We have reached the 21st entry in our NBA Tuesday series, and with it, the start of the glorious 1970s. The torch is being passed from one generation of greats to the next in this decade, as we will surely see in the following weeks of analysis.
Without further hullabaloo, here we go!
1970 NBA MVP: Willis Reed (original), Jerry West (revised)
Six of the eight playoff teams finished above .500, led by the New York Knicks and their 60-22 record. This explains the selection of N.Y center Willis Reed as the league MVP at the time—despite finishing 3rd in Win Shares and 8th in Player Efficiency Rating.
The best player in the league was Los Angeles Lakers point guard Jerry West, who led the NBA in both WS (15.15) and PER (24.64)—while his team won 46 games in the Western Division to finish second and make the postseason readily.
West led the league in scoring for the only time in his distinguished career (31.2 points per game), while posting 7.5 assists per contest as well. His .824 free-throw percentage was excellent, of course, and West added 4.6 rebounds a night, too. The Logo was the league MVP, clearly … no offense to Reed, who we also stripped of the Rookie of the Year Award back in 1965.
1970 ABA MVP: Spencer Haywood (original, confirmed)
Like its counterpart, the ABA had six playoff teams with records over .500, and the best player in the league—Denver Rockets center Spencer Haywood—led the Western Division champions to 51 victories. He also topped his peers in both WS (17.10) and PER (28.00), as well.
It makes it easy to confirm the MVP vote at the time, that’s for sure. Haywood led the ABA in scoring (30 ppg), rebounds (19.5 rpg), minutes played (45.3 per game), and games played (84). This would be his only ABA season as he jumped to the NBA for the next year.
1970 NBA ROTY: Lew Alcindor (original, confirmed)
The Milwaukee Bucks won 56 games to finish with the second-best record in the NBA, and most of the reason why was their rookie center Lew Alcindor. He finished 4th in WS (13.80) and second in PER (22.48), announcing his presence in the league with authority.
Alcindor played all 82 games while scoring 28.8 points per game and nabbing 14.5 boards per outing. He also added 4.1 assists to boot, while shooting 51.8 percent from the floor. He didn’t lead the NBA in any categories, but he clearly was a force to be reckoned with in the league.
1970 ABA ROTY: Spencer Haywood (original, confirmed)
See above. There’s no need to repeat ourselves here. This is the third time in a row we have confirmed the ROTY Award, however, for the upstart ABA. It’s also a rare year where we agreed with three of the four major voting processes … Only 1968 was a better year for the voters at the time in terms of getting it right.