Speedburner’s Countdown of the Top 150 Players in NBA History – BasketballMonday, August 1, 2011 22:35
The Honorable Mentions as Speedburner counts down the Top 150 players in NBA History.
Today is a day to honor my favorite ‘close but no cigar’ players – guys who are all likely to make my Top 200 book but just not quite good enough to crack the Top 150.
- Larry Kenon – 6’9″ SF/PF from 1973 – 83…won ABA title his rookie year playing alongside Dr. J, averaging 15.9 & 11.5 rebounds…All-Star all 3 of his ABA years (and 2 more times in NBA)…high-flyer who nabbed many sweet one-handed rebounds and participated in the first ever dunk contest in 1976. Teamed with Gervin on the Spurs, averaging at least 20 & 9 for 4 straight years and putting up a large 21.1/11.4/3.0 assists in the 1979 playoffs when the Spurs lost in the Western Conference Finals to the eventual NBA champion Sonics. Nose candy derailed his career too soon, as he played for 3 different teams his last year in the league (1982-83) at the young age of 30. The other blemish on his record was a complete lack of blocked shots (only once in his career better than .5/game), very surprising for a tall jumper like himself.
- Terrell Brandon – 5’11″ PG from 1991 – 02…pint-sized speed demon was very productive in Cleveland and Minnesota during the mid to late 90s…twice over 19 points/game, 4 times over 7.5 assists/game and a stretch of 6 straight seasons of at least 1.8 steals/game from 1995-96 to 2000-01. Sadly, less than a year after that ’00-’01 season (78 games, 16.0 points, 7.5 assists, 3.8 rebounds, 2.1 steals, 45% shooting), his career was over at the age of 31, cut short by injury in the first half of the ’01-’02 season, leading to the emergence of Chauncey Billups (who the T-Wolves stupidly let go after that season – the rest is history).
- Jason Terry – 6’2″ PG/SG from 1999 – today…a productive starter at PG with the Hawks his 2nd thru 5th years in the league (over 19 points twice and at least 5.4 assists every year), he was then traded to the Mavericks, where he has spent the rest of his career so far. In Dallas, he has never averaged less than 15.5 points nor under 3.2 assists while starting and coming off the bench. He showed up big in the 2006 playoffs when Dallas first made the Finals (18.9/3.8 assists/44.2%), but saved his best for the 2011 playoffs, especially the crucial Games 5 & 6 of the Finals. His playoff numbers ended up at 17.5/3.2 assists/47.8% and 44.2% on 3s, making 2 a game. With the Finals tied at 2-2, Terry made 8-12 shots for 21 points to go with 6 assists and 4 rebounds in Game 5, then burned the Heat on 11-16 shooting and 27 points in Game 6 to go with 2 big steals. While Lebron was melting, Terry was shining, bumping up his spot on the all-time list of NBA greats by at least 25-30 spots in the process.
- Reggie Theus – 6’7″ PG/SG from 1978 – 91…averaged at least 5 assists/game his first 10 seasons in the league, three at 8/game or better, while also scoring big-time, 4 times over 20 points/game, peaking with 23.8 in 1982-83. Never missed a single game his first 5 seasons, 8 times total playing all 82…pretty marginal rebounder for such a tall guard, only once averaging 4 rebounds/game (4.0 in ’79-’80). Sadly, his teams were pretty crappy, and he only made the playoffs 4 times in his career, never winning a series.
- Steve Francis – 6’3″ PG from 1999 – 08…a super-athletic PG with a playground mentality, Francis knew how to fill a box score big-time (his first six years in the league: 19.7 points, 6.1 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 1.6 steals, 5.1 FTM per game) but did not really know how to win. He played with Yao Ming and yet only made the playoffs once, losing 4-1 to the Lakers in 2004. I remember watching one of those games and thinking to myself, Francis is playing like it is an All-Star Game (by the way, he made 3 of those, along with being named 2000 Rookie of the Year), not a playoff game. Dumb flashy passes, poor shot selection…too bad, because he was a blast to watch play. His career kerplunked very suddenly, never averaging over 15 points/game after his last great season, 2004-05. He only played 10 games in 2007-08 before being done at age 30.
Derek Harper, Jermaine O’Neal and Josh Smith are other honorable mention favorites, with Josh having a decent chance at cracking the Top 150 before his career is through (especially if he learns how to shoot from outside of 12 feet). Jermaine was another strange case of a career fading fast by 30 years old, and Harper was a rock solid PG for Dallas in the mid to late 80s and Knicks mid-90s.
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