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 1973 All-NBA 3rd Team was filled with comeback kids, but this year’s team is full of some of the NBA’s new wave of bright young stars: Bob Lanier, Calvin Murphy, Rudy Tomjanovich, Bob Dandridge, and Pete Maravich.
Now in his fourth season, Bob Lanier has already made a 3rd Team before (1972). This time around though his domination is more impressive than before. His scoring and rebounding averages dropped slightly, but Lanier’s assists rose to four per game and his defense was superb averaging 3.0 blocks per game this year – the first the NBA kept track of blocked shots. Bob’s effectiveness led Detroit to a 52-win season and a narrow defeat in seven games to the Chicago Bulls in the 2nd Round of the Western Conference playoffs. All things considered this was the most successful season for the Pistons between their Finals appearances in the mid-1950s and their rise as the Bad Boys in the late 1980s. And Lanier, literally and figuratively, was at the center of it all.
Another powerhouse team from the NBA’s Midwest Division along with the Pistons this year were the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks finished with 59 wins, the best of any team in 1974. Of course, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was the main reason for that, but by this point Oscar Robertson was roughed up and ready for retirement, so it was fifth-year man Bob Dandridge and Lucius Allen who truly ran as Kareem’s wing men this season. Unfortunately, Allen got snuffed out for 3rd Team consideration by a couple of super guards detailed below, but Dandridge’s 19 points per game and exquisite defensive pressure lock up a spot for him. Already champs from 1971, the Bucks and Dandridge narrowly missed out on a second title this year, losing to Boston in an epic seven-game series.
At the other forward spot with Dandridge is Rudy Tomjanovich. The Rockets power forward in his fourth NBA season put together his finest season: 24.5 PPG, 9 RPG, and 3 APG while shooting a blistering .536 FG% and .848 FT%. Although ranging around at forward, Rudy T brought a long-range shooting touch that tormented opponents. Nearly matching that offensive torching was Calvin Murphy, point guard for the Rockets. Murphy – also in his fourth NBA season – averaged 20.4 PPG and 7.4 APG while knocking down 52% of his shots and 87% of his free throws. All of this while standing just a mere 5’9″ tall. Although Houston finished with just 32 wins this year, the duo – and best of friends – are worthy selections for the All-NBA 3rd Team as they pushed Houston to a .500 record during the last half of the season and set the Rockets up for a huge push in the 1975 season.
Taking home the final spot is guard Pete Maravich for the Atlanta Hawks – who was ALSO in his fourth NBA season; that 1970 draft class was STRONG. Maravich torched the NBA for nearly 28 points a night. Of course, the amount of points with Pistol Pete was secondary to how he got the points. He dazzled crowds with his dribbling and contorting shots. Unfortunately for Maravich, the Hawks had run out of steam. His partnership with Lou Hudson – who also scored 25 PPG this year – failed to get Atlanta to the playoffs this year after a string of appearances. During the offseason, the Hawks traded their star guard to the expansion New Orleans Jazz for two players and FIVE draft picks – one of which eventually became Alex English and another David Thompson. Was Maravich worth that cost? Probably not. But he was definitely talented enough in 1974 for New Orleans to ask that question and answer “yes”.
|F||Bob Dandridge||Milwaukee Bucks||71||18.9||6.7||2.8||0.6||1.6||0.503||0.818||8.4||17.0|
|F||Rudy Tomjanovich||Houston Rockets||80||24.5||9.0||3.1||0.8||1.1||0.536||0.848||12.8||20.5|
|C||Bob Lanier||Detroit Pistons||81||22.5||13.3||4.2||3.0||1.4||0.504||0.797||14.4||23.9|
|G||Pete Maravich||Atlanta Hawks||76||27.7||4.9||5.2||0.2||1.5||0.457||0.826||7.6||20.3|
|G||Calvin Murpy||Houston Rockets||81||20.4||2.3||7.4||0.0||1.9||0.522||0.868||9.2||20.0|