Big-Shot Billups Leads List of Denver Nuggets Award Winners

Rich KurtzmanSenior Analyst IJanuary 20, 2009

The Denver Nuggets come into the halfway point of the season with a record of 27-15, sitting fourth in the West. Of course 42 games worth of action warrants many unforgettable memories; wins, losses, great plays, and mistakes.

This list represents my Denver Nuggets mid-season award winners. Some awards are some you have heard of, while others are ones I created.

Blockbuster Trade of the Year- The first award given goes to Chauncey Billups for his play in the first half of this season for the Nuggets. The Nuggets started off the season with Allen Iverson, eight-time All-Star, coming into the final year of his contract.

While Iverson may have made the Nuggets better during the two and-a-half years he was in Denver, they were never able to move past the first round of the playoffs with him. He was dealt to the Detroit Pistons for Chauncey Billups, Antonio McDyess, and Chiekh Samb. McDyess opted not to come back to Denver, twice his home in the NBA, and Samb played sparingly before getting sent down to the D-League’s 14ers.

Billups though, the center piece of the trade, was coveted for his leadership, great point guard play, and overall, his playoff and championship experience. He has worked out amazingly well for the Nuggets with his on-court leadership, distribution of the basketball, and commitment to defense.

This award technically should go to Mark Warkentien, the Nuggets Vice President of Basketball Operations, the one responsible for pulling off this excellent trade. Although, its Billups’ superb play that has Warkentien looking like a genius, so he wins the award.

Comeback Player- This next award unsurprisingly goes to Nene, who last year this time was battling Testicular Cancer. This year Nene, with the help of strength and conditioning coach Steve Hess has come back to the Nuggets in the best shape of his life. Nene is currently playing the best basketball of his professional career at 14.7 points, and eight rebounds per game and leads the NBA in field goal percentage.

Hustler- Two names come to mind on the Nuggets when it comes the word hustle comes about, Linas Kleiza and Chris Anderson. Although Kleiza is a much better offensive player than Anderson, his defense is still lacking and that is why I give this award to “The Birdman” Anderson.

Birdman rarely gets looks on the offensive end, and yet is always a threat to block shots on defense. In fact, he is sixth in the league in blocked shots per game and 18th in blocked shots overall, and he is a backup!

Especially after the battle he had with Yao Ming on January 19. "Bird is the Word" was seen fighting for boards and positioning for fronts on Yao for much of the second half. Birdman is definitely the Nuggets best hustler.

D’Oh! Dummy of the Year – This is the first award on the list that should not be desired by any Nuggets player. This award goes to the player that constantly makes mistakes, plays selfish, and goes against coaching.

The D’Oh! Dummy of the Year is J.R. Smith. It seemingly never ends for “Instant Oatmeal” Smith who started the year not on speaking terms with head coach George Karl. J.R. has shown signs of brilliance in his play, and then always seems to revert to the inevitable 30-foot three point attempt. We all know you have range “June Bug” but the last time I checked, it counts for the same three points whether you’re at 23’9” or 30 feet-plus.

Smith’s errant threes and lackluster defense destroy the momentum the Nuggets build throughout the game and make George Karl pull out the last of his remaining hairs.

Play of the Year- Carmelo Anthony wins this award for his miraculous three-point winner against the Oklahoma City Thunder on January 2. In classic give-Melo-the-ball fashion, George Karl drew up a play to let the young superstar win another game at the last second.

With 2.7 seconds left and the Nuggets down one point, Melo caught the ball in the corner, did a jab-step fake drive, rose up and drained the three to give the Nuggets the lead with 0.1 seconds left.

What made the play even more spectacular is that Kevin Durant had just hit a three to give the Thunder the lead.

The Nuggets won the game, and Melo wins the award.

Dunk of the Year – Dahntay Jones wins this award for his cock-back rim-rockin’ tomahawk jam against Azubuike of the Warriors on December 13.

This first half has been memorable for Nuggets fans, with the best record since '87-'88, hopefully the second half will be just as successful for the team.