Detlef Schrempf is one of the more fascinating and interesting players in NBA history. For starters, he’s clearly one of the more versatile players to ever suit up. For non-starters, he regularly came off the bench until he was 30 years old. Finally, Detlef was one of the first European players to have a major impact on the NBA.
Drafted by the Dallas Mavericks, Detlef didn’t see too much playing time as a reserve player. In 1987, however, he gave a glimpse to his long-range shooting acumen with a blistering 48% shooting from downtown. Traded to the Indiana Pacers midway through the 1988-89 season, Schrempf continued to come off the bench, but saw a significant bump in his minutes and production. By 1993 he was finally promoted to the starting lineup and produced a staggering line of 19 points, 9.5 rebounds and 6 assists per game. Not bad for a 6’9″, 210 lbs. power forward.
And don’t let the slender frame fool you, Detlef was at home camping out at the three-point line, attacking off the dribble, or posting up on the low block. His vast array of skills made him a 3x All-Star and also he’s one of only three players to win the Sixth Man of the Year Award twice along with Ricky Pierce and Kevin McHale. Schrempf and McHale are the only two men to win the award in back-to-back seasons.
Schrempf was dealt from the Pacers to the Seattle SuperSonics prior to the 1993-94 season. Detlef, of course, continued his fine all-around play. In 1995, he averaged a career-high 19.2 points per game while shooting a ridiculous 52.3% FG, 51.4% 3PT, and 83.9% FT. The next season, the SuperSonics reached the NBA Finals but lost to the Chicago Bulls.
That series was notable for both squads prominently featuring foreign players: the Sonics with Detlef and the Bulls with Toni Kukoc. Clearly, the NBA was becoming more familiar and amenable to the European player. And why not? If guys like Detlef were a sign of things to come, then NBA teams would have been fools to ignore the benefits.
However, even if Detlef weren’t a pioneering European player, he’d still have the credentials to strut into this Hall of Fame.
Seasons Played: 1986 – 2001
2x Sixth Man of the Year (1991-’92)
All-NBA 3rd Team (1995), 3x All-Star (1993, ’95, ’97)
NBA - 1136 Games
13.9 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 3.4 APG, 0.8 SPG, 49.1% FG, 38.4% 3PT, 80.3% FT