Only months are away for the 2008-2009 NBA season to come to its end and as usual fans are looking forward to the Playoffs as eight teams from the two conferences (East and West) battle it out and have the right to be called the World Champion. But besides the post-season, basketball enthusiast like me is waiting for the announcement of special awards that is traditionally given every season during the Playoffs. Such awards were the MVP (Most Valuable Player) Award, the Rookie of the Year award, Most Improved Player award, the 6th Man of the Year award, Defensive Player of the Year award and the Coach of the Year award. And since almost 50 games were played, let’s try to look who’s the edge on winning this different award as I will give you some idea on who’s the contender on each of them.
The Most Valuable Player (MVP) award is considered to be the most awaited award in the NBA. For fans, the player who receives this award is the most talented and some also consider their fame in order to get the award, but for some sports writers and analysts, such player must have the leadership and are fully aware of his fellow teammates and coach, one who can be a model to his team and certainly the one whom you can pass the ball and take those last minute shots. So here’s the top prospects whom is favored to win the MVP of the Year award.
1. 24 Kobe Bryant, G Los Angeles Lakers
57 games 27.7 PPG 5.5 RPG 5.0 APG 47.4% FG
-Kobe, the reigning MVP, leads the MVP race after bringing the Lakers to seven game winning streak and now has the best record not only in the Western Conference but also in the league. Kobe certainly continue to evolve as a great player, with a great line-up, an excellent coach, Kobe now turns into a great leader on and off the court and as some of you think that Kobe is the type of player who will shot at will, well he still is…but now shares the ball and deleivers plays pretty well.
2. 23 LeBron James, F Cleveland Cavaliers
55 games 28.5 PPG 7.3 RPG 7.2 APG 49.2% FG
– So far, LeBron has the edge in terms of scoring, rebounds and assists compared to Kobe. Asking why he’s just number two and not on the number one? Well it’s because of the teams performance. LeBron is a great player, some say that James is a type of player whom you will see once in a blue moon. It’s rare to see a 6 foot 8, 250 lbs. charing through defence and has the knack of shooting the ball very well. The team should understand that if ever LeBron decide to part ways with the Cavs, then it will be all over for them… One time, I’ve watched a Cavs game on TV and see how well the team is, with James leading the team it is definitely hard to stop and as I observed that when Coach Mike Brown decided to bench LeBron for awhile, the opposing team suddenly fire out their offense and forces to LeBron to get back in the court because the team is struggling. Well all I’m saying is they should better not rely to LeBron everytime now that they have Mo Williams and with a much more steady team, I’m sure they’ll find a way to secure that Eastern Conference Title and who knows maybe they will win their first championship after several years.
55 games 21.1 PPG 14.2 RPG 3.0 BPG 57.2% FG
– Dwight made a huge impact this season, leading the league with most rebounds, blocked shots and double doubles . He’s also a great threat inside the post area where he is amazingly good at this season. And what amaze me with this guy is that he quickly improves himself after his rookie season wherein he doesn’t have post-up moves like what he has right now. I think that he will continue to improve and will try to dominate that middle spot of the court.
4. 3 Chris Paul, G New Orleans Hornets
52 games 21.7 PPG 5.3 RPG 10.8 APG 2.8 SPG
– Paul’s playing style improved since last season being a runner-up for the MVP. Still this season he had a shot after once again leading the assists and steals department this season, he’d done it last season and now he doing it again. So for me I think Paul is clearly the best point guard there is right now in the NBA.
5. 3 Dwayne Wade, G Miami Heat
56 games 28.8 PPG 5.0 RPG 7.3 RPG 48.4% FG
– Wade has been the leader of the Heat since winning the title. He do everything he can to win and hopes he does not get injured. And right now that he’s healthy and performing very well with their new coach and some new teammates. Wade leads the league in points and 3rd in NBA in the steals department.
Rookie Of The Year Award
This award is given to a player whose been in the league for the first time (rookie) in which shown great potential and don’t play like a rookie in his first year in the professional basketball. This are considered to be the cornerstone of a team, and we are all witness how some previous Rookie of the Year awardee plays after 2-3 years in the NBA. Such player like Larry Bird (1979-80 Boston Celtics), Michael Jordan (1984-85 Chicago Bulls), David Robinson (1989-1990 San Antonio Spurs), Shaquille O’Neal (1992-93 Orlando Magic), LeBron James (2003-04 Cleveland Cavaliers), Chris Paul (2005-06 New Orleans Hornets). So here are some of the top prospects whom we will be watching for the years to come!
1. 32 O.J Mayo, G Memphis Grizzlies
57 games 19.2 PPG 4.2 RPG 2.9 APG 43.7% FG
– Mayo is considered to be one of the best in his draft class this year. He’s a good player and I believe he will still be in the coming seasons and I hope his team won’t fail him. Leads the rookies in points, ranked seventh among rookies in field goal percentage made and fifth in 3-point made. Though only drafted third overall behind Rose and Beasley, Mayo didn’t waste his time to show what he got and frankly, Mayo is the first rookie I’ve noticed to play so well… No offense to Rose and Beasley.
2. 1 Derrick Rose, G Chicago Bulls
58 games 16.6 PPG 3.6 RPG 6.3 APG 47.1% FG
– The no. 1 pick on this year’s draft but only placed second here. Well still it’s a close one between these two (with Mayo) because they’re both good and the only thing that differs between them is that Rose handles the ball much better than Mayo but in terms of scoring Rose is ranked second among rookies, just behind Mayo. Another thing I like about Rose is he lived to the expectations that the fact that he’s the 1st overall pick to a team that needs a point guard. He amazed me with his attacks to the basket plus an “and one” situation. Man, for a rookie, that’s awesome.
3. 11 Brook Lopez, C New Jersey Nets
58 games 12.5 PPG 8.0 RPG 1.9 BPG 51.3%
– No he’s not the one with the curly hair, that’s the other twin… And yes, the Nets brought in another Stanford star, a tall guy and has a twin brother who also plays for the same college team and also…a tall guy. Well if you don’t know, Jason Collins once a member of the Nets franchise has also the same resume but different potentials. This Lopez dude certainly fits the team whose stuggling to find a center. And Brook never dissapointed the team, second among rookies in rebounds and leads the rookies in blocks. He’s also on my list to watch in the next seasons to come. Thoguh it’s sad that his twin brother (Robin), isn’t progressing that well compared to him (Brook) but I’m sure he supports his twin brother.
4. 0 Russell Westbrook, G Oklahoma City Thunder
57 games 15.3 PPG 4.7 RPG 5.0 APG 41.0% FG
– Westbrook is very athletic to his size. He was one of the three rookies whose been nominated to be part of this year’s Sprite Slam Dunk Competition but unfortunately he didn’t get the people’s votes. Anyway, Westbrook is third in rookies in points and second in assists. He will be having a hard time winning the award because of the two favorite candidates but I’m sure he’s glad to be noticed and hope that he continue to play good basketball alongside with the last year’s Rookie of The Year awardee.
5. 10 Eric Gordon, G Los Angeles Clippers
58 games 15.1 PPG 2.5 RPG 2.7 APG 44.4% FG
– It was a great opportunity for Gordon to shine right away when injuries started to hit the team. With Davis, Randolph and Kaman out, these young man out of Indiana didn’t hesitate to score. An excellent mid-range shooter and can also fire away those three when needed. Fourth among rookies in points per game and seventh in three points made. Definitely one of the players to watch out for and hoping he can lift up his struggling team.
Most Improved Player Award
This award is given to the player who improves his game from previous seasons. Where it is considered his best season so far and hope to continue its rise to stardom so to say. So here’s my list of the favored players whom likely to win this award.
1. 33 Danny Granger, F Indiana Pacers
52 games 25.0 PPG 5.0 RPG 3.1 APG 43.4% FG
– Granger has been sensational this season, being able to participate in this year’s 3-point shootout and being part of the Eastern All-Stars has been an additional factor that Granger clearly is improving. Placing himself as 6th in scoring and second in three point made, what else can you say.
2. 34 Devin Harris, G New Jersey Nets
52 games 22.3 PPG 3.2 RPG 6.6 APG 44.2% FG
– Like Granger, Harris also took part in the All-Star lineup of the East and a finalist in the Skills challenge, unfortunately he lost to Rose. But still after being traded to Nets, Harris has shown his potential leading this season in points among point guards. Though they need more firepower and solid defense to at least contend in the East.
3. 42 David Lee, F-C New York Knicks
57 games 16.5 PPG 11.9 RPG 2.0 APG 55.1% FG
– David Lee amazed me how he plays today. I mean if I can, I would give a round of applause to Mike D’Antoni for believing in this kid. Well we all know Lee could certainly do this, and he really improved his scoring in the low post, getting reboundsand second chance points thus increasing his playing time. David Lee averages 5.1 PPG and 4.5 RPG in 16.9 MPG during his rookie season, 10.7 PPG and 10.4 RPG in 29.8 MPG in his second year, 10.8 PPG and 8.9 RPG in 29.1 MPG last year. And now he both increases his points, rebounds and minutes inside the court. Well for me, it’s a good decision sending him into the 5th slot and not the fourth.
4. 31 Nene, C-F Denver Nuggets
55 games 14.9 PPG 7.9 RPG 1.3 BPG 60.9% FG
– Nene wasn’t able to have the enough time to show his true potential from previous seasons after major injuries hit him. But now with a comeback and a chance to be on the starting lineup because of the loss of Camby, Nene is now a dominant player inside the rim. Leading the NBA in field goal percentage, surely Nene is a huge help for Coach George Karl and his teammates for the upcoming Playoffs.
6th Man of the Year Award
The 6th Man of the Year Award is for me like a MVP award but is given to the 6th man of the team or the reserve. Such players are coming off the bench who still give the team the scoring boost and some leadership awareness when their star players or the starters take their time to rest. So enough of the explanation let’s go right ahead on my list…
1. 4 Nate Robinson, G New York Knicks
50 games 17.4 PPG 4.2 RPG 3.9 APG 44.9% FG
– The KRYPTONATE is in the house! Winning his second slam dunk title in his four seasons with the Knicks and now considered as one of the focal point of the franchise, Nate gives the Knicks that additional offense with his athletisism regardless of his height, he can rebound the ball well. Believe it or not I’ve seen him fly…
2. 31 Jason Terry, G Dallas Mavericks
50 games 19.9 PPG 2.5 RPG 3.7 APG 46.7% FG
– Jason Terry has been the Mavs 6th Man after trading Harris for Kidd. When they brought in Kidd, Terry moved from the two spot wherein he’s much more comfortable playing in. But decided to be the 6th man since they have Kidd, Howard and Nowitzki as their primary offense. This season, Terry averages 33.7 minutes per game in his 50 games with 7 of it he started. I think it is a great decision placing Terry as their 6th man, but with injuries hitting him, Mavs should find a way to back up their sixth man.
3. 20 Manu Ginobili, G San Antonio Spurs
38 games 16.1 PPG 4.7 RPG 3.5 APG 46.0% FG
– At first, everyone was questioning why Popovich decided to place Ginobili off the bench. But actually Ginobili has been their sixth man eversince he joined the Spurs. Yes, he started most of the games back then but Ginobili is very effective when he’s coming off the bench especially when Duncan is in foul trouble or Parker needs some rest. Though Ginobili didn’t play in the early half of the season due to offseason’s injury. He qucikly bounced back and now averages 16 points per game in at least 27 minutes per game. Who knows he may win it back to back…
4. 10 Leandro Barbosa, G Phoenix Suns
46 games 12.8 PPG 2.4 RPG 2.0 APG 47.2% FG
– Now this is a familiar setup. One of the finalist of the 6th man of the year award last season (Ginobili, Barbosa and Terry). But Barbosa only placed second. This season its still his same role, though Bell was traded, he still didn’t start since Richardson was brought in to the franchise. Barbosa is an excellent guard off the bench who can really give you that boost when their powerhouse starters are in the bench.
*** I will update the other awards in my next post… 😀