Welcome back to the NBA Tuesday series, as we take on another season of professional basketball in both the ABA and the NBA. This is actually the middle season of the 9-year span for the ABA, so that’s something to note.
Read on to see our analyses of the award winners!
1972 NBA MVP: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (original, confirmed)
This is almost the same situation as last season. Milwaukee Bucks center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar topped the NBA in scoring (career-best 34.8 points per game), Win Shares (WS: 25.37), and Player Efficiency Rating (PER: 29.94), while his team won 63 games—second best mark in the league, trailing only the Los Angeles Lakers and their historic 69-win season.
For the record, Lakers center Wilt Chamberlain led the NBA in field-goal percentage (.649) and rebounding (19.2 boards per game), while finishing second in WS (15.84). He was 35 years old.
1972 ABA MVP: Artis Gilmore (original, confirmed)
Basketball can be boring, you know, when the league’s best player plays for the best team. But it makes some of our analyses easier, right? The Kentucky Colonels topped the ABA with 68 victories, which was 8 more than the next-best team, and their rookie center Artis Gilmore posted the highest WS (19.79) and PER (26.58) marks in the league, too.
Gilmore led the league in shooting percentage (.598) and rebounding (17.8 rpg), while also scoring 23.8 ppg and blocking 5 shots every time out as well. It was a dominant performance for the kid out of Jacksonville University.
1972 NBA ROTY: Sidney Wicks (original), Clifford Ray (revised)
The five best rookies this year were Cleveland Cavaliers shooting guard Austin Carr; Baltimore Bullets shooting guard Phil Chenier; Chicago Bulls center Clifford Ray; Buffalo Braves center Elmore Smith; and Portland Trail Blazers power forward Sidney Wicks.
Carr only played 43 games, posting 1.0 WS and 14.5 PER marks. The Cavs went 23-59. Meanwhile, Chenier (1.4 WS, 10.9 PER) played in 81 games for the 38-win Bullets, a team that somehow won its division with a losing record. Neither is worthy of this award.
The Bulls won 57 games to finish second in their division behind Milwaukee, and Ray contributed 8.7 WS and 17.3 PER to the cause. The Braves won just 22 games, and Smith’s 1.5 WS and 15.0 PER marks didn’t add enough value.
Wicks and Portland won a league-worst 18 games, while he contributed 2.3 WS and 19.2 PER to the cause. Wicks was an offensive force (scoring 24.5 ppg), while Ray was a defensive one (6.3 WS on defense alone). The fact that Ray’s defensive contributions were significantly higher than Wicks’ overall value says a lot for the guy on a playoff team over a guy on a terrible team.
1972 ABA ROTY: Artis Gilmore (original, confirmed)
There is nothing to say here that we did not say above. However, we will note that Virginia Squires small forward Julius Erving had a stellar rookie season, too, posting 13.3 WS and 23.9 PER. He also scored 27.3 ppg, grabbed 15.7 rpg, and dished 4.0 assists per outing. That’s a great season, even if the Squires finished 23 games behind the Colonels.