Los Angeles Lakers: The 21 best Lakers of the 21st century

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(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) – Los Angeles Lakers

We’re all waiting and hoping that our world will soon get past our current crisis and that we can get back to enjoying the remainder of the NBA season. In the meantime, let’s take a look at the 21 best Los Angeles Lakers players so far this century, from the season-ending in 2000 until now.

This is the criteria for inclusion on the greatest Los Angeles Lakers players of the 21st-century list and additional comments:

  • Only a player’s achievement with the Los Angeles Lakers counts. It doesn’t matter what he did before or after he played for them. After all, this is a list of Laker greats.
  • All player stats and rankings are based on how he has performed in the 21st century (including the entire 1999-2000 season). Seasons prior to 2000 are not counted.
  • He must have played a minimum of 100 regular season games or two full seasons with the Lakers. This eliminates all “one-season wonders” and places value on a continuous contribution.
  • The rankings attempt to seek a balance between many factors including longevity with the team, peak performance and contributions towards team success.

Based on the third point above, several outstanding players had to be omitted from consideration. Topping the “excluded list” is Anthony Davis, who is having a magnificent inaugural season with the Lakers, averaging 26.7 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game over his 55 games.

If he re-signs with the team, as expected, and maintains anything close to this production,  he will certainly rank in the top five of the 21st century once he plays enough games to qualify.

Others who joined AD on the excluded list include:

  • Glen Rice– 15.9 points and 4.1 rebounds in 80 games for the champion 2000 team)
  • Caron Butler– 15.4 PPG in 77 games
  • Gary Payton– 14.6 PPG and 5.5 assists per game in 82 games
  • Karl Malone– 13.2 PPG and 8.7 RPG in 42 games
  • Steve Nash– 11.4 PPG and 6.4 APG in 65 games

But even without those six stars, there are plenty of memorable players that should be counted. Here are 10 role players who didn’t make the cut:

  • Matt Barnes– 7.3 PPG and 4.9 RPG in 116 games
  • Tarik Black– 5.5 PPG and 5.1 RPG in 144 games
  • Brian Cook– 6.6 PPG and 3.2 RPG in 259 games
  • Devean George– 6.0 PPG and 3.3 RPG in 429 games (tied for fourth-most)
  • Horace Grant– 6.7 PPG and 5.9 RPG in 132 games
  • Ron Harper– 6.8 PPG and 3.0 APG in 127 games
  • Wes Johnson– 9.5 PPG, 36% three-point percentage in 155 games
  • Vladimir Radmanovic– 7.1 PPG, 40% on three’s in 166 games
  • Rony Turiaf– 5.5 PPG and 3.5 RPG in 173 games
  • Ivica Zubac– 6.4 PPG and 3.9 RPG in 114 games

(Not even close, no matter what their stats were: Kwame Brown and Smush Parker)

And here’s the 10-man “Honorable Mention” list:

  • Trevor Ariza– 8.3 PPG, 4.1 RPG in 106 games; a major cog in the ‘09 title team
  • Steve Blake– 5.8 PPG, 3.5 APG, 38% from behind the arc in 204 games
  • Shannon Brown– 7.9 PPG, a solid defender in 182 games
  • Alex Caruso– influences a game well beyond his stats of 5.7 PPG & 2.1 APG in 120 games
  • Jordan Farmar– 7.3 PPG, 2.5 APG, 37% shooting from deep in 342 games
  • Josh Hart– 7.9 PPG, 3.9 RPG, great defense in 130 games
  • Jordan Hill– 9.9 PPG, 7.2 RPG in 178 games
  • Jodie Meeks– 11.8 PPG, 38% three-point shooting in 155 games
  • Chris Mihm– 8.3 PPG, 5.6 RPG in 175 games
  • Luke Walton– a better player than his 4.9 PPG, 2.3 APG stats indicate in 493 games (third-most on the team)

Onward to the 21-man countdown:

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