With the Association’s regular season concluding on Thursday night and the NBA Playoffs ready to get underway this weekend; it is time to announce our choices for this year’s NBA Regular Season Awards. While there were obvious choices in some of the categories; there were two awards in particular that were rather difficult to come up with a final decision. With that being stated; here are our choices for the 2011-2012 NBA Regular Season Awards:
NBA Coach Of The Year: Gregg Popovich; San Antonio Spurs: Sixers coach Doug Collins did a superb job in Philadelphia in the first half of the campaign, but the team just hung on to make the Post Season down the stretch. Last year’s winner of the award, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau also did a very skilful job attaining the best record in the Association while Derrick Rose spent a lot of the campaign sidelined by injuries. However, San Antonio Spurs bench boss Gregg Popovich gets the nod from this corner as he once again took his team to the top of the Western Conference; despite the fact that the club is still built around the same trio that led the franchise to their last NBA Title. Even with Manu Ginobili playing just more than half the team’s games and Tim Duncan’s scoring production far below the numbers he put up a few seasons ago; Pop was able to bring his team to the top of their conference and they seem to be peaking at the right time.
NBA Defensive Player Of The Year: Tyson Chandler; New York Knicks: The scoring explosion that was expected from the Knicks front-court, when they signed Free Agent center Tyson Chandler to play alongside Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire; never materialized. The big man who helped the Dallas Mavericks win their first NBA Championship last season, was a key part of New York’s recovery from a lackluster start of the campaign to make the Playoffs for the second straight year; by helping to shut down his squad’s opponents. Chandler would be the iron-man of his team’s front-court with both Anthony and Stoudemire out for extended period’s of time. The center played a big role in keeping the Knicks opponents averaging just 94.8 per contest for the campaign, three points less than New York averaged per game.
NBA Most Improved Player: Ryan Anderson; Orlando Magic: New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin was a comet that soared throughout the sky of the Association; however unfortunately just like a comet his flight was spectacular but far too short to have earned him this award. Anderson has gotten our support by producing his best season by far during his four years playing in the Association, as well as being the most consistent player for the Magic not named Dwight Howard. With the All-Star center’s season ended after having back surgery and the rest of the squad pretty beat up; Orlando’s slim hopes for Post Season success are on the forward’s shoulders.
NBA Sixth Man Award: James Harden; Oklahoma City Thunder: Just as the original sixth men; Boston Celtics Frank Ramsey and John Havlicek would have started for most other teams that existed in the Association during their era; Harden would be a starter on most club’s in today’s NBA. Trailing only Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in minutes played for his squad; he is also his team’s third scoring option as he has averaged 16.8 points per contest for the year.
NBA Rookie Of The Year: Kyrie Irving; Cleveland Cavaliers: Minnesota Timberwolves rookie point guard Ricky Rubio was just starting to display the skills his team was counting on when they drafted him a few year ago; when his season ended due to injury. Detroit Pistons guard Brandon Knight, T-Wolves forward Derrick Williams, Knicks guard Iman Shumpert and Bobcats guard Kemba Walker were some other first year players who showed potential this year. However Irving survived his baptism by fire; being put into the starting lineup from the Cavaliers first game of the campaign and leading his team as well as all rookies, averaging 18.5 points per game and restoring hope to Cleveland fans.
NBA MVP Award: Kevin Durant; Oklahoma City Thunder: I realize that I am going against the grain here and that Miami Heat forward LeBron James seems to be the front-runner to claim his third MVP Trophy. James has once again had an incredible campaign putting up some of his best numbers of his career. However going with the literal translation of the name of the trophy; The Most Valuable Player Award, our pick goes to Durant. This corner believes that the Thunder forward is the “straw that stirs the drink” for his squad, while despite Dwyane Wade stating that James has become more of a leader this season, the Heat remain D-Wade’s team in our eyes.