All-Time Team Starting Center: Bob McAdoo
Drafted second overall by the Buffalo Braves in the 1972 NBA Draft, Bob McAdoo quickly solidified himself as one of the best big men in the league at the time. McAdoo averaged 18.0 points and 9.1 rebounds in his rookie season and both won the 1973 NBA Rookie of the Year Award and made the NBA All-Rookie First Team. Paired alongside guard Randy Smith, McAdoo became one of the league’s best offensive players, leading the league in scoring in his next three seasons with the Braves. In his second season with Buffalo, McAdoo was selected to be an All-Star after leading the league in field goal percentage (54.7 percent) and averaging 30.6 points, 15.1 rebounds, and 3.3 blocks. This season remains the last time a player has averaged 30 points and 15 rebounds per game.
McAdoo’s game rose to a whole nother level in his third season with the Braves when he averaged a career high 34.5 points along with 14.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game while shooting 51.2 percent from the floor. The center was selected to his second All-Star game and led all players in fan voting. McAdoo also was awarded the 1975 NBA Most Valuable Player Award, the only player in franchise’s history to win the MVP. In just five and a quarter seasons with the Braves, McAdoo scored 9,434 points, good enough for fourth in franchise history. In addition, McAdoo is fifth in franchise history with 4,229 rebounds in a Clippers’ uniform and fifth in blocks with 614.
One of the first big men to regularly shoot from the outside, McAdoo was called “the quickest tall man, finest shooter and most astounding outside scoring machine ever to play basketball,” by Sports Illustrated in the midst of the 1975-1976 season. In his first four seasons, all with the Braves, nearly half of the shots that McAdoo took were outside of the paint, unheard of for a league that had seen only traditional big men who could only score in the paint. The prototype for today’s modern NBA big man who can stretch the floor, McAdoo is often overlooked when experts and fans debate the best centers of all-time. While many forget McAdoo because of when he played and the fact that he played for a small market in Buffalo, fans of the Clippers’ franchise remember him as a dominant and new breed of center.
This 50 point performance against the then Baltimore Bullets in the 1975 playoffs does a good job of showcasing the versatility and dominance that McAdoo brought to the Braves: