2013 Free Agency

2012 Award Watch

In General NBA on March 28, 2012 at 12:21 am

As we close into the final month of the regular season, these are my current frontrunners for the following awards

MVP

  1. LeBron James
  2. Dwight Howard
  3. Kevin Durant

Defensive Player of the Year

  • Dwight Howard

Most Improved Player of the Year

  • Jeremy Lin

Sixth Man of the Year

  • James Harden

All-NBA Teams

First Team

  • G – Russell Westbrook
  • G – Kobe Bryant
  • F – Kevin Durant
  • F – LeBron James
  • C – Dwight Howard

Second Team

  • G – Chris Paul
  • G – Tony Parker
  • F – Kevin Love
  • F – Pau Gasol
  • C – Marc Gasol

Third Team

  • G – Derrick Rose
  • G – Dwyane Wade
  • F – Andre Iguodala
  • F – Kevin Garnett
  • C – Andrew Bynum

All-Defensive Teams

First Team

  • G – Tony Allen
  • G – Andre Iguodala
  • F – LeBron James
  • F – Anderson Varejao
  • C – Dwight Howard

Second Team

  • G – Rajon Rondo
  • G – Dwyane Wade
  • F – Luol Deng
  • F – Kevin Garnett
  • C – Tyson Chandler

Coach of the Year

  • Gregg Popovich
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  1. Explanations

    All-NBA Teams

    I wanted my three favourites for the MVP award in the team so I decided to go without a true power forward and play two small forwards instead. Kobe Bryant was my next choice. The final position, the PG slot, came down to two players; Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul. That decision could go either way.

    The second team. The team started with the runner up to the Chris Paul vs Russell Westbrook choice from the first team squad. The second player picked was Kevin Love who has had a fantastic season for Minnesota. Wade has had an underwhelming season by his standards but he is still far and away the second best two guard in the league. I felt that there is a good argument to be made that Marc Gasol has been the second best center in the league this season so he was my pick here. I went with Marc Gasol over Bynum in the second team because I prefer Marc Gasol’s ability to facilitate an offense (Duncan-esque) and consistency over Bynum’s more dynamic game (better defender, rebounder and scorer) albeit also more inconsistent and more self-involved offensively. Very impressed with how Marc Gasol has led Memphis into playoff position despite Zach Randolph’s absence due to injury. The final forward spot was a tough choice. There was no candidate good enough at small forward so I went with another big man instead and choose Pau Gasol. He has been underutilized by the Lakers this year but still very effective and impactful for LA. I wish he got more touches in the post.

    Edit: Not sure I have that Marc Gasol vs Andrew Bynum debate right. Need to think some more on that.

    The third team could have gone in a bunch of different directions. Final month with everything to play for. Lots of candidates playing for those spots.

    Tony Parker was the one true selection. He has separated himself from the pack and had a great season in San Antonio. James Harden has been the third best two guard in the league this year. So the choice for the final guard spot came down to Rondo or Harden and I went with Harden. Andrew Bynum has had a very good year for LA. Clear choice at center. Kevin Garnett has had a wonderful season for Boston since moving to the center position and was pretty damn good before that at power forward. I wanted to list him as a center but I chose to put Bynum and M.Gasol in the team over some other wings and PFs. Andre Iguodala was the SF in part because of other candidates struggles and in part because of his own brilliance.

    Derrick Rose was overlooked for a spot due to injuries (missed one fifth of the year). There was some fantastic competition at the PG spot so I felt by playing more games/minutes gave his rivals an advantage over him for a place on these teams.

    Edit: I decided it wasn’t right to put Wade in the second team and leave Rose out altogether due to injuries when they have missed almost as much time as one another. So I moved Tony Parker up the second team and slid Wade down to the third team and put Rose in over Harden as the second guard selection in the third team squad. Even with less games, I have to admit that Rose is more deserving than Harden (whose game I love). By the way, that third team is phenomenal now. Far better than the second team and they could give the first team a run for it’s money.

    Dirk Nowitzki due to poor form for a large part of the season. Paul Pierce for his inconsistent campaign. Deron Williams due to his team’s lousy win-loss record. Steve Nash because I think his team underperformed this season. Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire because they have both played well below their usual levels of performance. Manu Ginobili missed out due to injuries.

    LaMarcus Aldridge just missed out on a spot although I probably would have passed on him due to his very talented Portland team underperforming, falling apart and forming a mutiny against a top head coach in Nate McMillan under his watch. Lack of leadership. He should have done more to hold that team together. That all said, there isn’t much separating Aldridge from the big men in teams two and three.

    Honourable Mentions – Steve Nash, James Harden, Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge

    All-Defensive Teams

    Never understood why so many teams go with small point guards instead of a bigger more effective defensive wing. Anyway, Tony Allen is my PG defensively and he is the best in the league at defending that position or any other perimeter spot. The second best is Andre Iguodala and the third most effective defender, and arguably best team defender on the perimeter, is LeBron James. They are my perimeter trio. Dwight Howard mans the paint and Anderson Varejao has officially taken over the title of best defensive PF in the league from Kevin Garnett.

    The second team is led by Kevin Garnett who has had another very impressive season particularly after his move from part time PF/C to full time center. That has galvanized on him in all three phases of the game (offensively, defensively and rebounding). The second big man could have gone in one of two directions – either a PF to keep Garnett at C or a five with Garnett sliding to the four. There was no real separation from the candidates and the decision could have gone either way. Anyway, I choose Ibaka over A.Bynum because I love the idea of the quickness and covering between Ibaka and Garnett. But it could have gone either way. The next forward spot went to Luol Deng who has been fantastic defensively once again this season. The guards spots where and are still up for grabs with no candidate clearly separating themselves from the pack. I went with the tried and trusted Rondo and Wade for the mayhem they can cause as team defenders.

    Edit: I changed my mind and went with Bynum instead. He is better. Simply put, Bynum is a larger impact defensively than Ibaka does (for now at least). I wanted to keep KG at center but Bynum is the more worthy candidate so he should get the nod.

    Edit: I completely forgot and overlooked Tyson Chandler. I’ll give him the nod over Bynum. Tyson Chandler has done a very good job this season for the Knicks. I like his superior mobility over Bynum’s superior size/heft.

    Most Valuable Player

    LeBron James has been far and away the best player in the league this season although he has slowed down from his incredible start ever since Wade returned. Still, he is the guy to beat.

    Dwight Howard was my choice for MVP last season and he has followed up that campaign with a wonderful season again this year. What he has achieved with that Orlando Magic team is nothing short of spectacular.

    Just think about this for a second — the Orlando Magic are third in the East and fifth in the league in win-loss record.

    Without Dwight Howard, their lineup would be:

    C – Daniel Orton, Glen Davis
    PF – Ryan Anderson, Earl Clark
    SF – Hedo Turkoglu, Quentin Richardson
    SG – Jason Richardson, JJ Redick
    PG – Jameer Nelson, Chris Duhon

    Without Dwight Howard, is that team anything more than a 20 win (82game season) caliber team?

    Think about how bad that squad would be defensively. Unquestionably one of the three least talented defensive squads in the league. Dwight Howard has them in the top ten in defensive efficiency and defensive eFG%. That team would be hands down the worst rebounding team in the league. Dwight Howard has them (just inside) the top ten in rebounding differential. Without Howard, that team doesn’t have a single player who can command a double team and/or force a defense off balance and into help sequences. They would be one of the worst offensive teams in the league. Dwight Howard has them as a middle of the pack offensive club and top seven in TS%. In other words, Orlando would be one of the worst defensive teams, rebounding teams and a very poor offensive team without Dwight Howard and are instead a very good defensive and rebounding team + solid offensive team with Howard. That is the level of impact he has had on the Magic.

    Another phenomenal season from Dwight Howard.

    Kevin Durant has been excellent for Oklahoma City Thunder too. He continues to improve defensively and as a passer/facilitator offensively. He has maintained his excellent scoring work (prolific + highly efficient) and very good work on the backboards (8rpg). He is a genuine MVP caliber player.

    DPOY

    See above — not that an explanation is needed

    Most Improved Player

    Jeremy Lin — came out of nowhere to pull off an incredible run of games and establish himself as a solid rotation caliber PG with good potential.

    This is usually a very difficult field to judge but there seems to be a lack of candidates this year compared to normal seasons. An after-effect from the lockout?

    Sixth Man

    James Harden – third best SG in the league this year. Nobody else has a talent like that coming off their bench.

    The only player who could get close to Harden is Lamar Odom who was a top ten PF last year but he has played very poorly for the Mavericks.

    Runners Up: Al Harrington, Andre Miller and Lou Williams

    Coach of the Year

    Doug Collins has done a tremendous job with the Sixers but his squad’s performances have teetered since their strong start due to the extended absence of Spencer Hawes. In a tight race, as COY always is, that might be enough to lose him this award. A strong push to finish the season could see him get back in it though.

    Tom Thibodeau has done another excellent job with the Chicago Bulls.

    As for my favourite, Gregg Popovich, he has done an absolutely incredible job with the San Antonio Spurs once again this season. To have that team winning as much as he does especially given how cautious he is with his star player’s minutes (especially Duncan’s PT), it’s an incredible achievement.

    George Karl has also done a very good job in Denver. Utilized his depth extremely well. Built a great team spirit and his team giving him everything they have to give. Injuries hit them hard in midseason and then a big trade. It’ll be interesting to see how his squad closes the season. He could make a run at this award or fall off the map in the final month.

    Stan Van Gundy has done another impressive job with the Orlando Magic. Keeping that team on track throughout the Dwight Howard trade debacle and having them third in the East and fifth in the league record wise is a tremendous achievement.

    1) Popovich
    2) Collins
    3) SVG
    4) Karl
    5) Thibs — Thibs won last year and the COY is always full of worthy candidates so I’ll look elsewhere this year. Admittedly taking Thibs for granted. Oh well.

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