The NBA Record Book… in 1976

via colinwood0 (Flickr)

via colinwood0 (Flickr)

The idea of having an “all-time” record has always seemed odd to me. For starters, no one and no thing exists for “all-time.” We all eventually fade away and so do records. Secondly, trying to encompass “all-time” records washes over and wipes away the differences that have occurred over time. Comparing scoring methods in 1924 to 2014 are useful from a philosophical and educational standpoint but not from the standpoint of record books.

So, with all that in mind, I find it prudent to chop up the NBA record book into more manageable chunks. Chunks that make sense and allow for proper perspective and comparison of statistics. The compartmentalized view gives the appropriate scrutiny and appreciation to players of each and every era.

First up is observing the NBA Record Book from the 1949-50 season through the 1975-76 season. This is a good first look because it starts with the NBA’s first season and ends with the merger between the NBA and its last major challenger, the ABA. This two-and-a-half decade chunk also deserves some closer looks in the future, but for now it’s a good start.

And of the five major stat categories looked at here – points, rebounds, assists, FG%, and FT% -  Oscar Robertson is the only player  to appear in the top 25 for each. The Big O was a well-rounded beast beyond getting triple-doubles.


Rank Player Points Games PPG
1 Wilt Chamberlain 31419 1045 30.1
2 Oscar Robertson 26710 1040 25.7
3 Jerry West 25192 932 27
4 John Havlicek 23678 1109 21.4
5 Elgin Baylor 23149 846 27.4
6 Hal Greer 21586 1122 19.2
7 Walt Bellamy 20941 1043 20.1
8 Bob Pettit 20880 792 26.4
9 Chet Walker 18831 1032 18.2
10 Dolph Schayes 18438 996 18.5
11 Lenny Wilkens 17772 1077 16.5
12 Bailey Howell 17770 950 18.7
13 Bob Cousy 16960 924 18.4
14 Gail Goodrich 16599 849 19.6
15 Dave Bing 16561 757 21.9
16 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 16486 549 30
17 Paul Arizin 16266 713 22.8
18 Elvin Hayes 15920 652 24.4
19 Jack Twyman 15840 823 19.2
20 Sam Jones 15411 871 17.7
21 Dick Barnett 15358 971 15.8
22 Lou Hudson 15081 672 22.4
23 Richie Guerin 14676 848 17.3
24 Bill Russell 14522 963 15.1
25 Dick Van Arsdale 14480 843 17.2


Rank Player Rebounds Games RPG
1 Wilt Chamberlain 23924 1045 22.9
2 Bill Russell 21620 963 22.5
3 Walt Bellamy 14241 1043 13.7
4 Nate Thurmond 14090 915 15.4
5 Jerry Lucas 12942 829 15.6
6 Bob Pettit 12849 792 16.2
7 Elgin Baylor 11463 846 13.5
8 Dolph Schayes 11256 932 12.1
9 Bill Bridges 11054 926 11.9
10 Red Kerr 10092 905 11.2
11 Paul Silas 10074 927 10.9
12 Elvin Hayes 9873 652 15.1
13 Dave DeBusschere 9618 875 11
14 Bailey Howell 9383 950 9.9
15 Wes Unseld 9340 600 15.6
16 Johnny Green 9083 1057 8.6
17 Leroy Ellis 8709 1048 8.3
18 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 8544 549 15.6
19 Willis Reed 8414 650 12.9
20 Larry Foust 8041 817 9.8
21 Happy Hairston 8019 776 10.3
22 Oscar Robertson 7804 1040 7.5
23 Clyde Lee 7626 742 10.3
24 Wayne Embry 7544 831 9.1
25 Gus Johnson 7379 581 12.7


Rank Player Assists Games APG
1 Oscar Robertson 9887 1040 9.5
2 Lenny Wilkens 7211 1077 6.7
3 Bob Cousy 6955 924 7.5
4 Guy Rodgers 6917 892 7.8
5 Jerry West 6238 932 6.8
6 John Havlicek 5386 1109 4.9
7 Dave Bing 4822 757 6.4
8 Wilt Chamberlain 4643 1045 4.4
9 Hal Greer 4540 1122 4
10 Walt Frazier 4388 683 6.4
11 Richie Guerin 4211 848 5
12 Dick McGuire 4205 738 5.7
13 Bill Russell 4100 963 4.3
14 Gail Goodrich 3986 849 4.7
15 Norm Van Lier 3892 548 7.1
16 Elgin Baylor 3650 846 4.3
17 Mahdi Abdul-Rahman 3555 724 4.9
18 Tiny Archibald 3499 433 8.1
19 Archie Clark 3498 725 4.8
20 Andy Phillip 3366 609 5.5
21 Larry Costello 3215 706 4.6
22 Slater Martin 3160 745 4.2
23 Dolph Schayes 3072 996 3.1
24 Jeff Mullins 3023 804 3.8
25 Tom Gola 2962 698 4.2

FIELD GOAL PERCENTAGE (minimum 350 games)

Rank Player FG% Games FGAs per Game
1 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 0.545 549 22.8
2 Wilt Chamberlain 0.54 1045 22.5
3 Walt Bellamy 0.516 1043 14.7
4 Clifford Ray 0.51 399 6.4
5 Terry Dischinger 0.506 652 10.5
6 Rudy Tomjanovich 0.503 476 14.3
7 Dale Schlueter 0.502 537 4.2
8 Wes Unseld 0.501 600 9.8
9 Jerry Lucas 0.499 829 13.8
10 Bob Lanier 0.497 464 18.1
Larry Steele 0.497 376 6.5
12 Johnny Green 0.493 1057 9.5
Dick Snyder 0.493 768 11.6
14 Walt Frazier 0.492 683 15.5
15 Bob Dandridge 0.491 537 16
16 Matt Guokas 0.489 735 5
Lou Hudson 0.489 672 18.7
Jon McGlocklin 0.489 792 10.3
19 Jim McMillian 0.486 460 13.5
Curtis Rowe 0.486 407 11.3
21 Oscar Robertson 0.485 1040 18.9
22 Butch Beard 0.483 449 7.9
23 Greg Smith 0.482 524 6.9
24 Calvin Murphy 0.481 482 14.3
25 Archie Clark 0.48 725 13.5
Jim Fox 0.48 672 7.5
Bailey Howell 0.48 950 14.3
Don Nelson 0.48 1053 8

FREE THROW PERCENTAGE (minimum 350 games)

Rank Player FT% Games FTAs per Game
1 Rick Barry 0.89 481 6.5
2 Bill Sharman 0.883 711 5
3 Calvin Murphy 0.875 482 4.7
4 Mike Newlin 0.858 401 4.3
5 Larry Siegfried 0.854 550 3.5
6 Flynn Robinson 0.849 494 3.8
Dolph Schayes 0.849 996 7.9
8 Fred Brown 0.846 351 2.8
9 Jon McGlocklin 0.845 792 1.7
10 Jack Marin 0.844 795 3.5
11 Bill Bradley 0.841 675 2.3
12 Larry Costello 0.841 706 4.1
13 Oscar Robertson 0.838 1040 8.8
14 Adrian Smith 0.836 719 3.8
15 Jim McMillian 0.833 460 3.3
Ron Rilliams 0.833 516 2.5
17 Fred Scolari 0.831 381 4.2
18 Howard Komives 0.83 742 2.6
19 Jimmy Walker 0.829 698 4.2
Bob Weiss 0.829 714 2.3
21 Tiny Archibald 0.826 433 8.4
Kenny Sears 0.826 529 5.6
Dick Schnittker 0.826 364 3.9
24 Cazzie Russell 0.825 699 3.1
25 Dave Gambee 0.823 748 3.7
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Posted in The Record Book

To Live As Decent Human Beings

Fannie Lou Hamer in 1964

Fannie Lou Hamer in 1964

Ain’t nothing going to be handed to you on a silver platter, nothing. That’s not just black people, that’s people in general, masses. See, I’m with the masses. So, you don’t ever get nothing,[don't] just walk up and say, “Here it is.” You’ve got to fight. Every step of the way, you’ve got to fight.

- Fannie Lou Hamer

Last night in a well-oiled media blitz, Michael Sam revealed that he’s gay. The surefire NFL draft pick was the SEC’s Defensive Player of the Year last season. Now I’m not much of a football person, but I do know that’s not a small feat. Soon after Sam revealed his news, though, a gaggle of faceless, anonymous NFL executives and scouts voiced their opinions to Sports Illustrated on the matter. It wasn’t a profile in courage or decency:

“I just know with this going on this is going to drop him down,” said a veteran NFL scout. “There’s no question about it. It’s human nature. Do you want to be the team to quote-unquote ‘break that barrier?’”

It’s not human nature, it’s bigoted nature. Anyways…

“That will break a tie against that player,” the former general manager said. “Every time. Unless he’s Superman. Why? Not that they’re against gay people. It’s more that some players are going to look at you upside down. Every Tom, Dick and Harry in the media is going to show up, from Good Housekeeping to the Today show. A general manager is going to ask, ‘Why are we going to do that to ourselves?’”

I’ve written about the whole, “We can’t let blacks and women into the workplace because they’d disrupt things” jargon before. Sad to see this guy holds true to that general philosophy.

“It’s one thing to have Chris Kluwe or Brendon Ayanbadejo, advocates for gay rights, on your team. It’s another to have a current confirmed player.”

I find it uncomfortable that these men in positions of power and authority over Michael Sam’s NFL future were allowed to anonymously spout out such tripe.

But getting to the substance of their stupidity, I’d like to ask these phantasms of cowardice when, exactly, they believe the time will be right for a “confirmed player?” At what point will the NFL be ready to look past the confirmations of Michael Sam or another gay player?

Their suggestions and insinuations are the same old tired script of faux progress. The so-called moderate who advocates gradualism. Let’s all wait for the majority to accept an individual’s rights and abilities. In the end though, that moderation turns into glacial, if any, progress in the face of hardline opposition. The idea that people have to wait for others to give them their respect is how intolerant inertia reigns supreme. And those accepted and protected by the intolerant inertia, say NFL execs, have no imperative to push forward.

These anonymous execs should sit down and learn a thing or two from a seminal season in our country’s history: Freedom Summer.

A decade after the Supreme Court mandated desegregation, Jim Crow still stood tall in the South. So in 1964 black and white civil rights workers invaded Mississippi for Freedom Summer and demanded the right for all of Mississippi’s people to vote. In the words of Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer – a poor, black sharecropper – they were “sick and tired of being sick and tired.” Met with bristling resistance, Hamer and others crashed the Democratic Party’s National Convention and threw down the gauntlet.

In contrast to our wimp NFL execs, Hamer stated her full name and street address on national TV, daring some KKK member or white supremacist to silence her. After recalling how she was brutally beaten for registering to vote, Hamer questioned men who professed good intentions but then hid behind excuses:

“Is this America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, where we have to sleep with our telephones off of the hooks because our lives be threatened daily, because we want to live as decent human beings, in America?”

That same summer David Dennis gave a eulogy at the funeral for three murdered civil rights workers. In that eulogy he shamed the apathy and complacency of simply waiting for help and change:

But what I want to talk about right now is the living dead that we have right among our midst, not only in the state of Mississippi but throughout the nation. Those are the people who don’t care [and] those who do care but don’t have the guts enough to stand up for it…

As it so happens, we’re also on the 50th anniversary of NBA players being sick and tired of being sick and tired. After 10 years of attempted negotiation, the NBA’s players decided the time had come for a dramatic move.

In Boston, the NBA’s 1964 All-Stars went on strike. Led by Tommy Heinsohn and Oscar Robertson the players refused to take the court for the All-Star Game until their demands for a pension fund were met. With a rare nationally televised game, the players knew they finally had a pressure point to coerce the owners. After much bluster – including the Lakers owner demanding Jerry West and Elgin Baylor “get their asses” on the court – NBA Commissioner Walter Kennedy relented. The union was recognized and a pension was subsequently created. Huge confrontations lay on the horizon, but the players undeniably benefitted from refusing the status quo.

Now here we are 50 years later and yet another status quo needs dismantling.

We’re now at the point where gay athletes are sick and tired of being sick and tired. They aren’t willing to put up with silence, mistreatment, and being the living dead. And that’s the greatest fear these shiftless NFL execs have. It’s the same fear segregationists had in Dixie of whites and blacks working together for equality. It’s the same fear the NBA’s owners had of players (i.e. employees) demanding basic labor rights.

In the face of fanatic opposition and, just as toxic, uncaring complacency, Sam, Robertson, and Hamer called for a simple, yet tall order: to live as decent human beings.

Posted in The BIG Stuff: Race and Economics

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The MemoraBull, VeneraBull and IncredaBull Luol Deng

photo by Keith Allison (Flickr)

photo by Keith Allison (Flickr)

Ending one longtime era and starting a new, certainly different one, the Bulls traded Luol Deng to the Cavaliers late Monday night for center Andrew Bynum and three draft picks.

The Bulls will waive Bynum before the second half of his $12.3 million contract becomes guaranteed on Tuesday. That move will drop them below the luxury-tax threshold in a season in which they no longer are championship contenders after the loss of Derrick Rose to a knee injury, saving them close to $15 million.

So, Luol Deng is gone from the Windy City. The hustling, defending, never-ending Deng always ready to play 40 minutes a night. And Coach Thibs always willing play him those 40 minutes and more.

Playing so many minutes and doing so for nearly a decade in Chicago has made Deng one of the most venerable Chicago Bulls. Other people will do a better job of describing Deng’s on-court impact, so instead of that, I’ll just toss out some perspective via Deng’s franchise ranks in Chicago.

On-court Time
In terms of minutes, only Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Jerry Sloan have played more minutes in a Bulls uniform than Deng. Unsurprisingly, all three of those players have their jerseys retired by the Bulls. And just behind Deng at #5 on the list is Bob Love, who happens to complete the list of players with jerseys retired by Chicago.

With regard to games played, just Jordan, Pippen, Sloan and John Paxson have suited for more nightly tilts than Luol. Combine the 22,882 minutes played over the course of 637 games and Deng averages 35.9 minutes for each game played as a Bull.

On-court Production
With all that on-court time, Deng obviously will have some significant on-court production. Here are some testaments to his offensive output:

  • Points: 10,286 good enough for 4th all-time
  • Field Goals Made: 3987, 5th all-time
  • Field Goals Attempted: 8675, 5th all-time
  • Free Throws Made: 1925, 8th all-time
  • Free Throws Attempted: 2490, 8th all-time
  • 3-Pointers Made: 387, 7th all-time
  • 3-Pointers Attempted: 1170, 5th all-time

With “hustle” stats Deng also does quite well. He’s got the 5th most steals of any Bull ever with 639 – that puts him behind legendary defenders Jordan, Pippen, and “Stormin’ Norman” Van Lier… and also Kirk Hinrich. Luol also is 8th in total rebounds for the Chicago franchise with 4078.

And all of that production doesn’t measure the kind of defensive acumen and pressure Deng was capable of playing.

Mr. Bull of the 2000s
So, Deng does pretty well all-time in Bulls franchise history but focusing on the period after Michael Jordan retired and the Bulls dynasty collapsed, Luol takes on even greater prominence. Since the 1998-99 season, these are Deng’s ranks in categories:

  • Games – 1st
  • Minutes – 1st
  • Points – 1st
  • Field Goals Made – 1st
  • Free Throws Made – 1st
  • Total Rebounds – 1st
  • Defensive Rebounds – 1st
  • Offensive Rebounds – 2nd
  • Steals – 2nd
  • Assists – 3rd
  • Blocks – 4th
  • 3-Pointers Made – 4th

That’s quite a resume from Deng as he sails on to Cleveland and clearly establishes him as the Mr. Bull of his era. We’ll see in the years to come whether Chicago and NBA fans remember Deng as such.

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The Lost MVPs: The 1949-50 NBA Season

OneFuller (Flickr)

OneFuller (Flickr)

The NBA has arrived!

The BAA, after having raided the NBL for several teams the previous year, completes a full-scale merger with their rival. The resulting hybrid league has now ballooned to 15 teams. This would be the most franchises fielded by the NBA until the early 1970s. Locations like Fort Wayne (IN), Sheboygan (WI), Anderson (IN), and Waterloo (IA) would enter their last days as major professional sports towns, while Chicago, Denver, St. Louis and Baltimore were unknowingly entering periods of flux concerning their status as pro basketball cities. The Stags, (old) Nuggets, Bombers and (old) Bullets, respectively, wouldn’t last too much longer and all disbanded by the mid-1950s.

But the merger of the leagues meant the full merger of most of the United States’ best basketball talent and this is the toughest field, yet, for MVP candidates. Old standbys like Joe Fulks have begun to fade while men like Al Cervi, Bob Davies, Ed Macauley, Frankie Beard and Jim Pollard were fine candidates. Narrowing the loaded field down to five is damn hard. So hard, there’s already going to be a cop out co-selection…

#5 Harry Gallatin / Carl Braun – New York Knicks
Gallatin: 11.8 PPG, 0.8 APG, .396 FG%, .757 FT%
Braun: 15.4 PPG, 3.7 APG, .364% FG, .762 FT%

I couldn’t decide which of these Knickerbockers should be #5 on this list, so I went ahead and put both of them. These gents were the dynamic duo that propelled the Knicks to a 40-28 record and a second place finish in the Eastern Division.

Although both were just 22, Braun was already in his 3rd season while Gallatin was in his 2nd. The two young stars of the Knicks were quickly improving as well. They’d form the core of a Knicks team that would appear in the Eastern Division Finals this season and three straight NBA Finals in the succeeding seasons thereafter.

#4 – Max Zaslofsky – Chicago Stags
All-NBA 1st Team
16.4 PPG, 2.3 APG, .351 FG%, .843% FT

Zaslofsky Stags

Perennial MVP candidate and 1948 winner of the award, Max Zaslofsky is back again! Although his per game scoring average dropped from 20.6 in 1949 to 16.4 this season, Zaslofsky still managed to finish 4th in the NBA in total points scored.

Also, his FT% has risen to a high-water mark of .843. That was good enough to lead the entire league. Zaslofsky’s place in the rankings, though is indicative of his overall slight decline, the stagnation of the Stags (which was still a really good team) and the continuing rise of Andy Phillip on the team.

Taking all of that into account, Max is still one of the NBA’s best, but it’s clear his impact on the Stags has diminished, therefore so has his place in these rankings. #4 ain’t bad though.

#3 Dolph Schayes – Syracuse Nationals
All-NBA 2nd Team
16.8 PPG, 4.0 APG, .385 FG%, .774% FT

Dolph Schayes

Dolph Schayes

All of 21 years old, forward-center Dolph Schayes got  off to a tremendous start in the new league.

His 16.8 points per game placed him 5th overall. The 4.0 assists per game were also good for 5th place in all of the NBA. He certainly wasn’t the only good player on a Syracuse powerhouse that tied for the league’s best record with 51 wins, but he was the most impactful leading the team in free throw percentage and points per game, finishing second in assists per game while also leading all rotation players in FG%.  A true workhorse and iron man, Schayes wouldn’t miss significant action this season, or any season in fact until he was 33 years old.

#2 Alex Groza – Indianapolis Olympians
All-NBA 1st Team
23.4 PPG, 2.5 APG, .478 FG%, .729 FT%

Alex GrozaThis is the reason why this Lost MVPs series needs to be done. A man like Alex Groza nearly usurped the MVP award from George Mikan this season and that’s a mighty testament to this center’s abilities.

He shattered the BAA/NBA’s single-season record for FG% this year while still pouring in 23.4 points a night. One of the tiny handful of players to cross the 20 ppg threshold at this point in basketball history. He was the centerpiece of an Indianapolis Olympians squad that was indeed filled with Olympians. The core of the roster was composed of the 1948 US Men’s basketball squad, which was itself mostly composed of Wildcats from the University of Kentucky.

The Olympians finished 39-25, good enough for the Western Division regular season crown. But for all his greatness, Groza is second place to George Mikan. But next season may certainly see a shift…

#1 George Mikan – Minneapolis Lakers
1st Team All-NBA
27.4 PPG, 2.9 APG, .407 FG%, .779 FT%

Sport Mag MikanOh who am I kidding. George Mikan has got this MVP award wrapped up for as long as he keeps posting gaudy numbers like these. Again he led the league in PPG and led the Lakers to a tie for the most wins that season (51).

The numbers truly tell the story of his impact. There’s not much more to add. The man’s sweeping hook shot was unstoppable and the only thing that will end King George’s reign of MVPs is Father Time. And here’s a hint, Father Time isn’t in a rush to dethrone Mikan.

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Posted in The Lost Awards

The Lost MVPs: The 1948-49 BAA Season

PhotoAtelier (Flickr)

PhotoAtelier (Flickr)

The BAA was the subject of a huge shakeup this season. The players so far chronicled as MVP candidates were indeed top flight , but in general the BAA was working with lesser talent than its competitor the NBL. Well, that problem is largely solved for this season since several powerhouse NBL teams (Minneapolis Lakers, Rochester Royals, Fort Wayne Pistons, Indianapolis Kautskys/Jets)  jumped ship to the BAA this season. The rankings this year reflect that as the erstwhile NBLers dominate the BAA MVP candidacies

#5 Bob Davies – Rochester Royals
1st Team All-BAA
15.1 PPG, 5.4 APG, 36.4% FG, 77.6% FT

Bob Davies

Bob Davies

One of the preeminent guards of the NBL, the veteran Davies (then 29 years old) quickly established his supremacy in the Rochester Royals’ first BAA season.

His 5.4 assist per game were enough to barely edge out the sterling Andy Phillip for the BAA lead that season and in the process set a new BAA record for APG in a season. Blindingly quick, Davies also routinely blazed his way to the bucket. His penetration placed him 7th that season in FT attempts making him, along with Kenny Sailors, one of two point guards in the top 10 of that category.

As a team, the Royals mustered the best regular season record with 45 wins and just 15 losses.

#4 Joe Fulks – Philadelphia Warriors
1st Team All-BAA
26.0 ppg, 0.6 apg, 31.3% FG, 78.7% FT

Joe Fulks

Joe Fulks

Perennial MVP candidate Joe Fulks has a return to form after his disappointing 1948 season. His 26.0 ppg were a career-high and would have been enough to set a new BAA record had it not been for our MVP winner from this season.

Fulks’ bounce back season, though, wasn’t enough to lift the Warriors to a winning record as they finished 28-32. This is slightly surprising given that Fulks was joined by the wandering center Ed Sadowski, himself a top 5 MVP candidate from the previous two seasons.

The truth is, the addition of Sadowski and Fulks’ bouncbeack still weren’t enough to compensate for the influx of NBL titans. Still, Fulks set a single-game scoring record this season with 63 points. That mark would stand for nearly a decade until Elgin Baylor surpassed it.

#3 Arnie Risen – Rochester Royals
2nd Team All-BAA
16.6 PPG, 1.7 APG, 42.3% FG, 66.0% FT

Arnie Risen

Arnie Risen

Although surrounded by dominating, superb guards like Bob Davies and Bob Wanzer, center Arnie Risen delivered his finest season in 1948-49.

Like teammate Davies, Arnie Risen set a new BAA record. His accomplishment came in the FG% department. His 42.3% was the highest yet and illustrated his fine post play. On the strength of his stellar shooting, Risen also racked up 16.6 points per game which was good enough for 4th place in the BAA. And although the stats didn’t yet exist to buttress the point, Risen’s defense and rebounding were key to the Royals’ finishing atop the BAA standings in the regular season.

#2 Max Zaslofsky – Chicago Stags
1st Team All-BAA
20.6 PPG, 2.6 APG, 35.0% FG, 84.0% FT

Max Zaslofsky

Max Zaslofsky

Last season’s MVP actually kept up every bit of his performance from the previous season. There was no drop off for “The Touch”. If anything, he actually improved. His FG% rose from 32% to 35% and his FT% jumped from 78% to 84%. Expanding his game beyond dangerous scorer, Zaslofsky also quadrupled his assists per game from 0.6 to 2.6. The Chicago Stags working largely with the same roster also saw their record improve from 28-20 in 1948 to 38-22 in 1949.

So, at first glance, Zaslofsky should be the repeat, back-to-back winner of the BAA MVP. But he isn’t.

Because in 1949, along came George…

#1 George Mikan – Minneapolis Lakers
1st Team All-BAA
28.3 PPG, 3.6 APG, 41.6% FG, 77.2% FT

George Mikan

George Mikan

George Mikan, easily, handily, and deservedly demolishes the strong competition here for BAA MVP. His 20.9 win shares doubled the nearest competitors in Zaslofsky and Risen. His 28.3 points per game were a BAA record. As if his offensive devastation weren’t enough from his patented hook shot, Mikan also finished 8th in APG that season with 3.6 and finished 2nd in FG% behind Risen. He was simply and obviously the hub of the Lakers’ offense.

Minneapolis finished a single game behind Rochester for the league’s best record and would continue a run of domination begun in the NBL that would run through the next 5 seasons of the BAA and NBA. Mikan was the center of it all and you can bet this is just the first of several MVPs.

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Posted in The Lost Awards

The Lost MVPs: the 1947-48 BAA Season

Brad Day (flickr)

Brad Day (flickr)

Welcome to the 2nd part of my attempt to fill in the MVP gaps from the early era of the BAA and NBA. The 1946-47 BAA season saw a tie for the MVP honors between Bob Feerick of the Washington Capitols and Joe Fulks of the Philadelphia Warriors. That postseason witnessed Fulks’s Warriors capture the 1st-ever BAA title.

Now in the 2nd BAA season we look to crown another MVP. As with the last analysis, I take into account a player’s individual stats, his team’s success, the quality of teammates, the quality of coaching, any other pertinent research, ANYTHING that adds information to make the most informed decision. And, of course, disagreement, agreement or apathy is encouraged. This is just my opinion on the matter.

And so we move to our wonderful 5 candidates…

#5 Joe Fulks – Philadelphia Warriors
22.1 PPG, 0.6 APG, 25.9% FG, 76.2% FT
1st Team All-BAA

Joe FulksJoe Fulks

Last season’s co-MVP turned in yet another spectacular season in terms of scoring output. Once again he led the BAA in points per game with his 22.1 and also led the nascent circuit in free throws made thanks to a stellar 76.2% shooting from the stripe. His Warriors also finished atop the standings in the Eastern Division with a 27-21 record.

So why the 5th place finish? Well, Fulks’s field goal percentage took a precipitous hit going from 30.5% in 1947 to 26% this year. Also, the Warriors’ 27 wins and 1st-place finish were mightily helped by playing the god-awful Providence Steamrollers and mediocre Boston Celtics 8 times each thereby padding their record, while the powerhouse Western Division teams beat each other silly.

Then again, Fulks’s Warriors were still a bit barren on talent themselves outside Fulks. Still, 5th place is the spot for him this season.

#4 Buddy Jeannette – Baltimore Bullets
10.7 PPG, 1.5 APG, 34.9% FG, 75.8% FT
2nd Team All-BAA


Buddy Jeannette

Say hello to the only guard (and obviously shortest player) to ever lead the BAA, ABA or NBA in FG% for a whole season. Jeannette’s efficient back court play was instrumental in leading the Baltimore Bullets to the 2nd-best record in both, the Western Division and the entire BAA, with 28 wins and 20 losses.

In addition to his league-leading FG%, the 30-year old point guard also finished 4th in FT% and was 7th in assists per game. On top of his on-the-court leadership, Jeannette was also the coach of the Bullets. Baltimore would defeat Fulks’s Warriors in the BAA Finals this season, making Jeannette the 1st player-coach to win a major professional sports title.

(historical sidenote: Jeannette was also a 4x selection to the  All-NBL Team in the mid-1940s and was a winner of 4 other pro basketball titles. 3 of those came in the NBL and the 4th in the American Basketball League with the Bullets in 1947.)

#3 Ed Sadowski – Boston Celtics
19.4 PPG, 1.6 APG, 32.3% FG, 69.7% FT
1st Team All-BAA

Ed Sadowski

Ed Sadowski

Last season, Sadowski had himself shipped from Toronto to Cleveland and this year he’s moved on yet again to the Boston Celtics. As always, the mercenary big man delivered the goods.

As the Celtics’ imposing big man Sadowski finished in the top 10 in points (3rd) and assists (6th) per game, while also garnering a top 10 finish in FG% (4th). For good measure Sadowski also nestled in at #12 in FT%. Despite his personal excellence, the Celtics as mentioned above, were positively mediocre this season with a record of just 20-28. Of course the team would have been absolutely awful without Sadowski and in the relative scheme of things, that makes him extremely valuable and number 3 in my rankings for this season.

#2 Bob Feerick – Washington Capitols
16.1 PPG, 1.2 APG, 34.0% FG, 78.8% FT
1st Team All-BAA

Bob Feerick

Bob Feerick

The co-winner of last year’s MVP has to settle in for a very, very close 2nd-place finish this year. Feerick nearly led the BAA in FG% for a second-straight season, but finished a smidgen behind Jeannette for the FG% title. When it came to FT% though Feerick took home the top prize.

In case it’s not clear, Feerick was just an amazingly efficient scorer in the BAA. What player today could claim a 1-2 finish in FG% and FT%?

Personally, Feerick remained as good as ever, but his team did take a slip from the previous season. The Capitols finished over 20 percentage points behind their previous pace the year before. This means they won merely 58% of their games instead of 81%. Honestly, Feerick could easily be the MVP, but I think this next candidate outclassed him by the smallest of margins…

#1 Max Zaslofsky – Chicago Stags
21.0 PPG, 0.6 APG, 32.3% FG, 78.4% FT
1st Team All-BAA

Zaslofsky Stags

The 22-year old Zaslofsky finished 5th in my rankings last season, but has rocketed up this season thanks to his stellar leap in 1948. His points per game average was good enough for 2nd-place behind Joe Fulks (22 ppg), but he got to his mark with a FG% that landed him 5th overall in the league while his FT% was juuuuust behind Feerick for 2nd-place.

His Stags finished with an identical record as Feerick’s Capitols (28-20) in the same division, but Zaslofsky carried a more enormous offensive burden. This would soon change as future Hall of Famer Andy Phillip emerged the next season, but for 1948 Max was king of Chicago. He accounted for nearly 28% of the Stags total points scored that year.

For comparison’s sake, LeBron James this past season, 2011-12, accounted for 26% of Miami’s total points scored.

At season’s end with the same records, the Stags and Capitols squared off in a one-game tiebreaker. The Stags won 74-70. Zaslofsky poured in 24 points in the win, Feerick 16. I guess that’s the tiebreaker for this MVP race too.

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Posted in The Lost Awards

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