Los Angeles Lakers: 50 Greatest Players in Lakers History (Updated 2023)

(Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images) /
40 of 50
Los Angeles Lakers
Jamaal Wilkes (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

Greatest Lakers of all time: 11- Jamaal Wilkes

  • 8 seasons, 575 games, 3 titles
  • 18.4 PPG
  • 5.4 RPG

Nicknamed “Silk”, because of how smooth he looked on the court, the former UCLA star played his first 3 seasons with the Warriors before signing as a free agent in 1977 with the Lakers, joining Kareem and rookie point guard Norm Nixon.

Wilkes was known for the unorthodox, weird-looking corkscrew windup on his jump shot, bringing the ball back behind his head before releasing it. But that shot was so uncannily accurate and reliable that famed Lakers announcer Chick Hearn labeled it the “20-foot layup”.

The slender (6-6, 190) Wilkes was also an excellent finisher on the fast break. And he was a great teammate. Although he made the All-Star team twice for the Lakers, his ego was quite content to allow most of the accolades to fall on his more famous superstar teammates like Abdul-Jabbar and later Magic Johnson.

The best game of Silk’s career occurred in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. Fans may recall that was the game which Kareem was forced to miss with a sprained ankle, and Magic stepped in to jump center and have a fabulous performance with 42 points and 15 rebounds. But Wilkes was also outstanding, scoring a career-high 37 points and grabbing 10 boards just when his team needed him the most.

Jamaal was a model of consistency, averaging double figures in points for his first 7 Lakers years, including over 20 points per game in 3 straight seasons from 1980-82. Not coincidentally the Lakers won titles in 2 of those years. But by the 1984-85 season, injuries began to limit his court time and eventually ended his career after he played his final NBA season with the Clippers.

Wilkes ranks 9th all-time among Lakers in PPG and 10th in total points (10,601, which no player is anywhere close to passing), and is also 15th in games played. As is the case with each of the top 10 players, he is in the Basketball Hall of Fame, and his Lakers number is retired, with his jersey hanging in the rafters at Staples Center.