23. Billy Paultz
Before David Robinson and Artis Gilmore at center, it was Billy Paultz. He was a star in the ABA, playing for the New York Americans from 1970-75, before joining the San Antonio Spurs’ ABA team for its last year in 1975-76. Paultz averaged 15.6 points and 11.2 points for the Americans, and kept a somewhat similar pace in San Antonio.
Upon arrival to the Spurs, Paultz made the 1975-76 ABA All-Star Game. It was arguably his best year of professional basketball, with 16.5 points, 10.4 rebounds and a league-leading 3.0 blocks per game. Throw in the 4.1 assists, which became a career-high, and Paultz looked like a star.
It didn’t hurt that Paultz played with George Gervin and James Silas for a number of years, players who either dominated the game or made his teammates better. The St. John’s product was able to be part of this from 1975-80, totaling 14.0 points and 8.5 rebounds in 375 games played.
Paultz’s numbers did drop after the star-studded first year, never averaging a double-double again. He remained at a respectable 15-8 pace for two seasons, before losing playing time and failing to average 10 points per game.
Paultz goes down as one of the Spurs’ greatest centers and left his legacy back in the mid-1970’s.