NBA Predictions: Foretelling the 2011 Award Winners
Now that the 2010 NBA award winners are in the books, I think it's time to start looking ahead at who the favorites are for the 2010-2011 NBA season.
If you haven't already heard, LeBron James will receive his second consecutive MVP trophy on Monday night.
This makes him only the 10th player in NBA history to receive the award in consecutive years.
2010 featured a plethora of new faces on the NBA awards front.
Jamal Crawford of the Atlanta Hawks came to town with the hopes of starting. When Coach Mike Woodson asked the long-time starter if he could come off the bench, Crawford took the assignment with a smile on his face.
Seven months later, Crawford is the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year.
On the Most Improved front, one of the NBA's smallest players showed the world that his game is much bigger than his height.
Aaron Brooks of the Houston Rockets showed the world just what he could do, and in only his third NBA season, he improved his scoring average by over eight points per game.
Brooks and Crawford are two examples of players who prove that hardwork and dedication can bring home some hardware at the end of the season.
With that in mind, let's look at who could bolster their trophy cases next season.
Coach of the Year-Lionel Hollins, Memphis Grizzlies
The third time is a charm for Lionel Hollins with the Grizzlies organization.
After two unsuccessful stints, Hollins took over for the free-falling Grizzlies in January of 2009, and has them on the rise ever since.
If it wasn't for the rapid ascension of the Oklahoma City Thunder and the amazing job done by Scott Brooks this season, I think Hollins may have received heavy consideration to win the award this season.
In 2008-2009 the Grizzlies finished a dismal 24-58.
In 2009-2010 the Grizzlies finished the season at 40-42, which is a 16-game turn around under the direction of Hollins.
Since I am predicting the Grizzlies to be a playoff team next season, it is only natural that the man who got them there should win the Coach of the Year award.
Runner-Up: John Kuester, Detroit Pistons
Defensive Player of the Year-Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic
My apologies go out to the rest of the candidates, but nobody is taking this award from Howard unless he gets hurt.
In 2009-2010 Howard led the league with 13.2 rebounds per game and 2.78 blocks. At 24 years of age, those numbers are only going one direction, UP.
Howard is in a league of his own at the center position.
His rare blend of size, strength and competitive nature have him dominating the rest of the league's centers the way Shaquille O'Neal did for so many years.
The Man of Steel only has one major flaw. He gets into foul trouble too often.
If it wasn't for the amount of fouls that Howard receives in a game, he could probably average 15 rebounds and 3.5 blocks each contest.
Until something stops Howard, he is the DPOY for the next 10 years.
Runner Up: LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers (if he stays there)
Most Improved Player-Lamar Odom, Los Angeles Lakers
This award if probably one of the most difficult to pick.
The winner has almost never been drafted higher than No. 12, and is generally coming off an injury or a statistically poor season.
With that said, Lamar Odom was the fourth overall pick in 1999, and will defy all with his comeback season in 2010-2011.
Odom is coming off a season in which he was well under his career averages in scoring, minutes played and assists.
Whether that was a product of a poor season, a new role or sharing minutes with Ron Artest, Odom will have to bounce back in 2010-2011 in order to keep his job in L.A.
The determination to prove to fans he is worthy at the age of 31 makes Odom an excellent candidate to win this award in 2011.
Runner Up: Yao Ming, Houston Rockets
Sixth Man Award-Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs
With perennial NBA All-Star Tony Parker passing the torch to up and coming star George Hill this season, look for Parker to emerge as the top candidate for the Sixth Man Award next season.
At only 27, Parker has plenty of gas left in his tank to perform at a high level coming off the bench.
Giving the award to someone who will average more minutes per game than the actual starter doesn't feel right, but how can you go wrong with Tony Parker?
The guy proves with each game that he cares more about the team than himself.
Look for Parker to possibly challenge for Most Improved Player as well.
Runner-Up: Jason Terry, Dallas Mavericks
Rookie of the Year-Evan Turner, Ohio State Buckeyes
My apologies go out to all the John Wall fans, but Evan Turner will win because he is NBA ready.
If you look at this season's ROY candidates, two point guards lost out to the silky smooth, stat stuffing shooting guard.
While Turner played the point for Ohio State, he will not play that role in the NBA.
Turner will bring his ability to score, pass and rebound directly to an NBA team's starting lineup.
Remember how Tyreke Evans was the fourth player in history to average 20 points, five rebounds and five assists this season? Turner could be the fifth.
Runner Up: John Wall, Kentucky
Most Valuable Player-LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
LeBron James is dominating the NBA game like it hasn't been dominated since Michael Jordan.
This weekend LBJ will be awarded his second consecutive MVP award, and I am already picking him to win it again next season.
Barring a catastrophe (like playing for the Knicks), James has the ability to become only the fourth player in NBA history to win the award three consecutive years.
You may have heard of the other three players, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain and Larry Bird.
Many people feel that it is Kevin Durant's time to take the coveted MVP award from LeBron, but as long as James is the best player on the best team, the award is his.
If that's not enough to sway you, how about this?
LeBron James is 25 and averages 29.7 points, 8.6 assists and 7.3 rebounds in only 39 minutes per game.
He improved his field goal percentage to over 50 percent for the first time in his career.
If people don't think this kid is going to continue to get better, they are crazy.
Runner-Up: Carmelo Anthony, Denver Nuggets.