The National Basketball League opened the season with new teams in Chicago and Pittsburgh joining holdover squads in Cleveland, Fort Wayne, Oshkosh, and Sheboygan. The six-team league was divided into two divisions, with the top two finishers in each division advancing to the playoffs.
In the east, Fort Wayne dominated as expected, winning fourteen straight games early in the season and twenty-five of thirty overall. With starting forward Blackie Towery lost to the military, Chick Reiser was added to the starting five. The change resulted in a loss of rebounding, but added greater speed and scoring punch. Bobby McDermott led the Pistons with twenty points per game, while Buddy Jeannette maintained his status as the league’s best floor general. Cleveland took the second spot in the division behind the remarkable scoring of Mel Riebe, who captured the league individual scoring honors for the second consecutive season. The new Pittsburgh club could win only seven of thirty games.
In the west, Sheboygan changed coaches but not philosophies. Former Original Celtic star Dutch Dehnert replaced Carl Roth, but retained his deliberate offense. Dehnert’s influence was felt in the area of player procurement as he signed New Yorkers, Bobby Holm, Al Lucas and Al Moschetti to bolster the Redskins depth. Sheboygan posted a fine 19-11 and took first place honors. Lon Darling’s Oshkosh All Stars faced a serious threat for the final playoff spot with the new well-financed Chicago American Gears entry. The Gears signed a half-dozen journeyman pros and two outstanding local rookies, Dick Triptow from DePaul and Stan Patrick from Illinois to form a surprisingly strong first-year club that posted a 14-16 record. In Oshkosh, the war had stripped Darling of every well-known player but Leroy Edwards. The veteran center responded with his best scoring effort since 1938, but it was not enough to keep the All-Stars from finishing in third place and out of the playoffs for the first time since they joined the league in 1938.
In the playoffs, Fort Wayne brushed aside Cleveland in two straight games as expected to win in the East. In the west, however, Sheboygan had to come back from an opening game homecourt loss to Chicago to subdue the stubborn Gears in three games. Sheboygan captured the first two games of the best-of-five game championship series from highly favored Fort Wayne, leaving the Redskins just one victory away from the NBL title. Fort Wayne fought back determinedly. The Pistons posted three straight victories over Sheboygan, all by at least ten point margins, to retain their NBL title.
Fort Wayne moved into Chicago, heavily-favored to complete the sweep of the National League and Chicago Pro Tourney titles for the second consecutive year. The Pistons proceeded to the finals without any serious competition where they faced the Dayton Acmes, a dark horse challenger, comprised of servicemen stationed at Wright Field. The Acmes, featuring the scoring of Bruce Hale and rebounding of John Mahnken, were the surprise team of the tournament moving into the finals by routing the Chicago Gears 80-51. The Pistons were unimpressed and with their fast-break working to perfection, crushed the servicemen 78-52. The Pistons were firmly established as the best team in professional basketball.