The Daily McPlay celebrates the onset of the ABA this week with two new awards to assign. Welcome back to our second NBA Tuesday miniseries! We are analyzing the Finals MVP and Defensive Player of the Year awards that didn’t exist at the time, and it’s so much fun every time we land on this column. However, the ABA did award a “Playoffs MVP” designation at the time, so we use that as a basis here.

Remember to check out the first miniseries entry on this year for context, if you want; it always helps.

1968 NBA FINALS MVP: John Havlicek, SG, Boston Celtics

The Boston Celtics returned to the NBA winner’s circle with a six-game victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in the Finals, and this time we’re going with John Havlicek as the MVP. Why? Well, in a series that was decided by 1.5 points per game, on average, he was the top scorer on the winning team (27.3 ppg), while also adding 8.7 rpg and 6.7 apg on top of that. He also averaged 48.5 minutes per contest.

Yes, that’s right: He was on the court for almost every minute of every game. It’s hard to overlook that when he also topped Boston in assists while finishing second in rebounding. He was doing everything for the Celtics, and Havlicek’s 88.5-percent free-throw shooting also made a big difference since he went to the line 52 times in the series.

1968 ABA FINALS MVP: Connie Hawkins, C, Pittsburgh Pipers (original, confirmed)

In the inaugural season of the league, the Pittsburgh Pipers defeated the New Orleans Buccaneers in 7 games to grab the ABA championship trophy. The Pipers scored less than one point per game more than the Bucs did in the series, so that’s interesting to observe: As a result, Pittsburgh center Connie Hawkins gets the “Playoff MVP” confirmation nod from us for being the high scorer in the Finals.

Hawkins posted 30.7 ppg and 11.2 rpg to lead all players, and his rebounding mark was the third best in the series—second on his own team. With the Pipers shooting .525 from the floor, Hawkins himself shot 53.4 percent on 118 attempts, while also dropping 76.3 percent of his 76 FT attempts—the highest number of charity chances on the winner roster.

1968 NBA DPOY: Wilt Chamberlain, C, Philadelphia 76ers

With 10.73 Defensive Win Shares, Philadelphia 76ers C Wilt Chamberlain easily outdistanced his rival, Boston C Bill Russell (7.84) in sabermetric measurements. What’s more is that the 76ers won the Eastern Division by 8 games over the Celtics, so without the Stilt’s efforts on defense, Philly would not have had home-court advantage for the postseason (which it squandered, anyway).

That’s a difference maker, and Chamberlain’s numbers—a league-best 23.8 rpg and 2.0 fouls per contest—mean he wins a third consecutive nod here from us, and his fourth overall. This was his last season with the 76ers, as the Lakers would acquire him for more championship runs at the Celtics and Russell in the near future.

1968 ABA DPOY: Mel Daniels, C, Minnesota Muskies

One player stood out on defense in the ABA’s first season, and that was the Minnesota Muskies rookie center, Mel Daniels. The league’s first ROTY vote winner—an award we confirmed ourselves—he topped the new league in DWS (9.11) by 2.5 wins over the next-best defender, and that margin earned Daniels’ team the second-best overall record in the regular season.

He led the ABA in rebounding (15.6 rpg) while also committing a whopping 3.4 fouls per game, the lowest number of his career in the league. When he wasn’t cleaning glass, he was clobbering other players in the key, for sure. That was intimidating enough, obviously, without everything else his game brought to the court.

Check in every Tuesday for our NBA awards historical analysis on The Daily McPlay!