After a season that became best known for Linsanity, a MettaRon ArtPeace elbow, the Dwight Howard Saga of Awkwardness, and the continual failure of Michael Jordan as a team owner, we’ve come to the grand finale.
It’s time for the 2012 NBA Playoffs to begin, which also means it’s time to hand out some seasonal awards.
Let’s begin with the ones that matter the most:
Most Valuable Player
Also known as: The award redefined by writers each year based on the most compelling narrative.
This year, there were only three real candidates: LeBron James (historical season), Kevin Durant (amazing season on an elite team), and Tony Parker (previously dated Eva Longoria).
Depending on which definition of MVP you agree with, they all deserve the award. Realistically, however, LeBron James is going to be the runaway pick.
Here’s my problem with LeBron’s soon-to-be unanimous selection: the Heat, despite being loaded with talent, finished second in the Eastern Conference behind a Chicago Bulls team missing its best player for 27 games in a shortened season.
You would think the team being led by a player in the midst of a historic season would at least earn a #1 seed in a conference that features the Indiana Pacers as the #3 seed (no disrespect to the Pacers, but their franchise player is Danny freaking Granger).
Those of you who disagree with me will be quick to point out that Dwyane Wade only played 49 games, which is fair. But Wade, at least according to the knowledgeably “objective” writers within the TrueHoop network, is a First Team All-NBA player this season. Go ahead, look at it yourself.
[Be sure to also note that while a player who missed 17 games and had his second worst statistical season as a pro (22 ppg, 4.6 apg, 4.8 rpg, 1.7 spg) is 1st team All-NBA, the player that led the Spurs to the best record in the Western Conference with better numbers (Tony Parker), as well as the player that played through torn ligaments and broken noses while putting up 27, 5, 4 on a #3 seed in the West (Kobe) were relegated to second and third All-NBA status. TrueHoop: objective as ever.]
Just food for thought.
Pre-season pick: Kevin Durant
Who should win it? LeBron James
Who will win it? LeBron James
Defensive Player of the Year
With Dwight Howard having a disastrous season both on and off the court, this award is as wide open as Andrew Bynum at the three-point line.
But not wide enough that LeBron James should be considered for it. Let’s not get crazy now.
[As always, this notion was actually suggested by the writers of TrueHoop. They propose that James should finish second in DPOY voting.]
Pre-season pick: Dwight Howard
Who should win it? Tyson Chandler
Who will win it? Tyson Chandler
Seriously, any writer with an ounce of objectivity (like, for example, Marc Stein) would not have LeBron James in the top 3. It is one thing to defend opposing stars for limited stretches in games when they’re exploding, and another to defend different stars every game while being expected to shut them down. LeBron did this season what Kobe Bryant did as a 22-year-old on the 2000 and 2001 Lakers title teams: he played All-NBA defense for limited stretches.
It merits respect and praise, but not a DPOY consideration over more consistent defenders like Chandler, Garnett, or Iggy.
The Rest of the Awards
This is my acknowledgement that you as a reader don’t care enough about who is going to win the NBA’s Citizenship Award to justify writing long, detailed paragraphs.
(Unsurprisingly, the True Hoop network voted for LeBron James to win the award. You can’t make this stuff up).
So, to save us both the headache, here are my selections for the remaining awards that people still care enough about to glance at, but not to read about:
Rookie of the Year
Pre-season pick: Ricky Rubio
Who should win it? Kyrie Irving
Who will win it? Kyrie Irving
Sixth Man of the Year
Pre-season pick: Luke Walton (just kidding – I’m just checking to see if you’re still reading)
Who should win it? James Harden
Who will win it?James Harden
Most Improved Player
Pre-season pick: Goran Dragic
Who should win it? Jeremy Lin
Who will win it? Jeremy Lin
Coach of the Year
Pre-season pick: Tom Thibodeau
Who should win it? Greg Popovich
Who will win it? Greg Popovich
Coming up tomorrow, the NBA playoffs preview.