NBA GOAT Rankings: The Added Awards

There were years when the NBA did not have the awards we know today. For those years, I had to create my own winners. Here are those award recipients.

  • Finals MVP before 1969
  • All-Defense before 1969 in the NBA, Before 1973 in the ABA
  • Defensive Player of the Year before 1983
  • And we had to account for the fact that the ABA existed from 1967 and 1976 and had some different rules and their own separate awards.
  • *Late Addition* I had to list the “MVP” of the losing Finals teams from 1977-present for two categories I created.
  • *Later Addition* The MVP wasn’t awarded until 1956 officially, so I had to create the MVP for 1947-1955.

For the Finals MVP, the work was done for me thankfully.

Hit the link below for the full breakdown but here is the list:

Source: The Sports Daily

(Original Caption) Minneapolis Lakers basketball player George Mikan is shown in this photograph.

Finals MVP before 1969

Season Player Team Odds%
1967-68 John Havlicek BOS 72.0
1966-67 Hal Greer PHI 32.1
1965-66 Bill Russell BOS 67.8
1964-65 Bill Russell BOS 59.8
1963-64 Sam Jones BOS 67.3
1962-63 Bill Russell BOS 55.2
1961-62 Bill Russell BOS 77.3
1960-61 Bob Cousy BOS 66.3
1959-60 Bill Russell BOS 55.0
1958-59 Tom Heinsohn BOS 43.3
1957-58 Bob Pettit STL 55.6
1956-57 Bob Cousy BOS 57.4
1955-56 Paul Arizin PHW 80.0
1954-55 Dolph Schayes SYR 90.5
1953-54 George Mikan MNL 93.8
1952-53 George Mikan MNL 49.8
1951-52 George Mikan MNL 77.2
1950-51 Arnie Risen ROC 41.5
1949-50 George Mikan MNL 99.1
1948-49 George Mikan MNL 97.6
1947-48 Connie Simmons BLB 39.6***
1946-47 Joe Fulks PHW 98.0

***I changed this to Joe Fulks. Per the creator of the formula:

If we tweak the coefficient for winning the title so that the model thinks West was the deserving winner in ’69, like it happened in reality, do any other “losers” win the MVP? (Note: the model has low odds for West winning despite his great series because it was a rare occurrence that only happened once.) The only losing players with the best odds are West, of course, Joe Fulks in 1948 (he nearly won without the tweak), and LeBron James in 2014. 

– Justin Willard

This felt appropriate because his odds of winning were actually higher than West’s before the tweak. The creator mentions Lebron but his odds were 10% lower than West and 13% lower than Fulkes.

For the defensive awards, I used Defensive Win Shares to determine who made the cut. I tried to use 2 guards for each team (since bigs often dominated defensive win shares) but there were a few years where I let a SF stand in for a guard because the guards were too low.

Artis Gilmore sends it back

ABA All-Defense Teams*

1972ABAArtis GilmoreGerald GovanJulius ErvingDan IsselLouie Dampier
1971ABAGerald GovanZelmo BeatyMel DanielsRed RobbinsJimmy Jones
1970ABASpencer HaywoodGerald GovanRed RobbinsLarry JonesJeffrey Congdon
1969ABATrooper WashingtonMel DanielsRed RobbinsJimmy JonesLouie Dampier
1968ABAMel DanielsLes HunterDonnie FreemanSam SmithLarry Jones
The ABA All Defense Teams pre-1973

*There is only one team because there is only one team for 1973 through 1976 and we had enough data.

Wilt, Mikan, Dr. J

NBA All-Defense Teams

19681st TeamWilt ChamberlainBill RussellJohn HavlicekBailey HowellHal Greer
2nd TeamNate ThurmondClyde LeeLuke JacksonLenny WilkensJeff Mullins
19671st TeamBill RussellWilt ChamberlainGuy RodgersRick BarryK.C. Jones
2nd TeamNate ThurmondDave DeBusschereJohn HavlicekJerry SloanDave Bing
19661st TeamBill RussellWilt ChamberlainK.C. JonesGuy RodgersJohn Havlicek
2nd TeamHal GreerNate ThurmondSam JonesDave DeBusschereTom Sanders
19651st TeamBill RussellK.C. JonesWilt ChamberlainSam JonesTom Sanders
2nd TeamNate ThurmondJohn HavlicekTom HeinsohnZelmo BeatyGuy Rodgers
19641st TeamBill RussellWilt ChamberlainK.C. JonesJohn HavlicekSam Jones
2nd TeamTom SandersTom HeinsohnGuy RodgersBob PettitOscar Robertson
19631st TeamBill RussellBob PettitElgin BaylorBob CousySam Jones
2nd TeamWilt ChamberlainJohn HavlicekTom SandersK.C. JonesLenny Wilkens
19621st TeamBill RussellWilt ChamberlainBob CousyTom HeinsohnSam Jones
2nd TeamTom SandersRed KerrK.C. JonesHal GreerFrank Ramsey
19611st TeamBill RussellWilt ChamberlainBob PettitBob CousyElgin Baylor
2nd TeamTom HeinsohnCliff HaganSam JonesGuy RodgersFrank Ramsey
19601st TeamBill RussellWilt ChamberlainBob CousyTom GolaTom Heinsohn
2nd TeamGuy RodgersElgin BaylorPaul ArizinFrank RamseyDolph Schayes
19591st TeamBill RussellBob CousyTom HeinsohnTom GolaRed Kerr
2nd TeamDolph SchayesBob PettitFrank RamseyWalter DukesDick McGuire
19581st TeamBill RussellMaurice StokesBob CousyTom HeinsohnFrank Ramsey
2nd TeamDolph SchayesClyde LovelletteBob PettitTom GolaLarry Costello
19571st TeamMaurice StokesBob CousyBill RussellTom HeinsohnJim Loscutoff
2nd TeamDolph SchayesBill SharmanClyde LovelletteBob PettitJack Twyman
19561st TeamMaurice StokesDolph SchayesBob PettitGeorge KingJack Twyman
2nd TeamJack ColemanRed KerrChuck ShareEd FlemingEarl Lloyd
19551st TeamDolph SchayesBob PettitPaul SeymourNeil JohnstonEarl Lloyd
2nd TeamRed RochaClyde LovelletteVern MikkelsenGeorge KingSlater Martin
19541st TeamGeorge MikanDolph SchayesArnie RisenJim PollardPaul Seymour
2nd TeamJack ColemanVern MikkelsenEarl LloydWally OsterkornBobby Wanzer
19531st TeamGeorge MikanMel HutchinsDolph SchayesJim PollardGeorge King
2nd TeamVern MikkelsenNat CliftonHarry GallatinLeo BarnhorstSlater Martin
19521st TeamGeorge MikanVern MikkelsenJim PollardSlater MartinDolph Schayes
2nd TeamJoe GraboskiLeo BarnhorstLarry FoustBob HarrisonRed Rocha
19511st TeamGeorge MikanVern MikkelsenAndy PhillipPaul ArizinJoe Fulks
2nd TeamJim PollardGeorge SeneskyDolph SchayesLarry FoustFred Schaus
19501st TeamGeorge MikanFrankie BrianMilo KomenichCharlie BlackBill Closs
2nd TeamAndy PhillipHowie SchultzRalph JohnsonFred SchausJim Pollard
19491st TeamAndy PhillipMax ZaslofskyJoe FulksGene VanceGeorge Mikan
2nd TeamEd SadowskiJim SeminoffKleggie HermsenJack SmileyBlackie Towery
19481st TeamHowie DallmarJoe FulksRed RochaFred ScolariBob Feerick
2nd TeamJohn LoganBones McKinneyJerry FleishmanChick HalbertGeorge Senesky
19471st TeamStan MiasekJohn LoganBones McKinneyJohn MahnkenFred Scolari
2nd TeamBob FeerickAriel MaughanJohn BarrIrv TorgoffBob Doll
BAA/NBA All-Defense before 1969

When it came to Defensive Player of the Year, remember that from 1969 through 1982 the All-Defense team existed, they just didn’t point out who stood out above the rest. For this I used the Defensive Win-Shares leader as well. I started from the top and I stopped when there was a 0.5 point gap. In years where multiple players are listed, they split the award. For example, in 1981 Larry Bird and Julius Erving received credit for half a DPOY award.

BOSTON, MA – 1964: Bill Russell #6 of the Boston Celtics goes for a block against the Philadelphia 76ers during the 1964 NBA Game at Boston Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory copyright notice: Copyright 2002 NBAE (Photo by Dick Raphael/NBAE/Getty Images)

NBA Defensive Player of the year before 1983

NBA1982Jack Sikma
NBA1981Larry Bird*Julius Erving*
NBA1980Larry Bird*Caldwell Jones*Kareem Abdul-JabbarJack Sikma*Julius Erving*Dan Roundfield
NBA1979Jack Sikma*Kareem Abdul-JabbarRobert Parish*
NBA1978Truck Robinson*Marvin Webster*Dave CowensElvin HayesBill Walton*
NBA1977Kareem Abdul-JabbarArtis Gilmore*Elvin Hayes*Bobby Jones
NBA1976Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
NBA1975Elvin Hayes
NBA1974Elvin HayesKareem Abdul-Jabbar
NBA1973Dave Cowens*
NBA1972Wilt Chamberlain
NBA1971Elvin Hayes*Walt Frazier
NBA1970Willis Reed
NBA1969Bill Russell
NBA1968Wilt Chamberlain
NBA1967Bill Russell
NBA1966Bill Russell
NBA1965Bill Russell
NBA1964Bill Russell
NBA1963Bill Russell
NBA1962Bill Russell
NBA1961Bill Russell
NBA1960Bill Russell
NBA1959Bill Russell
NBA1958Bill Russell
NBA1957Maurice Stokes
NBA1956Maurice Stokes
NBA1955Dolph Schayes
NBA1954George MikanDolph Schayes
NBA1953George Mikan
NBA1952George Mikan
NBA1951George Mikan
NBA1950George MikanFrankie Brian
BAA1949Andy Phillip
BAA1948Howie Dallmar
BAA1947Stan MiasekJohn Logan
Defensive Player of the Year Before 1983

*This signifies that the player was not named to an All-Defense team that year. After consulting a few people and realizing how accurate DWS was at picking winners, I decided to leave the awards as they were rather than awarding it to the first guy on the win shares list who was also on the All-Defense team from 1969-1982.

Gerald Govan guarding Dr. J

ABA Defensive Player of the Year

ABA1976Julius ErvingArtis Gilmore
ABA1975Artis Gilmore
ABA1974Artis Gilmore
ABA1973Artis Gilmore
ABA1972Artis GilmoreGerald Govan
ABA1971Gerald Govan
ABA1970Spencer Haywood
ABA1969Trooper Washington
ABA1968Mel Daniels
ABA Defensive Player of the Year winners

Total Defensive Player of the Year Awards by player

Player nameTotal Awards
Bill Russell11
Artis Gilmore4.25
George Mikan4
Elvin Hayes2.45
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar2.25
Maurice Stokes2
Wilt Chamberlain2
Dolph Schayes1.5
Gerald Govan1.5
Jack Sikma1.5
Dave Cowens1.2
Julius Erving1.16
Andy Phillip1
Howie Dallmar1
Mel Daniels1
Spencer Haywood1
Trooper Washington1
Willis Reed1
Larry Bird0.66
Frankie Brian0.5
John Logan0.5
Stan Miasek0.5
Walt Frazier0.5
Robert Parish0.33
Bobby Jones0.25
Bill Walton0.2
Marvin Webster0.2
Truck Robinson0.2
Caldwell Jones0.16
Dan Roundfield0.16

Note that this last chart only includes DPOY awards added by my formula. This number was added to any the player was actually awarded after the award was created in 1983.

Also note that, since 1983, no player has won more than 4 DPOY awards. Bill Russell was a PROBLEM. It’s a shame we don’t have block numbers for he and Wilt but this will suffice.


These last two charts shows the Game score leader for the Finals runner up from 1977-Present. If a player was within .5 I split the points.

1984LakersMagic Johnson
1985CelticsKevin McHale
1986RocketsHakeem Olajuwon
1987CelticsLarry BirdDennis Johnson
1988PistonsIsiah ThomasAdrian Dantley
1989LakersJames Worthy
1990BlazersClyde Drexler
1991LakersMagic Johnson
1992BlazersClyde Drexler
1993SunsCharles Barkley
1994KnicksDerek Harper
1995MagicShaquille O’Neal
1996SonicsShawn Kemp
1997JazzKarl Malone
1998JazzKarl Malone
1999KnicksLatrell Sprewell
2000PacersReggie Miller
200176ersAllen Iverson
2002NetsJason Kidd
2003NetsJason Kidd
2004LakersShaquille O’Neal
2005PistonsChauncey Billups
2006MavericksDirk Nowitzki
2007CavaliersLebron James
2008LakersKobe Bryant
2009MagicDwight Howard
2010CelticsKevin GarnettRajon Rondo
2011HeatDwyane Wade
2012ThunderKevin Durant
2013SpursTim Duncan
2014HeatLebron James
2015CavaliersLebron James
2016WarriorsDraymond Green
2017CavaliersLebron James
2018CavaliersLebron James
2019WarriorsSteph Curry
2020HeatJimmy Butler
2021SunsChris PaulDevin Booker
NBA Finals Runner-Up MVP 1984-Present
197776ersJulius Erving
1978SonicsMarvin WebsterGus Williams
1979BulletsElvin HayesBob Dandridge
198076ersJulius Erving
1981RocketsMoses Malone
198276ersJulius Erving
1983LakersKareem Abdul Jabbar
NBA Finals Runner-Up MVP 1977-1983

These two were split because the playoffs expanded to 16 teams in 1984, and I included 1977-1983 because this was after the NBA-ABA merger where there were many more teams and much more talent.

The Final chart is for the league MVP from the first few seasons before the award was created.

Neil Johnston jumper
1947Bob Feerick
1948Bob Feerick
1949George Mikan
1950George Mikan
1951George Mikan
1952Paul Arizin
1953Neil Johnston
1954Neil Johnston
1955Neil Johnston
MVP for 1947-1956 (using win shares)

This process has been a ton of fun and this part was the most tedious but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I hope this was helpful or informative for someone out there.


Companion Pieces

The Adjustments

The Methodology


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