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.
As with any era, this three-year snippet was both, the end of an era and the beginning of something new. Tom Gola, Larry Costello, and Cliff Hagan -greats of the late 1950s and early 1960s – give way to Sam Jones, Hal Greer, and Bailey Howell. The latter three would make their way onto the All-NBA 2nd and 3rd Teams with regularity throughout the 1960s.
And signifying how having a 3rd Team can change perception, Walt Bellamy makes the first of four selections to the Lost All-NBA 3rd Teams in 1962. Simply put, Bellamy stakes his claim as the NBA’s best center – not named Wilt or Russell – for a half-a-decade.
Lastly, Rudy LaRusso’s selection for the 1961-62 season’s 3rd Team is the most tenuous. Cliff Hagan had a top notch season for the St. Louis Hawks – 22.9 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 4.8 APG – but the team finished a miserable 29-51 for the season. Meanwhile, LaRusso managed 17.2 PPG, 10.4 RPG, and 2.2 APG adding in some of the best defense from a forward that season, too, for a Lakers team that finished first in the Western Division.
And not just first, but they were 11 games ahead of the 2nd-place Cincinnati Royals. And they pulled that off with Elgin Baylor missing half the season in the military. LaRusso played a major part in that and so seals the difference between Hagan and himself for this particular season.
|F||Cliff Hagan||St. Louis Hawks||75||24.8||10.7||4.0||0.464||0.803||11.8||22.0|
|F||George Yardley||Syracuse Nationals||73||20.2||7.9||1.7||0.453||0.816||9.0||18.2|
|C||Clyde Lovellette||St. Louis Hawks||68||20.8||10.6||1.9||0.468||0.821||9.0||23.3|
|G||Tom Gola||Philadelphia Warriors||75||15.0||10.4||5.5||0.433||0.794||9.9||15.4|
|G||Larry Costello||Syracuse Nationals||71||14.0||5.5||6.3||0.453||0.862||8.0||15.6|
|F||Bailey Howell||Detroit Pistons||77||23.6||14.4||2.5||0.469||0.753||11.7||21.2|
|F||Cliff Hagan||St. Louis Hawks||77||22.1||9.3||4.9||0.444||0.820||10.8||20.1|
|C||Clyde Lovellette||St. Louis Hawks||67||22.0||10.1||2.6||0.453||0.830||8.5||20.5|
|G||Tom Gola||Philadelphia Warriors||74||14.2||9.4||3.9||0.447||0.747||6.8||13.3|
|G||Richie Guerin||New York Knicks||79||21.8||7.9||6.4||0.396||0.792||5.4||17.8|
|F||Bailey Howell||Detroit Pistons||79||19.9||12.6||2.4||0.464||0.768||10.7||19.0|
|F||Rudy LaRusso||Los Angeles Lakers||80||17.2||10.4||2.2||0.466||0.763||8.8||16.6|
|C||Walt Bellamy||Chicago Packers||79||31.6||19.0||2.7||0.519||0.644||16.3||26.3|
|G||Hal Greer||Syracuse Nationals||71||22.8||7.4||4.4||0.447||0.819||8.5||17.5|
|G||Sam Jones||Boston Celtics||78||18.4||5.9||3.0||0.464||0.818||9.6||17.9|