Wednesday, April 20, 2011

NBA Awards/ Predictions

At the end of every season, the NBA rewards players with a series of awards to recognize personal achievement. These awards are staggered so that they are revealed daily through the start of the playoffs.

*updated winners

Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY)
Dwight Howard / preseason pick - Dwight Howard
This award has been handed out since 1982-83 to recognize individual defensive effort. The panel of judges is comprised of 120 NBA sportswriters and broadcasters, who cast votes for first, second, and third place. Only 16 players have claimed the award with Dikembe Mutombo and Ben Wallace each earning four DPOY titles.
2009/10 winner: Dwight Howard - 18.3 ppg, 13.2 reb, 2.8 blk, 0.9 stl
2010/11 winner: Dwight Howard - 22.9 ppg, 14.1 reb, 2.4 blk, 1.4 stl
Howard was the unbelievable favourite coming into the voting, and was given 114 of a possible 120 first-place votes. I had him picked in the preseason to win this award in a landslide, as just about everybody else did. Dwight becomes the only player to ever win the award three years consecutively and needs only one more DPOY award to tie Wallace and Mutombo for the most career titles, a feat he looks poised to achieve as the former youngest winner of the DPOY. Does this make Howard one of the most dominant defensive players ever? Howard dominates down-low, collects rebounds and blocks in bundles, had a league-high 66 double-doubles, changes opposing team's entire offensive strategies, and is far and beyond the best centre in the NBA right now with a high ceiling that allows for even more potential. Kevin Garnett and Tyson Chandler placed second and third in the voting.
Watch Dwight Accept the Award

Sixth Man of the Year
Lamar Odom / preseason pick - Jason Terry
Also awarded since the 1982-83 season, this award distinguishes the blue-collar guy generally. The first guy off the bench doesn't start games, but often finishes them. Sixth men bring an energy off the bench that affects the flow of the game and can shift momentum in their team's favour. Generally, this award recipient is a player on an elite team that could be a star, or at least a starter, on a lesser team. Twenty-five different players have won this award.
2009/10 winner: Jamal Crawford - 18 ppg, 2.5 reb, 3.0 ast, .449 FG%, 31.1 minutes
2010/11 winner: Lamar Odom - 14.4 ppg, 8.7 reb, 3.0 ast, .530 FG%, 32.2 minutes
Lamar's solid contributions and multi-faceted skill set allow the Lakers to stay afloat whenever Bynum has to miss some games averaging 16.3 and 10.2 in 35 games as a starter. A modified point-forward, Odom possesses dribbling and court-vision uncommon in a 6-10 player. Coming off a gold-medal summer where he played the role of veteran and glue-guy to a young US squad at the World Championships, Lamar hasn't slowed down. He's also the star of a reality TV show with his Kardashian wife. Odom also shot .382 from three-point territory, a career-high for him. Jason Terry (my preseason pick) and Thaddeus Young placed second and third in the voting.
Watch Lamar Accept the Award

Most Improved Player of the Year (MIP)
Kevin Love / my preseason pick - Mike Beasley
The NBA's Most Improved Player award recognizes the player who puts in the work in the offseason and makes the most significant leap. Most of the time, this means a player unexpectedly emerges to guide his team to unexpected success, but the MIP winner has never won the NBA championship in the same season since the inception of the award in 1985-86.
2009/10 winner: Aaron Brooks - 16.8 ppg, 2.6 reb, 5.6 ast, 209 3-pointers made, 35.6 minutes
2010/11 winner: Kevin Love - 20.2 ppg, 15.2 reb, 2.5 ast, .470 FG%, 35.8 minutes
Kevin Love always knew how to rebound, he just needed the floortime and the conscious recognition of his own talent following a Gold medal at the World's this past summer. Charles Barkley said during the season, you can "fake" scoring titles by hogging the ball on bad teams, but you can't fake rebounding. K-Love became an All-Star for the first time in his career and averaged a league-high 15.2 rebounds. Love also averaged 20.2 points per game, culminating in an NBA second-best 62 double-doubles including a streak that stretched 53 consecutive games. Love's rebounding was historically good, record-setting good. The 53-game double-double streak was the longest since 1974 and he became the first player to average at least 20 points and 15 rebounds since 1983. Love's 30 point, 30 rebound game on November 23rd was the first in twenty-eight years. Love also scored effectively throughout the season, setting career-highs in field goal percentage (.470), three-point field goal percentage (.417), and free throw percentage (.850). A hard-working talent not gifted with superhuman athleticism, Love uses a knowledge of the game and of the angles and busts his butt every night. A rebounding mentality can be learned, but the rebounding display that Love puts on every night is something essential and natural. Now recognized as a legitimate NBA talent, Love should continue to put up similar numbers consistently for years to come. LaMarcus Aldridge of the Portland TrailBlazers finished second in MIP voting and Dorrell Wright of the Golden State Warriors finished third.
Watch Kevin accept the award
Watch Kevin Love's All-Star appeal where he made a cologne parody "numb#rs"

Coach of the Year (COY) 
Tom Thibodeau/ my preseason pick - Jerry Sloan (yikes)
The NBA's Coach of the Year award has been awarded longer than most of the other NBA awards, since the 1962-63 season. Titled the Red Auerbach trophy, it represents the coach who was able to best motivate his players and make the most out of his roster. The COY has been won by forty different coaches, the most being Pat Riley and Don Nelson who won three COY awards each. While Red Auerbach was a legendary coach who won nine titles with the Celtics in the 1950s and 60s, Tom Thibodeau began his head coaching career just this past season.
2009/10 winner - Scott Brooks - record 50-32 = .610%
2010/11 winner - Tom Thibodeau - record 60-22 = .756%
 As a first year coach, "Thibs" led a Bulls team that was one step away from greatness to the best record in the NBA, and currently, the second round of the NBA playoffs. A defensive specialist and workaholic who has spent tireless years in multiple roles within the NBA, Thibodeau most recently helped the Celtics as a defensive tutor, co-ordinator and assistant coach. "I know there's a lot that's been said that I never sleep, I never eat, I never go home. Nah," says Thibodeau, but his relentless style rubbed off on his players and drove would-be-MVP Derrick Rose to the top of the league. Rose, had much to do with Thibodeau's success, but frontcourt duo Carlos Boozer and Joachim Noah missed a significant amount of court-time with injuries and the Bulls stayed afloat and still managed the best record in the NBA. His 62 wins also matches the record for most wins by a first-year head coach. The Bulls also never had more than two losses in a row. He brought Bulls basketball back to prominence, and for the first time since the MJ era the Bulls feel like legitimate title contenders.
Watch Tom Thibodeau's introduction as Bulls head coach 2010
Coach of the Year history
Tom Thibodeau talks about winning the best record in the NBA

Rookie of the Year (ROY)
Blake Griffin/ my preseason pick - John Wall
The NBA Rookie of the Year award, called the Eddie Gottlieb trophy, has been presented each season since 1952-53. Winning the award is a one-time thing, that can only be achieved in a player's first full season in the league. Thirteen ROY winners have gone on to win MVP of the league indicating the award usually foreshadows greatness and future achievement.
2009/10 winner: Tyreke Evans - 20.1 ppg, 5.3 reb, 5.8 ast, .458 FG%, 72 games started
2010/11 winner: Blake Griffin - 22.5 ppg, 12.1 reb, 3.8 ast, .506 FG%, 82 games started
When I picked John Wall to win rookie of the year this year in the preseason, I forgot about Blake. Picked #1 overall two years ago, he missed his entire rookie campaign while rehabbing from a knee injury sustained in a preseason contest. Because Blake never played a regular-season game last season, this was his first "official" season, and what a season it was. Blake had an explosive impact on the league and turned highlight-reels into his personal domain. With style, flair, grace, a mixed-cultural background, and a charismatic personality to boot, Blake became an icon on the lowly Clippers team who have only been above .500 once in the past 19 seasons. Not just a player of flash and image (as the dunk contest may have left haters believing), Blake showed substance to his game. One of only four players to average at least 20 points and 10 rebounds, he was also fourth overall in rebounding with 12.1 rpg, and third among rookies in assists with 3.8 apg. He earned his way as the first rookie on the All-Star team since Yao in 2003. His athleticism and personality make the Clippers more than an afterthought and his career future looks bright as long as he stays healthy and focused on developing his game beyond dunking. John Wall finished second in ROY voting and DeMarcus Cousins finished third.
Watch Blake Griffin interview following the presentation of the ROY award
Sekou Smith Hangtime Blog reaction
Best of Blake Griffin Highlight package by
"Two Blake's" Blake Griffin has a funny side, check it out!

Most Valuable Player (MVP)
Derrick Rose/ my preseason pick - Kevin Durant
The NBA MVP award is presented to the player who made the most significant impact on his team's success. This award doesn't always go to the highest scorer, the best defender, the most likeable guy, or even the guy who led his team to the top record in the NBA. Value is measured in the teams perceived success/ failure if that player hadn't been on the team. Awarded since 1955-56 the MVP trophy is titled the "Maurice Podoloff" award, after the NBA's first commissioner/ league president of the same name. Voting had been by player concensus until 1980-81, but has since been voted by a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters like the rest of the NBA awards. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won the award six times, while Bill Russell and Michael Jordan each won MVP five times. Chicago reclaimed the award this season with 22-year old Derrick Rose.
2009/10 winner - LeBron James - 29.7 ppg, 8.6 ast, 7.3 reb, 1.6 stl, .503 FG%, 39.0 minutes/game
2010/11 winner - Derrick Rose - 25.0 ppg, 7.7 ast, 4.1 reb, 1.05 stl, .332 3P%, 37.1 minutes/game
The buzz around D-Rose winning the MVP was frenetic and seemed a result of Rose's wild popularity more than substance, but when the Bulls clinched the best record (62-20) in the regular season, Rose cemented his place in history as the league's youngest MVP. By leading the resurgent Bulls past star-studded Miami and Boston, Rose's workmanlike, consistent, yet explosive game, improved three-point shooting and dynamic slashing ability also made him a most-improved candidate in his third season. With a first-year coach and injuries to his frontcourt for much of the season, it was Rose that earned the spotlight even with his bashful, everyman personality. His honesty and unmediated love for his family, his city and the game of basketball were evident in his MVP acceptance speech. The only player to rank in the top 10 in both scoring and assists, Rose is currently trying to lead the Bulls through the second round of the playoffs and prove that his regular season performance was no fluke. Dwight Howard and LeBron James placed second and third respectively in the MVP voting.
Watch Derrick Rose's Top 10 plays from the 2010/11 season
Watch D-Rose's Top 10 career dunks, updated
Watch D-Rose's "Nightly Notable" performance on the night he was presented with the MVP
Derrick Rose funny TNT commercial, "You should consider the Mullett"
"Self-destruct Button"

My leftover preseason predictions

NBA regular season scoring champ - Kevin Durant/ preseason pick - Kevin Durant
At 27.7 points per game KD led the league for the second year in a row, a no-brainer pick.

East Champion - Chicago Bulls/ preseason pick - Miami Heat
It took the Heat too long to gel, they should have had a better season record

West Champion - San Antonio Spurs/ preseason pick - LA Lakers
The Spurs, when healthy, were as solid as people remember them. The Lakers didn't get the same luck.

Highlight of the Year - Blake over Mozgov/ preseason pick - LeBron from Wade
Bron and Wade haven't had that one, picture-perfect connection yet. And Blake was undeniable.

Dunk Champ - Blake Griffin/ preseason pick - Shannon Brown
Had Shanwow competed, he probably would have been robbed too, however, his LA status may have shifted the bias of the whole competition away from Blake and only Blake.

Biggest Bust - Yao Ming or Greg Oden/ preseason pick - Stephen Curry or Al Horford
The opposite of the MIP, this theoretical award would be given to the player who showed the most regression from one season to the next. Curry won the ASG point-guard challenge, Horford was an all-star and Yao and Oden missed the season, again. Just when you think it's safe to risk drafting them in fantasy leagues...

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