The NBA today is arguably the most talented era of basketball ever, as it should be. The top guards in the game today all have the moves of an Allen Iverson and the great wing players are almost unguardable. Only starting up in 1946, the 72-year-old NBA is fairly young in comparison to the 149-year history of the MLB and the 98-year history of the NFL. The difference between high-level basketball and other sports is that height matters more. In baseball and football, the average athlete can make it if he has the talent. In basketball, there is a certain height requirement for each position that best fits for a player to play both offense and defense.
This is what makes the NBA such a family business. Although the NBA is a little different today with small ball basketball, there were decades where if you could walk and chew gum at 7-feet-tall, you had a real chance. As a kid growing up around the NBA game, it is easy to see how that kid could want to play at that level when they get old enough.
During the development stage, NBA kids have the extra resources to maximize their game if they so choose. This can go both ways however as the pressure to live up to a superstar dad can be pressure filled. If you look at most father-and-son combos that played in the NBA, the son never quite lives up to the hype in following the footsteps. Next, I'll break down 10 NBA sons that were a lot better than their dad and 10 dads who had much better careers than their sons.
20 Better Dad: Gary Payton (Gary Payton II)
In the 1990s, Gary Payton earned the nickname "The Glove" from being one of the best defensive guards of his era. Payton had the versatility to guard point guards as well as tough matchups such as Michael Jordan. GP played 17 seasons in the NBA and was a nine-time All-Star, All-NBA, and All-defensive team. These accolades compile what became a hall of fame resume for GP and his son, Gary Payton II, has big shoes to fill. Gary II spent two seasons between the Bucks and Lakers.
In 2018, Gary Payton II is not on an NBA roster. As we know, making the NBA is easy, staying in the NBA and having a long career is much harder to do. Hopefully, GPII can get another shot and continue the family legacy.
19 Better Son: Kobe Bryant (Joe Bryant)
This wasn't particularly close as Kobe Bryant finished as one of the top 10 players to ever play in the NBA. That says a lot about just how good Kobe was. Often times the legacy of Kobe Bryant gets lost in time simply by being the best player trapped in an era between Michael Jordan and LeBron James. Kobe's father was Joe "Jellybean" Bryant had a serviceable NBA career but ultimately ended up overseas, where much of Kobe's development came from during their time in Italy. Kobe may not be the winner Michael was nor the physical specimen that LeBron James was, but Kobe is as close as it gets.
18 Better Dad: Larry Nance Sr. (Larry Nance Jr.)
Had it not been for Michael Jordan and those gosh darn Chicago Bulls, the Cleveland Cavaliers may have won a championship in the 1990s. Most teams that played in the era of the likes of Michael Jordan and LeBron James share those same thoughts. Larry Nance Sr. was a three-time All-Star and averaged 17 points per game in his 13 seasons in the NBA. Larry Nance Jr. recently signed a four-year contract extension with his dad's former team. As a reserve big, Junior is in a different role than his dad, but he hopes to make Senior proud in his retired number 22 jersey as he tries to fill his shoes.
17 Better Son: Klay Thompson (Mychal Thompson)
This one may be the toughest entry here, as Klay Thompson's dad Mychal Thompson had a very successful career in his own right. Mychal even averaged as much as 20.8 points and 11.7 rebounds per game in his fourth year with the Portland Trail Blazers in 1981-82. Mychal was more known for his play in his later years as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers with Magic Johnson. Klay Thompson, as we know, is a key member on arguably the most dominant starting five ever assembled in the NBA. Alongside Steph Curry, the Splash Brothers are the best shooting backcourt of all-time and maybe the top 2 greatest shooters ever.
16 Better Dad: John Stockton (David Stockton)
If you looked at the end of the Utah Jazz bench last season you may have seen a familiar name. David Stockton, the son of legendary Jazz point guard John Stockton, appeared in three games with the team. Now, David is out of the NBA and playing professionally in Germany. The elder Stockton was the initiator of the most lethal pick-and-roll combos ever with Karl Malone. One of the more underrated players to play the game, John Stockton is the all-time leader in career assists by a very wide margin. This record may be even more unreachable than Kareem's scoring record and that is all you need to know.
15 Better Son: Devin Booker (Melvin Booker)
The best young perimeter player in the NBA could be Devin Booker. Like many others in the NBA, Devin's dad Melvin played two seasons in the NBA in the 1990s. Typically, you can point to a player's father and see where they were gifted the height from. Melvin Booker was only a 6'1" point guard and Devin stands at 6'6" and has started his 2018-19 season with a splash. Devin Booker scored 35 points in his season debut and hopes this year is his first of many All-Star selections. Among the best shooters in the NBA and a Kentucky product, Booker is easily the best player in the family.
14 Better Dad: Tim Hardaway Sr. (Tim Hardaway Jr.)
The Golden State Warriors are known now for the dynasty that they have created since 2014, but in the 1990s, the Warriors were known as "Run TMC." This was after their star players Tim Hardaway, Chris Mullin, and Mitch Richmond. This team played fast, and Hardaway often showcased his patented killer crossover move. Tim Hardaway Jr. is the starting shooting guard for the New York Knicks and last season he averaged 17.5 points per game. Kristaps Porzingis tore his ACL last February and his return is uncertain. Tim Jr. wants to take a leap this season to make this a closer debate in the Hardaway household.
13 Better Son: Steph Curry (Dell Curry)
From the 2014-15 season until Kevin Durant joined the Golden State Warriors, Steph Curry was the most electric player in the league and maybe even the face of the NBA. The league has never seen a player that was not physically intimidating dominate the NBA the way Steph did and sometimes still does on occasion. Dell Curry was a great shooter in his era but not the all-around player that his oldest son has become. This season the Warriors are the prohibited favorite to win their third consecutive championship. As a four-time champion and no end in sight, Steph Curry could really put himself in top-5 all-time consideration if he can win six.
12 Better Dad: Bill Walton (Luke Walton)
Injuries held back the Portland Trail Blazers from winning more with Bill Walton. In 1976-77, Walton led the Blazers to a championship over Julius Erving's Philadelphia 76ers. A two-time All-Star, Walton did not have the career that he was projected to have coming out of UCLA, but in basketball circles, people realize the talent Bill had. LeBron James is now a member of the Los Angeles Lakers and playing for Bill's son, Luke Walton. Luke won two championships as a role player off the bench for the Lakers during Kobe's fourth and fifth title runs. We know who the better player was; maybe the conversation here could one day be who had the better post-playing career.
11 Better Son: Al Horford (Tito Horford)
Tito Horford played three seasons in the NBA in the late 1980s and early '90s. Tito played for the Milwaukee Bucks for two seasons, averaging 1.6 points per game before he left basketball for a year and landed on a few overseas clubs. After playing in Brazil, Tito returned to the NBA in 1993-94 for the Washington Bullets, but only appeared in three games. Al Horford was a two-time champion in college at Florida and has been on winning teams in the NBA as well. The Boston Celtics have rebuilt their roster over the last four seasons and the signing of Al Horford helped build their defensive-minded culture.
10 Better Dad: Glenn Robinson (Glenn Robinson III)
When your dad is the number one overall pick in the draft, it's hard to have a better career than Glenn Robinson had. In 1994, the Milwaukee Bucks selected Robinson and during his playing days, he was one of the best scorers in the NBA. For eight seasons, Robinson averaged over 20 points a night was selected to two All-Star teams and won a championship with the San Antonio Spurs during his last season in 2005. Glenn Robinson III is a reserve guard for the Detroit Pistons. Only playing about 20 minutes per night, it will be hard for Glenn III to have a career comparable to dad.
9 Better Son: Kevin Love (Stan Love)
In 1971, Stan Love, the dad of Kevin Love, began his NBA career with the Baltimore Bullets (now the Washington Wizards). In his four NBA seasons, Stan played on three different teams, which was much different from the career path of Kevin. Kevin Love was a perennial All-Star during his peak with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Love was still regarded as one of the best players in the NBA when he was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers for the number one pick in Andrew Wiggins. Without LeBron in the fold, Kevin is still an NBA champion and can build his own legacy to get in the Hall of Fame.
8 Better Dad: Harvey Grant (Jerami & Jerian Grant)
Basketball is really a family business in the Grant family. Harvey Grant had a three-year stretch with the Washington Bullets where he averaged over 18 points per game. Harvey is also the brother of the better-known Horace, who found success in the early years with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. Not every former NBA player can watch their son play in the NBA as they did, let alone watch two sons play at the highest level. Harvey's sons Jerami and Jerian play for the Oklahoma City Thunder and Chicago Bulls, respectively. Neither son has been able to have anywhere close to the career of dad or Uncle Horace.
7 Better Son: Jae Crowder (Corey Crowder)
Corey Crowder began his NBA journey with the Utah Jazz in 1991. After his rookie year, Corey went overseas and spent a year in both Italy and Spain. In 1994, Corey played 7 games with the San Antonio Spurs, which would be his last games in the NBA. After a rough start to last season with the Cavs, Jae Crowder was traded to his dad's former team, the Jazz. Crowder is coming off the bench for Utah but could start for several other teams around the NBA. Jae's best years were with the Celtics, and having a role on a talented young Utah team is impressive.
6 Better Dad: George Mikan (Larry Mikan)
If you grew up playing basketball, chances are you heard of the Mikan drill at some point in practice. That's how dominant of a player George Mikan was that a low post drill was patented after how Mikan practiced the game. When people discuss the all-time great Lakers, Mikan is often left off the list mainly because at the time he played, the Lakers were still in Minneapolis. George Mikan did have a son Larry that was selected 64th overall in the 4th round of the 1970 NBA draft. Needless to say, Larry never had the career of dad mainly, because almost no one had the career of George Mikan.
5 Better Son: Jalen Rose (Jimmy Walker)
Today you might be more aware of Jalen Rose from his color commentary on ESPN. Jalen Rose the player changed college basketball with Michigan's "Fab Five." Rose has become more known for being on the wrong end of Kobe Bryant's 81-point game. In his 13-year career, Jalen averaged 14.1 points per game and won the 1999-00 Most Improved Player Award. Jimmy Walker was the number one overall pick in the 1967 NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons. Jalen never met his dad and overcame those odds to reach the NBA and build his own legacy. Even though Jimmy was a two-time All-Star, I give the edge to Jalen.
4 Better Dad: Arvydas Sabonis (Domantas Sabonis)
The NBA never got to see just how good Arvydas Sabonis was at basketball. Sabonis was regarded as one of the best European players of all-time. In 1986, Sabonis was drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round. Due to diplomatic issues, Sabonis was not allowed to come to the United States. This turned into one of the most disappointing draft stories, as Sabonis did not make his debut in a Blazers uniform until he was 31 years old in 1995. By that time, Sabonis was a much different player but still averaged 12 points per game during his seven-year NBA career, which started in his 30s. Domantas Sabonis is a very promising young player for the Indiana Pacers, but his dad was nothing short of a legend.
3 Better Son: Mike Bibby (Henry Bibby)
The former Sacramento King, Mike Bibby was a very solid point guard in the NBA for a long time. Other guards in his era were more dominant and higher regarded such as Jason Kidd, Steve Nash, and others, but Bibby was the floor general of a very talented team that had Chris Webber, Vlade Divac, and Peja Stojakovic. Had it not been for the Los Angeles Lakers, the Kings very well could have won the NBA Finals. Henry Bibby played nine seasons in the NBA and was a member of the 1972-73 NBA champion New York Knicks. Mike put together 11 consecutive double-digit scoring seasons and even eclipsed over 20 a game for a season. Henry was more of a role player in his nine seasons.
2 Better Dad: Dell Curry (Seth Curry)
Yes, Steph Curry was a much better NBA player than his dad, Dell. That's not the argument here. The comparison is about the career of Dell Curry and his youngest son, Seth. Seth Curry is a backup guard for the Portland Trail Blazers. After spending time in the NBA G-league, Seth played like he belonged a couple years ago in Dallas before being derailed by injury. That season Curry was averaging 12.8 points per game and 42 percent from deep. Dell played 16 seasons in the NBA, and Seth has a lot more resume building before he can compete with dad, let alone big brother Steph.
1 Better Son: Andrew Wiggins (Mitchell Wiggins)
Coming out of high school in Canada, Andrew Wiggins was considered by some as the best player to enter the draft since LeBron James. If you have watched Wiggins over the course of his four-year career, you recognize that Wiggins has not been remotely close to that. Yet, Wiggins has been able to earn enough respect from the Minnesota front office to receive a max contract extension. Mitchell Wiggins is the dad of Andrew and spent six seasons in the NBA. Personal issues held Mitchell out the NBA for two years in his prime. Andrew is a 20-point-per-night scorer and the best of the Wiggins clan.