Wednesday, April 25, 2012

2012 NBA Awards

Greetings everyone! As the season comes to a close in the Association, it's time to present my annual awards, so let's get right to it...

  • Rookie of the Year - Kyrie Irving, PG Cleveland - This is an absolute lock to be honest. The only knock on Irving is the fact that he's played in only 49 games, but with the divide between his production and everyone else's, there's no dispute. Irving has averaged 18.7 points, 5.5 assists, and 3.8 boards to go along with a very nice 21.1 PER on the season while carrying a bad Cleveland team to respectability when he was in the lineup. It's clear that Cleveland picked the right guy at #1 in June's draft. 
  • 6th Man of the Year - James Harden, SG Oklahoma City - Pretty easy choice here for me. Manu Ginobili is the perennial favorite in this category (and an amazing player), but with him only playing 33 games, it would've been a challenge to go in that direction, and with last year's winner Jason Terry taking a step back across the board and Lamar Odom basically falling off the planet, it was Harden's for the taking. The bearded one 16 points, 4 boards, and 4 assists per game while posting a 21 PER in just 31 minutes a night and doing all of that as the 3rd scoring option. I absolutely love his game, and while the closest comparison I can come up with is to a young Ginobili, we still forget (probably because of the beard) that Harden is only 22 years old and still hasn't peaked. Big time player.
  • Defensive Player of the Year - Lebron James, SF Miami - If you aren't watching Lebron on a nightly basis, you're missing out. I'll forget the offensive end of the court for now and focus on the absolute terror that Lebron is on the defensive end. There's absolutely no chance he'll win this award because a) everyone hates Lebron, and b) this award is earmarked for big men who put up numbers in rebounding and blocked shots, but if I was asked who the best defensive player in the league is right now, I'd choose Lebron. He wreaks havoc with his length, plays passing lanes, and carries himself at a level defensively that no other star in the league (sans Dwight) can match. If Dwight didn't get shut down and/or have the ridiculousness off of the court, I probably would've gone with him because a rim protecting big with his athleticism can turn an entire game, but Lebron is quite deserving.
  • Most Improved Player - Nikola Pekovic, C Minnesota - You're probably thinking, "huh?" when reading this but let me explain. Pekovic posted the league's #7 PER among centers at 21.2 (well above-average) just one year after posting a below-average rating of 11.3. In 2011, he averaged 5.5 points and 3.0 rebounds on 51% shooting while in 2012, he averaged 14 points, 7 rebounds, and a 56% field goal clip while posting a 60+% true shooting percentage that placed him in the top 20 in the league regardless of position. His promotion to an above-average center seemingly came out of nowhere, and it hasn't ceased since the loss of Rubio (the original "reason" for his success in the media). I'm off the grid here, but he's my guy.
  • Coach of the Year - Greg Popovich, San Antonio - If you listed the rosters of all the NBA teams at this moment, where would the Spurs rank? There are a handful of teams (Miami, OKC, Chicago) with undoubtedly more talent, and a big group of teams that you can argue for (LAC, LAL, Memphis, etc.), and yet the Spurs have posted the West's best record. Did I mention that this team that is anchored by an aging Tim Duncan and a 34-year-old Manu Ginobili (who's only played in 34 games, no less) in a lock-out shortened season that had the most ridiculous schedule imaginable? Or that this team is starting Danny Green, and playing guys like Gary Neal, the washed-up Stephen Jackson and Patty Mills? I think this is a no-brainer among no-brainers, and if Pop doesn't win the Coach of the Year this year, he'll never win another one. 
  • Most Valuable Player - Lebron James, SF Miami - As Bill Simmons so eloquently chronicled a couple of weeks ago, this is a pretty lackluster MVP race. Lebron had it absolutely locked up until his production dipped slightly about a month ago, but no one had the juice to catch him, and the numbers are still staggering. His PER of 30.8 would be good for the 10th highest mark in the history of league, only trailing himself (twice), Michael Jordan (4 times) and Wilt Chamberlain (3 times). 27 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists per game while being the best perimeter defender I've seen all year, and doing it all on a team with a 72% win percentage that sports exactly 3 above-average NBA players is enough for me. I don't care if you hate Lebron, think he's "soft" or not "clutch", he's the best player on earth, and the most deserving candidate for this award. 
  • 1st Team All-NBA (the way they actually vote on it) - Chris Paul (G), Kobe Bryant (G), Lebron James (F), Kevin Durant (F), Dwight Howard (C)
  • 1st Team All-NBA (the way they should vote on it by positions) - Chris Paul (PG), Kobe Bryant (SG), Lebron James (SF), Kevin Love (PF), Dwight Howard (C)
  • 2nd Team All-NBA - Russell Westbrook (G), Dwyane Wade (G), Dirk Nowitzki (F), Kevin Love (F), Andrew Bynum (C)
  • 3rd Team All-NBA - Tony Parker (G), Deron Williams (G), Lamarcus Aldridge (F), Josh Smith (F), Al Jefferson (C) (Note: Derrick Rose didn't play enough games for me to qualify)
  • 1st Team All-Rookie - Kyrie Irving (G), Ricky Rubio (G), Klay Thompson (G/F), Chandler Parsons (F), Kenneth Faried (F/C)
  • 2nd Team All-Rookie - Isaiah Thomas (G), Marshon Brooks (G), Kawhi Leonard (F), Derrick Williams (F), Tristan Thompson (C)
  • 1st Team All-Defense - Avery Bradley (G), Andre Iguodala (G), Lebron James (F), Luol Deng (F), Tyson Chandler (C)
  • 2nd Team All-Defense - Mike Conley (G), Tony Allen (G), Serge Ibaka (F), Kevin Garnett (F), Dwight Howard (C)
And there you have it... Argue among yourselves... 

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