The 5 best reserves in Sixers history


We all remember the greats like Wilt Chamberlain, Julius Erving and Allen Iverson. 

But sometimes, the guys coming off the bench are remembered just as vividly.

With that in mind, we look back on the five greatest reserves in Sixers history:

5. World B. Free

Free’s name is so identifiable with the Sixers that it’s almost strange to think about the fact that he only played four seasons here. The team drafted him in the second round in 1975 out of Guilford College. He spent three seasons here during his first stint, averaging 13.6 points a game as a reserve. He was a key bench scorer for the 1976-77 team that took a 2-0 series lead on the Trail Blazers before ultimately losing in the Finals.

After the team traded him to the Clippers in 1978, Free became an All-Star and one of the best scorers in the league over the next decade. The trade worked out just fine for the Sixers, though. They used the first-round pick they acquired to draft Charles Barkley in 1984.

4. Lou Williams

Drafted in the second round out of high school, Williams’ career started off slow. He averaged just 9.2 minutes a game for the Sixers during his first two seasons. Williams then spent the next five seasons as a dynamic scorer off the bench, averaging 13.3 points a game. He was part of the “Show Ya Luv” Sixers that miraculously took the Celtics to seven games in the second round in 2011-12.

Since departing from the Sixers, Williams has become one of the best bench scorers in the NBA, capturing the league’s Sixth Man of the Year award three times. When his career is over, Williams will likely be regarded as one of the best reserves in NBA history.

3. Aaron McKie

Arguably the greatest Allen Iverson sidekick, the Philly native and Temple grad was acquired as part of the Jerry Stackhouse trade in 1997. The 17th overall pick in 1994, McKie bounced around during the early part of his career. The Sixers were his third team in four seasons ... but boy, did he take advantage of his homecoming. McKie spent parts of eight seasons with the Sixers, winning Sixth Man of the Year during the memorable 2000-01 season.

McKie retired in 2007 and is now the head coach at Temple. Iverson has talked on more than one occasion about the impact McKie had on his Hall of Fame career. 

2. Billy Cunningham

“The Kangaroo Kid” was taken fifth overall out of North Carolina and joined a loaded Sixers team in 1965. Hall of Famers Wilt Chamberlain, Hal Greer and Chet Walker were already in the mix. Because of that, Cunningham spent his first couple seasons as a reserve. He helped the team win a title 1966-67, averaging 18.5 points a game in the regular season and 19.7 in the Finals.

By 1968-69, Cunningham made his first All-Star team on his way to a Hall of Fame career. He’s also arguably the greatest coach in Sixers history, leading the team to its last title in 1983.

1. Bobby Jones

After making three All-Star teams in Denver, Jones was part of the trade that sent fellow All-Star George McGinnis to the Nuggets. “The Secretary of Defense” was a starter the next four seasons, helping the team reach the Finals twice in that span. In 1982-83, Jones agreed to come off the bench and the rest is history. Jones took home the NBA’s first ever Sixth Man of the Year award that season.

An 11-time All-Defensive Team pick, Jones retired as a Sixer in 1986 and was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2019. The team has retired Jones’ No. 24.

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