Editor’s Note: As part of a new series for his podcast, “What about Wright with Nick Wright?” FOX Sports commentator Nick Wright ranks the Top 50 NBA Players of the last 50 years. The countdown continues today with player No. 38, Bob McAdoo.
Bob McAdoo’s Career Highlights:
- Five-time All-Star
- One-time All-NBA First Team, One-time Second Team
- Most Valuable Player of 1975
- 1973 Rookie of the Year
- Three-time scoring champion
Bob McAdoo was not part of the NBA 50th anniversary team. He was part of the 75th anniversary team. His inclusion on the latter came despite the fact that he had last played in the NBA 10 years before the initial roster was put together.
Another quarter century of basketball just provided further proof that what McAdoo accomplished is rare. At the age of 24, he won MVP and finished second twice while claiming three straight scoring titles for the expansion Buffalo Braves. That was on the heels of winning Rookie of the Year.
“A true professional scorer,” Wright said.
Only three centers have won the scoring crown since McAdoo last held it in 1976 (David Robinson, Shaquille O’Neal, Joel Embiid). The center’s deft play was ahead of its time, with fluid ball handling and outside shooting. During five consecutive All-Star seasons (which involved two with the Knicks), he averaged 29.8 points and 13.4 rebounds.
The problem: His teams won a playoff series when he was in his twenties.
“McAdoo’s problem is the lack of championships like the best,” Wright said. “But he doesn’t kill him so much for what he was able to do in the postseason.”
During his heyday, McAdoo put up the same amazing numbers in the playoffs. He averaged 30 and 13 from 1974 to 1978, which included a 50-point, 21-rebound effort against Hall of Fame duo Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes.
McAdoo’s career then took a strange turn. He bounced between six teams in six years, gradually losing minutes despite producing efficiently at every stop. He would ultimately land with the Lakers, who benched him for four straight trips to the Finals (two championships).
In the 1982 Finals, McAdoo averaged 16.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.3 blocks, and 1.0 steals while shooting a team-high 56.9% from the floor in just 27.5 minutes per game. Nobody averaged 20 points for LA in the six-game series win over the 76ers. Two years later, he remained one of the Lakers’ five most valuable players until he suffered an Achilles tendon injury that kept him out of the team’s Game 7 loss to the Celtics.
“You could argue that the reason they didn’t win the 1984 title was because McAdoo got hurt,” Wright said. “He gets hurt in Game 6, or maybe they win that series. In ’85, he was just a role player, but in ’82, he was a big player for that team.”
McAdoo would contribute to one more championship team in Los Angeles and then play one final season with the Sixers before embarking on a successful career in Italy. He retired with career averages of 22.1 points and 9.4 rebounds that look even better when adjusted to 36 minutes (23.9, 10.2).
“I don’t have McAdoo very far ahead of Dwight (Howard) and AD (Anthony Davis),” Wright said. “As dominant as his spikes were, I thought McAdoo was a little more dominant.”
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