The greatest center in Washington Wizards history is Wes Unseld
Not only is Wes Unseld the greatest center in Wizards history but he’s also considered one of the greatest players they’ve had.
The one thing he doesn’t get enough credit for is being an all-around player. But we’ll get into that later. Let’s start with the basics.
Unseld was drafted by the Wizards (still known as the Bullets at that time) as the second overall pick in the 1968 NBA Draft. But he was also drafted by the ABA’s Kentucky Colonels in the ABA Draft but ultimately chosen the Wizards, despite being offered less of a salary.
Obviously, that was the better choice.
Unseld had a historic rookie year. In his first game, he recorded eight points and 22 rebounds against the Detroit Pistons. That was just one of the many great games he had. He grabbed 20 or more rebounds in 33 of his rookie games while averaging 13 points and 18 rebounds.
His efforts helped the Wizards make the playoffs for just the third time in their first eight years. They even won the Eastern Divison title. But Unseld did something no player besides Wilt Chamberlain has done: he won both Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player awards.
Now, what makes Unseld an all-around player is the fact he can score, play defense and play off the ball.
He averaged no less than 12 points a game in his first five years but he was also dominant without the ball. Standing at 6’7” and 245 pounds, he would set tough picks for his teammates that were hard to get around.
While playing, he was one of the best defensive players in the NBA, as well. The league didn’t start keeping track of player’s steals and blocks until 1973 so his record only shows he averaged one steal and 0.6 blocks a game.
Just imagine if they kept track of it in his first five years.
During his career, he collected other accomplishments and accolades. He made the All-Star team five times (1969, 1971-73, 1975) and the All-NBA First Team in his rookie year.
He also helped the Wizards make the playoffs four times. In 1978, he assisted Elvin Hayes in winning the 1978 championship, which still stands as the only championship the Wizards won.
After 13 years, Unseld decided to hang it up with his jersey going up in the rafters not too long afterwards. He’s ranks as the Wizards’ all-time leader in rebounds with 13,769. He is also their fifth all-time leader in points with 10,624 and 12th in blocks with 367.
His 13-year tenure still stands as the longest by a Wizards player.