Friday, April 15, 2011

N.B.A. End Of Season Mega-Column, Part 2

In case you missed Part 1 of my N.B.A. End Of Season Mega-Column, click hereclass="gl_align_center"
The YouTube Award - Blake Griffin

This award will be given annually to the player whose nightly highlights most frequently become appointment internet viewing, and in 2011 no other player is even up for discussion. Blake finished second in dunks this year behind Dwight Howard, but first in jaw-dropping, posterizing, physics defying, facials and ally-oops. He single handedly made the Clippers relevant, a task that prior to his arrival seemed impossible. Aside from the Heat, the Blakers were the most exciting, enticing team to watch, and anytime their games were broadcast nationally it became must see TV. During a November game against the Knicks, Blake tea-bagged seven footer Timofey Mosgov, spiking the ball through the hoop so aggressively that many people wondered if the emasculated Mosgov would ever fully recover. He hasn't.

Blake is also my Rookie of the year, and the winner of the "Point Break" Robbery of the Year for his winning of the 2011 Slam Dunk Contest.

Going into that event, there was zero chance that Blake Griffin was going to lose. For starters, he is one of the most marketable players in the league and was going up agaisnt players virtually unknown to the common fan. Far and away the most recognizable of the participants. Secondly, it was in his teams home town of Los Angeles. And third, Kia, the car company who sponsored the event, brought that car that Blake would go on to dunk over in the finals, into the area beforehand. Paying mega buck$ to use it as a prop. There was no way once that car entered the Staples Center that it would not be used for Blake to jump over for his final dunk. Griffin is an amazing dunker, but if you rewatch the first two rounds of dunks there is just no way that he deserved to advance. Blake's first dunk of the night, the 360 two handed slam off two feet was very impressive, but still not as good as Ibaka's jam from behind the foul line. And Griffin's second dunk, which took 7 attempts just to convert, was a mere off the side of the hoop ally-oop windmill, the same thing DeRozen had just done, only his was between the legs (higher degree of difficulty). You can watch the entire first rd. in the below video and judge for yourselves. Also it should be noted that this was the first year that they didn't cut to the judges holding up the numbers after each dunk (Although they did show Javale McGee's mom tongue kissing them). Instead they just showed the results on a chart on screen, not wanting to a risk a live shot of the judges unknowingly giving Griffin a score too low that would prevent him from the finals.

Ed. Note- The Finals were a "fan vote", which is slang for popularity contest.

Defensive PLAY of the Year- Kevin Garnett, defending his poor choice of words towards Charlie Villanueva.

After a November 2nd game against the Boston Celtics, Charlie Villanueva tweeted that Kevin Garnett called him a "cancer patient" while trash talking on the court. Charlie suffers from a rare disease called alopecia, which prevents him from growing hair on any part of his body, thus somewhat resembling a chemotherapy patient. Garnett has long been widely regarded as one of the most intense, and dirtiest players in the league. Although I don't agree with the way Charlie went about breaking that news to the public (tweeting about it seemed somewhat juvenile and attention seeking ), I find that type of trash talk incredibly offensive and was happy that the country got a better look at Garnett's true colors. Garnett's response to the allegations were that he was calling Villanueva a "cancer to the league", saying that it had nothing to do with his hairless body. Not buying it.


The Rasheed Wallace Award- Dwight Howard

This award is given to the player who finishes up the regular season with the most technical fouls. Dwight Howard tallied 18 of them this year, his most notable one coming in overtime of a late March game against New York. With the team trailing by one with less than 3 minutes to play, Dwight fouled out on an over the back call and proceeded to roll the ball down the length of the court away from the referees. They T'd him up, and the Knicks went on to win by 7. This type of behavior was common for the Orlando big man, who showed great improvement offensively this year (upping his ppg to 23 from 18). Hopefully next year he can make that same quantum leap with his maturity level.

Despite his on the court antics, Dwight wins my Defensive Player of the Year Award. He averaged 14 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game, all the while being the driving force behind the Magic allowing under 94 points per game (4th best in the league). To put up that kind of productivity while playing with a barrage of defensive liabilities such as Hedo Turkoglu, Ryan Anderson, Vince Carter and J.J. Redick really speaks to the type of defensive enforcer D12 is.

Ed. Note- Dwight kept true his reputation, and earned a technical foul in Game 1 against the Hawks today. A game in which Orlando lost 103-93 despite Howard's career high 46 points.


6th Man of the Year Award- Jason Terry

I flip-flopped back and forth on this award between Terry and the Candyman Lamar Odom many times before ultimately deciding on JT. A main reason I went with Terry was because of his offensive contributions off the bench for Dallas. At 16 ppg and 4 apg, he led all non-starters in points per game, and aside from Dirk was the go to guy in crunch time for Dallas. The Mav's overachieved all season, and despite their old age and lack of depth, Terry provided them with consistent production at the 2-guard position.

As for Lamar, he started nearly a third of L.A.'s games, and quite frankly I don't really think he fits the description of this award. Sure he had a great year (14.4/8.7), excelling on the defensive end especially, but 32 starts is a little too much for me to consider you a true 6th man. Put it this way, on any other team in the league he starts, whereas I feel Terry has found a nice little niche coming off the bench in Dallas.

Most Improved Player- Russell Westbrook

This was far and away the hardest award to choose, but in the end no one showed more growth this past season then Russell Westbrook. After a superb sophomore campaign, Russell elevated his game to new heights; entering the realm of super stardom. He made his first All-Star team, and cracked the top 15 in scoring with a much improved 22 ppg (up from 16 last yr). But what really stood out for me was his newly found clutch gene. He started out this season on a tear, outplaying teammate Kevin Durant for the first two months and never looked back. His 3p% went from a dismal 22% to a respectable 33%, and he showed that he can get to the rim at will with his wide arsenal of one on one moves. Russell's game reminds me of a more explosive Penny Hardaway, he has no ceiling.

Most Valuable Player- Derrick Rose

Derrick Rose possesses every quality that you would look for when trying to decide what makes a player the most valuable. A floor general on the court, Rose put the 2011 Chicago Bulls on his back and led them to a record of 62-20, best in the N.B.A. After landing Carlos Boozer in free agency, a solid consolation prize after missing out on LeBron James, the Bulls expectations rose and many foresaw them finishing somewhere in the middle of the pack, along with the likes of the Hawks, Magic and Knicks. When Boozer went down with a wrist injury in the pre-season, those expectations dropped even lower. But with Rose running the show they didn't miss a beat, and slowly started to turn some heads in the league. By mid-season they were clicking on all cylinders, and that's the same time their leading rebounder, Joakim Noah, went down with a leg injury that sidelined him for 6 weeks. Rose continued to elevate his game to new heights, and in the process became just the third player in the last 30 years to total 2,000 points and 600 assists in the same year.

The point guard conch has officially been passed over to Rose after his spectacular 2011 season. In what was once a great debate between Chris Paul and Deron Williams, now isn't even a question. Rose is alone on the throne. His 25 ppg, 7.7apg, and 4rpg are LeBronesq, and on par with the legendary "Big O", Oscar Robertson. The Bulls won 28 of their last 32 games, including a perfect 8-0 in April, securing home court advantage throughout the playoffs in a brutally top-heavy East. Rose bought into my Coach of the Year, Tom Thibodeau's defense first game plan, holding opponents to a league best 43% from the field, and 91 points per game.

Derrick put up career highs in points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, 3p% and ft% in just his third season in the league. When he wins the MVP this year, he will become the youngest player ever to do so. If he continues to mature, improve and excel at such a high level for the duration of his career, MJ better watch out. There's a new #1 in town.

First Team All N.B.A.

  • C- Dwight Howard

  • F- Dirk Nowitzki

  • F- LeBron James

  • G- Kobe Bryant

  • G- Derrick Rose
Second Team All N.B.A.

  • C- Pau Gasol

  • F- Amare Stoudemire

  • F- Kevin Durant

  • G- Dwyane Wade

  • G- Russell Westbrook



Third Team ALL N.B.A.

  • C- Lamarcus Aldridge

  • F- Kevin Garnett

  • F- Carmelo Anthony

  • G- Steve Nash

  • G-Manu Ginobili
PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS

Round 1
  • Chicago over Indiana in 4

  • Miami over Philadelphia in 5

  • New York over Boston in 7
  • Orlando over Atlanta in 5

  • San Antonio over Memphis in 7
  • L.A. over New Orleans in 5

  • Dallas over Portland in 7
  • Oklahoma City over Denver in 5
Round 2
  • Chicago over Orlando in 6

  • Miami over New York in 6

  • San Antonio over Oklahoma City in 7

  • L.A. over Dallas in 6
Semifinals
  • Miami over Chicago in 7

  • L.A. over San Antonio in 5

Finals- Lakers over MoHeato's in 7 for the 3peat, write it down.

-fresh

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