Saturday, April 19, 2008

Kobe Gets My Vote For MVP

After long debate and consideration, I have finally come to a conclusion on all of the NBA's postseason awards. I do not have an official media vote, but here is how I believe the voting should play out.

MVP: Kobe Bryant
I went back and forth 10-15 times on this selection over the last several weeks. I asked players, coaches and media members throughout the league to give me their take on who they think should win the award. I didn't want them to make my decision for me, but I just wanted to make sure there wasn't something I was missing in either candidate.

In the end, it became clear to me that Kobe Bryant was the league's MVP. His numbers are among the league's best yet again, but what really stood out is how he still carried his team to the top seed in the Western Conference when the Lakers lost so many games to injuries. Andrew Bynum, Trevor Ariza, Lamar Odom, Vladimir Radmanovic, Sasha Vujacic, Chris Mihm, and even Pau Gasol all missed time at some point this season. But in the face of such adversity, Kobe perhaps played his best.

Kobe scored 40 or more points in a game six times this season. He grabbed double digit rebounds 15 times. And five times he dished out at least 10 assists. Just imagine if he handled the ball as much as Paul, Nash or LeBron.

Perhaps Sacramento Coach Reggie Theus summed up Kobe's MVP-caliber season the best. When asked whether this was Kobe's best season in the league, Theus responded, "It's his best season as a teammate!" Enough said!

MVP Ballot:
1) Kobe Bryant
2) Chris Paul
3) Kevin Garnett

Coach of the Year: Byron Scott
Coming off a season where the Hornets were a walking MASH unit, some people actually thought New Orleans wouldn't even make the playoffs this season. However, Byron Scott was not one of those people, nor would he allow his team to settle for just making the postseason. Instead, they battled the Lakers for the top seed in the West until the final week of the season.

Most league insiders, as well as fans, will probably give Chris Paul and his MPV-worthy season the most credit for the Hornets turnaround from 39 to 52 wins. But don't get it twisted. It was Scott who recognized just how special Paul could be and shaped a system around the future Hall of Famer. It was Scott who would not allow his team to settle for mediocrity and convinced them that they were good enough to challenge for this year's NBA championship.

Coach of the Year Ballot:
1) Byron Scott
2) Rick Adelman
3) Doc Rivers

Rookie of the Year: Kevin Durant
Barring a rash of injuries, Kevin Durant wrapped up this season's Rookie of the Year Award when Greg Oden underwent knee surgery last summer. But don't take anything away from this future perennial All-Star. Durant can flat out go. And go. And go.

On a team which only won 20 games and lacking any proven veteran stars, Durant averaged 20.3 points a game even though he was the top priority in every team's scouting report. He eclipsed the 30-point mark seven times, including a season-ending, career-high 42.

Once his body catches up to his game, we could see him battling LeBron James for not only future scoring titles, but MVP awards as well.

Rookie of the Year Ballot
1) Kevin Durant
2) Al Horford
3) Al Thornton

Most Improved: Hedo Turkoglu
When the Magic acquired Rashard Lewis from Seattle, Hedo Turkoglu's playing time and his role became serious question marks in Orlando. Instead, Turkoglu had the entire league questioning why they didn't pay more attention to him.

Turkoglu's 19.5 points were second only to Dwight Howard's 20.7 (Lewis averaged 18.2). His offensive production this season was a 6-point increase from last year and an 8-point jump above his career numbers. He was also second on the team in both rebounds and assists.

Most Improved Ballot:
1) Hedo Turkoglu
2) Rudy Gay
3) Chris Kaman

Defensive Player of the Year: Marcus Camby
This award more than any other seems to have the same candidates each and every year. The reason is simple. The best defenders are the best because they are always playing defense. It's not something they do for certain stretches of the game, it's something they do every minute they are on the court.

Marcus Camby gets my vote as the league's best defender not just because he led the NBA yet again in blocked shots, but because he alters way more shots than he actually blocks. When guards drive the lane against Camby, it's either a block or an ugly shot. Either way, they rarely score over or around him. Instead, opponents light up the rest of Camby's teammates for their points!

Defensive Player of the Year Ballot:
1) Marcus Camby
2) Bruce Bowen
3) Raja Bell

Sixth Man of the Year: Manu Ginobili
The league should really consider renaming the Sixth Man of the Year Award after Manu Ginobili. It's really not even fair. Ginobili isn't just one of the best bench players in the league, he's one of the top NBA players, period. He scores like a starter (19.5) while playing starter minutes (31.1).

It's not his fault Greg Popovich prefers to bring him into the game midway through the first quarter. But if he continues that practice, Ginobili will continue to be the runaway winner of this award.

Sixth Man of the Year Ballot:
1) Manu Ginobili
2) Leandro Barbosa


Zuri said...

What is up with people dropping the sixth man on Ginobli. He's starting for crying out loud.

Michael Eaves said...


the rules are simple.. if you come off the bench more times than you start.. you are a 6th man!