Smartest NBA Players of All Time

Htown3ball

The Top Ten

1 Kevin Garnett Kevin Garnett Kevin Maurice Garnett is an American professional basketball player for the Minnesota Timberwolves of the National Basketball Association.

Gets into your head. He the best trash talker EVER! And that's how he's smart. He knows how to get into people's heads.

2 Bill Russell Bill Russell
3 Magic Johnson Magic Johnson Earvin "Magic" Johnson Jr. is a retired American professional basketball player who played point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association for 13 seasons.

Magic is by far the smartest basketball player that ever lived. The greatest PG of all time you have to be smart to be the floor general and magic was the greatest him leading his team and that his team was so great they dubbed the team Showtime. Magic is a 3 x MVP and 3 x finals MVP he's number 5 on the all time assists list. He went to 9 NBA finals in his 13 year career won 5 out of those 9, his career was cut short due to him contracting hiv so who knows what other accomplishments he could have completed.

Magic was the best, I have yet to see any player, play like Magic. When I’m watching a tight game, I’m like, “why don’t they just throw the ball at someone’s calf and let it bounce out of bounds like Magic would”. Magic would calculate how many points were needed in 2 minutes left in the game, and he would make it happen like a magician 🎩! No one, no other player does this! He could literally will the basketball to the basket!

4 LeBron James LeBron James LeBron Raymone James is an American professional basketball player for the Cleveland Cavaliers of the National Basketball Association. LeBron has played for the Heat and the Cavaliers.

Absolute genius. Undoubtedly the most intelligent leader the league has ever come in contact with. The man is not only a player, but he is a role model, a coach, a caring teammate, and a community contributor. His memory is second to none. He remembers random plays from games 2 years ago and uses those memories to learn new techniques which add to his never ending skillset. It will be 20 years after he has retired before we ever see an intellect like LeBron's in the NBA again.

His basketball IQ is insanely high how is he not number 1

He's dumb

5 Tim Duncan Tim Duncan Timothy Theodore "Tim" Duncan is an American professional basketball player who has played his entire career for the San Antonio Spurs of the National Basketball Association.

Just because he's quiet doesn't mean he's the 4th most intelligent player to play the game. Duncan is made to look smarter than he is by his overachieving coach, who happens to be the best of his era and one of the best ever.

6 Chris Paul Chris Paul Christopher Emmanuel Paul is an American professional basketball player for the Los Angeles Clippers of the National Basketball Association.
7 Michael Jordan Michael Jordan Michael Jeffrey Jordan, also known by his initials, MJ, is an American retired professional basketball player.
8 John Stockton John Stockton John Houston Stockton is an American retired professional basketball player. He spent his entire professional playing career as a point guard for the Utah Jazz of the National Basketball Association, from 1984 to 2003. Stockton is regarded as one of the best point guards of all time, holding the NBA ...read more.
9 Isaiah Thomas Isaiah Thomas Isaiah Jamar Thomas is an American professional basketball player for the Cleveland Cavaliers of the National Basketball Association.

There is no doubt that Isiah Thomas is one of the TOUGHEST minds ever to play in the NBA. However, when you look at the fact that he was President of NBA Players Association, President of basketball operations for Toronto and new York, as the undisputed leader of the Bad Boy Pistons, orchestrated defeat of the three greatest teams in the history of the NBA (Jordan's, Bulls, Bird's Celtics, and Magic's, Lakers), does play-by play of NBA, is the go-to person to explain situations that arise in the NBA (have you ever listened to him break down anything? Well, its amazing), was an NBA and college head coach, drafted future hall of fame players, and was the most difficult player for Michael Jordan to LEARN to win against, you have to say that not only is Isiah Thomas one of the TOUGHEST players in the history of the NBA, but he is one of the SMARTEST.

Bad boys for life

10 Jeremy Lin Jeremy Lin Jeremy Shu-How Lin is an American professional basketball player for the Charlotte Hornets of the National Basketball Association.

I'm bias because he is my favorite player ever (as a person). However, he does play incredibly smart basketball. - Bronson

Harvard

Not sure if you mean "Basketball Smart", or just generally Intelligent. If you mean generally Intelligent, Jeremy Lin is the smartest person to ever play in the NBA, followed closely by Bill Bradley [who was almost president of the USA].

The Contenders

11 Hakeem Olajuwon Hakeem Olajuwon Hakeem Abdul Olajuwon, formerly known as Akeem Olajuwon, is a Nigerian-American retired professional basketball player.
12 Larry Bird Larry Bird Larry Joe Bird is an American retired professional basketball player who played for the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association. Bird is a 3x champ, 1x ROTY, 1x Finals MVP, 3x 3PT Contest winner, all with the Boston Celtics. (1979-1992)
13 Russell Westbrook Russell Westbrook Russell Westbrook Jr. is an American professional basketball player for the Oklahoma City Thunder of the National Basketball Association.
14 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is an American retired professional basketball player who played 20 seasons in the National Basketball Association for the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers.
15 Stephen Curry Stephen Curry Wardell Stephen Curry II is an American professional basketball player for the Golden State Warriors of the National Basketball Association. Many players and analysts have called him the greatest shooter in NBA history. He is one of the most beloved, as well as hated, stars in the NBA today.
16 Kobe Bryant Kobe Bryant Kobe Bean Bryant is an American retired professional basketball player. He played his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association. Kobe Bryant has won 5 NBA championships with the Lakers and is the all-time leading scorer in Lakers franchise history.
17 Jerry Lucas

Jerry Lucas had a photographic memory. He often showed off his ability to walk down a lineup of 100 people he had never met, ask their name, and then turn around and be able to recall the name of all 100 of them!

Does not specify basketball IQ or actual IQ.

18 Oscar Robertson Oscar Robertson Oscar Palmer Robertson, nicknamed "The Big O", is an American retired National Basketball Association player who played for the Cincinnati Royals and Milwaukee Bucks.
19 Jerry West Jerry West Jerry Alan West is an American retired basketball player who played his entire professional career for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association.
20 John Havlicek John Havlicek John Joseph "Hondo" Havlicek is a retired American professional basketball player who competed for 16 seasons with the Boston Celtics, winning eight NBA championships, four of them coming in his first four seasons.
21 Bill Walton
22 Dennis Johnson
23 David Robinson David Robinson David Maurice Robinson is an American former professional basketball player, who played center for the San Antonio Spurs in the National Basketball Association for his entire career.
24 Damian Lillard Damian Lillard Damian Lamonte Ollie Lillard is an American professional basketball player for the Portland Trail Blazers of the National Basketball Association.
25 Kevin Durant Kevin Durant Kevin Wayne Durant is an American professional basketball player for the Golden State Warriors of the National Basketball Association. He was MVP of the 2017 NBA Finals.
26 Rajon Rondo
27 Yao Ming Yao Ming
28 Dennis Rodman Dennis Rodman
29 Kwame Brown
30 DeMar DeRozan DeMar DeRozan DeMar Darnell DeRozan is an American professional basketball player for the Toronto Raptors of the National Basketball Association.
31 Bill Bradley
32 Draymond Green Draymond Green Draymond Jamal Green Sr. is an American professional basketball player for the Golden State Warriors of the National Basketball Association.
33 James Harden James Harden James Edward Harden, Jr. is an American professional basketball player for the Houston Rockets of the National Basketball Association.
34 Kawhi Leonard Kawhi Leonard Kawhi Anthony Leonard is an American professional basketball player for the San Antonio Spurs of the National Basketball Association.
35 Gordon Hayward Gordon Hayward Gordon Daniel Hayward is an American professional basketball player for the Utah Jazz of the National Basketball Association.
36 Jimmy Butler Jimmy Butler
37 Paul George Paul George Paul George is an American professional basketball player for the Indiana Pacers of the National Basketball Association.
38 John Wall John Wall
39 Karl-Anthony Towns Karl-Anthony Towns
40 Anthony Davis Anthony Davis Anthony Marshon Davis Jr. is an American professional basketball player for the New Orleans Pelicans of the National Basketball Association.
41 Giannis Antetokounmpo Giannis Antetokounmpo Giannis Antetokounmpo is a Greek professional basketball player for the Milwaukee Bucks of the National Basketball Association.
42 Klay Thompson Klay Thompson Klay Alexander Thompson is an American professional basketball player for the Golden State Warriors of the National Basketball Association.
43 DeMarcus Cousins DeMarcus Cousins DeMarcus Amir Cousins is an American professional basketball player for the Sacramento Kings of the National Basketball Association.
44 Kyrie Irving Kyrie Irving Kyrie Andrew Irving is an American professional basketball player for the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association.
45 Kristaps Porzingis Kristaps Porzingis
46 Joel Embiid Joel Embiid
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