Jerry West was the second player drafted in the 1960 NBA draft and was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers. Today you may recognize him from his last general manager role with the Memphis Grizzles (formerly he held the position with the Lakers) but back in his playing days he was one of the best of his era. Running down his accomplishments it is easy to see why he was considered for this top ten list:
9 NBA Finals appearances
1 NBA Title
14 time all-star selection
Finals MVP in 1969 (despite his team losing)
10 time all-NBA first team
4 time all Defensive first team (the award was only around his last for seasons)
1960 Olympic Gold Medal
Playing through the 1960s aka the Decade of the Celtics assured that only in one NBA Finals appearance (1972 against the Knicks) would West and the Lakers emerge victorious. That’s right he suffered defeat in eight championship rounds. However, this fact does not diminish the man’s career so let’s take a look at the numbers.
Jerry West’s career stat line reads like this: 27 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 6.7 assists per game. Which is none to shabby for anybody let alone a six foot two guard. In order to look closer at each player on this list however I went over each players stats in two ways, per 36 minutes of action to give a balanced look at each players game and their per 36 minute average between the ages of 25-30 which would give me six years of ‘prime’ basketball to analyze.
Jerry West Per 36 minute career averages:
FG Attempts: 8.9-18.7 attempts from the field (47.4%) from the field which ranked 8th among the eleven players considered for the list of best.
West was particularly adept at getting to the free throw line with 7 made attempts out of 8.7 taken (ranked 1st and 3rd out of eleven respectively) while falling to the middle of the pack with an .814 free throw percentage.
His final per 36 minute stat-line reads as follows: 24.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 6.1 assists.
A very solid showing while the rebounding was 10th of 11, his assists were third best, and his point production was tied for second with Kobe Bryant. If we go further into career stats (this time for the full 48 minutes) we can see that while on the court he contributed only 5.1% (11th) of his teams rebounds but he did get 27.1% (3rd) of his teams assists (note: these stats were only kept for some of his career).
Jerry West Per 36 minute averages at 25-30 years old:
FG: 8.98-18.53 for 48.4% which is a one percent increase over his career total so West had sustained excellence.
His line reads: 25.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game. That being said I think 10 is an appropriate spot for Jerry West as there were other players more dominate than he was during his era and then later players that were also better. The argument could be made for him as high as spot number 8 but anything above that seems a bit out of place. You could do a lot worse than having Jerry West on your team he was an excellent scorer, shooter, and a lock down defender.