The NBA Time Machine: 1948

Published September 5, 2022

The NBA Time Machine:

Sophomore Slump…or Sophomore Success?

Franchises Fold

A very frequent theme in the league’s first few years was the financial instability. Teams that failed to profit off of games struggled to keep themselves alive, and as a result a handful folded before the start of the season. The Cleveland Rebels, Detroit Falcons, Pittsburgh Ironmen, and Toronto Huskies were all a thing of the past by opening night. Of these four, Pittsburgh is the only one still yet to return to professional basketball.

To make up for the loss of players and odd number of squads, the Baltimore Bullets were brought in from the American Basketball League (ABL). Normally expansion teams are to be taken lightly, but the Bullets were no joke – they had reached the championship round all three of their years in the ABL, and won it all in one. They maintained this consistency throughout the year.

The amount of games played was also lowered from sixty to forty-eight to scale with the smaller league. Outside of that, the only fundamental change was increasing the player foul limit from five to six – that has remained in place to this day.

Standout Players

Joe Fulks

Coming off a championship season, Fulks wanted to maintain his image as the league’s greatest superstar. He absolutely succeeded in fulfilling that narrative, once again snatching a scoring title and leading the Eastern Division’s best squad.

Max Zaslofsky

Zaslofsky greatly improved in his sophomore season, jumping to twenty-one points per game and maintaining his efficiency during a down year for scorers. He was one of two players to score forty points in a game, alongside New York Knicks shooting guard Carl Braun.

Buddy Jeannette

Already having been a cornerstone of the Bullets franchise in the ABL, Jeannette remained their best player going into the rival league. He stood out as one of the most efficient offensive machines, and helped Baltimore clinch a second seed in a tiebreaker race.

Ed Sadowski

Sadowski, now with the Celtics, was still the league’s premier center. It’s actually quite arguable that he was the best scorer at this point, given his combination of volume and accuracy. His impact wasn’t quite enough to bring Boston to a positive record, but they still managed to make the playoffs.

Wataru Misaka

While he was by no means one of the best talents in the BAA, Misaka was revolutionary as the first man of color to play for a team. He was drafted by the New York Knicks and played a few games before being cut – whether that was due to discrimination or the team having too many guards is unknown, but Misaka himself believed the latter narrative.

Around the League

Team Standings

An asterisk (*) indicates that the team qualified for the playoffs.

Eastern DivisionWLWestern DivisionWL
Philadelphia Warriors*2721St. Louis Bombers*2919
New York Knicks*2622Baltimore Bullets*2820
Boston Celtics*2028Chicago Stags*2820
Providence Steamrollers642Washington Capitols2820

Fun Facts

  • The Washington Capitols could not properly bounce back following their choke in the playoffs the year prior. They dropped by twenty-one games and also sported some of the worst ball movement in the league.
  • The Providence Steamrollers set a still-standing record of fewest games won in a season with only six.
    • This can be blamed on a deteriorating offense (three of their top four scorers from the past year had regressed) and awful defense in tandem.
    • The sole bright spot of this team was their backcourt of Ernie Calverley and Kenny Sailors, which was one of the best guard duos in the BAA.
  • Three of the four Western Division teams tied in win percentage, which led to a couple tiebreaker games taking place to decide seeding.
  • All four Western Division teams finished with a better record than the best team in the East, the Philadelphia Warriors.

Notable Movement


The player stats listed are based on their last tenure, whether it be with their former team or the previous season.
Name(s) under the “Top Draft Picks” section with a plus (+) opted to play in another league instead of the NBA this season.

Name(s) under the “Top Draft Picks” section with an asterisk (*) were selected with a territorial draft pick.
p – points
a – assists

Top Draft Picks

Pittsburgh Ironmen
Toronto Huskies
Boston Celtics
Providence Steamrollers
New York Knicks
Philadelphia Warriors
St. Louis Bombers
Chicago Stags
Washington Capitols
Baltimore Bullets
Clifton McNeeley
Glen Selbo
Bulbs Ehlers
Walt Dropo +
Dick Holub
Chink Crossin
Jack Underman
Paul Huston
Dick O’Keefe
Larry Killick


February 9, 1948Mike BloomBaltimore BulletsTradedBoston Celtics(11.1p/0.7a)
February 9, 1948Connie SimmonsBoston CelticsTradedBaltimore Bullets(7.8p/0.5a)


April 12, 1948Coach John RussellBoston CelticsFired
April 12, 1948Coach Alvin JulianBoston CelticsHired


PlayerTeam(s)Notable Accomplishments
Frankie BaumholtzCleveland Rebels1x All-BAA

League Leaders


PTS – total points
AST – total assists
FG% – field goal percentage (percentage of shots that hit)
FT% – free throw percentage (percentage of foul shots that hit)

PTSMax Zaslofsky (1007)
Joe Fulks (949)
Ed Sadowski (910)
Bob Feerick (775)
Stan Miasek (716)
ASTHowie Dallmar (120)
Ernie Calverley (119)
Jim Seminoff (89)
Chick Gilmur (77)
Andy Phillip (74)
Ed Sadowski (74)
FG%Buddy Jeannette (34%)
Bob Feerick (34%)
Ed Sadowski (32%)
Carl Braun (32%)
Max Zaslofsky (32%)
FT%Bob Feerick (78%)
Max Zaslofsky (78%)
Joe Fulks (76%)
Buddy Jeannette (75%)
Howie Dallmar (74%)


Tiebreaker Rounds

Chicago Stags beat Washington Capitols, 1-0
The Capitols were in control the majority of the game, but in classic fashion slowly gave up their lead in the fourth quarter. Max Zaslofsky of the Stags exploded with twenty-four points, and the Capitols’ Bones McKinney had another no-show at an important time.

This outcome pushed Washington down to the fourth seed in the division.
Baltimore Bullets beat Chicago Stags, 1-0
The Stags’ top scorers did as expected, but the Bullets were simply too balanced from all fronts – they had five players score in double digits. The fourth quarter was a good look for them, surpassing Chicago by eight points and clinching the second seed in the West.


Baltimore Bullets beat New York Knicks, 2-1
As with the previous year, the Knicks’ playoff performance was dependent on location. They simply couldn’t pull out a win on the road.

A hefty thirty-four-point performance from Connie Simmons grabbed the Bullets their first win of the series, and he delivered once again with twenty-two in Game 3. Simmons’ impact may have been surprising as a non-star player, but he was simply riding the momentum he had since being traded to Baltimore mid-season.
Chicago Stags beat Boston Celtics, 2-1
This series was a battle of league superstars Max Zaslofsky and Ed Sadowski, topped off by a thirty-one and twenty-six-point outing respectively in Game 3.

This entire series was played in Boston, but the Stags were simply the more experienced and composed crew. The Celtics also weren’t hot by any means – they only won eight games in the second half of the season, crawling their way into the franchise’s first playoff berth. It wasn’t meant to be.


Baltimore Bullets beat Chicago Stags, 2-0
Baltimore cemented their status as a well-rounded, defensive group through sweeping the reigning Western Division champions.

Even though Chicago had two top five scorers in the league, they simply couldn’t solve the Bullets’ system – this is a great early example of defense mattering most in the postseason.
Philadelphia Warriors beat St. Louis Bombers, 4-3
Due to not playing any tiebreakers or quarterfinals games, the Warriors and Bombers instead immediately faced off in a grueling seven-game series, the first in league history.

The teams traded wins up until Game 7, in which the Warriors finally managed to seize two in a row. Their margin of success in victories was much higher, winning by twenty-two points on average compared to the Bombers’ four.

The only thing that made this matchup last so long was St. Louis’ ability to feast on intangibles, as well as Joe Fulks shooting Philadelphia out of some games – his final field goal percentage of 22% for the series was horrific, even for his standards.


Baltimore Bullets beat Philadelphia Warriors, 4-2
The two final teams split games at Philadelphia, but the Warriors quickly went down 3-1 once they headed to Baltimore. Philly’s scorers did their job, but the superior defense and chemistry of the Bullets – which was their story all playoffs – once again got the job done.

The Bullets’ leader Buddy Jeannette was a positive factor, but the real hero of the championship team was center Connie Simmons – he lead the team in scoring and also dished out six dimes in the closing Game 6, which was the fourth-highest assist total in one game for the season.
The Baltimore Bullets win the 1948 BAA championship!


Note: All-Team selections were not yet selected based on position yet. This was the only major award given at the time.

All-BAA First TeamAll-BAA Second Team
Joe Fulks
Max Zaslofsky
Ed Sadowski
Howie Dallmar
Bob Feerick
John Logan
Carl Braun
Stan Miasek
Fred Scolari
Buddy Jeannette

All-Time Championship Leaderboard

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