By Lorenzo Tanos
A total of 17 NBA teams may have been too much, and doubts surrounding the fledgling NBA’s viability played a much larger role in this. For the 1950-51 NBA season, only 11 of the 17 original teams from 1950 were back in action. But most of these teams were quite good, as the NBA enjoyed greater parity in 1950-51, even with Rochester, Minnesota and Philadelphia being the "usual suspects" in the playoff race.
Funny enough, two of those teams no longer exist. Which team would you bet will contract next? Some of the best sports betting sites are already offering some betting options.
|New York Knicks*||36||30||.545||4.0|
|Fort Wayne Pistons*||32||36||.471||12.0|
NBA Champions – Rochester Royals (def. New York Knicks 4-3 in NBA Finals)
MVP – None
LEAGUE LEADERS – George Mikan (Minneapolis, 28.4ppg, 1,932 points), DolphSchayes (Syracuse, 16.4 rpg, 1,080 rebounds), Andy Phillip (Philadelphia, 6.3 apg, 414 assists), George Mikan (Minneapolis, 308 fouls), Alex Groza (Indianapolis, 47.0%), Joe Fulks (Philadelphia, 85.5%)
ON THE REBOUND – Rebounding was officially added to the list of NBA statistics for the 1950-51 season, and surprisingly, it wasn't George Mikan who led the category that year. It was Syracuse Nationals big man DolphSchayes, a 6'8" center – signs of the times – who grabbed a total of 1,080 boards, or 16.4 per game. Mikan was second with 958 rebounds/14.1 rpg, while the Knicks' 6'6"-210 center/forward, Harry "The Horse" Gallatin, grabbed 800 rebounds, or 12.1 rpg. Also, it wasn't uncommon then to see players standing in the 6'4"-6'7" range playing what we now call the power forward position and appearing among the league leaders.
NEW TEAMS, SAME OLD STAR POWER? – Contraction was the name of the game in 1950-51, and a lot of stars from disbanded teams found new homes, effectively strengthening their respective teams' lineups. Frankie Brian, who averaged 17.8 ppg in 1949-50, normed 16.8 ppg for his new team, the Tri-Cities Blackhawks. 6'9" Noble Jorgensen averaged 13.0 ppg for the Sheboygan Red Skins, and was still fairly decent in 1950-51, with an 11.2 ppg average for the Blackhawks and the Syracuse Nationals. Former scoring champion Max Zaslofsky returned home to the New York Knicks, but was more of a secondary offensive option at only 25, averaging 12.7 ppg (down from 16.4 ppg with the Chicago Stags) for the promising Knicks. Also, the Boston Celtics can thank the NBA for contracting in 1950-51, as the folding of the Stags allowed the team to acquire a rookie point guard out of Holy Cross named Bob Cousy. You might have heard of him.
MIDSEASON DISBANDMENT – WASHINGTON CAPITOLS – Not too long before 1950, the Caps had two of the league's best shooters in Bob Feerick and Freddie Scolari. With Feerick gone from the 1950-51 lineup, enforcer Chuck Gilmur and big man Chick Halbert and Bones McKinney all having seen better days, and not too many quality players remaining aside from Scolari, the Capitols could only go 10-25 before disbanding and leaving the Eastern Division with just five teams. Washington's final lineup did include another future Celtics dynasty standout in Bill Sharman, who finished second to Scolari with a 12.2 ppgavergage, as well as George Mikan's brother Ed, who played center at 6'8"-230.
A LOOK AT THE TITLE WINNERS – Boasting a star backcourt in Bob Davies (15.2 ppg, 4.6 apg) and BobbyWanzer (10.8 ppg), one of the league's tallest, yet most effective centers in Arnie Risen (16.3 ppg, 12.0 rpg), and Arnie Johnson and Jack Coleman stationed at the corners, the Rochester Royals seemed to have it all. Despite that balanced lineup, the Royals didn't seem to have an answer against George Mikan and the Minneapolis Lakers, that is, until the 1951 Western Division Finals, where Rochester defeated Minneapolis 3-1. This took them to the NBA Finals against the surprising New York Knicks, who took them to seven games but came up short in the end.
THE CELLAR DWELLERS – Again, this was a team that featured Kenny Sailors (high-scorer on several previous BAA/NBA failures), as the 5'11" guard from Wyoming ended up with the Baltimore Bullets after the original Denver Nuggets folded. The Bullets, which went 24-42, also featured 6'9" Red "Thin Man" Rocha at center (13.1 ppg) and former St. Louis Bombers guard BelusSmawley, who was the Bullets' leading scorer with 13.8 ppg.
LOOKING AT THE LEAGUE LEADERS – The Minneapolis Lakers went 44-24 in 1951, and were stronger than ever, with Mikan averaging 28.4 ppg and 14.1 rpg and second-year man Vern Mikkelsen (14.1 ppg, 10.2 rpg) coming into his own as a big forward. Jim Pollard (11.6 ppg, 9.0 rpg) ably complemented Mikkelsen, while Slater Martin was also on his way to future stardom. Still, the overall lack of backcourt help may have contributed to the Lakers getting defeated in four games by the Rochester Royals in the 1950-51 Western Division Finals.
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