Published September 27, 2022
The NBA Time Machine:
You Only Get 24…
After years of teams stalling, excessively passing the ball, and employing slow offense, the NBA reacted. They implemented a twenty-four second shot clock – if you could not get a shot up in that time frame, you lost the ball.
This worked wonders for the excitement of the game. The point average went up by a noticeable fourteen, while the free throw average only went up by two – this showed that plays were coming through natural, fast-paced decision making, as opposed to unnecessary fouls and a sluggish pace.
With the increase in possessions, teams hit new highs in points and assists. The Boston Celtics even managed to exceed one-hundred points per game as a collective. It was a new, exhilarating change that helped the league’s popularity greatly.
Gone, Washington, Gone
The Baltimore Bullets became the latest – and, to this date, last – NBA franchise to fold. Much like the rival Washington Capitols did some years prior, they bowed out mid-season after posting a poor record.
This left the league with only eight teams, its smallest amount since 1948. Due to the lack of size, not only did teams play more games against their divisional opponents, but the playoffs worked differently as well. The first seed in each division got an automatic “bye” to the Division Finals, meaning they only had to win two series for a championship. This increased the importance of playing hard for regular season seeding.
Farewell to Mr. Basketball
After the end of the 1953-54 season, Minneapolis Lakers legend George Mikan announced his retirement from basketball. He cited injuries and wanting to focus on his family as the main reasons why – he sustained ten broken bones and sixteen stitches in his career, and regularly played through them.
At the time of his retirement, he was the all-time leader in both points and rebounds, and – alongside some teammates – had the most championships in NBA history with five.
Even though the basketball world mourned the departure of one great, another returned to the scene. Philadelphia Warriors forward Paul Arizin, who had missed the last two seasons to military service, returned to his signature franchise to team up with former teammate-turned-superstar Neil Johnston.
After a one-year stint with DuMont, NBC became the long-term partner of the NBA for televised matches.
For the third season in a row, Johnston led the league in scoring – even above his teammate Paul Arizin. The Warriors still weren’t a playoff team, but Johnston certainly looked like the successor to George Mikan – it was a matter of him reaching for the same level of impact.
Fresh off a finals appearance, Schayes remained dedicated. He once again topped his career high in points per game, adapting to the new shot clock rules very well. That was unsurprising, given the Nationals owner called for them to be implemented.
The Celtics had worsened quite a bit, but Cousy was still the most exciting superstar in the NBA. He led in assists for the third year straight and once again finished second in points per game, also improving his efficiency.
Lovellette’s impact in his sophomore season was unique – he had the burden of succeeding George Mikan, but remained unfazed. He cemented himself as an elite interior presence and one of the best shooting big men, helping Minneapolis net another forty-win season.
Foust was a more subdued star, never standing out much personality-wise and considered a bit boring. However, he got his due credit as a premier player after leading the Pistons to the number one seed this season. He boosted the team on both ends of the floor.
While rookie Bob Pettit could not make the Hawks competitive, he was phenomenal individually. He ranked top four in both points and rebounds, and helped the team post an 8-3 win-loss period around the new year – that was the best stretch of games the franchise had seen up to that point.
Around the League
An asterisk (*) indicates that the team qualified for the playoffs.
- Despite losing George Mikan, the Minneapolis Lakers still remained a largely net positive team with a great defense.
- The development of Clyde Lovellette, who was formerly a backup for Mikan, had a lot to do with the aforementioned consistency.
- The Baltimore Bullets‘ records and statistics this year are not officially recorded by the NBA, but they finished with a 3-11 record prior to folding.
- For the first time in franchise history, the Rochester Royals had a losing record – this was also their first season below forty wins.
- The Boston Celtics‘ big three of Bob Cousy, Bill Sharman, and Ed Macauley made history – all three finished in the top ten for points and assists.
- Macauley also barely missed the top ten for free throw percentage, clocking in at eleventh behind his teammates.
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
r – rebounds
a – assists
Top Draft Picks
If a stat is not listed, it was not recorded at the time. As time goes on, this section will begin to include steals per game, blocks per game, etc.
PPG – points per game
RPG – rebounds per game
APG – assists per game
FG% – field goal percentage (percentage of shots that hit)
FT% – free throw percentage (percentage of foul shots that hit)
All-Team selections were not yet selected based on position yet.
Name(s) under the “All-Stars” section with an asterisk (*) were listed as the MVP of the All-Star Game that year. Those with “(IR)” next to their name were chosen to replace an injured star.
All-Time Championship Leaderboard
The Baltimore Bullets (1947-1954) won the championship in 1948, but are defunct. As a result, they are not listed.