The Lost All-NBA 3rd Teams: 1967-68 Season

Lenny Wilkens (top L), Earl Monroe (bot. L), Zelmo Beaty (center), Bill Bridges (top R), and Bob Boozer (bot. L)
Lenny Wilkens (top L), Earl Monroe (bot. L), Zelmo Beaty (center), Bill Bridges (top R), and Bob Boozer (bot. R)

Ed. Note: Prior to the 1988-89 season, the NBA only had All-NBA 1st and All-NBA 2nd Teams. To fill in that historical award gap, the crack Pro Hoops History committee of one has gone back and created the Lost All-NBA 3rd Teams.

The Hawks celebrated their final season in Atlanta by stacking the All-NBA 3rd Team deck with three of their players: Zelmo Beaty, Bill Bridges, and Lenny Wilkens. Beaty was the relatively short, but powerfully muscular center who patrolled the middle. His 21 points and 12 rebounds a game were an appreciated return to form after he missed half of the 1967 season with injury. Bill Bridges meanwhile was an unparalleled defensive force at power forward helping Zelmo keep the paint firmly under the Hawks’ control. And Wilkens found himself in the odd position of finishing second in voting for MVP this season, but was not selected to the All-NBA 1st or 2nd Team.

With their powers combined, the Hawks set a new franchise record of 56 wins. The total was good enough for first place in the Western Division and only the 76ers in the East finished with more wins in the entire NBA. Unfortunately for St. Louis, the Hawks were upset by the San Francisco Warriors in the playoffs.

Elsewhere, the Chicago Bulls’ sophomore season was dominated by veteran forward Bob Boozer who had a career year. Averaging 21.5 PPG and 10 RPG, Boozer’s eighth NBA season was his finest as he appeared in his first and only All-Star Game. The Bulls only won 29 games, but Boozer’s steady offensive touch kept things from being worse.

Lastly, the magnificent rookie Earl Monroe was sensational in Baltimore. Averaging almost 25 PPG, Earl the Pearl generated excitement for the Bullets with his whirling dribbling moves and gossamer shooting touch. He was named Rookie of the Year as his presence helped lift Baltimore from 20 wins the previous season to 36 this year. The next year, after drafting Wes Unseld, the Bullets would further surge ahead to an impressive 57 wins.

Position Player Team G PPG RPG APG FG% FT% WS PER
F Bob Boozer Chicago Bulls 77 21.5 9.8 1.6 0.492 0.768 10.6 18.6
F Bill Bridges St. Louis Hawks 82 15.6 13.4 3.1 0.462 0.717 8.6 15.6
C Zelmo Beaty St. Louis Hawks 82 21.1 11.7 2.1 0.488 0.794 11.8 19.3
G Lenny Wilkens St. Louis Hawks 82 20.0 5.3 8.3 0.438 0.768 10.1 19.0
G Earl Monroe Baltimore Bullets 82 24.3 5.7 4.3 0.453 0.781 9.3 19.3

The Lost All-NBA 3rd Teams: 1966-67 Season

Guy Rodgers (top L), Chet Walker (bottom L), Nate Thurmond (center), John Havlicek (top R), and Lenny Wilkens (bottom R)
Guy Rodgers (top L), Chet Walker (bottom L), Nate Thurmond (center), John Havlicek (top R), and Lenny Wilkens (bottom R)

Ed. Note: Prior to the 1988-89 season, the NBA only had All-NBA 1st and All-NBA 2nd Teams. To fill in that historical award gap, the crack Pro Hoops History committee of one has gone back and created the Lost All-NBA 3rd Teams.

It’s been a long time coming, but Nate Thurmond has arrived as an All-NBA performer. Previously flummoxed of such honors by Walt Bellamy, Zelmo Beaty and untimely injuries, Thurmond broke through averaging a superb 19 points and 21 rebounds for the San Francisco Warriors. He still missed a decent chunk of time this season (16 games), but he combined with Rick Barry propelling the Warriors to a 1st-place finish in the Western Division. Thurmond’s interior defense and rebounding also cemented a Warriors run to the NBA Finals – the first since the franchise had moved from Philadelphia to San Francisco in 1962. Although losing to their replacements in Philadelphia, the 76ers, in six games, it was a fine year for Nate the Great and the Warriors.

Speaking of the 76ers, their small forward Chet Walker also makes his first All-NBA appearance after a long wait. Using a bevy of outstanding one-on-one moves, Chet the Jet was the 68-win 76ers go-to scorer in the final moments of close games. For the season he averaged a healthy 19 points on 49% shooting to go along with 8 rebounds a game as well. This was Walker’s fifth season in the NBA and he’s gearing up for a long run of appearances on these All-NBA 3rd Teams.

Another great forward in his fifth NBA season was John Havlicek of the Boston Celtics. Already a two-time member of the All-NBA 2nd Team (1964, ’66), Hondo settles for a 3rd Team appearance this season as the Celtics finished with 60 wins. Despite the demotion to the All-NBA 3rd Team, this was actually Havlicek’s best pro season yet. All of his averages (PPG, RPG, APG, MPG, FG% and FT%) were new career-highs as he assumed a greater burden of Boston’s aging roster that failed to win the title for the first time since 1959.

Filling in the backcout slots are two fine point guards: Guy Rodgers and Lenny Wilkens.

Rodgers was in his ninth NBA season, but it was the first one he spent away from the Warriors franchise. The expansion Chicago Bulls traded for the slick-passing point guard and he didn’t disappoint. He averaged a career-high and NBA-best 11.2 APG this season while also chipping in 18 points a night. Unfortunately, this proved to be the swan song for Rodgers as a premier NBA guard. Over the next three years his playing time would plummet ending with retirement in 1970.

As for Lenny Wilkens, he was firmly in the prime of his play-making days with the St. Louis Hawks. That team had a stable of big, burly frontcourt players who needed the generalship of Wilkens to orchestrate proceedings. He did a fairly good job of things as St. Louis finished second in the regular season Western Division standings. Then in the postseason, Wilkens and the Hawks gave the Warriors a heated fight in the Division Finals which lasted six games.

Position Player Team G PPG RPG APG FG% FT% WS PER
F John Havlicek Boston Celtics 81 21.4 6.6 3.4 0.444 0.828 8.3 19.2
F Chet Walker Philadelphia 76ers 81 19.3 8.1 2.3 0.488 0.766 10.1 17.9
C Nate Thurmond San Francisco Warriors 65 18.7 21.3 2.6 0.437 0.629 7.2 17.4
G Guy Rodgers Chicago Bulls 81 18.0 4.3 11.2 0.391 0.806 6.2 17.9
G Lenny Wilkens St. Louis Hawks 78 17.4 5.3 5.7 0.432 0.787 7.6 15.6

The Lost All-NBA 3rd Teams: 1963 through 1966

Three's A Crowd by  aussiegall (Flickr)
Three’s A Crowd by aussiegall (Flickr)

Ed. Note: Prior to the 1988-89 season, the NBA only had All-NBA 1st and All-NBA 2nd Teams. To fill in that historical award gap, the crack Pro Hoops History committee of one has gone back and created the Lost All-NBA 3rd Teams.

The 1963 All-NBA 3rd Team saw the last gasps of Jack Twyman and Richie Guerin. At the forward spot, Twyman gave way to the superb Bailey Howell who was on the All-NBA 2nd Team in 1963 and racks up 3rd Team appearances in 1964, ’65, and ’66. At guard, Guerin ceded ground to Boston Celtics shooting guard Sam Jones. By 1965, Jones graduated to the All-NBA 2nd Team allowing the platoon of scoring machine Dick Barnett, assist juggernaut Guy Rodgers, and floor general Lenny Wilkens to fill in the guard spots on the 3rd Team.

Besides Bailey Howell, the forward spots in this survey were filled by rookie sensation Terry Dischinger (1963), defensive stalwart and athletic marvel Gus Johnson (1964), another defensive ace in Dave DeBusschere (1965), and the return of Rudy LaRusso (1966), who last made the All-NBA 3rd Team in 1962.

Lastly, Walt Bellamy’s stranglehold on the center spot (1962-65) was broken by Zelmo Beaty of the St. Louis Hawks. Big Z narrowly edged out Nate Thurmond for the honors in 1966, but this wouldn’t be the last time those two were neck-and-neck for the center slot on the All-NBA 3rd Team.

1962-63 Season

Position Player Team G PPG RPG APG FG% FT% WS PER
F Jack Twyman Cincinnati Royals 80 19.8 7.5 2.7 0.480 0.811 7.3 17.7
F Terry Dischinger Chicago Zephyrs 57 25.5 8.0 3.1 0.512 0.770 9.2 20.8
C Walt Bellamy Chicago Zephyrs 80 27.9 16.4 2.9 0.527 0.674 13.7 24.9
G Sam Jones Boston Celtics 76 19.7 5.2 3.2 0.476 0.793 9.6 19.1
G Richie Guerin New York Knicks 79 21.5 4.2 4.4 0.432 0.848 7.2 18.8

1963-64 Season

Position Player Team G PPG RPG APG FG% FT% WS PER
F Bailey Howell Detroit Pistons 77 21.6 10.1 2.7 0.472 0.809 9.8 21.1
F Gus Johnson Baltimore Bullets 78 17.3 13.6 2.2 0.430 0.658 3.5 16.3
C Walt Bellamy Baltimore Bullets 80 27.0 17.0 1.6 0.513 0.651 14.4 23.3
G Sam Jones Boston Celtics 76 19.4 4.6 2.7 0.450 0.783 8.9 17.6
G Dick Barnett Los Angeles Lakers 78 18.4 3.2 3.1 0.452 0.773 6.5 15.7

1964-65 Season

Position Player Team G PPG RPG APG FG% FT% WS PER
F Dave DeBusschere Detroit Pistons 80 16.7 11.1 3.2 0.425 0.700 6.6 17.4
F Bailey Howell Baltimore Bullets 80 19.2 10.9 2.6 0.495 0.801 10.9 18.9
C Walt Bellamy Baltimore Bullets 80 24.8 14.6 2.4 0.509 0.685 12.1 21.7
G Lenny Wilkens St. Louis Hawks 78 16.5 4.7 5.5 0.414 0.746 8.1 15.6
G Guy Rodgers San Francisco Warriors 79 14.6 4.1 7.2 0.380 0.686 2.8 14.2

1965-66 Season

Position Player Team G PPG RPG APG FG% FT% WS PER
F Rudy LaRusso Los Angeles Lakers 76 15.4 8.7 2.2 0.457 0.787 7.0 16.4
F Bailey Howell Baltimore Bullets 78 17.5 9.9 2.0 0.488 0.73 8.7 19.0
C Zelmo Beaty St. Louis Hawks 80 20.7 13.6 1.6 0.473 0.758 10.3 18.5
G Dick Barnett New York Knicks 75 23.1 4.1 3.5 0.469 0.772 8.0 18.4
G Guy Rodgers San Francisco Warriors 79 18.6 5.3 10.7 0.373 0.727 2.3 16.9

 

The Lost All-NBA 3rd Teams: 1960 through 1962

Three Water by Doug88888 (Flickr)
Three Water by Doug88888 (Flickr)

Ed. Note: Prior to the 1988-89 season, the NBA only had All-NBA 1st and All-NBA 2nd Teams. To fill in that historical award gap, the crack Pro Hoops History committee of one has gone back and created the Lost All-NBA 3rd Teams.

As with any era, this three-year snippet was both, the end of an era and the beginning of something new. Tom Gola, Larry Costello, and Cliff Hagan -greats of the late 1950s and early 1960s – give way to Sam Jones, Hal Greer, and Bailey Howell. The latter three would make their way onto the All-NBA 2nd and 3rd Teams with regularity throughout the 1960s.

And signifying how having a 3rd Team can change perception, Walt Bellamy makes the first of four selections to the Lost All-NBA 3rd Teams in 1962. Simply put, Bellamy stakes his claim as the NBA’s best center – not named Wilt or Russell – for a half-a-decade.

Lastly, Rudy LaRusso’s selection for the 1961-62 season’s 3rd Team is the most tenuous. Cliff Hagan had a top notch season for the St. Louis Hawks – 22.9 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 4.8 APG – but the team finished a miserable 29-51 for the season. Meanwhile, LaRusso managed 17.2 PPG, 10.4 RPG, and 2.2 APG adding in some of the best defense from a forward that season, too, for a Lakers team that finished first in the Western Division.

And not just first, but they were 11 games ahead of the 2nd-placeĀ  Cincinnati Royals. And they pulled that off with Elgin Baylor missing half the season in the military. LaRusso played a major part in that and so seals the difference between Hagan and himself for this particular season.

1959-60 Season

Position Player Team G PPG RPG APG FG% FT% WS PER
F Cliff Hagan St. Louis Hawks 75 24.8 10.7 4.0 0.464 0.803 11.8 22.0
F George Yardley Syracuse Nationals 73 20.2 7.9 1.7 0.453 0.816 9.0 18.2
C Clyde Lovellette St. Louis Hawks 68 20.8 10.6 1.9 0.468 0.821 9.0 23.3
G Tom Gola Philadelphia Warriors 75 15.0 10.4 5.5 0.433 0.794 9.9 15.4
G Larry Costello Syracuse Nationals 71 14.0 5.5 6.3 0.453 0.862 8.0 15.6

1960-61

Position Player Team G PPG RPG APG FG% FT% WS PER
F Bailey Howell Detroit Pistons 77 23.6 14.4 2.5 0.469 0.753 11.7 21.2
F Cliff Hagan St. Louis Hawks 77 22.1 9.3 4.9 0.444 0.820 10.8 20.1
C Clyde Lovellette St. Louis Hawks 67 22.0 10.1 2.6 0.453 0.830 8.5 20.5
G Tom Gola Philadelphia Warriors 74 14.2 9.4 3.9 0.447 0.747 6.8 13.3
G Richie Guerin New York Knicks 79 21.8 7.9 6.4 0.396 0.792 5.4 17.8

1961-62 Season

Position Player Team G PPG RPG APG FG% FT% WS PER
F Bailey Howell Detroit Pistons 79 19.9 12.6 2.4 0.464 0.768 10.7 19.0
F Rudy LaRusso Los Angeles Lakers 80 17.2 10.4 2.2 0.466 0.763 8.8 16.6
C Walt Bellamy Chicago Packers 79 31.6 19.0 2.7 0.519 0.644 16.3 26.3
G Hal Greer Syracuse Nationals 71 22.8 7.4 4.4 0.447 0.819 8.5 17.5
G Sam Jones Boston Celtics 78 18.4 5.9 3.0 0.464 0.818 9.6 17.9

Moonfixer: Earl Lloyd’s Enlightening Biography

The Moon

Earl Lloyd was the first African-American to play in an NBA game in the 1950-51 season. Three others – Hank DeZonie, Sweetwater Clifton, and Chuck Cooper – quickly followed within the week. Born in 1928, Lloyd is the last remaining of those quartet of trail blazers.

In his autobiography, co-written with Sean Kirst, Lloyd recalls his youth in segregated Virginia, his college days in West Virginia, professional career in the NBA, and life afterwards. Reading the stories and seeing how they’re told, Lloyd comes across as a passionate man who aspires for all men to have dignity as they traverse life.

I won’t detail too much of what happens because the book is genuinely worth getting, but this excerpt concerning a racist yard decoration is remarkable and shows Lloyd’s quiet disappointment with his white Syracuse Nationals teammates:

“I had another teammate, I remember we went to a party at his house, and he had a statue of a black jockey on his lawn. I told the guy, ‘That offends me.’ He explained to me how there was nothing wrong with it, and I said to him, ‘As long as you have that out there, I’d prefer you didn’t invite me.’ I asked him if he would ever put a statue out there of a drunken Irishman hanging from a light pole. He couldn’t understand, and I couldn’t understand why he couldn’t understand why I was upset. I said to him, ‘You read. You watch television. You ever just stop and ask yourself why there are no black folks in your neighborhood? You think we all live where we live by choice alone?’ He had no answer for that, but the statue didn’t come down.

“There would be other times in my career when people stood up: Bones McKinney in Washington. Freddy Scolari, who spoke up for me when the Capitols broke up. Dick McGuire in Detroit. You remember those things forever. That’s all I needed in Syracuse, for just one person to say, ‘Earl, this isn’t right.’ But no one ever did. And you realize in the end that you’re alone.”

Reading that passage, I’m personally reminded of the ongoing battle Native Americans are waging against their “mascotization” in society. In any case, story after story is presented in similar, succinct poise – whether joyous or hurt – throughout Earl Lloyd’s biography.

Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Lloyd’s book.

PS – my copy happened to come signed by Lloyd himself, so you never know what surprise might await!

The Lost All-NBA 3rd Teams: 1956-1959

Three Galahs by Richard Taylor (Flickr)
Three Galahs by Richard Taylor (Flickr)

Ed. Note: Prior to the 1988-89 season, the NBA only had All-NBA 1st and All-NBA 2nd Teams. To fill in that historical award gap, the crack Pro Hoops History committee of one has gone back and created the Lost All-NBA 3rd Teams.

You’ll notice through these years that Carl Braun has made himself very comfortable on the All-NBA 3rd Team even though he was a grizzled veteran of over a decade by 1959. His three selections in this era augment two previous All-NBA 3rd Team selections (1950, 1953) bringing credentials to 5x All-Star, All-NBA 2nd Team (1954), All-BAA 2nd Team (1948), and five All-NBA 3rd Team. Not bad for a guy who also lost two years of his career to the military draft during the Korean War.

Other big winners include Vern Mikkelsen who enjoyed a career renaissance after four straight All-NBA 2nd Teams in the early part of the 1950s; Tom Gola a jack-of-all-trades guard for the Warriors; and Larry Costello the last great player to employ the two-hand set-shoot in the NBA. Mikkelsen was at the end of his career, though, while Gola and Costello have a few more All-NBA Teams to make in the early 1960s.

And last little thing: Bill Russell would have made the All-NBA 3rd Team in 1957 (his rookie year), but he missed a 1/3 of the season, while Clyde Lovellette missed just three games. Talent matters but so does court time.

1955-56 Season

Position Player Team G PPG RPG APG FG% FT% WS PER
F Vern Mikkelsen Minneapolis Lakers 72 13.4 8.4 2.4 0.386 0.804 5.4 16.8
F George Yardley Fort Wayne Pistons 71 17.4 9.7 2.2 0.407 0.742 7.5 20.0
C Larry Foust Fort Wayne Pistons 72 16.2 9.0 1.8 0.447 0.778 11.1 23.8
G Tom Gola Philadelphia Warriors 68 10.8 9.1 5.9 0.412 0.733 6.5 16.7
G Carl Braun New York Knicks 72 15.4 3.6 4.6 0.372 0.838 3.6 15.2

1956-57 Season

Position Player Team G PPG RPG APG FG% FT% WS PER
F Tom Heinsohn Boston Celtics 72 16.2 9.8 1.6 0.397 0.790 7.1 18.0
F Vern Mikkelsen Minneapolis Lakers 72 13.7 8.8 1.7 0.377 0.807 6.1 16.0
C Clyde Lovellette Minneapolis Lakers 69 20.8 13.5 2.0 0.426 0.717 8.2 21.9
G Jack Twyman Rochester Royals 72 16.3 4.9 1.7 0.439 0.760 8.8 17.0
G Carl Braun New York Knicks 72 13.9 3.6 3.6 0.381 0.809 3.7 13.8

1957-58 Season

Position Player Team G PPG RPG APG FG% FT% WS PER
F Frank Ramsey Boston Celtics 69 16.5 7.3 2.4 0.419 0.811 10.0 19.5
F Paul Arizin Philadelphia Warriors 68 20.7 7.4 2.0 0.393 0.809 7.7 18.2
C Neil Johnston Philadelphia Warriors 71 19.5 11.1 2.3 0.429 0.819 11.3 22.5
G Larry Costello Syracuse Nationals 72 14.9 5.3 4.4 0.426 0.847 9.2 15.1
G Carl Braun New York Knicks 71 16.5 4.6 5.5 0.418 0.849 7.6 17.5

1958-59 Season

Position Player Team G PPG RPG APG FG% FT% WS PER
F Kenny Sears New York Knicks 71 21.0 9.3 1.9 0.490 0.861 13.3 22.6
F Jack Twyman Rochester Royals 72 25.8 9.1 2.9 0.420 0.783 7.3 21.3
C Red Kerr Syracuse Nationals 72 17.8 14.0 2.0 0.441 0.766 8.7 19.4
G Larry Costello Syracuse Nationals 70 15.8 5.2 5.4 0.437 0.802 8.5 15.0
G Tom Gola Philadelphia Warriors 64 14.1 11.1 4.2 0.415 0.787 7.4 17.4

The Lost All-NBA 3rd Teams: 1953-1955

Three Cubs in a Row by Tambako the Jaguar (Flickr)
Three Cubs in a Row by Tambako the Jaguar (Flickr)

Ed. Note: Prior to the 1988-89 season, the NBA only had All-NBA 1st and All-NBA 2nd Teams. To fill in that historical award gap, the crack Pro Hoops History committee of one has gone back and created the Lost All-NBA 3rd Teams. From 1949-50 through 1954-55, the All-NBA teams were selected regardless of position, so the Lost All-NBA 3rd Teams will follow that format for the appropriate seasons. Thereafter it will adhere to the current C, F, F, G, and G format.

The three All-NBA 3rd Teams presented below are the last to use a position-less format, one that I wish the NBA would return to. It forces voters to really pick out the best players, even if the best players skew toward several centers for example. Instead very good players get in over a great players on the All-NBA teams based purely on position.

Enough of my complaining.

A word of explanation, before the full teams are revealed, however, for Mel Hutchins and Slater Martin. They look like woeful selections considering their offensive output, but these guys – along with the versatile Jack Coleman – were premier defenders at their respective positions. The lack of recorded blocks and steals undermines their statistical argument, but their contemporaries hail them as defenders you’d much rather not come across.

1952-53 Season

Position Player Team G PPG RPG APG FG% FT% WS PER
C Harry Gallatin New York Knicks 70 12.4 13.1 1.8 0.444 0.700 11.3 23.3
G Carl Braun New York Knicks 70 14.0 3.3 3.5 0.400 0.825 9.0 17.5
G Paul Seymour Syracuse Nationals 67 14.2 3.7 4.4 0.383 0.817 8.7 16.0
G Slater Martin Minneapolis Lakers 70 10.6 2.7 3.6 0.410 0.780 8.2 13.5
F Jim Pollard Minneapolis Lakers 66 13.0 6.8 3.5 0.357 0.769 4.6 16.0

1953-54 Season

Position Player Team G PPG RPG APG FG% FT% WS PER
C Ray Felix Baltimore Bullets 72 17.6 13.1 1.1 0.417 0.638 8.6 22.9
C Larry Foust Fort Wayne Pistons 72 15.1 13.4 2.2 0.409 0.712 10.4 22.8
G Andy Phillip Fort Wayne Pistons 71 10.6 3.7 6.3 0.375 0.730 7.1 16.0
G Bob Davies Rochester Royals 72 12.3 2.7 4.5 0.371 0.719 7.7 18.0
G Bill Sharman Boston Celtics 72 16.0 3.5 3.2 0.450 0.844 10.4 18.6

1954-55 Season

Position Player Team G PPG RPG APG FG% FT% WS PER
C Ed Macauley Boston Celtics 71 17.6 8.5 3.9 0.424 0.792 8.9 18.6
F Paul Arizin Philadelphia Warriors 72 21.0 9.4 2.9 0.399 0.776 8.7 18.2
F Mel Hutchins Fort Wayne Pistons 72 12.0 9.2 3.4 0.378 0.708 3.9 12.7
F Jack Coleman Rochester Royals 72 12.8 10.1 3.2 0.462 0.678 6.2 18.2
G Bob Davies Rochester Royals 72 12.1 2.8 4.9 0.415 0.751 5.2 18.5