Friday, April 15, 2011

BDT -- 2010-2011 NBA Awards and 1st Round Preview

Are you a big Dancing with the Stars fan? If so, you probably shouldn't read this...

One of the oldest and most well known axioms in life is “the more you learn, the more you realize how little you really know.” This particular saying is attributed to Plato, and, although I find Plato to be a total idiot, there’s a lot of merit to the point he’s trying to make.

Truth is there’s an awful lot of stuff I simply don’t understand, no matter how much random knowledge I acquire. Some of that is because, like Plato, I’m actually an idiot, but there are certain things I’m convinced I’ll never comprehend...and believe me, I don’t feel the slightest bit dumb about it. Here are three examples:

I will never, ever, EVER understand why anyone watches Dancing with the Stars! What could possibly be alluring about that show? How would you even go about pitching a show like that to a major network?

ABC: So, we really need a big hit show to compete with American Idol and other reality type contest shows. What do you have in mind?

Show Runner: OK, we have an incredible idea and you’re going to love it! What if we brought in a bunch of washed up former stars that have faded into obscurity and had them perform complicated dances that almost nobody in our viewership will understand or appreciate?! We could even have that completely not funny guy from America’s Funniest Home Videos and Hollywood Squares be the host! THIS IS GONNA BE HUGE!

ABC: That…that…sounds…uh…well…IT’S BRILLIANT! LET’S DO IT!

I DON’T GET IT! Maybe it has something to do with the half naked dancers or something. Who knows? I honestly have not watched a single second of that show and I’m pretty sure the only reason I ever would is if they convinced Tiger Woods to join up for a season and then paired him with an assortment of hot dancers throughout the season. Not even I could resist that train wreck!

This one is for all you golfers out there. Why can’t I stop swinging so freaking hard?! I know not to do it! I know it’s only going to make things worse! Yet, I keep doing it! So, I know I said I didn’t feel dumb about these, but I kinda do on this one…since its dumb and all. The ironic thing is I always hit the ball further when I take a smooth swing. Yesterday is a perfect example. The course was pretty wide open, so I thought it would be a solid idea to try and hit the ball 868 yards off the tee. The result; lots of searching for my ball. Finally, on the 7th hole, I gave up and decided to sacrifice the yards to keep it in the fairway. 310 yards later, I’m sitting in the middle of the fairway with only 40 yards into the pin. WOW! You’d think I learned my lesson right? Well, you’d be wrong…I’m such an idiot! (By the way, I didn’t even birdie hole #7! I HATE GOLF!)

How do they actually come to a conclusion on NBA Awards? Is there any sort of reasoning behind the selections or is it all based on media hype? I haven’t really talked much about the different awards and there’s a good reason for that. In all honestly, I find them somewhat useless and stupid. Consider this; Michael Jordan won five MVP awards in his career. Now, that certainly seems like a lot of MVP’s, but the fact that he only has five is proof enough that the MVP award selection is completely messed up.

Jordan played eleven full seasons for the Chicago Bulls (discounting his injury plagued second year and short end of the year comeback). Go look at his numbers for each of those seasons…seriously, go do it right now. THEY’RE INCREDIBLE! We all make a big deal out of Lebron’s ‘all around’ numbers, but he’s got nothing on Jordan.
  • Jordan led the league in scoring in ten seasons while never leading the league in FG attempts and shooting over 50% in eight seasons
  • Jordan made All-NBA First Team in nine seasons
  • Jordan made All-Defense First Team in nine seasons
  • Jordan led the league in PER in seven seasons and finished second in three others
  • Jordan finished in the top five in Defensive Win Shares in six seasons
  • Jordan finished first in Overall Win Shares in nine seasons, finishing second in two others
What’s my point? My point is, if Jordan is the best player for eleven years then why doesn’t he have eleven MVP’s? Why should another player be awarded just because Jordan ‘already got his?’

It seems like this happens each and every year now; where the media begins anointing someone as the MVP and all objectivity goes out the window. Yes, Lebron definitely deserved both his MVP’s, but you know as well as I do that Kobe Bryant would have multiple MVP awards if the media hadn’t essentially disallowed it. There are plenty of other examples of this, but I could seriously rant and rave for hours and hours so I’ll move on before I start stroking out.

With this in mind, I go back to my original question; how do they come to a conclusion on these awards? Shouldn’t we try to understand this after all the unsatisfactory results we’ve had? In my mind, the fact that I even have to pose this question is a major part of the problem. Right now, we have a system where the criterion for the biggest and most prestigious regular season award in the NBA is completely subjective and up for debate. Excepting Dancing with the Stars, can you think of anything dumber than that? I sure can’t! Some voters view The MVP as the best player, some view it as the best player on the best team, some view it as the biggest story, and some even view it as a way to honor performance in previous seasons. I suppose there’s merit to all of these…except the last one…and the one before that…and the one before that one too…and probably the first one too. So, yeah, the selection process is dumb and they seem to get it wrong quite often. NICE WORK GUYS! Can’t wait to crown Derrick Rose this year!

Obviously, since I’m on the subject and I’m criticizing the real awards, I need to give out my own awards to the guys who really deserve them…you know, since I’m much more qualified than people who actually write about basketball for a living. After all, you know you’ve made it as a writer when you’re pretty sure twenty people will read your post!

Sixth Man of the Year

1. Lamar Odom
2. Jason Terry
3. Glen Davis

Honestly, I could care less about this award. I understand how important a good bench is, but I’m not gonna waste a bunch of time figuring out which bench player to award. Let’s roll through this quickly and painlessly. Lamar Odom would start for just about every other team in the league and he’s way too good to be on the bench. Yet, he is…and he had a great year…so he wins. Also, I hate Jason Terry because he jacks up way too many dumb shots and flies around like a plane at least once a game. YOU'RE 33 'JET,' COME ON!

Boris Diaw Time Award

1.  Boris Diaw

SURPRISE! Congratulations to Boris, you’re as fat and useless as ever! Another slice of pizza my friend?

Most Improved Player

1. Derrick Rose
2. LaMarcus Aldridge
t-3. Eric Gordon
t-3. Russell Westbrook

I know Kevin Love is the “consensus winner” of this award, but I don’t really view Most Improved like everyone else does. To me, there’s a big difference between “improved” and “opportunity.” Guys like Dorell Wright and Kevin Love are viewed as having improved dramatically, and to some extent they did, but their statistical improvement can be more closely tied in with an increase in playing time and role. No, I look for a guy who successfully took their game to another level and made more out of the opportunities they have already had. Isn’t that what improvement is? Isn’t much more impressive for a guy like LaMarcus Aldridge to take his usual role and opportunity and use it to transform himself into an All-NBA player who carries his team to the playoffs?

That having been said, I’m sure a lot of you are surprised I have Rose winning this award. To me, Rose is the definition of Most Improved. He hasn’t been asked to do anything this year that he wasn’t last year, yet he turned himself into a true superstar and has carried his team to the top seed in the East. It’s puzzling to me how Rose is viewed as the MVP (not by me) while not getting any buzz as the Most Improved Player. Once again, these guys are clearly clueless. I guess it’s not such a big deal to go from fifth or sixth best PG and Lebron’s future ‘sidekick’ to best player in the NBA…

Crappiest Trade that Broke My Heart Award

1. Kendrick Perkins Trade

WHY DANNY?! WHY?!?!?!?!?!?!? I HATE YOU JEFF GREEN!!!!!!!

Coach of the Year

1. George Karl
2. Tom Thibodeau
3. Nate McMillan

Here’s another award I could care less about! Coaching is the most overrated thing in the NBA today so it really doesn’t matter who wins this stupid thing. Take Sam Mitchell for example; one year he wins Coach of the Year, the next year he’s out of a job. Nice!

I picked Karl because he most embodies what a coach is actually supposed to do in the NBA. X’s and O’s are great and all, but they’re a bit overrated in a league full of professionals. You can’t tell me the Celtics are in great need of someone to tell them how to run a pick and roll or something! Heck, Doc Rivers might be the worst X’s and O’s coach of all time and he still has a championship. Karl gets this because the hardest thing to do in the NBA is keep a team focused and nobody did it better than Old George. It would have been incredibly easy for Denver to lie down and die amidst the ‘Melo crisis, but he somehow held them together. Don’t look now, but they’re actually sorta dangerous!

Roy Hibbert Award

1. Roy Hibbert
2. Roy Hibbert
3. Roy Hibbert

I may or may not have made this one up because I have an unhealthy obsession with Big Hib…I LOVE YOU ROY!

Anti-Dennis Rodman Award

1. Brook Lopez
2. Andrea Bargnani
3. Me

That’s right; I’m a better rebounder than Lopez and Bargnani! No doubt!

Lopez ranks second to last in rebound rate and Bargnani ranks fifth to last. Semih Erden has a better rebound rate than both of them! Do they even realize they’re seven feet tall and athletically superior to nearly every other big man in the game? I’m totally convinced Lopez couldn’t box out his crazy Russian owner…

Rookie of the Year

1. Blake Griffin
2. John Wall
3. Landry Fields

There’s been a big debate about whether Blake should qualify for this award since it’s actually his second year in the NBA. He probably shouldn’t, but he technically does…so who cares. That in mind, this is a complete no brainer. Blake was perhaps the most exciting player to watch this year (other than crazy Ron Artest). The scary thing is, he’s only a mid range jump shoot away from being completely unstoppable by anything other than the Clippers curse…in a related story, Blake is on the Clippers. Should we book his micro fracture surgery now or should we wait? (Even more unfortunate, he’s a keeper on my fantasy team! NO! TRADE HIM!)

You’re also probably surprised to not see Cousins at #3. There’s no question Cousins is a better player than Fields, but as an unbiased observer (hard since Big Cuz is my boy!) I will tend to value the consistent and often statistically unrecordable production Fields provided to a playoff team over the erratic and combustible performance Cousins provided to the train wreck situation in Sacramento.

Defensive Player of the Year

1. Dwight Howard
2. Kevin Garnett
3. Tony Allen

This is a hard award to figure unless you’ve watched crazy amounts of games from every team. It’s just hard to statistically capture a player’s defensive impact. I’ve watched a lot of Orlando and Boston this year, and Tony Allen was a longtime Celtic, so I’m very familiar with all three players. Not only that, but this seems to be the consensus top three so I’ll just go with the flow. Needless to say, Howard is obviously the Defensive Player of the Year. No question.


1. Dwight Howard
2. Lebron James
3. Derrick Rose

We all know Rose is about to get the award, but that doesn’t make it the right choice. I’ve gone over this ad nauseum already, so I won’t waste too much time on it today. I just want to reiterate that Howard is ranks significantly higher than Rose in every meaningful metric stat and is clearly the most irreplaceable player in the league. Let’s imagine Chicago replaced Rose with a second or third tier point guard like Kyle Lowry or Devin Harris. No, they wouldn’t be the top overall seed, but I have no doubt they’d easily make the playoffs and earn at least a six seed! Chicago has an awful lot of talent surrounding Rose, including a strong defensive unit where Rose is perhaps the weakest point.

Now, let’s do the same thing for Orlando. Let’s replace Dwight Howard with Brook Lopez. Where do you think a core of Lopez, Turkoglu, J-Rich, and Jameer Nelson is heading? You guessed it; straight to the lottery! Heck, they could probably replace Howard with Pau Gasol and they’d still struggle to make the playoffs! You can’t tell me Howard doesn’t mean more to his team! He’s surrounded by a group of defenders equivalent to France in World War II…and yet, Orlando still ranks in the top ten in team defense! Yeah, I think I’ll take Dwight Howard...


Before I finally wrap this thing up, I want to briefly talk about the playoffs. First of all, I’m extremely excited! This should prove to be an incredible couple of months (people need to chill out with this “greatest” ever talk) and, for the first time in a while, things are a bit unpredictable. There are major questions about every contender. Are Boston and Los Angeles at the end of the line? Can Chicago step their game up in the big moments? Is Oklahoma City ready to take the next step? Can the Heat prove the haters wrong? Will the Pacers win a single game?

As a Celtic fan, I’m justifiably terrified. Things could not have possibly gone worse for us! Injuries have piled up, a devastating trade happened, midseason buyouts didn’t pan out, and we drew the toughest first round matchup in the East. I’m still not ready to completely give up on this team though. We did, after all, go through the same thing last year before flipping the switch and winning the NBA Championship (WHAT? WE DIDN’T WIN?!). Who’s to say we won’t do the same thing this year? I really hate depending on Shaq for the next couple months, but it could be worse…Miami is depending on Erick Dampier.

Here are my first round predictions:

Chicago over Indiana in 4

Sorry Pacers fan…I doubt you expected much anyways. Chicago is legit and I can’t see Granger having the type of impact he’ll need to have in order for Indiana to be competitive (aka Luol Deng is good). 

Orlando over Atlanta in 6

I would tend to lean towards Atlanta if not for their tendency to choke in the playoffs. Al Horford just doesn’t have the size to adequately guard Dwight Howard and Zaza Pachulia is…well, he’s Zaza Pachulia. Orlando wins.

Boston over New York in 6

There’s a legitimate chance for an upset here and I am completely terrified. Boston better not assume they can cruise by New York because they could quickly find themselves in a hole. Honestly, I really think Boston will be able to flip the switch to some extent, but a lot hinges on what the O’Neal’s can give them. We really don’t need a ton of scoring from down low, but our ability to adequately protect the rim is seriously compromised if we’re throwing out a steady diet of Big Baby-KG frontcourts.

Miami over Philadelphia in 4

This should be an easy sweep for Miami, though I really, REALLY hope I’m wrong.

San Antonio over Memphis in 5

I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of these games are close, especially considering San Antonio’s injuries, but you can’t possibly pick the freaking Memphis Grizzlies over the Spurs! Let me say this; I’m eagerly anticipating the matchup of Dejuan Blair vs. Zach Randolph…a showdown of the least athletic, most earthbound, and most pear shaped power forwards in the game!

Oklahoma City over Denver in 5

Maybe I’m just undervaluing Denver’s chances, or maybe I’m just really high on Oklahoma City. Either way, I can’t imagine Denver playing with them. They have nobody to make Durant work and both Felton and Lawson are way too small to give Westbrook any problems. OKC is actually my pick to make it out of the Western Conference. Perkins was exactly what they needed and it seems like the pieces have fallen in place. Now that I’ve thrown my lofty pick out there, they’ll probably get upset in the first round. My apologies to all OKC players and fans.

Portland over Dallas in 7

Here’s my one upset. I like Portland’s team a lot since the Gerald Wallace trade. They have a crazy collection of athletic defenders who create matchup problems all over the court. In addition, they have a lot of scoring options outside of LaMarcus Aldridge. Wallace, Nicolas Batum, Rudy Fernandez, and others are all legitimate weapons. Here’s the catch; they have no idea what they’re getting out of Brandon Roy. It’s not a question of health because he’s obviously hurt. It’s a question of how well he can push through the pain and how much he can bring to the table. We’ll see.

On the flip side of this, I’m not buying into Dallas at all. How am I supposed to take a team seriously when their second best offensive option is Jason Terry? This is a regular season team that did the exact same thing last year. I thought they’d lose then and I think they’ll lose now.

Los Angeles over New Orleans in 5

Like the Celtics, there are a lot of questions about the Lakers heading into these playoffs. And, like the Celtics, I think they’ll definitely flip the switch. Again, I don’t know how far that switch can take them this time around, but there’s still something there. My biggest concern for the Lakers would actually be Kobe. Don’t sound surprised! Did you see him by the end of last year’s Finals? He’s not vintage Kobe anymore and it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if a guy like Trevor Ariza gave him fits this series. Then again, I suppose he could average 35 a game and figuratively kick me in the teeth…

I'm taking Boston over Oklahoma City. And yes, I'm a homer. Do I actually see a reasonable scenario for Boston to beat Chicago?, not really. Am I backing off this pick?, not really. I MUST BELIEVE! Look, as long as Miami and Los Angeles don't meet in the Finals, I'll be alright. I simply can't have a scenario where I root for LA...I'd honestly rather watch every single season of Dancing with the Stars in a giant week long marathon with only Diet Pepsi, rice cakes, and raw onions at my disposal.

Follow me on Twitter at: @borisdiawtime


  1. Is that last sentence a promise? If the heat and the lakers meet in the finals...will you watch Dancing With The Stars? hahaha

  2. oh, come on Landrum! u KNOW u will want to root for the Lakers if we make it to play the Heat. that way u can tell ppl that u witnessed the greatness of Phil Jackson's 4th 3-peat! seriously, 4 different 3-peats... how nuts is that?!
    (oops, I think I just opened a can of worms, lol)

  3. PS - I agree and yet disagree with you on the MVP...
    I agree: DHoward should be a legit candidate, possibly even over DRose. u take away DHoward and they would be just awful!
    yet I disagree: if you take away DRose from the Bulls, I think they would have the probability to be a non-playoff team just as much as the Magic.
    depending on how u equate a replacement for DHoward with a replacement for DRose, of course :)

  4. You don't think a team of Kyle Lowry, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, and Carlos Boozer would be better than at least the Pacers and Sixers? They'd still have one of the best defensive teams in the league and one of the best frontcourts.

  5. And yes, I would root for the Lakers over the Heat. No question. I really, really, really hate Lebron.