Wilt Chamberlain

How Wilt Chamberlain, Rick Barry, other old Warriors would fare in NBA today

How Wilt Chamberlain, Rick Barry, other old Warriors would fare in NBA today

Editor’s note: Monte Poole, Logan Murdock, Drew Shiller and Grant Liffmann participated in NBC Sports Bay Area's inaugural Warriors Ultimate Draft. All four chose squads from a 25-man pool of legends from the last 30 years, plus five "classic" players from before 1990. Our team of experts will dissect and analyze the merits of each team until a winner is crowned.

Our Warriors Ultimate Draft was limited to those who were with the franchise between 1990 and 2020, which neglects those who came earlier. It so happens that five of them have their numbers retired at Oracle Arena and now Chase Center.

The question we address Monday, though, has to do with the modern NBA. How would those five players fare?

Here we go, in alphabetical order:

Al Attles 

He was a steady ball-handler, a smart playmaker and a fearsome defender. His skills as a point guard were similar to several players in today’s game. Among those that come to mind are Los Angeles Clippers guard Patrick Beverley, Los Angeles Lakers guard Avery Bradley and, perhaps most of all, Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart.

Verdict: Yes. Even without a reliable 3-ball, Attles would be a rotation player in today’s game.

Rick Barry

It’s a shooter’s league, and Barry is in the Hall of Fame mostly because he could score with the best of them. He had deep range, didn’t flinch at driving into traffic and was a wonderful passer.

Searching for comps in today’s NBA, we land upon Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton, Celtics forward Gordon Hayward and Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris.

Verdict: Absolutely. With his skills, Barry would be one of the five best small forwards in the NBA.

Wilt Chamberlain

There are those who believe Wilt was a mastodon, plodding up and down the court. Wrong. He was an Olympic-level quarter-miler and a terrific high jumper. One of America’s all-time great athletes who happened to be 7-foot-1.

Verdict: Please. Wilt would be an amalgam of the best of Utah Jazz big man Rudy Gobert, Cleveland Cavaliers big man Andre Drummond and the 2014 version of Brooklyn Nets big man DeAndre Jordan, an All-Star.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Tom Meschery

The 6-6 combo forward was a one-time All-Star, in 1962-63, when he averaged 16.0 points and 9.8 rebounds. He wasn’t a great shooter but he his tenacity at both ends kept him in the league for 10 seasons, six as a Warrior.

The best of similar players currently in the league are Houston Rockets forward PJ Tucker, Bucks forward Ersan Ilyasova and Nets forward Taurean Prince.

Verdict: Probably not. Too small to play the 4 and too slow to play the 3, Meschery would have to scrap for every minute.

[RELATED: Collins believes Steph, Warriors will return to top of NBA]

Nate Thurmond

At 6-11, 240 pounds, Thurmond was a decent scorer but a defensive centerpiece. Blocks weren’t counted, but Nate gave fits to the best offensive centers in the league. Among the comps in the modern game are Los Angeles Lakers big men Anthony Davis (except AD’s 3-ball) and Dwight Howard (of a decade ago), with shades of San Antonio Spurs great Tim Duncan.

Verdict: Absolutely. All-time NBA scoring leader Kareem Abdul-Jabbar says Thurmond was his toughest defender. There’s always a place for an agile center that defends at a high level.

Karl Malone admits Kings' Chris Webber had 'more talent' than he did

Karl Malone admits Kings' Chris Webber had 'more talent' than he did

Between ESPN’s "The Last Dance" and the need for content during the coronavirus pandemic, NBA legends are coming out of the woodwork.

Media outlets are chasing some of the biggest stars from the 1990s to chat about Michael Jordan, the Bulls dynasty and the Dream Team. Those conversations are opening up even more areas of conversation.

On a recent episode of Barstool's Pardon My Take, legendary NBA power forward Karl Malone stopped in for a video podcast. To call the set up strange would be an understatement.

Malone, sitting shirtless with some sort of dead animal fashioned into a hat in a room filled with big game hunting exploits, gave his opinion on a myriad of subjects. The hosts of the show also chose to remove their shirts, for at least part of the interview.

Like he did during his playing days, Malone threw some elbows in a bizarre Old Spice commercial meets Joe Exotic interview.

[PURPLE TALK PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Of his many claims, many of which were spot on, Malone listed three fellow power forwards who had more God-given ability than he did, but didn’t quite reach the same level of play.

“I’m going to tell you three guys that had more talent than Karl Malone -- Chris Webber, Derrick Coleman and Charles Barkley,” Malone said. “More talent. More talent. But, they didn’t outwork me.”

Malone began lifting weights during his time at Louisiana Tech. He was an NBA strongman and the use of weight training helped him stay healthy and on the court during his 19-season Hall of Fame career.

“I would never use the term, ‘He was better than me,’” Malone explained. “More talented is different.”

Barkley is already in the Hall of Fame alongside Malone. Coleman was a really good player for about half of his 15 year career, but he never lived up to the billing that came with being the No. 1 overall pick in the 1990 NBA Draft.

Webber’s career was filled with twists and turns, but like Malone admitted, his talent was undeniable. Webber’s run with the Kings in the late 1990s and early 2000s elevated him to superstar status, although it was short lived due to a catastrophic knee injury during the 2003 NBA playoffs.

Of the players mentioned, Coleman has no chance of making the Hall of Fame due to some personality quirks and the way his game fell off so dramatically at the midway point.

Webber has been passed over during the last few years, but there is no question that he has Hall of Fame credentials.

On the latest edition of the Purple Talk podcast, two of Webber’s former teammates in Bobby Jackson and Doug Christie spoke of him as a teammate. Both believe the five-time All-Star is more than deserving of enshrinement into the Hall.

“He set the tone of being unselfish and I think that speaks to who he was even more,” Christie said. “Undoubtedly, in opinion, he’s a Hall of Famer, no doubt.”

With an unselfishness on the court, the Kings were the greatest show on court. They moved the ball with a freedom and creativity that has rarely been matched, and Webber’s skill set fit perfectly into the system.

“For me, I think Chris was way more talented than [Malone],” Jackson said. “I think Karl had a more polished Hall of Fame career.”

“Chris, I think, is one of the most talented big men I’ve ever seen with his ball handling, his shooting, his passing and he was also a great teammate,” Jackson added.

According to Jackson, the team knew that Webber was their leader. During his time in Sacramento, the Kings were a perennial playoff team, making it as far as the 2002 Western Conference Finals.

“I think he is a Hall of Famer, if you look at his numbers, if you look at his career,” Jackson said. “He didn’t win an NBA championship here in Sacramento, but he allowed us the glory and he gave us a gust of wind that we needed to be relevant.”

There was a stretch where the Kings were considered the best team in basketball, but that all came to an abrupt end when Webber took a bad step on May 8, 2003 and needed microfracture surgery on his left knee.

Webber would go on to play parts of five seasons in the league after the injury, but he was never the same player and was forced to retire during the 2007-08 season at the age of 35.

“He couldn’t practice because his knee was inflamed, but man, he would come out and get you 20 and 10 like it was nothing,” Jackson said. “He wasn’t really moving, he didn’t have the explosiveness, but just imagine if he was healthy and he had the lift ... the damage he would have done.”

[RELATED: Mullin recalls Webber dominating Dream Team]

Webber’s career stats clearly state his case for enshrinement. When he retired, he was one of five players in NBA history to average more than 20 points, nine rebounds and four assists per game. The other four players are Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, Larry Bird and Billy Cunningham.

It should be noted that during the Kings’ 35 seasons in Sacramento, they have made the postseason 10 times. Seven of those times, Webber started the season on the roster.

Warriors' Marquese Chriss reveals NBA player he wishes he could play with

Warriors' Marquese Chriss reveals NBA player he wishes he could play with

Marquese Chriss has already learned from some of the best in the game, soaking up knowledge from his Warriors teammates Steph Curry and Draymond Green. Still, there’s one all-time great he would have loved to play with: The late Wilt Chamberlain. 

NBA’s Twitter account recently hosted a Q&A with the 22-year-old, and Chriss spoke highly of the legendary Basketball Hall of Famer.

“I'll go with Wilt Chamberlain,” he said. “I want to see all that in person. You hear about it and you hear about the crazy games, but I don't think you really understand it until you see it in person. So, I think I would love to see that in person and see the skill set he had and the way he dominated the game. I just think he's a different breed.”

Often, the stories themselves make for a great thought on how it would have been to share the same court with someone of Chamberlain’s caliber. Sure, we can watch old-school footage, but there’s no way that’s the same. 

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]
 

Could Chamberlain have played today, as Chriss would've hoped? Chamberlain’s shot-blocking skills would make LeBron James shudder, and that would have translated beautifully during any era of the game.

Imagine the Twitter reaction when Chamberlain blocks a shot. Yeesh.

[RELATED: The elephant in the room facing Steph, NBA players]

Chriss Joined the Warriors in October and quickly became acquainted. That was after a really tough situation with the Phoenix Suns in 2016. The big man soaked up so much information from Steph and Draymond, and he knew that was imperative from two guys who have won multiple championships and can handle the responsibilities of being a leader.

The late Chamberlain won two rings of his own, but imagine what someone could learn from him.