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All-Time NBA Jayhawks: No. 1-5

We've examined the NBA careers of former Jayhawks and compiled the definitive rankings. Today, we take a look at the top five and we find some often best players the NBA has ever seen.

Brian Bahr/Getty Images

This is the final installment of these rankings, so that means we have reached the summit. Last week we cracked the top 10, but today we discuss the cream of the crop. First a look at the rest of the top 25:

25. Jacque Vaughn

24. Bud Stallworth

23. Scot Pollard

22. Greg Ostertag

21T. Brandon Rush

21T. Darrell Arthur

20. Marcus Morris

19. Ronald Franz

18. Ben McLemore

17. Markieff Morris

16. Walt Wesley

15. Andrew Wiggins

14. Nick Collison

13. Dave Robisch

12. Darnell Valentine

11. Wayne Hightower

10. Mario Chalmers

9. Raef LaFrentz

8. Kirk Hinrich

7. Drew Gooden

6. Bill Bridges

5. Clyde Lovellette

Fresh off an NCAA title with Kansas, Clyde Lovellette was drafted 9th overall by the Minneapolis Lakers in the 1952 NBA draft. He made his debut with the club a year later. During his four years with the Lakers, he had his best seasons, which gained him two all-star appearances (1956, where he averaged 21.5 points and 14 boards and 1957, where he averaged 20.8 and 13.5) and an NBA Championship in 1954. He played one season in Cincinnati for the Royals and averaged a cool 23.4 points and 12.1 rebounds per game. He then moved to St. Louis where he made two more all-star appearances (1960, 1961) for the Hawks. Lovellette finished his career in Boston where he was a part of two more NBA titles in 1963 and 1964. Over his 11-year career, Clyde averaged 17 points and 9.5 boards and was rightfully inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1988.

4. Danny Manning

After being selected number one overall by the Los Angeles Clippers in the 1988 NBA draft, Danny Manning fell on some hard times. His early knee injury is well documented, but despite never really being one hundred percent, Manning had an excellent NBA career. The two-time NBA all-star played 15 years in the NBA and over that time, he averaged 14 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. His two best seasons from a statistical standpoint were his all-star years. In 1992-93, Manning scored 22.8 points and grabbed 6.6 boards on average. In 1993-94, a season that he split between the Clippers and the Atlanta Hawks, he averaged 20.6 and 6.8. After that brief stint with the Hawks, Manning spent five good years in Phoenix with the Suns before bouncing from team to team in his final four seasons. In that time he played for the Milwaukee Bucks, Utah Jazz, Dallas Mavericks, and Detroit Pistons. It’s hard to say what Manning could’ve been without that early injury, but what isn’t up for speculation is the quality of his NBA career.

3. JoJo White

JoJo White was recently and rightfully selected for induction into the National Basketball Hall of Fame. His statistics back up the inclusion, it’s just a wonder that it took so long. White was drafted by the Boston Celtics with the ninth overall pick in the 1969 draft, and he had an immediate effect in Boston. White made the NBA all-star team seven years in a row starting in his second season (1970-71). That’s pretty impressive. He won two NBA championships with the Celtics (1974, 1976) and was named the MVP of the 1976 NBA Finals. He spent the majority of his 13-year career in Boston, finishing the final two and a half with the Golden State Warriors and Kansas City Kings. Over his fine career, White averaged 17.2 points, 4.9 assists, and 4.0 rebounds. That’s a nice career, but what is probably just as impressive is the fact that White played all 82 games five years in a row between 1972 and 1977. With that kind of endurance (and skill), it’s no wonder that JoJo White is still beloved in Boston.

2. Paul Pierce

The Boston Celtics must have been pinching themselves when they found that Paul Pierce had dropped to the tenth spot in the 1998 NBA draft. He did, and he became one of the best players in the history of that storied franchise. I mean, just look at the all-time statistics in Celtics history, and Pierce’s name is all over it. Paul Pierce is a 10-time NBA all-star and an NBA champion (2008) but those are just a few of the accolades that have come Paul’s way. The most telling “accolades” are the stories of hatred from opposing fan bases. Most fans of eastern conference teams not named the Celtics hate Paul Pierce because when the Celtics needed a shot, Paul was the one who took it. And as was recently displayed in his valiant 2015 playoff run, he made a lot of those shots. Yep, those fans hate him, but they respect him. How can you not respect a guy that got stabbed 11 times in the face, neck, and back a month before the 2000 season, and still managed to play in all 82 games for the C’s? Over his career with the Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, and Washington Wizards, Pierce has averaged 20.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game. Paul Pierce is a first ballot hall of famer when he becomes eligible. That’s the truth.

1. Wilt Chamberlain

There is no disputing this choice. Wilt Chamberlain single handedly changed basketball. Rules were changed because of Wilt. The lane was widened to 16 feet from 12 feet, offensive basket interference was introduced, and inbound lobs from behind the basket were outlawed. No other player has directly affected the future of a sport the way that Wilt changed basketball. Wilt played 15 seasons in the NBA and appeared in the all-star game 14 times (his lone season of missing the game was when he only averaged 27.3 points and 18.4 rebounds per game). He was the 1959-60 NBA Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player. He won three other MVP awards, but I suspect it would’ve been more if the NBA didn’t feel so guilty about handing the award to the same player year after year. He led the NBA in most shooting and rebounding categories throughout his career, yet he only won two championships, in 1967 with the Philadelphia 76ers, and 1972 with the Los Angeles Lakers. He led the league in scoring seven times and led the NBA in rebounding 12 times.

Chamberlain’s career averages in the NBA are absurd. He averaged 30.1 points and 22.9 rebounds per game over the course of 1045 regular season games. In the playoffs, he averaged 22.5 and 24.5 in 160 games. But no discussion of Wilt’s statistics would be complete without discussing the1961-62 season. That was the season where he scored 100 points in a game against the New York Knicks (in Hershey, Pennsylvania of all places) and his season averages come to 50.4 points per game and 25.7 rebounds per contest. Ridiculous. Chamberlain finished his NBA career as its scoring leader, and still sits at number five on the all-time list.

Well, there you have it, the complete rankings. Agree? Disagree? Feel free to make your feelings known in the comments section.