Thursday, April 17, 2014

2013-2014 NBA Awards picks

Stick a fork in the 2013-2014 NBA season. It's done. With the playoffs just around the corner, the moment is opportune for me to make some predictions. I've been 2-for-6 last year and 3-for-6 the year before that. Hopefully I can go for a sweep this time around.

Fingers crossed.

Coach of the Year

"What else is new?"
Sure, Frank Vogel deserves a nod here. And so does Mark Jackson. But let's face it: in 2013-2014, media darling Spurs coach Gregg Popovich once more demonstrated his genius by taking his senior citizens, deemed "too old" and "too slow" even before the formation of Boston's Big 3, to a league-best 62-20 record, which included a team-record 19-game winning streak. His no-nonsense style (apparently, Patty Mills didn't play much last year because he was "a little fat ass") and seamless ability to plug in fresh bodies like Marco Belinelli and Austin Daye are nothing new, but why change antyhing when it works so well? Winner: Gregg Popovich

Defensive Player of the Year

"I dare you to come into the post"
Granted, the Indiana Pacers took a bit of a stumble late in the season, but the team still had one of the stingiest defenses in the history of the NBA, and 7-foot-2 All-Star Roy Hibbert is the main reason why. Numbers-wise, his stats (10.6 PPG, 6.6 RPG) don't exactly pop out at you, but rest assure: Hibbert's size, rim protection and shot blocking (2.3 BPG) make the post (and even mid-range) rather uninviting territory for opposing players. If for some reason the NBA decides that the defense of Hibbert's Pacer team mate Paul George somehow undermines his monster performance this season, mobile Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah comes into play. He's the heart and soul of a Rose-and-Deng-less Bulls team that against all odds is 48-34. Winner: Joakim Noah

Most Improved Player

"Just 1 start in my first 2 years"
Sorry, Eric Bledsoe, but you simply missed too many games this season. And even if you hadn't, there's a pretty big chance that I would still pick fourth-year Pacers guard Lance Stephenson. Mini Lebron Sir Lancelot smoothly picked up were he left off in last year's Playoffs and then some, setting new career-highs across the board in his second year as a starter. Sure, more playing time almost always warrants an output uptick, but Stephenson's 13.8 PPG, 7.2 RPG and 4.6 APG on FG% .491 are nothing to scoff at, and his improved play is a big reason for the success of Bird's Pacers this season. Winner: Goran Dragic

Most Valuable Player

"That's ME!"
You could very well make a case for 4-time NBA MVP LeBron James and I can imagine that Pacers star Paul George will receive some votes as well, but 2013-2014 was all about The Durantula. Kevin Durant has been on a remarkably efficient scoring spree this season, producing a league-high 32.0 PPG on FG% .503 and 3P% .391. He bettered Michael Jordan's single-season 25-point streak (41), during which he set a new personal best of 54 points against the Bobcats, outrebounded LeBron on the season, and his 5.5 APG is a career-high. Not impressed? Then take into consideration that high-octane team mate Russell Westbrook missed roughly half the season with various injuries, and that KD still guided his Thunder buddies to a 59-23 record and a No. 2 seed in the highly competitive Western Conference. Winner: Kevin Durant

Rookie of the Year

"Ten teams passed on me!!"
Move along, nothing to see here. Philly point guard Michael Carter-Williams has this award in the bag. Top pick Anthony Bennett has been historically bad, MCW's tantalizing team mate Nerlens Noel missed the entire campaign, Otto Porter has been playing catch-up all season long, and Ben McLemore is still seeking his shot. Victor Oladipo and Trey Burke have been respectable, but MCW has been truly phenomenal, averaging 16.7 PPG, 6.2 RPG and 6.3 APG. Add three conference Rookie of the Month awards and two triple-doubles to the equation, and you can tell why the Philly PG is a lock for ROY. Winner: Michael Carter-Williams

Sixth Man of the Year

He should be a starter
I see you, Reggie Jackson. If it wasn't for Russell Westbrook's injury-riddled season, and how it netted you a starting gig, you surely would have had a case for being the NBA's top reserve. But Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson deserves it more. Why? His offensive output (13.0 PPG) has at last caught up with his rebounding (6.8 RPG), shot-blocking (1.4 BPG), and all-around hustle and tenacity. If it weren't for Carlos Boozer, whose albatross $15.3 million contract and not his play is the biggest reason for him being a starter, the five-year veteran would be in the starting lineup without a doubt. Winner: Jamal Crawford

I'd love to hear your picks, so be sure to shoot me a comment!

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