Written by Garrett Catalana – @GarrettCatalana
While we are still in the lulls of the NBA offseason before training camp gets going, there is a lot of time to reflect and ponder inquiries that don’t necessarily relate to the current NBA. With that in mind, I’ve have time to brainstorm and come up with an interesting case study. I decided to create the ultimate Philadelphia 76ers roster, filled with former, great 76ers players. This 15-man roster is not necessarily the best 15 players to ever play for the franchise, but rather the 15 players that can be constructed to make a real and legitimate team. This team has a mixture of player talent/ability, player skillset, intangibles, and team chemistry that correlates player strengths and weaknesses, along with floor spacing. There are many no-doubt players on this list, but at the backend of the roster, there are a few guys who may seem questionable at first thought.
With all this in mind, here is my version of the ultimate Philadelphia 76ers team:
1) Wilt Chamberlain (1965-1968) – Starting Center
– The first player to start any basketball team with is the player who is the absolute best. Look no further than Wilt Chamberlain, the Big Dipper, quite possibly the greatest basketball player that ever lived. He is the best and most talented player to ever put on a 76ers uniform without question. He only played with the franchise for four seasons but he was dominant in those four seasons, leading the team to an NBA world title in 1967 and winning three MVP trophies. He is the centerpiece of any 76ers franchise team and the rest of the team would revolve around him.
2) Julius Erving (Captain) (1976-1987) – Starting Small Forward
– Perhaps the most well respected player in NBA history, Julius Erving would be the captain of the ultimate Sixers roster. Dr. J. would be the leader of the team as well as the team’s starting small forward. One of the greatest players of all-time, Erving would serve as a primary scorer, but also serve as the key cog that would make the roster work together. He has the ability to play multiple positions and make the offense run.
3) Charles Barkley (1984-1992) – Starting Power Forward
– “The Round of Rebound” would be the most outspoken member of the team but also its primary rebounder. His specific skill set would match up well with Wilt Chamberlain’s skillset and he would clean up any mess around the basket with his tremendous rebounding ability. He could also lead the fast break with his great dribbling skills and dish off to Erving on the wing slashing to the basket, hit the trailing Chamberlain behind the play, or dish it outside to the next man in the starting lineup: Hal Greer.
4) Hal Greer (1958-1973) – Starting Shooting Guard
– “Bulldog” would be the primary outside shooter of the starting lineup with perhaps the most fundamentally sound jump shot in team history. A consistent 20-point scorer during his Hall-of-Fame career, Greer would take his lunch pail mentality into the starting lineup with the other greats and excel. Double teams on Chamberlain or Erving would leave Greer open for an easy jump shot. His ability to shoot from the perimeter would create valuable floor spacing with the starting unit.
5) Maurice Cheeks (1978-1989) – Starting Point Guard
– Much like he did when he was a Sixer from 1978 to 1989, Cheeks would run the offense for the ultimate 76ers squad. His perimeter defense would be essential to team success and his selflessness on the offensive end would make the offense go. His tremendous passing ability along with his ability to run the break makes the best option to be the general and starting point guard of this high-potent offense.
6) Allen Iverson (1996-2006, 2010) – Backup Guard/Sixth Man
– Most people would be outraged that Allen Iverson would not be in the starting lineup of an ultimate 76ers team. Hear me out though. Iverson would have trouble getting shots with both Erving & Chamberlain on the floor. Iverson was also not a great perimeter shooter, which would hurt the floor spacing with Chamberlain on the floor. Chamberlain would also clog the lane when Iverson would want to penetrate. If you put Iverson as the lead scorer on the second unit, he would be nearly unstoppable. He would have the ability to run the offense and take his shots. He would also mesh well with the next guy off the bench: Moses Malone.
7) Moses Malone (1982-1986, 1993-1994) – Backup Center
– Coming in for Wilt Chamberlain, Malone would be a rebounding machine with the second unit. He would be able to rack up rebounds with all the focus being on Iverson on the offensive end and defend the paint on the other end. Malone could help run the offense from the high post as well as set good, strong screens to help free up Iverson. He could get his own shots as well. Malone & Iverson would be a deadly 6th & 7th man combo coming off the bench.
8) Bobby Jones (1978-1986) (Co-Captain) – Backup Forward
– The ultimate team player would have a key role on the ultimate 76ers team. Jones would replace Barkley and do all the small things that were essentially to winning a basketball game. The inaugural winner of the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award in 1983, Jones would provide a spark off the bench with his all-out hustle and outstanding defense on opposing forwards, playing as a key complimentary piece to both Iverson & Malone off the bench.
9) Andrew Toney (1980-1988) – Backup Guard
– Andrew Toney, aka the Boston Strangler, would replace either Erving or Greer and become the best shooter on the floor. He would become the outside threat with Iverson running the offense and would become an instant scorer off the bench, benefitting from the presence of Iverson up high and Malone down low.
10) Billy Cunningham (1965-1972, 1974-1976) – Backup Forward
– The “Kangaroo Kid” becomes the de facto backup point guard for the bench unit. He has the versatility to play various roles coming off the bench like he did with the 1967 squad. His leadership and smarts would be great to go along with Jones, Toney, Malone, and Iverson. He would provide as extra gear for the ultimate team, getting rotational minutes as the 10th man.
11) Caldwell Jones (1976-1982) – Backup Center
– With the offensive prowess of both Chamberlain and Malone, Jones is needed as the third center to provide tough, interior defense for the team, ranking third in team history with 926 blocks. Known as a great teammate and a consistent professional, Caldwell becomes another option off the bench that would be great for overall team chemistry.
12) Andre Iguodala (2004-2012) – Backup Forward
– Andre Iguodala’s versatility on both ends of the court is why he makes the ultimate roster. Perhaps the best perimeter defender in team history, Iguodala has all the physical ability in the world to make the ultimate team. He would be unselfish with the ball, make crisp passes as a point-forward, be a primary defender, and he could be the best transition player on the team coming off the bench.
13) Dolph Schayes (1949-1964) – Backup Forward
– The only member of this team that primarily played for the Syracuse Nationals, Schayes was an offensive force during his heyday in the late 1950s and early 1960s where he averaged 18.5 PPG. Even though he is one of the members of the NBA’s 50th Anniversary team and an NBA Hall of Famer, Schayes would not crack the rotation on the 76ers ultimate team. Barkley is so strong as a rebounder and Bobby Jones is too good of a defender that it outweighs Schayes’ ability to score at the power forward position. Schayes does make the team, however, because of his raw scoring ability from the low-post, which is perhaps only second to Wilt Chamberlain on this team. He also makes it because of his basketball smarts and leadership ability as he coached the team for three seasons winning NBA Coach of the Year in 1966. His lack of pure athleticism hurts his case for rotation minutes.
14) Eric Snow (1998-2004) – Backup Point Guard
– Maurice Cheeks is by far the best point guard in 76ers history. After that, there is quite a drop off. The franchise has had plenty of guys who had the ability to run the offense (Iverson, Iguodala, Erving, Cunningham) that weren’t point guards. With only two spots remaining on the roster, a second true point guard seems necessary. I decided to go with Eric Snow over guys like Andre Miller, Larry Costello, Johnny Dawkins, Jrue Holiday, and Wali Jones. Snow was a perfect compliment with Allen Iverson on the late-90s, early-2000s Sixers teams. He was big enough and strong enough to guard opposing twos as well as effectively running the point. Snow was never much of a jump shooter, but on this squad he only needs to distribute the ball and play good defense. He also gets bonus points for being a good teammate.
15) Dana Barros (1993-1995) – Backup Shooting Guard
– Your probably thinking, “Who?????” Yes, for the very last spot on the 76ers ultimate squad I went with the best three point shooter in team history: Dana Barros. He was only a Sixer for two seasons but he was a fantastic three-point shooter during that time. He was an All-Star in 1995 when he finished the season 4th in the league in 3 pointers made (197) and 3rd in three point percentage (.464). He also finished 7th in the league in assists and 8th in steals, and averaged 20.6 PPG that season. His three-point field goal percentage is first in team history (.426) and is sixth in three pointers made (332) in just two seasons. You can’t ever have enough shooting so Barros makes the last spot on the roster for me.
Plus, if you have ever listened to Spike Eskin’s The Rights to Ricky Sanchez podcast, you know he can also be the team’s musician.
There it is, the 15-man 76ers ultimate roster. Tell me your thoughts!
Here is the final breakdown:
|Shooting Guard||Small Forward||Power Forward||Center|
|Hal Greer||Julius Erving||Charles Barkley||Wilt Chamberlain|
|Dana Barros||Andrew Toney||Andre Iguodala||Dolph Schayes||