The Daily McPlay celebrates Tuesday with an NBA piece for once … our second NBA Tuesday miniseries, where we are analyzing the Finals MVP and Defensive Player of the Year awards that didn’t exist at the time. We are getting closer to the official start of the Finals MVP voting process, though. Stay tuned!
Remember to check out the first miniseries entry on this year for context, if you want, before reading on about even more Boston Celtics stuff.
1966 NBA FINALS MVP: Bill Russell, C, Boston Celtics
With a two-point win in Game 7 on their home court, the Boston Celtics beat the Los Angeles Lakers for the NBA title, for a ridiculous eighth time in a row. This opens up the awards analysis here to both teams, of course, depending on the actual statistical output of the respective players. Who are the contenders for the Finals MVP nod?
Celtics center Bill Russell makes this a dead debate: He averaged 23.6 ppg, 24.5 rpg, and 3.7 apg, while shooting a team-best 53.8 percent from the floor. No one on either team can match those numbers, even though two Lakers—point guard Jerry West and small forward Elgin Baylor—scored more than Russell did. This is Russell’s fifth Finals MVP Award from us, but it’s the first time he’s done it back to back.
1966 NBA DPOY: Wilt Chamberlain, C, Philadelphia 76ers
This award comes down to Russell (11.37 Defensive Win Shares) and Philadelphia 76ers center Wilt Chamberlain (8.50 DWS). As the 76ers actually won the Eastern Division title by a game over the Celtics, there is a lot to be said about Chamberlain’s defense making that one-game difference. Thus, the Stilt breaks Russell’s stranglehold on this award.
Chamberlain’s numbers were anchored by an NBA-best 24.6 rpg, the first time since 1963 that he topped the league in this category. Wilt tossed in 2.2 fpg for good measure, too, just to keep the offensive guys guessing.