For basketball purists, this has to be one of the best seasons since… well since Michael Jordan was still in the league. You have transcendent superstars (see Kobe Bryant) dominant players (see Dwight Howard), grizzled veterans (see Kevin Garnett) and up-and-coming youngsters (see Blake Griffin). Now all those examples are just one of many choices you could make from an extremely deep list.
This is possibly the toughest year in recent memory to actually pick winners for awards because of the exorbitant talent level across the NBA.
Because there are so many potential choices for each of these awards, I thought it best to have two options/opinions on our awards so the spectrum of deserving players can be diversified.
Last night while Gambo was channeling his inner Tom Gugliotta and I was doing my best to honor the great Tom Chambers in some pick up basketball, we realized it was midseason in the NBA and we started discussing who is deserving of some NBA hardware. We learned we had different view points and figured it would be nice to share them with our faithful readers.
All NBA Third Team
All NBA Second Team
All NBA First Team
All Rookie Team
Executive of the Year
Gambo: Pat Riley
As much as you might hate the Heat, the “architect” himself was responsible for putting together a big-three that will contend for years to come. It took some time but the studs in South Beach seem to have it all figured out now. Runner-up: Danny Ainge, for keeping the Celtics together for another year.
Scottie: Pat Riley
I hate Pat Riley. I hate the Heat. But there is no getting around the roster moves he made in the off season making the Heat a sure fire force for years to come. Just saying that last sentence leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.
Sixth Man of the Year
Gambo: Serge Ibaka
Now he probably should be starting for the “Zombie Sonics,” but Serge does the majority of his damage off the bench. If the Thunder want to challenge the Lakers, Spurs and Mavs in the West, they will need his size and shot-blocking down the stretch. Other deserving candidates: Jason Terry, Jamal Crawford and Glen Davis.
Scottie: Glen Davis
I am picking Glen Davis and it has zero to do with him being on the hometown team. No one brings more energy or is more valuable to his team off the bench than Davis is for the Celtics. He is averaging 12.5 ppg and grabbing 6 boards a game. As of January 19, he has taken 34 charges! With that absurd number he has basically created a new stat! He has developed a nice outside jumper that forces defenses to respect him and he is not getting blocked nearly as many times as he did last year. He is finishing around the rim and is punishing his opposition with a sweet little spin move reminiscent of Antoine Walker. Give Big Baby the 6th man of the year award right now.
Most Improved Player of the Year
Gambo: Raymond Felton
There are a lot of good choices out there with players such as Kevin Love, Rudy Gay and Eric Gordon, but Felton is player I almost completely wrote off last season. Now, he is the quarterback of D’Antoni’s offense and a borderline All-Star. Not bad for a guy who was more-or-less run out of town by Larry Brown.
Scottie: Eric Gordon
I was debating between Kevin Love, Michael Beasley, and Eric Gordon here. Gordon has improved his stats from last year (16 points a game to 23 a night) and has been able to handle different tasks assigned to him. When Baron Davis was out with an injury, he stepped right into that role and played well. It is clear his summer with Team USA has made him a better player. Beasley and Love were also picked higher than Gordon and they should be playing as well as they are. I don’t think anyone ever expected consistent production out of Gordon.
Coach of the Year
Gambo: Greg Popovich
Coming into the season the Spurs had a ton of question marks with age, declining play and young players in bigger roles. “Pop” has done a great job of tailoring everyone’s new role while pushing Ginobili into starting lineup and monitoring Tim Duncan’s minutes.
Scottie: Tom Thibodeau
The Bulls are in line for the 3 seed in the Eastern Conference at the mid point of the season. Their front court has been decimated by the injury bug with Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer playing in about half the team’s games. Sure, Derek Rose is an MVP candidate but this is largely the same team Vinny Del Negro had one year ago. Other than Derek Rose and Luol Deng this team doesn’t really have any key contributors that have gotten them to their 29 wins. The reason for their success is because of Coach T.
Defensive Player of the Year
Gambo: Dwight Howard
No one changes opponents’ game plans on both ends of the floor as much as Howard. A force in the middle that clogs the lane and deters players from driving the lane; he also possesses amazing quickness for someone his size.
Scottie: Kevin Garnett
Call me a homer but is there anyone more valuable to his team on the defensive side of the ball than KG? He is the most intense player in the NBA hands down and he brings out that intensity on the defensive side of the ball. He missed nine games and in those nine games it was apparent how much the Celtics missed him. He may not stuff the stat sheet on the defensive end but teams that play the Celtics don’t generally put up a high field goal percentage. That can be attributed to KG.
Rookie of the Year
Gambo: Blake Griffin
Entering the season, there was a question if John Wall or someone like DeMarcus Cousins could challenge Blake for the top rookie honor, but it quickly became clear that Mr. Griffin is head and shoulders above the rest.
Scottie: Blake Griffin
Not only is Blake Griffin hands down the Rookie of the Year, if the MVP vote was made on stats alone, he would be getting some votes. At the time of this writing the Clippers are 7-3 in their last 10 games and there isn’t a player in the NBA that’s on more of a hot streak than Griffin. He routinely has 3 posters a night as he takes out all his aggression on the rim when he drives to the basket. More importantly he has improved outrageously over the course of the last 3 months. Here’s some stats to take in: October: 16.7ppg and 11.0 rpg. November:20.9 ppg and 11.7 rpg. December:23.0 ppg and 13.5 rpg. January:27.8 ppg and 13.6 rpg. Sick and wrong.
Gambo: Dirk Nowitzki,
Prior to his injury he was a shoe-in for the award. Dirk is the only guy out there right now that is doing it without at least another boarderline superstar. I know Scottie will say Kevin Durant, which you can easily make an argument for, but Westbrook definitely helps more than a quickly-aging Jason Kidd. Boston, Miami, Los Angeles and San Antonio all split votes, so Dirk it is. Runner-up: Kevin Durant
Second Runner-up; Derrick Rose
Scottie: Amar’e Stoudimire
Last year I argued (and will continue to do so) that Kevin Durant was the MVP of the 2010 season. When I think valuable, I think of how good the respective team of the MVP candidate would be if they weren’t on the team. With that being said Amar’e is far and away the MVP of the first half of the NBA season. Last season the Knicks were a joke. This season they are nearly a lock to make the playoffs because of Amar’e. He is second in the league averaging 26.4 points a night, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists. More importantly he has put people back in the seats of Madison Square Garden. He had one stretch of ten games with over 30 points. There is no one playing better ball than this man right now.
Filed under: Celtics, NBA | Tagged: Amar'e Stoudimire, Blake Griffin, Celtics, Derek Rose, Dirk Nowitzki, Glen Davis, Greg Popovich, John Wall, Kevin Durant, Kevin Garnett, Midseason Awards, NBA, Pat Riley, Raymond Felton, Serge Ibaka | 4 Comments »