Once again, the Pistons were represented on the Basketball Jones’ ‘Best of the Last 30 Years’ lists. After having at least one Piston among the top 10 point guards, shooting guards and small forwards, Dennis Rodman was selected by Dennis Velasco as the seventh best power forward of the last three decades:
7. Dennis Rodman, Detroit Pistons (1986-1993), San Antonio Spurs (1993-1995), Chicago Bulls (1995-98), Los Angeles Lakers (1999), Dallas Mavericks (2000)
911 G; 7.3 PPG; 13.1 RPG; 1.8 APG; 0.1 3PTM; 52.1 FG%; 58.4 FT%; 0.7 SPG; 0.6 BPG
It’s probably safe to say that the NBA will never see anyone like Dennis Rodman again. He was a free spirit, enigmatic and more laid back about things than a dead person. However, on the court, he put in non-stop effort, played with fire, within the team concept and wanted to win. How else do you explain a skinny 6-foot-7 player averaging 13.1 boards per game in the NBA?
In his 14 seasons, Rodman averaged double-digit points only once (11.6 PPG in 1987-88). However, he grabbed double-digit boards 10 straight seasons, although the last two seasons saw the Worm play 35 games total. That said, Rodman did lead the league in rebounding per game average for seven straight seasons from 1991-92 to 1997-98, averaging an incredible 16.7 rebounds per. He made two All-Star games and was named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year twice (1989-1990 and 1990-91), as well as being named to eight All-Defensive teams (seven first team selections). The Worm was twice named to the All-NBA third team. He ranks 22nd overall all-time in Total Rebounds (11,954) and fourth all-time in Offensive Rebounds (4,329). Rodman’s 13.1 career rebound average is tenth-best all-time and he is tops in Total Rebound Percentage (23.4). He finished with five championship rings (two with the Pistons and three with the Bulls). Rodman had a less than stellar 14.6 PER, but had a very good 114 ORtg.
When I put Rodman on the list — he was a slam dunk to be on it by the way — I thought of Ben Wallace. If I put Rodman on the list, should I include Big Ben? In the end, despite better steals and blocks numbers, Wallace comes nowhere close to the impact that Rodman had on the game. He was an event. People paid attention to him to see what he’d do next. The five titles don’t hurt either.
Chris Webber, who played about half a season with the Pistons, also cracked the top 10.
Now, as for Velasco’s comments on Ben Wallace, there’s a simple solution: put him on the list of centers. He wasn’t a power forward. When he was voted into the All-Star Game, it was as a center. I agree, it would be hard to find a spot for Wallace in that crowded power forward space. But I think you’d be hard-pressed once you get past the obvious ones (Olajuwon, Shaq, Ewing, Robinson, Kareem, Parish, Mourning, Howard) to find any other centers in the last 30 years who were more impactful than Wallace.
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