Everyone’s dying to know my picks for the big NBA end-of-the-regular-season awards, right? Defense Player of the Year is, I think, pretty simple — Kevin Garnett is the anchor of what’s not only the best defensive team this season, but actually one of the best defenses of all time. So there.
Tradition dictates that Rookie of the Year should go to Kevin Durant for taking the most shots and thus acquiring the highest points per game average. But I think that’s kind of bogus, and as a Durant fan I want to keep the pressure on him to actually shoot accurately and re-acquire some of his rebounding prowess from college. So I say Al Horford. Carl Landry is clearly some kind of basketball god but he didn’t play in enough games.
Coach. I hear a lot of talk about Byron Scott who is, in fact, a good coach. But I think you need to give this award not to the “team many underrated in the preseason” but to a coach who faced some clear coaching challenges. In my view, that’s Rick Adelman who’s steered the Rockets past Yao Ming’s injury.
Most Improved: Chris Paul. He’s improved a lot!
Plus it’s a consolation prize for Paul, because the Most Valuable Player is Kobe Bryant. As is well known, the MVP award is handed out on a highly arbitrary basis. Thus, LeBron James is ruled out for his team being too middling even though nobody thinks this is his fault. Similarly, the best player on the best team always deserves a hard look but Kevin Garnett hasn’t scored the requisite 20 points per game. It’s down to Kobe and Paul and it fundamentally comes down to Paul being younger and how “it’s Kobe’s time.” So he wins.
That said, I do think every sportwriter who criticized KG’s lack of “leadership” or some other BS during the past couple of years when the Timberwolves were bad owes him a personal apology. It’s almost as if even the greatest players can only succeed with some good teammates.
UPDATE: Oh, yeah, sixth man. Obviously, that’s Manu Ginobili.