Here we are at the NBA mid season, a month away from All-Star weekend, my favorite time of the year. Everyone has had their predictions like whether or not the Lakers or Celtics would win seventy games, or Blake Griffin would be the next big man to further revolutionize the role of the big man.
Who wil win MVP? Rookie of the year? Most of us have guessed wrong, with plenty of surprises and subplots to throw a monkey wrench in most team's plans.
Most of the major title contenders have improved, or at least attempted to improve. Some moves have panned out. Some have backfired. Some still have the verdict still out on them.
Such is the beauty of sports, making the right move at the right time. Here are the front runners for the NBA awards at the midway point.
Right now, it's a two man race, with one that is an extreme longshot that virtually has no chance of winning, based on how this award has been given in the past.
Right now, my choice would be for the Denver Nuggets' Carmelo Anthony.
However his health, and how the Nuggets fare without him will determine whether or not he will win the award. After last years playoff push, the Nuggets have the tools and experience to take the Lakers out.
Melo is now in the elite class of one named players. Lebron. Kobe. Wade. And now Melo.
Second in the MVP race would be Kobe.
The Lakers seem to be rolling and clicking on all cylinders. Unfortunately, as Kobe and Pau Gasol's health seem to be a growing issue, we are unsure of how far they will go. While I never thought they were a possible seventy win team, they certainly raced out of the gate, leaving everyone in the dust.
However their weak schedule was a large factor in their quick start. Let's not forget that Kobe is only about one or two losses ahead of Lebron. That's going to lose it for him if that gap isn't widened.
Lastly, the player who is really the most deserving is Kevin Durant. He has elevated his game as well as his teammates, which is what a real MVP is about. However his lack of exposure is why I dont think he'll be close to this. Also, lets see if OKC could sustain their level of play, through adversity and some tough times. But as so many teams find out, winning gets you exposure and recognition. After all Oklahoma City now is officially on the NBA map.
This year is a two man race between Rajon Rondo, and last years winner, Dwight Howard, with Ron Artest a distant third.
Rondo's year has stood out. I watched Garnett anchor and inspire the Celtic defense a few years ago when he won this award. Ironically, Rondo has taken over that role, anchoring and leading the team on defense as well as offense, which should certainly earn him his first all-star nomination.
Despite leading the league in steals, his impact could be measured more by the stats that don't appear in the boxscore. This isn't a close race, but since it is mid-season, that could change in a heartbeat. Who knows, Vince Carter could fall in line, and Orlando could take off.
The winner is still Rondo.
At the beginning of the season, Brandon Jennings took the league by storm. After a 55-point game earlier this season, he was the talk of the league. After Michael Redd's six minute return, Jennings seemed to hit the rookie wall, probably not used to paying the major minutes that he has.
Meanwhile up in Sacramento, Tyreke Evans continued to improve the more he's played. Now, he's the first rookie since Lebron to average twenty points, five rebounds and five assists per game. He shoots 48 percent from the field and dominates without even trying to.
Already, people are starting to forget about frail Kevin Martin. When you're six foot seven and weigh a scrawny 185 pounds, and have a one dimensional game that hasn't developed or lasted over the course of a season, its easy to be forgotten about.
Look for Tyreke Evans to win the rookie of the year award, and future All-Star nominations, once the Kings' wins come.
Historically, the coach of the year award is given to the coach who coaches the league's winningest team, or an improved team in the middle of the playoff hunt.
The award has lost its meaning in recent years, since I think the winner should be a coach who gets the best out of his roster, whether the team is in the playoffs or not.
This year's race is between two relatively new coaches. The winner will be determined by how well their teams hold up down the stretch. Lets see who handles fatigues, injuries, and cold stretches better.
The two candidates are Lionel Hollins and Scott Brooks, with the latter getting the slight edge. Brooks undid the damage caused by PJ Carlesimo and has raised Kevin Durant's game to the next level. Oklahoma City's team has improved offensively and defensively throughout his tenure, and now the hard work is paying off.
After the Allen Iverson debacle, Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins did a great job in cleaning up the mess and getting his players to believe that they had hat it took to have a productive season, whether they had AI or not. The "answer" was not Iverson, but a change in attitude for the whole team.
Who would have thought that Zach Randolph would play a leadership role on that team? Or that OJ Mayo and Rudy Gay would pay so well together? Or that Marc Gasol, Randolph and Gay look like the frontline of the future if they could continue to grow on and off the court.
Either way, a losing streak or an injury could be the difference in the winner of the award. A darkhorse candidate could be Larry Brown of the Charlotte Bobcats, as his teams seem to start slow and gain momentum midseason.
At last, Jamal Crawford is getting some recognition.
After watching Jamal play for the Knicks for several years, I grew to respect his game, on and off the court. I would always welcome him on my team if he would want to play.
While his shot selection and decision making are horrendous at times, never at any time on any play did it appear that Jamal wasn't giving one hundred percent effort. He always appeared to put full effort into doing what he was told by the coach. It didn't always work out that way, but at least he tried. He's never had any problems with any of the coaches that he's played for.
Most of all, while I was upset when the Knicks traded him, I defended his wild style of play. He always played hard, and never played scared. Period.
Crawford has just always played on losing teams. The fact that he's scored 50 points on three different teams proves he's got the talent. He has put plenty of defenders in SportsCenter highlights with ease.
This year he's finally doing that in games of signifigance. Crawford has never been to the playoffs, and this year it appears he'll make it there and possibly advance deeply.
Also, with the team, he's shooting a career best 46 percent from the field. On a winning team. I'm happy for him.
Carl Landry, Al Harrington, they deserve recognition, but this one is not even close.