Michael Cage (1996-97)
Cage was a first-round draft pick in the 1984 NBA Draft with high expectations coming off of back-to-back WAC Players of the Year at San Diego State. He was a dominant front-court force who impressed early with the Los Angeles Clippers. In just his third year in the league, he averaged a career-high 15.7 points and added 11.5 rebounds as well. This was the start of a four-year stretch where Cage would border a double-double.
During the 1987-88 NBA season, Cage was the NBA rebounding leader with an impressive 13 rebounds per game, including over 5 per on the offensive glass. If Cage had been a member of the Philadelphia 76ers during the first half of his NBA career, he would have been far from consideration for this list, but unfortunately for his sake that is not the case.
By the time Cage arrived in Philadelphia, he was entering his 13th season in the NBA and had seen a steady decline in his points and rebounding production for the past five to six seasons. It is uncertain what the Sixers were hoping to get out of Cage at this point in his career, but the team was coming off an 18-64 record the year before.
The 1996-97 season was Allen Iverson’s first year in the NBA and he started alongside Cage in 24 games that season. Cage averaged a measly 1.8 points and 3.9 rebounds for the Sixers and his career was all but over by this time. The Sixers did not improve much, finishing with a four-game improvement over the prior year for a 22-60 record. The good news for the franchise was their fortunes were on the verge of a drastic positive shift.