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) /
42 of 50
Wilt Chamberlain #13 (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
Wilt Chamberlain #13 (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /

Greatest Lakers of all time: 9- Wilt Chamberlain

  • 5 seasons, 339 games, 1 title
  • 17.7 PPG
  • 19.2 RPG
  • 4.3 APG

“The Big Dipper” was of course a superstar long before he was traded to the Lakers. He was one of, if not the most, dominating players in NBA history. For each of the first 7 seasons of his career he averaged at least 35 points and 20 rebounds per game, including an incredible 50.4 points and 25.7 boards in 1961-62. He still holds several NBA scoring records, most famously tallying 100 points in a single game.

The Lakers traded for Wilt prior to the 1968-69 season, his 10th year in the league. By then, his offensive skills, although still formidable, were no longer dominant, but he was still a great rebounder and shot blocker. Fans hoped that combining him with Elgin Baylor and Jerry West would create a “super-team” that could finally knock off the Celtics in the Finals. However, LA once again fell to Boston in 7 games, and endured the same result the following year against the New York Knicks.

It appeared the window was closing on LA, which still hadn’t won a title since moving from Minneapolis. Baylor’s career was winding down due to injury, and a new force was rising in Milwaukee, where a young superstar center named Lew Alcindor led the Bucks to the 1971 championship.

But that suddenly changed the following season. Behind the scoring of West and Goodrich and Chamberlain’s tenacious play on defense and on the boards, the Lakers won a still-record 33 straight games and a then-record 69 games. Then they defeated the Knicks in the Finals for their first LA championship and Wilt was named MVP of the Finals.

In his 5 Lakers seasons, Chamberlain was a 4-time all-star who ranks 1st on the team in career RPG, 11th in PPG, 23rd in total points and somewhat surprisingly 9th in APG. He also shot over 60% from the field (but just 47.5% from the free throw line). Although blocks were not yet an official statistic, it is generally acknowledged that he was also likely the Lakers all-time block leader.

For most teams, he would rank closer to the top. But the Lakers are not just any franchise, especially when it comes to big men. The primary reason that Wilt doesn’t rank higher is his relatively short time with the team. Every player ranked ahead of him played more than 100 games and at least two years longer with the Lakers.