First off, before we get to anything involving his time as a 76er, Armen Gilliam passed away on July 5 after collapsing on a basketball court. RIP.
Stats: 14 PTS, 7.1 REB, 82.5% FT, 48% FG
Gilliam was basically traded for someone else that might make this list soon, Mike Gminski, during the 1990-91 season. While Gilliam played relatively well for the Sixers in two roles, it’s hard to imagine that the Sixers got better upon his arrival, despite his stat-sheet production.
In his first season, Gilliam made the playoffs along with the Sixers, even breaking into the second round despite having only 44 wins. He averaged 15 and 7 as a Sixer, tagging with Charles Barkley to make a formidable frontline. However, they bowed out in just 5 games to the eventual champions, Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls, in the second round. For the playoffs, Gilliam averaged 17-6, making a contribution but not putting the team over the top.
That was the only success Gilliam found with the Sixers. The next two seasons were a steady decline for the team into the rut that lasted for most of the decade. They followed their 44-win campaign with a 35-47 season. Gilliam, however, played very well, averaging 17-8 and starting 81 games. While his 17 points were only good for third on the roster, it was his second highest-scoring season overall and his best with the Sixers. Despite the gaudy point totals by their top scorers (their top 3 scorers averaged more than Elton Brand this past year, for example, though it was a different era) they failed to make the playoffs.
His next year, Gilliam primarily came off the bench for a bad team. While “The Hammer” produced, the Sixers sunk even lower. Gilliam was eventually waived, going onto better days elsewhere. He undoubtedly produced numbers as a Sixer, but you can realize that they didn’t mean too much, especially after his first season. It may have been the deteriorating abilities of his teammates or a lack of chemistry. But for whatever reason, a team with talent like Barkley and Gilliam and Hawkins and Ron Anderson should not miss the playoffs. No one can blame Gilliam solely for the drop-off, but it happened when he came, and he had to contribute to it. For that, he only reaches number 20 on this list.