It's crazy to think that Dr. J got to Philadelphia by being signed.
Compiling a list that breaks down the Philadelphia 76ers' best free agency signings in their history will either teach or reinforce one thing.
Philadelphia was in their free agency prime during the 1970s.
The ABA-NBA merger gave the Sixers multiple great players. It appears as though they really have not done much since then, though.
This list is about which former free-agents meant the most to Philly when they were playing there. Here's my take on ranking the five best NBA free agency signings in Philadelphia's history. Please let me know how your list would look in the comments below.
George Lynch was a member of Philadelphia's 2001 NBA finals team.
We have to start this slide off by thinking about how much fun the 2000-01 Philadelphia team was to watch. Put their starting-five against almost any other team's at the time and you would never think they would get to the NBA finals.
They were the definition of a team overflowing with heart.
Eric Snow, Aaron McKie and of course Allen Iverson quickly come to mind when looking back at their starters. George Lynch, on the other hand, did the majority of the team's dirty work and helped Philadelphia achieve a level of consistency on defense.
He isn't remembered too much, though.
The guy never averaged more than 9.6 points per game throughout his career, but he needs to be remembered as one of Philadelphia's best free agency signings.
He was one of the key pieces to Philly's improbable run.
Jones isn't widely known, but he came onto the Sixers with Dr. J
Let's be honest here. Not many people are going to remember you if you joined the Sixers at the same time as Julius Erving.
Caldwell Jones probably won't stick out to most Philadelphia fans then.
Jones was the anchor in the middle during is time with the Sixers averaging 9.0 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game in six seasons with the club.
Basketballhistorian.com described Jones as one of the reasons for Philadelphia's postseason success after the ABA-NBA merger. Here is what the website says:
In 1976-77 when the ABA and NBA merged, Caldwell Jones signed with the Philadelphia 76ers of the NBA and helped them make the playoffs six consecutive seasons, 1976-77 through 1981-82.
During the late 1970s and early 1980s Caldwell Jones' gutsy rebounding paved the way to the 76ers' successes. In 1979-80 he averaged 11.9 rebounds per game, fourth highest in the NBA which helped Philadelphia go all-the-way to the NBA Finals before losing in 6 games to the LA Lakers. In 1981-82 his' role helped Philly again go to the NBA Finals, where again they lost in 6 games to LA.
Jones would go on to finish out a 17-year career with four other teams, but he made his biggest impact in Philly.
Steve Mix is one of four players on the list to have started in the ABA before joining the Sixers.
He averaged 14.9 points and 10.5 rebounds per game in his first season with the team and immediately became one of Philadelphia's top players.
Mix had to eventually take a back seat to Dr. J when he arrived, but there wasn't an ounce of unselfishness that took place. In fact, Mix went on to room with Erving for the majority of their road games.
Finishing his Philadelphia career with over 11 points, 6 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game doesn't immediately pop out. However, the fact that he did it in only 25.0 minutes per game over the course of nine seasons with the club ends up making his career numbers impressive.
It can be tough to justify somebody who played in the 1970s as one of Philadelphia's best free-agent signings, but it just happens to be when the Sixers made a great decision and got Mix.
Fran Blinebury wrote an article for nba.com comparing LeBron James and the Miami Heat forming a super-team to Julius Erving joining George McGinnis in Philadelphia. Blinebury does a good job at shining a light on the type of guy McGinnis is:
It was Oct. 20, 1976, just two days before the regular-season opener, when the star forward of the 76ers had to make room for a high-profile and high-scoring teammate.
Julius Erving, Dr. J.
"Wow! That's your first reaction. Of course, I had played against Julius in the ABA, so I knew the player and the talent we were talking about. I was consulted by the Sixers' management and gave my complete endorsement. Going back to the days when you're a kid out there on the playground, you always want the best guys on your team."
The only knock on McGinnis is how long he played in Philly. Who knows where he would rank on Philadelpiha's all-time list if he had played there longer than three years. Instead, we are left with what-ifs and they are some big ones.
McGinnis averaged 21.5 points, 11.5 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 2.1 steals per game in his time with the Sixers. Pretty amazing numbers.
Even if it was only for three years.
Erving would be at the top of almost any list.
Now, technically Julius Erving was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers, but Philly ended up paying $6 million for him in order to keep the New York Nets afloat during the ABA-NBA merger. The fact that the Sixers paid for Erving instead of trading anybody for him makes this much more like a free-agent signing than anything else.
So that's what we are going to go with.
Erving rounds out the list of Sixers players who once played in the ABA and is clearly the greatest one of them all. His game brought an energy back into Philadelphia basketball and it gave fans a reason to watch the Sixers again.
Putting him in the No. 1 spot was both well deserved and no surprise.