We’ve reached a key season on NBA Tuesday, as the league finally started voting on and awarding a DPOY designation. We’ve been doing this as far back as 1950 ourselves, of course, but now it’s get an official stamp. And that’s good, because we can measure our modern analysis against the contemporary analysis to see if it fits the same pattern as all the other awards we started shredding two years ago.
Remember also to check out the first miniseries entry on this year for context, because knowledge is power.
1983 NBA FINALS MVP: Moses Malone, C, Philadelphia (original, confirmed)
The Philadelphia 76ers finally broke through for the NBA title, after losing in the Finals three times in six seasons (1977, 1980, 1982). The Sixers did it in fine fashion, too, sweeping the defending champions—the Los Angeles Lakers—convincingly, beating L.A. by an average of 10 points per game. Philly’s new trade-acquisition prize, center Moses Malone, was named the Finals MVP at the time.
Big Mo topped his team in mpg (39.3), ppg (25.8), and rpg (18.0) while adding solid defense, as small forward Julius Erving was relegated to second fiddle at age 32: 38.3 mpg, 19.0 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 5.0 apg, and 2.5 bpg. This was Dr. J’s only NBA title, to go along with his two ABA championships (1974, 1976), but sentiment has no place here. This was Malone’s team, as the age-27 superstar got his only NBA ring.
1983 NBA DPOY: Sidney Moncrief, SG, Milwaukee (original); Tree Rollins, C, Atlanta (revised)
Despite posting just 3.5 DWS, Milwaukee Bucks shooting guard Sidney Moncrief won the first-ever DPOY vote. Needless to say, he won’t be winning the award from us with such a low value mark there. Eight players finished with 5-plus DWS, so our pick will come from that group. We’re whittling it down (offline) to those on playoff-contending teams, of course, as we usually do.
Our list of finalists: Malone (5.98), New Jersey Nets power forward Buck Williams (5.93), Phoenix Suns PF Larry Nance (5.62), Boston Celtics PF Larry Bird (5.57), and Atlanta Hawks C Tree Rollins (5.04). Playoff cushions for these teams? Atlanta (1), Philadelphia (23), Boston (14), Phoenix (8), and New Jersey (7). The Hawks would have missed the postseason if not for Rollins’ D, so he wins the trophy.
His stats—an NBA-high 4.3 bpg, bolstered by 9.3 rpg, including 6.7 on the defensive end—aren’t mind-blowing numbers, but again, this is contextual value. Atlanta was actually outscored on the season, but Rollins’ presence under the opponents’ hoop limited the damage, and the Hawks were able to score just enough to make the playoffs as a result.