As the season winds down it’s time for awards. You know that awkward time where you have to choose the select few who are worthy of recognition for their roles this year. I’m not one of those people who lighten the mood and say everyone’s a winner… everyone deserves it. Blah blah blah. No, so… let’s begin.
MVP: LeBron James
January Prediction: Kevin Durant
Honorable Mention: Kevin Durant
The fight for MVP has been close all season, going back and forth between candidates. But LeBron seemed to have that one extra special game over Durant and if you put things in perspective, for LeBron to get the numbers he does while playing with Bosh and Wade is surreal. Sharing the spotlight with 2 all-stars and still recording the same numbers when he was the lone star in Cleveland just shows the superiority LeBron has over the rest of the league. His numbers scream dominance. Recording about 27 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists a game is astounding. And it doesn’t happen often. He gets that extra inch over Durant for two reasons. First, Durant is averaging about 28 points 8 rebounds but 3 assists. Their numbers are almost identical until the assist column hits us square in the face. LeBron manages to average 27 while leading his team in assists. Durant only averages 3. That’s what separates them; Durant’s game is still developing while LeBron’s game is so well rounded that he could play 4 positions on any team in the league. Second, the Miami Heat are currently on a 5 game winning streak with a good chance of grabbing the #1 seed in the East. Not to mention LeBron’s takeover of most of those games while Wade sat out. During all of this the Thunder have been a bit up and down and have lost their grip on the #1 seed. The success of the Heat has rested significantly on LeBron’s shoulders and he has risen to the challenge, Durant is a scorer first and an all around player second, so I guess LeBron continues his legacy with his third MVP. Only thing missing now is a… yeah I figure everyone was thinking it anyway, I won’t bother finishing the sentence.
Coach of the Year: Tom Thibodeau
January Prediction: Mike Brown
Honorable Mention: Gregg Popovich
When the Bulls surprised everybody last year with the best record in the East, we all pointed to Derrick Rose and Tom Thibodeau. Why wouldn’t we, I mean the MVP and the coach of the year led that team to a surprise takedown of the Eastern Conference let alone the league in a season where health was an issue for Rose’s two supporting guys. So this year when they still manage to grab the best record in the East while Rose missed 26 games we have to emphasize Tom Thibodeau’s effect on this team. They still managed to really dominate the league without their superstar. Their defense suffocated teams and their role players stepped up every night. How can any other coach win this award? No other coach had to deal with their star player missing almost half the season. No other coach would be capable of keeping his team in gear to a #1 seed in the East without his superstar. No coach would be able to enforce a top 5 defense without the leadership of their superstar. I applaud Tom Thibodeau’s work this year, it is something that is taken for granted. The way he managed to keep everybody focused and winning even with the absence of the league’s MVP. Look at the Bulls without Rose; they should be a downgrade from the 76’ers, however they ended up being an upgrade from the Heat.
Defensive Player of the Year: Tyson Chandler
January Prediction: Dwight Howard
Honorable Mention: Serge Ibaka
The reigning champions all hailed Tyson Chandler after their championship for being the X factor for their team. He was praised for being the guy that brought toughness, grit and a defensive mindset to a relatively soft team. They worshipped him in Dallas for turning their team into a defensive monster. We recognized him for that last season, however this season the definition of ‘X Factor’ was taken to a whole new level. The Knicks ranked 28th last year in points allowed with a discouraging 105.7 points per game. However, this year since the addition of Chandler and partially Shumpert the Knicks rank 13th in points allowed with 94. 84 points a game. For those who aren’t too fond of math, that’s a 10.86 difference from last year to this last year. The Knicks have become one of the best defensive teams in the league through Chandler’s input vocally and physically. He is exactly the player the Knicks needed. I mean it almost sounds wrong, to be calling the Knicks a good defensive team but strangely enough they are. This season the Knicks have given up an average of 116.5 points per game in the 4 games that Chandler hasn’t played so. His impact on this team is undeniable and his emphasis on the defensive end has completely reshaped the Knicks’ culture. Even his individual stats scream defensive stopper. Averaging 10 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game this season. Sure Ibaka may be blocking every shot that is comes into the paint, he hasn’t transformed the team defensively. They’ve been consistent defensively for years, and he has a whole team full of defensive oriented players, while Chandler is dealing with a mainly offensive minded squad.
Rookie of the Year: Kyrie Irving
January Prediction: Iman Shumpert/Kemba Walker
Honorable Mention: Kenneth Faried
To be honest I think this race was decided once Rubio busted his knee earlier this season. Kyrie Irving has been playing like a veteran. There are no signs of immaturity and he has taken on the responsibility of carrying a Lebronless Cleveland team who are still sulking over the man who has the same amount of hair as he does rings. He doesn’t seem to be phased by any pressure. Look January 29th vs. Boston, or March 7th vs. Denver. He not only gave hope to a essentially depressed Cleveland fan base but he averaged about 19 points, 4 assists and 5 and a half rebounds a game. He will only continue to develop in the future, and could easily be an all-star by next season.
Most Improved Player: Jeremy Lin
January Prediction: Ryan Anderson/Kyle Lowry
Honorable Mention: Ersan Ilyasova
Wow. I mean really though. Wow. It’s unbelievable. It is, for a lack of a better pun, a Linderella story. In fact it’s Linsane. It’s Linsanity, I tell you. Linsanity. He’s the only player I use on my Lintendo DS nowadays. (I’m on a roll,) ok but back to his season. First off, he probably got a lot of NBA scouts fired. He embarrassed Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki, and Deron Williams and brought the Knicks much needed success. I don’t think a most improved player award could go to someone more worthy. He didn’t let his past failures stop him from being successful. He kept striving and working and eventually found an invaluable spot on a team that needed him more then anybody can measure in wins and losses. I also don’t think any player has defined this award better then Jeremy Lin did this year. A most improved player award is given to a player who strives to success and isn’t content with his production. Jeremy Lin went from the guy at the end of the bench whose ear you maybe see on the corner of your screen, to a guy who had the whole world begging for interviews and hailing at his feet. Last year he averaged 9 minutes per game in 29 games for Golden State and only averaged 3 points, 1 steal and 1 assist. This season he played 35 games started 25 games and averaged 15 points, 6 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Before the all-star break the Knicks had a 12-3 record with Lin playing major minutes. He holds the record for most points scored in his first 5 starts with 136 total points. Some might counter with he only played three weeks in this season. They would have a point if they wanted to deprive Lin of this award, he did miss a significant chunk of the season. I just think his season can’t be dismissed without an award.
6th Man Of The Year: James Harden
January Prediction: James Harden
Honorable Mention: Lou Williams
James Harden is no doubt the unsung hero on the Oklahoma City Thunder. Imagine how selfless a player has to be to accept a 6th man role when he could be the best player on more then half of the teams in the league. He is the epitome of providing energy and scoring off the bench. He has averaged about 17 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists a game. He just continues to grow… a beard and as a player. He is the X factor for this team and could very well be the difference makers in a close series come playoff time. No team in the NBA can match his intensity off the bench, which puts everyone at a disadvantage when they play their second unit. Nobody can really handle him. He is a lockdown defender, a part of his game that isn’t mentioned enough. He’s also versatile scorer. If he keeps this role throughout the rest of his career he could possibly win this award every year for the next half of a decade. As well as being on several all-star teams in the future.
If you disagree with these conclusions, feel free to comment with your opinion. And hey, while you’re at it, subscribe. Hit that subscribe button that says Hell Yes! I want to subscribe. I won’t let you down.