My 2009-10 awards ballot

We recently announced the TrueHoop Network Awards. Here’s my ballot:

Most Valuable Player

1. LeBron James

Nobody else was even close.

2. Kevin Durant

His offense is better than it was last year, but his defense went to a whole new level. That’s why the Thunder were so good.

3. Dwight Howard

He’s a dominant defender, and although I was a fan last year, his offense is really gaining recognition.

4. Dwyane Wade

See the All-Defensive teams below for more, but his defense is the main reason I placed him this high.

5. Kobe Bryant

Want to criticize this one? Go for it. I was really unsure about who deserved this spot, so I went with the guy who has the best track record.

Rookie of the Year

1. Tyreke Evans

As Zach Harper (Cowbell Kingdom/ Hardwood Paroxysm) pointed out in the TrueHoop Network Awards, Evans’ magnificent production came against opponents’ best perimeter defender every night.

2. Stephen Curry

We all knew he could shoot, but his all-around game is so much better than I expected. How does he do it with such a small frame?

3. Brandon Jennings

I almost went with Darrenn Collison or Marcus Thornton from the New Orleans Hornets, but Jennings’ defense gave him the edge.

Defensive Player of the Year

1. Dwight Howard

Nobody in the league makes opposing offenses account for him more than Howard.

2. Gerald Wallace

Read Henry Abbott of TrueHoop’s account of Jared Jeffries. Multiply by 100. That’s Wallace.

3. Josh Smith

Smith can defend inside and outside, and that’s becoming increasingly valuable in a league that’s phasing out positional identity.

Sixth Man of the Year

1. Jamal Crawford

He scores at a great volume and efficiency. He provides exactly what Atlanta needs.

2. Anderson Varejao

He’s an excellent defender, and his plus-minus is great. A lot of award votes are based on scoring, but hopefully Varejao shows why you should buck that trend.

3. Manu Ginobili

The NBA only requires players to come off the bench in a majority of their games to be eligible for this award, so Ginobili qualifies. But it’s also for the player who plays best off the bench. Ginobili was better as a starter, so I bumped him down.

Most Improved Player

1. Kevin Durant

He went from good to great in one season. Don’t underestimate how tough that leap is.

2. Zach Randolph

He finally realized he could sacrifice some personal numbers for the sake of winning. And in ironic twist, his numbers were great, too.

3. Josh Smith

Bret Lagree of Hoopinion covers it: Smith stopped shooting 3-pointers, which allowed him to take advantage of his passing skills. And his rebounding improved for good measure, too.

Coach of the Year

1. Scott Skiles

Rookie point guard, finesse center, top player out for most of the year – and Skiles turned the Bucks into one of the league’s grittiest teams.

2. Larry Brown

He should get a vote for this award most years. The Bobcats have a talented, but flawed roster. Still, they’re “playing the right way.”

3. Scott Brooks

I like the job Brooks did. His team improved. All his players improved. He incorporated a bunch of rookies into the lineup. The circumstantial evidence is all there.

But I don’t know Brooks did a great job. What marks Scott Brooks’ style? You know the Bucks and Bobcats fit their coach’s vision. I’m not sure the Thunder’s success is due as much to Brooks as it is to their good players growing up naturally.

Executive of the Year

1. Daryl Morey

He’s on a different level. Without Yao, I was sure the Rockets would be terrible. Instead they were in the playoff race late. And he added a premier scorer, a talented, young big man and two first-round picks at midseason.

2. John Hammond

The Bucks remind me a lot of Rick Carlisle’s first Pistons team. It’s such a piecework roster, but Hammond ensured Milwaukee had enough ingredients to make it work. This team doesn’t have the talent to be great, but it has the pieces to be good – and that’s the first step.

3. Sam Presti

This is an example of why this award is tough to pick. He made a lot of good moves over the last few years that have made the Thunder good this year.

Sportsmanship

1. Grant Hill

Since he left Detroit for Orlando, I’ve wanted to root against Grant Hill. First, his injuries made it hard. And now, his class keeps me from booing him.

2. Al Horford

He seems like a class act. Plus, his brother is going to Michigan. So, that’s cool.

3. Luis Scola

I respect his workmanlike approach.

4. Antawn Jamison

He was the face the Wizards wanted fans to see. Unfortunately, his influence wasn’t great enough to outweigh his younger teammates’ blunders.

5. Chauncey Billups

I obviously like Billups, but he complains to the refs a little too much to match up with the others on this list.

6. Ray Allen

How did he make the cut? He’s constantly clawing at opponents to get an edge (not that there’s anything wrong with that). He just doesn’t scream sportsmanship to me. Although, to be fair, maybe it’s just the name on the front of his jersey.

Citizenship

1. Samuel Dalembert

He was the face of the NBA’s relief contributions in Haiti.

All-NBA

First team

  • G- Dwyane Wade
  • G- Kobe Bryant
  • F- LeBron James
  • F- Kevin Durant
  • C- Dwight Howard

See my MVP votes. They happen to stack up by position.

Second team

  • G- Deron Williams
  • G- Steve Nash
  • F- Dirk Nowitzki
  • F- Carmelo Anthony
  • C- Tim Duncan

You could make the case for Josh Smith over Melo, but these five players seem to fit here pretty perfectly.

Third team

  • G- Rajon Rondo
  • G- Manu Ginobili
  • F- Josh Smith
  • F- Chris Bosh
  • C- Andrew Bogut

Maybe I counted Ginobili’s late-season surge too much, as opposed to his entire body of work. But who else should’ve made it?

All-Rookie

First team

  • Tyreke Evans
  • Stephen Curry
  • Brandon Jennings
  • Darrenn Collison
  • Marcus Thornton

Second team

  • DeJuan Blair
  • Taj Gibson
  • Ty Lawson
  • Jonas Jerebko
  • James Harden

I’ve already covered my All-Rookie thoughts. Nothing has happened in the last couple weeks to change what I wrote there.

All-Defensive

First team

  • Dwight Howard
  • Gerald Wallace
  • Josh Smith
  • Dwyane Wade
  • Anderson Varejao

As John Hollinger pointed out in his All-Defensive teams column, the Heat have the NBA’s fourth-best defensive rating. Look at their roster. Wade has to be doing something right.

Second team

  • LeBron James
  • Andrew Bogut
  • Rajon Rondo
  • Ben Wallace
  • Luc Richard Mbah a Moute

I went back and forth on whether Varejao or LeBron should be on the first team. I still don’t know.

And it’s a shame Ben Wallace doesn’t get more recognition. The Pistons allowed nearly eight points fewer per 100 possessions with Wallace on the court than without him.

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