With All-Star weekend marking the midway point in the season, I figured it’s time to give away some midseason awards.
MVP: Jeremy Lin
… Just kidding, it’s Lebron James, Miami Heat
Lebron has been the best player in the entire league in almost every season since he immediately entered the league. How he has the same amount of MVP trophies as Steve Nash is incredible to me when taking a look at the numbers. However, if Jordan was only voted the award five times, then Lebron is at about the right pace. Also, I’m sure the writers don’t really want to be writing the same name on the ballot every year, either.
Through 33 games this season, Lebron is averaging 27.4 points per game, 8.1 rebounds per game, and 6.8 assists per game. Not to mention, he’s boasting one of the highest field goal percentages in the league (fifth overall), shooting an astounding 54.7 percent. Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant, the only two players ahead of James in scoring, average 51.3 and 43.5 percent respectively. Neither are averaging assist numbers close to James and neither have a Player Efficiency Rating higher (James: 32.42; Durant: 27.75; Bryant: 23.52). To top it all off, Lebron has his team in tied for the best record in the NBA with the Oklahoma City Thunder (one of the pre-requisites with writers for being the league’s best player).
Runner-up: Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
KD has MVP hardware in his future, but this isn’t his year. If Durant is able to will his team and Lebron suffers an injury or just plain falters, Durant will be the next guy to take home the trophy.
Rookie of the Year: Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers
I’m not going to lie, Irving surpassed my expectations by a mile. I didn’t think he would be able to adjust to the pros after such a short college season/career where he played in only 11 games total. Coming out of school, Irving (in my eyes) was not explosive enough or quicker than previous number one picked point guards selected like John Wall or Derrick Rose. Now, Irving is averaging a remarkable 18.1 points, 5.1 assists and 3.5 rebounds for a team whose second best option is 35 year-old Antawn Jamison (granted, Irving is making everyone on this Cavs squad look good, see: Anderson Varejao). Additionally, he has a Cavaliers team who won only 19 games last year, only one and a half games behind the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. I’m sorry I once doubted you, Kyrie.
Runner-up: Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves
Rubio already has the vision and passing ability of an All-Star point guard, but he’s not the main man in Minnesota like Kyrie is in Cleveland. Rubio also shoots terribly from the field, hitting only 37.5 percent of his shots, but makes up for it with his great assist numbers (8.4 per game) and deft hands (2.4 steals per game, second in the league). If Rubio can help lead the Wolves to the playoffs and improve upon his already-striking numbers, he has a great shot to steal this award by season’s end.
Sixth Man of the Year: James Harden, Oklahoma City Thunder
Harden is one of the main reasons why OKC is tied with Miami for the league’s best record. Although he doesn’t start, Harden averages the third most minutes at a little over 31 per game and scores a little under 17 points per game. Not to be overshadowed by star teammates Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, Harden actually contributes more to his team’s win shares (a sabermetric stat that measures the amount of wins a player has contributed to) more than Westbrook. Harden’s play contributes to approximately 5 wins per year as opposed to Westbrook’s 3.9.
Runner-up: Lou Williams, Philadelphia 76ers
Williams has been nothing short of spectacular for the recent surge of the Sixers. Averaging about 26.5 minutes a game off the bench, Williams leads the Sixers in scoring and PER. In fact, his PER is slightly higher than Harden’s. Unfortunately for Williams, I think the award is Harden’s already barring a setback.
Most Improved Player Not Named Jeremy Lin: Kyle Lowry, Houston Rockets
Lowry gets absolutely no love, and that’s a shame. Lowry is a real threat to achieve a triple-double every night on the hardcourt. Seriously, just look at his game log. This guy could have gotten eight more triple-doubles on top of his one with a few lucky bounces of the ball. The next Fat Lever, anyone? Regardless of his numbers, he’s the best player on a surprising Rockets team that’s 20-14 and currently has the sixth seed.
Runner-up: Ryan Anderson, Orlando Magic
Anderson has been every bit as good as Lowry has and every bit as valuable. In fact, this award can go either way and I’d have no problem with it. This year, Anderson is averaging a solid 16 points and 7 boards a game, improving 6 points and a little under 2 boards in comparison to last season.
Coach of the Year: Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs
Popovich has turned a dark-horse Spurs team into a serious contender — one that missed Manu Ginobili for a majority of the first half. Not to mention, Tim Duncan is aging and getting less minutes the older he gets. Pop has really proven himself as a legendary NBA head coach this season by achieving with (what seems) so little.
Runner-up: Stan Van Gundy, Orlando Magic
Van Gundy has done a wonderful job coaching an Orlando Magic team marred by distraction, to a 22-13 record and fifth seed in a competitive East. Imagine what he can do with a team led by Dwight Howard that actually wants to play there.
Most Overlooked Dunk: Kenneth Faried, Denver Nuggets
You don’t see these types of passes/dunks in-game, so this one tops my list. Plus, I didn’t want to bore you by showing Kendrick Perkins lose his dignity for the 150th time.
Runner-up: John Wall, Washington Wizards
Style points for the stare down afterwards, it’s the icing on the cake.
Best Ankle-Breaker: Nate Robinson on Reggie Jackson
Not only did Nate Rob lose Jackson, but Jackson almost lost his pair of homies.
Runner-up: Chris Paul on Andre Miller
Andre Miller showing us how to properly stop, drop, and roll. Fire safety, kids.
Now time for the fun part, some bold predictions:
Prediction #1: The best is in the West
Oklahoma City will finish with the NBA’s best record, beating out favorites Miami and Chicago. I think they win 51 games.
Prediction #2: Look at me now
Two of the worst teams in the NBA last season, Minnesota and Cleveland, will crack the playoffs this year. Currently, Cleveland is just one and a half games behind Boston for the eight seed while Minnesota is one game behind Portland in the West.
Prediction #3: Vinny Del Neg-no
Mr. Del Negro will be the first coach to get fired on a winning team (this obviously won’t happen realistically). The Clippers are just 20-11 with that team? Coach Thibs would have had this team at 32-0 in 31 games.
Prediction #4: Lin-consistency
I’m Lin-clined to Lin-clude something about Jeremy Lin or else this article would be Lin-complete. I believe Lin will continue to lead the Knicks to wins over bottom-feeders but will also continually struggle playing against elite competition. He’ll finish the season with averages of 17 points, 7 assists, and 4 rebounds a game. Oh, and he’ll also break the Knicks turnover record for turnovers in a game with 12 (the record is 11).
Prediction #5: Book of Isaiah
Let me fill you in on Mr. Irrelevant, Isaiah Thomas. He was the last pick of this past summer’s draft (Sacramento), he’s only 5-9, he got his name after his dad lost a bet in 1989 when the Pistons knocked off the Lakers and he is currently averaging 21.6 points, 7.3 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game in his first three starts. He’ll continue to go unnoticed until either a. Jeremy Lin falls off the face of the earth or b. He leads the struggling Kings to the playoffs. I don’t see either of those happening, so he can still be our little secret.