Lenny Wilkens (top L), Earl Monroe (bot. L), Zelmo Beaty (center), Bill Bridges (top R), and Bob Boozer (bot. L)
Lenny Wilkens (top L), Earl Monroe (bot. L), Zelmo Beaty (center), Bill Bridges (top R), and Bob Boozer (bot. R)

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.

The Hawks celebrated their final season in St. Louis by stacking the All-NBA 3rd Team deck with three of their players: Zelmo Beaty, Bill Bridges, and Lenny Wilkens. Beaty was the relatively short, but powerfully muscular center who patrolled the middle. His 21 points and 12 rebounds a game were an appreciated return to form after he missed half of the 1967 season with injury. Bill Bridges meanwhile was an unparalleled defensive force at power forward helping Zelmo keep the paint firmly under the Hawks’ control. And Wilkens found himself in the odd position of finishing second in voting for MVP this season, but was not selected to the All-NBA 1st or 2nd Team.

With their powers combined, the Hawks set a new franchise record of 56 wins. The total was good enough for first place in the Western Division and only the 76ers in the East finished with more wins in the entire NBA. Unfortunately for St. Louis, the Hawks were upset by the San Francisco Warriors in the playoffs.

Elsewhere, the Chicago Bulls’ sophomore season was dominated by veteran forward Bob Boozer who had a career year. Averaging 21.5 PPG and 10 RPG, Boozer’s eighth NBA season was his finest as he appeared in his first and only All-Star Game. The Bulls only won 29 games, but Boozer’s steady offensive touch kept things from being worse.

Lastly, the magnificent rookie Earl Monroe was sensational in Baltimore. Averaging almost 25 PPG, Earl the Pearl generated excitement for the Bullets with his whirling dribbling moves and gossamer shooting touch. He was named Rookie of the Year as his presence helped lift Baltimore from 20 wins the previous season to 36 this year. The next year, after drafting Wes Unseld, the Bullets would further surge ahead to an impressive 57 wins.

Position Player Team G PPG RPG APG FG% FT% WS PER
F Bob Boozer Chicago Bulls 77 21.5 9.8 1.6 0.492 0.768 10.6 18.6
F Bill Bridges St. Louis Hawks 82 15.6 13.4 3.1 0.462 0.717 8.6 15.6
C Zelmo Beaty St. Louis Hawks 82 21.1 11.7 2.1 0.488 0.794 11.8 19.3
G Lenny Wilkens St. Louis Hawks 82 20.0 5.3 8.3 0.438 0.768 10.1 19.0
G Earl Monroe Baltimore Bullets 82 24.3 5.7 4.3 0.453 0.781 9.3 19.3