You’re in your second semester of AP Basketball History, you love really good teams, and you love lists. With precious little drama left in the NBA’s 2015 offseason, why don’t we hit the barroom and/or barbershop, pour ourselves a frosty mug of Barbicide, and get to arguin’ over each franchise’s most formidable starting five-man lineup.
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Because we don’t like making tough decisions, the lineups will reflect the All-NBA line of thinking. There will be no differentiation between separate forward and guard positions, and the squads will be chosen after careful consideration of individual merits only – we don’t really care if your team’s top shooting guard and point guard don’t get along.
These rankings will roll out based on when each franchise began its NBA life. We continue with the Philadelphia 76ers, who, once upon a time, were the tank.
C: Moses Malone. (This is a bit of a cheat, which we’ll defend later.) Pushed an almost-there Sixers team over the top with his sound work on the boards and in the paint offensively, effectively pairing the better instincts of offensive-minded predecessor Darryl Dawkins and defensive counterpart Caldwell Jones. Won a championship in his first year in Philadelphia and played brilliantly for three other seasons before being needlessly dealt in his peak to Washington for (effectively) Jeff Ruland.
F: Charles Barkley. A Malone disciple, took the reins from both Moses and Julius Erving and made the 76ers a playoff mainstay despite a lacking supporting cast. Turned in routine MVP-level seasons that were impressive for any sized power forward, much less one that was charitably listed at 6-6, often referred to as 6-4, and probably 6-5. Once fought Bill Laimbeer, became a national hero in the process.
F: Julius Erving. Provided class and professionalism and most importantly flair to a league that was lacking in all three areas upon his NBA arrival. Made an Eastern Conference champion out of the Sixers in his first season with the team, and a championship contender in the years that followed prior to the team’s 1983 championship. His best numbers and showiest stats came in the ABA, but that was out of necessity – his 22-point, 6.7 rebound and 3.9 assist-turn on loaded Philly teams were all about winning, as opposed to trying to prop up a dying league.
G: Hal Greer. A criminally-overlooked scoring star for the ages. A ten-time All-Star, acted as the stabilizing all-around force on several different types of Syracuse National and Philadelphia 76ers teams. Was an absolute killer in the postseason, and averaged 27.7 points in the playoffs during Philly’s 1967 run to the NBA title.
G: Allen Iverson. The face of the franchise, for reasons both good and bad, for nearly a decade. Led the Sixers, through grit and determination but also mostly impossibly-tough made baskets, to the NBA Finals despite working through what was perhaps the last great Eastern Conference bracket in 2001. Won the MVP in that campaign, and the scoring title that year and three other seasons. Walked away from the team in both 2005 and 2010, yet still remains beloved by the city.
Wilt Chamberlain is, probably, the best center the Sixers have ever had. His 277 game turn from 1965 through 1968 saw him average nearly 28 points and almost 24 rebounds per game, and he was the lead figure on the 1967 championship team that set the then-record for wins (68) in a season.
It’s hard, though, to overstate how much Moses Malone meant to Philadelphia when he was traded to the team. Once also-rans in the image of the old Brooklyn Dodgers, Malone muscled an incredibly-talented 76ers squad to its championship destiny, and we’re using these pages to credit him for as much, while recognizing Wilt’s greatness and accomplishments.
The franchise dates back to the 1940s, in Syracuse, and original scoring big man Dolph Schayes was one of the first stretch big men in existence. Swingmen Lucious Jackson, Wali Jones and especially Chet Walker were fantastic contributors that weren’t overlooked as we cobbled together this ranking. Billy Cunningham would be a starting forward on just about any franchise’s all-time team were it not for the looming presence of Dr. J and Charles Barkley.
Bobby Jones was an essential two-way force on that 1983 championship team, while Andre Iguodala, Maurice Cheeks, Fred Carter, and Caldwell Jones all deserve merit. Andrew Toney and Doug Collins, despite their injury-shortened careers, also contributed to several very good 76er squads.
This is the five we’re going with. Who would you take?
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