The Commonwealth of Kentucky has long been a hotbed for basketball talent, producing some of the greatest NBA players of all time. From Hall-of-Famers to All-Stars and current stars, the Bluegrass State is home to an impressive collection of basketball talent. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at the best Kentucky NBA players of all time – from legends like Dan Issel and Darrell Griffith, to modern greats like John Wall and Anthony Davis.

From legendary centers like Issel and Sam Bowie to sharpshooting guards like Rajon Rondo, the list of Kentucky NBA players is an impressive one. Not only have they achieved great success on the court, but many have also gone on to become coaches or broadcasters after their playing careers are over. It’s no surprise that Kentucky is known for producing great basketball players – their system of coaching and development has been proven effective time and time again.

If you want to know more about the best Kentucky NBA players in history, then you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll be taking a deep dive into some of the greatest names in Bluegrass State basketball history – from old-school heroes to modern stars. So let’s take a look at some of the best Kentucky NBA players ever!

John Wall

It’s no coincidence that the greatest of all time Kentucky NBA players is none other than John Wall. He was the first overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft and has since then become one of the most recognizable faces in the league. But what makes him so special?

John Wall’s rise to fame began with his impressive showings for Kentucky. His ability to read defenses and be a leader on the court made him an instant hit with fans. Furthermore, he was also able to showcase his athleticism, making acrobatic layups and passes that left viewers in awe. This combination of basketball skills made John Wall an undeniable force in college basketball and eventually helped him make it to the NBA.

Since entering the league, John Wall has continued to impress, becoming a multiple All-Star player and helping lead his team to several playoff appearances. His elite speed and ball handling ability have been instrumental in creating offense for his team while his defense is often overlooked. It’s those qualities that make John Wall one of the best Kentucky NBA players of all time, as well as one of the top players in league history. With Anthony Davis being next up on this list, it’s clear that this state has produced some incredible talent over the years.

Anthony Davis

John Wall is an incredible athlete and a great Kentucky NBA player; Anthony Davis is no different. He’s just as talented, just as celebrated, and just as deserving of the title “greatest of all time.” From his college days at the University of Kentucky to his current career with the Los Angeles Lakers, Davis has been consistently making a name for himself in the basketball world.

Davis was drafted first overall in the 2012 NBA Draft by the New Orleans Pelicans, where he spent seven seasons and earned four All-Star selections and two All-NBA First Team honors. His success continued when he joined forces with LeBron James on the Lakers, helping them win their 17th championship in 2020. His awards include two All-Star Game MVPs and five All-Defensive Team selections. He also won a gold medal in the 2012 Olympics with Team USA.

Davis’ impact on the game goes beyond individual accolades though. His unique blend of size, athleticism, defensive versatility and offensive efficiency make him one of the most complete players in history – an unstoppable force who can do it all on both ends of the court. With Davis leading the way, it’s no wonder why he’s considered one of Kentucky’s greatest NBA players ever.

Davis has shown that greatness comes from consistent hard work, determination and dedication to your craft – qualities that are essential for any player looking to reach their full potential. He serves as an inspiration to young basketball players everywhere who are striving to be their best selves on and off the court. As he continues his journey through basketball immortality, there’s no doubt that Anthony Davis will remain one of Kentucky’s greatest NBA players of all time.

Karl-Anthony Towns

It is often said that Karl-Anthony Towns is one of the greatest Kentucky NBA players of all time. But is this true? To answer this question, let’s take a closer look at the player and his career achievements.

Towns was drafted first overall in 2015 by the Minnesota Timberwolves and has since become an All-Star caliber player. He won Rookie of the Year in 2016, becoming only the fourth rookie in NBA history to average more than 18 points, 10 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game. In addition to his individual accolades, he was also named to the All-NBA Second Team in 2018 and 2019, making him one of just 11 players in NBA history to receive such honors within their first four years.

These accomplishments certainly speak for themselves and make it clear that Towns is an exceptional player with a bright future ahead of him. His ability to score, rebound, and block shots makes him one of the most dynamic post players in today’s game and undoubtedly puts him among Kentucky’s all-time greatest basketballers. With such impressive credentials under his belt already, it seems like there’s no telling how far Karl-Anthony Towns can go. As he continues to develop his skills on the court, there’s no doubt he’ll soon be regarded as one of Kentucky’s best ever NBA players.

With such impressive credentials already established by Karl-Anthony Towns, it will be interesting to see if Rajon Rondo can live up to or even surpass them as we move forward into the next chapter of Kentucky basketball history.

Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo is an NBA superstar who has achieved greatness since entering the league in 2006. He’s a four-time All Star, a two-time assist leader, and one of the most well-known Kentucky players to ever grace the court. Like a wild stallion, Rajon Rondo has left an indelible mark on basketball history and his contributions will be remembered for years to come.

Rondo was originally drafted by the Phoenix Suns in 2006, but traded to the Boston Celtics shortly thereafter. During his time with the Celtics, he became one of their most important players and helped lead them to a championship in 2008. His acrobatic passes and ability to read defenses made him one of the most dangerous point guards in the league. Even today, as he plays for other teams like the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers, he continues to make significant contributions on both ends of the floor.

The impact that Rajon Rondo has had on basketball is undeniable. He’ll go down in history as one of Kentucky’s greatest NBA players–a masterful passer who could control an entire game with his vision and skill set. His legacy will forever be remembered by fans across the world as one of basketball’s all-time greats. With such impressive accolades, it’s no surprise that Rajon Rondo belongs among some of Kentucky’s most iconic NBA stars. As we move forward into exploring Demarcus Cousin’s contributions to basketball, it’s important to remember just how influential Rajon Rondo was in paving the way for future generations of Kentucky stars.

Demarcus Cousins

Rising up triumphant like a phoenix from the ashes, DeMarcus Cousins is one of the greatest Kentucky NBA players of all time. His tenacious playstyle and ferocity on the court make him an intimidating presence for his opponents. With a powerful combination of determination and skill, he has made waves in the basketball world since his college days at the University of Kentucky.

The four-time NBA All-Star has been a force to be reckoned with since day one. After being selected fifth overall by the Sacramento Kings in 2010, Cousins’ career took off as he quickly established himself as one of the best big men in the game. He dominated inside with his physicality and showcased his skill set with consistent scoring and rebounding numbers throughout his entire career.

One of Cousins’ biggest achievements was winning an NBA championship with Golden State Warriors in 2018. His impressive performance during this run earned him recognition as one of the best players in Kentucky history, cementing his legacy for future generations to remember. It’s clear that DeMarcus Cousins is an unstoppable talent that continues to prove why he is considered among some of Kentucky’s greats.

Tayshaun Prince

Tayshaun Prince is a shining beacon of excellence and potential when it comes to Kentucky players in the NBA. He stands tall among his peers, a true titan of talent within the league. From his poise on offense to his tenacity on defense, Prince has left an indelible mark on the game of basketball.

Prince’s career with the Detroit Pistons was filled with accomplishments worthy of admiration:

  • On Offense:
  • Averaged 12 points per game throughout his career
  • Shot over 50% from the field for multiple seasons
  • On Defense:
  • Four-time NBA All-Defensive team member
  • Ranked fourth all-time in steals for the Pistons

Prince’s ability to adapt and evolve over time made him one of the most feared players on both sides of the court. His offensive prowess kept opponents guessing while his defensive aptitude kept them at bay. He left Kentucky as a star and continued to dazzle for 12 years in the NBA before retiring in 2016, leaving behind a lasting legacy that will be remembered for generations to come.

Jamal Mashburn

Jamal Mashburn is one of the greatest Kentucky NBA players of all time. He was a four-time NBA All-Star, who played 12 years in the league. He averaged 19.1 points throughout his career and was a leader on the court.

Mashburn’s basketball accomplishments include:

• Averaging 19.1 points per game: Mashburn was consistently able to put up points for his teams throughout his career and ended with an impressive 19.1 PPG average over 12 seasons in the NBA.

• Four-time All-Star: Mashburn earned four All-Star selections during his playing days and represented the New Orleans Hornets, Dallas Mavericks, and Miami Heat franchises during that time.

• Leader on court: Off the court, Mashburn’s leadership skills shined as well as he made it a point to give back to his community – through charity work and donating money to those in need. He was also known for having great relationships with both teammates and opponents alike.

As one of the greats from Kentucky, Jamal Mashburn certainly had an impressive NBA career that deserves recognition. His stats speak for themselves – and he will always be remembered for being an incredible leader both on and off the court. Now, let’s take a look at another one of Kentucky’s best – Rex Chapman.

Rex Chapman

Who is the eighth best Kentucky NBA player of all time? Rex Chapman, of course! An All-American at the University of Kentucky, Rex Chapman was a force to be reckoned with on the court. After being drafted in 1988 by the Charlotte Hornets, he proved his worth as a reliable shooter and great scorer.

Chapman quickly made a name for himself in the NBA. During his twelve-year career, he averaged 14.6 points and 3.9 rebounds per game while shooting over 40% from three-point range. He also had some impressive performances throughout his career including two separate seasons where he scored more than 20 points per game and one season where he drained an amazing 181 three-pointers!

Throughout his lengthy career, Rex Chapman continued to show off his elite shooting ability and remain a consistent threat from downtown. He was an integral part of many successful teams around the league including the Phoenix Suns and Washington Wizards. With that in mind, it’s clear why he made this list of top Kentucky NBA players of all time. With all that said, let’s move on to the next player up – Chuck Hayes!

Chuck Hayes

Chuck Hayes was like a diamond in the rough – a Kentucky NBA player that didn’t make headlines, but still made an impact. At 6’6”, he was undersized for the center position he played yet still managed to be one of the most efficient rebounders in the league. His hardworking attitude and determination enabled him to be a consistent force on the court.

In his eight-year career with the Houston Rockets and Sacramento Kings, Chuck Hayes was known for his hustle and grit. He was always willing to do whatever it took to help his team win, whether that meant sacrificing personal stats or diving for loose balls. His tenacity and work ethic were unmatched by any other player on both sides of the ball. He earned numerous accolades including All-Defensive Second Team honors in 2006 and 2007.

Despite not being as flashy or well known as some of his contemporaries from Kentucky, Chuck Hayes’ legacy is one of passion and commitment that can serve as an example to young people everywhere. His ability to overcome adversity and make an impact speaks volumes about his character and embodies what it means to be a true champion on and off the court.

Eric Bledsoe

From the depth of Kentucky’s basketball tradition, we come to tenth on the list of all-time great NBA players from the state: Eric Bledsoe. While Chuck Hayes was a true blue-collar player and one of the key cogs to the Houston Rockets’ success, Bledsoe has been a star in his own right, establishing himself as one of the best point guards in the league.

Bledsoe has made two All-Star appearances and earned himself an All-Defensive Second Team nomination during his time with the Phoenix Suns. He also had stints with both Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Clippers where he showed off his impressive scoring ability and all-around game. His career averages include 15 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal per game while shooting at a respectable 46% from the field.

What sets Bledsoe apart is his tenacious defense and ability to create for himself and others on offense. As a result, he’s been able to carve out a long and successful career in the NBA despite not being drafted until late into the first round. His impact can be seen through his individual accolades as well as how much teams are willing to pay for him; Bledsoe currently sits among some of the highest paid players in the league.

With that said, Eric Bledsoe stands out as one of Kentucky’s greatest ever NBA players thanks to his immense talent and dedication over nine seasons in professional basketball. No doubt he will continue making an impact as he moves forward into what promises to be an illustrious career in the years ahead. Now it’s time to look at another player who made waves after coming out of Big Blue Nation: Jodie Meeks.

Jodie Meeks

Jodie Meeks is the silent assassin of Kentucky NBA players—quietly and consistently putting in work with little fanfare. His career is proof that hard work can get you anywhere; from his college days at the University of Kentucky to a ten-year NBA journeyman.

Meeks was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2009, but it wasn’t until his time with the Philadelphia 76ers that he began to make a splash in the league. He set a franchise record for most three pointers made in one game against the Miami Heat, dropping seven threes on them. During his five-year tenure with the Sixers, he put up some impressive numbers and found himself as a reliable bench scorer.

After leaving Philadelphia, Meeks went on to play for several teams including Orlando, Detroit, Washington and Toronto before eventually ending his career with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2019. Although he never made an All-Star team or won any major awards during his career, Jodie Meeks has always been considered one of the hardest working players in the league. He was often seen putting up extra shots after practice or coming into games well-prepared and ready to contribute—qualities that have cemented him as one of Kentucky’s greatest NBA players of all time. Transitioning seamlessly from one section to another, Derek Anderson is next on our list of Kentucky superstars…

Derek Anderson

Irony abounds when one considers Derek Anderson as one of the greatest NBA players from Kentucky. After all, he wasn’t even drafted by an NBA team. Despite this, however, he went on to have a successful career in the league and is now recognized as one of the greatest players produced by the state of Kentucky.

Anderson made his mark as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2001-02 after being signed as an undrafted free agent. He quickly became a fan favorite, averaging 13 points per game (ppg) and helping lead the team to its first playoff appearance since 1998. He was also known for his defense and hustle, earning him the nickname “The Tank” amongst other nicknames.

After spending two seasons with Cleveland, Anderson was traded to Portland where he had some of his best years in the league. In 2003-04 he averaged 15 ppg and helped lead the Blazers to their first playoff series win in nearly 10 years. His time there also included being named an All-Star for his strong play during the 2004-05 season before eventually ending his professional career with Miami Heat in 2007-08.

Although Anderson may not have been chosen by any NBA teams on draft day, he certainly proved himself to be one of Kentucky’s top basketball players ever through his effort and dedication to the game throughout his career. Nowadays, Derek Anderson is often mentioned among other greats from Kentucky such as Dan Issel who will be discussed next.

Dan Issel

Standing tall at 6 feet 9 inches, Dan Issel was an imposing figure on the basketball court. He was a beacon of hope and success for Kentucky players aspiring to make it to the NBA. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Issel’s basketball career blossomed as he made his name in the league.

A two-time All-American at Kentucky, Issel was drafted by the Detroit Pistons in 1970 and traded to the Baltimore Bullets shortly thereafter. After three stellar seasons with Baltimore, he moved onto Denver and quickly established himself as one of their most important players. In 1975, Issel was named an All-Star and went on to play for Denver until 1985. During that time, he averaged 25 points per game and helped lead them to multiple division titles throughout his tenure there.

Overall, Dan Issel’s accomplishments speak for themselves: six All-Star selections, six division titles, two MVP awards (in 1976 and 1979), and four times leading the league in scoring (1973–1975 & 1978). His career totals are impressive as well: 24,049 points and 11,662 rebounds in 1,209 games played. It’s clear why he is considered one of the greatest Kentucky NBA players of all time.

Issel revolutionized what it meant to be a Kentucky player playing professionally in the NBA and set an incredible example for future Wildcats looking to make their mark on the court. His legacy will forever be remembered as one of greatness and inspiration—a true testament to his skill as an athlete and leader both on and off the court. As we move forward into this new era of Kentucky basketball players entering the NBA

Kyle Wiltjer

Fourteenth on the list of greatest Kentucky NBA players of all time is Kyle Wiltjer. He was a forward/center for the Portland Trail Blazers, as well as for teams in Greece and Turkey. Like many other Kentucky stars, Wiltjer has had a successful professional career.

Not only was he named to the All-Rookie Team in Greece, but he also won the Greek League Cup MVP award in 2017. His leadership skills have made him an invaluable asset to any team he plays for. His ability to shoot from range makes him a dangerous threat on offense and his defensive hustle makes him an effective presence in the paint.

Off the court, Wiltjer has been heavily involved with charitable organizations that focus on helping kids in need. He is also an active member of the community, working with basketball camps and clinics to help local youths develop their skills and knowledge of basketball.

Wiltjer’s impressive performance throughout his career shows why he is considered one of the greatest Kentucky NBA players of all time. His commitment to giving back to his community both on and off the court makes him an exemplary role model for aspiring basketball stars everywhere. With such talent and dedication, it’s no surprise that Rex Kalamian follows close behind Wiltjer on this list of greats.

Rex Kalamian

Rex Kalamian is a prime example of Kentucky’s NBA greatness. From his college career to his professional success, he has established himself as one of the greatest Kentucky NBA players of all time.

Kalamian was a star at the University of Kentucky from 1987-1991. He was an All-SEC selection three times and led the Wildcats to a Final Four appearance in 1991. Following college, he entered the NBA draft and was taken by the New Jersey Nets in the second round.

Throughout his professional career, Kalamian had an impressive tenure with several teams including the Nets, Los Angeles Clippers and Sacramento Kings. He proved himself to be a hardworking player who could contribute on both ends of the court as well as provide leadership for younger players. His experience, determination and skill make him one of Kentucky’s all-time greats in the NBA.

Kalamian’s accomplishments demonstrate that he is more than deserving of being included among some of basketball’s most elite names from Kentucky. His legacy will continue to live on as one of the best players to ever come out of Big Blue Nation.


John Wall, Anthony Davis, Karl-Anthony Towns, Rajon Rondo, and DeMarcus Cousins are some of the greatest Kentucky NBA players of all time. They have achieved success and recognition through their incredible talents and hard work. On the other hand, Derek Anderson, Dan Issel, Kyle Wiltjer, and Rex Kalamian were all great players in their own right but didn’t achieve the same level of success as the first five mentioned.

The careers of these Kentucky NBA players demonstrate the power of hard work and dedication to achieve greatness. Each player has invested countless hours in practice and training to perfect their skillset and become elite athletes. Even though many didn’t reach the same heights as those at the top of this list, they still made an impact on basketball from a Kentucky perspective.

All of these Kentucky NBA players have left a lasting legacy that will be part of basketball history for years to come. Their contributions to both college basketball and the NBA have been immense and undeniable. Each player has used their unique talent to make a difference on the court and set an example for future generations of basketball stars from Kentucky.

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