Originally Posted by Owl
Only if you give all credit to the assister and none to the scorer.
If Walt Wesley, Willie Burton, Tony Delk and Tracy Murray hadn't played a bunch more games they'd have had 50ppg career averages. But it isn't the case.
Essentially "Sure ... but I'm going to ignore your point". In '65 they self evidently weren't good enough to compete. The team Russell joined already had the best record in the league (and win-loss record superior to that which they had with him, not saying that he harmed them but his impact in the first year is certainly not proportionate with his later reputation). The team Chamberlain joined was 34-46 the year prior with a -3.75 SRS, in '65 they were better but were just 22-23 before he first first arrived (and had been outscored over the season, scoring 5015 points, conceding 5037).
In '66 the teams were very close overall. BUT
1) That's including Russell and Chamberlain. And the consensus is that Chamberlain was better (he won the official (player vote) MVP, was first team all-NBA and won the US Basketball Writers MVP, there's only one MVP trophy unaccounted for the Metropolitan Sportswriters Sam Davis Memorial Award and it's probable that Wilt won this too). That means if the teams were even overall then part of that is Wilt overcoming the deficit created by his teammates.
2) Aha but they weren't even, Philly had a better win loss record. Well yes, one game better by win loss record, but more representatively Boston had a better points differential and SRS. Boston lost some games because they had a number of minor injuries (a number of core players including Sam Jones and Havlicek playing around 71 games). Those injuries (artificially) deflated their win total, yet despite this their points differential over the season was superior to the 76ers. Had the Celtics been fully healthy their SRS advantage would have been larger, and their superiority clearer.
For '68 point 1 above again, but note that Russell gets no MVP votes, i.e. the individual gap is getting larger (we don't know about the "alternate" MVP votes that year the US Basketball writers award seems to have ended, and we don't have confirmation on the Sam Davis award winner).
The secondary point for '68 would be even if Chamberlain's superiority over Russell at that point didn't make up all of Philly's advantage over Boston, subtract Cunningham (as they actually played in the playoffs) and Philly's cast is certainly worse. All the more so after we injure Walker, Jones and Jackson (not to mention Chamberlain's own injury).
What's your point with the first part? That coaching has no influence? I'd argue especially in that era when coaches just made ex-pros coaches (see Neil Johnston and Dolph Schayes) after no apprenticeship as assistants, having a good coach.
And Auerbach is very loyal to Russell and thus sometimes put down Chamberlain to boost Russell.
But as a counterpoint here's what long time Celtic and later Chamberlain coach K.C. Jones said
That's someone with strong Celtics loyalties but who actually had the chance to work with Wilt.
It's admirable that he won as a player coach, but it's relevence to the discussion of playing careers is minimal. And for what its worth, from what I've read, the Celtics to a significant degree coached themselves with (iirc not totally sure on this) Havlicek taking the lead on offense (and Russell leading the D).
And the underdog thing is true to a degree but overstated. In '68 as above they were underdogs both teams at full strength, as the series actually was played (injuries) they'd have to be favourites. In '69 their regular season falloff is overstated. They posted the 2nd best SRS and points differential over the season (behind New York), they just happened to lose a bunch of close games. And they limited Jones and Russell's minutes in regular season, allowing for an easy "improvement" in the playoffs simply by shortening their rotation. Nor were the defending champs written off prior to the season in the press (see, for instance, SI's preseason coverage).