With the NBA kick season kicking off tomorrow, it's prediction time. As a fan, I always felt prediction threads were silly. There are too many unpredictable variables that can sway a season. I thought why would any writer try and subject themselves to such scrutiny over something that, if they could do successfully, they'd millions of dollars gambling in Vegas and retire. Yet here I am, writing my own 2010/11 NBA predictions.
Most Valuable Player
LeBron James is the best player in the NBA, and it isn't close. Yeah, I know someone's going to come in here and talk about how dialed in Kobe is, or how many rings Kobe has, but Kobe's barely the best player on his team at this point which is still immensely talented even without him. That said, the best player doesn't win every year, and LeBron's won the past two years only to fizzle in the playoffs. Throw in "the decision", the shared responsibility for success, and I think the writers simply don't give it to him again.
So who's left? Kobe Bryant had a worse PER in the regular season than Pau Gasol last season. His team is one of the best, but he's no longer doing all the work and isn't putting up gaudy statistics. Dwyane Wade is stuck sharing Miami's success with LeBron, Chris Paul probably doesn't have the cast to make something magical happen. Deron Williams isn't quite good enough, and Dirk isn't sniffing another one after he lost in the first round after winning before.
So of the really elite players, that leaves Dwight Howard and Kevin Durant as the two guys I consider front runners. Both are media favorite, guys we'd like to see win, and guys who are generally viewed as humble (at least as humble as superstars get). There seems to be a strong urge in preseason to give the award to Durant, and while I think Howard's team has a better record, I think the award ends up going to Durant anyway.
Who deserves it: LeBron
Who should get it, if we want to piss on LeBron: Howard
Who actually gets it: Durant
Defensive Player of the Year
Dwight Howard is your defensive MVP. I believe only David Robinson has won the award three times in a row, but Howard is about to do just that. Seriously, who can even challenge him for it? Look at the voting last year, and let me know if you think any of these guys has a chance in hell:
2: Josh Smith, 3: Gerald Wallace, 4: LeBron, 5: Rondo, 6: Artest, 7: Bogut, 8: Thabo, 9: Verajao, 10: Camby/Wade tie.
Seriously, Howard had 95% of the vote last year, and barring an injury, it's difficult to imagine anyone else winning the award.
Rookie of the Year
Everyone says it's a two man race between Blake Griffin and John Wall. Well, Omer Asik has something to say about that. However, he didn't understand the question and said his English isn't so good. If someone else wins this award, then someone proved a lot of people wrong in the draft. I suppose Evan Turner and DeMarcus Cousins are the next two guys to be thrown around in the conversation, but I agree with the general preseason consensus that it's a two man race.
Of the two, I'm going to go against all odds and predict Griffin wins. This goes against all odds because he plays for the Clippers which means there's a greater chance of him being hit by a meteor than having any kind of success in the NBA prior to being released, traded, or signing elsewhere as a FA.
Griffin's looked like a beast in preseason, his team has a great chance to experience success, and I think big men can make their presence felt more easily. Many have forgotten how good Blake is after he missed a season with injury. Obviously, it won't be a surprise if Wall wins, but if there's a surprise winner, I think it's Cousins who has the talent and seems pissed off enough to dominate the league just to spite everyone.
6th Man of the Year
Otherwise known as "the guy who should start and be the 3rd or 4th best player on his team, but instead we bring him off the bench and now he gets an award" award. Really, is there a more bizarre award in the NBA? This guy's never the best on his team, probably never the second best either, but he gets an award over those guys because the coach put him in a specific role.
The award is so moronic, that I don't want to even pick a winner for it. Winner? LeBron James. Spolestra decides that they need to split up the talent between the starting line up and bench and brings LeBron of the bench.
Okay, that won't happen, but boy would that be a fitting story line.
I'll go with Jason Terry. I'd pick Ginobili, but I think he may actually start this year, and I can't see Crawford having two good years in a row. None of the other contenders from last year strike me as serious contenders this year.
Most Improved Player
The least predictable award in the league, if you were good at this one then someone's waiting to pay you a million bucks a year to be General Manager of their basketball team. Half of the media preseason selections for this award end up as spectacular busts, because you have to pick someone who sucks enough to have room to improve while also having the skills and athleticism to make such improvement possible.
Actually, this award rarely goes to the guy who improves the most. It typically goes to the guy who played really awesome in limited minutes (like 15 a game) and suddenly gets 35 minutes a game, and then plays the same way causing people to go "holy cow, look how much better xyz is" rather than "holy cow, look how dumb xyz's coach was last year for barely playing him!".
I'll go with Amir Johnson, for no other reason that someone will do a lot of dirty work in Toronto with Bosh gone. Johnson's likely that guy. Do I think he's good enough to become a really good player? No. However, I think he'll add about 12 minutes a game to his playing time and have a big lift in his stats. If he can show some improvement as well then I can't think of someone better to give the award to.
Filed under: Miscellaneous
Tags: amir johnson, awards, blake griffin, chicago bulls, defensive player of the year, demarcus cousins, dwight howard, evan turner, Jamal Crawford, jason terry, john wall, Kevin Durant, kobe bryant, lebron james, manu ginobili, most improved player, MVP, rookie of the year