What are the top five starts in Sixers history?
In attempting to answer this question, we returned to the 1963-64 season, when the franchise moved to Philadelphia and adopted the name “76ers”, and sought out starting units with a mix of prodigious individual talent and of cohesion.
Julius Erving appears on our list three times, while the 2000-01 squad is the most recent formation. This is where we will start.
5. 2000-01: Eric Snow, Allen Iverson, George Lynch, Tyrone Hill, Dikembe Mutombo
There were a few iterations of the five to 00 of 2001. Theo Ratliff made his only All-Star appearance and led the NBA in blocks per game, but the Sixers returned him to the Hawks and acquired Mutombo in a trade to six players after Ratliff injured his wrist. Mutombo won the Defensive Player of the Year award and played a central role in the team’s final. Lynch and Snow weren’t regular starters in the playoffs due to injuries, but both provided the defense and tenacity that Larry Brown loved. Oh yes, and Iverson, generously listed at 6 feet and “bony as hell”, was the most useful player in the league.
4. 1976-1977: Henry Bibby, Doug Collins, Julius Erving, Caldwell Jones, George McGinnis
ABA alumni McGinnis and Erving started with the stars in 1976-1977, McGinnis’ second season with the team and the first of Erving. They were joined in the Eastern Conference all-star roster by Collins, who collected 18.3 points and 4.7 assists per game. The Sixers took a 2-0 lead in the final but dropped the next four games to Bill Walton and the Trail Blazers, a bitter end to a season full of drama and internal tension.
3. 1984-85: Maurice Cheeks, Andrew Toney, Julius Erving, Charles Barkley, Moses Malone
On talent alone, these five names are the best beginners in Sixers history. However, we have them at # 3 because they were less successful than Team 82-83, winning seven fewer games in the regular season and falling into the Eastern Conference finals. Barkley was a freshman, Erving – although still very good – was a little past his peak, and the Celtics were the best team. Although Barkley started 60 regular season games, he left the bench for all but the team’s last two playoff games, with the Sixers allowing the rookie more than 30 minutes per game but opening the games with veteran Bobby Jones .
2. 1982-83: Maurice Cheeks, Andrew Toney, Julius Erving, Marc Iavaroni, Moses Malone
This group went 12-1 in the playoffs, including a sweep of Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and defending Lakers champion. The Sixers starting lineup from 82 to 83 included three Hall of Fame players in Cheeks, Erving and Malone, the MVP and a very large chunk that got them through. We also have to remember that Toney, otherwise known as “The Boston Strangler”, was an All-Star in his third season, with 19.7 points and 4.5 assists per game. He didn’t have to worry about Boston that year as the Sixers passed the Knicks and Bucks on their way to the final. The team had another Hall of Fame on their bench for Jones, who won first prize for sixth man of the year.
1. 1966-67: Wali Jones, Hal Greer, Chet Walker, Luke Jackson, Wilt Chamberlain
The 66-67 Sixers went from 68 to 13 in the regular season and ended the Celtics’ eight consecutive championship streak. The Hall of Famers Greer, Walker and Chamberlain were the highlights, but the other entries complemented them extremely well. Originally from Philadelphia and a Villanova product, Jones was a reliable playmaker, and Jackson was a solid center / back-up hybrid. Chamberlain averaged 24.1 points, the lowest point in his career at this point, but was brilliant throughout winning a second consecutive MVP award, with a record 24.2 rebounds per game and 7, 8 assists per game, third in the NBA.
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