As we move forward in our second NBA Tuesday miniseries, we are examining the 1952 season for our awards analysis of the DPOY and the Finals MVP. Enjoy this second ride through NBA history as we see it now and remember to check out our first miniseries entry on this year for context, too.
This is still the era dominated by big mean, so the centers remain front and … yes, you guessed it.
1952 NBA FINALS MVP: George Mikan, C, Minneapolis Lakers
Just like 1950, it was the big man for the Minneapolis Lakers—center George Mikan—dominating the action in the NBA Finals, as his team topped the New York Knicks in a seven-game series that featured alternating wins throughout for the home team.
He pulled a double double in the Finals, scoring 21.7 points per game and 17.4 rebounds per outing. The Lakers had four players averaging at least 13.0 ppg in the Finals, so that was impressive, even though Minneapolis only scored 3 points more per game than the Knicks did, on average. Mikan was the only player in the Finals to average double digits in rebounds, by the way.
In the decisive Game 7, he also scored 22 points, grabbed 19 rebounds, and delivered 4 assists as well. At home, the Lakers led after every quarter of the game as they cruised to a second championship in three seasons on Mikan’s very tall shoulders.
1952 NBA DPOY: George Mikan, C, Minneapolis Lakers
Three players stood out in terms of Defensive Win Shares: Mikan (7.97), Lakers power forward Vern Mikkelsen (6.63), and Minneapolis small forward Jim Pollard (6.59). How did this team ever lose?! No one else in the league topped 5.0 DWS, so these are our choices, and Mikan is the obvious one, again.
Mikan topped the league in rebounds (13.5 rpg), and he again led the NBA in total fouls, as well, so his aggressive player certainly had an impact on opponents’ shot selections. It’s hard to imagine how dominant he was in today’s world, but again, he may be the best Lakers player ever.