The NBA has always been a league of stars, with legends like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and many others making a massive impact both on and off the court thanks to their popularity and cultural impact.
While these iconic names will forever be celebrated, there are a few legendary players whose achievements have been overlooked for one reason or another. Every era produces some all-time talents who get overshadowed by bigger and brighter stars, but that doesn’t take away from their own accomplishments.
Let’s look back at some of the most dominant players in NBA history who deserve more shine.
10. Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony’s best years are obviously behind him, but he doesn’t get enough credit for how good he was when he was in his prime.
Melo is a 10-time All-Star and a six-time All-NBA team selection. He’s one of the greatest scorers of all time (could wind up in the top 10 when he retires) and is an Olympic legend.
Melo has just never put it all together in the playoffs, winning only three playoff series so far in his NBA career.
While his 2003 draft classmates have won multiple rings, Melo will forever remain in their shadow.
9. Alex English
An automatic scorer in the ’80s who averaged 26 points a night throughout the entire decade.
Michael Jordan? Nope, it’s Alex English.
While he regularly had big regular-season numbers, English never really found playoff success with his Denver Nuggets.
8. “Pistol” Pete Maravich
Pistol Pete was lighting it up even before he entered the NBA.
Maravich holds the record for the three highest-scoring seasons in NCAA history, averaging 44.2 points per game in three years at LSU. His scoring translated to the NBA as well, recording 24.2 points per game throughout his career. He even led the league in scoring in 1976-77, putting up 31.1 points per game.
When people talk about player comparisons for Stephen Curry, Pete Maravich’s name often comes up. This is because he would often pull up from deep just like Steph does now.
The difference was there wasn’t even a 3-point line yet for most of Maravich’s career. Had he been born in this 3-happy era, Piston Pete might have been the greatest scorer of all time.
7. Adrian Dantley
Adrian Dantley is probably best known for being traded right before Isiah Thomas’ Detroit Pistons won their titles. It’s a shame because Dantley was downright dominant throughout his 15 years in the NBA. He put up 24.3 points per game on an efficient 54.0% clip from the field in his career.
Dantley’s most torrid stretch was from 1980 to 1984. He averaged a sky-high 30 points a night for the Utah Jazz back then.
A six-time All-Star as well, Dantley definitely deserves more recognition.
6. Michael Redd
24 points a night from 2003 to 2009. Gun to your head, would you guess Michael Redd?
Redd was a player ahead of his time. He was taking 3s at a relatively high volume before anyone else was. He was also one of the most effective from beyond the arc, shooting 38.0% from 3-land for his career.
He’s one of only a few second-round picks to make an All-Star team. Sadly, injuries derailed Redd’s career way too early.
5. Wes Unseld & 4. Elvin Hayes
Elvin Hayes and Wes Unseld were once on top of the basketball world. The Hall of Fame frontcourt tandem won the NBA title with the Washington Bullets in 1978, but for some reason, they aren’t as talked about as they should be.
They both set the league on fire during their rookie years in 1968-69, albeit on different teams.
Hayes’ freshman numbers were an astounding 28.4 points and 17.1 rebounds per game on the San Diego Rockets. He went on to make the All-Star team for 12 years in a row.
Not to be outdone, Unseld went out and won MVP in his rookie season, becoming one of two players to ever win it in their first year in the NBA.
The other? They called him Lew Alcindor back then.
3. George Gervin
The Iceman was one of the greatest scorers of all time.
In his 11-plus seasons with San Antonio, he averaged an absurd 26.3 points per game on 50.8% shooting from the field. The man was a walking bucket who could light it up in an instant.
Before Klay Thompson’s 37-point outburst in 2015, Gervin held the record for most points in a single quarter with an amazing 33 points. While Klay made nine triples to reach 37, George got his total when there wasn’t even a 3-point arc.
Sadly, Gervin’s lack of postseason accolades have taken away his historical spotlight.
2. Dwight Howard
It’s weird to call Dwight Howard forgotten when the man is still in the league playing on a contender. But after playing on five different teams in the last five years, Howard’s reputation has taken a massive hit.
Because of this, people forget just how dominant Howard used to be. He earned five All-NBA First-Team selections in a row from 2008-2012. He has won Defensive Player of the Year thrice, and he has led the league in rebounding five times.
Dwight Howard was an absolute force in his prime, but his disastrous first stint with the Los Angeles Lakers and the ensuing years have hurt him.
1. Moses Malone
12 NBA All-Star appearances. Three-time Most Valuable Player. NBA champion and Finals MVP. Hall of Famer.
These are Moses Malone’s impressive accolades.
Malone put up career averages of 20.6 points and 12.2 rebounds across 19 NBA seasons (he started his career in the ABA), giving him impressive longevity.
He’s on a shortlist of eight players to ever win at least three MVPs. The rest of the list? Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, LeBron James. Enough said.
The man is probably the most underrated superstar in NBA history.