And the winners are...
Consensus be damned! (Except there is a general consensus.) This is how we see it. Travis Huse and Doyle Rader dish out their NBA award winners for the lockout shortened season.
Executive of the Year:
TH: RC Buford, San Antonio Spurs
Before the season, Tony Parker stated that the Spurs could no longer compete for a championship. After this, the Spurs were looking to trade Parker away in order to rid themselves of Richard Jefferson‘s contract, with no success. In between then and now the following happened:
1. Traded George Hill to the Pacers for standout rookie Kawhi Leonard.
2. Traded Richard Jefferson for Steven Jackson. If this were any other team, would’ve been a bad move.
3. Signed Boris Diaw and Patty Mills. Since the signing of Diaw, the Spurs have a record of 15-2.
Easy enough in my books.
DR: Larry Bird, Indiana Pacers
Larry Bird has done a remarkable job as GM this season. He traded for George Hill on Draft Day (love Kawhi but they are loaded at small forward), dumped the bloated contract of James Posey, signed David West, the most unheralded acquisition of the year, and traded a second round pick, SECOND ROUND!, for Leandro Barbosa. Oh, and he appointed Frank Vogel as the head coach.
Coach of the Year:
TH: Frank Vogel, Indiana Pacers
I really enjoy George Hill and David West, but those two additions don’t exactly force an 8th seed team up to 3rd place in the Eastern Conference. Yet, that’s where this Pacers team sits. Gregg Popovich might deserve this one, as well, for maintaining the record Spurs fans expect, while changing their play significantly. If Phil Jackson couldn’t win the award in back-to-back seasons (he only won one), Tom Thibodeau certainly doesn’t deserve it.
DR: Frank Vogel, Indiana Pacers
(So much Pacer love already, deal with it.) Frank Vogel, since taking the reins of the Pacers, has transformed Indiana into a fighting, spitting, punching, card playing roustabout. In a shortened season they have won more games than they did last year when they scraped into the eighth seed. Under Vogel, the Pacers have improved exponentially. Last season they posted an effective win percentage of 45, this year they have posted one around 62 and because of that they are the third seed in the East.
Most Improved Player:
TH: Ryan Anderson, Orlando Magic
To me, taking Jeremy Lin is a cop-out. There are too many external factors in his rise to fame, and the dude averages like 25 turnovers a game. Linsanity is a feel-good story and all, but Anderson proved to be an immensely consistent player, which shows actual improvement instead of just an increase in playing time. I’ll probably lose on this one, but at least I have conviction.
DR: Jeremy Lin, New York Knicks
(I copped out.) Jeremy Lin should be named the Most Improved Player. He came out of nowhere (unless you actually watch basketball), plays for the Knicks, led them on a miraculous win streak, and nailed game winners. That pretty much seals the deal for the kid who slept on couches despite having a Harvard degree. Linsanity was fun and should be rewarded. Other notables, however, are Ersan Ilyasova, Kyle Lowry, and Ryan Anderson.
Sixth Man of the Year:
TH: James Harden, Oklahoma City Thunder
Harden is the easy choice here. He’s a premier scorer, in the perfect sixth man capacity. Essentially, Harden does what Manu Ginobili and Jason Terry did the years they won the award. Plus, sixth men are like closers in baseball, they need some style. Harden has that in droves.
DR: James Harden, Oklahoma City Thunder
James Harden should, after the taint that Lamar Odom smeared all over this award, rightfully restore this award to its rightful, albeit awkward, place. I could go into detail but he is a shoe-in.
Defensive Player of the Year:
TH: Tony Allen, Memphis Grizzlies
Allen gets this, he’s the new Bruce Bowen. He terrifies everyone.
DR: Tony Allen, Memphis Grizzlies
Tony Allen is the most feared perimeter defender in the league. This award is his, hands down. There aren’t any flashy stats (actually, Synergy Sports may have them but I am poor and cannot afford a membership) to back up his defensive abilities other than his steals numbers. You have to watch him play. Opponents cannot dislodge him, he harries everyone. Also, he is a bulldozer fighting through screens. He sticks to his man and gets a hand up to contest everything. The way Allen is playing is on par with Artest in 2004.
Rookie of the Year:
TH: Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers
It’s obviously a tossup between Irving and Ricky Rubio, and I’ll take Irving. Rubio came in the league with less expectations, but Irving was shockingly NBA-ready after only playing 8 games in college. He’s already the franchise’s cornerstone, a title that Rubio may never achieve.
DR: Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves
I have to give Rookie of the Year to Ricky Rubio. There was so much hype surrounding him before he came to play in the NBA that he caught a lot of flak. However, he performed above everyone’s expectations. He changed the Timberwolves from a bottom feeder into a potential playoff team. Defensively, despite his proclivity to be Spanish, he set the tone for what was once a porous sieve. Oh, and his passes…amazing.
Most Valuable Player:
TH: LeBron James, Miami Heat
I don’t like the idea of giving Lebron another MVP (giving him two more than Kobe, one more than Tim Duncan), but he’s been spectacular this season (averaging 27-8-6). He’s still the most talented player in the game. Also, awards don’t include the playoffs, so if he chokes again, he’ll still have this trophy. Cool, I guess.
DR: LeBron James, Miami Heat
LeBron James is the clear choice for MVP. He is shooting 53.1 percent from the floor, which is the best field goal percentage of his career. On top of that he is averaging 27.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, 6.3 assists, and just under two steals per game. These are Gervin-esque numbers. It is literally unthinkable to give the MVP to anyone else.