By Wesley Kaminsky
With half of the condensed season done, the NBA world has seen everything from the Clippers becoming relevant to the legend of Jeremy Lin, also known as “Linsanity.” For NBA fanatics, this season has been fantastic, as there are games on every night. With a much-needed All-Star break coming up for the players, who is making the biggest impact this season? Here are my mid-season awards.
MVP: Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers:
Look, the obvious choice for the MVP award this season is LeBron James, who has been simply sensational from Day 1. He’s averaging 27.6 points, 8 rebounds, and 6.8 assists per game. He’s also on the team that has the best record in basketball. Having said that, he doesn’t get my vote. Chris Paul does. Paul inherited a 32-50 Clipper team and has turned them into a contender. At 20-11, the Clippers are sitting atop the Pacific Division, with Paul averaging 19.2 points and 8.6 assists per game. He has been the catalyst all season long and is the main reason why the Clippers are for once relevant. I continue to try to make my case that on a team that features both LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, neither of them should win the MVP award.
Runners Up: LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant
Rookie of the Year: Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers:
In 2003, the Cavaliers won the lottery, landing them LeBron James, and you know the rest of that story. Eight years later, the Cavaliers won it again, and have found another superstar in Kyrie Irving. After playing just one limited season at Duke, Irving has turned heads in the NBA and is averaging 18 points and 5 assists per game. He isn’t going to make Cavs fans completely forget about that LeBron guy anytime soon, but Irving is on his way to stardom.
Runners Up: Ricky Rubio, Kemba Walker
Coach of the Year: Greg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs
While coaches such as Doug Collins and Tom Thibodeau are both deserving of this award, my vote as of right now goes to Greg Popovich. People say the Spurs are too old, that their championship aspirations are finished, but don’t tell that to them. Even without Manu Ginobili for an extended period of time, the Spurs rallied thanks to guys like Gary Neal and Danny Green. They are currently sitting at second place in the Western Conference with a 13-1 home record. As long as Popovich is around, the Spurs will be a factor in the Western Conference. He gets the most out of his players every single year.
Runners Up: Doug Collins, Tom Thibodeau, Frank Vogel
Biggest Surprise (Player): Jeremy Lin, New York Knicks
I think it’s safe to say that this one goes without saying. He went from the end of the bench on a struggling Knicks team to the biggest story in the NBA.
Biggest Disappointment (Player): Brandon Roy, Greg Oden
Does any franchise have worse luck than the Portland Trailblazers? Brandon Roy lasted just five seasons in Portland and was forced to retire this season, as his knees couldn’t hold up. Greg Oden simply cannot catch a break as he has played in just 82 total games since being drafted in 2007. After another knee surgery this season, Oden was declared out for the year. It’s likely the end of his tenure in Portland and possibly his career.
Biggest Surprise (Team): Philadelphia 76ers
Doug Collins has changed the face of the Sixers franchise in just his second season in Philadelphia. After sneaking into the playoffs a season ago, the Sixers have taken another step forward this year, as they are in first place in the Atlantic Division. They also have their first All-Star (Andre Iguodala) since Allen Iverson. That’s ten years in the making.
Runners Up: Indiana Pacers, Minnesota Timberwolves
Biggest Disappointment (Team): Boston Celtics
Unlike the Spurs, the Celtics old age has shown in a big way this year as they head into the All-Star break with a losing record of 15-17. It sure does not look like they have enough for one final extended playoff run. Is it time to break up the Big 3?
Runner Up: Denver Nuggets
Best Team: Miami Heat
There are times during the season where the Heat have looked unbeatable, and it seems inevitable that a championship is on the radar.
Worst Team: Charlotte Bobcats
It’s amazing that this award doesn’t belong to the Washington Wizards. The fact of the matter is the Bobcats lost to Washington twice. You’ve got some work to do with this team Michael Jordan.
Best Story: Jeremy Lin, in a landslide victory.
Most Overused Phrase:“Linsanity.”
I like Jeremy Lin as much as the next guy, but this “Linsanity” fiasco has blown up, and the term itself has taken over the NBA.
Runner Up: Lob City
Player with Most to Prove in the Second Half: Carlos Boozer, Chicago Bulls
If the Bulls want to get over the hump and beat the Heat, it all boils down to Carlos Boozer. Last season he struggled mightily in the playoffs and is the most criticized player in Chicago by a landslide. He’s had a nice season thus far, but it needs to continue in the playoffs.
Amazingly, I’ve gone the entire time without mentioning Dwight Howard’s name once. After an ugly start to the season, the “Superman” trade talk has cooled down. It seems like it is bound to resurface at some point,though.
NBA Playoffs Prediction:
ECF: Heat over Bulls 4-2
WCF: Thunder over Lakers 4-2
NBA Finals: Heat over Thunder 4-1
For the record, I hope I’m wrong about this.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.