Now that we are a few weeks into the NBA regular season, we can get a clearer picture of who will win the major awards when the 2010-2011 is in the books since we’ve actually seen everyone play and not just imagined it in our heads or made conclusions based on preseason games. Instead of making random wild picks before the season starts, The Baller Guru thinks now is the best time to make predictions about all of the official awards such as MVP, Rookie of the Year, etc, as well as some fictional awards and even some anti-awards…
Most Valuable Player:
Allen Iverson….maybe in Turkey. This years MVP race will be more of a season long race than in the past as there are 3-5 legitimate candidates. Voters will be reluctant to name LeBron MVP again because his points per game total are lower than his MVP seasons past and due to the fact that he plays with the a mini All-Star team. Paul Gasol is by far the Lakers MVP right now, but come on, nobody will dare vote Gasol over Kobe (*gasp!*) for an MVP nod. Kevin Durant comes to mind but The Baller Guru believes he is still one year away from an MVP award. Dwight Howard will stay in contention until seasons end. But after all is said and done, it will be Chris Paul as MVP of the 2010-11 season. Thats right, CP3 is the absolute key player on a team that nobody thought would be playing this well. Add in the factors that he is auditioning for possible new teams whether through trade or free agency in 2012 (*cough* NY *cough*), and wanting to prove his recent injury issues are behind him, and he has plenty of motivation to win the award.
Rookie of the Year:
Before the season, this was billed as John Wall vs. Blake Griffin since NBA rules allow for Griffin to be classified as a rookie. John Wall is the sexy pick here but a few weeks ago The Baller Guru would have gone with Blake the Snake based his rare combination of size and athletic ability, and his vital role with LA. The problem is that the Clips are off to one of their worst starts ever, and that is saying a lot since it’s the Clippers we’re talking about here. Griffin could have all the fancy stats in the world this season but if the Clippers finish at or near the bottom of the league, it won’t matter since it didn’t help them get wins. The Washington Wizards aren’t exactly the Lakers in comparison, but they had much lower expectations going into the season and will probably be in the equation for a final playoff spot in the East. Provided he can stay mostly healthy John Wall will win the Rookie of the Year award because he will put up the stats, enough wins, and is viewed as the unquestioned leader of Wizards.
Defensive Player of the Year:
Dwight Howard – Seriously, no analysis needed, can you honestly name one player who actually can win it over him? Before you say it, no, J-Smoove will not beat out Superman. Howard may even come close to a Jordan-ian MVP/Defensive Player combo.
Sixth Man of the Year:
This is the yearly Manu Ginobili, Jason Terry, Jamal Crawford debate. This season toss in Steve Blake, and maybe even Serge Ibaka. This year’s winner will be and should be Jason Terry. The fact is, no sixth man is better or more valuable to their team’s success than Terry, who could be a starter anywhere else. Not too many other sixth men are given the ball during crunch time in the 4th quarter to close out games like Terry.
Most Improved Player:
It’s not uncommon for a trade to occur or a free agency move made that causes a 6th, 7th, or 8th man to be thrust into either a starting role or just get a significant boost in minutes. Its usually from this pool that we get our Most Improved Player candidates since they seemingly come out of nowhere to shock everybody with their game (except the coaches/management who usually figured this would happen, hence trading away the person in front of them). This years 2 standouts are Paul Millsap and Kevin Love. Millsap’s “holy crap” moment came when he dropped 46 on the Heat, including 8 points in the final 12 seconds of regulation to lead the Jazz to a win on Miami’s home floor. Love’s knock you out of your seat moment was an in your face 31 point and a beastly 31 rebound performance against the Knicks, the first 30/30 game in almost 30 years. Both players deserve this award, but The Baller Guru predicts that Paul Millsap will win it.
Most Improved Team:
New Jersey Nets – The Baller Guru knows what you’re thinking: “Well, duh, they won 12 games last year, coming in anything but last would be a success this year!” While this is true, the Nets have completely changed their entire culture. Everything from top to bottom is new from ownership to coaching to arena and 90% of the roster. The effort and heart that was missing last year is there this year and the Nets are all fight in the 4th quarter this season. If in doubt go back and look at footage of the Nets preseason game in which they came back from 7 points down in the final 15 SECONDS to beat the Sixers. Sure that may have been the preseason, but it was a strong indicator of a vastly improved team. By seasons end, the Nets will win at least 30 games and valiantly fight for the final playoff spot.
Denver Nuggets – At the time of this writing, the Nuggets are sitting at .500, pretty disappointing for such a talented team with high expectations. The problem is, this is before Carmelo Anthony has been traded. Make no mistake, Melo WILL be traded before the deadline. Palm trees will grow in Denver before the Nuggets lose him in free agency without something, anything…cap relief, draft picks, prospects…in return. After the trade is done, it will be all downhill in the Rockies this season (sorry, pun fully intended).
Coach of the Year:
Jerry Sloan – Viewed by itself, replacing Carlos Boozer with Al Jefferson should result in a downgrade for the Utah Jazz and therefore less success. However, Jerry Sloan is an alchemist that knows better than anyone how to turn the situation into gold. With a combination of Jefferson and the emergence of Paul Millsap, Sloan creates a system that commands and produces success no matter what. The fact that Coach Sloan has never won this award is an embarrassment of Jar-Jarian magnitude (thank you Comic Book Guy for that hilarious quote). That will end this year. After losing one of the years top free agents and still staying right in the thick of the Western conference race, voters will finally give Jerry Sloan his painfully overdue award.
Goat of the Year:
Every year somebody, whether a player, a coach, or a GM, undeservedly gets the blame or even the boot because things didn’t quite go as planned. Usually it happens on a team with very high expectations. Now who has the highest expectations? Hmmm, who expects not 1 title, not 2 titles……not 6 titles, not 7…you get the picture. Thanks to LeBron’s little prediction, he single handedly sent Miami’s expectations from high to astronomical. But that doesn’t mean he’s gonna be the goat if season 1 doesn’t end in a parade through South Beach though. If you take a poll, many folks would quickly pencil in Chris Bosh here because of his numbers this year so far vs years past. On the contrary, Bosh has been playing fairly solid basketball though, especially considering who his teammates are, and he alone cannot make up for the Heat’s overall size deficiency, although he could stand to bang a little more down low when needed. Coach Spoelstra? General opinion has this as just a matter of time before Coach Spo becomes the goat so Czar Riley can come back to the bench. The Baller Guru doesn’t see this happening this season either though. Instead, after all the the build up about the Heat, this season’s goat will probably not be from the Heat at all, and end up being Vinny Del Negro if the Clippers can’t turn it around by midseason. In the era of instant gratification, this is sad but true. The Baller Guru will go one step further though and proclaim that next season’s goat will be Erik Spoelstra.
Executive of the Year:
Um, hello? Do we even need to discuss this? An Oceans Eleven heist plan couldn’t have netted more than Pat Riley did this offseason.
Tags: Allen Iverson, Blake Griffin, Chris Bosh, Chris Paul, Denver Nuggets, Erik Spoelstra, Jason Terry, Jerry Sloan, John Wall, Josh Smith, Kevin Love, LeBron James, Miami Heat, New Jersey Nets, New Orleans Hornets, Oklahoma City Thunder, Orlando Magic, Pat Riley, Paul Millsap, Trades, Utah Jazz, Vinny Del Negro
Posted in Analysis, General Commentary | 2 Comments »