I’ve held to the belief that you have to have at least three high producing players to have a monster NBA season, but Wilt Chamberlain in 1967 proves me wrong. Or at least his performance is the exception that proves the rule exists.
Wilt simply had a ridiculous season in 1967, probably the best single season ever. If you click on this sentence, you can see the Win Chart I did for the ’67 Sixers, purporting to assign credit for the teams wins and losses from that season.
As you can see, Wilt’s MWS48 is off the chart. (Read the Page to the right called “Historical Marginal Win Score” to understand how I come up with the win numbers based on so little information). In Wilt’s case, his numbers are so ridiculous, I had to double and triple think my assumptions. But even if you consider his unknown statistics severely below average, his known statistics are so mind-boggling you come up with monster win numbers nonetheless.
There’s a theory amongst old-timers that Wilt took seasons off, or only “tried” in certain seasons. I think what happened in those seasons was that Wilt simply deemphasized scoring, taking better shots, passing the ball to open teammates, and hitting the boards. In other words, he played winning basketball instead of “headline” basketball.
In 1967, Wilt Chamberlain averaged a remarkable 24 points and 24 rebounds a game, on nearly 70% shooting. You can’t do much more to dominate a basketball game than that. He also found time to dish out 8.6 assists. Remarkable, but I’m not done. Wilt also played nearly every minute, finishing with 15.3 game responsibilities (the maximum possible is 82/5, or 16.4 games).
I still think Bill Russell was the greatest most dominant player of all time. By Historical Marginal Win Score estimates, he produced more wins for the 1960s Celtics than Chamberlain produced for his various teams. But I would say in 1967 Wilt Chamberlain had the greatest season of all time.
Oh, other notables on the 1967 team were Hal Greer and Chet Walker. Walker had a terrific season. Greer, by Historical MWS standards, was kind of an average shooting guard. In both 1965 and in 1967 I got about the same numbers for him, somewhere around average.
The team was also a hotbed for future coaches. It featured four in all. Future Bucks coach Larry Costello, who was a pretty decent point guard, two future Sixers coaches in the terrific Billy Cunningham (his numbers would get much better) and Matt Goukas (his wouldn’t) and a player I did not include because he played under 100 minutes, future Atlanta Hawks coach Bob Weiss.
How come the African-American players didn’t get a chance?
NEXT UP: LARRY BIRD AND THE 1985-86 BOSTON CELTICS