Rookie of the Year – Kyrie Irving
With his stellar play so far this season, I think Irving is a safe bet to win the Rookie of the Year Award. Despite pretty good rookie seasons from others such as Ricky Rubio and Brandon Knight, Irving has proven that in the league where the value is of a point guard is rising, due to the emergence of stars such as Derrick Rose and Chris Paul, he might very well be the next big star at that position. Averaging 18 points and 5 assists in about 30 minutes of play each game, Irving has shown flashes of brilliance with his ability to get to the rim effortlessly. Any doubts about his shooting ability were silenced in the Rookie-Sophomore game where he went 8 for 8 from 3-point range. At 19 years of age, Kyrie Irving is proving to be the reason why Cleveland fans will soon forget about a certain LeBron James.
Most Improved Player of the Year – Jeremy Lin
This one, in my opinion is no-brainer. The emergence of Linsanity has created a buzz that the league hasn’t seen, probably since the infamous decision that was made two summers ago. Lin’s struggles to make an NBA team, let alone stick to one, is a mind-blowing story that warrants such an award. His hard work, dedication, and most importantly, perseverance has given him a well deserved spot light which he apparently plans on keeping for a long time. His current seasonal averages of 14 points and 6 assists fail to tell how much of a jump this young man has made in his game. The many garbage-time minutes that he collected earlier in the season have brought down his averages, however, his stats at the end of the season will be sure to illustrate how much of an improved player he has become.
Sixth Man of the Year – James Harden
This category is one that I was a bit unsure of, due to the performances of usual bench assassins like Jason Terry, Jamal Crawford, Al Harrington, etc. James Harden, however, is very deserving of this award due to his immense contributions to a winning effort in OKC. I use the word immense because OKC, despite their great success, have only three consistent scorers, with Harden being the third. Besides Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, the Thunder have no prolific scorers who can create shots, not only for themselves, but others as well. Harden has hit some big shots for the Thunder so far this season, and with averages of 17 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists, his well rounded efforts are well deserving of this honor.
Defensive Player of the Year – Serge Ibaka
A big reason behind the dominant play of the OKC Thunder is Serge “Iblockya” Ibaka. His shot blocking, and shot altering presence in the paint has an impact that goes far beyond the statistics that he’s been putting up this season. Although Ibaka averages over 3 blocks, and has had several double digit block games thus far in the season, the most important attribute that he brings to the team is his deterrence factor. Ibaka strikes fear in the minds of the opposition because they know that any moment, a lay-up opportunity may turn into a Sports Center Top 10 play that will leave them embarrassed. Even when he doesn’t get credited with a block, Ibaka certainly alters a number of shots in the paint for OKC, and for these reasons, he deserves to be named the Defensive Player of the Year.
Coach of the Year – Frank Vogel
The Pacers may not have the best record in the League, or even the Eastern Conference, but if you were to tell me at the beginning of the season that they would be third in the Conference, I would label such a statement as absurd. Despite the acquisition of David West, the Pacers on paper were not what I would consider the third best team in the East. With that being said, I think Frank Vogel deserves a lot of credit for being able to make the most out of the resources that he has. The Pacers have exceeded expectations, and for that, their coach deserves this recognition. Other coaches such as Rick Adelman and Scott Brooks are also very deserving of this honor, however, what Vogel has been able to do in Indiana surpasses the accomplishments of these coaches in my opinion.
Most Valuable Player of the Year – LeBron James
When LeBron decided to take his talents to South Beach in the infamous decision of June 2010, I thought he had officially said good-bye to all individual achievements/awards that he would have otherwise received in Cleveland. The occurrences of this year, however, have led me to believe that he may be able to add another individual achievement trophy to his collection. As usual, the two time MVP has posted stellar numbers across the board all season long with averages of 27 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists. Though he posted similar numbers last year, LeBron is deserving of the award this year because those stats have lifted the play of the Heat to a level that was unseen last year. Though one might argue that Wade and Bosh contribute to the success as well, therefore James is undeserving of the award, I think LeBron’s performance when Wade was out with injury justifies the fact that this team will only go as far as the King takes them. His elevated play caused many to question if the Heat even needed Wade. The return of Wade hasn’t slowed James down a bit, as he continues to play at a high level. One might also argue that Durant is more deserving of this award than James is. Despite Durant’s success this season, the play of Westbrook makes him second on the list in my book because Westbrook is having an MVP type season in his own right. His contributions across the board might cause one to believe that he may even be more valuable than Durant, who is merely just a scorer for OKC. Others might argue that perhaps Kobe, or even Chris Paul deserve this award, however, with the inconsistencies of their teams, they’re great individual play isn’t worthy of an MVP award, at least in my opinion. With that being said, this should be the third MVP award that King James adds to his collection.