Top 10 Best Left Handed Players in NBA History

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Fadeaway World

Fadeaway World

Lefties are pretty much like righties, although they’ve developed objects perfectly suited for them. Guitars, watches, scissors and even knives for lefties have become quite popular in the community, although it isn’t that obvious whenever a person is a leftie unless you pay some attention to them or happen to notice it by chance.

Nevertheless, it’s quite obvious when a basketball player favors one hand instead of the other, especially when it comes to attacking the basket, as defenders try to force them to use their other hand or go the other way.

Having said that, there have been plenty of left-handed ballers that have shocked the world with their outstanding ability and their unguardable offense, so let’s take a look at the top 10 best lefties in NBA history. For the purposes of this list, we’ll exclude active players (Sorry Ginobili and Harden)

10. Bob Lanier

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The former 1st pick of the 1970 NBA draft has to be featured on our list, as the former Piston and Bucks' center was quite a solid player during his 14-year tenure in the Association.

The Hall of Famer was an 8 time All-Star and even an All-Star MVP just 4 seasons after making his professional debut. Through 14 seasons, Lanier managed to put up some decent averages of 20.1 points and 10.1 boards per game on 51.4% from the field, having his jersey retired for both the Pistons and the Bucks.

9. Gail Goodrich

MILWAUKEE - 1972:  Gail Goodrich #25 of the Los Angeles Lakers makes a move to the basket against the Milwaukee Bucks during the 1972 season at the MECCA Arena in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1972 NBAE (Photo by Vernon Biever/NBAE via Getty Images)

Photo by Vernon Biever/NBAE via Getty Images

We can’t forget about the leading scorer of the record-setting Los Angeles Lakers Gail Goodrich, as the UCLA Product was an offensive beast and could score in bunches through his entire 14-year career as a member of the Lakers, Suns and Jazz.

The point guard made 5 All-Star appearances and even won the ring with the Lakers in 1972 just after Baylor retired, averaging just over 20 points and 7 helpers per contest through his entire career.

8. Artis Gilmore

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The A-Train was one of the first dominant left-handed big men in both the ABA and the NBA, and the 17-year professional was a key piece in the Kentucky Colonels, the Bulls, the Spurs, the Celtics and even overseas at Bologna Arimo, where he retired.

The center is yet another left-handed Hall of Famer thanks to his personal distinctions, that include the ABA’s rookie of the year, MVP and champion, averaging 18.8 points and 12.3 boards per game, and being a participant in the first ever slam dunk contest.

7. Billy Cunningham

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Cunningham was one of the best players to ever lace them up as a Philadelphia 76er, as the Small Forward overcame his sixth man role to become one of the most important pieces of their first championship squad alongside Wilt Chamberlain and Hal Greer.

The Kangaroo Kid had his number 32 jersey retired by the sixers after becoming a Hall of Famer, the ABA MVP in 1973, and even a coach, becoming the fastest coach to reach 200, 300 and 400 victories in his NBA career and averaging 26.1 points and 13.6 rebounds during his best season as a Sixer.

6. Chris Mullin

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Mullin was one of the best small forwards of his time, even being part of the original Dream Team alongside Michael Jordan and playing off the bench behind Larry Bird and Scottie Pippen thanks to that scoring ability he showed as a member of the Warriors and the Pacers.

Through 16 years, the St. Mary’s product averaged 18.2 points, 4.1 boards, 3.5 helpers and 1.6 steals per game, earning his Hall of Fame induction in 2010 after becoming a 2-time Olympic champion and 5-time All-Star.

5. Nate Archibald

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“Tiny” Archibald wasn’t just one of the best left-handed players to ever set foot on an NBA court, but also one of the shortest and fastest players this beautiful game has ever seen, so the 6 feet 1-inch point guard definitely had to be featured on this list.

The former Cincinnati Royal, Kansas City King, New York Net, Boston Celtic, Milwaukee Buck and Jersey Jammer spent 16 seasons as a professional baller, averaging 14.2 points, 6.5 assists and 1.5 rebounds per contest, becoming an NBA champion and the only player to ever lead the league in both points and assists per game through an entire season.

4. Dave Cowens

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The current Detroit Pistons’ assistant coach was also an NBA great during his 13-year career, as the left-handed center was selected fourth overall by the Boston Celtics in 1970, where he stayed for 12 years before playing for the Bucks, where he retired.

Mentored by Bill Russell, Cowens was even a co-winner of the Rookie of the Year award alongside Geoff Petrie, and through his 13-year career, he was a 7-time All-Star and a 2-time champion (both with the Celtics) averaging 17.6 points and 13.6 rebounds per game.

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3. David Robinson

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As we reach the top of our list, we can’t leave the Admiral behind, as one of the best players to ever play for the San Antonio Spurs was also left-handed. Robinson spent his entire 14-year career as a Spur, winning a couple of rings as well as the Defensive Player of the Year, MVP, and Rookie of the Year awards.

David Robinson was a complete beast and a key piece in 3 Olympic medalist teams, a world champion and of course, a Hall of Famer. The 10-time All-Star center averaged 21.1 points, 10.7 boards, 3 blocks and 2.5 assists per game, scoring over 20 thousand career points and being the first guy to ever be a top 5 player in boards, steals, and blocks in the very same season.

2. Willis Reed

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Another center makes an appearance in our list, as the former second pick of the 1964 NBA Draft was one of the most dominant players throughout the entire decade between 1964 and 1974 as a member of the New York Knicks.

In the 1970 season, he managed to do the unthinkable, winning the regular season MVP, the All-Star MVP and the Finals MVP, besides winning the first of his two NBA rings. Nevertheless, injuries forced him to retire early at the age of 31, leaving behind averages of 18.7 points and 12.9 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.1 blocks per game.

1. Bill Russell

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Of course, the golden spot goes to one of the best players to ever lace them up. The greatest player in Celtics history and 11-time NBA champion was also a leftie, and if it wasn’t for Michael Jordan he would be considered the ultimate GOAT.

The Hawk overcame racism, poverty and a lot of obstacles in his way to stardom, becoming a 2-time NCAA Champion, an Olympic medalist, a 12-time All-Star, a 5-time MVP, and a FIBA Hall of Famer thanks to his career averages of 15.1 points, 22.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game in an era when blocks weren’t even counted.