And the Winner Is...
With the NBA regular season coming to an end, speculation will now begin as to who will be taking home some individual hardware this year. As a journalist, I feel as though its only proper procedure that I share with you all my predictions for this year's award recipients.
Rookie of the Year
It would have been intriguing if we had been able to see Greg Oden play this year, and he might have had a good shot to win it this season. He'll probably have a tough time taking that award home next year, competing with the likes of Michael Beasley and Derrick Rose.
To me, this one is a no-brainer. Kevin Durant is my pick for Rookie of the Year (shocking).
Durant is averaging 20 points and just over four rebounds per game. He is the face of a franchise that is going through hard times now, with the likely move from the only home the Sonics have ever known in Seattle, and will most likely be moving to Oklahoma City.
Although the Sonics have had a rough season, they will get help with a lottery pick in what has the making to be a very deep draft. Imagine a young three of Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, and Beasley or Rose. Give a trio like that a few years to develop, and bring some solid free agents into the picture, and the Sonics could become an elite team in the West.
Most Improved Player
I've heard a lot of people saying they think Dwight Howard is a lock for Most Improved Player because he went from a dominant player last year, to an elite player this year.
He went from averaging 17.6 points and 12.3 rebounds per game to 21 points and 14.4 rebounds per game this season. I believe that more than just stats needs to play a role in choosing this award, and that is why I believe it should go to the Boston Celtics' Rajon Rondo.
Rondo has had a brilliant sophomore campaign, improving his numbers from 6.4 ppg, 3.7 rpg, and 3.8 apg, to 10.4 ppg, 4.1 rpg, and five apg.
Beyond the improvement in numbers, Rondo met, and in my opinion, exceeded expectations set fourth of him when the Celtics acquired Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. Rondo stepped up to the plate, and took control of the Celtics' offense, helping the franchise hold the best record in the league.
This person shouldn't even be in the running for this award, because he should be a starter. If he were to be on any other team, I'm sure he would be a starter. Of course, I'm talking about the Chicago Bulls' Ben Gordon.
Gordon has averaged just less than 19 points a game to go along with three assists per contest. It will be interesting to see what the Bulls and Gordon do in the off season. Gordon has said he wants money that the Bulls have previously said they will not pay, and there have also been reports that the Bulls may look to move Kirk Hinrich to make some room for the Chicago roster that is bloated with guards.
For this award, I believe we could be seeing a repeat winner; Marcus Camby of the Denver Nuggets.
The big man is leading the league in blocks (3.6) and is second in rebounding (13.3), only behind Howard. I believe that Camby always seems to fly under the radar of a lot of people, and although he may not be the most athletic big man in the league, he gets the job done night in and night out.
In his 11th year in the league, it’s nice to see the UMass product still producing.
Coach of the Year
This is a really tough one. In my eyes, there are three viable candidates for this award: Doc Rivers, Byron Scott, and Nate McMillan.
McMillan has led his team to a successful season with the loss of No. 1 overall pick, Greg Oden, and the team had hopes of making the playoffs earlier in the season. Unfortunately, the team has slipped out of the incredibly competitive playoff race in the West.
Doc Rivers turned the Celtics around from a dismal 24-58 season, to having the best record in the NBA.
Rivers has his team right in the hunt for a NBA Championship, but my only concern for handing this award to Doc is the fact that it was expected. When the Celtics acquired Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett in the off season, everyone expected the Celtics to dominate a very weak Eastern Conference, but they have also done well against the West.
Boston has either spilt or swept every team from the wild West, including a sweep of all three Texas teams.
Finally, I give you my favorite for the award; New Orleans’ Byron Scott.
Scott has been able to turn the Hornets around from a 38-44 record, and missing the playoffs, to a 55-23 record, and being an elite team in the Western Conference.
The team made no drastic roster changes, and Chris Paul has become an MVP-caliber point guard. For the drastic turnaround in a conference that is highly competitive, I would award the Coach of the Year to Byron Scott.
GM of the Year
Similar to the Rookie of the Year award, this is a no-brainer. Danny Ainge is the GM of the year.
Ainge was able to pull off two monumental trades this summer that immediately brought the Celtics out of their tailspin. The team has had the biggest improvement from one year to the next in NBA history, and we can thank Ainge for making it all possible.
He went all in and the payoff was huge. Now all this team has to do is win a championship.
The MVP to me, as it is to a lot of other people, is about the player that is the most vital to his team. Where if this player wasn't there, the franchise would be completely different.
There are three nominees in my eyes as to who is this year's MVP: Kevin Garnett, Chris Paul, and Kobe Bryant.
The Boston Celtics have had an outstanding season, and look to continue that success into the playoffs. Garnett definitely makes this team a title contender, but I feel the Celtics would still be a solid ball club in the East without him.
Paul and Bryant are both the foundation of their respective franchises. They both have their teams in fantastic positions in the Western Conference, and it’s safe to assume that both ball clubs would be ping pong balls in June if it wasn't for these players.
To me, I feel you have to give credit where credit is due, and I believe that this year’s MVP award needs to go to Bryant.
In my eyes, Bryant should have won the MVP last season, and it is really the only accolade that he does not yet hold. Paul is an incredible player, but for the time he has been in the league, to not have one yet, Bryant deserves to win this year.
So there you have it, my picks for this year’s awards.
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