I know I’m a little late to the party, but here are my NBA awards picks, though some of the categories are not what you would see on a normal ballot. We’ll start out with the boring conventional ones.
Most Valuable Player- Lebron James
I don’t really care that he wasn’t a unanimous MVP (and I certainly don’t see a case for Melo), but the sheer fact that so many people were upset about it shows just how dominant he was. Kudos to Kevin Durant on a sensational season that was overshadowed by probably the best season in 10+ years.
Rookie of the Year- Damian Lillard
I think Anthony Davis will be a better player by far, I think Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will someday be a very good player for a very good team (he’s an amazing defender for a rookie), and even Bradley Beal or Andre Drummond could very well end up being better players from this class. But the award is Lillard’s, he was absolutely essential to a Blazers team that showed promise for the first half of the year (though I didn’t have faith in them, their bench is horrid). The only real opponent is Davis, who missed 18 games and averaged under 30 minutes per game. Not only did Lillard lead all rookies in minutes, he led the entire NBA. He wins just by virtue of playing more.
Defensive Player of the Year- Marc Gasol
I had Gasol as my choice since around February, but was quite surprised when he seemed to become a media favourite too. Make no mistake though there were tons of viable options for DPOY this year, including Gasol’s teammate Tony Allen, Paul George, Roy Hibbert, Joakhim Noah, Chandler, Duncan, Sanders etc. I think LeBron is getting a little overrated on that end but he’s still terrific and I have no issue with his 1st team selection. Ibaka is overrated for sure now though, he finished far too high in the voting for the second straight year.
Coach of the Year- Gregg Poppovich
Ya I know he won last year, and therefore he shouldn't really be considered again this year for coaching the same team equally well. Honestly I don’t care. He’s the best coach in the league and has been for years. A case could be made for Spoelstra, Karl, or Thibodeau (maybe even Woodson) if one were so inclined.
6th Man of the Year- J.R. Smith
No disrespect to Jarrett Jack or Jamaal Crawford, but what Smith did towards the end of the season to bring the Knicks to the 2nd seed was remarkable. He was awful in the playoffs but it is a regular season award. Now for the slightly more fun awards.
Most entertaining Player- Stephen Curry
I’m glad Golden State had a breakout performance in the playoffs, but it’s become a little too crowded here on the Steph Curry bandwagon and people need to make room for those of us who’ve loved him for longer than a month. I’m a Raptors fan, but I watched almost as many Warriors games as Raptors games this year because of this guy. It’s funny watching defences fall apart because they can’t afford to leave him alone for half a second. His tricky passes are amazing. His ball handling is terrific. He’s unselfish yet when he plays selfish for spurts you’re never mad. He’s just amazing. While we’re here…
Best shooter- Stephen Curry
I’m not even going to back this up.
Best passer- Ricky Rubio
Really it’s probably still Nash, but between being partially injured all year and the Lakers taking the ball out of his hands he didn’t get to showcase it enough. You could easily put Rondo over Rubio too, but I’m giving Ricky some love for being simply splendid.
Best Rebounder- Kevin Love.
Ya he was hurt for all but 18 games this year, and he didn’t look totally healthy in those either. But he’s still the best rebounder in the league. Although it’s worth mentioning that lost in the disaster of Lakerland, and all the talk that Dwight hasn’t been as dominant defensively as we’re accustomed to seeing (true), and that he’s not really a star player anymore (horseshit), is the fact that he led the league in rebounds per game for the 5th time. Let’s not forget him yet.
Best scorer- Kevin Durant.
I’ve seen a few people arguing that we should have an offensive player of the year award so that Durant could receive it this year while Bron gets the MVP… in truth Bron is still probably a better offensive player than KD, but as far as scoring goes nobody can touch Durantula. He’s a joy to watch doing it too, all arms and legs and silky smooth jumpers.
The Linsanity award for “this guy came out of nowhere, how did nobody realize he was this good?”- Tobias Harris
This didn’t compare to Linsanity, but Harris in Orlando (17.3 points, 8.5 rebounds) was a terrific sign for a franchise without a clear future. He took some bad shots and I don’t think he’s a future star, but he’s a 20 year old kid with all sorts of talent and it is strange that Milwaukee never noticed this.
Worst Trade of the Year- Toronto Acquiring Rudy Gay
I’ll admit I’m probably biased here, but this trade was horrid. Almost all deals in the NBA now are between a team that is trying to win now by taking on salary and talent and a team that is trying to rebuild by gaining prospects and shedding salary. What Toronto did here was what appeared on the surface to be a win-now trade, giving up Ed Davis and taking on Gay’s awful salary in order to win now (as in make the playoffs), only they aren't any better because of it. Now that might very well change, but it won’t be because of Rudy Gay. This trade was really an inexplicable overrating of a pretty good player, the type of thing you expect from a casual fan but not from a front office of people getting paid small fortunes. Gay is a decent but inefficient volume scorer, a pretty good rebounder, a poor defender, an unwilling and untalented passer, and a pretty poor decision maker. As far as I can tell the trade was made due to the adage that you need a “star player” in order to be a good team. While that may be true (though really you don’t need a star, you just need some talent), Gay does not fit the bill. And beyond that, after the trade you were going to be starting a perimeter of Kyle Lowry, Demar Derozan, and Rudy Gay. Lowry is a capable but streaky shooter, but a well below average passer for a point guard. Derozan made some big strides this year (that don’t show up in any box score but are obvious for those who watched him) but he remains a subpar defender, bad perimeter shooter and a poor passer. And then you are adding another subpar defender, bad perimeter shooter, and poor passer. Ugh. I know Gay hit a couple game winners, which while an overrated skill he does excel at due to his ability to get at least a half decent shot at any time, but he doesn’t make this Raptors team any better than they would have been with Calderon and Davis.
Worst Hairstyle- Iman Shumpert. To be fair, this is only because I’m tired of Joakhim Noah winning every year. Speaking of which.
Most hustle- Joakhim Noah
Noah is simultaneously completely hateable (he whines, plays dirty sometimes, looks like someone you would want to punch), and completely admirable (he gives his best every single time). I don’t particularly enjoy watching the Bulls, even though their defence is mindbogglingly effective considering that they give heavy minutes to Carlos Boozer, Marco Bellinelli and (now) Nate Robinson, but you kind of just want to watch Noah and be inspired that someone cares this much.
Most Underrated Player- Matt Barnes
I’m generally not a fan of arguing who is overrated or underrated, simply because who really knows how a player is rated, and because people tend to think overrated is synonymous with bad and vice versa. But Matt Barnes is somehow underrated by everybody. Fans don’t talk about him ever since he left the Lakers, nobody ever seems interested when he’s on the market (though maybe there’s some behind the scenes stuff we don’t know about , he seems crazy). And yet the guy is a tremendous role player; he probably should have started over Caron Butler (though he did log more minutes). He doesn’t do anything poorly enough to hurt your team. He spaces the floor, can create his own shot sometimes, is a willing passer, a versatile and skilled defender etc. He’s just good, but nobody seems to realize it. I bet most people disagree with my choice here, and that proves my point as far as I’m concerned.
Most Intriguing Prospect- Harrison Barnes
It would be easy to pick say Anthony Davis, but Barnes is interesting because of what Golden State could become if he continues his coming out party from these playoffs. He’s a very talented and very versatile player which is a huge commodity in a league where matchups are becoming more and more important and being able to play small or big is a huge asset. Hold that thought.
Best Comeback Story- Andrew Bogut
He’s back! People seemed to have forgotten about this guy, which is understandable since he’s almost never on the floor. But Bogut has been a monster in these playoffs, with 10.9 boards per game (in only 27 minutes too) and terrific defence. He still hasn’t regained the mobility he had in his Milwaukee days (and his free throw shooting is atrocious) but he is rotating and contesting shots as well as anyone not named Noah right now. If he can stay healthy (a massive if), and if Golden State can work Lee back into its rotation next year without compromising their newly found defensive prominence, and Barnes can continue to develop as it looks like he can, they can be a very, very threatening team quite soon.
The Mo Williams Award for "Player who received regular season accolades and then fell apart completely in the playoffs" - J.R. Smith
Smith deserved his 6th man award, same as Mo Williams arguably deserved his all star spot in 2009 (albeit as an injury replacement). But there's no excuse for how badly either fell apart in the playoffs. J.R. was abysmal, missing just about every shot and not attacking well at all.