Taking a look at the obvious and not so obvious mid-season award winners in the NBA.
With the NBA All-Star break here it’s time to take a look at the landscape of all that is the round ball. As we all know by now, the Lakers are the biggest surprise and one of the biggest stories in the Association, as in that they stink to high heaven sitting at 25-29 and looked like Manny Pacquiao taking a hard right against the Clippers on Thursday. Other than that the overall look of things isn’t that surprising. The early surge of the Knicks had few taken aback and once they fell back to earth most were not surprised. The Thunder, Spurs, Pacers and Clippers have all emerged as contenders but the raining champs still stand as the favorite.
Even with the decline of Dwayne Wade looming and the general lackluster-ness of Chris Bosh, one man has kept this team as the number one contender in all that is basketball and he sits atop his throne of hoops surveying what is now his.
MVP : LeBron James, Miami Heat
This seems like an easy choice. Few have done what James is doing this season; a six game streak of 30 points per game and 60 percent shooting from the field, only to see it fall because he scored 39 points on 58.3 percent shooting against the Thunder. His overall splits for the season go like this:
27.3/8.2/6.9 with percentage splits of .565 (career best)/.424 (career best)/.745.
He’s third in scoring, 12th is assists, 26th in rebounds, sixth in shooting percentage, and has a damn-near-record-breaking 31.46 PER (Wilt Chamberlin holds it with a 31.84). The man is destroying everything in his path while carrying one of the older and smaller rosters in the league. The Heat can’t rebound and in terms of defense, it’s not there, but with James they are able to find key stops, rebounds and just general fundamentals that lead to solid wins for a team. It’s like having a chamber maid that cleans, cooks and jams sick dunks in the faces on naysayers. Not enough can be said about James, he truly has transformed into what we were all hoping for when a young kid from Akron over-confidently proclaimed himself as the King.
Defensive Player of The Year:
Dwight Howard Tyson Chandler, New York Knicks or Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics
I see that I have two names in the headline, trust me. One is my serious pick (Chandler), the other is a homer pick that’s based off some wacky statistic I heard in which I have no way to back it up but screw-it, it’s blind faith time, more on that after Chandler though.
Chandler isn’t putting up the prettiest statistics this year but second overall in the Eastern Conference and only trailing the Heat by four games isn’t too bad for a team filled with defenseless veterans and the strategy of let’s bomb it from the three and if that doesn’t work we’ll just post-up Melo and hope for the best.
Chandler is a one man defensive wrecking crew; though his blocks are at his usual average of 1.1, although down 0.3 from last year, he’s at 11.1 rebounds per-game, 1.2 rebounds over his original clip from last year, when he won the defensive player of the year award. Chandler has A’mare as a regular forward, Jason Kidd (the East Coast version of Steve Nash at this point, great offense, a goddamn liability the size of having a monkey run a Fortune-500 company, on defense), J.R. ‘I’m literally all offense and all-quit on defense’ Smith and Carmelo Anthony. Chandler has a murderers’ row of terrible defensive players on his team and because of his all-around and otherworldly defense the Knicks sit at second in the East and one of Three teams that stand a chance of lifting the Larry O’ Brien. Oh and he was named an All-Star for the first time in his career, so there’s that too.
I can almost feel the tears of Mark Cuban for letting go of Chandler.
Quickly on Garnett; someone I work with told me that the Celtics are 26th when Garnett is off the floor in defensive efficiency. When he’s on the floor? They’re second, only behind the Pacers.
Really, this award should go to all of the Pacers team depending on how the rest of their season goes.
Rookie of The Year: Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
This kid is where amazing happens. In his rookie year he’s averaging 18.3/6.3 (assists)/3.2 on .418/.350./.856 percentage splits, he’s first in points per game for rookies. assists and minutes. Drafted sixth overall – he’s outperformed any expectations anyone had for him and among all-time rookie point guard performances he’s already ranking among the top:
Isiah Thomas – 17/ 7.8/ 2.9 with .424/ .288/ .704
John Stockton – 11.1/ 10/ 2.5 with .471/ .182/ .736
Magic Johnson – 18/ 7.3/ 7.7 with .530/ .226/ .810
I think you get the point when Magic is thrown in there and the person you’re talking about is most represented by him but with a lower rebound tally due to his size. This is really a no-contest in this category. Lillard is a the little basketball engine that can and will.
Sixth Man of The Year: Jarrett Jack, Golden State Warriors
Though the Golden State Warriors went into the All-Star break on more of a down note; losing five straight. Jack has been a main-stay in the offense with the ability to step up for oft-injured Stephen Curry, and help lead the Warriors to a 30-22 record. Some would say that Jamal Crawford is in the running for this award too, and this is more than justified. Hell, when I started writing this part, my initial reaction was, “Jamal Crawford, who else?” I researched the depth charts of a few teams that have been stunning surprises this season, like the Rockets (Carlos Delfino), Bulls (Taj Gibson and really the entire bench), Pacers (ditto), Bucks (Mike Dunleavy), Nuggets (JaVale McGee), and Hawks (anyone not named Josh Smith or Al Horford). The two that it’s essentially narrowed down too here in the home stretch is Jack and Crawford.
Jack – 13/ 5.8/ 3.2 with .472/ .412/ .860 and 17.41 PER in 28.9 minutes per game.
Crawford – 16.8/ 2.5/ 1.7 with .429/ .370/ .854 and 16.57 PER in 29.5 minutes per game.
So, even though Jack is averaging three fewer points than Crawford, he is still a more efficient player than Crawford, who also portrays the utmost gold standard in being an awful defender. Being a fairly key cog in the well oiled Warrior machine is too much to not be easily handed the Sixth Man of The Year Award, it’s too awesome to see a good Warriors team again.
Most Improved Player of The Year: Jrue Holiday, Philadelphia 76ers
Improving in every statistical category, including points (up 5.5 from 13.5 last year), assists (up 4.4 from 4.5) and rebounds (up 0.9 from last years total) Jrue is lugging around an Andrew Bynum-less and Lou Williams-fled-in-free-agency-less Sixers team. They’re at 22-29 and currently sit at ninth and 4 1/2 games out of the last spot. If Philly can find a way to get Bynum back I can easily see Holiday ending the season with far more superior numbers than he already has.
Well, that ends the mid-season NBA Awards report, these opinions may change as the season goes along, because, hey, it’s a long freaking season. Right now though, these select few players have stood out as the top of the mountain. Especially Lebron. LeBron easily could win all of these awards except for ROY, but, hell, he’s reinvented himself as a supreme talent every year that we might as well treat him like it’s his rookie season anyways.
Check out Cameron on Twitter at @karateparty1 and @HefferBrew. We love everyone, even you. And yes, we know you have that weird thing going on, but it’s okay.