G: 1985 Michael Jordan
G: 1981 David Thompson - I kind of smacked my forehead because I kept forgetting to vote for Gus Williams last round. I feel like he should make my teams over these more flawed players, I just don't have enough time to reflect on his comeback season. For now though I'll go with Thompson who was a mega explosive scorer with good shooting, and a decent playmaker - kind of like the guard version of Dr.J. I'm more familiar with 70s Thompson though.
F: 1985 Kevin McHale - I think everyone kind of knows Kevin was basically not stoppable when he was given the ball. His sample size of success is very large. You can validly criticize that Kevin played with a very talented team that made his life way easier. This is certainly true, but we do see in the 1989 season when Bird missed almost the entire season that Kevin puts up 22 ppg on 60 TS - so there is little doubt in my mind that 27 year old Kevin cannot replicate the same thing. Kevin was also a bit of an underrated rebounder playing next to Parish. But even with that in mind, 20 PPG or so on 60 TS is great, but it's clear that there are better scorers to pick from - what gives him the edge is that Kevin in his younger years was a really stellar defender. A lot of his competition at this spot are not good defenders, and are rather one dimensional - a few cannot even strongly take advantage of Kevin's poor passing. So largely Kevin's defense kind of seals the deal for me here, plus I personally find him to be a really good offball player in terms of getting you a good mid range J or of course fighting for great position. He does not need to cannibalize an offense to get his.
F: 1985 Alex English - This is largely between English vs King for me.
Bernard is probably the best scorer during this 5 year stretch. His playoff run really does seal the deal though - most carry jobs are exaggerations, but this one really was him just playing like a God and boosting his team up a tier above than what it normally is. He was able to out gun the #1 offense Detroit Pistons and then nearly upset the #3 rated defense in the Boston Celtics (and eventual champs). Bernard dropped 29 points on 60% despite Boston knowing full well he's the only serious threat on his team. He ended his post season run leading the playoffs with about 35 points on 62 TS%.
Alex English went on a great run himself, and put up 30 points on 63 TS% against the #1 rated defense, Utah Jazz. He also coincidentally went toe to toe and matched with another forward competitor in Dantley. Alex ended Western Conference Final run with 30 points, 4.5 assist, 2.1 turnovers (insanity), on 60 TS%.
Now one might say, hey, Alex English had a really great team - and he did. Issel, Lever, Natt were studs. But one also has to acknowledge that Alex English has a style that is incredibly friendly to playing with talent. He is a great catch and shooter, he can create his own shot without wasting a lot of dribbles, he runs with his team. Bernard King is a very iso heavy type of player, even if he had much better offensive teammates his style would eventually hit diminishing returns.
Outside of scoring Alex English was a more versatile player. He was a better passer and kept the ball moving without wasting everyone's time with dribbles (probably why his turnovers are so low). Bernard King in his peak season put up 2 assist per game during the RS, that is pitiful for a small forward.
Finally, Bernard was a really bad defender. Alex English, while not a juggernaut on that end did play defense - the gap in their defense is certainly not negligible.
So again, a common theme this round is me taking a lot of guys with perhaps less impressive combinations of PPG/TS% in favor of being able to do more for your team or at scoring within the flow of an offense instead of pushing something that isn't really there.
1981 Artis Gilmore - In a comparison with Parish I'm going to take Artis. I feel like Gilmore is a more sound defender than Parish, though they both have good fundamentals. I think Gilmore's time as a decade long franchise player just seasoned him better at that end. He had better vision than Parish - their APG is the same this season but Artis already showed he had the capability to be a solid passing big, especially considering he is an "unskilled" player. Finally, points and where they occupy the place on the court are the same but Gilmore is just on another level of finishing than Parish. I do think Parish creates his shot more than Artis, but not to such a great degree that he is overall more valuable. Gilmore though really is just a beast, the guy lead the league with 67-68 TS%, and every playoff appearance he has he shot well over 60 TS%. Artis is an excellent 2nd option on any team.