Since we’re about at the half-way point of the season, I thought I’d put out my opinions on the awards so far, as well as some of my thoughts on the season.
Awards (winner, runner up)
MVP- Chris Paul, Kevin Durant. Anyone who says it isn’t Chris Paul is only looking at the stats and doesn’t truly understand what “most valuable player” actually means. I’m a big believer in the “value added” aspect of an MVP. Chris Paul adds more value to the Clippers team than anyone else does to their team. Period. As of now, he’s the MVP of the league, and the award is his to lose.
ROY- Damian Lillard, Anthony Davis. This one, I’m actually really surprised about. I didn’t think Lillard would bust, but I definitely didn’t see him being this good either. Not only does he lead all Rookies in scoring, but he also has the Blazers in playoff position. So, Lillard wins this easily.
6th- Kevin Martin, Manu Ginobili. Honourable mentions: J.R. Smith, Jamal Crawford. This one was close. But, considering each player’s team record, stats, and advanced stats, I give the award to Kevin Martin. He’s come in and replaced the scoring void left by the departure of James Harden, and he’s doing it efficiently. He is in the perfect sixth-man role in Oklahoma City, and should continue to be their scoring punch off the bench.
MIP- James Harden, Jrue Holiday. Harden’s first few games in Houston were clearly not a fluke. He looks like a star in Houston right now, and with how the Rockets are playing, even deserves his name in the MVP discussion IMO. It’s not news now, but the Raptors were in discussions with Oklahoma City to get him before he was traded to Houston. We’ll never know whether or not Jonas Valanciunas was the deal maker, or deal breaker, but it’s debatable now whether or not the Raptors should have done the deal, regardless of who was involved.
DPOY- Tyson Chandler, Chris Paul. Chandler, simply put, is a difference maker on the court. I feel comfortable saying that he’ll win back-to-back defensive player awards. Which as a Mavs fan, makes me upset knowing the team let him go because they didn’t want to pay him for more than one year.
COY- Vinny Del Negro, Terry Stotts. For a guy who almost lost his job last season, Del Negro has really turned the table and has the Clippers at the top of the standings so far this season. He deserves a lot of credit for where the team is right now.
Surprisingly Good Teams
New York Knicks- I never thought I’d hear the words Melo and MVP together. But, I have to hand it to him so far. He is looking like a legitimate candidate thus far. I don’t know if it’s the changed attitude, or no Stoudemire, or both. But Anthony has looked impressive this season.
L.A. Clippers- I know the Clippers were going to be good this year. They improved an already good team this offseason, and I liked the moves they made. But the best team in the league? It will be interesting if they can keep this level of play up when it truly matters, in the playoffs.
Portland Trailblazers- Terry Stotts is doing a great job in Portland, considering this team was in the lottery last season, and lost a key piece to the startling lineup in Gerald Wallace. But, rookie Damian Lillard has looked like the real deal so far. Right now, this team would make the playoffs, something I doubt many people, including myself, expected from them.
Oklahoma City Thunder- I know, the Thunder weren’t exactly supposed to be a bad team. But the way that they’ve played without one of their best players in Harden has definitely been surprising, at least for me. The fact that they lose Harden, and are still the second best team in the league shows that GM Sam Presti definitely knows what he’s doing, given how he’s handled his decision making in a small market that doesn’t want to spend big.
Surprisingly Bad Teams
Toronto Raptors- Despite playing some good basketball the last few weeks, the Raptors got off to an awful start that no one saw coming. However, roster shakeups (for better, or for worse) might put the team back into the playoff picture (if that’s what you’re hoping for).
L.A. Lakers- Want to hear a joke? I had this team going 61-21 in my season preview. I think I may have been a bit off on that one. I didn’t like the signing of D’Antoni, but there is no way this team should be under .500, which they currently are, no matter who the coach is.
Dallas Mavericks- The Mavs were without their star Dirk Nowitzki for the start of the season. They started out pretty well, and were even hovering around .500. However, now with Nowitzki back, the Mavs have spiralled downwards into a spot in the standings they have not seen in a long time. It could have a lot to do with scheduling, but they are 1-8 with Nowitzki back, and 12-14 without him. What happened?
Washington Wizards- Ok, the Wizards didn’t have Wall for the entire start of the season, and also missed Nene for a good part of it as well as Ariza, but they are just terrible right now.
Coaches I think will be fired:
Mike D’Antoni- the question here is, how much longer does he last? Also, do the Lakers hire Phil Jackson this time around? Nash is back, yet, we’re still left wondering what’s going on here.
Randy Wittman- read above. It’s not his fault his players are injured, but I will be very surprised if Wittman makes it to All-Star weekend given how poorly the Wizards have played.
Byron Scott- He needs to turn things around in Cleveland pretty quickly. Despite having Irving for 26 of the 37 games, the Cavaliers look pretty bad. I didn’t expect them to be good, but I definitely didn’t expect them to be this bad.