By Maurice Brooks


Averaging a triple-double has to get you the top spot in the R2MVP, right?
Walter Iooss Jr./NBAE/Getty Images

SECAUCUS, N.J., Dec. 14, 1961 --The point guard or the center? The creator or the finisher? The most versatile player the league has ever seen or the most powerful player the league has ever seen?

Through the first six weeks of the NBA season, the Royals' Oscar Robertson and the Warriors' Wilt Chamberlain are slugging it out to see who takes home the MVP trophy at the end of the season.

Is it way too early for Most Valuable Player talk? Of course it is. But when players are rewriting the way the game is played, what sense does it make to put their accomplishments on the backburner?

At 6-5, 205 pounds, Robertson is considered big for his position. At 7-1, 275 pounds, Chamberlain is simply considered big. It wouldn’t matter if he were a doctor, fireman or a chef, his size would be viewed as overwhelming.

Judging by the staggering numbers he has put up through the first 29 games, it is pretty obvious that defenders have felt the same way. The gentle giant is drop-stepping his way to 48 points a night and adding an eye-popping 26.5 rebounds a game, too.

With the exception of Boston's Bill Russell, Chamberlain can pretty much do what he wants, when he wants against everyone in the league.

That is the good news for Philadelphia fans. The bad news? Despite the off-the-chart play by Chamberlain, the Warriors still trail the first-place Celtics by 6.5 games in the standings.

Robertson had arguably the greatest rookie campaign ever, posting 30.5 points, 10.1 rebounds and 9.7 assists a night last season. As hard as it is to believe, he has been even better in year No. 2.

He is tallying 30.5 points, grabbing 12.7 boards and giving out 11.9 assists a game. His team has the same amount of wins as Chamberlain, but one more loss.

Despite having a size advantage against most opponents, Robertson is crafty on offense, using pump fakes and a money-in-the-bank fadeaway jumper to score on defenders.

While Robertson and Chamberlain have emerged as the frontrunners for the MVP, it is too soon to count out Russell and Los Angeles’ Elgin Baylor, who check in third and fourth, respectively, this week in the R2MVP.

Remember, the season is a marathon, not a sprint.

  • Call me with your feedback or send me a letter.

    Race to the MVP - The Top 10 (Statistics through Dec. 13)
    1. Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia | Team Record: 17-12
    MIN PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
    44.5 48.0 26.5 2.1 .468 .575
  • Last Week's Rank - 2
    I don't know about you, but I wouldn't be surprised if this guy scored 100 points in a game one day. His numbers right now are sick - like a lactose intolerant person after eating ice cream. If he keeps up his current pace, his points per game average will be an NBA record.

  • 2. Oscar Robertson, Cincinnati | Team Record: 17-13
    MIN PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
    44.9 30.5 12.7 11.9 .478 .803
  • Last Week's Rank - 1
    Is it just me or does it seem like the Big 'O' gets a triple-double every night? I know it has never been done before, but the way he is filling the box score right now, he is capable of being the first player to average a triple-double for a season.

  • 3. Bill Russell, Boston | Team Record: 21-3
    MIN PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
    45.2 21.2 24.8 3.9 .469 .609
  • Last Week's Rank - 3
    A year after wresting the MVP trophy out of Chamberlain's hands, Russell is up to his old tricks again, playing lockdown defense and dominating the glass. The Celtics have won the last three titles and have emerged as the favorites to win the crown again this season. The only remaining question is, "Can Russell help Boston become the first team to win 60 games in a season?"

  • 4. Elgin Baylor, Los Angeles | Team Record: 23-7
    MIN PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
    45.3 38.1 19.1 5.0 .420 .731
  • Last Week's Rank - 4
    If it wasn't for the unimaginable start to the season by Chamberlain, the numbers that Baylor are putting up would be the talk of the league. The fact that his scoring average is approaching 40 and he has still found time to give out a handful of assists each game is impressive.

  • 5. Jerry West, Los Angeles | Team Record: 23-7
    MIN PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
    41.3 27.6 8.8 6.0 .440 .730
  • Last Week's Rank - 6
    So much for having a sophomore slump. The biggest improvement in West's game can be seen in his ability to score the ball. His average has jumped up 10 points per game from a year ago. With improved play like that, he soon will become the face of the Association.

  • 6. Bob Pettit, St. Louis | Team Record: 10-18
    MIN PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
    41.3 31.2 19.0 3.9 .454 .749
  • Last Week's Rank - 5
    Although his team is not playing at a high level, it is hard to argue against the work that the league's first-ever MVP (1955-56) is putting in on a nightly basis. Pettit, who also won the league's most prestigious individual award in 1958-59, will have to lead the Hawks to some more victories in order to climb the R2MVP ladder.

  • 7. Bob Cousy, Boston | Team Record: 21-3
    MIN PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
    28.0 15.2 3.5 9.1 .363 .692
  • Last Week's Rank - 7
    Cousy, who has been selected to the All-NBA first team 10 straight years, is going to have a difficult time extending that streak to 11. His numbers have slipped a bit, but the 1956-57 MVP has still helped Boston win 21 of its first 24 games.

  • 8. Richie Guerin, New York | Team Record: 8-20
    MIN PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
    42.2 29.3 6.7 6.9 .452 .844
  • Last Week's Rank - 8
    As I write this, I'm already imagining how many letters I'm going to get in the mail from fans questioning how I could possibly have someone on the list when their team is in last place in the East. I thought the same thing, it's just that Guerin brings too much to the table.

  • 9. Hal Greer, Syracuse | Team Record: 11-18
    MIN PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
    35.7 19.1 6.6 3.9 .436 .769
  • Last Week's Rank - 9
    If Syracuse is going to make a push towards the top of the East in the second half of the season, it is going to be the high-scoring Greer who will have to pave the way. His points per game have increased in each of his first three seasons in the league.

  • 10. Walt Bellamy, Chicago | Team Record: 5-20
    MIN PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
    40.0 27.7 18.4 1.6 .500 .609
  • Last Week's Rank - NR
    A rookie playing on the worst team in the NBA is normally not a winning formula to get love in the R2MVP. Bellamy has changed my way of thinking. With his team's record what it is, he has no chance of landing in the top five, but I must give respect where respect is due. The game is not supposed to be this easy for someone this young. Or is it?

  • Running the Floor

    Russell
    Although the NBA just started recognizing the MVP following the 1955-56 season, it is still noteworthy that Celtics big man Bill Russell has a great chance of becoming the first player to win the award in back-to-back seasons.
    Russell is not the only dominant center chasing history. Barring injury, the Warriors' unstoppable force, Wilt Chamberlain, may join St Louis' Bob Pettit as the only two-time MVP winners in league history. Despite averaging 25.8 points per game, I couldn't find a place in the rankings for Royals scoring machine Jack Twyman. I'll see if I can squeeze him in the top 10 next week. Twyman, along with Chamberlain, were the first NBA players to average over 30 points per game in a season, accomplishing the feat during the 1959-60 season.