Russell in the East and muscle in the West should triumph again

Two shrewd new coaches from the college ranks will help their teams, and rookies will aid others, but the likely winners are still the Celtics and the Hawks. With depth, plus Bill Russell and Bob Cousy, Boston should win a close eastern race, while big, brawling St. Louis faces less trouble in the West
October 30, 1961

PHILADELPHIA WARRIORS

Wilt Chamberlain, the Warriors' moody 7-foot 2-inch center, broke 10 NBA records last season and became the first pro to score 3,000 points. This year, under new Coach Frank McGuire (see page 30), he may not be the league's top scorer, but he will be an immeasurably better team player. He is adapting himself to McGuire's college-style offense, which calls for lots of passing by two very fast, small guards, Guy Rodgers and Al Attles. Bigger and slightly slower, Tom Gola is now playing regularly as a forward, where he joins burly Paul Arizin, the slowest man (and best shot) in this quick offense. Ed Conlin rounds out the backcourt, and 6-foot-6 Tom Meschery, this year's best rookie, adds muscle up front. The team badly needs what McGuire calls "one mean big man." But plenty of foes will rind the new Warriors nasty enough.

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WARRIORS VS. OPPONENTS 1960-61

WON

LOST

Boston

5

8

Syracuse

6

7

New York

11

2

St. Louis

3

7

Los Angeles

8

2

Detroit

5

5

Cincinnati

8

2

Totals

46

33

LEADING SCORERS*

Wilt Chamberlain

38.3

Paul Arizin

23.2

Tom Gola

14.2

LEADING REBOUNDERS*

Wilt Chamberlain

27.2

Tom Gola

9.4

Paul Arizin

8.6

*Per-game average

BOSTON CELTICS

Last year the Celtics could have won in a walk, and they almost did, beating Philadelphia by 11 games for their fifth consecutive Eastern Division title. This year they are still the best in the NBA, but they will have to run all the way to prove it. Bill Sharman (16.3 points a game) and Gene Conley (substitute center) are gone. Bob Cousy is still matchless, but he is also 33. Coach Red Auerbach has nine returning veterans, however, so the changes won't be fatal. The Joneses (Sam and K.C.), line-drive-shooting Tom Heinsohn, Frank Ramsey and Tom Sanders, who performed so well as a rookie in last year's playoffs, will share Sharman's points. Cousy paces himself well, and Auerbach can afford to rest him often. Bill Russell, the defensive wonder who was last season's MVP, is back with a goatee and a better shot. The Celtics' future depends on Russell. If he stays healthy, it's Boston.

CELTICS VS. OPPONENTS 1960-61

WON

LOST

Philadelphia

8

5

Syracuse

10

3

New York

10

3

St. Louis

6

4

Los Angeles

8

2

Detroit

8

2

Cincinnati

7

3

Totals

57

22

LEADING SCORERS*

Tom Heinsohn

21.3

Boh Cousy

18.1

Bill Russell

16.9

LEADING REBOUNDERS*

Bill Russell

23.9

Tom Heinsohn

9.9

Gene Conley

7.3

*Per-game average

SYRACUSE NATIONALS

Despite the presence of three rookies, Syracuse is back with much the same strengths and weaknesses as last year. Hal Greer and Larry Costello still compose the fastest and perhaps the best backcourt in the league. Greer is an excellent middle-distance jump shot, and Costello is worth 10 points on defense alone. Dick Barnett has gone to the ABL. However, a newcomer, Paul Neumann, a fair shot and a cool playmaker, may help the Nats' offense more than Barnett, while scoring less. The master of the forecourt is, of course, Dolph Schayes, now in his 14th season and fit as ever. Dave Gambee and a hustling rookie, Lee Shaffer, are the other top forwards, with hook-shooting John Kerr and huge (7-foot-3) and improving Swede Halbrook the somewhat erratic centers. Syracuse will depend less on its guards, get the ball to the forwards for closer shots, and make the playoffs.

NATIONALS VS OPPONENTS 1960-61

WON

LOST

Boston

3

10

Philadelphia

7

6

New York

8

5

St. Louis

4

6

Los Angeles

4

6

Detroit

6

4

Cincinnati

6

4

Totals

38

41

LEADING SCORERS*

Dolph Schayes

23.6

Hal Greer

19.6

Dick Barnett

16.9

LEADING REBOUNDERS*

Dolph Schayes

12.2

John Kerr

12.0

Dave Gambee

7.4

*Per-game average

ST. LOUIS HAWKS

It isn't so much that the Hawks overwhelm the Western Division; they plow it under. They won by 16 games two seasons ago, and 15 games last year. This season they are better, but the competition is too. So the Hawks may win by only half as many. Their terrorizing forecourt of Bob Pettit, Clyde Lovellette and Cliff Hagan is as daintily accurate with its shots and as bulldozing on defense as ever. Old Larry Foust is showing new zeal and a 6-foot-7 rookie, Ron Horn, top player in the armed forces last year, may be added. Dismayed by poor backcourt shooting. Coach Paul Seymour came up with a surprising find in irrepressible Cleo Hill. Very fast and a good shot, Hill will be a starter. Si Green, John McCarthy and another good shooter, Len Wilkens (if out of the Army in time) are among the able backcourt men. Seymour calls the team "my best." Who can argue?

HAWKS VS. OPPONENTS 1960-61

WON

LOST

Boston

4

6

Philadelphia

7

3

Syracuse

6

4

New York

9

1

Los Angeles

8

5

Detroit

10

3

Cincinnati

7

6

Totals

51

28

LEADING SCORERS*

Bob Pettit

27.9

Clyde Lovellettc

21.9

Cliff Hagan

21.8

LEADING REBOUNDERS*

Bob Pettit

20.3

Clyde Lovellette

10.3

Cliff Hagan

9.2

*Per-game average

NEW YORK KNICKS

In dire need of a big, brilliant center, the Knickerbockers found they had no chance of getting one this year and got the next best thing instead—a small, brilliant coach. Eddie Donovan comes to the Knicks from St. Bona-venture with a loathing for errors, devotion to hustle and thorough teaching technique. But New York will be some time rebuilding. The nucleus of the team today comprises Willie Naulls, who had his finest season Last year, and quick Johnny Green in the corners. The centers, who can't compete with the NBA's better ones, are Phil Jordan and Darrall Imhoff. All-Star Richie Guerin will be playing alongside a rookie in the backcourt, probably Whitey Martin, an ex-Bonnie whose ball handling and driving best suit the controlled offense Donovan wants. The Knicks will win games on enthusiasm alone, but not enough to escape the cellar.

KNICKS VS. OPPONENTS 1960-61

WON

LOST

Boston

3

10

Philadelphia

2

11

Syracuse

5

8

St. Louis

1

9

Los Angeles

3

7

Detroit

5

5

Cincinnati

2

8

Totals

21

58

LEADING SCORERS*

Willie Naulls

23.4

Richie Guerin

21.8

Dick Garmaker

15.6

LEADING REBOUNDERS*

Willie Naulls

13.4

Johnny Green

10.5

Phil Jordan

8.5

*Per-game average

LOS ANGELES LAKERS

The Lakers were the surprise of the NBA last year. Starting off slowly, partly because of a bad schedule break, they won 13 of their last 25 and nearly beat the Hawks in the playoffs. Now the schedule is better, and so is the team, led by Elgin Baylor, the best all-round player in the league, a resolute bull on defense and a fantastic scorer. Tom Hawkins and Rudy La Russo complete a good forecourt. Last year's fine rookie, Jerry West, is a surprising 25%, better this season, and Frank Selvy is shooting the way he did in college. Both are also excellent defensively. But Coach Fred Schaus must solve the huge problem at center. Awkward Ray Felix played a streak of good ball last season, but can't be expected to keep it up, nor is Jim Krebs likely to improve. Rookie Wayne Yates, an unhewn giant, may help, but has a leg injury. With even an average center the Lakers could win it all. But nobody is about to give them one.

LAKERS VS. OPPONENTS 1960-61

WON

LOST

Boston

2

8

Philadelphia

2

8

Syracuse

6

4

New York

7

3

St. Louis

5

8

Detroit

9

4

Cincinnati

5

8

Totals

36

43

LEADING SCORERS*

Elgin Baylor

34.8

Jerry West

17.6

Rudy LaRusso

14.6

LEADING REBOUNDERS*

Elgin Baylor

19.8

Rudy LaRusso

9.9

Jerry West

7.6

*Per-game average

CINCINNATI ROYALS

The Royals passed up their opportunity to draft a good player with height, which they had to have, and went instead for 6-foot-4 Larry Siegfried, only to lose him to the new league. This leaves them essentially unchanged from a year ago and with little to do but wait for Jerry Lucas (if he turns pro) or Paul Hogue to graduate from college. The Royals' two stars, Forward Jack Twyman and Guard Oscar Robertson, will lead the team scoring again and conceivably the NBA as well. But earnest Wayne Embry at center and Hub Reed at the other forward spot do not give the Royals enough rebounding to allow them maximum use of their offensive assets. Guard Arlen Bockhorn, an adequate pro, will start, backed up by ex-Kentuckian Adrian Smith. Neither rookies Bob Nordmann (6 feet 10) or Bob Wiesenhahn will be much immediate help. In an improving league, the Royals are worse.

ROYALS VS. OPPONENTS 1960-61

WON

LOST

Boston

3

7

Philadelphia

2

8

Syracuse

4

6

New York

8

2

St. Louis

6

7

Los Angeles

8

5

Detroit

2

11

Totals

33

46

LEADING SCORERS*

Oscar Robertson

30.5

Jack Twyman

25.3

Wayne Embry

14.4

LEADING REBOUNDERS*

Wayne Embry

10.9

Oscar Robertson

10.1

Jack Twyman

8.5

*Per-game average

DETROIT PISTONS

The Pistons have a new home ($18 million Cobo Hall) and new hopes. Two outstanding rookies make this the most improved team in the league. One is Ray Scott, a 6-foot-9 good-shooting corner man who played three seasons with Allentown, Pa. in the Eastern League. The other is miniscule (well, 6-foot) John Egan, a whirling guard who led Providence College to the NIT championship last spring and spent four summers being tutored by another fair playmaker, Bob Cousy. Either may break into a starting lineup that includes Bailey Howell and Bob Ferry up front, with All-Star Gene Shue and Don Ohl in the backcourt. Walter Dukes had three summer operations (foot, nose and appendix) and is still trying to operate more carefully at center himself, where he fouled out 16 times last year. He must get the rebounds that make Coach Dick McGuire's new fast-break offense possible.

PISTONS VS. OPPONENTS 1960-61

WON

LOST

Boston

2

8

Philadelphia

5

5

Syracuse

4

6

New York

5

5

St. Louis

3

10

Los Angeles

4

9

Cincinnati

11

2

Totals

34

45

LEADING SCORERS*

Bailey Howell

23.3

Gene Shue

22.6

Don Ohl

13.3

LEADING REBOUNDERS*

Bailey Howell

14.2

Walter Dukes

14.1

George Lee

6.5

*Per-game average

CHICAGO PACKERS
No professional league stocks its new franchises with talent good enough to drub the older members, and the NBA is no exception. Thus the infant Chicago Packers may not be an outright lemon but for this year at least their performance is going to be a little sour. The Packers will play in the International Amphitheater, an 8,300-seat hall where Ike, Stevenson and Nixon were nominated in recent political conventions. The court has dead spots, and in spite of recent repairs may benefit the knowing home team as much as eight points. The Packers need the help. Coach Jim Pollard has a squad of too many rookies and too much overage talent, and understandably says, "The entire team will have to play as well as it can through the entire season just to make the playoffs." Starting at center is 6-foot 11-inch Walt Bellamy, the NBA's top draft choice from the colleges, who is a strong re-bounder but a relative innocent on offense. Horace Walker, another rookie, will start at forward, along with Barney Cable, a veteran of three years' pro experience whom Syracuse found expendable. Andy Johnson and John Turner, Louisville's star last year, will help in the forecourt. In the backcourt are two able but hardly stunning NBA performers, Bobby Leonard and Vern Hatton, with rookie York Larese also available. Without an outstanding scorer, the Packers hope for point production from the entire team through a fast-break offense that might suceed in spite of only average speed. This is understandably a building year for the Packers, and the building will be from the bottom.

AND A NEW LEAGUE OPENS TOO
Turnip-shaped Abe Saperstein, owner of the renowned Harlem Globetrotters and the most glittering of all basketball's extravert entrepreneurs, this week opens his own American Basketball League. Founded in pique—Saperstein wanted an NBA franchise but couldn't get one, so he set up the ABL, made himself commissioner and then awarded himself his own Chicago franchise—the new league faces nearly insurmountable problems. Its eight teams play 80 games from Washington, D.C. to Honolulu, Hawaii, an unparalleled travel burden. Few of its players could make NBA teams, and the financing of some of its franchises is weak. But it has assets too, most notably the bubbling mind of Commissioner Saperstein. Already he has brought a major innovation to the ABL, the counterpart of a home run, by scoring three points for any basket made from farther than about 25 feet out. He is considering a bold plan for pooling all team travel costs, and he is drawing on a reservoir of good will built up over 34 years by his Trotters. The Trotters themselves will be used as arena-filling attractions before some ABL games, thus introducing fans to the ABL's own top players. Among these are: Dick Barnett and Larry Siegfried with Cleveland; Jim Palmer and Connie Hawkins with Pittsburgh; Tony Jackson and Cal Ramsey with Washington; Mike Farmer and Ken Sears with San Francisco; Bill Sharman (player-coach), Hal Lear, Bill Spivey and George Yardley with Los Angeles; and Frank Burgess with Honolulu. "The NBA said we didn't have a chance in hell of getting started," says Saperstein, "but we did. How long will we last? Time will tell."

NINE ILLUSTRATIONSJAMES FLORA

EASTERN DIVISION

CHICAGO MAJORS
Coach: Andy Phillip, ex-NBA coach
Arena: Chicago Stadium, 18,000

CLEVELAND PIPERS
Coach: John McLendon, ex-NIBL coach
Arena: Public Hall, 7,500

PITTSBURGH RENS
Coach: Neil Johnston, ex-NBA coach
Arena: Public Auditorium, 11,000

WASHINGTON TAPERS
Coaches: Paul Cohen and Stan Stutz
Arena: Washington Coliseum, 7,500

WESTERN DIVISION

HAWAII CHIEFS
Coach: Red Rocha, ex-NBA coach
Arena: Honolulu City Auditorium, 7,500

KANSAS CITY STEERS
Coach: Jack McMahon, ex-NBA player
Arena: Municipal Auditorium, 10,000

LOS ANGELES JETS
Coach: Bill Sharman, ex-NBA player
Arena: Los Angeles Arena, 15,000
Olympic Auditorium, 8,500

SAN FRANCISCO SAINTS
Coach: Phil Woolpert, ex-college coach
Arena: Cow Palace, 15,000

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)