A early look at the Season and it's top Performers.
We are a society that needs constant reassurance of the job we are doing. It's not good enough to see that you've done a good job, you have to hear it from someone else. It's the same in sports. We can see when someone is performing at a high level, but we have to give the guy some award to make it real. You don't win some trophy or plaque, you didn't do a good job, you're a loser, you SUCK.
This attitude has created a society that is constantly grading one anothers performances. At work, we have weekly status reports, monthly performance reviews, yearly reviews. In school, the dreaded report card. So naturally in sports, players and teams are given grades, they are held accountable for being great and sucking just like the rest of us.
To get in on the action I'm going to take a look at our young NBA season and reveal who I think are the early front runners for the NBA's most popular end of Season Awards, like MVP, Rookie of the Year, and so on. Enjoy…..or not….or do…and give me an award for enjoying it, I love awards.
6th Man Award
Jamal Crawford Atlanta Hawks
The obvious choice here would be Jason Terry, he's the most obvious every year. But, his role is that of a starter, so I wanted to go in a different direction here. Crawford came over this season from Golden State where he started every game he played in. So his transition to the bench has to be a difficult one. Crawford is a scorer that needs to take shots to get his game going. He has done an outstanding job of coming in the game and having his game ready to go from minute one. He's averaging 17 points a game, 3 assists, and is shooting 47% from the field in about 29 minutes of work. He's been great on the defensive end as well and is a big reason Atlanta is 8-2 this season. I think he will be that second scorer that the Hawks were missing last season in the Playoffs, that takes some pressure off Joe Johnson and Josh Smith.
Milwaukee Bucks 5 wins 2 losses
The first team that popped in my head was the Phoenix Suns, who at 9-2 have the best record in the NBA. But, really, who didn't think they would be better without Shaq and Amare back healthy. With eveyone back and the Big Diesel in Cleveland its really not a surprise that the Suns are winning again. The Bucks, however have been a huge surprise. They have won 4 games in a row after starting 1 – 2, and have done that without Michael Redd in the lineup, who has been out due to injury.(big surprise) Brandon Jennings has been amazing, he leads all rookies in scoring at almost 25 a game, and had a 55 point game against the Warriors. Pretty Impressive. Andrew Bogut is healthy and playing well, averaging 16 and 9, and the rest of the lineup has been playing well. Carlos Delfino, Kurt Thomas, Charlie Bel round out the rest of the starting lineup, not exactly all star material, but getting the job done.
Futility Award (Worst Team)
Washington Wizards 2-7 (6 straight Losses)
I know I know, the New Jersey Nets are winless, but Devin Harris will come back and they will be decent, they have some good young players, Brook Lopez, Terrence Williams, and the Timberwolves have 1 win, but they are young too, and Al Jefferson is still trying to get back in game shape after the knee injury. What's the Wizards excuse? I know Antwan Jamison is hurt, but one of their main players is hurt every year, when will that excuse stop working. They have Arenas and Butler playing, two all star caliber players, they should be winning more. Honestly I'm sick of the injury excuse with this team, the problem is either coaching or chemistry, they got a new coach, so it has to be chemistry. They have underperformed the past couple years but they have healthy talent, they should be better than this. I think the Wizards are doomed to suck until they blow this thing up and start fresh. If you can't win with Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler something is wrong. The Lakers have been missing Gasol, one of their stars but they keep winning.(Except lately darn it)
Coach of the Year
Mike Woodson Atlanta Hawks 8-2
I know I've given the Hawks some love already with the Crawford award, but they have really impressed me. Woodson has stuck with this core of players, despite underachieving, and the development of these young players is finally paying off. Mike Bibby and Joe Johnson have played really well together, even though niether one is a great distributer, and with Jamal Crawford being thrown in the mix, the chemistry is great, and you have to credit Woodson for that. Josh Smith has stopped throwing up 3's and is attacking again, and is getting back to being defensively dominant. Al Horford is an exciting young center, though undersized, he plays with hustle and attitude. I like the addition of Veteran Joe Smith who adds toughness to this lineup. I'm excited to see what this team can do in the Playoffs this year. Experience makes a big difference, and this young team is starting to get it.
Defensive Player of the Year
Danny Granger Indiana Pacers 2.3 Steals/Game 1.1 Blocks/Game
Only one other guy who averages 2 steals a game also gets a block a game and thats Trevor Ariza, he's good too. I don't think enough credit goes to the swing guys who all too often have to guard some of the best players in the league. Does Dwight Howard ever go One on One with Lebron? D Wade? Kobe? No, but he will probably win the award again. The big man constantly gets the Defensive award because so much emphasis gets put on blocks and boards. Not only does Granger score 25 a game, but he grabs 6.6 boards a game and is often trying to stop the opposing teams best player. In the last 5 games Granger has gone up against Paul Pierce, Caron Butler, Carmelo Anthony, Stephan Jackson, and Larry Hughes. To do that, get steals, blocks and boards, and have the energy to drop 25 points or more, thats just amazing to me. The most athletic players in the NBA play the 2 or 3, and to defend them is so difficult. Give the smaller guys some credit too.
Rookie of the Year
Brandon Jennings Milwaukee Bucks 24 Points/Game
I can definitely see High School players taking the Jennings route after seeing his success this year and bypass College and play in Europe instead. Jennings has been so good this year, and is making a strong case that College might not be the best route for young Phenoms anymore. The talent pool in College has diminished so significantly, more and more teams are going with International Players, it makes sense that High School Ballers would want to test their skills against the next best thing to the NBA, and that might not be College. Brandon Jennings already has a 55 point game to his credit, and is averaging 5 assists and 4 boards a game. He has decent size and quickness at the guard spot and has shown good decision making skills for a young point guard. Often rookie PG's turn the ball over alot, and Jennings has given up about 3 a game, but he makes up for that by shooting 49% from the floor, much higher than the typical rookie, who hasn't learned what a good shot it yet, and often throws up alot of bricks their first year. Jennings is just starting out but he has the makings of an Elite Level PG, and could be a shoe-in for Rookie of the Year, depending on how Blake Griffin does when he returns. Tyreke Evans has also played well, averaging over 20 a game since Kevin Martin was injured, another surprise.
Steve Nash Phoenix Suns
It pains me to say this as a Lakers fan, but Steve Nash has been amazing this year. He's leading the Suns to the best record in basketball. He's averaging 11.6 assists and 17 points a game, has two 20 assist games already this Season, most guards never get one in their career, let alone 2 in the first month of the season. Steve Nash is 36 but playing with the energy of a 28 year old, if he can keep his back fro
m causing too much trouble he could win another MVP if the Suns keep playing well. I know most people are picking Lebron, but Cleveland hasn't been playing well, and I expect LBJ to dominate. Nobody expected Nash to lead the league in assists again. Not only that but Nash is also leading a high powered offense and they are back to being one of the Elite teams in the West. I know it's early, but c'mon, what Nash is doing is amazing.
Danny is a sports blogger for the NBA/NFL covering the Utah Jazz, Detroit Lions, and Carolina Panthers. Danny loves being right and will tell you so everyday. He is also a huge Fantasy Sports fan and most of you have probably lost to him at some point in your lives, yes he's that good. Danny is also the Treasurer of the Celine Dion for President Fan Club and refuses to let go of the dream of a Dion Presidency, despite her Canadian heritage. For sports related, or Dion related questions Danny can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Author
Written by Danny Shapiro
Danny Shapiro is 26 years old, married and a father to 2 boys, who he hopes one day to play MLB and support him and his wife in their old age. Danny's second love, mistress even, is sports and Danny is living his dream of being a sports writer right now, thanks to Prosportsblogging.com.