The All-Star Weekend is around the corner and it’s time to look back on the season we’ve had so far, who the mid-season awards go to and where the season will go from here. So starting from the All NBA 1st Team…
All NBA 1st Team:
This guy is playing out of his mind this season. He is most definitely in conversation when talking about the MVP and his game has kept San Antonio on top of the West till this point. He’s averaging a career high in assists at 7.7, a career high in three point shooting at 40% and he’s 4th in scoring among point guards this season at just under 21 a game. He’s making the right decision, being efficient and has put the team on his back.
*(Most Improved Player) James Harden:
He went from being the best 6th man in the league to one of the best players in the entire league in general. He’s my pick for most improved player and has completely embraced his new role as being the main guy. He’s averaging 26 points a game, 6 assists and 5 rebounds. Those are mini-Lebron numbers and all for a guy who has never been the face of the franchise before. He’s not only been a scorer but a distributor and a playmaker and has enabled Houston to have the most high powered offense in the league and as a result the team has had three games where they’ve reached 125 points and one recently where they scored 140 on 23 three pointers.
* (Most Valuable Player) Lebron James:
What more can anybody say about this guy, he keeps getting better and better. He is clearly the best player in the entire league and has 6 straight games of 30 points on 60% shooting late. He’s averaging 27 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists on a career high 42% from three and 56% from the field. It’s not his dominance that is surprising because we’re used to it. It’s his efficiency, he’s scoring 30 points on 10-15 shots from the field and has become a real threat from deep.
I’m really impressed with what he’s been able to do this season. He’s become a team player, a defender and has carried the Knicks so far to a 32-18 record on the season good for 5th in the league and 2nd in the East. He’s currently averaging 29 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists on a career high 41% from three and 45% from the field.
He’s a very under the radar type of player because he’s not very showy and doesn’t have any offensive skills beside the ability to catch Raymond’s lobs but he’s just as responsible for the Knicks’ success as Carmelo Anthony. He has been the defensive anchor and has put in some definite all-star games along the way like his three straight 20 rebound games in late January.
All Rookie 1st Team:
* (Rookie of the Year) Damian Lillard:
It’s rare in the NBA that you see a player who adapts so quickly to the NBA and has an immediate impact on his team. Damian Lillard has done just that. He has played like an all-star so far averaging 18 points and 6 assists. He has hit several game winners so far this season as well, just to show off that he has the clutch factor and isn’t at all afraid of the spotlight. Take his game against the Knicks on the 1st of January or his game winner against New Orleans on December 16th. Oh, he’s also the first player to score 900 points, and make 100 three pointers in his first 50 NBA games. He’s a star in the making alright.
Bradley Beal had a relatively slow start to the season but has showed why he was the right pick at #3 of late. He had five 20 point games in the month of January and a career high 28 points in on February 11th against Milwaukee. He has tons of potential and really spreads the floor for John Wall on his drives. He is currently averaging 13 points a game.
The SF spot in this rookie class has been relatively weak this season considering Michael Kidd Gilchrist hasn’t panned out quite how Charlotte thought, but HB has been the best at that spot so far. He’s NBA athletic and a very versatile defender already. He’ll need some more time to fully come into his own and be consistent but Harrison has been a great fit for Golden State so far.
The potential of this guy is crazy, his body and his versatility predicts future stardom. He’s already been a huge defensive presence for New Orleans this season and has proven that his offensive game isn’t too shabby either. Like Barnes, he’ll need mre He’s averaging 12 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks up till now. I think New Orleans definitely got what they expected.
This guy was a big risk for Detroit, but hey when your franchise is as discombobulated as theirs, what is there to lose. People doubted his work ethic and his attitude coming in but he has proved everybody wrong and more. He has 9 double-doubles already this season and his averages may not stand out but it’s the games here and there that shows all the potential he has locked up in that 6’11, 270lb frame. Take his game on January 29th against Milwaukee where he broke out for 18 and 18 in 26 minutes of play. Those are the kinds of games that show you what he has in store.
Coach of the Year: Gregg Popovich
I don’t think there is any other guy more worthy of this award than Pop. He’s rejuvenated Tony Parker and given young legs to Tim Duncan while guiding the Spurs to the best record in the NBA at 42-12. Even when his big three are out, he knows how to coach his guys and he knows how to get wins.
Honorable Mention: Tom Thibodeau, Mike Woodson, Frank Vogel
Defensive Player of the Year: Joakim Noah
Tom Thibodeau is a defensive mastermind but none of his sets get executed without his defensive anchor down low in Joakim Noah. He is having an unbelievable season with career highs in blocks and rebounds at 11.3 and 2 a game. He’s led the Bulls’ march without D-Rose and has kept their defense in check by bringing the energy and heart every night.
Honorable Mention: Tyson Chandler, Lebron James, Serge Ibaka
6th Man of the Year: Jamal Crawford
Jamal Crawford has been the ultimate spark plug for the Los Angeles Clippers this season. He leads the league in points off the bench with 17 a game. He gets into the paint, shoots the three and makes sure the Clippers never have a dry spell for more than a minute at a time. This award was in J.R Smith’s hands up until the two faced off and Jamal took the contest. However, this is the mid-season award, so you never know what can happen.
Honorable Mention: J.R. Smith
End of Season Predictions:
NBA Champion: Miami Heat
I had been debating between OKC and Miami for a while but Lebron’s recent success has convinced me that the Heat will win again. Lebron is just playing like a man among boys. There is no other way to put it. I think when he’s at his best it doesn’t matter who the Heat play against. Additionally, Dwyane Wade has been rejuvenated recently after people starting thinking his age was catching up to him. He’s averaging about 24 points a game in February on 50% shooting. Chris Bosh has also had a stellar month – scoring 22 a game in the month of February. So I think with the big three playing some of the best basketball of their seasons then there isn’t a team in the league who can stop them. Then on the defensive end, they can be one of the most suffocating teams in the league. They hold teams to 96 points a game on 44% shooting and you know if they turn the ball over on them they’re going to score two very stylish points. They put so much pressure on you on the perimeter that teams often can’t set up their offense or run their half-court sets effectively. Anyway, I think the only team who could maybe challenge them in the East is New York because they don’t turn the ball over, and because they have big men to pound Miami down low and out-rebound them. In the West, I think that either the Spurs or Clippers could challenge them in the Finals. They’re both very deep and have big men to punish Miami down low but if the Finals were to be played tomorrow, I would pick the Heat no doubt about it.