snubs. While Klay Thompson was one of the bigger storylines for guys that did not make the list, several others could have just as valid of an argument to be on there, including Tracy McGrady, Grant Hill, Yao Ming, Dwight Howard, Vince Carter, Pau Gasol, and Tony Parker.

McGrady, Hill, and Ming have all had shorter careers due to various injuries. Should their injury history determine their placement on a list of greatest players ever? You will have a hard time convincing me that T-Mac is not one of the 75 “greatest” NBA players. If accolades are the predominant criteria used, then the list will not favor pure talent, skill, and intangibles: those are merely secondary.

However, the Top 75 list is not even consistent in that way. Despite not having any championships, Damian Lillard, Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden are all on the list. Westbrook and Harden have MVPs, and each has their own substantial resume boosters, which is the same with Carmelo, who has been so great for so long. Anthony Davis is also on the list and only has one championship and nowhere near the resume of Klay Thompson. There’s no world where Davis’s NBA resume is better than Dwight Howard’s resume, either. Additionally, Lillard has established himself as being one of the more clutch players in the league’s history, but he still has not won a ring yet.

”Era Conversion” And Other Arguments

For decades, avid fans and sports gurus have argued about whether certain players “could play” in other basketball eras. However, there is tremendous difficulty in doing this type of comparison. First, you must consider how the game was played 40, 50, 60, or even 70 years ago. A passive fan may look at footage of some of the older basketball generations and poke fun at how they were dribbling: head down, pounding the ball into the ground with their hand firmly on top. Traveling and carrying violations were much more prominent; there was no leniency on having the hand on the side of the ball or making hesitation moves where the ball is held for just a short moment in the air before putting it on the deck again. Additionally, if you think you could have gotten away with a euro step or any move that relies on picking up your pivot foot back then, forget it. The “eye test” is not a flawless tool when comparing eras. To be fair, using accolades is far from a flawless tactic too. A list like this has to be looked at through several lenses, and it is hard to believe that a panel of incredibly busy individuals can do a thorough enough job. That is hardly their fault, though.

Should Klay Thompson Be On NBA Top 75 List?

Several players on the NBA Top 75 list may have been great for their era, but the game was just different. Consider that the game was not truly international until the late-90s or early-2000s. That means the potential pool of talented players was substantially smaller. The increase in popularity in basketball, both in the United States and outside of it, also plays a huge factor. The truth is that many players had to have two, and maybe even three jobs in the 50s-70s. The monetization of the NBA has increased so exponentially that it has attracted the absolute best athletes from all over the world. Can you give as much credit to a player during those times to make the NBA as you can to a player today who has to be one of the best 400 or so players in the entire world? That is not to egregiously discredit the talent it took to make the NBA back in the day, but these are the points that I must make to come to an eventual, fair conclusion, which I will try to do in a future article.

Whether or not Klay Thompson should have made the NBA Top 75 list is more dependent, in my opinion, on how he lines up against the other players who got snubbed, such as Tracy McGrady, Tony Parker, Dwight Howard, and Vince Carter, than whether or not he should have been on the list over some of the other names. If Klay’s resume and talent are above those other players, then the answer, in my opinion, is simple: yes. However, if it is not necessarily leaps and bounds better than those other guys, it may be challenging to conjure five or six names of guys who don’t belong on that list but are on it. In my opinion, I believe he should be on the list, but then again, I’m not one of the members on the panel.

Drew is a lead NBA writer at Lineups.com where he has been covering in-season basketball coverage to the NBA Draft. He is a former collegiate player who now spends time diving into NBA prospects and evaluating the analytics of the NBA.

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