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.
Sporting a 50-32 record, the Baltimore Bullets placed two members on the All-NBA 3rd Team this season: Earl Monroe and Wes Unseld. Both players had been Rookie of the Year (1968 for Earl; 1969 for Wes) and Unseld was even named MVP of the league the previous season. Alongside Gus Johnson – who was on the All-NBA 2nd Team this season – Baltimore was again a powerhouse in the East.
Monroe continued to be the team’s main offensive threat with his creative, circular dribbling and scoring. Unseld meanwhile maintained his place as the team’s defensive anchor averaging nearly 17 rebounds a game while also chipping in a career-high 16 points per game. As for the postseason, Unseld and Monroe would see their Bullets eliminated by the New York Knicks, 4-games-to-3, in the Eastern Division Semi-Finals.
Occupying the other guard spot on this season’s 3rd Team with Monroe is Gail Goodrich. Goodrich had enjoyed a breakout season in 1969 with the Suns averaging 24 PPG. Although his scoring averaged dropped for the 1970 season, he was much more efficient at getting his baskets (.474 TS% in 1969 vs. a .535 TS% in 1970) and setting up his teammates (5.8 assists per 36 minutes in 1969 vs. 6.7 per 36 minutes in 1970).
At the forward slots we have Bob Love and the defensive bulldog, Bill Bridges. Bob Love, affectionately nicknamed “Butterbean” was a 28-year-old breakout star. But his story was even more remarkable than Goodrich’s. Love had been a bit player in the NBA and had also played in minor pro leagues before finally getting a chance of serious play this year with the Chicago Bulls. Love rewarded Chicago with averages of 21 points and 8.7 rebounds per game.
Meanwhile, the venerable Bill Bridges was in his eighth NBA season and playing better than ever despite it. His points (15 per game) and rebounds (14 per game) production were both near career-highs; his assists per game (4.2) was a career-high; as was his true shooting percentage (.538). Add to that his unquantifiable defensive presence and you can see why the Hawks were able to amass a 48-34 record and reach the Western Division Finals for the second straight season.
|F||Bill Bridges||Atlanta Hawks||82||14.8||14.4||4.2||0.475||0.734||6.6||15.9|
|F||Bob Love||Chicago Bulls||82||21.0||8.7||1.8||0.466||0.842||8.6||16.1|
|C||Wes Unseld||Baltimore Bullets||82||16.2||16.7||3.5||0.518||0.638||11.1||17.8|
|G||Earl Monroe||Baltimore Bullets||82||23.4||3.1||4.9||0.446||0.830||8.3||17.3|
|G||Gail Goodrich||Phoenix Suns||81||20.0||4.2||7.5||0.454||0.808||6.7||16.3|