by user Davis21wylie
Since we're in full-on NBA mode, here are our picks for the NBA's 2005-06 awards...
Most Valuable Player: LeBron James, Cleveland
What is the MVP? Well, he could be the League's best player. Or he could be the guy whose team goes from contender to total flop if you take him off the roster. Either way, though, LeBron's got you covered. We won't go into the litany of accomplishments that The King has laid down on us this season, but let's just say that his combination of shooting, passing, ballhandling, and—of course—scoring is unmatched. He's the NBA's most complete player. He's also only 21 years old. Believe the hype; King James is the real thing.
Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers - Come on, 81 points in a game? Kobe showed us this year what he was all about. Sure, he's an enigma. Sure, we're not sure if we like him, or if he was guilty in that whole mess two years ago... One thing we are sure of, though: the guy is an unreal basketball player. Keep it up, Kobe, and you may just deliver on all those "Next Jordan" promises from a decade ago.
Elton Brand, L.A. Clippers - The Clips in the playoffs? Yep, and it's due in large part to this guy. Long underrated, EB exploded this season, finally getting the credit he's deserved since he hit the league in 2000. Without him, L.A.'s not in the playoffs. Plain and simple.
Steve Nash/Shawn Marion, Phoenix - Co-runners up! Sure, Nash wasn't a legit MVP last season, but he was a better player this season. Plus, I can't explain why guys who start playing with Nash suddenly start having career years... can you? It's spooky... The Matrix was probably the Suns' MVP this year, though. Without Amare Stoudemire, their MVP of a year ago, the Suns still maintained their level of play, and Marion ramped up his production, big-time. Need something done? Shawn will do it for you. Rebounding? Check. Playing a pretty damn good impromptu center when Kurt Thomas goes down with another injury? You got it. Marion's the man; he can do anything.
Rookie of the Year: Chris Paul, Hornets
We aren't even listing runners-up here, because CP3 was so ill nobody else is even close. Shooting, passing, rebounding—you name it, Paul did it as a rook. What's more, he almost led the homeless Hornets, a team many expected to finish last in the conference, to the playoffs! In short, Paul is the bomb. Doesn't Utah feel stupid now for taking Deron Williams, who behaved like a normal rookie ought to, over CP? We have a feeling they're going to regret that one for a long time...
Coach of the Year: Flip Saunders, Detroit
Going into this season, many felt that Detroit would be cast adrift without Larry Brown to guide them. How would they "play the right way" if LB wasn't on the sidelines? Well, if the way Detroit played in 05-06 wasn't the "right way," I don't know what is. They went off on the East, especially in the first half, scorching their way to the NBA's best record. Flip drastically improved Detroit's offense as well, paving the way for Chauncey Billups to become a legit MVP-type player. I don't know what Saunders did, but man, did it ever work.
Byron Scott, Hornets - Well, that was a turnaround. Thanks to some Chris Paul magic and a lot of Scott coaching, New Orleans/Oklahoma City almost made the playoffs, something that was unthinkable before the season, especially in light of the two-city tug-of-war over the franchise. Scott brought the potential out of Kirk Snyder, helped David West bounce back in a big way, and had the entire team generally overachieving.
Gregg Popovich, San Antonio - Again, Popovich guided the Spurs to a 60+ win campaign, and while he had the best roster to work with, he also deserves credit for maintaining what must be considered the best defensive teams of all time. Popovich got the Spurs over the hump in 1999, and he's turned them into a true dynasty. Thanks for another great season, coach.
Comeback Player of the Year: David West, Hornets
West suffered through a miserable, injury-plagued sophomore season a year ago, but he bounced back big time this year, setting career highs in almost every category. He was also, with Chris Paul, one of the driving forces behind New Orleans' surprising playoff push.
Unofficial Comeback Player Runner-Up: Ron Artest, Sacramento - Sure, the league will never give him the real CPOY award, but he did miss a considerable amount of time last year, and came back pretty well. Of course, acting like an ass until Indiana had to trade him doesn't earn him any bonus points, but he's our unofficial runner-up. Congrats, Ron!
Most Improved Player: Boris Diaw, Phoenix
I don't know if it was a fluke canoodling with Nash magic, but Diaw—an afterthought in the deal that sent Joe Johnson to Atlanta—started 2005-06 hot and never cooled off. A great passer, Diaw meshed very well with Mike D'Antoni's offensive scheme, and ended up as one of the most productive small forwards in basketball. It will be interesting to see next year if his quantum leap forward reflects a true improvement, or if it was just a fluke, but for now, he has improved more than any other player.
Best Offseason/In-Season Acquisition: Mike James, Toronto
Like that other guy with the surname "James," Mike exploded in 2006. After bouncing around the league for years, he finally stayed in one spot and made the most of his opportunity. While he wasn't most improved (per-minute, we wasn't that much better than a year ago), he did get a chance to really showcase himself as a starter. Too bad it had to come on Toronto, where it hardly mattered, but it was a good season.
Worst Offseason/In-Season Acquisition: Every player acquired outside the draft by Isiah Thomas in the last 12 months (except Eddy Curry)
We were going to give it to Jerome James as a matter of principle, but pretty much everybody picked up by Isiah was equally deserving. Steve Francis was a real head-scratcher, and Jalen Rose didn't make a whole lot of sense, either. Curry played well and stayed healthy, so he's exempt, but his contract was still bad. But at least Isiah got Channing Frye in the draft. Just keep telling yourselves that, Knicks fans...
Least Valuable Player: Desmond Mason, Hornets
Boy, the Hornets are cleaning up at our awards, huh? This is probably one that Mason would have rather not won, however... He started the year ice-cold, but kept at it, ending up with a PSA of 0.92, a .399 FG%, and a generally ghastly 9.20 PER. Still, he kept plugging away, playing over 2,000 minutes. Once could argue that Mason's continued, unwanted presence on the floor cost the Hornets a playoff spot... they finished 6 games out, and replacing Mason with a league-average player all season would have netted them more than 6 extra wins, putting them past Sacto for the last spot. Here's to you, Desmond, our LVP.
Hands of Stone Award: Michael Ruffin, Washington
Ruffin could win this award in his sleep. Maybe he does, come to think of it... That would be the only way to explain the fact that he: a) scored only 4.2 points (!) per 40 minutes; b) consumed only 6.1 possessions per 40 minutes; and still managed to c) post the league's worst Turnover Ratio again, clocking in with a turnover on a mind-boggling 22 percent of his possessions! Mike, we're not saying that you have shaky hands or anything, but let's just say that we wouldn't trust you to perform our next triple-bypass.
Ray Charles Award: Eddy Curry, Knicks
Despite playing nearly 2,000 minutes, Curry only mustered 19 assists on the season, for an Assist Ratio of 1.9. Eddy, we know there weren't many guys on that Knicks team to pass to, and we know that you were scared that Francis/Marbury/Rose would forcibly go into the post and take the ball away from you, but come on... Congrats are also in order to Charlotte's shoot-first—and second, and third—guard Matt Carroll, for being the backcourt player least willing to share with others. Great job, everybody!
The Dick Cheney "Needs To Shoot Less" Award: Zach Randolph, Portland
Randolph was one of the league's most underrated players a few years ago, but now he may be one of the most overrated. This season, he engaged in some of the league's most bizarre shot selection. Despite standing 6-9/270, 63% of Randolph's shots were jumpers. And he continued to fire away—to the tune of the 3rd-highest Usage Rate among PF's -- even though he posted a putrid PSA of 0.97. Dude, if you keep shooting like this, somebody's going to get hurt. Maybe Portland can get Ruben Patterson back, if not just to pick fights with Randolph whenever he takes contested jumpers with 17 seconds left on the shot clock.
Well, that's it. Congrats to our winners! We'll see you next year, same time, same place.
Fri 04/21/06, 5:41 pm EST