The season has just two days left and all the playoff spots have been clinched. It’s been a great NBA season, with the second best individual scoring game, 70 wins getting threatened for a few months, and one of the most wide open MVP races in a while.
MVP: Kobe Bryant
It’s too tough to give it to anyone else. Nobody does more with less than Kobe does. He’s gotten a team who’s second and third best players are Lamar Odom and Kwame Brown and a starting point guard that was in the D league last year into the playoffs. He’s proven once again that he’s the most unstoppable force on this planet, nobody can guard him. He’s even been a great teammate this year. When Kwame played like he did the first half of this season in Washington, MJ was tearing him up. Kobe stayed supportive with Kwame, never once questioning him or getting upset with him, and because of that we’re starting to see the player Kwame can turn into.
Special Consideration: Chris Paul
Sure, a lot goes to Lebron James and Steve Nash, but what Chris Paul has done in Oklahoma City should not be overlooked. He’s taken a team who had the fourth worst record overall last year and nearly got them into the playoffs. David West and Byron Scott have something to do with it too, but Chris Paul is the reason why that team came out of the basement.
Defensive Player of the Year: Ben Wallace
What Ben Wallace does on the court defensively is simply amazing. He’s set the blue prints for a lot of guys who want to come into the league and play. There’s a lot of offensive specalists out there, but if they’re not on they’re not playing. Ben’s got the offensive game of a high schooler, but the defensive game of a hall of famer. He never has to worry about his shot not falling (thank goodness), because what he does defensively makes him a must have on the court. He blocks shots, gets steals, crashes the boards relentlessly, and plays the pick and roll very well. As far as big men go, Ben’s the best in the league defensively.
Special Consideration: Bruce Bowen
He’s the player Ben Wallace would be if he was a small forward. He stays in his mans chest, fights through picks, and always gets a hand in his man’s face. He’s got an aspect defensively that Ben doesn’t have though. Guys like Ray Allen and Vince Carter are already out of their game before tip off because they get so upset with how Bruce plays defense. He’s able to get these two guys, along with many other in the league, so upset that they don’t play their best basketball.
Rookie of the Year: Chris Paul
He’s had it wrapped up since about a month into the season. He can score, play defense, get everyone involved, and he’s got a long career ahead of him. No matter how good of a player Marvin Williams becomes, Atlanta will never be able to justify taking him over Chris Paul, especially when they were stocked up with small forwards and had no good point guards.
Special Consideration: Charlie Villanueva
A classic under achiever with incredible abilities at the collegiate level, Charlie put all that behind him. Don’t know if it was seeing what Chris Bosh was doing, or the fact that everybody said he went too high, but Villanueva has dispelled any questions about how hard he plays. Toronto’s got a bright future with him and Bosh down low.
Coach of the Year: Mike D’Antoni
Hate to give it to the same guy two years in a row, but D’Antoni deserves it. This team lost Amare Stoudemire, Joe Johnson, and Quentin Richardson, but haven’t slowed down at all. He’s turned Boris Diaw into a triple double threat and has Eddie House thriving in the spark off the bench role. These are two guys who were having trouble getting any kind of time on their previous teams. A lot of credit goes to Steve Nash, but D’Antoni’s system gives Nash, along with the other Suns, the freedom to go out and do what they do.
Special Consideration: Phil Jackson
The Zenmeister has done it again. He’s got Lamar Odom turning into a big time player in the triangle, has Kwame Brown playing his best basketball, and has the Lakers back into the playoffs. They’ll finish at least ten games better than last year, and have a good shot to upset the Suns in the first round. This year just confirms how great of a coach he is.
6th Man: Mike Miller
Mike, who could be a starter on a lot of other NBA teams, has done a great job for the Grizzlies this year. He comes off the bench and the Grizzlies don’t miss a beat. He’s a good defender and can score as well. He’s had a positive attitude about coming off the bench, and is now the league’s best sixth man.
Special Consideration: Jerry Stackhouse
Having former all star Jerry Stackhouse coming off the bench has been great for the Mavericks. He brings a lot of experience, toughness, and athletism to an already very talented Dallas team.
Most Improved Player: Boris Diaw
Boris was a disappointment as a Hawk. He came into Phoenix in the Joe Johnson deal and has really come into his own. At center, Boris has been a triple double threat night in and night out. Lots of credit should also go to D’Antoni for playing the undersized Diaw at the center position.
Special Consideration: Mike James
Mike James went from a good player off the bench to one of the best scoring PGs in the league in one season. He’s averaging close to thirty points a game in the last month of the season. He’s thirty years old, but some team will be giving him a big deal this off season to come in and be their starting point guard.
Most Disappointing Team: Houston Rockets
The Tmac and Yao duo looked very promising, but they never got a chance to get going. Tracey was hurt the majority of the year, and the Rockets really had trouble winning without him. Yao started to play very well at the end of the season, before injuring his foot. It looks like he won’t get the required 4-6 months for it to heal as the China Basketball Association wants him to play in the World Championships, no matter what.
Sleeper of the Draft: Ryan Gomes
Drafted 50th overall after being a likely first rounder his junior year, Ryan Gomes had a very successful rookie season. Late in the season the Celtics put him into the starting line up and he played very good basketball.
Worst Coaching Job: Larry Brown
The expectations were high in New York with Larry "I haven’t seen a team I can’t fix yet" Brown coming to coach for ten million a year. The Knicks were flat out terrible all year, and while there isn’t a whole lot of talent on the team anyway, their record should be much better than it is now.
Worst GM Job: Isiah Thomas
From now on, the award for worst GM will be called the Isiah Thomas award. The job he has done in New York is flat out terrible. It’s impossible to justify most of the moves he’s made. Trading first round picks for Eddy Curry isn’t bad, but when they’re unprotected it’s terrible. This years first round pick could turn into be Lamarcus Aldridge, who will likely be a better pro than Curry. Trading for Steve Nash and Jalen Rose, whose minutes were minimal, was just idiotic. Isiah better be praying that they don’t end up with the worse record next year, because they’d be able to draft Greg Oden, but the right to switch picks belongs to Chicago. If NY misses out on Oden because they got Curry, someone will shoot Isiah.
Worst Signing: Samuel Dalembert
Philadelphia worked really hard to keep this guy and give him a max contract, and he played terrible. He averaged seven points, eight boards, and two blocks a game. He had his worst statistcal season since his rookie year, and was just a major disappointment for the 76ers this year. Worst part is they have him locked up through 2011.
Sophomore of the Year: Dwight Howard
Emeka beat him out last year for Rookie of the Year honors, but it was no contest this year. Emeka played just twenty five games this year, while Dwight played in eighty one and finished second in the league in both rebounds and double doubles. Dwight will be an all star next year, and one of the best big men in the league.