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) /
47 of 50
Los Angeles Lakers
Elgin Baylor #22 (Photo by Robert Riger/Getty Images) /

Greatest Lakers of all time: 4- Elgin Baylor

  • 14 seasons, 846 games, 8 NBA Finals
  • 27.4 PPG
  • 13.5 RPG
  • 4.3 APG

It’s possible that Elgin was the most overlooked, underrated superstar of all time. But when his statue was unveiled at Staples Center in 2018, his accomplishments were deservedly recognized.

Readers who were too young to see him in action missed watching a very special player. Unfortunately, he played at a time when few NBA games were televised, and there is limited video of him in action to be seen.

Baylor was a mid-air acrobat who did things nobody else was doing. He seemed to have an ability to hang in the air longer than anybody else and was agile enough to maneuver his body in ways never seen before.

Elgin mastered every shot you could imagine, and several that nobody could, from seemingly impossible angles. A direct line can be drawn from him to Connie Hawkins to Dr. J to Michael Jordan to Kobe Bryant, who admitted that he “stole” moves from Baylor.

Elgin played his first two years in Minneapolis before moving west with the Lakers to L.A. in 1960. He averaged 24.9 points his rookie year, and bested that the next 6 seasons, including 3 straight years when he averaged over 30 PPG, becoming LA’s first superstar basketball player. Following a knee injury that would plague him the rest of his career, he dropped to only 16.6 points in 1965-66, but then had 4 straight years of 24 or more PPG.

His Lakers teams had the misfortune of playing the Celtics in the Finals 6 times in the 60s and came up short each time. Three of those series went 7 games, and once game 7 went into overtime. But the dynamic duo of Baylor and his great teammate Jerry West were always outdone by a Boston team that featured multiple Hall-of Famers, including Bill Russell (a good friend of Baylor’s), Bob Cousy, Tom Heinsohn, Sam Jones and John Havlicek.

In 1962, Baylor set a Finals record that still stands today when he scored 61 points against the Celtics. He also scored 71 points in a regular season game against the Knicks, a Lakers record that Bryant broke when he scored 81 in 2006. Only 3 other NBA players (Chamberlain 5 times, David Thompson and David Robinson) have ever scored more than 70 points in a game.

Elgin was an 11-time all-star who ranks 1st in Lakers PPG (3rd in playoff PPG), 4th in career points (5th in the playoffs), 8th in APG, tied for 8th in games played and, despite standing just 6-5, 2nd in RPG (3rd in the postseason).