Milwaukee Bucks: All-Time Greatest 15 Man Roster

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Sidney Moncrief – Second Unit

Words by Jordan Treske

After skyrocketing to success, especially for an expansion team, the Bucks found themselves meddling with mediocrity during the mid-1970’s.

A lot of the key players that helped the team to go on to 55-plus win seasons, as well as winning the only championship in franchise history during the 1970-71 season, were either past their prime, playing for other teams or recently retired.

While they had the ground work for a great team, thanks to players like Brian Winters, Marques Johnson and Junior Bridgeman (both Winters and Bridgeman were acquired in the trade for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), they still missed that one piece that could establish a new period of success for the team.

The Bucks eventually found that player with the fifth overall pick in the 1979 NBA draft in Sidney Moncrief.

However, his time in Milwaukee almost never came to be as the Los Angeles Lakers, who had control of the first overall pick during that draft, debated over selecting Moncrief or the player who they ended up selecting with the the first pick, Magic Johnson.

Nonetheless, Moncrief enjoyed a pleasant rookie year in the 1979-80 season (8.5 points per game, 4.4 rebounds per game and 1.7 assists per game) and it would be the start of something special for the Bucks as a whole as the team started to find their winning ways again.

The following year, coach Don Nelson inserted Moncrief into the starting lineup at the start of the season and Moncrief started to show what kind of player he’d eventually become by putting up 14 points per game, 5.3 rebounds per game, 3.3 assists per game and 1.1 steals per game.

Although the Bucks went on to win 60 games during that 1980-81 season, they fell to the Philadelphia 76ers in a hard fought 7-game series.

Moncrief’s third year proved to be the first of many special seasons.

During the 1981-82 season, Moncrief put up 19.8 points per game, 6.7 rebounds per game, 4.8 assists per game and 1.7 steals per game, which earned him his first of five consecutive all-star appearances as well as being named to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team.

The subsequent season saw the team reach what was the first of two consecutive appearances in the Eastern Conference Finals (the Bucks were shut out by the Boston Celtics in 4 games) as Moncrief, along with earning his second all-star appearance, was selected to the All-NBA First Team and was also named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year.

The ensuing year, the Bucks fell to the eventual champion Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals, while Moncrief once again earned his third All-Star appearance, the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award (as well as NBA All-Defensive Team honors) and all-NBA second team honors as he put 20.9 points per game, 6.7 rebounds per game and 4.5 assists per game.

Although the Bucks looked a bit different at the start of the 1984-85 season, due to All-Star forward Marques Johnson being dealt to the Los Angeles Clippers, Moncrief stepped up as the lead dog for the Bucks.

Along with the emergence of Paul Pressey and Terry Cummings (who was acquired in the Johnson deal), Moncrief went on to put up 21.7 points per game, 5.4 rebounds per game, 5.2 assists per game as well as 1.6 steals per game, which once again earned him the fourth of his five All-Star appearances, along with the All-NBA Second Team honors and NBA All-Defensive Team honors.

The 1985-86 season, Moncrief went on to earn his final All-Star appearance as well as being voted to the All-NBA Second Team and NBA All-Defensive Team, with 20.2 points per game, 4.6 rebounds per game and 4.9 assists per game.

The Bucks eventually went on to the Eastern Conference Finals for the final time during Moncrief’s career where they were shut out by the eventual champion Boston Celtics once again.

After experiencing plenty of success, both individually and as a part of the Bucks, not only did long-time coach Don Nelson leave to coach the Golden State Warriors after the 1985-86 season, Moncrief started to struggle with various injury problems, beginning with the 1986-87 season.

While Moncrief adjusted to a smaller role the following couple of years, he struggled to stay healthy for an entire season in the latter half of his career. Moncrief’s Bucks career came to an end after the 1988-89 season and he retired after one year with the Atlanta Hawks during the 1990-91 season.

However, Moncrief ranks highly in most major statistical categories throughout the franchise and after he left the team (Moncrief took a year off before he joined the Atlanta Hawks), the Bucks retired his iconic number four.

Although Moncrief never did make it to the NBA Finals, he never experienced a losing season throughout his time in Milwaukee and remains one of the most honored Bucks legends throughout team history.

Next: Glenn Robinson