Three Cubs in a Row by Tambako the Jaguar (Flickr)
Three Cubs in a Row by Tambako the Jaguar (Flickr)

Ed. Note: Prior to the 1988-89 season, the NBA only had All-NBA 1st and All-NBA 2nd Teams. To fill in that historical award gap, the crack Pro Hoops History committee of one has gone back and created the Lost All-NBA 3rd Teams. From 1949-50 through 1954-55, the All-NBA teams were selected regardless of position, so the Lost All-NBA 3rd Teams will follow that format for the appropriate seasons. Thereafter it will adhere to the current C, F, F, G, and G format.

The three All-NBA 3rd Teams presented below are the last to use a position-less format, one that I wish the NBA would return to. It forces voters to really pick out the best players, even if the best players skew toward several centers for example. Instead very good players get in over a great players on the All-NBA teams based purely on position.

Enough of my complaining.

A word of explanation, before the full teams are revealed, however, for Mel Hutchins and Slater Martin. They look like woeful selections considering their offensive output, but these guys – along with the versatile Jack Coleman – were premier defenders at their respective positions. The lack of recorded blocks and steals undermines their statistical argument, but their contemporaries hail them as defenders you’d much rather not come across.

1952-53 Season

Position Player Team G PPG RPG APG FG% FT% WS PER
C Harry Gallatin New York Knicks 70 12.4 13.1 1.8 0.444 0.700 11.3 23.3
G Carl Braun New York Knicks 70 14.0 3.3 3.5 0.400 0.825 9.0 17.5
G Paul Seymour Syracuse Nationals 67 14.2 3.7 4.4 0.383 0.817 8.7 16.0
G Slater Martin Minneapolis Lakers 70 10.6 2.7 3.6 0.410 0.780 8.2 13.5
F Jim Pollard Minneapolis Lakers 66 13.0 6.8 3.5 0.357 0.769 4.6 16.0

1953-54 Season

Position Player Team G PPG RPG APG FG% FT% WS PER
C Ray Felix Baltimore Bullets 72 17.6 13.1 1.1 0.417 0.638 8.6 22.9
C Larry Foust Fort Wayne Pistons 72 15.1 13.4 2.2 0.409 0.712 10.4 22.8
G Andy Phillip Fort Wayne Pistons 71 10.6 3.7 6.3 0.375 0.730 7.1 16.0
G Bob Davies Rochester Royals 72 12.3 2.7 4.5 0.371 0.719 7.7 18.0
G Bill Sharman Boston Celtics 72 16.0 3.5 3.2 0.450 0.844 10.4 18.6

1954-55 Season

Position Player Team G PPG RPG APG FG% FT% WS PER
C Ed Macauley Boston Celtics 71 17.6 8.5 3.9 0.424 0.792 8.9 18.6
F Paul Arizin Philadelphia Warriors 72 21.0 9.4 2.9 0.399 0.776 8.7 18.2
F Mel Hutchins Fort Wayne Pistons 72 12.0 9.2 3.4 0.378 0.708 3.9 12.7
F Jack Coleman Rochester Royals 72 12.8 10.1 3.2 0.462 0.678 6.2 18.2
G Bob Davies Rochester Royals 72 12.1 2.8 4.9 0.415 0.751 5.2 18.5