On NBA Tuesday this week, it’s a special season as our hometown team—the Golden State Warriors—won the league championship for the NBA, while in the penultimate season of ABA, it was all about the Kentucky Colonels winning it all.
It’s too bad these basketball leagues never came up with their own version of the Super Bowl, you know? On with the show!
1975 NBA MVP: Bob McAdoo (original, confirmed)
Here’s the deal: Buffalo Braves center Bob McAdoo and Milwaukee Bucks center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were the best players in the league, finishing 1-2 in Win Shares and Player Efficiency Rating.
McAdoo (17.81 WS, 25.76 PER) led his Braves to 49 wins in the Atlantic Division, while Abdul-Jabbar (12.89 WS, 26.36 PER) and his Bucks slipped to just 38 victories in the Midwest Division and missed the playoffs. Part of this issue was that the Big Fella played in just 65 games.
Either way, it makes the decision to confirm McAdoo’s MVP Award all the easier: He topped the league in scoring (34.5 points per game, a career high), while also leading the NBA in minutes played (43.2 per game). McAdoo shot 51.2 percent from the floor as well.
1975 ABA MVP: Julius Erving and George McGinnis (original), Julius Erving (revised)
We just cannot have a tie for an award, really. New York Nets small forward Julius Erving and Indiana Pacers power forward George McGinnis tied for the vote at the time, but we are here to break it.
Erving was tops in the league for both WS (17.58) and PER (26.18), and his team tied for the most wins (58) in the Eastern Division. McGinnis was second in PER (25.13) and third in WS (11.60), while his team won 45 times in the Western Division.
Easy to give this award alone to Erving then, as he had more to do with his team’s greater success. McGinnis topped the ABA in scoring (29.8 ppg) to end Erving’s two-year run atop the league in that category, but Dr. J was just the more valuable player, overall, nonetheless, on the better team.
1975 NBA ROTY: Jamaal Wilkes (original, confirmed)
The Warriors won 48 games and the Pacific Division with solid contributions from small forward Jamaal Wilkes (5.1 WS, 15.3 PER), and that’s probably why he won the vote for this award.
However, the best rookie in the league was Atlanta Hawks power forward John Drew (7.1 WS, 21.4 PER). Yet, the Hawks won just 31 games in the Central Division, finishing 9 games out of the playoffs.
If we look at individual numbers, Drew also had the better traditional statistics as well: 18.5 ppg, 10.7 rebounds per game versus Wilkes’ 14.2 ppg and 8.2 rpg.
A key here is that Drew topped the Atlanta roster in WS, while Wilkes was fourth on his team. Drew carried a bad team to 31 wins, while Wilkes caddied for three better players—including 1966 NBA ROTY Rick Barry.
This is a dilemma: Drew wasn’t historically great, although he was the best overall rookie. Wilkes had more value, however, to the Warriors. Is this a “best rookie” award, or an “MVR” award? Generally, we’ve gone with the latter classification here, so we will stick with that now: Wilkes is the call.
1975 ABA ROTY: Marvin Barnes (original), Moses Malone (revised)
There are four legit candidates for this award: Spirit of St. Louis power forward Marvin Barnes (8.6 WS, 20.8 PER); Denver Nuggets power forward Bobby Jones (10.2 WS, 19.4 PER); Indiana Pacers small forward Billy Knight (7.1 WS, 18.5 PER); and Utah Stars center Moses Malone (10.2 WS, 19.6 PER).
All four guys helped their respective teams to the postseason, so let’s do some elimination. Jones and Malone have the best WS marks, but Malone edges Jones in PER—so Jones is out. Barnes has the best PER, and he also tops Knight in WS—so Knight is out.
That leaves us with Barnes and Malone: The Stars won 6 more games than the Spirit did, but Barnes had better traditional stats—24.0 ppg, 15.6 rpg versus 18.8 ppg and 14.6 rpg for Malone.
Both guys topped their respective rosters in WS, so both had value to their playoff squads. Malone’s WS total is higher, while Barnes’ PER is higher. Since this is about value, then, and not who was “better”—as discussed above—we go with Malone.