Warriors History: Starting at Guard…
In the quest of building the Warriors all time starting five, we have in the past few weeks been looking at former great players that once upon a time were part of the Warriors franchise. So far, we have selected two players for our five-man unit: Rick Barry, who has one of the best passing forwards of all time and Wilt Chamberlain who we could all argue was the most dominant force the league has ever seen.
But whose got next?
We are looking for a shooting guard that can make due with the possessions he gets; which means making open shots, finishing at the basket, good decision making and occasionally creating plays for others. Sounds like an easy job and yet many guards are incapable of doing all of those.
Off the top of the head, the names of Latrell Sprewell, Stephen Jackson, World B. Free, Jason Richardson, Monta Ellis and the often forgotten Mitch Richmond immediately come to mind. One could make the argument that these players have been the best shooting guards this team has seen in its rich history. And with good reason as well, have a look at their level of productivity while donning a Warriors jersey:
|World B. Free||23.4||5.4||1.1||2.8||.447||.167||.770|
These guards were all impressive in their own rights however I would be hard pressed to anoint any of these fine players as the best shooting guard in Dubs history.
At the listed height of 6’3, World B. Free was a point guard more than anything; while Mitch Richmond and Stephen Jackson played well for the Warriors franchise but in a very short amount of time. Indeed, Richmond was in Golden State for all of three years while Jackson stayed with the team just a little over three years.
Sustained excellence is usually manifested over a five-year stretch. Hence, we are left with Latrell Sprewell, Jason Richardson and Monta Ellis. But then again, when picking an elite shooting guard, I would favor one that, you know, can shoot.
This is where Chris Mullin comes in. For the most part, it seems basketball fans remember Tim Hardaway and Latrell Sprewell, but Mullin often gets lost in the shuffle. And yet, he is probably the best shooting guard the franchise has ever seen.
His career numbers as a Warriors player might not necessarily overwhelm anyone, but they compare rather favorably to the players listed above. Have a look:
The former St. John’s star outranks all of the previously mentioned shooting guards in field goal percentage, 3-point field goal percentage, free throw percentage and is tied with Monta Ellis and Latrell Sprewell in steals per game.
And yet, his career numbers fail to do him justice. Chris Mullin spent 13 of his 16 years in the NBA playing in the Bay and truly put himself on the map from 1988 to 1993. Although Mullin played both the guard and forward positions during his playing days, one can still make the argument that during that stretch he was the best shooting guard in the NBA not named Michael Jordan or Clyde Drexler. Have a look at their output from 1988 to 1993:
The Warriors’ star was so spectacular during that run that he made the All-NBA 2nd team in 1988-89, the 3rd team in 1989-90, the 2nd team again in 1990-91 and the 1st team in 1991-92.
His lights out shooting, solid playmaking and impressive scoring ability led to him being chosen to play on the greatest basketball team ever assembled: the 1992 Dream Team.
And as much as we like to label players based on their positions, the Dream Team was comprised of basketball players; not necessarily individuals who had to play a fixed position, which speaks to the versatility of Mullin to adapt and play whatever role was required depending on the teammates that surrounded him.
As a result of his fabulous all round play and longevity in the league, the left-handed Brooklyn native’s name appears in several places in the Warriors record books (rank in franchise history indicated in parentheses):
- 807 games played (1st
- 28,225 minutes played (2nd)
- 16,235 points (4th)
- 11,993 field goals attempted (4th)
- 51.3 percent field goal shooting (10th)
- 590 3-pt field goals made (3rd)
- 1,610 3-pt field goal attempts (4th)
- 3,345 free throws made (5th)
- 3,881 free throws attempted (6th)
- 86.2% free throw percentage (5th)
- 949 offensive rebounds (9th)
- 2,600 defensive rebounds (4th)
- 3,146 assists (4th)
- 1,360 steals (1st)
- 493 blocks (8th)
- 2,110 turnovers (1st)
Chris Mullin was inducted this year into the Hall of Fame as a proud member of basketball royalty. The message behind his induction is that a limited amount of players in the world were truly better than he was. And with that, he makes the Warriors all time starting five.
But his spot here does raise a question: how many trios would you pick ahead of the Mullin, Barry and Chamberlain one? The fact that truly legendary trios are the ones coming to mind should tell you just how great this one is.