Fantasy basketball wasn’t much of a thing in the 1980’s, but there were still incredible fantasy seasons taking place. Perhaps some have never even been reflected upon, and we aim to change that now.
We will highlight the greatest individual seasons from the 80’s that have likely been forgotten. These are insane numbers, and they will come from names you may not recognize. The obvious statistical monsters from this decade (Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, etc.) will not be found here, as Hall of Famers are not included.
Who were the under-the-radar fantasy gold mines of the 80’s? These stat lines (and names) are sure to amaze you.
Mark Eaton, Utah Jazz (1984-85)
Stat line: 9.7 points per game, 44.9-percent field goal percentage, 71.2-percent free throw percentage, 11.3 rebounds per game, 5.6 blocks per game
Talk about a rim protector! The 7-4 behemoth known as Mark Eaton registered a jaw-dropping block rate. It’s a record that remains to this day, and I doubt it will ever be touched. Throw in his nearly double-double average with points and rebounds, and he was a fantasy force during 1984-85. Negatively, his low field-goal percentage is disappointing for a man of his size, but big men tend to come with at least one weakness.
Sleepy Floyd, Golden State Warriors (1986-87)
Stat line: 18.8 PPG, 48.8 % FG, 86.0 % FT, 0.9 three-pointers made per game, 3.3 RPG, 10.3 APG, 1.8 steals per game
Sleepy Floyd didn’t take any naps on the hardwood. He was everywhere during 1986-87, posting Chris Paul-like numbers while earning his only All-Star appearance. Anybody who can nab double-digit assists while also pushing 20 PPG has unique value, especially when you consider his solid steal mark and percentages.
Larry Nance, Phoenix Suns (1986-87)
Stat line: 22.5 PPG, 55.1 % FG, 77.3 % FT, 8.7 RPG, 3.4 APG, 1.2 SPG, 2.1 BPG
Nance contributed across the board during 1986-87. The scoring and rebounding are clear, but you also have to love what he accumulated in steals and blocks, as well as decent percentages. Sadly, Nance somehow didn’t make the All-Star team this season. Playing for a lowly Suns team likely contributed to that.
Alvin Robertson, San Antonio Spurs (1985-86)
Stat line: 17.0 PPG, 51.4 % FG, 79.5 % FT, 0.1 3PM, 6.3 RPG, 5.5 APG, 3.7 SPG
Robertson set the record for SPG during 1985-86, and it still holds today. He amazingly notched at least three SPG five times during his career. His abilities as a thief alone showcase his worth, but you also have to respect his scoring, rebounding (especially from the guard spot), and efficiency.
Fat Lever, Denver Nuggets (1988-89)
Stat line: 19.8 PPG, 45.7 % FG, 78.5 % FT, 0.3 3PM, 9.3 RPG, 7.9 APG, 2.7 SPG
Awesome name, first of all. And his numbers are, quite frankly, absurd. What’s even more absurd is considering that Lever averaged nearly 10 boards an outing at the height of 6-3. Perhaps the greatest absurdity, though, is the fact that he didn’t even crack the All-Star team this year. This is a travesty considering his LeBron-like numbers (with less scoring but better rebounding and steals).
Kiki Vandeweghe, Denver Nuggets (1983-84)
Stat line: 29.4 PPG, 55.8 % FG, 85.2 % FT, 0.1 3PM, 4.8 RPG, 3.1 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.6 BPG
The great 80’s names continue! Sleepy, Fat, Kiki…this is entertaining in and of itself. Vandeweghe was a big-time scorer, and he put the ball through the basket at an extremely high percentage. He didn’t contribute a great deal elsewhere, but a scoring mark like this is enough to raise your eyebrows.
Dale Ellis, Seattle Supersonics (1988-89)
Stat line: 27.5 PPG, 50.1 % FG, 47.8 % three-point percentage, 81.6 % FT, 2.0 3PM, 4.2 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.3 SPG
This banner season from Ellis featured top-notch scoring and efficiency. Ellis not only poured in two threes per game during a time in which threes weren’t utilized as heavily, but he also did so while maintaining a field-goal clip over 50 %. That’s impressive, to say the least, and his production led to his lone All-Star appearance.
Jack Sikma, Seattle Supersonics (1983-84)
Stat line: 19.1 PPG, 49.9 % FG, 85.6 % FT, 11.1 RPG, 4.0 APG, 1.2 SPG, 1.1 BPG
Sikma’s scoring and rebounding speak for themselves, but you also have to love his sneaky value as a superb free-throw shooter, as well as a stellar assist tally from the center position. He legitimately had no weaknesses.
Purvis Short, Golden State Warriors (1984-85)
Stat line: 28.0 PPG, 46.0 % FG, 81.7 % FT, 0.6 3PM, 5.1 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.5 SPG
Short could get buckets, but he never once made an All-Star team. The Warriors were a measly 22-60 during 1984-85, so this likely factored into Short’s absence from being honored. Still, a bucket producer like this is worthy of fantasy recognition.
Michael Ray Richardson, New York Knicks (1979-80)
Stat line: 15.3 PPG, 47.2 % FG, 66.0 % FT, 0.3 3PM, 6.6 RPG, 10.1 APG, 3.2 SPG, 0.4 BPG
This line reads like Rajon Rondo on steroids. Supreme assists and steals to go along with quality rebounding from the guard position. “Sugar Ray’s” free-throw mark is lacking (like Rondo), but there are too many positives here to worry about that.
Jeff Ruland, Washington Bullets (1983-84)
Stat line: 22.2 PPG, 57.9 % FG, 73.3 % FT, 12.3 RPG, 3.9 APG, 0.9 SPG, 1.0 BPG
Ruland was a scoring and rebounding beast during the mid-80’s. “McNasty” far exceeded a 20 and 10 average that is rarely touched today. His percentages are also impressive, along with nearly four dimes per outing from the big fella.
Mark Aguirre, Dallas Mavericks (1983-84)
Stat line: 29.5 PPG, 52.4 % FG, 74.9 % FT, 0.2 3PM, 5.9 RPG, 4.5 APG, 1.0 SPG
Before Mark Aguirre was a core member of the late-80’s “Bad Boys” from Detroit, he was a scoring machine for the Mavericks. This was a very Kobe-like season, featuring top-tier scoring along with serviceable rebounding and distributing.
Gus Williams, Seattle Supersonics (1982-83)
Stat line: 20.0 PPG, 47.7 % FG, 75.1 % FT, 0.0 3PM, 2.6 RPG, 8.0 APG, 2.3 SPG, 0.3 BPG
Williams was a key component to Seattle’s 1979 title team, but his best individual seasons came during the 80’s. His campaign during 1982-83 was outstanding, magnified by his scoring, assists, and steals. He wasn’t a long-range shooter, but there’s still too much value here to overlook “The Wizard.”
World B. Free, San Diego Clippers (1979-80)
Stat line: 30.2 PPG, 47.4 % FG, 75.3 % FT, 0.1 3PM, 3.5 RPG, 4.2 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.5 BPG
Free could light up the scoreboard with his scoring ability. “All World” logged his only All-Star appearance during 1979-80, and it was a memorable one. His 30.2 scoring average was second to only George “Iceman” Gervin (33.1).