With only days remaining before the NBA Playoffs begin (thankfully!), I’m ready to name my award winners (along with the most worthy runners-up):
MVP: No-brainer. It’s LeBron J. He’s been the (far and away) best player of the best team from start to finish. I’m sure there’s not much surprise there, but check out how I round out my Top 5: 2) Kevin Durant, 3) Mano Ginobili, 4) Kobe Bryant, 5) Steve Nash.
If LBJ hadn’t been so dominant, it’s not a stretch to ink The New Kid in at No. 1. And it’s not just his scoring. He’s taken a team just out of Day Care and transformed them into a playoff gang that will give someone (even if it’s the Lakers) fits in the opening round. They’re young, and have nothing to lose. And KD is virtually unstoppable.
Ginobili has been the Spurs fire to Tim Duncan’s ice. They were a major Q-mark coming into this season, and many gave them up for dead when they lost Tony Parker in early March. Instead they’re very much alive with a potentially tasty first-round soiree with Dallas looming.
Kobe? Remember this is the “best” player. Unlike some, I never view the award that way. If it were, it would be boring and the same two guys would fight for it every year. Kobe’s been Kobe, but only when he needs to be. He was the league’s one-man highlight reel early on. Then went into self-preservation, cruise control. Not made at him. He’s 32 years old and has already played more regular season games than all but 7 active players. Kobe deserves to kruise in the regular season.
And Steve Nash is back. Unleashed from having to play with Shaq, America’s Point Guard is once again a whirling dervish of passes and long-range Js. Phoenix is 52-28. NO ONE could have predicted that.
Rookie of the Year: This was like a great horse race. Brandon Jennings burst out of the gate to take the early lead. Tyreke Evans burst out of the turn and was out front for much of the race. Then long shot Stephan Curry bolted from the pack to challenge the leaders.
And the winner at the wire?
Coach of the Year: Three guys deserve it (in alphabetical order): Scott Brooks, MIke Brown and Scott Skiles.
Brooks for taking a young team to the playoffs; they are the Baby Cavs, with better overall talent.
Brown won it last year for the same reason Brooks may win it this year – elevating a young team to a new level. He deserves is this year for living you to expectations while managing the Shaq invasion and loss. Best team, Best record.
Skiles deserves it because if you don’t give it to him, he’ll kick your ass. The Bucks have defies expectations. They’re one of the hottest teams in the East despite a rookie point guard; the losses of all-star Michael Redd after just 18 games and center Andrew Bogut, who was playing the best of his young career; and the addition of gunner John Salmons.
I don’t want to get my ass kicked, so here’s my ballot rank: Skiles, Brooks, Brown
And now on to the real season.