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
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.
ABA All-Defense Teams*
|1972||ABA||Artis Gilmore||Gerald Govan||Julius Erving||Dan Issel||Louie Dampier|
|1971||ABA||Gerald Govan||Zelmo Beaty||Mel Daniels||Red Robbins||Jimmy Jones|
|1970||ABA||Spencer Haywood||Gerald Govan||Red Robbins||Larry Jones||Jeffrey Congdon|
|1969||ABA||Trooper Washington||Mel Daniels||Red Robbins||Jimmy Jones||Louie Dampier|
|1968||ABA||Mel Daniels||Les Hunter||Donnie Freeman||Sam Smith||Larry Jones|
*There is only one team because there is only one team for 1973 through 1976 and we had enough data.
NBA All-Defense Teams
|1968||1st Team||Wilt Chamberlain||Bill Russell||John Havlicek||Bailey Howell||Hal Greer|
|2nd Team||Nate Thurmond||Clyde Lee||Luke Jackson||Lenny Wilkens||Jeff Mullins|
|1967||1st Team||Bill Russell||Wilt Chamberlain||Guy Rodgers||Rick Barry||K.C. Jones|
|2nd Team||Nate Thurmond||Dave DeBusschere||John Havlicek||Jerry Sloan||Dave Bing|
|1966||1st Team||Bill Russell||Wilt Chamberlain||K.C. Jones||Guy Rodgers||John Havlicek|
|2nd Team||Hal Greer||Nate Thurmond||Sam Jones||Dave DeBusschere||Tom Sanders|
|1965||1st Team||Bill Russell||K.C. Jones||Wilt Chamberlain||Sam Jones||Tom Sanders|
|2nd Team||Nate Thurmond||John Havlicek||Tom Heinsohn||Zelmo Beaty||Guy Rodgers|
|1964||1st Team||Bill Russell||Wilt Chamberlain||K.C. Jones||John Havlicek||Sam Jones|
|2nd Team||Tom Sanders||Tom Heinsohn||Guy Rodgers||Bob Pettit||Oscar Robertson|
|1963||1st Team||Bill Russell||Bob Pettit||Elgin Baylor||Bob Cousy||Sam Jones|
|2nd Team||Wilt Chamberlain||John Havlicek||Tom Sanders||K.C. Jones||Lenny Wilkens|
|1962||1st Team||Bill Russell||Wilt Chamberlain||Bob Cousy||Tom Heinsohn||Sam Jones|
|2nd Team||Tom Sanders||Red Kerr||K.C. Jones||Hal Greer||Frank Ramsey|
|1961||1st Team||Bill Russell||Wilt Chamberlain||Bob Pettit||Bob Cousy||Elgin Baylor|
|2nd Team||Tom Heinsohn||Cliff Hagan||Sam Jones||Guy Rodgers||Frank Ramsey|
|1960||1st Team||Bill Russell||Wilt Chamberlain||Bob Cousy||Tom Gola||Tom Heinsohn|
|2nd Team||Guy Rodgers||Elgin Baylor||Paul Arizin||Frank Ramsey||Dolph Schayes|
|1959||1st Team||Bill Russell||Bob Cousy||Tom Heinsohn||Tom Gola||Red Kerr|
|2nd Team||Dolph Schayes||Bob Pettit||Frank Ramsey||Walter Dukes||Dick McGuire|
|1958||1st Team||Bill Russell||Maurice Stokes||Bob Cousy||Tom Heinsohn||Frank Ramsey|
|2nd Team||Dolph Schayes||Clyde Lovellette||Bob Pettit||Tom Gola||Larry Costello|
|1957||1st Team||Maurice Stokes||Bob Cousy||Bill Russell||Tom Heinsohn||Jim Loscutoff|
|2nd Team||Dolph Schayes||Bill Sharman||Clyde Lovellette||Bob Pettit||Jack Twyman|
|1956||1st Team||Maurice Stokes||Dolph Schayes||Bob Pettit||George King||Jack Twyman|
|2nd Team||Jack Coleman||Red Kerr||Chuck Share||Ed Fleming||Earl Lloyd|
|1955||1st Team||Dolph Schayes||Bob Pettit||Paul Seymour||Neil Johnston||Earl Lloyd|
|2nd Team||Red Rocha||Clyde Lovellette||Vern Mikkelsen||George King||Slater Martin|
|1954||1st Team||George Mikan||Dolph Schayes||Arnie Risen||Jim Pollard||Paul Seymour|
|2nd Team||Jack Coleman||Vern Mikkelsen||Earl Lloyd||Wally Osterkorn||Bobby Wanzer|
|1953||1st Team||George Mikan||Mel Hutchins||Dolph Schayes||Jim Pollard||George King|
|2nd Team||Vern Mikkelsen||Nat Clifton||Harry Gallatin||Leo Barnhorst||Slater Martin|
|1952||1st Team||George Mikan||Vern Mikkelsen||Jim Pollard||Slater Martin||Dolph Schayes|
|2nd Team||Joe Graboski||Leo Barnhorst||Larry Foust||Bob Harrison||Red Rocha|
|1951||1st Team||George Mikan||Vern Mikkelsen||Andy Phillip||Paul Arizin||Joe Fulks|
|2nd Team||Jim Pollard||George Senesky||Dolph Schayes||Larry Foust||Fred Schaus|
|1950||1st Team||George Mikan||Frankie Brian||Milo Komenich||Charlie Black||Bill Closs|
|2nd Team||Andy Phillip||Howie Schultz||Ralph Johnson||Fred Schaus||Jim Pollard|
|1949||1st Team||Andy Phillip||Max Zaslofsky||Joe Fulks||Gene Vance||George Mikan|
|2nd Team||Ed Sadowski||Jim Seminoff||Kleggie Hermsen||Jack Smiley||Blackie Towery|
|1948||1st Team||Howie Dallmar||Joe Fulks||Red Rocha||Fred Scolari||Bob Feerick|
|2nd Team||John Logan||Bones McKinney||Jerry Fleishman||Chick Halbert||George Senesky|
|1947||1st Team||Stan Miasek||John Logan||Bones McKinney||John Mahnken||Fred Scolari|
|2nd Team||Bob Feerick||Ariel Maughan||John Barr||Irv Torgoff||Bob Doll|
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.
NBA Defensive Player of the year before 1983
|NBA||1981||Larry Bird*||Julius Erving*|
|NBA||1980||Larry Bird*||Caldwell Jones*||Kareem Abdul-Jabbar||Jack Sikma*||Julius Erving*||Dan Roundfield|
|NBA||1979||Jack Sikma*||Kareem Abdul-Jabbar||Robert Parish*|
|NBA||1978||Truck Robinson*||Marvin Webster*||Dave Cowens||Elvin Hayes||Bill Walton*|
|NBA||1977||Kareem Abdul-Jabbar||Artis Gilmore*||Elvin Hayes*||Bobby Jones|
|NBA||1974||Elvin Hayes||Kareem Abdul-Jabbar|
|NBA||1971||Elvin Hayes*||Walt Frazier|
|NBA||1954||George Mikan||Dolph Schayes|
|NBA||1950||George Mikan||Frankie Brian|
|BAA||1947||Stan Miasek||John Logan|
*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.
ABA Defensive Player of the Year
|ABA||1976||Julius Erving||Artis Gilmore|
|ABA||1972||Artis Gilmore||Gerald Govan|
Total Defensive Player of the Year Awards by player
|Player name||Total Awards|
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.
|1987||Celtics||Larry Bird||Dennis Johnson|
|1988||Pistons||Isiah Thomas||Adrian Dantley|
|2010||Celtics||Kevin Garnett||Rajon Rondo|
|2021||Suns||Chris Paul||Devin Booker|
|1978||Sonics||Marvin Webster||Gus Williams|
|1979||Bullets||Elvin Hayes||Bob Dandridge|
|1983||Lakers||Kareem Abdul Jabbar|
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.
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.