With the NBA season passed its midpoint I feel it necessary as a true Recliner GM to give out some accolades – and stir up some healthy debate. With so much outstanding individual play I almost copped out and gave awards to both Eastern and Western Conference players. That would have appeased way too many people (not the goal) and made for a post twice as long as this already is. With that said, let’s start the debate.
Chris Paul- To me this is a no-brainer. Paul is the best player on the team with the best record in the much tougher Western Conference. This season he has clearly been the best point guard in the game, snatching the title from Steve Nash. Paul has rejuvenated Peja Stojakovic’s career, brought out the best in Tyson Chandler and has developed a bond with David West that could blossom into a great partnership a la Stockton & Malone – but more fun to watch. Combine that with his potentially historic stats (steals weren’t kept when the Big O played): 20.6ppg, 10.5apg, 2.6spg (2ndto LeBron in PER)all while shooting 48.4% from the field, and you have a player that embodies a dominant pass-first point guard. Oh yeah and he’s only 22. Besides all of that this pick will effectively rile up all the Kobe lovers, LeBron advocates and Boston faithful.
Honorable Mention: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Garnett, Brandon Roy & Marcus Camby (yes, Marcus Camby)
Rookie of the Year
Kevin Durant – I give this to him almost out of sympathy. He was the only rookie with the entire weight of a struggling franchise thrust onto his shoulders in this draft class. Has he lived up to the hype after his amazing freshman year at Texas? NO. But how could he? He is scoring a respectable 19.3ppg but shooting only 39.8% from the field and 28% from three. I attribute his poor shooting to a terrible team which allows defenses to game plan only to stop Durant. This leads to overall poor shot selection (mainly settling for too many jumpers)and forced shots as the team’s only true scorer and default go-to man. With that said Durant has still made the biggest impact of any rookie, with Al Horford nipping at his heels.
Honorable Mention: Al Horford, Juan Carlos Navarro, Yi Jianlian
Defensive Player of the Year
Marcus Camby - So we all know about the blocks – 3.84blkpg & 5.24 blkp48m, leading the NBA easily. But what goes unnoticed is that he rarely fouls out while playing such exceptional defense (2 DQ this season). Meaning Denver gets his defensive presence on the court more often than other hackers/shot blockers in the league. Need more convincing? Probably not, but here’s some for the die hard KG backers (like myself); 1.40 BLK/PF (blocks per foul)probably the most overlooked stat for a shot blocker. Camby is the only player over 1, and his current mark ranks 3rd best in the last 8 years. 24 boards and 11 blocks in a game, only one other player has done this or better in the last 20 years (1993 version of Shaq)!
Honorable Mention: Bruce Bowen (really have to watch him play a lot to understand his impact since he doesn’t show up in the stats much), Kevin Garnett, Dwight Howard
Most Improved Player
Andrew Bynum – You gotta love it when a big man plays the way a big man is supposed to – Catch & Dunk Everything. That is exactly what Bynum was doing before the injury bug caught up to him. This is also why Kobe had no choice but to change his tune and fall in love with the kid. Numbers: 13.1ppg, 10.2rpg (would be 12th if he didn’t get hurt), 2.06blkpg (9th), 63.6% fgs (1st) all while only playing 7 more minutes per game than last season.
Honorable Mention: Al Jefferson (A Minnesota fan called me on this omission, so here I am correcting my slip up. This guy definitely deserves mention as he often goes unnoticed on the struggling Timberwolves)Rudy Gay, Chris Kaman, Lamarcus Aldridge, Danny Granger (he has increased most of his numbers while playing the same # of minutes – only one of the bunch), John Salmons (of course he would get better in every statistical category AFTER Billy King trades him – he is shooting 51.5%!!)
Manu Ginobili- Let me first confess I am not a Ginobili fan at all so this will be short. I am, however, unbiased enough to admit he is by far the best non-starter in the NBA (which makes no sense considering he is vastly better than Michael Finley who would be a perfect bench player). Manu provides instant offense, pesky defense and a consistent 3-pt threat to open things up for Tim Duncan.
Honorable Mention: Leandro Barbosa, David (Please Trade Him Before He Rots on the Bench of a Horrendous Team) Lee, Jason Maxiell, Travis Outlaw, Jeff Foster (leads the Pacers in rebounding off the bench)
Coach of the year
Nate McMillan- He has the young Trailblazers playing with confidence, chemistry and a winning attitude. All things no one would have imagined once the bad news about Greg Oden was announced. Portland exemplifies team basketball, an unselfish mentality typified by McMillan’s own playing career.
Honorable Mention: Byron Scott, Eddie Jordan, Doc Rivers (playing the Phil Jackson role)
Executive of the Year/Biggest Surprise
Kevin Pritchard/Portland Trailblazers – The biggest surprise of the season easily goes to the Portland Trailblazers. Predicted to be 26th in preseason rankingsare not only in the playoffs ahead of Denver and Houston but are only a ½ game behind Utah for first in the Northeast Division. Most of the praise for the team’s success has been spread between an emerging superstar in Brandon Roy, vastly improved Lamarcus Aldridge and the masterful coaching job of Nate McMillan. But an overlooked piece of the team’s fortune this season is in the calculated moves made by current GM Kevin Pritchard. He cleaned house getting rid of bad character guys, bad contracts and effectively created a team the Portland fans can like. The best explanation of this strategy is by Bill Simmons who coined the term: Chemacterility (chemistry, character & (cap) flexibility). Pritchard gets the edge over Danny Ainge because he created a successful and young team without the perennial superstars.
Honorable Mention: Danny Ainge (I am a Philly fan so you can imagine I am not all that happy about all this Boston Celtic success. But I can’t hate them as much as normal because Ainge acquired such likable superstars in Allen and KG.)
First Team (easy):
Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Garnett, Dwight Howard
Second Team (tough):
Steve Nash, Allen Iverson, Carlos Boozer, Tim Duncan, Yao Ming
Third Team (nearly impossible to pick):
Deron Williams, Brandon Roy, Caron Butler, Dirk Nowitzki, Amare Stoudemire
Recliner GM Originals
Most Visible Scrub of the Year
Kwame Brown - I’ve wanted to write something about Brown for some time now so I created an award just for him (how nice of me). This isn’t going to be another Kwame bashing about his stone hands, inability to finish dunks & lay-ups consistently at 6’11, getting booed at home, being the player doing the least with the most talent (hint: he isn’t really that talented) or being one of the poster boys for NBA draft pick busts. Instead it’s simply to point out that Kwame is NOT the worst player in the league, only the most noticeable and Sportscenter-highlighted below-average player in the NBA.
Step My Game Up in Place of an Injured Superstar Award
Antawn Jamison – 17.8ppg and 9.6rpg is what Jamison averaged before Gilbert Arenas got hurt. After – he has averaged 22.2ppg and 10.9rpg, and Washington’s winning % is .600 compared to .375 in the first 8 games with Gilbert. Jamison is somehow having a career year in his 10th season and is one of five players averaging 20 points & 10 boards.
Where the Hell Have You Been Award – Adonal Foyle
Please Stop Shooting (or shoot better) Award - Larry Hughes, this guy is definitely in favor of this selection.
Why Would You Sign Him to Our Team Award – Chris Webber
Get This Guy Off Our Team Award -Stephon Marbury, if you haven’t already please enjoy.
Check out these NBA Mid-Season Awards from other bloggers:
There you have it. If I thoroughly annoyed you with some of my selections or you just don’t agree, feel free to argue your players. This post also serves as a measuring stick for when the real awards are given out at the end of the year. But who cares – these are Recliner GM Awards. Nothing else really matters.
If you enjoyed this article: Subscribe via RSS feed