Imagine Wilt Chamberlain had been selected in the 1984 draft. Would his career have been successful? Is it possible that he was superior to Michael Jordan?

Let us temporarily set MJ aside. This is an intriguing subject because Wilt Chamberlain would immediately have to contend with a number of excellent big guys if he were transported to the present day: 36-year-old all-star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar continued to be the Lakers’ mainstay, finishing with 21.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks.

The huge man from Nigeria named Hakeem Olajuwon is anticipated to be selected first in that draft. If Wilt had been in the same draft, would he have been selected first? Ralph Sampson, Hakeem’s 7’4″ twin tower in Houston and the winner of ROTY the season before. The former MVP of Philadelphia, Moses Malone, led the NBA in rebounds for four consecutive seasons. The 7’1″ center Robert Parish, who led the champion Celtics with 19.0 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks, effectively anchored the middle.

The former MVP of Philadelphia, Moses Malone, led the NBA in rebounds for four consecutive seasons. Robert Parish, a 7’1″ center with 19.0 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks, was the championship-winning Celtics’ main center piece. The 7’4″ monster from Utah, Mark Eaton, topped the league in shot blocks (4.3). The all-star center from Detroit, Bill Laimbeer, averaged 17.3 points, 12.2 rebounds, and used a lot of roughhousing techniques. The 6’11” all-star player in Seattle, Jack Sikma, has an equally amazing stat line of 19.1 points, 11.1 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks.

Tree Rollins, a 7’1″ rim protector from Atlanta, averaged 3.6 blocks per contest. Seven foot two inch Artis Gilmore of the Spurs averaged 15.3 points, 10.3 rebounds, 2.1 blocks, and a league-best 63.1 field goal percentage. The 7’1″ big for the Knicks, Bill Cartwright, averaged 17.0 points and 8.4 rebounds. Bill Walton, the former MVP, was still competent enough to lead the Clippers with 12.1 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks. The enormous James Donaldson, standing 7’2″ and 275 pounds, was Walton’s big man counterpart in San Diego. Mychal Thompson, the starting center for the Blazers, finished with 15.7 points. 1.4 blocks and 8.7 boards.

Tree Rollins, a 7’1″ rim protector from Atlanta, averaged 3.6 blocks per contest. Seven foot two inch Artis Gilmore of the Spurs averaged 15.3 points, 10.3 rebounds, 2.1 blocks, and a league-best 63.1 field goal percentage. The 7’1″ big for the Knicks, Bill Cartwright, averaged 17.0 points and 8.4 rebounds. Bill Walton, the former MVP, was still competent enough to lead the Clippers with 12.1 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks. The enormous James Donaldson, standing 7’2″ and 275 pounds, was Walton’s big man counterpart in San Diego. Mychal Thompson, the starting center for the Blazers, finished with 15.7 points. 1.4 blocks and 8.7 boards.

Wilt ought to have faced all these huge men within ten years, and he would have likely faced more challenges than he ever encountered in his actual era. In the long term, Wilt would have been physically impacted by these big men’s abundance and diverse skill sets, even though none of them could have defended him as well as Russell did. Was he able to score as many points as he did? Maybe.

Was he able to score as many points as he did? Maybe. Even while the numbers and frequency might not have been as high, they would still be outstanding because they would have been up against a more formidable and competitive field. Because of his incredible strength and athleticism, he probably wouldn’t have averaged 50 points per season or scored 100 points or 55 rebounds in a game, but he would have still dominated.

A prime Wilt would have looked something like this in terms of his normal stat line on a decent team: 30 points on 12–20 FG shooting, 6/11 FT, 15 rebounds, 5 assists, and 5 blocks in 44 minutes. This would have been more in line with his numbers from the 1965–66 season. That would have been an unquestionably dominant stat line in the 1980s. Wilt would have been able to dominate on both ends of the court more consistently and for a longer period of time than either Hakeem or Shaq in their peak due to his strength and endurance. He ought to have scored forty or fifty points on some nights, pulled down at least twenty rebounds, and blocked ten shots on others.

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