Listen, we’ve all got some time on our hands right now.
So I decided to spend some of mine thinking about the ultimate 15-man roster of all-time great Sixers players.
I approached this exercise as if we were entering the team in a tournament and had to win it on the court. With that being the case, this is not a list of the 15 best players in franchise history, but rather 15 who could play a specific role and help the team win. There are 11 Hall of Famers, a pair of current All-Stars and a couple names that may surprise you. I also picked a specific season for each player to help put that player in a place and time.
On to the list:
2000-01 Allen Iverson (31.1 PPG, 4.6 APG, 2.5 SPG, 42.0 FG%)
We always wondered what it would’ve been like to see Iverson in his prime alongside another superstar. This fictional squad gives us that chance. Imagine how Iverson’s efficiency could skyrocket without the threat of constant double teams. On the other hand, would he be able to deal with being the second or third offensive option at times?
2019-20 Ben Simmons (16.7 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 8.2 APG, 58.5 FG%)
Yes, Ben Simmons. I love the idea of Simmons’ size and defensive versatility next to Iverson in the backcourt. And can’t you close your eyes and imagine Simmons streaking down the floor, drawing multiple defenders and kicking it out to Iverson for wide-open shots?
1979-80 Julius Erving (26.9 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 4.6 APG, 2.2 SPG)
This is Dr. J in his prime at age 29, his highest-scoring season in the NBA. You’re getting one of the best athletes to ever play the small forward position and a perfect wing to run with Simmons.
1982-83 Moses Malone (24.5 PPG, 15.3 RPG, 2.0 BPG)
If the point is to win the game, it’s hard not to put Malone in the starting lineup. The 1982-83 NBA MVP and Finals MVP is the greatest offensive rebounder in the history of basketball, leading all NBA players by over 2,000 offensive rebounds. It’s one of the most unbreakable records in the game. You barely have to run any plays for Malone and he’s still going to produce through sheer will and physical talent.
1966-67 Wilt Chamberlain (24.1 PPG, 24.2 RPG, 7.8 APG, 68.3 FG%)
This is what legends look like. Under head coach Alex Hannum, Chamberlain changed his game in the 1966-67 season, becoming an incredible facilitator from the center position while still putting up 24 points and 24 rebounds per game with unbelievable efficiency. That 1966-67 team went 68-13 in the regular season and dethroned the eight-time defending champion Celtics on the way to the franchise’s first NBA championship in Philadelphia.
1981-82 Maurice Cheeks (11.2 PPG, 8.4 APG, 2.6 SPG)
The consummate old-school floor general, Cheeks is the perfect point guard to run a second unit that is full of 20-point scorers. There are fit issues with Simmons offensively and potentially with Iverson in a small backcourt. But there’s enough defense on this team that a few minutes of a Cheeks/Iverson combo isn’t going to hurt you too much on that end of the court. On the offensive end, that speed would be electrifying.
1967-68 Hal Greer (24.1 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 4.5 APG, 47.8 FG%)
In terms that current fans can understand, Hal Greer was a bucket. The second-leading scorer on the iconic 1966-67 championship team, Greer was even better the next season. His quickness and outside shooting will be vital off the bench.
1969-70 Billy Cunningham (26.1 PPG, 13.6 RPG, 4.3 APG)
If you’ve never seen Billy Cunningham highlights, check out YouTube and you’ll see a guy that looks a lot like a left-handed version of Larry Bird. At 6-foot-6, Cunningham wasn’t quite as tall as Bird, but he had the same great floor vision and ability to score in a variety of ways.
1990-91 Charles Barkley (27.6 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 4.2 APG, 57.0 FG%)
This is Barkley at age 27, two years before the trade to Phoenix. He’s not quite the ferocious rebounder he was when he entered the league, but he’s a superior all-around player and scorer. It would be fun to have the younger version of Barkley crashing the boards with relentless abandon, but this Barkley is a better perimeter player and fits better with the rest of the roster.
2018-19 Joel Embiid (27.5 PPG, 13.6 RPG, 1.9 BPG)
Imagine Joel Embiid and Charles Barkley at the scorer’s table ready to check in for Moses Malone and Wilt Chamberlain. The amount of talent is staggering. Embiid’s size and ability to protect the rim would allow Barkley, Cunningham and others to crash the offensive glass and take chances defensively. With this kind of talent around him, it would be interesting to see how Embiid might improve as a passer.
1981-82 Bobby Jones (14.4 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.3 SPG, 1.5 BPG)
If you really want to lock down the opposition, play Bobby Jones and Ben Simmons on the perimeter. It’s nearly impossible to make the Basketball Hall of Fame as a defense-first player, but that’s exactly what Jones did. At 6-foot-9, he can guard anyone on the floor and make game-changing plays whenever the need arises. Plus, he’s good for a jaw-dropping block or dunk every game. Go look up how he posterized Bird.
1966-67 Chet Walker (19.3 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 2.3 APG)
Chet “The Jet” Walker was instant offense for the 1966-67 champions and that’s exactly what he brings this team off the bench. With so much playmaking around him, Walker’s job is to get buckets. He can do that in spades thanks to his signature pull-up jumper.
1983-84 Andrew Toney (20.4 PPG, 4.8 APG, 52.7 FG%)
The Boston Strangler. A playoff assassin. You want this guy on your side when it’s winning time. He’s also one of those guys who’d probably take and make a lot more three-pointers in today’s era.
1994-95 Dana Barros (20.6 PPG, 49.0 FG%, 46.4 3-PT%, 89.9 FT%)
Barros may seem like an odd inclusion, but this team could use a little bit more three-point shooting and Barros remains the franchise’s all-time leader in three-point shooting percentage. His 1994-95 campaign is one of the best shooting seasons any Sixers player has ever had.
2000-01 Dikembe Mutombo (11.7 PPG, 12.7 RPG, 2.5 BPG)
There may not be a need for another Hall of Fame center on this roster, but it’s hard not to include Mutombo, one of the best defensive big men to ever play the game. Imagine the intrasquad scrimmages with Chamberlain, Embiid, Malone and Mutombo battling it out inside.
Head Coach: Alex Hannum
It would probably be weird to have Cunningham coach himself, so let’s have a Hall of Fame coach in Hannum lead this squad. Hannum was the leader of the 1966-67 championship team that ran roughshod through the NBA.
Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.