A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

My Awards Ballot

with 3 comments

What my hypothetical awards ballot looks like after the completion of the regular season:

MVP:  Dwight Howard. See my 2011 POY Watch – End Regular Season post for details.

Pre-Season Prediction: Kobe Bryant

No regrets about my prediction. We saw Kobe getting MVP buzz late in the year when the Lakers got on a role despite the Lakers relying less on Kobe this year that I would have ever imagined. If the Lakers had rolled to 65 wins like I still think they’re capable of, Kobe would have taken this.

Rookie of the Year

1. Blake Griffin

2. John Wall

3. Greg Monroe

I’ve seen some of the stat folk favor both Monroe and Landry Fields over Wall, which makes total sense if you use any kind of advanced stat. Meanwhile some more traditional analysts favor Wall and DeMarcus Cousins because of their volume numbers.

As I’ve said before, I think the ROY award is probably the most complex award out there, and I don’t know if anyone realizes this. If you actually treat it like an MVP for rookies, you should favor the successful role players over the super-inefficient future stars, however the voting never goes that way and more often than not, the super-inefficient guys end up with better careers. Bottom line is that the volume guys are being asked to do something much harder, and so their lesser success needs to be filtered through a recognition the role players probably couldn’t have done that more ambitious job either.

I’ve yet to come up with a succinct definition for my ROY criteria, but suffice to say that I try to achieve a balance between the concerns above.

Pre-Season Prediction: Blake Griffin

It’s funny that this prediction didn’t seem at all like a sure thing at the time.

Defensive Player of the Year

1. Dwight Howard

2. Kevin Garnett

3. Andrew Bogut

Howard takes this, but it’s really only clear cut because of the missed time of Garnett and even Bogut. As high as I am on Howard overall right now, I’m rolling my eyes at the people starting to compare him Bill Russell.

Pre-Season Prediction: Dwight Howard

This one on the hand did seem like a sure thing.

Most Improved Player

1. Derrick Rose

2. Russell Westbrook

3. Kevin Love

For the Nth time, Rose should win this award. He’s not on the radar because he’s too good, and that’s a stupid reason.

Pre-Season Prediction: Kevin Love

I can toot my own horn and say I was on the Love bandwagon as early as most anyone. I was amazed that even after the trade of Al Jefferson people didn’t see the Timberwolves as Love’s team, given that if they didn’t see Love as a star, why ditch Jefferson?

And yet, I’d say Love is clearly overrated by some now. Dave Berri’s Wins Produced stat actually manages to rank him as the league MVP, which I find comical considering that without Love the Wolves would drop exactly zero spots in the standings.

6th Man of the Year

1. Lamar Odom

2. Jason Terry

3. James Harden

Well, obviously because a hectic schedule, I’m not publishing this post right at the regular season’s end, so we know Odom won it. Thank god. One thing for the deserving Rose to miss out on a minor award, but Odom’s never won anything before. In fact he may be the best 6MOY ever who hasn’t been an all-star.

Pre-Season Prediction: JJ Redick

Yeah, I was kind of shooting in the dark there.

Coach of the Year

1. Tom Thibodeau

2. Gregg Popovich

3. George Karl

Thibs wins this with ease. Utterly phenomenal year by the old rookie.

Pre-Season Prediction: Jerry Sloan

I don’t regret picking Sloan. My reasons were sound. I figured he wouldn’t win because the award is virtually always about the biggest surprise in the league – which wouldn’t be a surprise if you could pick it ahead of time. I find it endlessly amusing though that after picking Sloan as the model of consistency who just might break through for the 1st time this year, he quits mid-year. Most shocking turn of events of the season by far.

I do however, regret that Thibs wasn’t more on my radar. He’s actually a guy you could have predicted as a COY candidate, but I missed the boat there.

Executive of the Year

1. Pat Riley

2. Gar Forman

3. Sam Presti

The Bulls had the best regular season, and likely they’ll have a member of their organization win both MVP and Coach of the Year. While their GM Forman is a strong candidate for EOY, I don’t think he should win it over Riles.

The bottom line is that giving a yearly award to a job whose decisions are meant to be evaluated over several years encourages some bad habits. It encourages voters to simply go with the guy whose team has done the best that year, no matter what luck was involved in the decisions that turned out well, and no matter what the expectations are going forward.

Forman and the Bulls were wise to sign Thibs, but they didn’t know he’d be this good. Had they been dead certain about that, they’d have hired the man years ago. By contrast, everyone knew it would be great to have LeBron James on their team – and in that melee, Riles emerged victorious and then some.

Beyond that, we should not forget that these moves are about future years. Even as we stand now after the Heat’s slightly disappointing year, many think them more likely to get to the finals than the Bulls, and that type of thinking I’d say only gets stronger when we consider the gradual improvement of the Heat’s Big 3 in play with each other and with their supporting cast.

Pre-Season Prediction: Pat Riley

Damn straight.

All-NBA 1st Team

Guard: Derrick Rose

Guard: Dwyane Wade

Forward: LeBron James

Forward: Dirk Nowitzki

Center: Dwight Howard

All-NBA 2nd Team

Guard: Kobe Bryant

Guard: Chris Paul

Forward: Kevin Durant

Forward: Pau Gasol

Center: Al Horford

All-NBA 3rd Team

Guard: Manu Ginobili

Guard: Russell Westbrook

Forward: Paul Pierce

Forward: LaMarcus Aldridge

Center: Nene

Not a whole lot to explain on the first two teams here, but the 3rd team is highly debatable. Westbrook slides into the 3rd team as Steve Nash faded down the stretch (partly because it became clear the Suns couldn’t make the playoffs), but I’m still not totally sold on Westbrook being a co-superstar for Durant. I think this is a case where being ball dominant can really overrate you compared to an off ball player.

The center position this year, like in the last few years, is open to people fudging it to let superior players on to the accolades. As such I’ve seen Amare Stoudemire listed as a center in some people’s lists. I get that, but I really think it’s appropriate that Nene get honored here. After all, he’s been the face of the Nuggets this year playing the low volume blend-with-the-team role on a club that had the best offense in the league. And among these 15 guys, he’s about the only blend-with-the-team guy there. It’s distasteful to me to try to force yet another big volume guy in there.

Written by Matt Johnson

April 21, 2011 at 11:57 am

Posted in Basketball

3 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Good list, as I’d expect. Only thing I’m not sure about is Riley as EOY.

    The Heat are a really deeply flawed team, that the acquisition of top-tier players hasn’t totally masked. I’m reserving my judgement on that one.

    Chicago caught lightning in a bottle, and I suspect this will be its high-water mark as a team (in an RS sense, there’s still scope fot this team to improve my predicted ECF finish). The main acquisitions of Boozer and Thibs were certainly crucial, but the long-term assets (including Rose, Deng and Noah) that have gone into that result were unexpectedly energised by the coaching change.

    Almost give it to Masai Ujiri for pure moxie on the Melo trade.


    April 21, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    • I think Boozer is actually an important thing to think about. That’s Forman’s big player move this year, and it had a pretty minor impact on the team.

      Forman made one really great move this year in hiring Thibs, for which he deserves credit, but how much? Do we really think that Forman thought Thibs would have this much impact? I don’t buy it.

      It is a good point though that the changes the Heat made were not all good, and are not yet proven to be a great success. But let’s be realistic.

      The Heat had the 3rd best record in the league because of the changes they made. Right there, I don’t know how Riles could possibly finish below 2nd in EOY. Factor in that the Heat’s success given the acquisition had much less to do with luck than the Bulls’ did (arguably), and that there’s reason to think the Heat are still working through kinks and can get even better.

      The Uijiri moxie pick is an interesting one. I suppose I’m more impressed with Karl’s coaching than the GMing, but maybe I shouldn’t be.

      Matt Johnson

      April 22, 2011 at 11:09 am

  2. […] My Awards Ballot (asubstituteforwar.com) […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: