NBA 75 Series: #55 Paul Arizin by DJ Hamilton


   Ranked #55 in my 75 Greatest NBA Players of All Time is the pioneer of the jumpshot, Paul “Pitchin” Arizin. This was a guy who took two years out of his career to serve in the Korean War for America, put some respect on his name! 

 Arizin was born on April 9, 1928, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to French immigrants, and passed away on December 12, 2006, in Springfield, Pennsylvania. Arizin would attend La Salle College High School where he failed to make the basketball team in his only tryout, which was his senior season.

Arizin would end up choosing to attend the University of Villanova to play for the Villanova Wildcats, where he would play for the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) his freshman year for the team. He would eventually make the team his sophomore year in 1947 and play for the next three years. Cousy would go on to have an incredible collegiate career that included being named the National Player of the Year in 1950 after leading the nation 25.3 points per game and even scoring 85 points on February 12, 1949 against the Naval Air Materials Center roster.

Arizin was highly coveted coming out of Villanova and went on to get selected first overall in the 1950 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia Warriors (now Golden State Warriors). He would average 17.2 points per game his rookie season and be named the best rookie of that season (no Rookie of the Year Award was given until 1952-53).

Overall, Arizin was one of the early pioneer stars of the NBA, bursting onto the scene in 1950 with a new weapon never yet seen in the league: the jump shot, which at the time, had two-handed set shot shooters and slow offenses. He absolutely revolutionized the game. In addition to his unrivaled shooting accuracy, Arizin was a great leaper, slick ball handler, and a gritty defender. 

Arizin was one of the best scorers during the league’s formative years, holding career averages of 22.8 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. In 10 seasons with the Warriors, Arizin made the NBA All-Star team every year, won two scoring titles (1952, 1957), was a four-time All-NBA selection, won an NBA championship ring (1956), and recorded the third-highest scoring average in the newly formed league. Along with George Mikan, Bob Cousy, Larry Foust, Bill Sharman, Dolph Schayes and teammate Joe Fulks, Arizin was a pioneering force in a circuit that was decades behind baseball and football in popularity. Arizin and those other stars gave the fledgling NBA the boost it needed to achieve respectability.

He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1978 and has been a member of the 25th, 50th, and 75th anniversary teams. A true pioneer of the game, and the first true jump shooting superstar, that other great shooters would follow later on, from Reggie Miller, Ray Allen, and Steph Curry… Arizin is smiling down proud.