Not many are familiar with the body of work center Sam Lacey put forth during most of the 1970s, but his per game averages paint a picture that speaks to his all-around abilities on both ends of the court.
Lacey was never much of a big-time scorer, with a career scoring average with the Kings of just 11.1 points a night, but he basically did everything else which is what made him such an impactful player.
Like most centers, he was a good rebounder, grabbing either above or close to double-digit boards per game. As he slowly got more acclimated to the pro-level his awareness seemed to increase tremendously, which turned him into one of the better passing big men, able to find open guys on the perimeter or drop passes into teammates cutting towards the rim.
Defensively, he was a versatile weapon who proved equally adept at blocking shots as stripping opposing ballhandlers. And once the NBA began tracking those stats in 1973, that impact was much easier to measure, in the form of 1.5 and 1.7 steals and blocks respectively.
As far as accolades go, Lacey doesn’t have much in the trophy case, with just one All-Star appearance to his name for his efforts during the 1974-75 season. Despite his lack of accomplishments, he still managed to carve out a decade-plus career which seems to be less appreciated than it should.
There has always been a place in the league for players who do the little things in order to help their team win games, and although he wasn’t a big-time scorer, Sam Lacey deserves a spot in that category.