As the end of the NBA season approaches, the topic of MVP (Most Valuable Player), DPOY (Defensive Player of the Year), ROY (Rookie of the Year), etc comes up amongst the conversations of many hoop fans like myself. Without further ado, I’d like to present my picks for individual recognition this season.
Rookie of the Year – Michael Carter-Williams
This category was hard for me to decide because I had initially picked Victor Oladipo to win this award when the season began. MCW totally surprised me, and probably a majority of hoop fans, with his emergence ever since his season debut against the Heat. Averaging 16.8 points per game, 5.8 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game, MCW has the best statistics of any rookie across the board. Oladipo, averaging 13.8 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 4.1 points is a close second, with his overall versatility and impact on the Orlando Magic. I had debated giving Oladipo a slight edge for leading his team to more wins; however considering both teams are terrible, and neither have a shot of making the playoffs, I will simply base my decision off of statistics and the impact on the court. Neither player shoots the ball exceptionally well, with MCW shooting 39.6% from the field and 26.7% from three-point land, and Oladipo shooting 41.5% from the field and 31.6% from three. Although these percentages could certainly use improvement, these rookies get a pass, due to the circumstances that they are in (being focal points of struggling teams, while trying to adjust to the NBA game). With that being said, MCW has a slight edge over Victor Oladipo, hence worthy of the Rookie of the Year Award.
Most Improved Player of the Year – Anthony Davis
The leap Anthony Davis has made this season has been very refreshing to watch. Coming into the league as a potentially dominant player on the defensive end, Davis has proven to the league that he can do a lot more than block shots and wreak havoc on the defensive end. Going from 14 and 8 with 2 blocks in his rookie year to 21 and 10 with 3 blocks in his sophomore season, Davis has lived up to the expectations of being the first overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft. His play this season has made him worthy of the Defensive player of the year award; however I believe that he deserves to be rewarded for more than just his defense. A healthy Davis has resulted in career highs in all major statistical categories thus far, and some outstanding individual performances like the 40-20 game he had earlier this week (the first and only in Pelican history). At this rate, Davis is bound to be a top 5 power forward in this league for many years to come. Watch out Blake, Kevin, and Lamarcus.
Sixth Man of the Year – Taj Gibson
Taj Gibson has had an outstanding year in the absence of Derrick Rose. Providing his team with a consistent spark off the bench, it is fair to say that Taj Gibson is the second most valuable player on the Chicago Bulls, behind Joakim Noah. 13 points and 7 rebounds might not seem significant but for a bench player on a low scoring defensive minded team, every bit of that contribution is needed. If you had asked me this question about a month ago, I would say without a doubt that Jamal Crawford was the clear-cut winner of this award; however, with his injury and the emergence of Blake Griffin and the Clippers overall, Jamal’s contributions are no longer critical to the Clipper’s regular season (although his play will definitely be needed in the post season). With that being said, Taj Gibson is the clear cut winner of the Sixth man of the year award because the Bulls will not as successful as they have been this year without his contributions.
Defensive Player of the Year – Roy Hibbert
Using the criteria that awarded Marc Gasol this award last year (anchor of the best defense in the league), Roy Hibbert deserves this year’s honor for his defensive prowess. The Pacers are number one in the league in points allowed, keeping teams to an average of 92 points a night. Individually, Roy Hibberts blocks 2.4 shots a game in about 30 minutes of play. His defensive impact goes far beyond the statistical value of his blocks, as he alters countless shots in the paint on a nightly basis. Other worthy candidates include DeAndre Jordan of the Clippers, Anthony Davis from the Pelicans, Serge Ibaka from the Thunder, and Joakim Noah of the Bulls. Considering the Clippers, Thunder and the Pelicans aren’t necessarily good defensive teams, that narrows down my choices to Noah and Hibbert. Although Noah does a lot of things that isn’t credited on the box score (such as his pick-and-roll defense), his rim protection does not nearly match the impact that Hibbert does for the Pacers. If Hibbert gets a point for his rim protection and Noah gets one for his pick-and-roll defense, the .1 difference in points allowed per game (92.2 points allowed by the Pacers, and 92.3 points allowed by the Bulls) gives Hibbert an edge (even though minimal) because it is enough to have the Pacers ranked one above the Bulls. In addition, Hibbert’s 2.4 blocks per game average is much more imposing than the 1.5 of Joakim Noah. With that being said, Hibbert gets my vote for Defensive Player of the Year.
Coach of the Year – Dwane Casey
Before we get into this category, let’s give a round of applause for the great work of a lot of the coaches this year. From Greg Popovich to Steve Clifford to even a Mike Budenholzer, these coaches deserve a lot of credit for making the most out of the rosters that they have been assigned. Initially, Jeff Hornacek was my pick for Coach of the Year; however, I do not think that a coach can be rewarded for his work if his team does not make the playoffs, and it looks like the Suns have permanently lost the 8th seed to the Grizzlies. With that being said, Dwane Casey of the Raptors is my pick for Coach of the Year. Although the Eastern Conference is relatively weak, I do not believe that anybody (probably even Raptor fans) would have picked the Raptors to finish top 4 in the conference. Dwane Casey has made the most out of a young bunch, giving them the confidence to play at a level higher than even the players were probably aware that they were capable off. A lot of credit has to be given to the Raptors General Manager Masai Ujiri for putting together a well balanced roster with a group of young talented athletes and a solid veteran group coming off the bench to compliment them. Casey’s ability to elevate the play of this group makes him worthy of the Coach of the Year honor.
Most Valuable Player of the Year – Kevin Durant
Finally, the cream of the crop. The best of the best players this NBA season (emphasis on THIS season). As a LeBron fan, it is very odd for me to make an argument for anybody besides LeBron when it comes to this award; however as an objective fan, it is my job to present the NAYked truth. Long story short, the MVP for the 2013/2014 season is without a doubt Kevin Durant. Although LeBron has made a late serge to reclaim what has seemingly been taken away from him, the MVP award is going to Oklahoma to Kevin Durant, unless something miraculous happens. Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma Thunder has had a phenomenal year to say the least. KD has always been known as a scorer; however this season he has taken that, as well as other parts of his game to different heights. Durant is averaging 32 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists while shooting 51% from the floor, 40% from three point land, and 87% from the free-throw line; outstanding. I don’t know what’s more impressive: the fact that his point average is the highest yet of his career, or the fact that a shoot first, shoot second player is somehow averaging 6 dimes a game. KD has done everything possible to propel his team to great heights, including scoring 25 points for 32 straight games (and counting), and 30 or more points for 12 consecutive games. No argument really needs to be made here (as hard as it is for me to say as a LeBron fan), KD is the clear-cut winner of the MVP award thus far.