HH Tournament: (8) Tom Sanders vs (9) Bill Sharman


Tom Sanders and Bill Sharman are the next matchup in the Hardwood Houdini Tournament

It’s no surprise that Larry Bird moved onto round two over Kendrick Perkins yesterday. That matchup started the first round of Side B, and today, we have two old-time players facing off to decide who will take on Bird in the second round.

Don’t forget that this is based solely off their playing careers with the Boston Celtics. Any coaching or front office experience shouldn’t be taken into account, neither should their collegiate careers or any other NBA teams they may have played for.

Tom Sanders – 2011 Hall of Fame Inductee

9.6 PPG, 8.3 RPG

13 Seasons with Boston, 8x Champion, #16 Retired by Celtics

Tom “Satch” Sanders was drafted eighth overall in the 1960 Draft by the Boston Celtics, and finished his career winning eight championships with the Celtics – third most in franchise history. In today’s game, his 6-6 height would have dwindled in comparison to other small and power forwards, although he was able to make it work in the 1960s.

He was never a huge contributor on Boston, however he did score double-digit points in nine consecutive seasons. During his second season in 1961-62, Sanders put together the best season of his career. He added his normal 11.2 points per game, but he also grabbed 9.5 rebounds, a career-high.

Although, his rookie season was his most efficient championship run with the team. While he only played in 10 games during the Celtics title run, and saw just 21.6 minutes per game during those games, he did average 14.8 points and 14 rebounds per 36 minutes. Sure, his 13.3 points and 8.5 rebounds per night during the 1964-65 title run was his best stat line, but he never had a more dominating stretch during his career than as a rookie alongside Bill Russell winning his first championship with the Celtics.

While defensive statistics were not kept during his time, his speciality did come on the defensive end. Sanders was a lanky player who was selected to one All-Defensive team during his career – All-Defensive Second Team in 1968-69.

It comes with some surprise that Sanders was only named to one All-Defensive team as a player. He still owns the ninth most defensive win shares in Celtics history with 41.9, and his build gave him good athleticism for his position, especially when playing at power forward.

As well as ranking ninth in defensive win shares in Celtics history, Sanders also ranks seventh all-time in games played and eighth in rebounds. Sanders was as durable as they came as he played in at least 80 games seven times and in at least 70 games nine times.

Sanders may not be the ideal size for a forward in today’s game, although he made it work back then. He was a consistent scorer, however his consistency on the glass and defensive end every year set him apart from other Celtics’ greats.

Bill Sharman – 1976 Hall of Fame Inductee

17.8 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 3.0 APG

10 Seasons with Boston, 4x Champion, 8x All-Star, #21 Retired by Celtics

After being drafted by the Washington Capitols in the second round of the 1950 NBA Draft, Bill Sharman was again drafted by the Fort Wayne Pistons in the dispersal draft before being traded to the Boston Celtics in 1951, just a few months later. He spent his final 10 NBA seasons with the Celtics, eventually becoming a champion near the end of his career.

Before Steph Curry and all the shooters the NBA has now, there was Bill Sharman. He was one of the first guards in NBA history to shoot over 40 percent from the field as he finished with an outstanding 42.6 field-goal percentage. While that may be laughable in today’s NBA game, it was considered elite for a guard back then and helped Sharman to score 17.8 points per game during his career.

Sharman also led the league in free-throw percentage seven seasons, including during his final NBA season in which he shot 92.1 percent from the line. He set a career-best free-throw percentage in 1958-59 when he shot an insane 93.2 percent from the line en route to scoring 20.4 points per game. Plus, Sharman still holds the NBA postseason record for consecutive free-throws made in the playoffs with 56.

While Sharman didn’t impact the game a ton anywhere else besides scoring, his scoring was good enough to land him on eight All-Star teams and seven All-NBA Teams, including four First Teams. His rare ability to shoot stood out in the NBA back then, and is what made him so unique.

In fact, during his playoff career, he owns a 91.1 free-throw percentage and actually led the postseason with his 51.1 percent field-goal percentage in 1960-61, his final season. He only averaged under 15 points per game during one postseason run and was an integral part to the Celtics championship runs late in his career, despite Sharman getting older.

Sharman still ranks eighth in free-throws made and fourth in free-throw percentage in Celtics history, once again proving his dominance at the line.

If you needed someone to knock down clutch free-throws or score 20 points per night then Bill Sharman was your guy back then. He was one of the first great shooters in the NBA, and his free-throw percentage is still remembered today. To be considered the best shooter in any era is not an easy thing to do, but you can make a good case that Bill Sharman was just that in the 1950s.

Don’t forget to vote on Twitter @HoudiniCeltics! The poll is up for 20 hours. Comments on here don’t count as votes, only the poll on Twitter will be looked at to determine who goes on to round two.

Next: Area of Improvement for Each Starter

Also, look at tomorrow’s match-up to see the results from today’s showdown.