Monday, April 24, 2006
Post Season Awards...
Here they are, the annual High and Inside NBA post season awards. I figure that since this year my voting card got sent back to me in the mail for "unsolicited" reasons, that I'd post my awards here, on the blog. Think of it as an "absentee ballot." Or, don't think of it at all. Just understand that I named all 6 winners last year. Cash that in your NBA piggy bank!
Let's start with the easiest of them all...
Rookie of the year: the award obviously goes to CP3, Chris Paul. The numbers don't lie: 18ppg, 8 ast, 5 reb, 2 and a quarter steal per, and the Western Conference Rookie of the Month 5 times. He led a lottery bound team to.... well, to the lottery, keeping the OKC Hornets in the playoff hunt all the way into April. He's left Billy King (ATL) and several other teams scratching their heads by passing him over or trading out of a spot to grab CP3. He's even made ESPN's own John Hollinger make a case for Paul having a better rookie year than Magic Johnson.
Most Improved Player: This award, to me, also seems quite easy. As a guy who basically had the best seats to the worst show on earth last year, Boris Diaw was lost in Atlanta. He was sent over to Phoenix as a "throw in player" in the Joe Johnson trade. Insert another Billy Knight jab here... (note: after writing these first two answers, Isiah doesn't look so bad..... well, yeah he does.). Here is the proof, the pudding, and the proof pudding:
2004-05: 4.8ppg, 2.6 rpg, 2.3 apg, .27 blocks per, 42% fg, 980 miles from best friend Tony Parker
2005-06: 13.5ppg, 6.8 rpg, 6.0apg, 1.05 blocks per, 52%fg, 1047 miles from best friend Tony Parker (but, in the Western Conference!)
Mike James and Gerald Wallace can also be considered, but give Boris his accessoires (props?) and let's all congratulate him in his 2005-06 M.I.P. award and for getting out of Hotlanta alive.
Sixth Man Award: First off, any of the candidates for this award would start for Team Titanic and Larry Brown. I just wanted to get that off my chest first. Now that I've got that out of the way, I have little hesitation in giving the award to Mike Miller of the Memphis Grizzlies. Here is a guy who not only should be starting on his own team, but could start on most teams in this league. 14 and 5 off the bench, ranking him 1st in the scoring category coming off the bench, Mike Miller has a deadly shooting touch from long range and, on the Grizzlies, is their 2nd best scoring threat, all while coming off the bench.
I've heard the case for Speedy Claxton, but is he anything other than a "spark plug?" With his 41% shooting from the field, he is no more than a guy who motors up and down the court looking to take advantage of the opportunities that are given to him. Mike Miller can create his own shot and is the kind of guy you would trust putting the ball in his hand at the last second of the game. Go ahead Gator fans, celebrate (again), for this award goes to Mike Miller.
Defensive Player of the Year: Okay, I may be a bit bias considering that he is one of my three favorite players in the NBA to watch, but... Andrei Kirilenko, in my eyes, is the Defensive Player of the Year. We can talk numbers all day (2nd in the league in blocks at 3.19 per; 19th in the league in steals at 1.48) and my case could be made that way. But, then you have the "lock down defender" guys out there who swear that what Bruce Bowen does is more important to a team. Sure, he is the best on-the-ball defender in the game, but have you ever seen a better help defender than AK-47? This guy is everywhere! And that's all without allowing his player to get open looks. In my eyes he's as good of a gambler as anyone in the league and you rarely see him make mistakes.
AK-47 is also the only active player to reach the 5x5 mark and only player in history with MULTIPLE 5x5's (note: he's the only player in NBA to ever post a 5x6, which means he had 6 or more points, rebounds, assists, blocks, and steals in one game. Yeah, read that again, I'll wait...). I guess what I'm trying to say here is that not only is he the most important defensive player on his team, but he also adds 15 ppg to his nightly stat sheet. If I were Stu Jackson I would be yelling, "hook a brotha up!" But, I'm not, so I will politely ask you to "acknowledge his defensive prowess." Thank you.
Coach of the Year: Am I bitter? YES! Would I, you, Chauncey, Starbury, Flip Murray, Lil'
Flip, Flip-Flop, Flip Denim, etc. rather play for Larry Brown or Flip Saunders? (Don't worry, a point will follow) Well, the future champ Detroit Pistons have made it pretty obvious that they would rather lace up their shoes for the F-Bomb. Here's a joke with no punchline: How do you make a Championship caliber team better? (really, there was no punch-line). But I'll tell you; you take away the Hall of Blame coach and put in a guy who knows exactly how to keep a team motivated and drama free.
Did you know that this Pistons team has won the most games in franchise history (64)? Flip took a stellar defensive-minded team (pre-Brown era) and brought in an offensive scheme that lets guys like Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton improve into all-star caliber players. He also turned journeyman point guard Chauncey Billups (5 teams in 5 years counts as a "journeyman" in my eyes) into a solid MVP candidate. Don't think Flip had nothing to do with his development this year! How do you make the best team in the league better? Flip Saunders.
Most Valuable Player: I'm writing this one having known that Steve Nash is about to be named MVP, so, I know I'm wrong. But, I will at least tell you why the voters are wrong. One word: Kobe. He has had one of the most brilliant season's in recent history. Can you remember the last guy who single handedly took a team on his shoulders and led them into the playoffs (and I write this with complete confidence that they will take the Suns out in the first round)?
You can make the point that Nash makes the players around him better, fair point. Look at Kobe though. He turned Smush Parker into a double-digit scoring threat (11.5 ppg). He turned Kwame Brown into a legitimate big man with much more intensity than you ever saw out of him while in Washington. That's saying something, especially since Kwame was under the tutelage of his "Airness," Michael Jordan, in Washington. Luke Walton's production nearly doubled. Both Brian Cook and Chris Mihm saw an increase in production. Do we owe that all to Kobe, or does part of that go to the Zenmeister? You can argue both ways. But, do the players in Phoenix owe all of their production to Nash or to Mike D'Antonio? Look at how much better Leandro Barbosa got spelling Nash. He got better because of the system. This is why you have to take the award (and I know you're not voting for the "best" player, but the most valuable) and give it to the player who stood out the most on a playoff team. At this point I am trying to figure out who was the better player on the Suns, Nash or Marion? Not the case in LA.
You know the stats, 35 per, 81 points in a game vs. Toronto, 62 points in three quarters vs. the Mavs, etc. Those numbers certainly jump out at you and make a great case for Kobe being the Most Outstanding Player, but the best point I can make for Kobe is this: