Sidney Moncrief is one of the great “what-if” players in basketball history. He only played six seasons totally healthy as a starter. He spent one season as a reserve and spent four more oft-injured. When he was on the court, his Milwaukee Bucks never won, let alone appeared in, an NBA Finals. His total career points top out at a shade below 12,000. As a supposed top-notch defender he never achieved more than 140 steals in a season and finished his career below 1000.
Despite all that, Sidney Moncrief also happens happens to be one of the great “what he did” players in basketball history because what he did was simply spectacular. His Bucks coach Don Nelson summed up Moncrief as a player who wouldn’t do one thing to achieve victory, he’d do everything.
During his heyday, Sid the Squid averaged 20+ points for five straight seasons. Although 6’3″ tall, he would slide from point guard to shooting guard to small forward in Nelson’s helter skelter small ball lineups. No matter what offensive role he took on, Moncrief would usually garner the opponent’s toughest offensive assignment all night, so long as it wasn’t a power forward or center. He could leave that to Bob Lanier.
It seemed that everything else indeed fell on Sid. He was a superb passer. He was a great rebounder for his position and size (twice averaging 6.7 RPG for a season). He nailed his free throws all day, every day with an 83% average for his career. And he got there a lot with five straight seasons of 7+ FT attempts per game.
From 1982 to 1986, Moncrief was twice named Defensive Player of the Year, was a perennial All-Star and All-NBA team member, and his Bucks may not have won, or even appeared in, an NBA Finals, but they were an amazing success nonetheless. From 1980 to 1986, the Bucks captured their division’s regular season crown every year. They always appeared in at least the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, and three times went to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Ultimately, though, Moncrief’s career never reached its fullest potential. What could have been if his knees had never suffered from chronic injury, we’ll never know. But what he did leaves no doubt that he’s a certified true hall of famer.
Seasons Played: 1980 – 1991
2x Defensive Player of the Year (1983-’84)
All-NBA 1st Team (1983)
4x All-Defensive 1st Team (1983-’86)
4x All-NBA 2nd Team (1982, 1984-’86)
All-Defensive 2nd Team (1982)
5x All-Star (1982-’86)
NBA - 767 Games
15.6 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 3.6 APG, 1.2 SPG, 50.2% FG, 83.1% FT
Contemporary NBA Ranks (1980 – 1991)
11th FTs Made, 24th FT%, 27th Steals,
33rd Games Played, 29th Minutes Played