Warriors History: Starting at PF…
For the past few weeks, Warriors World has been busy trying to come up with the all time Warriors starting five. So far, we have selected players at every position except power forward. Indeed, our Warriors unit features the incomparable Wilt Chamberlain at center, the mercurial Rick Barry at small forward, the founder of the killer crossover with Tim Hardaway at point guard and finally our deadeye sniper Chris Mullin at shooting guard.
With so much firepower on the team, it would behoove this unit to have a player at power forward capable of doing some dirty work such as cleaning up the glass, setting hard picks and defending opposing big men. In addition, this Warriors squad’s offense would revolve around the scoring prowess of Chamberlain and Barry; consequently it’s important that our power forward be able feed them for scoring opportunities; but also for him to take advantage of open looks he will get as a result of the attention that both Wilt and Barry attract.
Furthermore, with the Big Dipper essentially owning the low block, it is not absolutely necessary, but a stretch power forward would certainly be a huge benefit to team.
Prior to unveiling our player, I have to make a confession: I cheated.
In order to be eligible for the Dubs all time team, a player had to have been a player for the franchise for at least five years in order to truly leave his imprint on the team as well as the record books. Otherwise, it becomes difficult to accurately gauge the value of a said player to a franchise.
But in the case of our power forward, he was just too good to pass up.
Jerry Lucas played approximately a year and a half with the Warriors and appeared in 143 regular season games. He also helped the San Francisco Warriors reach the postseason in 1971, where the Dubs were eliminated by the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the playoffs in five games
Lucas spent the majority of his career playing with the Cincinnati Royals and New York Knicks; hence can we really have him play on our team?
The question is a fair one, but Lucas’ talent and production forced our hand. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1980 specifically because he was an efficient scorer, astounding rebounder (Moses Malone might have been the ultimate garbage man, but Lucas was not that far off), good passer for a big man and also a shooter with good range. Have a look at Luke’s career numbers for further evidence:
In his early years in the NBA, Lucas was one of the best players in the league bar none. In his first five seasons in the National Basketball Association, he was selected three times to the All-NBA 1st team and twice to the All-NBA 2nd team.
As impressive as Jerry Lucas’ accolades and career statistics were, they fail to give us much insight with regards to what he accomplished as a member of the Warriors.
His play with San Francisco during the 1970-71 season led to an All-Star selection as well as playoff berth for a team that had a 30-52 record the season prior. Below are Lucas’ numbers for the short time he spent playing in the Bay:
His short stint with the franchise means that his name appears in very few places in the Warriors record books (franchise rank in parentheses):
- 38.8 minutes per game (4th)
- 15.2 rebounds per game (3rd)
- 19.6 PER (7th)
And yet, despite his brief stay in San Francisco, Lucas would fit it perfectly with the four other Warriors greats.
Jerry Lucas rarely forced shots, he was content with getting his points within the flow of the offense and thus often took high percentage shots. Also, he was great at sharing the ball but also at feeding the post (underrated skill) from the perimeter and also from the high post.
When defenses tried to deny him post entry passes from the high post, Lucas’ decent ball handling ability allowed him to get past his defender and finish at the basket despite at times jumping off the wrong foot. His body control allowed him to at times take seemingly awkward shots (think Jeff Hornacek) and yet still make them with much regularity.
The former Buckeye may not have played for a long period of time in a Warriors uniform, but his game still speaks volumes even today. He is the type of glue guy that would perfectly complement the talents of Hardaway, Mullin, Barry and Chamberlain on the Dubs all time team.
Other franchises such as the Lakers and Celtics might have some amazing legends that once graced the court for their respective teams, but I would love to see them go head to head with this Warriors squad.
Imagine the Dubs playing against a squad composed of Cousy, Sharman, Bird, McHale and Russell or Magic, West, Worthy, Baylor and Chamberlain; it would make for some riveting and yet legendary basketball.
And we would expect nothing less from our Warriors all time starting five.