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The All-Time NBA Third Team Revealed

Fan votes have been collected and combined with those of Overtime Heroics writers to reveal the first edition of the Basketball Golden Hall. As previously covered, fans and writers will convene once a decade to take stock of the greatest athletes to have graced the court. We will reveal the First Edition in eleven parts followed by a wrap-up article.

The previous articles covered the Fourth Team, Fifth Team, Sixth Team, Seventh Team, Eighth Team, Ninth Team, Tenth Team, and Golden Hall Bench (those 50 players regardless of position that were named to bring the total membership to 100).

This article reveals the five players who constitute the third-best possible starting lineup in basketball history. The next two articles will feature the remaining top fives of all-time, with each team made up of a point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward, and center.

Without further ado and in order of votes received, the Basketball Golden Hall Third Team (be sure to comment with whom you think we missed):

Stephen Curry, PG

118.1 WS, 59.8 VORP, 23.9 PER, 24.3 PPG, 6.5 APG, 4.6 RPG, 1.7 SPG, 0.2 BPG

Stephen Curry is still writing his basketball story. This son of an NBA veteran has surpassed his father and revolutionized the game in the process. Curry’s heavy reliance on the three (three times as many attempts per game as his father) has opened the league to a whole new world beyond the arc. With a unique release that comes as his arms extend, the North Carolinian avoids blocks and rains in points. Curry has twice led the association in points per game (with six more top ten finishes), ranks tenth all-time in career three-point percentage, fifth in true shooting percentage, and first in career three-pointers made.

The results have been an unmitigated success. His Golden State Warriors have claimed three Finals titles, and his American national team took home two golds in World Cup play.

Dwyane Wade, SG

120.7 WS, 62.8 VORP, 23.5 PER, 22.0 PPG, 5.4 APG, 4.7 RPG, 1.5 SPG, 0.8 BPG

Whereas Curry’s story is still being written on the court, Dwyane Wade is actively writing his legacy. The Golden Haller has turned from hardwood success to documentary producer. His 2020 biographical miniseries will be followed soon by a documentary on the Redeem Team, the United States squad that brought back Olympic gold. Neither program requires much embellishment, as Wade’s career was truly golden. His Miami Heat won three NBA Finals, the first on the back of his Finals MVP performance. 

Julius Erving, SF

181.1 WS, 80.1 VORP, 23.6 PER, 24.2 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 4.2 APG, 2.0 SPG, 1.7 BPG

Look at that stat line. Every category is impressive. Dr. J could truly ball, and it is no wonder that his name (and nickname) remain effortlessly associated with cool. His style of play inspired countless players to try their hand at the game. Erving’s artistry with the dunk and bringing the more freestyle American Basketball Association manner of play to the NBA were downright inspiring. Much like a musician is often listed with her or his influences, so too can many Golden Hallers trace their style to Julius Erving.

Erving was named to nine All-Association First Teams, ranks eighth in career points (led the ABA twice), eighth in career steals, sixth in career field goals (led the ABA three times), and led his teams to three Finals titles.

Charles Barkley, PF

177.2 WS, 80.5 VORP, 24.6 PER, 22.1 PPG, 11.7 RPG, 3.9 APG, 1.5 SPG, 0.8 BPG

Charles Barkley has made an impression on multiple generations of fans. From those who saw him play to those who know him firsthand as a television commentator, Barkley’s antics, talent, and analysis are hard to forget. By leading the NBA in two-point field goal percentage five seasons in a row, offensive rebounds thrice, effective field goal percentage twice, true shooting percentage four times, and offensive rating twice, Barkley made a name for himself. In fact, he made multiple names for himself. Just take a look at those listed on this basketball-reference page:

Sir Charles, The Round Mound of Rebound, The Chuckster, The Chuck Wagon, The Prince of Pizza, The Incredible Bulk, The Leaning Tower of Pizza, Bread Truck, Boy Gorge, Love Boat, Food World, The Crisco Kid, Wide Load from Leeds, Ton of Fun, Goodtime Blimp

Shaquille O’Neal, C

181.7 WS, 75.5 VORP, 26.4 PER, 23.7 PPG, 10.9 RPG, 2.5 APG, 2.3 BPG, 0.6 SPG

I’m talking about Shaq Pack.

Like Dr. J, Shaquille O’Neal’s impact extends beyond his on-court accomplishments. Sure, his ten times leading the NBA in field goal percentage is impressive. So to his six times leading in effective field goal percentage, twice in points per game, and five times in player efficiency rating. His spots on the all-time career leaderboards in points (tenth), offensive rebounds (seventh), blocks (ninth),  field goal percentage (ninth), effective field goal percentage (ninth), field goals (eighth), and player efficiency rating (fourth).

Through his style of play, accomplishments, and charisma, O’Neal cemented himself in the American cultural landscape and in basketball lore. Of all his many feats, however, none might be as curious as his contribution to the Mandela Effect.

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