Posts Tagged With: kobe bryant

End of Season Awards

You won’t find many surprises on this list, but I decided to post this anyways.  This season was the most interesting regular season in recent memory, so I wanted to give these players their props for bringing excitement to my otherwise boring life in my 27th revolution around the sun.

MVP

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Wardell Stephen Curry was phenomenal from start to finish, capping off the greatest offensive season ever with a ridiculous 45 points in three quarters while leading his team to the best regular season ever.  400 Threes? Check. Stop-What-You’re-Doing-And-Turn On-League Pass Heat Checks? Check. Clutch Shots? Check. 50-40-90 club? Check. This dude was the best player in the league almost every night, and no one else should garner any first place votes. Steph, I salute you. You are everything a man should be. (Leonard, James, Westbrook, and Paul round out the top 5)

Most Improved Player

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Kawhi Leonard has become a superstar.  He is the best two-way player in the league and now consistently plays with the greatness that he flashed two years ago when he won the Finals MVP.  He is by far the best wing defender in the league and shoots the ball with top 5 efficiency. He is the perfect player to carry the Spurs into the next era, and may be the reason the Spurs knock the Warriors out of the playoffs.  If he wins another Finals MVP, Kawhi will be the front-runner for next year’s regular season MVP award. (Curry, Crowder, Kemba Walker, and CJ Mccollum round of the top 5)

Defensive POY

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Draymond Green can literally guard 5 positions on the floor. People have been purported to do so in the past, but Draymond can actually do it.  I seen’t it! At 6 6, Draymond should not be capable of guarding centers, but in this era of small ball, very few bigs have the ability to take advantage of mismatches in the post.  Draymond uses his leverage to get underneath bigger players and has the length and quick-jumping ability to bother the fade-away jumpers that he forces in the mid-post.  His quickness on the perimeter allows the Dubs to switch most pick-and-rolls, and although some guards sneak by him, he can usually block their shots from behind with his Revisesque recovery speed.  He is the heart and soul of the league’s best team, and although Kawhi does many things better than Draymond, Green’s ability to guard 1-5 gives him the slight nod over Leonard. (Leonard, Whiteside, Avery Bradley, and Deandre Jordan round out the top 5)

Rookie of the Year

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 Karl Anthony Towns won me $250 on a $5 while I was in Vegas recently, so he definitely gets the nod here.  That jump hook on the baseline to beat the Blazers cemented Towns not only as the ROY, but also as an All-NBA performer in my ballot.  He is doing things that few rookies have done, and seemingly got stronger throughout the season.  He is already a two-way player, and he has the skill set to be the league’s premiere big man for the next 15 years.  The T-Wolves have a very bright future and the rest of the league should expect to fear the bite of their top dog for years to come.

Coach of the Year

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Brad Stevens may have some stiff competition for this award, but I left Isaiah Thomas off of my All-NBA teams, gave Leonard the nod over Crowder for MIP and Livingston the edge over Turner for 6th man, so I had to make at least one homer pick here. I mean it’s my blog and no one is really paying attention anyways, and even now as I type this sentence I’m resisting the urge to give all of these awards to my boys in green.  Stevens has maximized the potential of the entire roster and has the Celtics feeling good entering the playoffs after that insane comeback victory over the Heat.  His ATO plays are legendary and his unchanging demeanor is rivaled only by Jay Wright. Dear Danny Ainge: if you give Stevens a superstar, he will give you a championship.

6th Man

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Shaun Livingston has really impressed me all year with his steady play anchoring the Dubs all-time bench.  He shoots his shots every game and allows Steph to play off the ball for extended minutes, which significantly reduces Curry’s energy spent and increases floor space with all of the attention Steph garners off of the ball.  Livingston also wins the Stephen A. Smith award for NBA player with the biggest forehead.

 

All NBA Teams

1st Team: Curry, Westbrook, Leonard, James, Green

2nd Team: Paul, Lillard, Durant, George, Aldridge

3rd Team: Lowry, Thompson, Derozan, Millsap, Towns

Apologies to Isaiah Thomas and James Harden

 

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The First Annual Maneikis Awards: Part 1(NBA 2012-2013)

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my beautiful mom and dad

Here are my own personal superlatives for the 2012-2013 season.  There is no rhyme or reason to the ordering of the awards. I started writing and then stopped writing.  At the end of that process here is what I created.  The plan is to update these awards with a sequel in the upcoming days.  Enjoy.

Biggest Surprise: Los Angeles Lakers make the playoffs

Granted the Lakers should have made the playoffs, but everyone wrote them off after their epically bad first half of the year.  Every pundit said there would be no way we would see them in the postseason, yet here they are looking at a favorable opening round match up with the struggling San Antonio Spurs.  Although they lack scoring now that Kobe is gone and lost forever, the way Gasol and Howard played last night was nothing short of dominant.   Dwight is playing defense at his DPOY-level and Gasol has accepted the challenge of having the offense go through him.  Now that they have avoided OKC, the Lakers have legitimate shot at upsetting a Spurs team that is banged up and apparently relying on T-Mac to be good again.

Worst Coaching Move (possibly ever): Mike D’Antoni’s Kobe48 Decision

Kobe Bryant won’t be in the playoffs and may never be the same again; and Mike D’Antoni has to assume most of the culpability.  How on earth do you decide that it is okay for a man in his 17th season to play the entire game on consecutive nights?  You are the head coach so even if Kobe asked to play the full 48, you have to say something like, “Um. No. I’m going to sit you for five minutes a half around the quarters and play through Gasol during those stretches. We’ll be okay Kobe.”  But no, D’Antoni once again proved incompetent and has robbed the world of witnessing Kobe Bryant playing like Kobe Bryant.  No one has ever returned to form after this injury and Mike D’Antoni should be fired regardless of how the Lakers fare this postseason.

Biggest Disappointment: Injuries

Kobe Bryant. Rajon Rondo. Derrick Rose. Kevin Love. Andrew Bynum. Danilo Gallinari. Those are big names and we didn’t get to see, or won’ t get to see, these players this season/postseason.  I am still holding onto the smaller sliver of hope the Rose plays at some point, but that’s a pipe dream.  Love was the best big man on Team USA and I thought he would help the T-Wolves contend for the playoffs. I already touched on Kobe’s injury.  The worst part about Rondo/Rose is that Lebron James has a clear path to the Finals once again (he is good enough already, somebody needs to make him earn his trip back).   Bynum’s injury single-handedly destroyed Philadelphia’s present and future.  Gallinari’s injury hurts the Nuggets’ chances of upsetting the Thunder in the WCF. Maybe one day we will get a season in which no star is injured, but until then, we must accept that this is an unfortunate part of the game.

The “Some Things Never Change” Award: Demarcus Cousins’ Terrible Attitude:

Will this guy ever grow up? You look at his numbers and you say, “wow. He is special.”  Then you look at him as a person and say, “wow. He is a train-wreck.” He led the league in technical fouls, was suspended from his team on multiple occasions, and just looks plain uninterested playing professional basketball at times.  He is the craziest guy in a league full of crazy guys. He is Rasheed Wallace’s illegitimate son.  He needs a Cuss D’Amato to his Mike Tyson or else he’s going to end up like prison Mike.  Having said all that, I would love the Celtics to trade for him because maybe Kevin Garnett is that guy who can save Cousins’ career.

The “Remember Me?” Award: Brook Lopez

Lopez lost last season to injury and people seemed to write him off as a top 5 center in this league.  When healthy, he is perhaps the best post player in the league, and this year Lopez was just that.  Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard, Tyson Chandler, Anderson Varejao, and Andrew Bynum all were injured this year, so Lopez was able to dominate more consistently with the dearth of healthy bigs.  The Nets may be overpaying more a majority of their roster, but Lopez has proved worthy of the max money he was given prior to this year as he posted a career high PER of 24.81.  He still needs to improve his rebounding and defensive effort on a nightly basis, but he looks like he will be one of the league’s best for years to come.

Most Exciting Team: Denver Nuggets

George Karl deserves COY consideration. Andre Iguodala deserves DPOY consideration. Ty Lawson is a future star. Javale McGee didn’t do anything too stupid.  Kenneth Faried might actually believe he is a manimal.  And Andre Miller still looks like Richard Pryor. This team is just fun to watch. They run teams into the ground with their seemingly unsustainable pace, have freak athletes like McGee, Iguodala, and Faried, and are nearly unbeatable at home.  If Gallinari hadn’t torn his ACL I was going to pick them to make the NBA Finals.  Now I see them losing in the WCF.  Be prepared for the craziest opening round series as the Nuggets take on my runner-up for this award – the Golden State Warriors.

Best Game: Miami at Chicago

 Bill Simmons called this game the best regular season game in the history of the league! Although I’m not ready to go that far, especially since I haven’t done the amount of extensive research necessary to make such a claim, I will say it is the most memorable game I have seen in my life.  The Celtics/Heat game the previous week was up there, but this Chicago game was on another level.  Chicago was playing for pride and to end the streak, and Miami was playing for a shot at history. They were playing for a shot at immortality.  There were hard fouls, big plays, Lebron and Boozer colliding with the force just this side of Clowney’s epic hit against Michigan (okay not really, I just wanted to watch that clip again), and the Heat never gave up even when it was obvious they were going to lose.   The Bulls deserved this win since their fans lost Derrick Rose for the season, and although Miami will beat them in the playoffs, the Bulls will forever be known as the team that ended the Heat’s streak.

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All NBA Teams

1st Team All-NBA 

G Chris Paul: What else can you say about Chris Paul?  Without him the Clippers are a possible lottery team because the rest of the team is not ready and Vinny Del Negro doesn’t run an offense.  He is an All-NBA defender, orchestrates the best pick-and-roll in all of basketball, and is clutch at the free-throw line in late game situations. As a result, he is fearless and dangerous during crunch time because he isn’t afraid to take the ball to the cup (unlike a Lebron James who would rather not shoot late-game free throws).  Tony Parker played better during stretches this season, but overall CP3 has a firm grip on his “best in the league” moniker.

G Kobe Bryant: I was actually going to leave Kobe off of the first team in favor of Russell Westbrook, but then Kobe tore his Achilles and I got sentimental with this pick.  I know Kobe is a Laker, but he is my favorite player to watch – I just don’t want him to win any more championships (Michael Jordan was better and that’s that).  Say what you want about him and his past transgressions, but it seemed to me that Kobe has grown far more popular with today’s fan base.  People just appreciate him more.  He plays through injuries others would complain about, hits ridiculous “only Kobe could hit that” shots, and willed a trainwreck of a team towards the brink of the playoffs.  It’s a shame that we may never see Kobe at this elite level again because this injury is no joke.  Ask Elton Brand.

F Kevin Durant: Ah let the love-fest begin.  Durant was forced to grow up this year after last season’s failure in the NBA Finals and the preseason A-bomb that saw James Harden inexplicably shipped out to Houston (Thunder management could have found a way to keep him). Durant needed to become an ultra-efficient scoring machine, increase his willingness to distribute the rock, and improve his defense and rebounding.  He did all four things and led the Thunder to the best record in the Mariana Trench.  The only thing KD didn’t do was win another scoring title, but Carmelo Anthony deserves some sort of accolade for this season because he won’t get the MVP, 1st-Team All-NBA, and may not get out of the first round (check out Friday Fives for why not).  Durant was the second best player this season and should take the Thunder back to the WCF at the very least.

F Lebron James: Lebron only posted the second highest PER ever and led the Heat to the ridiculous 27 game winning streak during a time in the season when nothing really mattered for them.  They were cruising to the top seed regardless of the streak, but I guess Lebron is all in on this being his “legacy year,” and needed something new with which he could challenge himself.  Lebron is the best player on the planet, has been for a while, and will be for the next two to three years.  Four MVPs in five years is ludicrous, but six in seven years is unparalleled.  Lebron has a legitimate shot at making history and carving out his place on basketball’s Mount Rushmore.

C Marc Gasol: Duncan got the nod on my 1st Team Defense, but Gasol played nearly 700 more minutes than Timmy and deserves the credit for this feat.  Gasol is such a smart, efficient player, but not many people realize it due to the Grizzlies’ lack of national exposure.  There is a slight chance that he is now overrated because he has been underrated for so long, but when Dwight Howard misses significant time being his usual self and Andrew Bynum decided to do whatever the hell he did this year, there is an opening on the 1st Team All-NBA for a player like Gasol.  I hope he brings it in the playoffs because he will get slapped with the “soft” label quicker than older brother, Pau.

2nd Team

G Russell Westbrook: He is the most athletic player in the league and the second best player on the second best team.  Sure he takes bad shots and isn’t much of a point guard, but without James Harden the Thunder need Westbrook to be this aggressive.  Oh yeah, he never misses games and plays harder than everyone on the court at all times.  I would not hesitate to start my franchise with Young Russ.

G James Harden: Harden has been dubbed a DH by Grantland’s Bill Simmons and Zach Lowe, but when your team plays at such a frenetic pace and demands you to be an all-world offensive force, I can overlook some defensive lapses. If the Rockets lose to the Lakers tonight then Harden gets to square off against his old buddies in OKC. Boy, wouldn’t that be fun.

F  Carmelo Anthony: Melo had his best season is years and led the league in scoring all while carrying the Knicks to its first Atlantic Division title in years. Melo needs to get the Celtics off his back and get out of the first round if he wants legitimize the MVP talk surrounding this season, but if he does the Heat better watch out.

F Blake Griffin: Blake has made a step forward but did not make the leap many expected.  Nevertheless he is a 2nd teamer and one of the winners of the genetic lottery.  His free throw shooting still needs work and there is no good reason for why he didn’t average a double-double, but Blake Griffin is Blake Griffin is Blake Griffin.  He is one of a kind.

C Tim Duncan: Tim Duncan had a remarkable season despite playing a limited number of minutes. He has turned back the clock on both ends of the floor and could very easily be the best player on the floor on any given night.  Can he play 35-40 minutes a night in the playoffs and be just as effective?  If the answer is no, then the Spurs won’t make the WCF.

3rd Team

 

G Stephen Curry: Finally healthy, Steph gets the nod here after being an All-Star snub.

G Dwyane Wade: Early rumors of rapid decline proved false because if he is healthy he is a top 5 talent.

F Paul George:  The new face of the Pacers’ franchise is on the verge of becoming an All-NBA fixture.

F Paul Pierce: The Truth carried the Celtics when Rondo went down by doing a little bit of everything. Love you.

C Brook Lopez: Lopez kept the Nets afloat early when Deron Williams struggled and gets the nod over Howard and Bosh.

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