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What is the greatest Sixers lineup ever?

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From Wilt Chamberlain’s teams in the 60’s to current roster, the Sixers have had some tremendous lineups

The last few months have been tumultuous for Sixers fans. After being swept by their arch rival Boston Celtics in the opening round of the 2020 NBA playoffs, the franchise is now watching those same Celtics compete with Jimmy Butler’s Miami Heat, a player the team eagerly ushered out during the 2019 offseason, for the right to compete in the NBA Finals. Things aren’t looking great at the moment.

With that said, let’s take a trip to years of Sixers past. The Philadelphia 76ers are a storied franchise with a proud history. Which has me wondering, what is the greatest lineup the Sixers have ever put on the court?

1966-67: Wali Jones, Hal Greer, Chet Walker, Luke Jackson, Wilt Chamberlain

When people talk about the Sixers and the 60’s, Wilt Chamberlain gets most of the love, and why shouldn’t he? The phenom is the only player to ever score 100 points in a game, he won the MVP award four times, he appeared in 13 All-Star games, and he’s had his number retired by three different NBA franchises. (Should I keep going?) But Wilt had some teammates that could play. In fact, it was precisely this realization that led to the Sixers winning the 1966-67 NBA Finals. Once Wilt began passing more and shooting less (1966-67 saw a career high in assists and a career low in field goals attempted by far), the team became more effective as a whole.

Wilt’s no. 2 Hal Greer is a Hall-of-Famer in his own right. In ‘66’-’67, Greer averaged 22.1 points per game to go along with 5.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists. Joining Greer and Chamberlain as All-Stars in 1967 was teammate Chet Walker who averaged 19.3 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 2.3 assists. Wali Jones paired with Greer to form a steady backcourt while Luke Jackson paired with Wilt in the front court. (This lineup was so deep that Billy Cunningham came off the bench.) Just the team’s fourth season in Philly after relocating from Syracuse, the ‘66-’67 starting five helped secure the franchise’s first title under the new team name “76ers”.

1976-77: Henry Bibby, Doug Collins, Julius Erving, Caldwell Jones, George McGinnis

Looking back, the Sixers owe much of their success in the late 70’s and early 80’s to the ABA’s merger with the NBA. Had it never occurred, Philly might have been robbed of this 1976-77 lineup led by ABA-stand outs Julius Erving and George McGinnis. The duo, backed by Doug Collins and Henry Bibby at the guard positions, went on to appear in the franchise’s first Finals since the team above on this list had done so in 1967. (The first of two appearances for Dr. J on this list.) Erving, McGinnis, and Collins combined to average over 60 points per game on the season.

1982-83: Maurice Cheeks, Andrew Toney, Julius Erving, Marc Iavaroni, Moses Malone

Coached by Sixers legend Billy Cunningham and featuring a handful of players that will forever remain a part of Sixers lore, the 1982-83 Philadelphia 76ers weren’t just one of the Sixers’ greatest teams ever — they were one of the NBA’s greatest teams ever. Moses Malone and Julius Erving powered the unit to a 12-1 playoff performance as they captured the Larry O’Brien trophy after sweeping Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s Los Angeles Lakers in the Finals.

A lineup of Malone and Erving alone might be good enough to make a Finals run, but they were far from the only standouts on the ‘82-83 Sixers. Rounding out the backcourt was Andrew Toney, a.k.a the Boston Strangler, and Maurice Cheeks, as steady as they come at point guard. I wasn’t fortunate enough to be able to watch them live, but fans who were around to see this team in action still speak about it with reverence. The starting five for this unit takes my bid as the Sixers’ single greatest five-man lineup in team history.

2000-01: Eric Snow, Allen Iverson, George Lynch, Tyrone Hill, Dikembe Mutombo

Led on the offensive end by Allen Iverson and anchored on the other side by four-time Defensive Player of the Year Dikembe Mutombo, the 2000-01 Philadelphia 76ers made it to the NBA Finals and ignited a passion for basketball in an entire generation of Philly sports fans. While often a one-man show, nobody could complain about turning on the television to watch the Sixers as Iverson put on a nightly magic show using his flashy handles and creative scoring touch. Coach Larry Brown was able to get the most out of the scoring machine, with Iverson averaging 31.1 points per game and scoring over 40 points 15 times on the season. The ‘01 Sixers may not have the depth of some of the other candidates on this list, but there’s a case to be made that that was exactly the sort of lineup structure needed to bring the best out of Iverson.

2018-19: Ben Simmons, JJ Redick, Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris, Joel Embiid

Falling short of a championship thanks to Kawhi Leonard’s infamous quadruple doink, this version of the Sixers failed to make it past the 2nd round of the NBA playoffs. But the collection of talent in the starting lineup was undeniable. With Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, the Sixers already boasted loads of two-way talent. Then they went out and acquired Jimmy Butler, finally pairing the up-and-coming duo with an established closer who could keep the ball in his hands late in the game. Throw in one of the sport’s greatest shooters of all-time in Redick and Tobias Harris as option no. 5 and it’s almost hard to believe the team didn’t at least make the Conference Finals. The 2018-19 Sixers have some major flaws and they were never quite able to get their chemistry right on the court. But if they had, we may be discussing this lineup as having powered Philly to its first Finals victory since 2001. What could have been...

Poll

Which lineup gets your vote as the greatest in Sixers franchise history?

This poll is closed

  • 13%
    1966-67: Wali Jones, Hal Greer, Chet Walker, Luke Jackson, Wilt Chamberlain
    (204 votes)
  • 1%
    1976-77: Henry Bibby, Doug Collins, Julius Erving, Caldwell Jones, George McGinnis
    (28 votes)
  • 66%
    1982-83: Maurice Cheeks, Andrew Toney, Julius Erving, Marc Iavaroni, Moses Malone
    (1028 votes)
  • 5%
    2000-01: Eric Snow, Allen Iverson, George Lynch, Tyrone Hill, Dikembe Mutombo
    (85 votes)
  • 13%
    2018-19: Ben Simmons, JJ Redick, Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris, Joel Embiid
    (209 votes)
1554 votes total Vote Now

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