The Most Underrated NBA Player Ever! – Sidney Moncrief

           There have always been stars in the NBA. Players such as Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, Bill Russell, Kobe Bryant, and Wilt Chamberlain. Among these stars, there have always been players just a few tiers below them who are overlooked or simply not flashy enough to receive media attention. In Michael Jordan’s first season, it wasn’t Larry Bird’s Celtics or Isiah Thomas’s Pistons who eliminated him. It was Sidney Moncrief’s Milwaukee Bucks.

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            Moncrief was a 6 foot 3 inch, 180 pound two-way guard for the Milwaukee Bucks in the 1980s who had career accomplishments of being a 5-time All-Star, 5-time All-NBA Team player, 5-time All-Defensive Team player, and a 2-time Defensive Player of the Year, as well as being possibly the biggest snub of NBA Hall of Fame History. Moncrief won his 2 Defensive Player of the Year awards in the first two years when the award was introduced. His 5 All-Defense selections are more than both Draymond Green and Kawhi Leonard have now. There was no one thing that Moncrief could not do well. He had an above average shot, great passing and rebounding, unique court vision, and game-changing defense. After 10 seasons in the NBA, his career was cut short by a degenerative knee injury that doctors said was supposed to cut his pro career to no longer than 2 years.

               Don Nelson once described Moncrief by saying, “His mental toughness is about as strong as anyone I’ve ever been around. And I’ve known a lot of players.” Even Michael Jordan, the GOAT, and a player known to be one of the best defenders ever said about Moncrief, “He’ll hound you everywhere you go, both ends of the court. You just expect it.” So why is Sidney Moncrief so unknown to a casual basketball fan? Simple, he played in a small market and he was overshadowed by more popular players in his era. And he doesn’t have a ring. The sad part is, it’s not even his fault.

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             Sidney Moncrief played in an era dominated by Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, and Julius Erving among many others. His play couldn’t be appreciated as there were players who were flashier and better playing in bigger markets such as Los Angeles and Chicago. His playstyle wasn’t too interesting either as he just backed his opponent down in the post where he made a scoop layup or a simple jumper.

             Because of his injuries in his late 20s and into his early 30s, Sidney Moncrief’s prime came relatively early compared to other stars. His prime years were from ages 25 to 28. During these years, Moncrief averaged 21.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists, and 1 and a half steals a game. Gary Payton who was a shoe in to the Hall of Fame averaged 19.5 points, 3.9 rebounds, 6.9 assists, and 2.5 steals per game between the ages of 25 to 28.

             This is how we know how underrated Moncrief truly was. He was the number one option on a legitimately title contending team and he missed out on entering the Hall of Fame, whereas Gary Payton had about the same stats and a much better supporting cast than Moncrief but could not win a championship until he was in his late 30s playing with two prime superstars in Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O’Neal on the Miami Heat. You could make the case that Payton was also the number one option on a contending team, but Payton had four solid 13 plus points per game scorers helping him.

            There have been many players who have made it into the Hall of Fame even though they didn’t have as good a career as Moncrief did. Though those players did deserve to make it, the fact that Moncrief has been eligible to enter the Hall for over two decades and hasn’t, even with the accomplishments he has is ridiculous.

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