The Golden State Warriors are defending champions for the second time in three years heading into this year’s 2017 NBA playoffs. After many years of not making it to the Promised Land, the Warriors are poised to make a run at the championship for the next several years.
As great as this team is collectively and individually, there have been many great players over the decades that have contributed to the Warriors’ rich history. From the franchise’s start in Philadelphia to San Francisco, and now to its current home in Oakland, the Warriors have welcomed some of the greatest players in NBA history.
There have been two other lists of the top 25 all-time Warriors by Bleacher Report’s Simon Cherin-Gordon, and Blue Man Hoop’s Carlos Murillo but we wanted to give it our own spin and opinion on the matter. Thanks to both, though, for the inspiration of our own list.
Without further ado, let’s count down the top 25 players in Golden State Warriors history.
25. Robert Parish
Not even the most ardent of fans will associate Robert Parish with the Warriors but the Boston Celtics legend who won championships in 1981, 1984 and 1986, started his career in Golden State.
In one of the most lopsided deals in NBA annals, the Warriors traded Parish and 1st-round pick Kevin McHale to the Celtics for Rickey Brown and Joe Barry Carroll.
Carroll would eventually become an All-Star and an all-time Warrior great (he’s on this list somewhere) but can you imagine if Parish and McHale played for Golden State rather than with Boston?
Parish averaged 17.1 points, 11.5 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 2.2 blocks per game while shooting close to 50% from the field in his last two seasons with the Warriors.
24. Bernard King
If he had played his entire career in Golden State, Bernard King would have been much higher on this list. As fate would have it, King only had a brief two-year stint in Oakland before being traded to the New York Knicks.
Even so, King was one of the best in the game when he played for the Dubs. In 1980-81, the small forward averaged 21.9 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 3.5 assists while shooting an incredible 58.8 percent from the field. He also won the NBA’s first-ever Comeback Player of the Year Award.
In his second year with the team, King showed that his recovery from injury wasn’t a fluke, averaging 23.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 3.6 assists. As a bonus, he also earned a trip to his first All-Star Game which led to his selection to the Second Team All-NBA that year.
23. Tom Gola
Tom Gola is one of the members of the 1956 championship team to make the list.
Gola was a five time All-Star (1960–1964) and an All-NBA Second Team selection (1958). He played tough defense and rebounded the ball with the best of them as a shooting guard/small forward. While letting his more celebrated teammates score the basketball, he became one of the team’s best assist men, averaging 4.9 assists per game.
Additionally, Gola was the first Warrior to have three straight triple-doubles (1959-60), a feat matched only by Draymond Green in 2016.
22. Guy Rodgers
Guy Rodgers was the steady point guard for the Chamberlain-led Warriors of the 1960’s. Fans should not just be singing Chamberlain’s praises when he scored 100 points as Rodgers also amassed 20 assists in that game, mostly to the big man most likely.
Rodgers was one of the best playmakers ever for Philadelphia and was recognized as among the best players in the game, being selected to play in four All-Star games.
During the 1962-63 season, Rodgers led the league in assists with 10.2, one of his two assists titles that he achieved in his 12-year career in the NBA. In his last season for the Warriors, Rodgers scored his highest scoring average with 18.2 points.
21. Jamaal Wilkes
One of the sweetest shooting forwards in NBA history, Jamaal Wilkes averaged 16.5 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.4 steals as a Golden State Warrior, winning the Rookie of the Year Award in 1974-75.
Wilkes was a key member of the 1975 championship team as he was second in scoring during the Finals to the series MVP, Rick Barry.
His stint was short-lived as Wilkes signed with the L.A. Lakers after only three seasons.
20. Antawn Jamison
Antawn Jamison came to the Warriors as a polished player from the University of North Carolina. From 1998-99 to 2002-03, Jamison was a budding star who was a versatile offensive player.
He broke the mold of a “tweener,” a player who was too big to play small forward and too small to play power forward. Jamison was a player, period. In fact, he would excel in today’s position-less basketball especially with the current Warriors lineup.
Jamison scored 51 points in back-to-back games in 2000. His finest moment came when he battled Kobe Bryant head-to-head as both players scored 51 points. Jamison got the last laugh, however, as the Warriors pulled out a win in overtime.
19. Latrell Sprewell
The enigmatic Latrell Sprewell is infamous for his throat-grab of head coach P. J. Carlesimo during a Warriors practice. But as a player, Sprewell was a beast to handle for opposing shooting guards.
He was a 1993 NBA All-Rookie Team selection and proceeded to take the role vacated by the trade of Mitch Richmond, playing himself to All-NBA First Team status by the end of his second year. Additionally, Spree made it to an All-Defensive team that same year while leading the Warriors to the 1994 playoffs.
In his four years playing for the Warriors, he averaged 20.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.7 steals. He was also an All-Star for three straight seasons, making his downturn all the more disappointing for Warriors fans.
18. Monta Ellis
The diminutive but feisty Monta Ellis was one of the most gifted scorers in Warriors history. In his six seasons in the Bay Area, Ellis averaged 19.4 points, 3.7 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 1.7 steals.
For a time, Ellis was the undisputed leader of the Warriors as the second-round pick won the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award in his second year, guiding the team to the playoffs for the first time in 13 years. On February 7, 2012, the stars aligned to give Ellis his career-high, scoring 48 points on 18-for-29 shooting, 3-for-6 from three-point range, and 9-for-10 free-throw shooting but lost 119–116 to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
For a time, he and Steph Curry were the high-scoring backcourt of the future but Ellis was eventually traded to the Milwaukee Bucks.
17. Baron Davis
One of the most dynamic point guards of his generation, Baron Davis led the 2006-07 Warriors to the biggest upset in NBA history. These eight-seeded Warriors took on the Dallas Mavericks, which had the best record in the NBA. They beat the No. 1 seed in six games, the first No. 8 seed to do so in a seven-game series.
In that history-making showdown, Davis averaged 20.1 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 8.1 assists as no Mav was able to slow him down. During his brief three-year stay in the Bay Area, Davis averaged a spectacular 20.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 8.1 assists and 2.1 steals per game. He was otherworldly especially in the playoffs when healthy and should have stayed with the Warriors longer rather than he did, opting out of his contract in 2008.
16. Jason Richardson
Though he is widely known as one of the best dunkers of all-time, Jason Richardson was a complete player, a shooting guard who played both ends of the court.
Richardson was one of the stars during the early 2000 Warriors teams, averaging 18.3 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.2 steals and tons of oohs-and-ahhs from the Oakland crowd. During a two-year stretch from the 2004-05 to 2005-06, Richardson scored 21.7 and 23.2 points, respectively, proving himself to be one of the top young shooting guards in the league.
Richardson is a Slam Dunk Contest champion, winning back-to-back titles in 2002 and 2003, showcasing his vast array of jams to the world and bringing excitement back to NBA All-Star Saturday.
15. Jeff Mullins
Jeff Mullins was one of the San Francisco Warriors’ best players after he came from the St. Louis Hawks as an underperforming young player. In two years, Mullins made it clear that he was a force to be reckoned with.
Beginning with the 1968-69 season, Mullins averaged no less than 20.8 and topping out at 22.8 points per game. He took the Bay Area squad to the 1967 Western Conference championship but it wasn’t until another talented forward in Rick Barry came along to help him get the coveted NBA championship in 1975.
By the end of his career, Mullins was a three-time All-Star and averaged 17.5 points per game for the franchise.
14. Draymond Green
Looking at his career and year-by-year stats, it’s hard to imagine Draymond Green as one of the greatest players in Warriors history. But Green’s value to the team goes beyond the box score.
Even so, Green has one statistic that defines his greatness: the triple-double. The versatile forward is the franchise leader with 21 triple-doubles, a feat he recorded just recently on January 5, 2018, surpassing Tom Gola’s 20. The Warriors are undefeated when Green reaches a triple-double.
Thus far in his young six-year career, all with Golden State, Green has been awarded the 2016-17 Defensive Player of the Year, chosen for the All-Defensive Team three straight years (2014-15 to 2016-17), an All-NBA selection twice (2015-16, 2016-17), and voted as an All-Star twice (2016, 2017).
More importantly, Green is the defensive anchor of the two-time defending champion Warriors. Without Green, his team would be hard-pressed to win a single championship. That’s how valuable Green is.
13. Purvis Short
Playing together with Joe Barry Carroll and Sleepy Floyd may have kept Purvis Short from being noticed, but he made his mark on the team during the 1980s as one of the team’s leading scorers.
During a four-year stretch in which Short came back from training with big-man coach Pete Newell, Short averaged an amazing 24.5 points on 47.4 percent shooting. He also recorded a 28.0 points per game average during the 1984-85 season in which he scored a career high 59 points in a 131-114 loss to the New Jersey Nets.
In his nine seasons with the Warriors, Short averaged 19.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.2 steals, one of the best career averages of any Warriors great.
12. Joe Barry Carroll
Joe Barry Carroll may not live up to the career that Robert Parish had, but he was still one of the finest centers in Golden State Warriors history.
At a time when good centers were necessary to contend for a championship, Carroll was one of the best in the game. He was unfairly nicknamed “Joe Barely Cares” because the truth is, Carroll was a handful underneath the basket. He had rookie averages of 18.9 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, and was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team.
He once scored 46 points as a rookie, and later had 52 points against the Utah Jazz in his third season in the league, hardly the type of scoring numbers you would expect from an uncaring player.
During his six-plus seasons as a Warrior, Carroll averaged 20.4 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game, leading the team to some of its best years in the 1980s.
11. Sleepy Floyd
Eric “Sleepy” Floyd may have one of the most lethargic nicknames ever, but his play is anything but. Floyd ran the point for the Warriors’ attack with Joe Barry Carroll and Purvis Short.
Sleepy was the engine that jumpstarted the offense as he orchestrated one of the best Western Conference teams in the 80s. If not for the presence of the Lakers in the West, there’s no telling how deep Floyd’s Warriors could have gone in the playoffs.
In one of the greatest performances in NBA playoff history, Floyd ripped apart the Magic Johnson-led Lakers with a 29-point fourth quarter, totaling 39 points in the second half. Both are NBA playoff records that stand to this day. He finished the game with 51 points.
In his six seasons with the Dubs, Floyd averaged 18.1 points and 7.0 assists with 1.7 steals.
10. Klay Thompson
Klay Thompson is the other half of the current Warriors’ sharp-shooting backcourt dubbed the Splash Brothers. Though Curry may get the headlines, Thompson gets the job done with little fanfare, often guarding the other team’s best backcourt scorer.
If not for his more famous teammate, we would all be talking about how Thompson may be the greatest shooter ever. On night of January 23, 2015, a hot-shooting Thompson would go on to score a career-high 52 points (11 three-pointers), in a 126–101 win over the Sacramento Kings.
During the third quarter of the same game, Thompson broke the NBA record books with 37 points in a single quarter, shooting 13-for-13 from the field, including another NBA-history best nine three-pointers.
As of this writing, Thompson’s career averages for the Warriors are 19.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 2.3 assists while shooting an astounding 42.2 percent from three. He’s also been named to three All-Star Games, selected to two All-NBA Third Teams, and has two championships with the team.
9. Mitch Richmond
Nicknamed “The Rock,” Mitch Richmond is as steady as any player can get.
Richmond stormed the NBA gates like he was a 10-year veteran. He averaged 22.0 points, 5.9 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 1.0 steals per game during his freshman campaign that culminated in the Rookie of the Year award.
He was the “M” in Run TMC, the famous run-and-gun offense of the early 90s, providing the Warriors with a lethal jump shooter, high post player, and a tough defender on the wings.
But Richmond was traded before his fourth season in the league by then coach and GM Don Nelson who needed a big man that could complement the team’s outside threats. And just as quickly as Run TMC had begun, it was already over.
For his short-lived career with the Warriors, The Rock averaged 22.7 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.3 steals, shooting 48.6 percent from the field and 84 percent from the line.
8. Tim Hardaway
Tim Hardaway is the owner of the NBA’s Killer Crossover, one of the coolest nicknames but also one of the most devastating moves ever.
His game fueled Run TMC’s fastbreak and the Warriors’ exciting offense. He was named to the All-Rookie team in 1990. If not for the presence of fellow rookie David Robinson from the Spurs, Hardaway would’ve won Rookie of the Year honors as well.
Hardaway averaged 19.8 points and 9.8 assists per game during his six and a half seasons as a Warrior, making the All-Star Team three times, and the All-NBA Second and Third Teams once each. He is first all-time in franchise history in assists per game, third in total assists, fourth in three-point field goals made, fourth in steals, and tied for third in steals per game.
7. Neil Johnston
One of the best players during the NBA’s formative years, Neil Johnston didn’t impress many during his first year. But when teammate Paul Arizin was called for marine duty for the next two years, Johnston took advantage of the opportunity and established himself as the next great Warriors superstar.
He went on to win three consecutive scoring titles (1952-53 to 1954-55), one rebounding title (1954-55), led the league in minutes played twice, was selected to play in six All-Star Games, and made five All-NBA Team selections, including four First Team honors.
His hard work eventually paid off when the Warriors won the 1956 NBA Championship alongside his buddy Arizin.
Johnston played his entire career with the Warriors, averaging 19.4 points, 11.3 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game.
6. Nate Thurmond
If not for the presence of Wilt Chamberlain, Nate Thurmond would have been considered the most imposing big man in the game during his time. He is not the scorer that Wilt was, but he was no less intimidating.
In the only season that he played as a Warrior in which blocked shots were recorded as an official NBA statistic, Thurmond averaged 2.9 blocks. If blocks were recorded previously, there’s a chance that Thurmond would have been averaging four blocks or more for many years.
During the 1967-68 season, Thurmond averaged 20.5 points and 22 rebounds, one of only two players to average 20 points and 20 rebounds in a season. He is also one of only four players to record a quadruple-double when he recorded 22 points, 14 rebounds, 13 assists and 12 blocks in a single game!
5. Paul Arizin
The Philadelphia Warriors’ best player of the 1950’s was, without a doubt, Paul Arizin.
Considered the pioneer of the jump shot, Arizin was an unstoppable scorer, capable of taking over the game with his outside shooting. He changed the way the game was played as other players over the years abandoned the set shot and emulated the high-scoring forward’s jumper.
While Johnston controlled the paint, Arizin took care of the perimeter as the 6’4 small forward shot the lights out for the Warriors, leading the league in scoring twice (1952, 1957). Not only that, he also led the league in field goal percentage once and was second in the league one other time.
Arizin also helped out in the rebounding chores by grabbing 8.6 rebounds per game for his career, an astounding number given his size. He even recorded a ridiculous 11.3 rebounds per game during the 1951-52 season.
For his career, Arizin won the 1951 Rookie of the Year Award, averaged 22.8 points, and was an All-Star every year during the 10 years that he played in the NBA.
But his greatest accomplishment is perhaps leading the team to the 1956 NBA championship, cementing his place among the all-time greatest players ever.
4. Chris Mullin
One of the sweetest shooting forwards in history, Chris Mullin was the consummate Golden State Warrior from 1985 to 1997. If not for three other players on this list, he could have been the best Warrior of all time.
During his time with the Bay Area team, Mullin submitted a scoring average of 20.1 points per game for the high-scoring Warriors especially during his Run TMC days with Hardaway and Richmond. A five-time All-Star, Mullin was selected as a member of the legendary Dream Team in 1992 together with greats such as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird.
Mullin was a model of consistency and excellence as evidenced by a five-year stretch in which he averaged 25.8 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 1.9 steals per game on 52.3 percent shooting from the field, and 87.1 percent from the line.
3. Rick Barry
Rick Barry is best-known to Warriors fans for delivering a championship to the franchise in 1975 where he was named NBA Finals MVP.
Barry played eight seasons for the Warriors where he was an All-Star in each season and averaged 25.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, 5.1 assists, to go along with 2.3 steals. He was the Steph Curry of his generation even though he had a less than endearing temperament.
How good was Barry? He was the 1965-66 Rookie of the Year, won the 1967 All-Star Game MVP, the scoring title in 1966-67 (35.6 points), and an All-NBA Team selection six times. To top it all, Barry was named by the NBA as one of its 50 Greatest Players in 1996.
The face of today’s Warriors franchise, Stephen Curry is a two-time NBA MVP in back-to-back seasons (2014-15, 2015-16) winning the second time unanimously.
Currently in his ninth season with the franchise, Curry has amassed a plethora of awards and accomplishments. He holds the record for most three-pointers made in one season with 402. No one else comes close to this record except Curry himself who also recorded 324 and 286 three pointers made.
He is also a scoring champion, led the league in steals (once), Player Efficiency Rating (once), free-throw percentage (3x), and three-pointers made (5x). And that’s just a sample.
More than anything else, he led the team to two championships and the greatest NBA regular season record of all-time (73 wins, 9 losses) in the 2015-16 season.
1. Wilt Chamberlain
One of the greatest players in NBA history is the greatest Warrior ever. During his rookie season in 1959-60 with Philadelphia, The Stilt recorded one of the greatest seasons ever. He was named Rookie of the Year, All-Star Game MVP, and NBA MVP.
In his five and a half seasons with the Warriors, Wilt won the league’s scoring title five times and the rebounding title four times.
In the 1961-62 season, Chamberlain averaged 50.4 points and 25.7 rebounds, a feat that would be impossible to match today.
But perhaps his most legendary accomplishment as a Warrior was the time he scored 100 points in a single game. The closest anyone has ever come to the centennial mark is 81 points by Kobe Bryant which is still a far cry from Chamberlain’s record.
Needless to say, Wilt is the undisputed greatest Warrior to lace up a pair of sneakers.