Detlef Schrempf

Let’s start with Schrempf, one of the best sixth men in NBA history. The German forward, who spent most of his Sonics’ career as the team’s third-best scoring option behind Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton, was acquired in 1993 in a trade for Derrick McKey though his numbers rarely resembled the ones of a reserve player. Schrempf averaged over 15 points per game in all of his seasons with Seattle and made the All-Star team twice, ending his career with 15,761 points on 49.1 percent from the field, 38.4 percent from long range, and 80.3 percent from the line while playing in an era where teams were not nearly as high scoring as they are now. The advanced stats tell the whole story regarding how good Schrempf was — of the four best seasons by total Win Shares since 1981-82 (when the NBA counted Games Started as a stat) among players who played at least 70 games while starting 10 times or fewer, Schrempf has two of them. He averaged 16.6 points per game across six seasons with Seattle.

Jack Sikma

Sikma was the starting center of the Sonics team that won the franchise’s lone NBA title in 1979, but that’s not the only reason why he made the cut — he averaged a double-double for seven straight seasons and made the All-Star team seven times for Seattle. The franchise’s top big man, Sikma set the Sonics’ all-time record for rebounds (7,730) and is third in points (12,034). Sikma was a terrific big man in his day and spent the first nine years of his career in Seattle, helping the Sonics win a championship during his second season and eventually landing in the Hall of Fame. His best season came during the 1981-82 campaign when he registered 19.6 points, 12.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.3 blocks, and 1.2 steals per game. He was also one of the first big men to ever stretch the floor, something that was quite odd during the 80s but is now a trend in today’s NBA.

Fred Brown

Brown was a captain of the 1978-79 championship team and, just like Sikma, he played well ahead of his time. In fact, he was nicknamed “Downtown” for his excellent three-point shooting touch and could’ve had more points had the NBA implemented the three-point shot earlier. He ranks second in both points (14,018) and games played (963) for Seattle, trailing Gary Payton in both categories. Brown was drafted with the 6th overall pick in the 1971 NBA Draft out of the University of Iowa and played his entire 13-year career with the Supersonics, making the playoffs eight times in that span, including two Finals appearances and one NBA Championship. His number 32 was rightfully retired by the team in 1986 and ended his career according to the experts as one of the best players to ever don a SuperSonics uniform. His career stat line read 14.6 points, 3.7 assists, 2.7 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per game. 

Shawn Kemp

Known as “The Reign Man”, Kemp had a polarizing career that was marked by several off-court issues that hindered what he could have been — several experts rate Kemp as one of the biggest “wastes” of talent in the history of the league. He averaged a double-double in six of his seasons with the Sonics and made five All-Star teams, playing his best basketball during the 1996 NBA Finals where he averaged 23.3 points. He also holds the all-time record in blocks in the franchise with 959, and he was known for his versatility since he was one of the first big men who didn’t have any glaring weaknesses — he could handle the ball, pass, shoot, go coast to coast and defend if needed. What prevented Kemp from truly becoming an all-time great was all of his off-the-court issues and the fact that his weight ballooned. Truth be told, there’s no telling just how good Kemp could have become had he been a bit more focused throughout his career. His numbers with the Sonics were absolutely stellar. He averaged 16.2 points, 9.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.5 blocks, and 1.2 steals per game across 625 games with Seattle.

Gary Payton

Who else could have had the top number? Payton was nicknamed “The Glove” for his tough defense, and he had over 100 steals in each one of his full seasons with the Sonics, but he also holds a number of other franchise-related records — he’s the franchise’s all-time leader in points, assists, three-pointers, steals and games played while also making the NBA All-Team nine times during his career. Payton, who spent the first 12-and-a-half years of his career with the Supersonics, was a genius on the defensive end. The Glove was a best bet year in and year out to be in the defensive player of the year running. — but he was far from being a one-dimensional player as well. He averaged 20 points per game in six of his seasons with the Sonics and had his best campaign in the 1999-2000 campaign when he scored 24.2 points per game. Payton was incredibly durable as well, having played eight full 82-game campaigns with the Sonics. He and Kemp comprised a lethal one-two punch that made it all the way to the NBA Finals in 1996 before Michael Jordan thwarted their championship efforts (like he did to a million other players in the ’90s). Payton made nine All-Star appearances with the Supersonics and is now in the Hall of Fame thanks to his reputation as one of the best floor generals in the league over the last 30 years. Undoubtedly, he’s the best player to ever defend the Sonics. He averaged 18.1 points, 7.3 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game in 12 full seasons with the franchise.

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