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February 14, 2019

Is Sixers' current starting five their best line up of all time?

Sixers NBA

The Sixers' roster has undergone quite a bit of turnover, as the team's front office has shown its committed to cashing in on "The Process," and cashing in right now.

Trades for two All-Star caliber players have given Philly arguably one of the top starting five's in all of basketball — with many agreeing it's second-best behind the Golden State Warriors (Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and DeMarcus Cousins may be the best ever to play together). 

So how does this five measure up to the history of the storied Sixers' franchise? Well, we've whittled it down to the four best Sixers lineups of the last 70 years.

2018-19 (37-21 so far)

They've only played four games so far, with growing pains aplenty, but they've shown more than a few glimmers of what can be. The line up is big: 6-foot-4 J.J. Redick is the smallest guy on the floor. Everyone else is bigger than 6-foot-8 and can score in different ways. Once Brett Brown learns the best combinations for second and third units, and the chemistry develops, the team will provide match up nightmares.

Ben Simmons16.8 9.0 / 7.9 All-Star 
 J.J. Redick18.6 2.2 / 2.840% 3-pt shooter
Jimmy Butler19.35.1 / 3.92 steals per game
Tobias Harris20.77.8 / 2.843% 3-pt shooter
Joel Embiid27.313.5 / 3.5 All-Star starter

Obviously, we have incomplete information on the 2018-19 Sixers, but this line up — especially if it returns intact next season (Butler and Harris will be free agents) — has the potential to be the best ever to lace up together in South Philly. All three of the other lineups we break down feature at least two NBA Hall of Famers. Who from this bunch will wind up in Springfield?

2000-01 (56-26, lost in NBA Finals)

This team is not as good as the current Sixers team. In fact, of the four teams we are mentioning as candidates, this one is undoubtedly the worst — it's really just Allen Iverson and four role players.

Even so, it's the best team to play in the city since the 1980s, so here they are: the team that ran into the Kobe-Shaq Lakers and never really had a chance:

Eric Snow9.83.3 / 7.81.5 steals per game
 Allen Iverson31.13.8 / 4.6NBA MVP
George Lynch8.47.2 / 1.7
Tyrone Hill9.69.0 / 0.6
Dikembe Mutombo10.013.5 / 1Defensive Player of the Year

Okay, the supporting cast around Iverson is dreadful. It was a different era in league history, but Iverson — aside from rim protection from Mutombo — got almost no help at all. Which makes you appreciate how incredible he actually was in 2000-01. What a deserving NBA MVP he turned out to be.

1982-83 (65-17, won NBA championship)

Okay, now we have a real rival for the star power and production of the current Sixers' starting five. The below team swept the Magic-Kareem Lakers in four games, nearly completing Moses Malone's fabled "fo-fo-fo" by losing just one game all postseason. 

The '83 squad had an NBA MVP, Finals MVP (both Malone), Sixth Man of the Year (Bobby Jones), All Star Game MVP (Julius Erving), two All-NBA first teamers and three NBA All-defense first teamers. Four of their five starters were in the All-Star Game, with three of them starting.

The current Sixers, and the Sixers teams of the near future, will have a lot to chase if they look to replicate the achievements of one of the best teams, in any city, ever to play together.

Maurice Cheeks12.52.6 / 6.9All-NBA Defense
Andrew Toney
2.8 / 4.5
All Star
Julius Erving21.46.8 / 3.7All-NBA 1st team
Marc Iavaroni5.14.1 / 1.0
Moses Malone24.515.3 / 1.3NBA MVP

That's pretty darn impressive. 

1966-67 (68-13, won NBA championship)

The title-winning 1967 starting line up centered around Wilt Chamberlain, which already makes it hard to upstage. This was a bit after his 50 points per game season, but the 7-footer averaged nearly a triple double per game along with his 24 points and 24 rebounds. The team had the best start in league history at 46-4 in its first 50 games, and beat the San Francisco Warriors in six games to win the second championship in city history (they won in 1955 too).

Four of the team's primary players are now in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, though Billy Cunningham (18.5 ppg) was the team's sixth man. The 1983 team had three — four with Jones, the 2001 team had two. Here's a look at their numbers that season:

Hal Greer22.15.3 / 3.8All-NBA 2nd team
Wali Jones
3.3 / 3.7

Chet Walker19.38.1 / 2.3All Star
Luke Jackson12.08.9 / 1.4
Wilt Chamberlain24.124.2 / 7.8NBA MVP

So what do you think? Vote below for the starting five you think is the best ever for the 76ers:

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