So as y’all probs know, the NBA season is about half-way done. Here at AGR, we decided it might be fun to comment on the season thus far with some mid-season awards. What’s the fun in giving out the boring MVP, MIP, DPOY, etc. when there are many other awards to be had? AGR now presents its own mid-season awards:
Best Prominent Story: Iverson reunites with his former team, the 76ers. That little stint he had with the Grizzlies was just terrible. According to his twitter account, God told him to sign with them, but that is hard to believe. Never in God’s right mind would he send anyone to Memphis. AI’s departure seems like it worked out well for both parties, with the Grizzlies playing surprisingly well (they would be a playoff team if the regular season ended today) and Iverson going back to his first franchise. While his contributions on the court in the 09-10 season have been sub-par (highlighted by a career low in points and assists), 95% of fans are happy to see him back in Philly. And he has the All-Star votes to prove it.
Best Behind-the-Scenes Story: The Thunder improve their defense as the Kevin Durant’s APM (adjusted +/-) soars. Although the Thunder lost in a close one to the Cavs a few nights ago (Boobie Gibson nailed a 3 for the win, while LeBron had a super-clutch LeBlock on Durant’s attempted game-winner), who would have foreseen that a team this young would play disciplined defense and could compete with the Cavs for all 48 minutes? The Durantula now has one of the best adjusted +/- in all of the NBA due to improved defense and the Thunder are playing quality basketball, as shown by their whopping win over Denver last night.
Worst Story: Gilbert Arenas and his guns. The Wizards franchise was already going in a bad direction, but any hopes that DC fans had of seeing the NBA playoffs went down the drain when this locker room story became public. Arenas’ career will never be the same. The NBA store pulled all of his merchandise and the Verizon Center no longer contains any traces of Agent Zero. While he wasn’t necessarily the best influence for a growing team, he certainly didn’t seem like the type to reveal guns in a locker room. Javaris Crittenton, too, has had his reputation tainted. He was thought of as a good man, yet he has been accused of loading and cocking a gun in response to Gil’s actions. The only bright spot in this otherwise terrible situation is that the Wizards will most likely be able to buy out Gilbert’s outrageous contract so they can formally rebuild. Other than that, this was just stupidity that was blown grossly out of proportion. Yes, guns are bad, but honestly, to remove all of Arenas’ merchandise from the NBA store is ridiculous. This is story reflects as badly on the NBA and the Wizards franchise as it does on Arenas and Crittenton. The franchise responding similarly was a low blow considering all of the excitement Gil has brought to DC. They left him out in the cold and when he comes back (not “if,” but “when”) with another team, it will be interesting to see how he plays against the Wiz. In addition, I am hoping that he wises up after this and realizes who he could be as a player.
PS: Also, who wouldn’t buy a Gilbert Arenas autobiography/short-story collection? Either of those would be a entertaining read. If he gets less than 6 months in prison, will he still be dumb enough to describe the experience as “dodging the bullet?” Whatever happens, NBA fans should pay attention to Mr. Arenas, for he will entertain.
Worst Player: Deshawn Stevenson receives the only award he deserves to win, but comes out a loser. It would be too easy to pick some inefficient shooter (oh hey, Al Harrington) or some 12th man who only screws up when he comes in (take Oleksiy Pecherov, for example). To really find the worst player, you have to find someone who not only is terrible, but who plays enough to noticeably hurt his team. It helps even more if no one likes him. Back to Deshawn Stevenson. In a close game with the Dallas Mavericks, Stevenson had the following stat line: 16:43 minutes, 0-3 FG, 0-2 3PT, 0-0 FT, +/- -12, 1 Reb, 2 TO, 1 blocked attempt, nothing else. While this is bad even by his standards, he is still having a remarkably bad year. He is shooting sub-30% from the field and sub-20% from 3-point, this being from a guy who markets himself as a defender who can hit the open shot. As contributor Deshawnsbeard likes to put it, he has “remarkable swagger” in game, yet it is clearly undeserved. While he could pick things up in the second half of the season playing for a new franchise or a depleted Wizards team, him getting any serious minutes and positively contributing doesn’t seem possible.
Best Looking Player: It is a little known fact that this award indeed does exist. The problem is that it has lost all of its hype due to Popeye Jones winning it every year dating back to the ABA merger (when the award was first introduced).
Best Dunk: Dwyane’s play on Varejao makes a good case. LeBron called it the dunk of the year even though it happened in the first week. While Izzy likes Iggy-Hop’s reverse, the dunk doesn’t quite look as clean as others, it is almost as if he threw it in the hoop a la Dwight Howard’s Superman dunk. Dwyane hit the curly haired Brazilian so hard and looked so dominant in his posterization that it has no equal. I do like Corey Brewer annihilating Derek Fisher, but a) Fisher was trying to take the charge and b) Fisher is much smaller than Varejao. However, a freeze frame like this makes the dunk seem unreal.
We’ve been blessed to have such a dunkalicious first half of the season.
I Will Survive Award: At one point in the season, Izzy and I were looking through the previous night’s box scores together and we saw the Blazers’ line up. I asked him which team he would rather have: the Blazers in uniform or the Blazers in street clothes. He chose the latter… a team that included Oden, Roy, Przybilla, and Outlaw to name a few. Yet the Blazers persist and are 5th in the West. It is scary to imagine how good this team would be if they were at full strength.
Best Surprise: As an NBA fan, I am pretty accustomed to seeing Yao or McGrady on the DNP-Injury section of the box score, and similarly, I am used to seeing the Rockets succeed without their stars. Yet, when the season began and it was clear that Yao was done for the year and that T-Mac was out for most of the season, things sure did look bleak. They are keeping it real though and them making the playoffs doesn’t seem too far-fetched at all. In fact, right now they are 9th in the West (that said, are half a game out of 8th) without showing any signs of deterioration.
Worst Surprise: Yes, this is the 3rd award to go to part of the DC franchise, but I promise, this isn’t all a DC bias. If anything, the world has a conspiracy against the Wizards. This is a team that many expected to win 45-50 wins and a potential home-court advantage in the playoffs. In fact, many writers were surprised when ESPN low-balled them as the 8th seed in the East by .1 wins. It has just been the perfect storm. Of course, we should have seen this coming (as deshawnsbeard will outline in another post), but still no one predicted a .333 winning percentage (in addition to that whole gun thing).
Offensive Player of the Year: This isn’t just the best offensive player, so the title is misleading. AGR grants this award to a player whose offensive ability are just that much better than his defensive ones. And the award goes to (drum roll please)….. Amar’e Stoudemire. We all know of his talents offensively and the disparity between his offense and defensive capabilities. He’s averaging 21 on 55% FG shooting and over 75% FT shooting. Clearly he’s got the offense down. It helps to play with Steve Nash, but those are pretty nice numbers. In addition, he averages twice as many fouls as steals and blocks combined. It’s hard to imagine Amar’e being such a force and standing that tall and talented and not being maybe to muster a measly 1 block per game. In addition, 8 boards seems a bit low for an athletic forward-center in a run-and-gun system.
7th Man of the Year: Chris Anderson flies away with this one. His energy level is fantastic, he revs fans up (especially with that hair), gets 1.7 blocks per game and shoots 57%. That makes him a pretty nice guy as a 6th man, but even better being 7th (behind JR Smith, of course). His blocks are even better once adjusted for minutes.
PS: At this point should he not change his name to Chris The Birdman? If he is attached to Anderson maybe make it Anderson the Birdman, I mean this just has to happen.
Coolest New Name: 76ers PG Jrue Holiday takes the award with this one. The use of a J followed by the R is a rather contemporary spelling technique, something we might see more of in the future. The only real competition he had was DeMar DeRozan who went to new heights by using the same prefix/syllable in both his first and last name. I also must mention JamesOn Curry, called up from the D-League to the Clippers, but he has already played in the league for a brief period of time, and therefore is not eligible.
Lamest New Name: James Johnson. I would not be the least bit surprised if there are in fact 200,000,000 James Johnson’s across the world. Not even close here.
Most Frustrating Player: Michael Beasley has been blessed with a 6-10 frame and has a combo-forward playing style, but he can’t find his niche in the NBA. He should either be posting up the SF’s or driving on the PF’s, yet it never happens. He doesn’t get to the free throw line and doesn’t finish at the hoop well enough. He still gets over 16 points a contest, but that’s on 46% shooting with the occasional low percentage (27%) 3-ball. On a Miami team that needs to support Dwyane, he is not giving what all hoped he could. Maybe he’ll have a good off-season and come back a Carlos Boozer/Durantula hybrid, but I won’t be holding my breath.
Least Improved Player: Devin Harris has had some tough luck this year. Yes he was injured for the first part of the season when the Nets set the record for the worst start ever, but even now that he’s back they are still on pace for the worst record in the history of the NBA…by 3 games. That is just an absolute monstrosity of an excuse for an NBA season. Harris is shooting worse across the board, highlighted by 38% on FGs (and that’s rounding up), accompanied by fewer points, assists, rebounds and steals. While there might not be anything he can do to save this season, he can at least hope to be traded and revitalize his career. He was a good 6th man/starting PG for those runner-up Dallas teams.
Record Most Likely To Be Broken: The Nets are on pace to have the worst 82-game record of all time, but that isn’t new. A more interesting record that seems like it could be broken is the single season record for buzzer beaters. Kobe seems on pace to hit 7 or 8, but unfortunately I can’t find the record. However, unless it’s some outrageous number like 12+, it seems possible.
Where do you stand with these awards? Comment on the article or e-mail us at AGRbasketball (at) gmail (dot) com. Don’t forget to follow @AGRbasketball on Twitter and to like us on Facebook..