Skip to content

PBT’s NBA season awards: LeBron for MVP is the easy one

Apr 17, 2013, 8:00 AM EDT

Heat's James prepares to dunk against the Bulls in the first half of their NBA basketball game in Miami Reuters

In the NBA, reputations are made and broken in the playoffs — but that is like a different season completely. The NBA gives out its awards based on the regular season. And this season a couple awards are obvious, but a couple could go a lot of different directions.

Here are PBT’s awards for the season (for the record I do not have an official vote).

Most Valuable Player: LeBron James (Miami Heat)

Out of the 123 media votes for MVP somebody is going to pick Kevin Durant, and I can’t wait to hear their explanation. Because as much as someone might be tired of voting for LeBron James, he took his game to another level this season — 26.8 points game on a career best 56.5 percent shooting, he hit 40 percent of his threes, chipped in 8 rebounds and 7.3 assists per game. He is the Heat’s best defender, best playmaker (he improved in that area), best post player (allowing them to play small), and go-to scorer — he is clearly the best all around player in the game, leading the team with the best regular season record. He has matured in Miami after leaving home in Cleveland and his game has flourished in a way that we are left trying to compare him and his legacy to stars of era’s past. Because we are in his era.

The rest of my ballot: 2) Kevin Durant; 3) Chris Paul; 4) Carmelo Anthony; 5) Tim Duncan.

Sixth Man of the Year: J.R. Smith (New York Knicks)

Even up to the start of the final weeks of the season, I was thinking I would pick the Clippers super-sub Jamal Crawford here. And if I had to pick one of these guys to create and take the last shot of the game for me, I’d go Crawford. But Smith swung me over to his side with his play down the stretch, particularly when Carmelo Anthony was out — in his last 15 games (before the Wednesday season finale) Smith averaged 23.7 points a game on 50.6 percent shooting, with 6.5 rebounds a game. He can create his own shot, takes and makes difficult shots (not always a good thing but he makes it work), he gets to the rim when he wants, and he provides that scoring spark off the bench the Knicks need. Plus, he provides a little — just a little — more defense than Crawford. It also helps that Smith did his best work down the stretch this season, Crawford was doing his back in December when the Clippers looked like a contender, but they have fallen off sense then.

The rest of my ballot: 2) Jamal Crawford; 3) Jarrett Jack.

Rookie of the Year: Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers)

This was the other easy call — Lillard should run away with the voting and deservedly so. If you made me pick what rookie I would want on my roster three years from now other guys would leapfrog Lillard (Anthony Davis and Andre Drummond in particular) but Lillard, after four years in college, came into the NBA better ready to make an immediate impact. Plus he landed in the perfect place to do it, a team that had LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum and other talented players looking for a point guard to run the show. Lillard did that showing he could run the pick-and-roll and create shots for himself or others. Lillard averaged 19.1 points and 6.5 assists a game. Lillard also was durable — he is second in the NBA in minutes played, behind only Kevin Durant, and that durability helped separate him from his fellow rookies.

The rest of my ballot: 2) Anthony Davis; 3) Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

Coach of the Year: George Karl (Denver Nuggets)

This is the most difficult call of the postseason awards because you can make a legit case for a lot of guys. Coaches such as Mark Jackson and Mike Woodson are not on my list but if you picked them for Coach of the Year it would be a legitimate call. But I’m going with George Karl because he built a young team not driven by a ball-dominating star — Carmelo Anthony went East and the Nuggets have become a very different kind of team. They run, they share the ball, they don’t settle for jumpers (they led the NBA in points in the paint, 57.7 per game), and the Nuggets made a jump in defense this season to be a top-10 team (adding Andre Iguodala on the wing had something to do with that). Karl has done it by developing the players he had and fitting them in a system that highlights all of them. For all of that he deserves the hardware.

The rest of my ballot: 2) Gregg Popovich; 3) Erik Spoelstra.

Defensive Player of the Year: Marc Gasol (Memphis Grizzlies)

Often this award can go to the flashy, shot blocking defender — your Serge Ibaka, your Roy Hibbert — but I want to give it to the best all-around center in the game. Marc Gasol isn’t demonstrative like Kevin Garnett — he doesn’t get in the face of smaller guards — but he does choreograph the Grizzlies defense just like KG did for the Celtics. He does protect the back line (he averages 1.7 blocks a game, 12th best in the NBA) but he just seems to always be in the right place at the right time contesting shots. He reads the game and anticipates it as a big man as we have seen in a while. Memphis had the second best defense in the NBA this season and Gasol was the anchor of it, the big man who always made the right play. He deserves this award.

The rest of my ballot: 2) LeBron James; 3) Joakim Noah.

Latest Posts
  1. Blake Griffin makes 180 block (video)

    Mar 30, 2015, 10:22 AM EDT

    Blake Griffin, Kelly Olynyk, Jae Crowder Blake Griffin, Kelly Olynyk, Jae Crowder

    Jonas Jerebko thought his pump fake worked, but…

  2. Report: Georgia State’s R.J. Hunter declaring for NBA draft

    Mar 30, 2015, 9:45 AM EDT

    R.J. Hunter R.J. Hunter

    Hunter hit biggest shot of NCAA tournament, backed it up with strong junior season

  3. Report: Kings advisor Chris Mullin expected to become St. John’s coach

    Mar 30, 2015, 9:08 AM EDT

    New York Knicks v Sacramento Kings Getty Images

    Mullin has played prominent role in Vivek Ranadivé’s organization

  4. Breaking down Western Conference playoff chase with two weeks left in season

    Mar 30, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT

    Detroit Pistons v Golden State Warriors Detroit Pistons v Golden State Warriors

    The first and eight seeds are fairly set, after that the West is a jumbled mess.

  5. Breaking down Eastern Conference playoff chase with two weeks left in season

    Mar 30, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Cleveland Cavaliers v Atlanta Hawks Getty Images

    The race for the eighth seed could go down to the final night.

  6. Report: Magic plan to give GM Rob Hennigan a contract extension

    Mar 30, 2015, 12:01 AM EDT

    Orlando Magic fire head coach Jacque Vaughn Orlando Magic fire head coach Jacque Vaughn

    Hennigan has done a solid job with the rebuild in his first three seasons.

  7. DeAndre Jordan with a ridiculous alley-oop finish, even for him (VIDEO)

    Mar 29, 2015, 10:30 PM EDT

    DeAndre Jordan, Evan Turner DeAndre Jordan, Evan Turner

    The Clippers beat the Celtics and had the best highlight of the game.

  8. Enes Kanter soaks up Jazz fans’ boos, but Thunder lose

    Mar 29, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT

    Oklahoma City Thunder v Utah Jazz Oklahoma City Thunder v Utah Jazz

    Kanter found a way to motivate the Jazz in the dog days of the season, and the Thunder lost in part because of it.

  9. Kendrick Perkins says you’re blowing the LeBron James/Kevin Love thing way out of proportion

    Mar 29, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Cleveland Cavaliers v Atlanta Hawks Getty Images

    “You don’t have to be best friends to come out here and work together.”

  10. Golden State picks up 60th win, clinches top seed in the West

    Mar 29, 2015, 12:26 AM EDT

    Steve Kerr, Stephen Curry AP

    The Golden State Warriors are the team to beat out West.

Featured video

Where does Steve Nash rank all-time?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Durant (5930)
  2. K. Lowry (5616)
  3. H. Whiteside (5519)
  4. K. Martin (5505)
  5. G. Monroe (5340)
  1. B. Knight (5052)
  2. D. Rose (5047)
  3. R. Rubio (5025)
  4. L. Aldridge (5008)
  5. D. Wade (4917)