NBA Regular Season Awards
By Rami Michail
Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
With the NBA regular season finally over, it’s become routine to announce regular season awards. So, the staff and I decided to do the same.
Who deserves to be called MVP this season?
Rami Michail (@RamiMichail): Kevin Durant – He’s had a phenomenal year scoring the ball, averaging 31.9 points a game this season. Most importantly, he’s shown great leadership this season. He’s led the Thunder to the second best record in the NBA. Oh, and that’s with sidekick Russell Westbrook missing over 30 games.
Parker Turner (@Park_Turn): Kevin Durant – The dude is simply an absolute beast. KD became the number one scorer (31.9 ppg) for the fourth time in his still young career, while also leading Oklahoma City to the second seed in the loaded Western Conference. Durant scored 25 points or more in 41 consecutive games, breaking a record previously held by one Jordan, Michael. Durant was able to get a lot of shots up because of Russell Westbrook extended absences throughout the season due to various injuries, and he didn’t disappoint or let the team falter. He’s Houdini out there on the hardwood.
Ace Feltman (@MFFeLtman): LeBron James. Just kidding, Kevin Durant. He single-handedly kept the Oklahoma City Thunder relevant and elite with his insane scoring. He did other things, sure, but passing Kendrick Perkins and Derek Fisher the ball can only end up so well so often. LeBron James deserves to four-peat, as he also kept the Miami Heat in the elite company of the Association with an average when available Dwyane Wade and another cast of role players. However, as deserving as the King is, the ‘Rantula is worthy of his very first MVP a tad more.
Brian Gosset (@Gosset41): Kevin Durant. He’s going to average nearly 32 points a game this year! 32! He helped OKC to 2nd in the West, has a better record than Miami, who some think LeBron James will win the award. He’s scoring 4.5 more points a game than the next highest player. The dude is only 25 years old and it’s going to be his 4th, FOURTH, scoring title, putting him in a tie with George “The Iceman” Gervin and “The Answer” Allen Iverson for 3rd most all-time (MJ-10, Wilt- 7). It’s his 2nd 30+ point season and it’s going to be the highest average in the league since Kobe averaged 35.4 in 2005-06.
Who should be named Defensive Player of the Year?
Michail: Joakim Noah – When Derrick Rose went down and Luol Deng was traded, we were hearing rumors that Noah could be the next to go, as the Bulls look to begin the rebuilding process. Well, behind Noah’s leadership, intensity, and heart, the Bulls are once again that team you don’t want to face.
Turner: Joakim Noah – One of the most intense and passionate players in the league, Noah has headed up one of, if not the top defensive team in the league coached by the defensive-minded Tom Thibodeau. The 6’11 29-year old center has averages of 1.5 blocks per game, 1.2 steals, and 7.7 defensive rebounds per contest. Stats cannot really explain how enormous of an impact Noah has on opposing offenses gameplans.
Feltman: It’s Joakim Noah. Why? Because he’s not going to win MVP, but his beyond-the-box score performances this year have been frikkin’ incredible. His defensive numbers are equally impressive, but his defensive presence is immeasurable. But why is he winning Defensive Player of the Year for sure? Because he won’t win MVP.
Gosset: This is a tough one for me. Noah looks to be the name circulating out there, but I like Anthony Davis and DeAndre Jordan. But who knows, it doesn’t have to show up in the stats as Davis and Jordan are among the top-5 in blocks and averaging 10+ boards. It’s the little things that we may not see that can win this award. Look at Marc Gasol last season. He ranked 12th in blocks and 23rd in rebounding, two of the major categories to winning the honor. I’m going to stick with Jordan, even though I had The Brow winning it in the middle of the season. Jordan leads the league with 13.7 boards a game, 9.7 defensive rebounds, ranks 2nd in rebounds per 48 (18.6), ranks 3rd with 2.51 blocks, and ranks 8th with 42 double-doubles. He’s also averaging a steal per game, has 31 games this season with 15 or more boards and 21 games with four or more blocks.
Which player has improved the most this season?
Michail: Anthony Davis – I know many will scoff at the notion of giving the award to a second year player, but what Davis has shown and done this season is remarkable. You can make a case that this TWENTY-ONE year-old could be a top five player next season. We knew he’d be good, but who knew it would be this fast?
Turner: Eric Bledsoe – What a player and what a season for the Phoenix Suns ( I really hoped that they would have grabbed the 8th seed from Memphis). This being his first year in Phoenix after his first three NBA season with the Clippers, he had a breakout year while helping to take the Suns far past the wildest pre-season predictions Suns fans could have conjured up. His scoring average is up 10.5 points from last year (currently at 18 ppg this season), and his assists average went from 3.1 to 5.5. Bledsoe, along with Goran Dragic, team up to form one the most athletic, exciting backcourts in all of basketball. Look out, @NBA.
Gosset: So many good choices here, but my top-2 picks are Andre Drummond and Goran Dragic. Yes, Drummond went from 10 to 80+ starts in his 2nd year. When you go from the bench to starting, you’re going to produce bigger numbers, but these are some big numbers for Drummond. His 13.2 rebounds a game ranks 2nd behind Jordan. He has 56 double-doubles, 2nd behind Kevin Love. His 62.4 percent shooting ranks 2nd among qualified players behind Jordan. 29 games of 15 rebounds or more. For Dragic, he’s played 77 games last season and this season, the difference, 25 wins last year, compared to the terrific season the Suns had this season, nearly making the playoffs. Career-high 20.3 points, 3.2 rebounds, 40.8 percent 3-point shooting, and 50.5 percent overall. I’m a fan of both, but I like the big fellas, so I going with Drummond.
Feltman: Isn’t it obvious? Ovinton J’Anthony Mayo…siiiiiike.
A lot of candidates to choose from, for me it came down to Paul Millsap, Kevin Durant, LaMarcus Aldridge and my choice, Stephen Curry. I don’t like Stephen Curry, he looked me dead in the eye and signed an autograph for everyone else besides me. Like, Steph, have we met?! But seriously, he’s become one of the faces of the league and his ankles are at last made of something stronger than those things that stick to the ceiling when you…you know…toss them at the ceiling. His scoring is through the roof and he’s one of better passers in the league, albeit suffering from some turnovers because of the one-handed passes but he’s carried the Dubs on his back all year, eventually propelling the team to the #6 seed and leaving the race for 7 and 8 behind to Memphis, Dallas and Phoenix.
Which reserve had the biggest impact on his team?
Michail: Taj Gibson – Let’s not think Noah turned the Bulls around on his own. He got plenty of help from Gibson. Jamal Crawford, Markieff Morris, and Vince Carter have all had good-great seasons off the bench, but without Gibson’s energy, rebounding, and scoring, a Bull’s turnaround would have been hard to imagine.
Turner: Taj Gibson – Oh how it pains me to not slot Vince Carter’s name into this spot, but I just couldn’t do it because of the fantastic season by the Bulls 6th man Taj Gibson. After the early-season Derrick Rose injury and the around the trade deadline Luol Deng trade, Coach Thibodeau needed someone to step up scoring wise and defensively, and Gibson has just done that. The 28-year-old power forward out of USC is averaging 13.1 ppg, 6.8 rpg, and 1.4 bpg coming off the bench first for Thibs, and has helped the Bulls grab the 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference.
Gosset: I want to say Vince Carter and leave it at that, but realistically, I think it will come down to Taj Gibson and Markieff Morris. I think Jamal Crawford has started too many games, and nowadays you just don’t see players winning twice in this category. Gibson is averaging career-highs in field goal and free throw percentage, points, assists, and has set career-highs in total field goals, free throws and total blocks. He’s really helped the Bulls stay defensive minded with the losses of Derrick Rose and Luol Deng. The Bulls will begin the playoffs in the top-5 of the East. That’s the key word…playoffs, which Morris and the Suns will not participate in, but Morris has been outstanding. In his 3rd year, he’s averaged career-highs in points, rebounds, assists, field goal and free throw percentage. He has scored more total points than Gibson, and the Suns and Bulls do have nearly identical records, so we’ll see where the chips fall.
Feltman: Taj Gibson is the popular pick, and I’m a huge fan of Gibson in both reality and (championship-winning) fantasy basketball. He’s a defensive monster, and I love it even more than the Thunder traded the pick that became Gibson for super boring Thabo Sefolosha. Also the Thunder traded Eric Bledsoe’s draft rights. I love that as well.
But even though the numbers indicate the Mavericks are an offensive juggernaut, it’s hard to pick just exactly where that production comes from some nights. 6th Man Vince Carter is that punch off the bench. He’s not afraid to take shot after shot after left-handed fadeaway shot and since the return of both Brandan Wright and Devin Harris to the second unit from early season injuries, Carter has been able to be what he is, and the team finished the season 6th in bench scoring in the NBA. (First time in the Rick Carlisle era they didn’t finish top 5, which they absolutely would have if healthy all season) Vince barely edges out Taj because of the offense and clutch baskets for me, and the fact that the Mavericks lack offensive firepower off the bench. Gibson has certainly made Carlos Boozer and his still amnesty-eligible contract expendable this summer.
Which coach deserves the honors of coach of the year?
Michail: Jeff Hornacek – Not enough can be said about the job he’s done with the expected to tank Phoenix Suns. Also, not having Eric Bledsoe for a good chunk of the season makes the Suns’ run for the playoffs even more impressive.
Turner: Gregg Popovich – The San Antonio Spurs’ curmudgeon of a head coach is great at what he does, no matter how much he says things like, “If you can draft David Robinson and follow that up with Tim Duncan, that’s a couple of decades of very, very possible success unless you just screw it up, so it’s hard to take credit when circumstances have gone your way so consistently.” Even though you never see him take credit for his teams seemingly everlasting success, we all know how awesome Pop is. The Coach has led the Spurs to an NBA leading 62 wins, and Pop hopes that the Spurs have another big-time playoff run left in them this postseason.
Gosset: Jeff Hornacek – Fans, critics, analysts were picturing a “tank” season for the Suns and under 1st-year coach Hornacek, the Suns were on the verge of a playoff spot and 50 wins. They won just 25 games last season, good for last place out West. I was never a fan of giving it to someone who was expected to be good. Spurs, year in and year out, are the standard. Sure, maybe no one expected to see them with 60+ wins and the best record in the NBA, but it’s still close to their season projection. Doc Rivers was the last coach to win the award on a non-playoff team (1st year in Orlando, 41-41).
Feltman: This is not a question. Jeff Hornacek. I picked the Suns to bottom out the Western Conference in 2013-14. It’s Jeff Hornacek. C’mon Parker.