With the loss of the NBA season, I took the liberty of making up my own NBA season. This one came complete with an entire rundown of what would have happened in the postseason and who would have come out victorious in the championship.
With that out of the way, I then came up with this particular piece that addresses who the victors would be of the NBA's most prestigious awards. From the NBA MVP to the league's most improved player, each award was given out to who might have been the most deserving. It's considerably difficult deciding who would win the awards when we don't know what moves their teams would have made, but it's basically based on the rosters pre-lockout and without guessing what signings and trades each team would have completed.
The thought of possibly losing the entire NBA season just because of a few million dollars is one of the most asinine events to ever happen to the sporting world. The MLB and NHL had their lockouts and strikes, but they weren't nearly as close to starting a season as the NBA was as the players were an agreement away from having the season start on December 15 and 72 games to look forward to.
Unfortunately, pride and greed played a larger part in this than the fans' love for the game. So here we are guessing who would win the awards and what would have occurred in the postseason had there been one to watch.
I guess we won't have that now. Just see who wins these awards before I get a little more irritated from the thought of losing the game I love because of money.
A part of the coaching game since taking over the Minnesota Timberwolves in 1995, Flip Saunders is just the type of coach that a young, upstart Washington Wizards team could have asked for. Saunders has proven before that he is capable of turning young talented players into eventual All-Stars and he did just that when he took over the Wolves and became Kevin Garnett's main source of guidance.
Considering that Saunders now takes over one of the youngest squads in the NBA, he could do just what he did with the Timberwolves by making them a contender while also helping the team's numerous young stars develop. With John Wall, Nick Young, Jordan Crawford and JaVale McGee all playing a key role, Saunders could greatly help these stars improve and become the All-Stars that many expect them to be.
Saunders has a winning percentage of 55 percent and only has three losing seasons with two of those losing efforts coming in his first two years as the Wizards coach. The Wizards actually regressed last season by falling from a 26-56 record in the 2009-10 season to a 23-59 record in the 2010-11 campaign. It's quite the surprise considering that the team improved by adding John Wall as its point guard, but it can also be attributed to the fact that this team is currently rebuilding.
The Wizards would have shown a lot of promise this season had there actually been one as they would have also added Czech Republic forward Jan Vesely as the next starting small forward. On an athletic lineup that featured Wall, Crawford, Vesely, Andray Blatche and McGee in the starting lineup, the Wizards could have actually made some noise this past season and potentially grab an eight seed.
Saunders has molded young teams and young players before and he could do it again with a team that showed even more potential than those Timberwolves teams that he started out with.
The starting point guard for the Philadelphia 76ers for the majority of two years that he has spent there, former UCLA Bruins' Jrue Holiday is turning out to be one of the NBA's most promising point guards that you've never heard of.
With all the talk surrounding the likes of Derrick Rose, John Wall and Russell Westbrook, you tend to forget that there are point guards like Holiday who aren't athletic freaks and don't score over 20 points per game as a floor general in this new generation of the NBA.
After a rookie season where he averaged eight points and four assists per, Holiday vastly improved on all aspects of his game by averaging 14 points on 44 percent from the field, nearly seven assists, and four rebounds per. He was a strong defender as well averaging nearly two steals per contest and usually did a solid job at keeping his assignment in front of him.
Holiday's statistics were other-worldly, but it's tough for him to average so much on a team with an extremely deep bench and a starting lineup that likes to keep the offense balanced. Holiday, Andre Iguodala, Elton Brand, and Jodie Meeks all got their fair share of points last season as well as Thaddeus Young and Louis Williams off the bench for support. Holiday failed to get noticed even though he was on a playoff team that has the potential to become a legitimate contender with the acquisition of a high-octane scorer.
With the 20-year-old showing a great deal of maturity and improvement in only his second season, it would have been tough not to believe that his stock would stop rising. Holiday's a solid point guard that has the athleticism to explode in the paint, the leadership skills and court vision of any floor general you want on your team, and a solid jump shot that comes complete with range as Holiday has shot 37 percent from deep last season.
Fresh off of his first championship, the Dallas Mavericks' leader off the bench in Jason Terry could have very easily contended for his second Sixth Man of the Year award, thanks to a consistent jumper and the ability to provide a spark whenever his team needs him most. His NBA Finals performance was so stellar that it's actually argued by some that Terry, not Dirk Nowitzki, deserved the Finals MVP.
But that just wouldn't be right now, would it?
It was only three seasons ago when Terry took home his first Sixth Man of the Year award after nearly averaging 20 points per game on 46 percent shooting while also connecting on a career high two three-pointers per game. He has always been one of the league's most lethal shooters and has been crushing dreams since he was a member of the Atlanta Hawks from 1999 to 2004.
Since joining the Mavericks in the 2004 off season, Terry has propelled the franchise to new heights. With Dallas possessing one of the league's top shooters off the bench next to Jamal Crawford and J.R. Smith, they were able to pick and choose their targets at will with Terry drawing attention away from the myriad of other shooters on the team, including the mid-range monster in Nowitzki.
He may be 34 years old, but he still relies on his shooting stroke more than anything else which is an art that never dies no matter how old you get. With his consistent and lethal jumper in hand, Terry would have been able to lead the Dallas Mavericks into another deep postseason run while also taking home his second and final Sixth Man of the Year.
He's already won the past three Defensive Player of the Year awards so why not become the first in NBA history to win four consecutive DPOYs. Since the award was given out in 1982, only two other players have won the award four times with those two being some of the greatest defensive post presence in NBA history in Dikembe Mutombo and Ben Wallace.
Like Howard, Mutombo and Wallace were also stellar post defenders who prided themselves in shot blocking. Howard isn't exactly averaging three to four blocks per game like those two, but he is doing enough to consistently bring the Orlando Magic to the postseason while basically shutting down the paint. Howard has so much size and length and makes it nearly impossible for opponents to drive in and test the 6'11" center.
Shooting guard Tony Allen could add some challenge to the DPOY, but it won't be enough despite the perimeter defending skills of Allen. Howard is on a completely different level when it comes to his defense and he can attribute that to his athleticism which allows him to go after every shot attempt within distance and to keep up with any power forward or center that has the unfortunate circumstances of drawing him as an assignment.
Accompanied by quick feet, unmatched strength and athleticism by a center, and elite awareness and timing on his shot blocks and rebounds, Howard may win the Defensive Player of the Year award for the next few seasons.
Straight out of my hometown of Fort Lauderdale, Florida and taken with the eighth pick out of the University of Kentucky by the Detroit Pistons, point guard Brandon Knight was the second point guard taken in the draft behind Duke University's Kyrie Irving. Unlike Irving who was barely proven, Knight may turn out to be the best floor general out of the draft after averaging 17 points per on 42 percent shooting to go along with four assists and four boards per.
Knight was an excellent point guard in his one season at the University of Kentucky as he possesses the leadership skills and court awareness and vision that the NBA point guard is supposed to possess. It greatly helps that Knight joins a veteran-laden team in the Detroit Pistons that comes complete with the likes of Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince. It also helps that he has young talent surrounding him in Greg Monroe, Jonas Jerebko and Austin Daye.
With veterans to give him tips on how to make it and youthful players to assist Knight in his current situation, he should have no problem adjusting to his new team and his new assignment as the team's floor general. The Pistons are investing a lot in Knight as they are attempting to rebuild by replacing him with former starting point guard Rodney Stuckey.
Knight would have been the Rookie of the Year not only because of his NBA-ready skills and talent level, but also because of the situations of those chosen higher than him. Players like Derrick Williams and Enes Kanter will be playing their way into the starting lineup, Irving has yet to prove that he's NBA-ready, and Tristan Thompson, Jonas Valanciunas and Jan Vesely will only be role players on their teams.
Knight's being thrown into the fire and he's ready to accept the challenge of taking over a Pistons team that's looking for a new identity. With consistent teammates, old and young, surrounding him, Knight would have been able to take advantage of his situation by hitting the shots he was converting at the NCAA level and transitioning his point guard skills to the NBA.
I wrote yesterday that the Miami Heat would have the best record in the NBA if there was a season, and it's only appropriate that I hand the MVP out to the best player on the best team which would be the Heat's LeBron James.
Finishing third in MVP voting last season behind the Chicago Bulls' Derrick Rose and the Orlando Magic's Dwight Howard snapped a two-year streak of James taking home the prestigious award. He had won it in 2009 and 2010 after leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to consecutive seasons of 60 plus wins while averaging better than 29 points, seven assists and seven boards per in each year. James was the focal point on both sides of the ball and it resulted in the Cavs winning games and LeBron taking home MVPs.
With the Miami Heat, winning an MVP is going to be considerably difficult. James is going to be sharing the ball with Dwyane Wade, but he still managed to post up impressive numbers last season at 26 points, seven rebounds and seven assists per last year. On a 58-24 team, James was the scoring and assists leader, helped the team recover from a 9-8 start, and assisted the team in their 11-win improvement from the year before.
While Rose did lead the Bulls to 62 wins and Howard made the Magic relevant, James' impact on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball should have been enough to possibly warrant him a third consecutive MVP. However, with Wade taking votes away and finishing seventh in voting, James was stuck at third and couldn't make ground on two players who had no teammates stealing MVP votes.
This time around, however, James would have taken the award solely because he would have been the scoring leader on the league's best team. While it can be argued that he has Wade and Chris Bosh to help, the MVP award should follow suit as in previous years and be given out to the best player on the best team no matter who his teammates are.
If Steve Nash can win an MVP over a player who averaged 35 points per game, then LeBron James has just as good a chance as everyone else.
A Finals MVP now? That one might have gone to Dwyane Wade.