Monday, April 17, 2006

NBA Awards - Those Other Ones

I'll take a look at my MVP pick tomorrow, but for now I'll give you my picks for all the other awards.

Rookie of the Year
This really shouldn't even be a question if you've be following the NBA at all this year. Chris Paul of the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets has been a man among boys this year, at least as far as rookies are concerned. The stats are gaudy enough: his 16.3 PPG leads all rookies. His 7.9 APG leads all rookies. His 5.2 RPG are 4th among all rookies. He's 3rd in the NBA in steals per game (2.24). He's 6th in the NBA in Assist/Turnover ratio (3.38). But beyond that, he's completely rejuvenated the franchise. This team is coming off the loss of Baron Davis as well as the loss of their hometown. With Paul, they were a serious contender in the playoff race all year. They'll get fan support whether they're in Oklahoma City or New Orleans. That sound you hear is both of the Atlanta Hawks fans left trying to close their head in the oven. With all due respect to guys like Raymond Felton, Charlie Villanueva, and Andrew Bogut, Chris Paul is the runaway winner here.

Coach of the Year
As usual, there's no clear-cut winner of this award. You could make arguments for guys like Flip Saunders of Detroit, Lawrence Frank for New Jersey, Gregg Popovich of San Antonio, Avery Johnson of Dallas, or heck, even Phil Jackson of Los Angeles. My vote goes to none of these guys. I have to give my award to Mike D'Antoni of the Phoenix Suns. With arguably their best player hurt for all but a few games, as well as having to replace 2 other pieces of the starting lineup, he has the Suns sitting at 53-28 and they will have the #2 seed in the West. They place such a unique style of play, up and down all game, that D'Antoni can fit a lot of guys into his system, as he has shown this year with guys like Boris Diaw (who we'll be seeing a little later), Raja Bell, James Jones, as well as others. Sure they have Steve Nash and Shawn Marion, both very good, but D'Antoni makes this possible.

Most Improved Player
While recognizing the accomplishments of guys like Tony Parker, Andres Nocioni, Smush Parker, David West, and Gerald Wallace, this one is easy for me. To me, the most improved player has definitely been Boris Diaw of the Phoenix Suns. He averages 13.4 PPG, 6.9 RPG, and 6.2 APG, and is really a triple-double threat every night (he has 4 triple-doubles so far on the year, which is 3rd in the NBA). This coming off of last season with the Hawks, where he only played 18 minutes a night and scored less than 5 points per game. Now, he's arguably the 3rd best player on a playoff team, and can play all 5 positions. And with his unselfishness, he's a joy to watch out on the court.

Sixth Man of the Year
Ben Gordon is certainly a candidate to repeat, and guys like Eddie House have some type of argument, but this year the clear 6th Man of the Year is Mike Miller of the Memphis Grizzlies. He has started 8 games, but the majority of his games have come off the bench, where he averages 13.9 PPG and 5.4 RPG for the playoff-bound Grizzlies. A month ago he scored 41 off the bench against Denver. He shoots over 40% from beyond the semicircle designating the area where shots are worth 3 points. He's been an offensive sparkplug off the bench for a playoff team. I've got to go with him as my choice for the 2006 NBA Sixth Man of the Year.

Defensive Player of the YearI would probably go with Ron Artest, but he hasn't played enough games. Ben Wallace is an intimidating force down low, but they are so good defensively it doesn't feel right to honor just one member, especially when a guy like Andrei Kirilenko is out there. AK-47 has been nothing short of a defensive force out there, as he is 2nd in the NBA in blocks per game with 3.19 (behind only Marcus Camby). He averages a 1.48 steals per game. At 6'9'' he is tough defensively down low or out on the wing. If it's your fancy, he's also a very solid rebounder, pulling down 8 per game. Add on to that that his wife allows him one free, uh, groupie per year, and well, how can we not give the award to this guy?

And these are my choices for the other NBA awards. Make sure to check back tomorrow (late Tuesday night) for my MVP choice, as well as my top 5 or top 8 or whatever, depending on how ambitious I am. Less than one week until the playoffs start!

7 comments:

kevin said...

Don't like the AK pick, I think Ben Wallace has this wrapped up. Coach could go to any of six guys - I picked Dunleavy. Paul was a no-brainer.

I like Kobe for MVP.

Ian C. said...

Good picks. A few responses:

To me, the most astounding thing about Paul is that he lasted to the fourth pick. Atlanta and Utah should both be kicking themselves for the next 10-15 years. Can you imagine if Detroit had picked Buck Williams or Al Wood in 1981? I'm not saying the Hornets are on their way to a NBA title, but Paul could be that kind of player.

For coach, I really like what Avery Johnson's done. He's changed the mindset about defense on that team, which nearly put them over the top in the West.

This is surely blasphemy in Detroit, but I like Artest as best defensive player, too. Though you're right that he loses points for the number of games he's played.

And I think Boris Diaw's been amazing this season. Great pick for Most Improved. Look at this guy's numbers across the board, and to me, they're eye-popping. No one number jumps out, but it's this straight line of consistency. The man does everything well.

twins15 said...

I forgot about Dunleavy, he's definitely another candidate for coach of the year... I think with these guys you can throw their names in a hat and pick one out and whoever you pick would be a good choice.

Yeah, don't get me wrong, Marvin Williams and Deron Williams are very nice young players, but there's not many Chris Paul's. I believe John Hollinger wrote an article about how this was the best rookie year for a PG since Magic Johnson (not sure exactly without looking) but that seems about right. The guy is just a stud out there, and the way he has totally turned the attitude of the franchise is pretty exciting as a fan of the NBA.

Pradamaster said...

Hindsight is always 20-20, but you are all right to second-guess Atlanta and Utah for passing on Paul. From the moment he stepped onto the Wake Forest campus, the kid looked like a star, and people were wondering even on draft day why he slipped so far.

New Orleans needs to reward the guy and make a trade for a top scorer in the backcourt. I want to see the Hornets make an offer for Paul Pierce (maybe something like Kirk Snyder, David West, J.R. Smith, and P.J. Brown), and if that doesn't work out, they need to find a way to acquire a top scorer on the wing. Paul will be that much better with real scorers on his team.

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