April 6, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Jerry West is honored at halftime of a game against the Houston Rockets in honor of the 40th anniversary of the 1972 NBA championship team at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

LA Lakers Top Ten: #4 Jerry West


The Lakers have had many stars and legends pass through the locker room, but one stands atop them all, Jerry West. No, Jerry West isn’t the best Laker of all time, but he is above them all for one simple reason — he is the NBA logo. It’s crazy that a player who averaged 27 points, 6.7 assists, and 5.8 rebounds a game ends up fourth on the teams all-time list, but it’s the Lakers.

Looking at the all-time leaders for the Lakers, Jerry West ranks among the top in many of them. He was third in games played, minutes played, field goals attempted, field goals made, minutes per game, and points per game. Is third not good enough for you? Well, West ranked second in free throws attempted, free throws made, assists, points, and win shares. To top it all off, Jerry West is the all-time Lakers leader in OWS (Offensive Win Shares), and if they had kept track back then, most likely steals (which I’ll get into later).

Lets keep it rolling. Jerry West made 14 All-Star appearances — with one MVP –, won one NBA Championship, was a Finals MVP without winning the title, was First Team All-NBA eight times, Second Team twice, First All-Defensive Team four times, and Second Team once. That’s not all, though. West led the league in free throws attempted twice, free throws made twice, points per game once, assists per game once, PER twice, TS% (True Shooting Percentage) twice, OWS three times, and Win Shares once. I think it’s safe to say Jerry West was pretty good back in the day.

When talking about the best scorers of all-time, Jerry West has to be in the discussion. First off, his nickname was Mr. Clutch, and secondly, he scored 40+ plus thirteen (!!) times in one season. He averaged over 30 points four times in his career, and the first time was his second season in the league. Not only was he a good scorer, but he was pretty efficient, as well. He averaged 20.4 shots in his career, but shot 47.4 percent (Kobe’s is 45.4 percent).

Not only was Mr. Clutch an amazing scorer, but he is one of the best defenders of all-time, as well. ProHoopsHistory had a great article on what West’s steals per game would like had they been tracked. The article basically projects how many steals Jerry West would average during his career.  Based off of the projections, West would have averaged 3.36 steals for his career; the next highest average is 2.71 by Alvin Robertson. If you think that’s insane, here’s an excerpt from the book “Jerry West: the Life and Legend of a Basketball Icon”:

“Lakers scorekeeper John Radcliffe said that if steal stats had been kept for West’s career, he would easily be the league’s all-time leader, with little hope of anyone catching him. In his prime, there were many nights where he registered 6 or more steals, and many other nights where he had more than 10, explained Radcliffe, who closely observed nearly every home game that West ever played.”

Read that excerpt again. Six to ten steals a game. Not two or three games, ONE GAME. For his career, West would have a grand total of 3,129 steals in just 932 games. To put that in perspective, Chris Paul, who is one of the best defenders in the league, averages 2.4 steals a game for his career. He has played 555 games so far, so a little over half of what West played, but he’s only at 1,331 total steals. Again, these are all based off of projections, but that’s still incredible to me.

Not only is Jerry West a great player, but he is also a great manager. He was one of the creators of the Lakers of the 1980′s, which won five championships. After that, West traded for Kobe Bryant on draft night in 1996 and signed Shaquille O’Neal in free agency. That team went on to win three championships, as most of you already know.

After his time with the Lakers, West went to the Memphis Grizzlies and was able to win his second Executive of the Year award. Not long after that, West retired, but soon after became a head consultant for the Golden State Warriors. During his time there, the Warriors have drafted the likes of Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli, and Draymond Green, while trading Monta Ellis for Andrew Bogut, and signing Andre Iguodala.

The NBA logo isn’t picked out of anyone, it had to be a great player — not just a great player, one of the all-time greats. There’s a reason Jerry West’s silhouette is the logo. He’s one of the all-time greats, which makes him one of the all-time Lakers.

“I don’t know anything else but the Lakers. This has certainly been more than a job for me as a player. It has certainly meant more to me than just an occupation.” – Jerry West

Tags: All-time Featured Jerry West Los Angeles Lakers NBA Popular Top Ten

  • Jim213

    Definitely disagree here Jerry West is the 3rd All time Laker. Drafted in 1960 with the Minneapolis Lakers he helped to establish what we know today as competitive play given the numerous NBA Final appearances. Aside of obtaining a title and being Mr. Clutch/Logo man nobody has done more for the franchise to date than J West contributing to 7 rings though I’d throw in the last 5 too given (Shaq/Kobe) franchise players.

    LSL probably has Jabbar 3rd but he hasn’t contributed (player wise) as much as West who helped to establish the Brand in LA aside of him playing his entire career as a Lakers though Jabbar did have success outside of Laker land.

    • Fern Rea

      I think that is fair. West gave his whole career to the
      Lakers and Jabber just a few of his peak years and the tail end where he was no
      longer a great player. In all, Kareem probably had 5 really good years with the
      Lakers.

      Again, in LA championships matter and Kareem was a part of
      5, with him being a major part of the first 3. For that reason I would put
      Kareem ahead of West but no problem with people ranking West ahead of Kareem in
      terms of Lakers great (player only).

      • Jim213

        It’s not even an argument MagicKobe tie #1 and J West at #3, all these players came to the franchise from the draft as they have managed to do more for the franchise than any other player.

        Although, it doesn’t take anything away from the other players being great too but these 3 players have had more success overall which doesn’t entirely have to do with rings.

        • Fern Rea

          I think championships carry a lot of weight but in this particular case I would probably agree.

          West v. Kareem for #3 is close to me because of the success that Kareem had, even if his good years with the Lakers were a fraction of what West gave to the franchise as a player.

          I still cant get past the fact that even though West gave the Lakers more years, well his entire career, it only resulted in 1 ring and against an injury depleted Knicks team, where Kareem earned 5 in his time and I would say 3 as being one of the main guys that led those teams. He gets a little shine taken off those rings because he couldnt get over the top until Magic arrived.

          West v. Kareem is an interesting debate and I can the points of either side.

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