Everyone’s been talking about the Eastern ‘race’ for the #1 seed and homecourt advantage through the conference playoffs so I’ll get off the soapbox I was on last week. Since the playoff slots won’t be finalized until tomorrow, I won’t make specific playoff predictions until Friday so check the homepage then!
Today, I want to talk about regular season accolades. In a couple weeks, I’ll detail my plan for transforming NBA awards but for now let’s just look at the ones soon to be added to mantles across the country.
Yes, LeBron James is the best player in the world. Yes, Kevin Durant had a better season. Even Bron said as much.
Taj has been the second best player on a very impressive team. Sixth Man is his role and he’s played it masterfully this year.
Coach of the Year
I thought the Suns would win fewer than twenty games this year. Instead, they’re the best ever team to miss the playoffs. Hornacek is Polish for ‘Miracle Worker’.
Rookie of the Year
Nearly by default, Oladipo’s energy, drive and consistency helped make him one of Orlando’s real bright spots in a dismal year.
Defenisve Player of the Year
Lots of folks have assumed that because Hibbert’s scoring and rebounding have fallen off his defense has too. Not the case. He’s the best rim protector in the league, the best lane protector and the anchor for the league’s best defensive unit.
All-NBA First Team
It’s hard to imagine much dispute with this team. Triple doubles have become Joakim Noah’s specialty but Dwight Howard’s again the premier interior force in the league. I’d argue that he’s become 1991 era Hakeem Olajuwon in that their domination is so consistent we’ve become a bit bored by it. Howard deserves this spot.
Love has become underrated. I don’t know how his stat lines get ignored so regularly but they do. When you shoot like Dirk Nowitzki and rebound like Moses Malone, you’re a special dude.
I also recognize that lots of folks have Chris Paul on first team because he’s the best point guard in the world. That makes sense except that he missed lots of games.
If I were distinguishing, I might have Dragic ahead of Paul on the scorecards. That’s how impressive his season was.
Paul George had half a year of being one of the 5 best players in the world and half a year of being one of the top 15. His all-court game is astonishing. There’s a decent chance that next year he’ll be the third best player in the world.
Al Jefferson has always been underrated. All I know is that without him, Charlotte would have been battling Milwaukee and Philadelphia, not Washington and Brooklyn.
North of the border means you get ignored. An argument could be made for putting Lowry above Paul. I won’t make it but I’d consider it.
Mike Conley is the little engine that could. I expected more than a dozen point guards to have better seasons than Conley. What I didn’t expect was him to become an offensive catalyst and defensive stopper. Astonishing.
Astonishing is a great word to describe this season. From climbers like the Trail Blazers, Pacers and Bobcats to meteors like the Suns and Raptors to disasters like the Lakers and Knicks, this regular season has been filled with surprises, storylines and excitement galore. And on Friday… We get to talk about the playoffs!!
© Gayle Force Press 2014