Saturday, July 28, 2007

All-Time NBA Starting Fives- Southeast Division

With the Atlantic and Central Divisions covered, let’s look at the All-time Starting Fives for four of the five teams in the Southeast Division. I didn’t think it made sense to include the three year-old Charlotte Bobcats. Of the first three, this division actually presented some of the most difficult decisions. Let’s get to it…


SOUTHEAST DIVISION


ATLANTA HAWKS

PG- Mookie Blaylock (14.9 ppg, 41.3% FG, 73.5% FT, 4.6 rpg, 7.3 apg, 2.5 spg in 518 games)- An interesting comparison between Blaylock, Doc Rivers and Lenny Wilkens. Their stats with Atlanta are extremely similar. Blaylock’s has a slight edge over Rivers in all categories and beats Wilkens in all except scoring.

SG- Pete Maravich (24.3 ppg, 44.8% FG, 80.9% FT, 4.2 rpg, 5.6 apg in 302 games)- After an unbelievable college career, “Pistol” didn’t miss a beat in his first four NBA seasons in Atlanta. With Joe Johnson still having a LONG way to go to challenge for this spot, Steve Smith was the only other candidate, and it wasn’t very close.

SF- Dominique Wilkins (26.4 ppg, 46.7% FG, 81.3% FT, 6.9 rpg, 2.6 apg, 1.4 spg in 882 games)- No contest. ‘Nique is one of the most dominant and entertaining scorers in NBA history. Playing during the Michael Jordan era kept him from being remembered as one of the best ever.

PF- Bob Pettit (26.4 ppg, 43.6% FG, 76.1% FT, 16.2 rpg, 3.0 apg in 792 games)- The NBA’s first great power forward and still, more than 40 years after his retirement, one of the best ever. No one else was really close, although Dan Roundfield and Kevin Willis deserve to be mentioned.

C- Zelmo Beaty (17.4 ppg, 47.1% FG, 74.8% FT, 11.2 rpg, 1.5 apg in 501 games)- Spend seven years with the Hawks before jumping to the ABA in 1970. The franchise leader in points by a center, Beaty ranks in the top three among Hawks’ centers in both scoring and rebounding average.

MIAMI HEAT

PG- Sherman Douglas (16.0 ppg, 50% FG, 68.7% FT, 7.9 apg, 1.7 spg in 159 games)- I expected to be writing Tim Hardaway’s name here, but the numbers tell a different story. Douglas holds a small edge in both assists and steals, and his scoring average is just a point shy of Hardaway’s, despite attempting more than two fewer shots per game.

SG- Dwayne Wade (22.9 ppg, 48.2% FG, 76.9% FT, 5.0 rpg, 6.1 apg, 1.7 spg in 213 games)- As good as Eddie Jones and Steve Smith were, D-Wade wins this position in a landslide. It’s probably safe to assume that if he’s ever supplanted here, it will be long, long time from now.

SF- Glen Rice (19.3 ppg, 45.9% FG, 83.5% FT, 38.6% 3PT, 4.9 rpg, 1.2 spg in 478 games)- One of the great shooters of his era, Rice was the Heat’s first star player and is still the franchise leader in points scored and third in scoring average.

PF- Brian Grant (11.0 ppg, 48.2% FG, 79.6% FT, 8.5 rpg, in 312 games)- Grant, Udonis Haslem and Grant Long make up a solid-but-unspectacular group of Miami PFs. Despite Haslem having won a ring in 2006, both his numbers, and Grant Long’s, fall short of Brian Grant’s.

C- Alonzo Mourning (17.6 ppg, 53.5% FG, 66.3% FT, 8.9 rpg, 2.9 bpg, in 491 games)- After being the heart and soul of the franchise for nearly a decade, it’s fitting that Zo won a title with the Heat. By the way, had you also forgotten that Rony Seikaly was REALLY good?

ORLANDO MAGIC

PG- Anfernee Hardaway (19.0 ppg, 47.2% FG, 76.6% FT, 4.7 rpg, 6.3 apg, 1.9 spg in 369 games)- Remember how great Penny was in Orlando? This guy used to be awesome! He was compared to both Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan! Steve Francis’ stats compare favorably, but Penny had a much bigger impact with the Magic.

SG- Nick Anderson (15.4 ppg, 45.4% FG, 67.3% FT, 5.3 rpg, 2.8 apg, 1.5 spg in 692 games)- A member of the Magic from Day 1, Nick Anderson was a member of the Magic line-up for a decade. His superior offensive stats give Anderson the edge over Mike Miller.

SF- Tracy McGrady (28.1 ppg, 44.6% FG, 76.8% FT, 7.0 rpg, 5.2 apg, 1.5 spg in 295 games)- The best all-around player in franchise history. The Magic’s “Post-Shaq star”, T-Mac won the back-to-back scoring titles in 2003 and 2004. His only real competition here was Dennis Scott and an injury-plagued Grant Hill.

PF- Dwight Howard (15.1 ppg, 55.4% FG, 61% FT, 11.6 rpg, 1.7 bpg in 246 games)- Howard is already a monster in the paint. When his offensive game develops, he will be completely unstoppable. Also deserving of consideration is Horace Grant, the best post-season PF of the 1990s.

C- Shaquille O’Neal (27.2 ppg, 58.1% FG, 54.5% FT, 12.5 rpg, 2.4 apg, 2.8 bpg in 295 games)- He made the Magic relevant and gave the franchise its first superstar. The most dominant big man since Wilt Chamberlain and the catalyst for Orlando’s 1995 trip to the Finals. By the way, Rony Seikaly was really good with the Magic too!

WASHINGTON BULLETS/WIZARDS

PG- Rod Strickland (15.5 ppg, 43.9% FG, 73.3% FT, 4.3 rpg, 8.9 apg, 1.6 spg in 304 games)- In three seasons in Washington, Archie Clark’s stats surpassed Strickland’s with the team, but Clark never really made a mark in Washington. By virtue of his four solid seasons in DC, Strickland gets the nod.

SG- Earl Monroe (23.7 ppg, 44.5% FG, 79.5% FT, 3.7 rpg, 4.6 apg in 328 games)- It’s only a matter of time before this spot belongs to Gilbert Arenas, but for the time being, Earl the Pearl is the standard for two-guard play in Washington. The impact of his beautiful playground game on the NBA cannot be overstated.

SF- Chris Webber (20.9 ppg, 50.1% FG, 56.0% FT, 9.7 rpg, 4.4 apg in 212 games)- Edging out Bernard King and Antawn Jamison, Chris Webber is Washington’s top all-time small forward. After winning Rookie of the Year with Golden State, his game really developed in Washington.

PF- Elvin Hayes (21.3 ppg, 45.8% FG, 67.7% FT, 12.7 rpg, 2.1 bpg in 731 games)- With all due respect to Chris Webber, the power forward position in Washington belongs to Elvin Hayes. In Washington’s 1978 Finals triumph, Elvin Hayes dominated the Sonics and clinched the title for the Bullets.

C- Walt Bellamy (27.6 ppg, 51.6% FG, 66.1% FT, 16.6 rpg, 2.4 apg in 327 games)- Where is Wes Unseld? It’s a simple matter of numbers. For all of Unseld’s hard-nosed play in the paint, even in Washington’s 1978 championship season, his performances don’t compare to Bellamy’s. One of the most underrated big men in NBA history.

Well, that’s it for the Eastern Conference. There were a lot of big names, but also a lot of star from the NBA’s early days, particularly in the paint (Bailey Howell, Zelmo Beaty). Another trend I noticed was the presence of a lot of snake-bitten careers (Grant Hill, Vin Baker, Penny Hardaway). Hope you’re enjoying these articles so far!

Tomorrow we’ll start in on the West, with the All-time Starting Fives for the Northwest Division.

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