Due to the NBA Lockout as well as the truncated regular season, the NBA All-Star game this year is taking place at just about the midway point for most teams in the Association. That makes it the perfect time to announce the winners of the PRO HOOPS CENTRAL NBA First Half Awards. This veteran NBA observer has spent the past few days breaking down the numbers in-depth which have led to the following selections. All Awards are based on the results of games played in the Association from December 25, 2011 through February 23, 2012.
NBA MVP Award: Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder: Although strong cases can be made for Miami’s LeBron James, Orlando’s Dwight Howard, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul from the Clippers as well as Durant’s teammate point guard Russell Westbrook; the Thunder forward gets the nod in this corner. Earlier this season some members of the media tried to pit Westbrook and Durant against each other as they posed the question who was the club’s best player. Although Westbrook is the floor general for Oklahoma City; there is no question who the true leader on the team is. Whether Durant is currently the best player in the Association is a subject for another day; but he is the best player in this campaign.
NBA Rookie Of The Year: Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers: Some years this category is tightly contested; then there are seasons like last year when Blake Griffin won the award hands down. As we reach the halfway point in this campaign, barring serious injury by the number one pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, or another rookie has just an incredible second half, the Cavaliers point guard should also win this year’s contest with little competition.Not only has he been the starter at the point since the opening game of the campaign, he is actually Cleveland fans that there will be life after LeBron.
NBA Coach Of The Year: Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs: Doug Collins has done a very skilful job with Philadelphia, as the team has far exceeded expectations through the first half of the campaign; however he has to take a back seat to what Popovich has accomplished with the Spurs. Pop has led an aging franchise, that has been without starter Manu Ginobili for much of the season, to the second best record in the Western Conference. San Antonio could very well flame out in after returning from the All-Star break; as the club did during the first round of the Playoffs last year; however the Spurs veteran bench boss wins the award for the first half of year.
NBA Defensive Player Of The Year: Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic: Although the offense in Orlando is at its weakest since Stan Van Gundy became the head coach of this squad, Orlando has a record of 22-13 which puts them as the fifth seed now in the Eastern Conference. Howard has not only been the main source of scoring for his team, but the best center in the Association has compensated for his club’s lack of points by shutting his opponents down.
NBA Most Improved Player: Jeremy Lin, New York Knicks: The “Feel Good Story” of this year’s season in the Association has captivated everyone from NBA Commissioner David Stern to President Barack Obama. After being cut by two teams earlier this season, and seemingly nailed to the Knicks bench for most of his time with the club; “Lin-derella” took a moribund team from New York on a seven game winning streak as he strapped the club on his back took the NBA by storm. Yes, he fell back to earth on Thursday night against the Miami Heat, but the young man has gone from being an obscure player to a household name overnight.
All-NBA First Team:
Point Guard: Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers
Shooting Guard: Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
Small Forward: Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
Power Forward: Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers
Center: Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic
All-NBA Second Team:
Point Guard: Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
Shooting Guard: Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
Small Forward: LeBron James, Miami Heat
Power Forward: Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves
Center: Andrew Bynum, Los Angeles Lakers
All-NBA Third Team:
Point Guard: Deron Williams, New Jersey Nets
Shooting Guard: Monta Ellis, Golden State Warriors
Small Forward: Rudy Gay, Memphis Grizzlies
Power Forward: LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trail Blazers
Center: Roy Hibbert, Indiana Pacers