As the All-star game nears, it’s time to name my NBA awards winners for the first half of the season. Every team has played more than half of its schedule so now is a good time to see how each player ranks in the award races.
MVP: Kevin Durant
Runner ups: LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony
There is no mistaking it, LeBron James is the best basketball player on the planet, however, the MVP of the season is not an award for the best basketball player but for the most valuable to the league and his team. This year Kevin Durant is that player. Durant is currently on his way to his 4th straight scoring title and leading the Thunder to the 2nd best record in the NBA. He’s shooting 51% from the field (with 42% from behind the 3-point line) and 90% from the free-throw line.
LeBron being LeBron is what got him on this list at this point of the season. With 26 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists per game, how can you not be in the MVP conversation? The surprise person and a close 2nd for me is Carmelo Anthony. Having his best season as a pro, averaging 28 points a game, (2nd in the NBA), shooting 45% from the field and 41% from the 3, there’s probably no player in the league more important to his team then Melo. He also has the New York Knicks sitting 2nd in the Eastern conference standings.
Rookie of the Year: Damian Lillard
Runner ups: Dion Waiters, Anthony Davis
As of today and at this point of the season, Damian Lillard is running away with the rookie of the year award. He’s putting up 18.3 points and 6.6 assists per game and is the clear leader of the Trail Blazer’s offense. There’s no other rookie displaying the same impact he’s had on his team. Both Anthony Davis and Dion Waiters are playing well but neither player has really changed how the team has played. Lillard is the quarterback of the Trailblazers. He runs the team while having the full backing and support of all of his teammates. There’s more basketball to be played so this race is not over but for now its Damian Lillard’s to lose.
Sixth Man of the Year: Jamal Crawford
Runner ups: J.R. Smith, Nate Robinson
This the what I believe to be the closet race of them all. J.R. Smith is probably the best sixth man in the NBA. He’s averaging 16 points and 33 minutes a game, 2nd in both categories among all Knicks players. J.R. is instant offense off the bench and besides Melo, the main reason the Knicks are contenders this year. So why did I pick Jamal Crawford? Because he’s basically playing the same role for the Los Angeles Clippers, all in less minutes. In only 29 minutes a game, Jamal is averaging 17 points and shooting 42% from the field. My decision came down to Crawford being in his first year with the Clippers and having such an impact for them. The one thing missing from last year’s Clips was not having a punch off the bench. Jamal took care of that and more. One last arrival to the party is Nate Robinson. Without Derrick Rose the Bulls are still contenders in the East and Nate is one of the biggest reasons why. Filling in backup point guard duties, Nate is giving the Bulls 12 points and 4 assist in just 22 minutes.
Defensive Player of the Year: Joakim Noah
Runner ups: Chris Paul, Paul George
Not much to say about the Defensive Player of the Year category this year. So many candidates and no one has really separated themselves from the pack. I give the nod to Joakim Noah right now because with the Bulls being near the top of the Eastern Conference and serious contenders to the champion Heat, they do it with defense and Noah leads the charge. Chris Paul is leading the league with 3 steals a game so it was easy to name him here and Paul George gets listed mainly because the best defensive team in the league, the Indiana Pacers, should be represented right?
Coach of the Year: Mike Woodson
Runner ups: Frank Vogel, Mark Jackson
This award generally goes to the coach who exceeds the expectations people have for his team. With that being said, who picked the Knicks to be 31- 15 at this point of the season? I would say only Spike Lee. Woodson has gotten more out of the Knicks and Carmelo Anthony than anyone could imagine. They are among the league’s top scoring teams, leading in 3-pointers made and are actually playing defense.
Frank Vogel has the Pacers playing the best defense in the NBA. Without their best player in Danny Granger, the Pacers are at the top of the East and have swept the Heat so far this season. Ex-NBA All-Star point guard Mark Jackson has been a positive influence on Steph Curry and the young Golden State Warriors. They are exciting to watch and are 6th in the Western Conference playoff race.