The Los Angeles Lakers are one of the most storied sports franchises of all-time – not just in basketball, but in sports, in general. They were founded as the Minneapolis Lakers in 1947 and won five NBA titles before relocating to Los Angeles, where they now play at Crypto.com Arena – formerly STAPLES Center.
Over the past 75 seasons – one of which was spent in the NBL and another was spent in the BAA – the Lakers have compiled a 3,503-2,397 record in the regular season and a 464-307 record in the playoffs. They have won 33 division titles, 19 conference titles, and 17 NBA titles – they also won one NBL title.
Through the years, the Los Angeles Lakers have been represented by some of the greatest basketball talents of all-time. Of course, that makes you wonder – what would an all-time roster look like for the Lakers? More importantly, what players would be left off? Trust me, it’s a lot more difficult than you’d think.
Los Angeles Lakers’ All-Time Starting Five
The first step in building out our Los Angeles Lakers all-time roster is determining the starting five. Taking a quick look at some of the legendary names that have put on a Lakers’ jersey over the years, it’s hard to narrow that list down to five – especially since we’re taking into account what position they usually play.
In the interest of full transparency, I’m favoring the players who spent all or most of their career with the Lakers. Don’t worry, some of those that had brief stints with the team – I’m looking at you, LeBron James and Wilt Chamberlain – will make an appearance on the bench. For now, here’s our all-time starting five.
Point Guard – Magic Johnson
Magic Johnson was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1979 NBA Draft. He spent his entire 13-year career with the Lakers and would’ve continued playing if it weren’t for his HIV diagnosis – which forced him to miss four seasons between 1991 and 1994 before retiring in 1996.
Johnson played 906 games in a Lakers’ jersey and started 763 of those. He averaged 19.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, 11.2 assists, 1.9 steals, and 0.4 blocks per game. He was a 12-time All-Star, five-time NBA champ, three-time MVP, three-time Finals MVP, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2002.
Shooting Guard – Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers with the No. 13 overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft. He spent his entire 20-year career with the team and averaged 25.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 1.4 steals, and 0.5 blocks in 36.1 minutes per game – he played in 1,346 games and started 1,198 of them.
Bryant was an 18-time All-Star, 15-time All-NBA shooting guard, 12-time All-Defensive guard, two-time scoring champion, five-time NBA champion, 2007-08 MVP, two-time Finals MVP, and four-time All-Star MVP. He’s a member of the NBA 75th Anniversary Team and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2020.
Small Forward – Elgin Baylor
Elgin Baylor was drafted by the Minneapolis Lakers with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1958 NBA Draft. He spent his entire 14-year career with the Lakers and was there when the team initially moved to LA. He put up 27.4 points, 13.5 rebounds, and 4.3 assists in 40.0 minutes per game – he played in 846 games.
Baylor was an 11-time All-Star, 10-time All-NBA forward, and a member of the NBA 75th Anniversary Team. He was named Rookie of the Year in 1958-59, the same season he won All-Star MVP for the first and only time in his career. He led the Lakers to eight NBA Finals, but never won because of the Celtics.
Power Forward – George Mikan
George Mikan made his debut with the Minneapolis Lakers on November 4, 1948 and spent the next six seasons with the team before retiring. After enjoying his retirement during the 1954-55 season, he made a return to the Lakers in 1955-56 and played in 37 games before retiring again – this time for good.
Mikan led the league in scoring as a rookie and defended his scoring title in the two seasons after that. While his scoring started to decline in his fourth season, he would lead the league in rebounds over the next two seasons. He was a four-time NBA Champion and also won a BAA title with the Lakers in 1949.
Center – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was originally drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1969 NBA Draft, but eventually joined the Los Angeles Lakers ahead of the 1975-76 season. He spent the next 14 seasons with the Lakers before deciding to retire in 1989 as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.
In 1,093 games with Lakers, Abdul-Jabbar averaged 22.1 points, 9.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 0.9 steals, and 2.6 blocks in 34.3 minutes per game. He was a six-time champion (five with the Lakers), six-time MVP, two-time Finals MVP, 19-time All-Star, 15-time All-NBA, and 11-time All-Defensive player.
Filling Out the Rest of Our Los Angeles Lakers’ All-Time Roster
Now that we have our starting five set in stone, we need a bench. While the starters are known for setting the tone, the bench players are tasked with holding down the fort while those starters rest up – that way, they can stay fresh throughout the entirety of the game. A quality bench does a lot for a basketball team.
For the sake of this article, I’m going to select a Sixth Man and one backup for each position – giving us a total of 11 players on our Los Angeles Lakers’ all-time roster. What’s crazy about this group is that any one of them could easily be considered for a starting role on this roster – championship, here we come!
Sixth Man – LeBron James
LeBron James was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, but has spent the past four years with the Los Angeles Lakers and is currently in his fifth season with the team. He led LA to an NBA Championship during the 2019-20 season – the fourth title of his career.
James has played 259 games – and counting – with the Lakers. He has 27.4 points, 8.1 rebounds, 8.1 assists, 1.2 steals, and 0.7 blocks per game since joining the Lakers. Despite joining the Lakers at 34 years old, his point, assist, and rebound averages are higher than his time in Miami and Cleveland.
Backup Point Guard – Jerry West
Jerry West was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers with the No. 2 overall pick in the 1960 draft – two years after they drafted Elgin Baylor. The two formed a powerful duo and appeared in seven NBA Finals together – West had nine total and won the 1972 NBA Championship, but Baylor had already retired.
West averaged 27.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 6.7 assists in 39.2 minutes per game – he played in 932 games for the Lakers, spending his entire 14-year career with the team. He was a 14-time All-Star, 12-time All-NBA guard, five-time All-Defensive guard, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1980.
Backup Shooting Guard – Gail Goodrich
Gail Goodrich was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers with the No. 10 overall pick in the 1965 NBA Draft – he was a teammate of West and Baylor. He spent the first three years of his career with the team before being sent to the Phoenix Suns in the expansion draft. After two years with the Suns, he returned to LA.
Goodrich spent 9 of his 14 seasons with the Lakers, playing in 687 games and averaging 19.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 1.5 steals in 31.7 minutes per game in LA. He was a five-time All-Star, a one-time All-NBA guard, and won the 1972 Championship with Jerry West. Goodrich is now in the HOF.
Backup Small Forward – James Worthy
James Worthy was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1982 NBA Draft. He spent his entire 12-year career with the team and did a little bit of everything – except shoot from beyond the arc. He went on to play 926 games with the Lakers, 717 of which as a starting small forward.
Worthy averaged 17.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.1 steals, and 0.7 blocks in 32.4 minutes per game. He was a 7-time All-Star, two-time All-NBA forward, three-time NBA Champion, and one-time NBA Finals MVP. He’s a member of the NBA 75th Anniversary Team and was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Backup Power Forward – Wilt Chamberlain
Wilt Chamberlain was drafted by the Philadelphia Warriors with the No. 3 overall pick in the 1959 NBA Draft. He spent the first six years of his career with the Warriors before being traded to the 76ers. After 3.5 seasons there, he was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, where he finished his illustrious career.
In five seasons with the Lakers, Chamberlain played in 339 games and averaged 17.1 points, 19.2 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game. His numbers weren’t nearly as crazy as his time with the Warriors, but he still managed to lead the entire league in rebounds in four of his five seasons with the Lakers.
Backup Center – Shaquille O’Neal
Shaquille O’Neal was drafted by the Orlando Magic with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1992 NBA Draft. He spent the first four years of his career with the Magic before signing with the Los Angeles Lakers ahead of the 1996-97 season. He spent the next eight seasons in LA, playing in 514 games with the franchise.
O’Neal averaged 27.0 points, 11.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 0.6 steals, and 2.5 blocks in 37.6 minutes per game with the Lakers. Between 2000 and 2002, O’Neal helped lead the Lakers to a three-peat, alongside Kobe Bryant. Shaq was named Finals MVP for each of those titles and won a fourth title with Miami.
Los Angeles Lakers’ Players Who Missed the Cut
The 11 Los Angeles Lakers’ legends above are more than deserving of their spot on the all-time roster, but they’re also considered some of the greatest players ever – not just on the Lakers, but the entire NBA. And while they make up a majority of the Lakers’ history, there’s still a lot more where that came from.
The truth is there are still a lot of great Lakers’ players who were not mentioned above – such as Robert Horry, Norm Nixon, Jamaal Wilkes, Rick Fox, and Michael Cooper. They each brought something unique to the Lakers and are forever remembered for their dedication and commitment to the franchise.
Here are 5 other Lakers’ legends not mentioned above:
5. Byron Scott
Byron Scott was drafted by the San Diego Clippers with the No. 4 overall pick in the 1983 NBA Draft, but was immediately traded to the Los Angeles Lakers and made his NBA debut with the team on October 28, 1983. He spent the next 10 years with the team and returned for an 11th season several years later.
Scott played 846 games with the Lakers and started in 714 of them. He averaged 15.1 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.2 steals, and 0.3 blocks in 30.2 minutes per game in LA. He was also a three-time NBA Champion as a teammate of Magic Johnson. He’d make a good third-string on this list.
4. A.C. Green
A.C. Green was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers with the No. 23 overall pick in the 1985 NBA Draft. He won two NBA titles with Magic Johnson and Byron Scott, and a third title with Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. He currently holds the all-time record for most consecutive games played at 1,192 games.
Green spent nine seasons total (two stints) with the Lakers, playing in 735 games and starting in 512 games with the franchise. He averaged 10.6 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.9 steals, and 0.5 blocks per game. His stats aren’t jaw-dropping, but he was as reliable as they come – the most reliable ever.
3. Vern Mikkelsen
Vern Mikkelsen was drafted by the Minneapolis Lakers with the No. 11 overall pick in the 1949 BAA Draft – his rookie year was the Lakers’ first season in the NBA. He spent his entire 10-year career with the team, playing in 699 games during that time. He helped lead the Lakers to four NBA Championships.
Mikkelsen averaged 14.4 points, 9.4 rebounds (not including first season), and 2.2 assists in 32.5 minutes (not including first two seasons) per game. In addition to his four rings, he was a six-time All-Star and four-time All-NBA power forward. He was a force to be reckoned with alongside George Mikan.
2. Pau Gasol
Pau Gasol was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2001 NBA Draft, but was immediately traded to the Memphis Grizzlies – where he spent the next seven seasons. In 2008, Gasol was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, where he teamed up with Kobe Bryant to win two NBA titles.
All in all, Gasol played in 429 games with the Lakers, 422 of which were as a starter. He averaged 17.7 points, 9.9 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 0.6 steals, and 1.4 blocks in 35.7 minutes per game in LA. He was a six-time All-Star, four-time All-NBA center, and was named Rookie of the Year for the 2001-02 season.
1. Derek Fisher
Derek Fisher was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers with the No. 24 overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft. He was a member of the Lakers’ three-peat between 2000 and 2002 (with Kobe and Shaq) and the Lakers’ back-to-back title wins in 2009 and 2010 (with Kobe and Gasol). He was the team’s leader.
His stats aren’t eye-popping, only averaging 7.9 points, 2.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 1.1 steals in 25.4 minutes per game – he played in 915 games and started in 593 games with the Lakers over 13 seasons. He also played stints with the Warriors, Thunder, Jazz, and Mavericks before retiring at 39 years old.
Who’s On Your Los Angeles Lakers’ All-Time Roster?
We’ve determined our starting five and put together a reliable bench, but our Los Angeles Lakers’ all-time roster wouldn’t be complete without a head coach and assistant head coach. Don’t worry, there are two head coaches that stand out above the rest – Phil Jackson (1999-2011) and Pat Riley (1982-1990).
Riley and Jackson have led the Lakers to 14 NBA Finals appearances and nine NBA Championships during their tenures with the team. The only other Lakers’ head coach with a resume that good was John Kundla – their first ever head coach – who led the team to four NBA titles, a BAA title, and an NBL title.
Now we want to know – who do you have coaching your Los Angeles Lakers’ all-time roster? Better yet, what does your all-time starting five look like and how is your bench shaping out? With so many Lakers’ legends to choose from, you really can’t go wrong – though there are a few players that stand out.
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