The 2012-2013 NBA season is winding down. The awards race has been a lot more competitive compared to recent years. Here are my fake votes if I was a legitimate voter for the NBA.
Most Improved Player
The MIP award is the most fickle award by far. What does it mean to be most improved? I take that to be the player that develops his game the most and contributes far more to his team than the previous year. Some people choose the award on increases on stats. Often, this award goes to the player who received more minutes than the previous year. This year, I cast my vote for MIP to (drumroll) Paul George. George of the Indiana Pacers deserves this award because he exponentially improved as an offensive player this year without a substantial increase in his minutes. He has become a prolific shooter. However, George’s biggest improvement this year has been his finishing and creating off the dribble. Other players considered for this award were OJ Mayo, Jrue Holiday, and Andray Blatche.
Coach of the Year
This award tends to go to the coach that converts a bad team into a playoff team in one year’s time. If I were using that criteria, I would choose Mark Jackson of the Golden State Warriors for COY. However, I choose my COY for the coach that best utilizes his talent effectively. My vote for Coach of the Year is George Karl of the Denver Nuggets. Karl has turned a roster of misfit toys into an explosive rim-attacking nightmare. The Nuggets’ roster consists of athletic tweeners who cannot shoot (Faried, Iguodala, Chandler, and Brewer), point guards who are good but not great (Lawson and Miller), and big men who are inconsistent defensively and offensively (McGee, Mozgov, and Koufos). Karl has molded these misfit pieces into contenders in the highly competitive Western Conference. He also has to deal with JaVale McGee on a daily basis. That alone deserves major recognition.
Rookie of the Year
It saddens me to give this award to Damian Lillard of the Portland Trailblazers. He has been consistent all year and is averaging a monster rookie stat line of 19 points – 3 rebounds – and 6.5 assists a game. He has also had his fair share of clutch shots that are embroidered into my cranium. The argument for ROY would be a lot more compelling if Anthony Davis did not miss significant time with injuries and was more consistent at the beginning of the season. Davis will be the better pro between the two, however Lillard was the better rookie.
Sixth Man of the Year
This is, by far, the most exciting race of the year. There is a plethora of great candidates. Jarret Jack has been phenomenal for the Golden State Warriors. Jamal Crawford has been the best perimeter scorer for the Clippers. Carl Landry has also been dynamite off the bench for the Warriors. However, there is only one winner. The Sixth Man of the Year should go to the one and only J.R. Smith of the New York Knickerbockers. Smith has snagged the award with his play over the past two weeks. The Knicks are back winning, and Smith is back making buckets. Smith is averaging 18 points – 5 rebounds – and 3 assists a game. Smith is absolutely the barometer for the Knicks. When Smith is hot, they are nearly unbeatable. Smith has also been an extremely clutch player for the Knicks in the final minutes of the 4thperiod. Congratulations, J.R., you did it! Please don’t party too hard.
Defensive Player of the Year
This is a very subjective award. Some people vote strictly on block and steal numbers. Other voters look deep in the metric stats to see how valuable a player is on defense. My vote for DPOY is Marc Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies. Gasol has been an anchor for the Grizzlies’ suffocating defense all year. His footwork in the lane is amazing when you consider his size. There’s not much more to say about Gasol without throwing out super-complicated stats. Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls also deserves great recognition. Gasol narrowly beat out Noah for my extremely coveted vote.
Most Valuable Player
The most prestigious award is the MVP. It most often goes to the best player on the best team. This year is no different. My vote goes to King James. At one point, there was a legitimate debate on who the winner would be. People pointed at Kevin Durant’s better efficiency at scoring and improvement in defense and assists. Lebron absolutely suffocated this debate with his ridiculous play after the All-Star break with the Heat’s 27-game win streak. Lebron is the best player in the league for a number of reasons. He is a monster on defense and can guard any position. He scores with great efficiency on offense and also facilitates his teammates’ offense. And most importantly, people play above their capabilities when they play with Lebron. The game is just easier when you have the best active player (showing my respect to the best ever, Michael Jordan) on the planet.
Other players deserve recognition for their great performance this year. Kevin Durant continues to become better and better in all aspects of his game for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Kobe Bryant is playing like he did in his younger days with the Lakers, while being a better teammate with his shot selection and passing. Chris Paul is orchestrating the Los Angeles Clippers while sacrificing his own individual numbers for the sake of his teammates. Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks has had his best career year with almost every aspect of his game. Anthony has also developed into a better team player for the Knicks than his years with the Nuggets. I would also like to give some love to the most under-appreciated player in the NBA: Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs. Parker should be in the conversation for best point guard in the league. He has been the best player for the best regular season team for the past 3-4 seasons. Parker should be better known for his basketball supremacy, instead of his former marriage to Eva Longoria.