My End-of-Season Awards Ballot
I’m not actually sure whether or not anyone in the TrueHoop Network has a vote for the official MVP, Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year, etc. awards, but most of us do not. So a few weeks ago, we opted to all vote on the awards and announce the 2009-10 TrueHoop Network Awards.
Here were the voting stipulations (as well as the full results with voter explanations):
Most awards follow a 5-3-1 format. MVP is 10-7-5-3-1. The Sportsmanship Award requires voting for nominees from each division. The Citizenship Award is one player per voter. All-Rookie and All-Defensive teams are 2-1.
Overall, this has to be the easiest year ever for voters with a no-brainer candidate in all the major categories. Really, aside from Most Improved Player, there was no research or line of thought that swayed my initial Nevertheless, here are my votes, along with the TrueHoop Network Award winners and actual winners listed in bold.
You can also see my ballot for the All-NBA and All-Defensive teams at Both Teams Played Hard.
Most Valuable Player
TrueHoop Network Winner: LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
Actual Winner: LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
1st – LeBron James
2nd – Dwight Howard
3rd – Kevin Durant
4th – Kobe Bryant
5th – Dirk Nowitzki
Post-voting thoughts: Nothing to think about. Easiest vote I made. This was the most no-brainer MVP award I’ve had to consider since I started blogging/thinking about this stuff more seriously in 2006.
Defensive Player of the Year
TrueHoop Network Winner: Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic
Actual Winner: Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic
1st – Dwight Howard
2nd – Josh Smith
3rd – Andrew Bogut
Post-voting thoughts: We voted just a few days after Bogut went down with that horrific injury and some empathetic feelings perhaps factored into my third-place considerations. On a different day, Gerald Wallace or Anderson Varejao could have just as easily gotten the nod there. Howard first and Smoove at second were non-negotiable though. They were a clearly each in classes by themselves this season.
Rookie of the Year
TrueHoop Network Winner: Tyreke Evans, Sacramento Kings
Actual Winner: Tyreke Evans, Sacramento Kings
1st – Tyreke Evans
2nd – Stephen Curry
3rd – Brandon Jennings
Post-voting thoughts: Much like MVP, there was no other choice here. The whole fourth player ever to average 20/5/5 as a rookie thing should be case closed on this one, but there were even more factors that made Tyreke the only candidate. Zach Harper breaks it down pretty well here.
Sixth Man of the Year
TrueHoop Network Winner: Jamal Crawford, Atlanta Hawks
Actual Winner: Jamal Crawford, Atlanta Hawks
1st – Jamal Crawford
2nd – Manu Ginobili
3rd – Anderson Varejao
Post-voting thoughts: Went with Jamal to honor the spirit of the award (best second-unit player for his team) rather than the letter of the voting stipulations for the award (best player who came off the bench in at least half of the games he played). There’s no question that Manu is a much, much better player than Jamal (who I love), but Manu started a ton of games whereas Jamal was truly a sixth man all year long. As for third, it could have easily been Jason Terry there. He was great, too. I went with Sideshow because his great play this year was less heralded than Terry’s, I believe. (Terry won last year, for instance, and is generally recognized as a very good player where as Andy is still seen as just a flopper with a terrible haircut. He indeed has a terrible haircut, but he’s also a helluva basketball player.)
Most Improved Player
TrueHoop Network Winner: Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
Actual Winner: Aaron Brooks, Houston Rockets
1st – Channing Frye
2nd – Anderson Varejao
3rd – Josh Smith
Post-voting thoughts: This was the only award for which I went off the reservation. Mainly, it’s because I’m not exactly sure what this award is for. My man Danny Granger won last year, so I suppose I should hold it in higher esteem, but I don’t see it as particularly meaningful considering that so many people vote under different rationales. Is it for the guy who most opportunely took advantage of his increased minutes? Is it for the guy who went from nobody to somebody in the eyes of the national public? Is it the guy who had the most surprising ascension? Is if for the guy who went from good to great? Or is it for guy who went from great to otherworldly great (aka, Kevin Durant)?
I really don’t know. But, in my view, it really must be a tip of the cap to an unheralded guy whose contributions are routinely overlooked unfairly. Thus, Durant was out.
Remember going to basketball camp and they would give out the Hustle Award to some kid that wasn’t great, but always gave his all? Well, this is sort of the equivalent of that award in the NBA to me. I’m not going to give the Hustle Award to Allen Iverson or Kevin Garnett. They’re “above” this award. Honestly, Danny probably was, too, even though it was a nice nod for him. Still, him making the All-Star team was a much bigger thing for him than this cute, little trophy. Anyway, getting long here, but, to me, Channing Frye was a guy who clearly did a lot this year that I had no idea he was capable of. I mean, he made 172 threes this year. Previously in his career, he had only even attempted 70 threes. And it wasn’t just a minutes thing. He had played a lot of minutes in the past. Channing went from an NBA afterthought who was barely a rotation player to a legitimate offensive weapon (he shot 43.9% from three this year). I did not expect that at all, and his ability to become a skilled contributor deserves recognition. In short, where as I’m not sure how much other guys actually “improved,” I am positive that Channing displayed a new, lethal skill that he he never previously displayed in professional basketball. So, here ya go, buddy … take a trophy. (Of course, he won’t win and probably shouldn’t. In fact, my first-plae vote for him was the only nod he even got from any of the TrueHoop Network voters. And I have no problem with that. Lastly, I don’t consider second-year guys because they are going to naturally improve. Everyone does. Third-year guys, too, really. Ultimately, I think it should go to a veteran guy who was just below-average for years and then became quite a bit better.)
As for Josh Smith, I thought he would never “get it” even with all his talent. Well, he did this year. Oh my God, did he. And the fact that he didn’t make the All-Star team this year was a travesty. He was much, much better this year than he ever has been and, while I respect Aaron Brooks and Andrew Bogut’s games tremendously, they were pretty similar to last year in my eyes. (For Andy explanation, see Sixth Man explanation.)
Coach of the Year
TrueHoop Network Winner: Scott Brooks, Oklahoma City Thunder
Actual Winner: Scott Brooks, Oklahoma City Thunder
1st – Scott Brooks, Oklahoma City Thunder
2nd – Nate McMillan, Portland Trailblazers
3rd – Jerry Sloan, Utah Jazz
Post-voting thoughts: If a guy gets a team that won 23 games last year to win 50 games the next year with no Bird/Shaq/MJ-level additions, he wins this award — particularly when the major reason for the improvement was defense, not simply Kevin Durant elevating his game to another stratosphere. That obviously helped, but this team was not a high-octane offense based around KD and Russell Westbrook. It was a hard-nosed crew of stoppers that made life difficult for every offense it faced. As for McMillan and Sloan over Scott Skiles, the job Nate did to get Portland into the playoffs within the Western Conference gauntlet was just amazing, and the job Jerry does every year is just amazing. I know it’s not a life-time achievement award, but as long as he continues to be so much better than almost all of his peers and get good-not-great rosters to overachieve, he will continue to be in strong consideration to make my ballot.
Executive of the Year
TrueHoop Network Winner: John Hammond, Milwaukee Bucks
Actual Winner: John Hammond, Milwaukee Bucks
1st – Darryl Morey, Houston Rockets
2nd – Danny Ferry, Cleveland Cavaliers
3rd – Donnie Nelson, Dallas Mavericks
Post-voting thoughts: I obviously valued the trade deadline moves very heavily here. Morey made one of the shrewdest trades I’ve ever seen. Ferry had the franchise-altering task of doing enough to make sure LeBron re-signs next summer and the Antawn Jamison trade was like scoring a 95 out of a 100 on that test. People — including me — have said he had not done enough in the past, but he can now feel comfortable that, no matter whether Lebron stays or leaves, he did almost everything in his power to make Cleveland an attractive place to play by acquiring Antawn, Shaq, Anthony Parker and Jamario Moon over the past twelve months. And Donnie Nelson acquired Caron Butler and Brandon Haywood without essentially giving up anything. Sure, Hammond picked Brandon Jennings and made the John Salmons pickup (which I like don’t love), but I think these three guys did a lot more than getting “lucky” in drafting a player that, in hindsight, should have gone a lot sooner. It’s similar to Larry Bird picking Danny Granger at #17. Good on you, buddy, but I’m not throwing you a party when you’re great move was predicated on 16 other guys screwing up.