It’s time for more of the classic ’70s on NBA Tuesday as we move past Labor Day and into the dog days of fall in America. The ABA is entering its twilight years as well, which means it will soon be merger time for pro basketball.
However, in the meantime, let’s check out this week’s awards …
1974 NBA MVP: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (original, confirmed)
The Milwaukee Bucks won 59 games to post the best record in the league, and their center—Kareem Abdul-Jabbar—finished first in Win Shares (18.45) and second in Player Efficiency Rating (24.38). That seems to all but wrap up this analysis, again, for the fourth straight season.
However, Buffalo Braves center Bob McAdoo gave the Big Fella some competition this season, finishing second in WS (15.30) and first in PER (24.65). The Braves won 42 games in the same division as the Boston Celtics to make the playoffs, so McAdoo’s season was quite impressive.
The Braves star led the NBA in scoring (30.6 points per game) and shot percentage (.547), while Abdul-Jabbar didn’t top his peers in any statistical categories. Kareem scored 27.0 ppg and shot .539 from the floor, however.
McAdoo played in seven fewer games than Abdul-Jabbar did, though, and in the end, that makes a big difference to us for value. Perhaps if McAdoo had played all 82 games during the regular season, we’d have been more tempted to give him this award. Alas, no.
1974 ABA MVP: Julius Erving (original, confirmed)
Perhaps it’s perfect symmetry that New York Nets won 55 games to lead the ABA in regular-season victories, and their star small forward Julius Erving topped the league in both WS (16.48) and PER (25.69). The two dominant public figures of pro basketball in the decade win these MVP awards.
Dr. J led his peers in scoring (27.4 ppg) for the second season in a row, although this was his first year with the Nets after playing for the Virginia Squires in his rookie and second-season campaigns.
1974 NBA ROTY: Ernie DiGregorio (original), Nick Weatherspoon (revised)
This was not a stellar NBA year for rookies, as only a handful posted WS marks over 1.0—Atlanta Hawks small forward John Brown (2.3), Capital Bullets small forward Nick Weatherspoon (2.1), Kansas City-Omaha Kings power forward Ron Behagen (2.0), and Braves point guard Ernie DiGregorio (1.2).
DiGregorio won the award as Buffalo improved drastically, but his impact was actually minimal (see above). The Hawks and the Kings missed the playoffs, entirely, while the Bullets won 47 games and the Central Division title. That makes it necessary to reassign this award to Weatherspoon.
Side note: The Bullets franchise relocated from Baltimore to D.C. and adopted “Washington” as its location the following season, while the Kings franchise was in the second of three seasons split between two markets. So goofy!
1974 ABA ROTY: Swen Nater (original, confirmed)
Splitting time during his rookie season with the Virginia Squires and the San Antonio Squires, center Swen Nater easily topped all ABA rookies with 8.7 WS while also leading the league in shooting percentage (.522). His PER (20.6) was also the best in the league for first-year players.
He averaged 14.1 points and 12.6 rebounds per game as the Spurs won 45 games to make the playoffs (and the Squires struggled to just 28 victories in the other conference—begging the question of why Virginia traded him away after just 17 games).