NBA Tuesday arrives on Election Day, but in 1982, the voting process was much simpler than it is today—even in the NBA, as reflected below. We are kidding, of course, since basketball is just a game, right? Right.
That being said, on with the show(time)—since the Los Angeles Lakers won the second of their eventual five NBA titles in the decade …
1982 NBA MVP: Moses Malone (original, confirmed)
This is an easy one, since Houston Rockets center Moses Malone—our pick for the 1975 ABA Rookie of the Year, although we did take away his 1979 NBA MVP Award as voted upon then—led the league in both Win Shares (15.42) and Player Efficiency Rating (26.77) while carrying a bad team on his back to the postseason.
Big Mo’s final season in Houston produced a league-leading 42 minutes per game and 14.7 rebounds per outing as well. Meanwhile, he also scored 31.1 points a night while shooting .519 from the floor.
1982 NBA ROTY: Buck Williams (original, comfirmed)
Three rookies dominated this category for the season: New Jersey Nets power forward Buck Williams (8.9 WS, 17.2 PER); Washington Bullets center Jeff Ruland (7.8 WS, 18.8 PER); and Detroit Pistons small forward Kelly Tripucka (7.5 WS, 17.4 PER).
It’s straight forward to drop Tripucka from the trio, as the Pistons missed the playoffs—and his sabermetric value was the lowest as well. Both the Nets and the Bullets did make the postseason, leaving us to consider Williams and Ruland for this award.
The Nets didn’t have anyone better than Williams, whereas Ruland was the second-best player on his team. The Nets rookie also played 7.5 more minutes per game than did the Bullets rookie—and Ruland also spent a year playing pro ball in Spain before coming to the NBA, making his “rookie” status a little suspect.
Ruland may have been more efficient, and that might have come from his prior pro experience in Europe … but in the end, Williams had a lot more value, so we confirm his award confidently.
Check in every Tuesday for our NBA awards historical analysis on The Daily McPlay!