2014 Fan-I's NBA Finest
The NBA season is finally over and Saturday begins what we all have been patiently waiting for; THE PLAYOFFS. But first lets hand out our yearly awards.
MVP - Kevin Durant, 32 points, 7.4 boards, 5.5 dimes
When Derrick Rose won the MVP over LeBron in 2011, their were some skepticism on whether or not he was the best player that year. From then on LBJ went on to win 2 consecutive MVPs, and most thought he would get his 3rd, 5th total, this season, everyone except Kevin Durant. KD will be you're 2014 NBA MVP and I don't think anyone is questioning this one. KD had one of the best scoring seasons in NBA history, averaging 32 points while shooting 50% from the field and 40% from behind the arc.
KD also had his most complete season averaging 7 boards and 5 dimes. It's hard to say that this was KD's breakout season but it sure seemed that way. His season average for points is the most since Kobe averaged 35 a game back in 2008. KD didn't have an 81 point game but he did have 46 30-point games, 13 with 40 or more, and a streak of 41 games with 25+ points, 2nd most behind Wilt Chamberlain's 80 game streak in the 1961-62 season.
While Russell Westbrook was injured with his knee injury, the Thunder went 26-9 without him, and KD was a big reason for that. Also Reggie Jackson, who made great improvement in his decision making this season . I knew KD would be MVP when he outplayed LeBron in Miami earlier this season. LeBron would return the favor in OKC but KD still averaged 30.5 against LBJ and the Heat this season. KD made it clear with his production this season, he is tired of being considered the 2nd best player, and a season like this will surely put him at #1.
The only thing that would truly solidify it though is an NBA title. I won't go as far to say if the Thunder don't win the NBA championship this stellar season won't mean anything, but it will take away some prestige of it. This is KD's time to finally hit the next stratosphere of becoming an NBA superstar and future hall of famer.
Rookie of the Year: Michael Carter-Williams, 16.7 points, 6.3 dimes, 6 boards, 2 stls
The only bright spot in the Sixers horrible season was MCW. All season you heard Carter-Williams name with the words "1st rookie to......", whether they was pointless stats or bonafide achievements. In his first NBA game against the defending champs, Miami Heat, MCW had a magnificent stat line, 22 points, 9 steals, 12 dimes, and 7 boards. The highlight of the night for me was when he came down the lane and threw it down while 3 Heat defenders watched, including LeBron. After that game, Magic Johnson tweeted out this,
Now if the Magic Man say's that after 1 game, then you must have done something good. MCW also won Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month honors 3 time despite the Sixers tragic season. Even though MCW led all rookies in scoring, assist, and steals, it still was no where near enough to keep the Sixers from losing 63 games. He is the future of Philadelphia Basketball though, especially with Evan Turner being traded to the Pacers and all signs show that Thaddeus Young, who led the team in scoring, will head elsewhere in free agency this summer.
At 6'7, Carter-Williams has shown he is a complete point guard and despite his horrible 3pt percentage, he still manage to score close to 17 points a game. With the draft coming up, I think the Sixers should go after Julius Randle. A big man would complement MCW well and a point guard like MCW will do nothing but feed a beast like Randle. That's if they want to build a tandem.
Most Improved - Gerald Green, 15.8 points, 40% 3pt, 44% FG
Gerald Green averaged 7 points and shot 31% from the 3pt line last season with the Pacers, only playing in 60 games. He never averaged more than 13 points and wasn't even in the league for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons. This season, he set a new career high in points, 3pt percentage, and games started. It's hard not to crown Green as most improved when you look at his track record, mostly being know as nothing but a dunker for his whole career. This season, he became an outside shooter that you could not leave open and one of the main pieces in the Suns playoff run this season.
This award could have gone to a few people, one of them being his teammate Goran Dragic. At the All-Star break, I picked Dragic as the most improved but after looking at Green's resume, he has definitley made the most improvements. Like I said, people only considered him as a dunker, some even thought he was scrub, so to go from that to averaging 16 points a game, I gotta give him his props.
Defensive Player of the Year: Joakim Noah, 12.6 points, 11.3 boards, 1.5 blocks, 1.2 steals
If you would have ask me this a month ago, Hibbert would probably be my choice but Hibbert's final month was just god awful to the point I couldn't reward him for anything. Instead I choose Noah, a player who I was not very fond of when he first entered the league in 2007. The reason I wasn't fond of him was because he came off cocky and I didn't think he was a good enough to have an "All-Star" attitude. After these two season without Derrick Rose, Noah has shown me a lot, that he could be an anchor for a team. despite not putting up franchise player like numbers. But this season, with 5 triple doubles, its hard to say Noah isn't a franchise player.
Noah is a beast in the paint, especially on the defensive end. He contest every shot in his vicinity, and goes hard for 48 minutes. His 1.5 blocks ranks 12th in the league but he is 3rd in steals among center. I'm not giving this award to Noah because of numbers but more so his passion and hustle. To be a good defender you must hustle and have a strong passion to not allow someone to score. Most players in the NBA don't really care for playing defense but the ones that do like Kevin Garnett, Marc Gasol, are very passionate players.
The Bulls are without Derrick Rose and Luol Deng who was traded to Cleveland back in January, but yet the Bulls are 4th in the East, and riding Noah's back.
Coach of the Year - Jeff Hornacek
In his first season as an NBA head coach, Hornacek coached the Suns to 48 wins and just missed the playoffs. Even though they missed the playoffs this was still a winning season for the Suns, increasing their wins by 23 games, also posting their best record since 2009. The one thing I am most impressed with about Hornacek coaching this season, is how he improved all of his players. Dragic, Green, Miles Pumlee, Morris Brothers, all showed improvement in their games, and to me, that falls on the coach. Hornacek isn't a long slide for this award, Dwayne Casey in Toronto did a great job in Toronto, taking them to the playoffs. Of course Thibs and Pop are always coach of the year canidates, and you can't leave out Steve Clifford down in Charlotte. For me though, when you add the player improvements, the increased record, and the fact they play in the West, I have to tip my hat to coach Hornacek.