Written by Garrett Catalana – @GarrettCatalana
The Philadelphia 76ers have been one of the most successful franchises in the NBA during the team’s 52-year history in the City of Brotherly Love which includes two championships, Hall of Famers, superstars, and many playoff appearances. I am recognizing and ranking the best five 76ers players at each of the five positions in basketball: point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward, and center.
1) Four factors went into play in creating this list: personal statistics, team success, longevity, and impact on the team and the city of Philadelphia.
2) Players are only ranked by their playing time in Philadelphia & not for any other teams in the NBA (ie Dikembe Mutombo)
3) Players who primarily played with the Syracuse Nationals (1946-1963) are not included on this list, so players like Dolph Schayes, Red Kerr, Lee Shaffer, Archie Clark, and Larry Costello will not appear in the ranking.
4) Most of the players who were selected were involved in the three most successful periods in 76ers basketball: 1964-1971, 1975-1987, and 1998-2003.
Without further ado, here is the list:
The five best power forwards in Sixers history all had something in common: determination. Whether that meant rebounding, assisting, or scoring, all five members of the PF spot had this similar trait. Mostly considered “undersized,” it didn’t stop the power forwards from putting up solid, if not spectacular numbers that led to team success.
1) Charles Barkley (8 seasons, 1984-1992)
MPG: 37.3; PPG: 22.3; FG%: 58%, RPG: 11.6; SPG: 1.7; BPG: 1.0
Resume: 7-time All-Star, 4-time All-NBA 1st Team, 3-time All-NBA 2nd Team, NBA All-Rookie 1st Team (1985), 2-time rebounding leader, member of the NBA’s 50th Anniversary Team, No. 34 retired by the 76ers
– Taken with the fifth pick of the 1984 NBA Draft, Barkley joined a Sixers team that had won the NBA championship just two years earlier. “The Round Mount of Rebound” teamed up with veterans Maurice Cheeks, Moses Malone, and Julius Erving to advance the team to the Eastern Conference Finals in 1985 and the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 1986. In the following two seasons, Malone was traded away and Erving retired so Barkley became the star of the team. He earned All-Star status from 1987 to 1992 as a Sixer and finished second in the NBA MVP voting in 1990, losing to Magic Johnson, despite having more first place votes. After years of poor front office moves to help Barkley propel the team, he had enough and requested a trade. His was granted his trade request and was sent to the Phoenix Suns, winning the NBA MVP award the next season. In 2001, his No. 34 was retired by the 76ers.
2) George McGinnis (3 seasons, 1975-1978)
MPG: 35.2; PPG: 21.6; FG%: 44% RPG: 11.5; SPG: 2.1; BPG: 0.4
Resume: 2-time All-Star, All-NBA 1st Team (1976), All-NBA 2nd Team (1977), appeared in the 1977 NBA Finals
– The Sixers were struggling as a franchise when they finished the 1974-1975 with a 34-48 season. They were in desperate need of some star power. Bring in ABA star George McGinnis from the Indiana Pacers, who had just come off averaging 29.8 points per game the previous season. McGinnis helped the Sixers return to the playoffs for the first time since 1971 in his first season with a 46-36 record. Along with the arrivals of Julius Erving and Caldwell Jones, the Sixers made the NBA Finals in George’s second season, but they lost to the Trail Blazers, with McGinnis missing the shot that would have extended the series to a seventh game. McGinnis would play one more season with Philadelphia. He averaged over 20 PPG and 10 RPG in his three seasons in Philadelphia. He was traded following the 1978 season to the Nuggets for the #3 SF in team history, Bobby Jones.
3) Luke Jackson (8 seasons [all with PHI], 1964-1972)
MPG: 26.4; PPG: 9.9; FG%: 42%; RPG: 8.8; SPG: N/A; BPG: N/A
Resume: All-Star (1965), 1st Team All-Rookie (1964-1965)
– Selected with the 4th pick in the 1964 NBA Draft, Lucious “Luke” Jackson provided needed size and strength for the 76ers. Jackson paired up with Wilt Chamberlain in the starting frontcourt from 1964 to 1968, winning the 1967 NBA championship. Jackson provided being great compliment to Chamberlain, with his rebounding and a willingness to do the dirty work. According to Chamberlain, Jackson could have been a great center in the NBA but Luke adjusted his game to become a forward for the good of the team. While Chamberlain was the headliner, Jackson was the glue that kept the team winning because of his hustle.
4) Steve Mix (9 seasons, 1973-1982)
MPG: 25.3; PPG: 11.3; FG%: 50%; RPG: 5.6; SPG: 1.3; BPG: 0.3
Resume: All-Star (1975), appeared in 3 NBA Finals (1977, 1980, 1982)
– Mix was never known for his athleticism, but he squeezed out as much talent as he possibly could. By the time he retired after a 13-year career, he had nothing left to give to the game. An All-Star in 1975, Mix was a key player for the 76ers during their return to contention in the late-70s and early-80s. While his minutes decreased over the seasons, Mix was a calming presence for the team and provided constant professionalism. Mix also spent many seasons as the color commentator for the Sixers during the rise of Allen Iverson’s prowess in Philadelphia.
5) Clarence Weatherspoon (6 seasons, 1992-1998)
MPG: 36.0; PPG: 15.3; FG%: 47%; RPG: 8.3; SPG: 1.2; BPG: 1.1
Resume: NBA All-Rookie 2nd Team (1993)
– Following the trade of Charles Barkley during the offseason of 1992, the Sixers were looking for his replacement and found someone to their liking in the 1992 NBA Draft. They selected 6’6 Clarence Weatherspoon from Southern Mississippi with the 9th pick of the draft. Nicknamed “Baby Barkley” due to his similar size and nature to that of Barkley at the power forward position, ‘Spoon played with the same desire for rebounding at a shorter height than the normal four. Weatherspoon was named to the All-Rookie 2nd Team in 1993. The following season was his best, where he averaged 18.4 PPG & 10.1 RPG, and nearly made the All-Star team. He was one of the only consistent Sixers during a down time for the franchise in the mid 1990s, where he had multiple head coaches and many losing records. Following a falling out over minutes with Larry Brown in 1998, ‘Spoon was traded to the Warriors. While he never enjoyed success in a Sixers uniform, ‘Spoon was a reliable and respected player who always put up numbers.
There is my list, so let me know what you think of it. Go Sixers!