The On Deck Circle

The unofficial home of Real Talk

NBA Awards

Posted by Blake Murphy on April 24, 2021

Instead of just spouting my own NBA Award choices this year, I decided to present a united front in the voting and get a few ODC writers to contribute in a voting process. It turned out great, with the exception of one or two awards, and a few general themes popped up that I think actually mimic the real voting process (namely, a few of our writers apparently don’t watch basketball). Regardless, I’ve tailored my article to reflect The ODC’s voted winner, not just my own choice.

I also decided to ignore that two awards have been announced already. Yup, I dropped the ball getting these out on time but whatever, I do what I want.

How did we determine the winners? Well, everyone got to rank their top-5, with #1 getting 10 points, #2 getting 5, and then 3, 2, 1 for 3, 4, 5, respectively. If people did not rank a top-5 (top-3 or, in Stu’s case for Defensive Player of the Year, one), nobody got the points for empty spots, which may be a flaw in the voting system (one of many, I’m sure). The voters were Trevor Smith, Ian Cass, Alex Jackson, Stu Wilkinson, Jack Forsayeth, Chris Pope, Kevin Smith, Alex Syder, Alex Pennycook, and myself.

6th Man of the Year – Manu Ginobili
Why not start with the hardware that has already been handed out? Ginobili was a near-consensus pick in the real voting and in ours, with one voter in each set pulling for Captain Barbosa. Sure, Leandro put up 15.6 points a night with a few boards and dimes, and sure he shot nearly 40% from long range, but he is the victim of playing in the same year as the best 6th man of all time, Manu Ginobili. Some argue that Ginobili wasn’t a 6th man because he averaged 31 minutes a night and played in every crunch time situation. But facts are facts, and Emmanuel (remember when he went by that name?) started just 23 games and still managed to put up 19.5-4.8-4.5 while getting a steal and a half a night, shooting 46% from the floor, and shooting 40% from downtown. It speaks volumes to his 6th man candidacy that he got two 5th place MVP votes (one from me). There is no debating this one, the Pooh God is your 6th Man of the Entire Time the World Has Existed.

Defensive Player of the Year – Marcus Camby
I have a real problem with this one. No offense boys, but anyone who took Camby over Garnett just looked at the stats, not the fact that K-G took a bunch of malcontents and role players and turned them into the best defensive unit in the league with his tenacity, energy, and commitment. It’s not often a superstar leads the way on defense, and this was even Garnett’s strongest MVP candidacy platform. However, the votes are the votes, and I can concede that Camby was a great 2nd choice. The Cambyman improved on his 2006-07 Defensive POY campaign by improving in most defensive statistical categories. Sure, he only scored 9.1 points a night, but he also pulled down 13.1 rebounds (10.2 defensive), picked up over a steal a night, and lead the league with a ludicrous 3.6 blocks per night (285 for the year…wow). Camby is an absolute force in the paint and he needs to be, anchoring a team with very little in the way of individual defense.

Coach of the Year – Byron Scott
A pretty safe landslide victory here for Scott, and I’d assume we’ll see the same when the NBA announces the winner. Scott lost a 1st place vote to the deserving Rick Adelman and then 1st place votes to the less deserving Doc Rivers and Mike Woodson. Woodson is a question mark there, and Rivers was more a babysitter on a team coached by Garnett than anything. I almost gave Garnett a Coach of the Year vote, actually. Regardless, Scott is the winner despite Adelman’s handling of the Yao-less (and largely talent-less) Rockets, and with good reason. The Hornets came out of nowhere to finish 2nd in the West with a 56-26 record and while you can credit a lot of this to Chris Paul, Scott got contributions out of Pargo and Bonzi and managed to keep a 7-man team rested enough that none of them missed more than 6 games all year. The real test for Scott will come in the 2nd round of the playoffs but for now, he’s a clear favorite for helping CP3 grow and getting the most out of a very thin team.

Rookie of the Year – Kevin Durant
I was really more interested in the third place race, since we knew who would take #1 and #2. Durant is the very clear winner here, despite what Hawks fans and bored media members would have you believe. There is absolutely no arguing with a 19-year old kid putting his head down and barrelling through a season mired in turmoil on a terrible team and coming out with his head high and a bright future still intact. Big Al Horford was great and has almost no ceiling at this point, having posted 10.1-and-9.7 with almost a block a night while shooting 49.9%, but he lost out to the better rookie. Durant put up 20.3 points a night (along with 4.4 rebounds, Dave), but more important is his progression throughout the year. With the exception of the short February month, Durant’s scoring average improved every month of the season, finishing off at 24.3 for April. On top of that, the main criticism against him (shooting percentage), also improved later in the season (52.6% in March and 46.1% in April), and a final stat line including 43% shooting is fantastic for a rookie, especially compared to the rookie seasons of LeBron (41.7) and Kobe (41.7). Durant outperformed even my expectations and with several first round picks in the next few years there is no reason to think Durant won’t be a megastar on a good Oklahoma team.

Most Improved Player – Jose Calderon
I really think this may have been swayed by having mostly Raptor fans voting, but the case can definitely be made for Jose. Ditto for Hedo, who finished just one point back, so close that I almost decided to call this a tie. Turkoglu made the jump from quirky role player to full blown star, improving on his scoring average (19.5 from 13.3), rebounding (5.7 from 4.0), assists (5.0 from 3.2) and shooting percentage (45.6% from a 43% career mark). He also shot 40% from long range and was a serious threat in crunch time. He fell short in this particular voting, though, to the king of the assist-to-turnover ratio. Calderon’s improvement may not be as clear in the statistics (11.2-2.9-8.3 from 8.7-1.7-5.0) but it was definitely apparent on the court. Jose kept the Raps afloat without TJ Ford and the team clearly suffers when he’s off the floor. He also improved his three point shooting to 42.9%, which was the one knock against his game, and his overall field goal percentage stayed at last year’s 52% clip. Those are unreal percentages for a guard, as is his 5.38 assists-to-turnover ratio, by far the best in the league. Jose went from unknown bench player to highly touted restricted free agent, causing a serious point guard controversy in Toronto. Rudy Gay was a great choice for third, by the way, as he made huge leaps in the boxscores and as a potential franchise player.

Most Valuable Player – Chris Paul
There was a serious case to be made for four men this year. Kevin Garnett gave the Celtics one of the greatest one-year turnarounds in sports history, became an even bigger defensive force, and saved basketball in Boston on the best team in the league. LeBron James lead a mediocre group of players to a 4th seed in the East and had the best statistical season imaginable in today’s NBA (30-7.9-7.2, 48.4% shooting). Kobe Bryant altered his game to make teammates better and lead the West’s best team and Finals favorite. In the end though, Garnett had Pierce and Allen and didn’t have the numbers (17.5-and-10), LeBron’s team wasn’t very good, and Kobe had Gasol, Odom, Bynum, and Phil Jackson. You can make a strong case for any of these guys, but the MVP is Chris Paul.

CP3 had the best point guard season of all time, for my money. Yes, I’m claiming it was better than Oscar Robertson’s triple double seasons. Paul led the Hornets to the 2nd seed in the West and has them primed for a deep playoff run. Say what you like about him having West, Chandler, and Peja, but Peja and Chandler are good role players and West is a second-banana type player. Oh, and they all had career years (or resurgences) because of Paul. When you can make a legitimate claim for most improved player and defensive player of the year, and you put up 21.1 points, you have a claim for MVP. Add in league leading averages in assists (11.6) and steals (2.7, the best clip in the league since 2003) and a 48.8% shooting clip, and you’re a favorite. He was also thirdto Calderon with a mind blowing 4.60 assist-to-turnover ratio (Brevin Knight was second with 4.62) and came second in efficiency rating to LeBron with a 28.39 rating. 4 rebounds a game isn’t bad for a 6-foot guard, either. I could go on all day with stats to back up this claim, but the point is: Paul was the leader and the best player on a very good team that shouldn’t have been that good. He is maybe the most feared opponent for a 7-game series at this point, and he is well on his way to becoming the best point guard the game has ever seen. There, I said it.

8 Responses to “NBA Awards”

  1. alex Says:

    Blake good call on Garnett leading a great defensive but you know as well as I it comes down to numbers and Camby is bringin it home fo sure

  2. Blake Murphy Says:

    I didn’t include this because it’s so freakin’ obvious it hurts, but:
    All-NBA First Team
    C – Dwight Howard
    PF – Kevin Garnett
    SF – LeBron James
    SG – Kobe Bryant
    PG – Chris Paul

  3. TSmith Says:

    I am boycotting any award voting in which my other panelists give Sam “I couldn’t coach why way out of brown paper bag” Mitchell a vote for Coach of the Year.

    WHAT A JOKE! I think it has to be a rule that you actually watch AND understand basketball before you are allowed to vote next year. Jesus, fellas…

    Also, Kobe IS the MVP, period.

  4. Blake Murphy Says:

    I think the Mitchell vote was a joke. I want to believe that, anyways, since a few other votes were clearly jokes (Devean George for MVP, Darrick Martin most improved)…no wait, Mitchell got a 3rd place vote. Shit, wish I didn’t commit to this being confidential. That is bad, but not as bad as KG not getting Defensive POY or Horford getting a 1st place vote.

  5. Stu P S Says:

    Darick Martin for coach of the year next year…He’s the next Scott Skiles.

    I can’t believe KG didn’t get Defensive POY. You guys are a bunch of jokes.

  6. AJ Says:

    I don’t necessairly “vote” or “decide things” but if I did…

    What is so impressive with 9.2 RPG, 1.41 SPG, and 1.25 BPG? The win total? Really, if you have that lineup and you don’t accumulate similar numbers you might have some sort of disability….The fact that Shawn Marion has career averages of 10.1 RPG, 1.9 SPG and 1.3 BPG and has yet to be on an all NBA-Defensive team….

    Similarly, even though I don’t want to defend the apparent lone ROY voting outcast…Al Horford had a nice 10.1 PPG and 9.7 RPG, with 37 wins and a playoff spot.

    Horford’s 9.7 RPG put him, according to ESPN.com, as 13th on the rebounding list, while his .94 BPG ranked him 39th. Horford, while not a prolific scorer, was apparently the 106th best scorer in the league…not really sure what it means, but not bad, I think…

    Based on points, Durant had a great season! 20.3 PPG is almost unheard of for a rookie! But it did put him 24th for the season. And his 0.94 BPG were good for 40th. Durant’s 4.4 RPG placed him securely as the 98th best rebounder…

    Atlanta won 30 games in 06-07 and 37 in 07-08

    Seattle won 31 in 06-07 and won 20 in 07-08….

    I realize everything was “anonymous” but if anonymous choices are going to be questioned, I might as well defend the “undefendable” to an extent…

  7. Blake Murphy Says:

    Horford was sick, yes he was. However, wins have NOTHING to do with the ROY race. It is not ‘most valuable rookie’ or ‘rookie with the best situation.’ It is the rookie who has performed the best, and on that metric Durant blew everyone else away.

    Ya, Seattle dropped 11 games, you’re right. Care to consider that they lost Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis in the offseason?

    Jesus Christ, Durant is the absolute-without-doubt-no-fucking-argument rookie of the year.

  8. Pennycook Says:

    Darrick Martin… went from a bench scrub to positioning himself for a lengthy coaching career (if that isn’t worthy of a 5th place MIP vote I don’t know what is).

    Garnett did deserve the D-award but I don’t think he is worthy of the MVP this season. Boston definitely would have been able to get to .500 with Ray-Ray, Pierce and Al Jefferson and made the playoffs.

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