All-time small-ball starting lineup - 6'7" and under
Small-ball has always been around, but it has taken off in the NBA in the last few years. Here is my 6'7"-and-under, all-time lineup. I tried to get a blend of size, offense, defense, rebounding and defense. The only strict guideline here is the players need to be 6'7" or less.
Elgin Baylor was a 6'5" forward who was an 11-time All-Star and 10-time All-NBA First Team. He averaged 27.4 PPG, 13.5 RPG and 4.3 APG. Elgin had a 71-point game against the Knicks in 1960. He was very athletic, acrobatic and hard to contain. His hang-in-the-air jump shot was one-of-a-kind. Baylor retired nine games into the 1971-72 season because of a nagging knee injury and received his one-and-only Championship ring even though he didn't participate in the playoffs that season.
The 6'6" Michael Jordan is ranked by many as the best player to ever come into the NBA. He is a 6-time Champion, 6-time Finals MVP, 5-time MVP, 14-time All-Star and 9-time All-Defensive First Team. He averaged 30.1 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 5.3 APG and 2.3 SPG. Larry Bird once described Michael as "God disguised as Michael Jordan". Air Jordan earned all of the accolades that surround him.
Julius Erving, at 6'7", played in both the ABA and NBA. He earned one Championship ring and one MVP award but was also an 11-time All-Star. He averaged 24.2 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 4.2 APG, 2.0 SPG and 1.7 BPG. As shown in the tweet above, he was a flyer. Super mobile and athletic with huge hands, Doctor J was a tough cover for any defender.
Jerry West, alias The Logo, partnered with Elgin Baylor on the Lakers teams of the 1960's. He only won one Championship, mostly because his path always seemed to be blocked by Bill Russell's Celtics. In addition to being named as Finals MVP (on a losing team), he was a 14-time All-Star, one=time scoring champ, one-time assist leader and 5-time All-Defensive Team. The 6'3" West averaged 27.0 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 6.7 APG and 2.6 SPG. A good choice for the NBA's logo.
I added a sixth player to this line-up because I could not leave the 6'5" John Havlicek out of it, and he played sixth man for the Celtics for a number of years. The 8-time NBA Champion and 13-time All-Star was one of the best two-way players the League has known. He was an 8-time All-Defensive team member and 4-time All-NBA First Team. He averaged 20.8 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 4.8 APG and 1.2 SPG. Hondo was a three-sport athlete who was drafted by the NFL Cleveland Browns as well as the Celtics in 1962.
The 6'5" Oscar Robertson was a one-time Champion and one-time MVP. He was also a 12-time All-Star, 9-time All-NBA First Team and 6-time assists leader. He averaged 25.7 PPG, 7.5 RPG and 9.5 APG. He also averaged a triple-double (30.8/12.5/11.4) in the 1961-62 season. Oscar was big, strong and talented, seemingly being able to get anywhere on the court he wanted to be and still get his shot off.
There are obvious omissions including Charles Barkley, Isiah Thomas, Paul Pierce, Steve Nash and many others. Feel free to go with your own top-5 (or six) small-ball team. Any current or past player is eligible as long as they are 6'7" or shorter.
Follow Tom at @TomLaneHC
Baylor photo via LA Times
West photo via Wen Roberts
Havlicek photo via Rchard Pilling/NBAE/Getty Images
Robertson photo via SI
Jordan photo via Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images