Friday, April 17, 2009

NBA Awards 2008-2009 - I love this game

The NBA regular season ended on Wednesday and ze MIghTy African is going to chip in on the debate for various season-ending awards. I am also going to hand out a few awards that I have patented (in case, the folks at ESPN) are reading. Yes, Bill Simmons is my hero. Let's get into the awards already.

Most Valuable Player (MVP)
I think this year's MVP decision is the easiest as far as I can remember. Lebron James was the most dominant player in the league and his team had the best record. They had basically the same team with the addition of Mo Williams but Ben Wallace, Ilgauskas, Delonte West all missed time. The guy led his team in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals. That takes the cake right there. Second on my ballot is Dwyane Wade, third is Dwight Howard, fourth is Kobe and fifth is a tie between Chauncey Billups and Chris Paul.

Rookie of the Year
This one is tough and though Russell Westbrook and OJ Mayo should get some credit, this one is between Stanford alum Brook Lopez, and Derrick Rose. Brook Lopez is going to be an All-Star in this league and I think he's been great, he's even dominated some established centers/big men this season. Derrick Rose gets my vote because Chicago made the postseason and he sas near the top for rookies in points and assists.

Most Improved
This award is always the toughest due to criteria selection. Danny Granger was an all-star and scored a bunch of points but the biggest surprise was Devin Harris. For him to command the Nets team from Vince Carter and score like 40 points early in the season, was like 'Booyah! In your face'. In one season, he had become a leader on a team with a big increase in points and assists. Others are Thaddeus Young, Paul Millsap and David Lee.

Sixth Man
Jason Eugene Terry wins this one for his consistency. I know he's supposed to be a starter but these days, people are put on the bench for specific reasons. Terry was put on the bench so that Dallas would have bench scoring and he delivered. Pretty simple. Others will be Travis Outlaw, J.R. Smith, Nate Robinson and Lamar Odom.

Coach of the Year
I know Nate McMillan's team didn't have as many injuries as others but he's my choice here. People expected the Blazers to make the playoffs, but to be the 4th seed? Brandon Roy is a third-year player and they have 4 rookies in their rotation (Rudy, Oden, Batum and Rodriguez). They execute really well and blow out teams. Nate edges out Mike Brown, Eric Spoelstra, Rick Adelman, Stan Van Gundy and Doc Rivers.

Defensive POY
Superman Dwight Howard should win this. He led the league in rebounds and blocks. Enuff said. Dwyane Wade should be considered for averaging more than 1 block per game for a 6-4 guy and being second in steals. Honorable mention for Ron Artest, Shane Battier, Chris Andersen and Marcus Camby.

General Manager of the Year
The folks at Denver made the best trade, swapping Iverson for Billups. That'll win them the award. The Bulls' trade for Salmons and Brad Miller was great too, the Mo' Williams pick up was on point for the Cavaliers and Roger Mason made sure the Spurs didn't lose a step.

Comeback Player of the Year
Chris Andersen hadn't played in two years, and came to provide an inside defensive force for Denver. Flash aka Wade wins though because no one imagined him having this great a season. He led the league in points per game, was one of the top shot blockers and shot a great percentage. He's back, people.

Most Improved team
We can measure this in terms of wins but what's more important here is to look at the players the teams had the year before. Portland improved their teams with rookies and ended up being No. 4 in the West! The Blazers take this one, with props to Oklahoma City and the Atlanta Hawks.

Unforgettable Moment of the Year
The most unforgettable moment of this season was when Dwyane Wade stole the ball at the end of that Bulls' game, run to the three-point line and released a shot that won the game at the buzzer. He couldn't have dribbled the ball one more second because time would have expired. If he released it earlier, it would have been further from the basket. Lebron James would be the first name associated with this season because of the team's record, but Dwyane Wade had many more superstar games.

Game-changer of the Year
I happened to be watching the Cavs-Clippers game in LA one day. The Cavs were in a race with the Lakers, Celtics and Magic to get the best record in the league. The Cavs were down 14 in the fourth quarter. I had a feeling Lebron would make sure his team won the game. I know it was the Clippers, but the Cavs won it. Impressive. The Cavs would not be beaten, no matter how bad they were playing. The game made an impression on me, just saying.

Statement of the Year
In the 2007-2008 season, the Boston Celtics were an excellent team that was untested. They swung through the Texas Triangle, faced with games against San Antonio, Houston and Dallas. They beat the Spurs on their home floor, stopped the Rockets' 22 game-winning streak in a blowout and then beat Dallas as well. At that moment, I knew the Celtics were for real. The league had to pay attention.
This season, the biggest statement came from the Lakers. The Celtics had a 12 game win-streak, after seeing their earlier 19 game win-streak stopped by Kobe's people in LA, the Lakers were in Boston with the news of Andrew Bynum going to miss time. They beat the Celtics in Boston. They then went to Cleveland and handed the Cavs their first home loss after 24 games. The only other home loss for the Cavs was their last game were they rested their three best players. All without Bynum. The Lakers are almost a lock to win this year but we'll see.

Sophomore of the Year
Kevin Durant was the rookie of the year and took his game to another level this season. The Thunder can make a lot of noise next season. They have a great team.

Game of the Year
I know the 6 overtime classic was a Big East Tournament game but can the Syracuse Orangemen and UConn Huskies get some love? The best NBA game I watched this year was the Spurs-Lakers game where Roger Mason got the game winner. Both teams were at full strength and shot more than 50% for the game. No team played bad, turnovers were relatively low and the only player in foul trouble was Matt Bonner. Beautiful game to watch.

Story of the year
That week at the Madison Square Garden was the best. First, Kobe goes into MSG and jaws with Spike Lee then rains 61 points (a record there). Lebron comes in and drops 52 points, 10+ assists and 9 boards. The Celtics also played there that week. What a week for basketball fans in New York! Lekker. I still maintain that Lebron's performance was more impressive though I felt he selfishly wanted to upstage what Kobe had done. Well, he did.

Sickest Play of the year
That 'suulia'/nutmeg dribble by Chris Paul through the legs of Jason Terry? Ownership right there. Stupendous play. Watch here

Most Entertaining POY
This has got to be Dwyane Wade. The guy had more blocks this year than half of the league's centers, as well as countless steals, acrobatic layups, dagger threes, thunderous dunks, etc. Just watch this video and see how many times he appears. One night, he was involved in multiple top Sport Center plays. Ridiculous.

Best Star-struck moment
The All-Star dunk contest was cool with Dwight Howard dunking on an 11 foot rim, Rudy Fernandez trying the most ridiculous dunk ever and Nate Robinson winning the contest with his Kryptonate dunk. The best moment was Shaq dancing with the Jabba Walkies though. That was hilarious.

Interesting sub-plot of season
The NBA has made Twitter popular. Shaq is on Twitter, just as Steve Nash, Chris Bosh, Mark Madsen, etc. In fact, when Milwaukee Bucks' Charlie Villaneuva tweeted during half-time of a game, it was national news and the biggest news about his team all year. Since that time, every NBA announcer talked about Twitter, including the online flirt between Shaq and Mark Cuban. We'll see if the Big Aristotle ends up in Dallas.
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