The NBA “Halfway There” Awards

by Justin Cherot

Not to go all Bon Jovi on you guys, but whoa… we’re halfway there.

I’m in the midst of re-inventing myself via P90X (Day 3, chest and legs completely burning) and Tony Horton makes me want to smash my TV when he says something to the effect of, “We’re halfway there!!!”  Great, you abused my body and we’re only halfway done? 

That’s kind of how I feel about the NBA regular season at this point.  Don’t get me wrong: thanks to all the off-season “Decision” stuff and me playing fantasy basketball, this has been one of the most interesting seasons of all-time for me. 

It’s just that until we get to April, every single argument we’ve made this season has been useless conjecture.  I’m chomping at the bit waiting for answers to questions such as:

Can San Antonio win 70 games?

Can the Miami beat Boston in a series… or at this point even beat them in a single game?

Will Carmelo Anthony make [Team X] a legitimate contender?     

How will Roddy Beaubois respond to being the finals’ MVP?

Had to throw that last one in to see if you were paying attention, but the point is I can’t wait to see how the rest of this season plays out.

In the mean time, here’s how the annual awards would break out if the season ended today (which it doesn’t, but I just wanted to prove that I actually AM watching basketball even if I’m not writing as much):

MOST IMPROVED

Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves

Kevin Love

Kurt Rambis takes a lot of criticism for not playing him more last season, but who am I to criticize: I dropped him from my fantasy team five games into the season. 

It seems silly now, but in the beginning he was killing me because he started out shooting under 40% from the field.  Luckily, no one picked him up until the night of the 31-31 game… and he’s been the Tripset All-Stars MVP since. 

Forget the fact that he’s seen a jump in every relevant statistical category and that he has 51 double-doubles in 56 games.  He’s given big, oafy face-up four men hope: maybe they DON’T have to toil away in Europe.  True, there are more Kevin Pittsnogles than Kevin Loves, but still.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Gary Neal, San Antonio Spurs

Gary Neal

Even if I’m completely kidding, I think I definitely deserve a major pat on the back for being right about him… four years ago.

Blake Griffin, LA Clippers

Blake Griffin

 

What is there to say that hasn’t already been thrown into the hype machine surrounding him?  The only thing I can honestly say is that he’s averaging 23 and 13… without really knowing how to play yet.  Barring an injury–and please don’t mistake that as thinking I want to Mark Buerhle the poor guy–we could be witnessing something special.

Sixth Men of the Year (tie)

Jason Terry and Shawn Marion, Dallas Mavericks

Jason Terry

Shawn Marion

It’s not just because they play for my favorite team, which doesn’t exactly hurt their cause, either.  I picked them as co-winners because, night after night, they bring efficient energy on a nightly basis… not to be confused with Chris Andersen’s “contrived persona” energy.  Plus, they truly embody the meaning of sacrifice, as in quality minutes versus quality shots.  As recently as a year ago I never thought I’d ever say that about Marion, who once wanted out of Phoenix because he felt overshadowed by Amar’e Stoudemire and Steve Nash.  But he’s bought into his role and deserves some PnP recognition for it.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic

Dwight Howard

 

We may have to re-name this the “Dwight Howard” award for the next several years, but that Larry O’Brien trophy he so desperately wants is going to have to wait until one of two things happens: A) Gilbert Arenas transforms back into 30% of the player he was before knee surgeries and gun suspensions, or B) He joins forces with Kobe Bryant for one last championship push in two years.  Choice “B” is far more likely, and if Choice “A” happens, then we may be on the verge of our first relevant HGH or PED NBA story (sorry Rashard Lewis… I said relevant).

 COACH OF THE YEAR

 Gregg Popovich  

As much as I love my Towson brother, Neal is the only major addition to the team other than Tiago Splitter, who is averaging just over 11 minutes a game with a PER (14.32) that doesn’t exactly scream, “Play me more, Pop!”  So why is this team so much better than last year’s team?  A combination of strategy (switching to an uptempo attack) and motivation (losing in embarrassing fashion to a Phoenix team it dominated for the better part of a decade), both of which can in some part be traced back to Pop.  Everybody talks about Boston, Miami and Los Angeles, but as of today, none of them are beating the Spurs in a series.

MVP

Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls

Derrick Rose

This feels like an MVP relay race, with Stoudemire, Dirk Nowitzki and Manu Ginobili but if it ended right now Rose wins in a landslide. 

I actually had a heated but friendly Facebook debate about Rose a few weeks ago (don’t be afraid to hop in on the debates here).  Apparently there are quite a few people out there who feel adamantly about John Wall being better than Rose three years from now.  

Um, no.

Maybe Wall has a slight edge in intangibles such as explosiveness and quickness, but as of right now I don’t see a tenth of Rose’s killer instinct (not to mention a 32nd of his jump shot). 

But enough about that non-debate.  Bill Simmons sums up the reason Rose is the MVP thus far:

“I still have him as the MVP. If you disagree, go look at the standings, try to find me 10 games in which Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah played together, then watch Keith Bogans play for 10 minutes. Derrick Rose did more for that team through the first 50 games than anyone else did for their team; doesn’t make him the best player, just the most valuable.”

But, like I said, what does all of this mean?  Not much, it’s basically just a snapshot in time.

Can’t wait to view the whole album.  We’re only halfway there. 

 

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