Top 10 NBA players from Louisiana of all time
Louisiana has raised some incredible NBA talent, including the late, great, Bill Russell. We’re ranking the 10 best NBA players from Louisiana of all time.
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The New Orleans Pelicans have drafted some of the NBA’s most anticipated young talents in recent years, including Anthony Davis and Zion Williamson. Even more impressive however, is the list of NBA greats who grew up in the state of Louisiana. Some of the greatest NBA players of all time were born and raised in the boot, including a plethora of the game's very best big men. This list recognizes those great basketball players from Louisiana.
Current NBA Players from Louisiana
The NBA has recently seen some of its longest-serving Louisiana natives end their careers. Veterans Paul Millsap and Greg Monroe are both current free agents, and while not officially retired, neither are on active NBA rosters as the 2022-2023 NBA season gets underway.
There are six officially active NBA players from Louisiana currently in the league, including Charlotte Hornets forward Kelly Oubre, who has found home after spells with the Washington Wizards, Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors.
Sixteen-year veteran Thaddeus Young is also a Louisiana native, as is Garrett Temple, who is now thirteen years into his NBA career.
De’Aaron Fox might be the most exciting of the group. Fox has been with the Sacramento Kings since being drafted fifth overall in the 2017 NBA draft. The young point guard signed a contract extension in 2020 and has already amassed over 300 career starts for the Kings.
Famous NBA Players from Louisiana
The current NBA stars from Louisiana mentioned above are of course well-respected talents, but there will likely never be a star more widely recognized and respected than the late Bill Russell.
The 11-time NBA Champion with the Boston Celtics is a three-time Hall of Famer, including the College Basketball Hall of Fame and the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame (as both a player and a coach).
Ranking the Top 10 all-time NBA Players from the state of Louisiana
10. Danny Granger | Small Forward
Born: April 20th 1983 - New Orleans, Louisiana
Years Active: 2005-2015
Teams: Indiana Pacers, LA Clippers, Miami Heat
Danny Granger played 10 seasons in the NBA, the majority of which he spent with the Indiana Pacers. Granger was a first-round draft pick in 2005, and saw his career elevate year after year in Indiana.
He became the first player in NBA history to improve his scoring average by over five points per season in three consecutive years and was named the leagues Most Improved Player following the 2008-2009 season, in which he’d averaged over 25 points per game. His achievement marked the first time a Pacers player had averaged over 25 points since the 70s, when current record holder Bill Knight averaged 26 points per game in 1976.
Granger was the Pacers leading scorer for five consecutive seasons from 2007-2012 before injuries took a toll on his career. He was traded to the Sixers in 2014 after struggling to play for two whole seasons amidst various injuries, but would later be bought out by Philadelphia, and signed with the Clippers. He spent a short spell in LA followed by various other teams, but injuries continued to hinder his ability to play.
9. Paul Millsap | Power Forward
Born: February 10th 1985 - Monroe, Louisiana
Years Active: 2006-2022
Teams: Utah Jazz, Atlanta Hawks, Denver Nuggets, Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers
Awards: 4x NBA All Star
Four-time All Star Paul Millsap had been an elite rebounder in college, becoming the only player in NCAA history to lead the nation in rebounding three seasons in a row. He was drafted by the Utah Jazz in the second round of the 2006 NBA Draft, and went on to have a 16-year pro career. Not bad at all.
Millsap played in over 1,000 career games, including starts in 746. He averaged 13.4 points per game and 7.1 rebounds per game throughout his career, with career highs of nine rebounds per game and over 18 points per game, both set during his time with the Atlanta Hawks.
It was with the Hawks that Millsap earned four All Star call ups in a row between 2014 and 2017. The Hawks became one of the most respected teams in the Eastern Conference during that time. However, they failed to overcome the Cleveland Cavaliers in the playoffs in back-to-back years, including the 2015 Eastern Conference Finals.
Paul Millsap went on to spend four years with the Denver Nuggets, before short spells with both the Sixers and the Brooklyn Nets. While not officially retired, Millsap went into the 2023 season as an unsigned free agent.
8. Robert Parish | Center
Born: August 30th 1953 - Shreveport, Louisiana
Years Active: 1976-1997
Teams: Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics, Charlotte Hornets, Chicago Bulls
Awards: 4x NBA Champion, 4x NBA All Star, Basketball Hall of Fame
Nobody has played more NBA games than Robert Parish. The former pro center played in 1,611 games across 21 seasons, 51 more games than Kareem Adbul-Jabbar. He was a talented defender as a pro and a natural rebounder, who won four championships throughout his career.
Three of those came with the 80s Boston Celtics. Parish was traded to Boston from the Golden State Warriors, who had drafted him five years prior. The Celtics acquired Parish and a future draft pick that would turn into Hall of Fame power forward Kevin McHale.
Parish and McHale joined Larry Bird in Boston and became one of the great dynasties in the history of pro basketball. Parish’s double zero hangs in the rafters in Boston, having been retired by the team.
He went on to win a fourth championship in the final year of his career with the 1997 Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls. He is the oldest player to win a championship, aged 43, contributing in 45 games that season.
Parish is a Pro and Collegiate Hall of Famer, who retired with 14,715 rebounds (8th all time), and 23,334 points (30th all time).
7. Joe Dumars | Shooting Guard
Born: May 24th 1963 - Shreveport, Louisiana
Years Active: 1985-1999
Teams: Detroit Pistons
Awards: 2x NBA Champion, NBA Finals MVP, 6x NBA All Star, 4x NBA All Defensive First Team, Basketball Hall of Fame
Joe Dumars played the entirety of his 14-year career with the Detroit Pistons, helping them to win two NBA Championships in back-to-back years in 1989 and 1990. Dumars was the Finals MVP in the 1989 Championship series, averaging almost 28 points per game as Detroit swept the LA Lakers.
Dumars is the Detroit Pistons all-time leader in games played, having totaled 1,018 appearances during his career. He also leads the team in three pointers made with 990, and is second all-time in scoring, retiring with 16,401 points.
He is considered one of the great men of the game, respected throughout the league and its history for both the way he played the game on the court, and the way he conducted himself off of it. He led by example as a mentor to younger players, and has served in various roles since retiring as a player, including the Chief of Basketball Operations with the Pistons from 2000-2014. He is now the Executive Vice President and Head of Basketball Operations of the NBA.
Dumars was an excellent player, and part of a dynamic back court alongside superstar Isiah Thomas. He is a Basketball Hall of Fame inductee at both the Pro and Collegiate level. He is undoubtedly one of the best NBA players from Louisiana.
6. Willis Reed | Center
Born: June 25th 1942 - Lillie, Louisiana
Years Active: 1964-1974
Teams: New York Knicks
Awards: 2x NBA Champion, 2x NBA Finals MVP, NBA MVP, 7x NBA All Star, NBA All-Defensive First Team, NBA Rookie of the Year, Basketball Hall of Fame
This is turning into quite the list… for Willis Reed to feature as the No. 6 player, there must be even more greatness still to come. Reed was largely considered an undersized center for the era of basketball he played in, but he knew how to compete, and he played physical as anybody.
He was a leading force in the New York Knicks' 1970 and 1973 titles, in which he was named the MVP of both Finals series. He became the first player in the history of the league to be named the MVP of the regular season, the All-Star game, and the NBA Finals in the same season in 1970.
In a career cut short by injuries, Willis Reed is still considered one of the greatest NBA players of all time, and his number 19 jersey is retired by the New York Knicks.
5. Elvin Hayes | Power Forward
Born: November 17th 1945 - Rayville, Louisiana
Years Active: 1968-1984
Teams: San Diego/Houston Rockets, Baltimore/Capital/Washington Bullets
Awards: NBA Champion, 12x NBA All Star, 3x All NBA First Team, NBA Scoring Champion (1969), 2x NBA Rebounding Leader, AP Player of the Year (1968), Basketball Hall of Fame
Elvin Hayes was the No. 1 pick in the 1968 NBA draft, having been a rare talent at the University of Houston. In his rookie season, Hayes led the NBA in scoring, marking the first time a rookie had finished the season in the number one scoring spot since Wilt Chamberlain.
After disagreements with Rockets coach Tex Winter, Hayes was traded to the Bullets, where he would team up with the No. 2 overall pick from the 1968 draft, Wes Unseld. The two formed an unstoppable duo. They led the Bullets franchise to three Finals in four seasons between 1975 and 1979, winning the NBA title in the 1978 season against the Seattle Supersonics. Hayes was a 12x NBA All Star in 12 straight seasons from 1969-1980. Both Unseld and Hayes went on to be Hall of Famers.
Hayes retired with 27,313 points (11th all time), and 16,279 rebounds (fourth all time). He missed just nine games during his 16-year NBA career, and is one of the greatest power forwards in history.
4. Bob Pettit | Power Forward
Born: December 12th 1932 - Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Years Active: 1954-1965
Teams: Milwaukee/St Louis Hawks
Awards: NBA champion, 2x NBA MVP, 11x NBA All Star, 10x All NBA First Team, NBA Rookie of the Year, Basketball Hall of Fame
Bob Pettit was the first man to win the NBA MVP award after its introduction in 1956. He was the first ever player to score 20,000 points and is one of just four players who has been named to all four NBA Anniversary teams (25th, 35th, 50th and 75th).
Once upon a time, Pettit was considered a little too slim for the NBA. He had been an outstanding big man in the SEC, playing for his hometown team LSU. He was chosen second overall in the 1954 NBA Draft despite the skepticism, and went on to be named an All Star in 11 consecutive seasons, every year of his pro career.
Pettit led the Hawks to the NBA Championship in 1958, in between two MVP seasons in 1956 and 1959. He is still considered one of the greatest players in the history of the game to this day. When he retired, he was the league’s leading all-time scorer, and second in rebounds.
3. Clyde Drexler | Shooting Guard/Small Forward
Born: June 22nd 1962 - New Orleans, Louisiana
Years Active: 1983-1998
Teams: Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets
Awards: NBA Champion, 10x NBA All Star, All NBA First Team, Basketball Hall of Fame
‘Clyde the Glide’ was appropriately nicknamed for the smooth way in which he played the game. Drexler made athletic plays and drives to the basket look effortless. He spent 15 seasons in the NBA, the majority of which he spent with the Portland Trail Blazers.
Drexler leads the Blazers in most all-time categories. He is the team's leader in appearances, field goals, points, and steals, and is considered the greatest Portland Trail Blazer of all time. The Blazers made the NBA Finals with Clyde in 1992, facing Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, where they would unfortunately fall short.
When Drexler was traded to the Houston Rockets, he would go on to help them win an NBA Championship in his first year with the team in 1995, alongside Hakeem Olajuwon, who he played with in college.
As a result, Clyde Drexler had his No. 22 retired by both the Trail Blazers and the Rockets. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2004. He retired with 22,195 points.
2. Karl Malone | Power Forward
Born: July 24th 1963 - Summerfield, Louisiana
Years Active: 1985-2004
Teams: Utah Jazz, LA Lakers
Awards: 2x NBA MVP, 14x NBA All Star, 11x All NBA First Team, 3x NBA All Defensive First Team, Basketball Hall of Fame
'The Mailman' was named the MVP of the NBA on two separate occasions in the late 90s, teaming with point guard John Stockton to form the greatest Utah Jazz team in the franchise's history. The Jazz made two straight NBA Finals led by Malone and Stockton, but lost in both Finals series to the Michael Jordan led Chicago Bulls.
Karl Malone is third all time in scoring, having been one of the greatest and most composed finishers the league has ever seen. He scored over 36,000 points in his career and, alongside John Stockton, brought almost 1,000 wins to the Jazz organization. Malone played with Stockton and the Jazz for 18 years, forming the greatest point guard-forward duo in NBA history.
Malone is one of the greatest NBA players of all time, and largely considered the greatest power forward in the league's history. He was unplayable at the best of times, featuring a signature pick and roll that showed off his elite size and athleticism night after night. He was a great finisher during his playing days, but could pull up and shoot from mid-range as well as anybody, making him extremely difficult to defend.
The former Jazz superstar won two Olympic Gold Medals with the US Men's Basketball team in 1992 and 1996. Despite never winning an NBA Championship, he is respected as one of the very greatest of all time, and of course one of the best basketball players from Louisiana. His No. 32 is retired by the Utah Jazz. Malone was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.
1. Bill Russell | Center
Born: February 12th 1934 - Monroe, Louisiana
Years Active: 1956-1969
Teams: Boston Celtics
Awards: 11x NBA Champion, 5x NBA MVP, 12x NBA All Star, 3x All NBA First Team, NBA All Defensive First Team, 4x NBA Rebounding Champion, Basketball Hall of Fame
Bill Russell changed the way basketball was played when he came into the NBA. He was a trailblazer for stellar defense and shot blocking, and paved the way for great defensive players who would follow suit.
The great Russell is considered the best defensive center in NBA history, who helped to transform the Boston Celtics into the most successful team the league has ever seen. Russell won no less than 11 titles with the Celtics, including 8 consecutive titles between 1959 and 1966, which is the longest consecutive title run of any franchise in any sport in US history. In other words, Bill Russell led the greatest dynasty that sports had ever seen.
Russell is tied second for the most MVP awards all time, winning five, just one less than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He was a clinical shot blocker and man-to-man defender who could still score, with a career average of over 15 points a game. He was a four-time NBA rebounding leader, and ranks second all-time with 21,620 rebounds.
Not only did Russell change the way the game was played, but he was also an icon for black athletes, becoming the first to be considered a superstar in NBA history, as well as the first black head coach in the league's history when he took over as the Celtics coach post retirement in 1966.
Russell is the league's record holder for the most NBA Championships. His 11 titles is one more than teammate Sam Jones, and multiple other Celtics players from the same dynasty who won seven or eight. Robert Horry is the closest non-Celtics dynasty player to Bill Russell, having won seven titles.
One of the most decorated athletes of all time, Russell was honored with the Sports Illustrated Man of the Year award in 1968, and was named the Sporting News Athlete of the Decade in 1970. Russell did great things for the game both on and off the court, and had his No. 6 jersey retired league wide, the only player to ever be recognized with such an honor. He is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame at the Collegiate and Pro level, and as a coach too.
Parameters for Rankings
These great players from the state of Louisiana have been ranked based on their career achievements both at the collegiate and the pro basketball level. Hall of fame status, individual accolades, NBA championship titles and more have been considered for each player before the final rankings were decided, recognizing each of their successes.