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While watching the Boston Celtics take on the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday, I was surprised to hear Celtics announcer Brian Scalabrine mention that Philadelphia’s James Harden was the No. 1 left-handed scorer in NBA history. The first player to come to my mind was Chris Mullin, who didn’t even crack the top five. That got me thinking about the top left-handed players in Celtics history.

The top three are pretty easy, but does a guy like Isaiah Thomas crack Boston’s top five? He played just two-plus seasons with the Celtics, but he had two All-Star years with the team. Below is our list of the five best left-handed players in Celtics history. (By the way, David Robinson, Bob Lanier, Gail Goodrich, and Zach Randolph followed Harden to round out the NBA’s top five. Mullin is sixth.)

No. 5: Kenny Anderson

Anderson played five seasons with the Boston Celtics during a time when the team struggled. Acquired by the Celtics in a February 1988 trade, Anderson played with the Celtics through the 2001-02 season. His final season in Boston is the lone year he made the postseason with the team.

In Anderson’s five years with the Celtics, he averaged 11.3 points and 5.2 assists. His best year came during the 1999-00 season when he played all 82 games and averaged 14.0 points and 5.1 assists.

Artis Gilmore had a better NBA career than Anderson, but he played just 47 games for Boston at the tail-end of his career. Anderson gets the nod at No. 5.

No. 4: Isaiah Thomas

Isaiah Thomas of the Boston Celtics passes the ball during the second half of an NBA game against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre on Jan. 10, 2017, in Toronto, Canada. | Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images.

If Kenny Anderson cracked the top five, there’s no doubt Thomas was on this list. Although Thomas spent half the time Anderson did in Boston, he put up some serious numbers.

The last pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, Thomas came to the Celtics via trade in February 2015. In his first full season in Boston, Thomas played all 82 games and averaged 22.2 points and 6.2 assists. He made the first of his two All-Star appearances that season.

The following year, Thomas saw his scoring average soar to a career-high 28.9 points. He shot 46.3% from the floor that season.

To this day, Thomas remains a beloved figure in Boston.

No. 3: Nate ‘Tiny’ Archibald

Like Anderson, Archibald played just five seasons with the Boston Celtics. He averaged 12.5 points and 7.1 assists during that stretch. He was also the floor general when the Celtics knocked off the Houston Rockets in the 1981 NBA Finals.

Archibald had his best year in Boston during the 1979-80 season when he teamed with a rookie named Larry Bird. He started 80 games and put up 14.1 points and 8.4 assists. Archibald shot 48.2% from the floor. He also averaged 1.3 steals.

Archibald was a three-time All-Star with Boston. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1991.

No. 2: Dave Cowens

Cowens is the first non-point guard to crack the list. At 6-foot-9, Cowens was an undersized power forward/center with Boston who made his living by outhustling his opponents.

Cowens, the 1971 Rookie of the Year, played 10 seasons with the Celtics, earning eight All-Star nods. He was named the league’s MVP during the 1972-73 season when he averaged 20.5 points and 16.2 rebounds.

Cowens is a two-time NBA champion and a member of the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1991.

No. 1: Bill Russell


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The top choice is a given. Bill Russell is arguably the greatest player in Celtics history. He has five MVPs and 11 championships to prove it.

Russell played all 13 of his seasons with the Celtics. He won championships in all but two of them. A strong rebounder who led the NBA in that category five times, Russell changed the style of the game by emphasizing defense. A ferocious shot blocker (blocked shots weren’t a stat back then), Russell also averaged 22.5 rebounds for his career. He put up 15.1 points per game.

Russell was a 12-time NBA All-Star. He, too, is a member of the NBA’s top 75 team. He was inducted into the Hall in 1975.