Who were the best NBA players from the 1970s and 1980s who were not hall of famers?

I think I have enough knowledge to answer this question since I love this era of the NBA…


Paul Silas

Think of him like your 1970s version of Draymond Green or Dennis Rodman. He was a high hustle defensive glue guy who had a lot of intangibles. Every great NBA team needs one of these guys to really have a dynasty. He was a 2x All-Star, 3x Champion and 5x All-Def player. Great rebounder and defensive presence who helped the 70s Celtics and Supersonics teams win titles. Not very appreciated much today.

Bob Love

In the 70s he was the Chicago Bulls top scoring forward, he averaged 21+ PPG in 6 seasons, a great scorer and defensive forward for them. The Bulls were probably the best 1970s team never to make the Finals. They had all the right pieces, but were just one piece missing (Artis Gilmore) away from making the Finals. He was a 3x All-Star, 2x All-NBA, 3x All-Def player. IMO a snub for the Hall of Fame.

Norm Van Lier

Another underrated player from that 1970s Bulls team, Norm Van Lier was one of the best all around PGs of his era. He averaged 12/5/7 and was a 3x All-Star, 1x All-NBA, 1x AST leader and 8x All-Def. He could score if his team needed it, he was an above average rebounder for his position, he was a great passer and he was a fantastic defender, one of the best perimeter defenders of the 1970s.

Freddie Lewis

Part of the 70s ABA Pacers dynasty, Lewis was a combo guard who was a 4x All-Star, 3x Champion and 1x Finals/Playoffs MVP. He was one of their best players during their 1972 championship run. If an NBA player had these credentials he would have been a shoo in to the HoF decades ago. Alas ABA players always get shafted…

Willie Wise

Willie Wise was always a standout performer in big moments in the ABA. He was a 3x All-Star, 2x All-ABA, 2x All-Def and 1x Champion with the Utah Stars. He was a very versatile forward who could score, rebound and defend anyone on the other team. Also the second best player on the 1971 Utah Stars championship team after Zelmo Beaty (who won FMVP and is a HoFer).

Mack Calvin / Jimmy Jones

Both of these guys were 5x and 6x All-Stars respectively and named to a combined 6x All-ABA first team selections so together they were considered the best guard in the league a combined 6 times. I haven’t seen too much footage of them, both of them had seasons averaging 27 PPG before, so there’s something to be said about them being probably amongst the best guards in ABA history.

Maurice Lucas

5x All-Star, 2x All-NBA/ABA, 2x All-Def, Mo Lucas was the second best player on the 1977 championship Blazers team and known as ‘The Enforcer’ because he was a tough, scrappy hard nosed player and defender who was a great scorer and rebounder in his prime. Mo Lucas was key to the Blazers mounting that 4–0 comeback from down 0–2 in the 1977 Finals against Dr J’s 76ers.

Warren Jabali

4x All-Star, 1x All-ABA, 1x Champion, 1x Finals/Playoffs MVP, prime Jabali was a monster to deal with, super athletic and strong. Although he had a short career, He was putting up numbers like 22/10/4 in his prime despite being undersized as a SG! He outplayed the entire Pacers team in the 1969 Finals and averaged 29/13/3 that playoffs.

Ron Boone

4x All-Star, 1x Champ, 2x All-ABA, Boone was known as an iron man of the ABA. he played over 80 games in his career 10 times!! Boone was a scrappy player and in his prime averaged 25/5/4 a game for the Utah Stars. Rarely thought about today. He scored over 17k combined ABA + NBA points.


Gus Williams

I think he’s one of the most underrated guards ever. 2x All-Star, 2x All-NBA, 1x Champion with the Supersonics and part of their late 70s dynasty (although he had his best statistical years in the 80s). Gus Williams was one of those early scoring point guards, he even had one playoffs averaging 32 PPG! in the 1979 Finals, he was the Supersonics leading scorer, averaging 29 PPG in that Finals – although Dennis Johnson got the Finals MVP, I think Gus Williams definitely had a case to win it as well. I think anyone who watched The Wizard play knew how good he was in his prime, and he’s a HoF snub to me as well.

Mark Aguirre

He was the Mavs first superstar, averaging 25/6/4 for them for 8 seasons. He then won 2 champonships coming off the bench for the Bad Boy Pistons. He was a deadly scorer from the wing, and proved that he was able to sacrifice his game in order to win. Deserves a bit more recognition from his Mavs days, I’d say.

Dan Roundfield

Dr Rounds was one of the best defensive power forwards of the 1980s. He was a 3x All-Star, 1x All-NBA, 5x All-Def player. In his prime he averaged 19 PPG and 11 RPG in addition to playing stellar defense. Now, he’s pretty much totally forgotten. But I find Hawks players get easily underrated and forgotten. Dominique, Bob Pettit, Walt Bellamy, Cliff Hagan, Zelmo Beaty, Mookie Blaylock, and even today Trae Young (who was snubbed from the All-Star game), there’s no worse road to obscurity than playing for the Hawks it seems. Anyways.. Dr Rounds deserves to be better remembered, a baller in his prime.

Marques Johnson

Another snub from the Hall of Fame. Marques was a baller in his prime, before his injuries. 5x All-Star, 3x All-NBA and averaged 20/7/4 for his career. Not many players put up those kind of numbers for an entire career. He was the Bucks leader and best player before Sidney Moncrief gradually took over those duties. An explosive athletic scorer in his prime. Marques deserves mores respect as well.

Alvin Robertson

The all time leader in SPG, Robertson was a 4x All-Star, 1x All-NBA, 6x All-Def, 3x STL leader and 1x DPOY. Tell me, how is that not HoF material? The best ball thief of all time, and one of the greatest perimeter defenders ever, it’s not like he didn’t have an offensive game either. For 3 out of his 4 playoff runs, he averaged 23+ PPG. He averaged 16 PPG, 5 RPG, 5 APG for his career so he was a fairly well rounded player. for 5 seasons, he averaged over 3 steals a game. His second season in the league he put up 3.7 steals. Every game. He also is the only guard to have a quadruple double as well as the only player to put up a quadruple double with steals.

Larry Nance

As you can tell from the pic, Larry Nance Sr was a high flyer. Not only that, but he was a 3x All-Star, 3x All-Def player who would consistently put up 20 and 9 a night. Super athletic, great defender and a solid scorer in his prime. These days.. quite forgotten.

Buck Williams

For 7 straight seasons, Buck Williams put up 15+ PPG and 12+ RPG for the Nets. He was a very consistent, durable player. A 3x All-Star, 1x All-NBA, 4x All-Def player, he was a fantastic rebounder and defender in his prime. He ended his career with 16k PTS and 13k RBDS. Probably deserves to be better remembered.

Walter Davis

A 6x All-Star and 2x All-NBA, Davis was a scoring machine. Many people might not be aware that he’s still the Suns all-time leading scorer. Scored 19k points in his NBA career. Honestly if Chris Mullin is in why shouldn’t Davis? He put up around the same stats, has pretty much the same accolades, was just as good of a scorer.

Terry Cummings

A strong bruiser, 2x All-Star and 2x All-NBA, Cummings averaged 20 and 8 for the Bucks and fun fact about him, he was the only player to ever outscore Michael Jordan in a playoff series. Cummings was a hard player to deal with in his prime, but he didn’t take care of his body well and eventually regressed in the NBA.

Bill Laimbeer

Yes, the guy is not well liked and a thug on the court. However, you can’t dispute that he was a solid NBA player. A 4x All-Star, rebounding champ and 2x Champion, he was a dirty defender, a great rebounder and a solid outside shooting big man that was a key part of the Bad Boy Pistons.





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.