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.
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.
1. Samuel Dalembert
He was the face of the NBA’s relief contributions in Haiti.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- Tyreke Evans
- Stephen Curry
- Brandon Jennings
- Darrenn Collison
- Marcus Thornton
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.