With the Atlantic Division in the books, it’s time to look at the All-time Starting Lineups for the Central Division. In these lineups, there were definitely a few absolute gimmes, but also a fair number of surprises- more than was the case in the Atlantic Division. As you read this, I imagine that, whether you agree with me or not, there are at least a couple of guys whose stats will make you stop for a second and think “Damn! He was better than I thought!”
On to the All-time Starting Fives for NBA’s Central Division. Enjoy!
PG- Reggie Theus (18.8 ppg, 47.7% FG, 80.6% FT, 3.4 rpg, 5.6 apg in 441 games)- Less of a pure point guard than Norm Van Lier, but Theus was a better scorer, rebounder and shooter. Also, his assist numbers are comparable to Van Lier’s (5.6 v. 6.9 apg).
SG- Michael Jordan (31.5 ppg, 50.5% FG, 83.8% FT, 6.3 rpg, 5.4 apg in 930 games)- Do you really require an explanation?
SF- Scottie Pippen (17.7 ppg, 48.1% FG, 69.3% FT, 6.7 rpg, 5.3 apg, 2.1 spg in 856 games)- Much more than MJ’s sidekick, Pippen is one of the greatest perimeter defenders in league history and was a star in his own right. Could (Should?) have been in the 1994 Finals as the league MVP.
PF- Bob Love (21.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg in 592 games)- Chicago's best inside scorer of the 1970s, playing more games in the frontcourt for the Bulls than anyone except Scottie Pippen. Had he played more games with the franchise, a young Elton Brand, incredibly consistent and once the NBA’s best offensive rebounder and inside scorer, could have had the edge over Love.
C- Artis Gilmore (19.3 ppg, 58.7% FG, 71.2% FT, 11.1 rpg, 2.5 apg, 2.1 bpg in 482 games)- Despite spending his best seasons in the
PG- Mark Price (16.4 ppg, 47.9% FG, 90.6% FT, 40.9% 3PT, 7.2 apg, 1.3 spg in 582 games)- Although Andre Miller and Terrell Brandon put up some impressive numbers, Price is the face of the Cavs at the point. One of the most underrated players of his era.
SG- Ron Harper (19.4 ppg, 47.4% FG, 71.3% FT, 4.7 rpg, 5.1 apg, 2.3 spg in 228 games)- One of the most athletic and versatile two-guards of the1980s. Not the scorer that World B. Free was, but Harper’s all-around stats earned him this spot.
SF- LeBron James (27.4 ppg, 47% FG, 6.9 rpg, 6.6 apg, 1.8 spg in 427 games)- An absolute force of nature. Entered the league at age 18 with greater expectations and hype than any player in recent memory, and LeBron has not disappointed. Maybe the best player in the NBA, LBJ will be an all-timer.
PF- Larry Nance (16.8 ppg, 53% FG, 80.4% FT, 8.2 rpg, 2.6 apg, 2.5 bpg in 433 games)- Blessed with incredible length and a soft touch, both around the basket and from the line. Despite having better statistics, neither Shawn Kemp nor Cliff Robinson was the player that Nance was for the Cavs.
C- Brad Daugherty (19.0 ppg, 53.2% FG, 74.7% FT, 9.5 rpg, 3.7 apg, in 548 games)- The anchor of the best teams in franchise history. Had he stayed healthy, Daugherty would have built a strong Hall of Fame resume. Zydrunas Ilgauskas warranted consideration here, but the decision wasn’t too difficult.
PG- Isiah Thomas (19.2 ppg, 45.2% FG, 75.9% FT, 3.6 rpg, 9.3 apg, 1.9 spg in 979 games)- Even with Chauncey Billups becoming a championship-caliber point guard and the Pistons’ leader, Isiah will always be the face of the franchise. His toughness and clutch play were the catalysts for the Pistons’ championship teams in 1989 and 1990.
SG- Joe Dumars (16.1 ppg, 46% FG, 84.3% FT, 4.5 apg in 1,018 games)- What didn’t Dumars do with the Pistons? Franchise leader in games played, won two titles, named MVP of the 1990 Finals, and the lone likeable member of the Bad Boys. Despite similar stats, Rip Hamilton finished a not-so-close second.
SF- Grant Hill (21.6 ppg, 47.6% FG, 74.6% FT, 7.9 rpg, 6.3 apg, 1.6 spg in 435 games)- Remember what a force this guy was? During his six mostly-healthy seasons in
PF- Bailey Howell (21.1 ppg, 47.6% FG, 77.4% FT, 11.8 rpg, 2.3 apg in 387 games)- A model of consistency in the 1960s. He certainly had competition, but Howell’s performance in five outstanding seasons in
C- Bob Lanier (22.7 ppg, 50.8% FG, 77.5% FT, 11.8 rpg, 3.3 apg, 1.3 bpg in 681 games)- A very underrated big man and the best of a solid corps of Pistons’ centers that includes Bill Laimbeer, Ben Wallace and Larry Foust. (By the way, Bill Laimbeer’s stats are a lot better than I was expecting!)
PG- Mark Jackson (8.4 ppg, 43.4% FG, 78.3% FT, 36.2% 3PT, 3.8 rpg, 8.1 apg, 1.1 spg in 405 games)- Despite his limited offensive game,
SG- Reggie Miller (18.2 ppg, 47.1% FG, 88.8% FT, 39.5% 3PT, 3.0 rpg, 3.0 apg, 1.1 spg in 1,389 games)- An obvious choice. Miller is one of the game’s all-time great shooters, particularly in the clutch, and the face of the Pacers’ franchise.
SF- Detlef Schrempf (17.0 ppg, 51.1% FG, 81.3% FT, 8.6 rpg, 4.1 apg in 354 games)- Before starring with the Sonics, Detlef Schrempf broke out with the Pacers. Schrempf got a run for his money from Chuck Person, but Detlef gets the nod, thanks to a better all-around offensive game, rebounding and passing.
PF- Clark Kellogg (18.9 ppg, 49.7% FG, 75.7% FT, 9.5 rpg, 2.9 apg, 1.5 spg in 260 games)- Before his career was derailed by knee injuries, Kellogg was one of the NBA’s top young forwards. Kellogg’s three healthy seasons in
C- Jermaine O’Neal (19.0 ppg, 46.4% FG, 70.9% FT, 9.9 rpg, 1.9 apg, 2.4 bpg in 403 games)- It’s no surprise to see O’Neal here. It was surprising, however, to find that his toughest statistical competition for this spot was not Rik Smits, but Herb Williams and James Edwards.
PG- Oscar Robertson (16.3 ppg, 46.8% FG, 84.3%FT, 4.9 rpg, 7.5 apg, in 288 games)- Late his career, Robertson reinvented himself as the perfect complement to a young Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and it won him an NBA title. It is this title that won him a spot in this line-up, as Sam Cassell’s
SG- Ray Allen (19.6 ppg, 45.0% FG, 87.9% FT, 40.6% 3PT, 4.6 rpg, 3.8 apg, 1.2 spg in 494 games)- A three-man race between Allen, Michael Redd and Sidney Moncrief. I expected Moncrief to emerge from this group, but Allen’s all-around game compared very favorably. And Redd, a Ray Allen-clone, will one day replace Allen here- just not yet.
SF- Marques Johnson (21.0 ppg, 53% FG, 73.6% FT, 7.5 rpg, 3.7 apg, 1.3 spg in 524 games)- He and Moncrief were the core of the Bucks’ teams that won five straight division titles from 1980-84. Terry Cummings, the man Johnson was traded for, comes in a close second.
PF- Vin Baker (18.3 ppg, 49.4% FG, 63.4% FT, 9.5 rpg, 2.7 apg, 1.3 bpg in 324 games)- Once one of the NBA’s best bigs, Baker was one of the original big men with athleticism and a mid-range jumper, and could also hit the boards very well.
C- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (30.4 ppg, 54.7% FG, 69.5% FT, 15.3 rpg, 4.3 apg in 467 games)- Arguably the greatest player in NBA history, Kareem was an absolute force with the Bucks. Not only statistically dominant, he combined with Oscar Robertson to bring