After a season of adjustment to the new rules, the NBA flourished in its second go-round with the up-tempo game. The league scoring average surged to 99 points per team per game, and quickness and athletic ability were at an all-time premium. Bob Pettit, an exciting rookie with the Milwaukee Hawks in 1954-55, took the league scoring title with 25.7 ppg in his team's first year in St. Louis.

Baltimore had folded the year before, leaving an eight-team league, with the division champions receiving a bye through the first round of the Playoffs. Philadelphia, 33-39 a year ago, improved to 45-27 and won the East. Fort Wayne took the West for the second straight year. The Warriors, owned by Eddie Gottlieb and coached by George Senesky, featured a well-balanced lineup of Neil Johnston in the middle, Joe Graboski and Walt Davis at forward and the high-scoring Paul Arizin and prize rookie Tom Gola at guard, and won the championship in five games over Fort Wayne.

Paul Arizin had a complete offensive repertoire, everything from long set shots to corner jump shots to driving layups and even hook shots. He had returned from two years in the military and didn't skip a beat, as the new up-tempo style played to his strengths: agility and scoring. In the 10 Playoff games in 1956, Arizin scored 289 points, more than anyone but Mikan ever had tallied in postseason.

With the gifted Gola and Jack George in the backcourt to get him the ball and the still-formidable Neil Johnston at center, the 6-4 Arizin was a scoring machine that other teams couldn't shut off.