Published January 4, 2023
The NBA Time Machine:
New to Northeast
With the Warriors’ relocation to California, Philadelphia was devoid of an NBA team. Investors Irv Kosloff and Ike Richman saw this as a significant opportunity, opting to purchase the Syracuse Nationals and get them established in Philly. Syracuse had the smallest market of any team in the league, and clearly lacked sustainability for a professional basketball franchise – thus came the Philadelphia 76ers, who retained their history.
The Chicago Zephyrs also continued to struggle with their identity. Ownership eventually settled in Maryland and re-branded as the Baltimore Bullets, paying homage to the championship-winning franchise of the league’s infancy. This version of the Bullets was considered entirely separate and did not claim the 1948 trophy.
With these movements, all teams besides the San Francisco Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers were now based in their own independent state.
For the first time in league history, the NBA saw a change in presidency. Maurice Podoloff had led the professional basketball hotspot since its conception, but his retirement led to the appointing of Walter Kennedy.
Kennedy was noticeably upfront and strict regarding behavioral issues – he fined Boston Celtics coach Red Auerbach in a pre-season game for inappropriate conduct.
Don’t Forget the Coaches!
Coaches began to receive accolades for their leadership, with the new Coach of the Year award being integrated into the NBA. The inaugural winner was Alex Hannum of the San Francisco Warriors, who led the team to the first seed in the Western Division and a seventeen-win improvement.
The “Big O” had his best year to date with a new career high scoring average. He was .1 rebound short of averaging a triple double again, and led the Royals to their first fifty-win season since 1950. These accomplishments earned Robertson his first M.V.P. award, making him the first guard to claim one in eight years.
Chamberlain terrorized the NBA, arguably having his most successful year yet. Under coach Alex Hannum’s vision, The Big Dipper dedicated his game to equal effort on both ends of the ball, as well as improved playmaking. The end result was a first seed for the Warriors.
While Russell’s scoring involvement declined, he reached a career high in rebounding average and led the league in that department for the first time since the 50s. He became one of the top ranked passers as well, which aided in the Celtics’ fifth-straight fifty-win season.
For the first time in his career, West looked like the best player on the Lakers. That isn’t to diminish the excellence of Elgin Baylor, but “Mr. Outside” led the team in scoring, assists, and overall efficiency as a volume shooter. There was no doubting his game-changing offense.
As St. Louis’ roster continued to improve, there was less of a scoring burden on Pettit. This didn’t stop him from remaining one of the top scorers – and rebounders – and developing another excellent season for the Hawks.
The high school and college phenomenon was selected to his hometown with a territorial pick, and the impact he had on games was immediately clear. The Royals jumped to a mid-to-high-tier defense with Lucas around, and he finished top two on the team in all three major statistics. His talents were baffling for a rookie.
Around the League
An asterisk (*) indicates that the team qualified for the playoffs.