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 All-NBA 3rd Team for 1972 features mostly old favorites plus one newcomer to the party.
Returning for the first time since 1969 is Chicago Bulls forward Chet Walker. Last we saw from Chet the Jet, he was tearing up the offensive end for the Philadelphia 76ers. Even though three years had passed, Walker was actually playing better than ever in this, his 10th NBA season, than he was in 1969. Considering his total scoring output plus his efficiency at producing points, this was Walker’s greatest scoring season. He mustered 22.0 points per game, a .583 TS% and a 21.8 PER. All of those numbers were career-highs. Walker’s herky-jerky offensive movements and gyrating shoulders created much contact and enabled him to take nearly 7.5 free throws a game. His grinding style suited the Bulls well as they won a then-franchise record of 57 wins and advanced to the Western Conference Finals.
Filling in at the other forward slot is the familiar Lou Hudson. Nothing much has changed for Sweet Lou, who again averaged about 25 points for the third straight season. Hudson’s marksmen accuracy on his jumpers was pretty much taken for granted at this point, but there this is something to be said for being a guaranteed, mundane 25 PPG scorer. Oh wait, there is one deviation for Hudson this season: he averaged a career-high 4.0 assists per game. There’s some diversification!
Moving over to guard, we have Gail Goodrich returning to the All-NBA 3rd Team. Rejoining the Los Angeles Lakers in 1971, Goodrich had a down season adjusting to playing alongside the likes of Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West. In 1972, the trio clicked beautifully. West was on the All-NBA 1st Team. Wilt on the 2nd Team. And here we have Goodrich who averaged 26 points per game on .487 FG% and .850 FT%. Goodrich’s ability to play either guard position, shoot masterfully, handle the ball, work off of screens, or cut without the ball made him a dangerous player for defenses to handle. No wonder the Lakers trounced the league for 69 wins and the title this year.
Further up the California coast, Jeff Mullins also makes a return to the All-NBA 3rd Team on behalf of the Golden State Warriors. His last appearance, like Chet Walker, was in 1969 albeit for the San Francisco Warriors. Anyways, Mullins was the leading scorer on a well-balanced Warriors attack: Mullins with 21.5 PPG and Cazzie Russell and Nate Thurmond each averaging 21.4 PPG. Interestingly, Mullins, despite playing shooting guard, also led Golden State in assists with 5.9 dimes per game.
And now we have our new kid on the block: center Bob Lanier. In just his second NBA season, Lanier crushed opponents – usually figuratively, sometimes literally – with 25.7 PPG and 14.2 RPG. Despite winning just 26 games, the big man breathed new hope and life into a moribund Pistons franchise that had struggled to find success since moving from Fort Wayne to Detroit in 1957. Lanier’s toughness, lefty hook shots, jumpers, and defensive control of the paint paired well with guard Dave Bing. The duo promised better days for Detroit and this won’t be the last we see of Lanier on these squads.
|F||Lou Hudson||Atlanta Hawks||77||24.7||5.0||4.0||0.503||0.812||9.7||18.3|
|F||Chet Walker||Chicago Bulls||78||22.0||6.1||2.3||0.505||0.847||14.5||21.8|
|C||Bob Lanier||Detroit Pistons||80||25.7||14.2||3.1||0.493||0.768||8.4||23.1|
|G||Gail Goodrich||Los Angeles Lakers||82||25.9||3.6||4.5||0.487||0.850||12.3||20.1|
|G||Jeff Mullins||Golden State Warriors||80||21.5||5.6||5.9||0.467||0.794||9.9||18.0|