Monday, January 24, 2005

Ant's Mid-Season Awards

By Anthony Peretore

After Paul provided us with his NBA mid-season awards last week, it seems necessary for me to offer my opinions, if for anything, reader comparison. Instead of just making my selections and jotting down how great so and so is (which I will do several times), I will also challenge Paul’s selections, if different from mine. Hopefully this will stir enough controversy that some of our readers (in addition to Slack) will chime in with their thoughts. Enjoy…

Most Improved Player:
Bobby Simmons, Los Angeles Clippers
Paul: Chris Mihm, Los Angeles Lakers

In my opinion (which is biased since Simmons is on my fantasy team), this isn’t even close. Now, Mihm is having a very productive season and seems to be settling in nicely now that the early season pressure is removed and the center position is his for keeps. But, once again the numbers do not lie and Simmons clearly takes the cake. Take a look:

2003-04: 17.5 min, 6.3 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 0.9 BPG
2004-05: 26.2 min, 10.9 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 1.7 BPG
Change: 8.7 min, 4.6 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 0.8 BPG

2003-04: 24.6 min, 7.8 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 0.9 SPG, 39.4 FG%
2004-05: 37.6 min, 15.8 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 1.4 SPG, 48.2 FG%
Change: 13.0 min, 8.0 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 0.5 SPG, 8.8 FG%

Now, Simmons increase in PT is 4.3 minutes greater than Mihm, but that difference is hardly worth mentioning. Simmons has also stepped up as a leader on this young Clippers team and has even emerged as their primary defensive stopper. In addition, the Clips are fighting for a playoff spot, something they do only once every five to six years. Mihm on the other hand, is merely a role player for the Lakers and you could even make the argument that he is the least valuable of their starting five. Simmons is the third most important player on his team and the Clippers would be figuring out whom to select with their top 3 pick if it wasn’t for his improved play. Finally, as Paul said, Mihm was supposed to be a stud out of college, but now that he’s finally putting up decent numbers does that mean we should immediately praise him and hand him this award? If anything Simmons should get the nod just because he wasn't taken 7th overall in the draft but slightly lower as the 13th selection of the 2nd Round! Go Bobby, go Clips!

Runner Up:
Ant: Nazr Mohammed, New York Knicks
Paul: Larry Hughes, Washington Wizards

Nazr (12.0 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 1.1 BPG) has really stepped up this season after many anticipated he wouldn’t survive playing big minutes. He has really been the rock of the Knicks’ front court as PF Kurt Thomas and SF Tim Thomas have struggled. Hughes has been great, but his inevitable 4-6 week injury scratches him write off my list.

6th Man of the Year:
Ant: Jerry Stackhouse, Dallas Mavericks
Paul: Ben Gordon, Chicago Bulls

I do like Paul’s selection of Gordon, I just like Stack a little better for this award. Sure the former Tar Heel gets more minutes than Gordon (30.6 to 22.6) but there’s a reason for that. As many games as Fishsticks has won for the Bulls lately (what 2 or 3?), there’s a reason his minutes aren’t higher. Earlier in the season he was a liability, particularly in November when he was shooting a dreadful 35.6% from the floor. Now in Dallas, starting SG Michael Finley has missed 15 games for the Mavs this season and the team’s other GFs, Josh Howard and Marquis Daniels, have been in street clothes for a combined 12. So who was there shouldering the load in their absence? That’s right, Stackhouse, who remained the sixth man in all but 2 of these contests and managed to average a steady 15.5 PPG off the pine. Bottomline is, there is more pressure in the Western Conference playoff race than there is on a Bulls team that hasn’t been to the playoffs since Jordan left. Stack’s my guy.

Runner Up:
Ant: Ben Gordon, Chicago Bulls
Paul: Antonio Daniels, Seattle Supersonics

Gordon’s been the unmistakable catalyst for the Bulls in their recent 10-2 stretch for the month of January. Daniels is a solid choice, but the same could be said for Fortson and Radmonovic. You cannot single out one guy from this Sonics team as they have all been equally important to Seattle’s surprising start.

Coach of the Year:
Nate McMillan, Seattle SuperSonics
Paul: Nate McMillan, Seattle SuperSonics

This is an absolute no-brainer in my book. Do me a favor, 1) Go back and see how many people, including ESPN’s “experts,” picked the Sonics not only to miss the playoffs, but also to be the worst team in the West. Then, 2) Take a look at their roster, and also, 3) Glance over their brutal schedule thus far. Finally 4) Add up all of your conclusions and tell me how on Earth this team is 28-11. The only explanation is that Nate McMillan is secretly Jesus or more practically, the NBA Coach of the Year. We’ll go with the latter. (Note: The Sonics are also the only team to beat the Spurs in San Antonio this season)

Runner Up:
Ant: Mike D'Antoni, Phoenix Suns
Paul: Mike D’Antoni, Phoenix Suns

As Paul mentioned, Mike D’Antoni has the obvious weapons, while McMillan certainly does not.

1st Team All-Rookie:

  • Emeka Okafor, Charlotte Bobcats
  • Ben Gordon, Chicago Bulls
  • Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic
  • Luol Deng, Chicago Bulls
  • Andre Iguodala, Philadelphia 76ers

2nd Team All-Rookie:

  • Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks
  • Chris Duhon, Chicago Bulls (Paul: Beno Udrih)
  • Trevor Ariza, New York Knicks (Paul: Anderson Varejao)
  • Andres Nocioni, Chicago Bulls
  • Al Jefferson, Boston Celtics

As Paul stated, “the first team is pretty cut and dry” and these guys are All-Stars in the making. The second team was a little tougher to draw up just because of the large crop of talent this year’s draft produced. Paul liked Udrih, but how hard is it to look good once every three games playing on the best team in the league? What about Duhon? His numbers are not stellar by any means, but doesn’t it mean something to start the last 29 games for the up-and-coming Bulls? It just so happens that Chicago got their first win of the season when the ex-Dukey made his initial start and the team has gone 19-10 ever since. As for Varejao, I agree he’s going to be a stud, but he hasn’t done too much this season (4.3 PPG, 4.3 RPG in 13.0 min) to merit a spot on this 2nd team. I believe Ariza (2nd round pick), a guy who busts his hump every night on a laxidazical Knicks team, deserves it a bit more. It doesn’t really matter because my boy Tony Allen will put this entire debate to rest by March, as will Shaun Livingston.

Rookie of the Year:
Ant: Emeka Okafor, Charlotte Bobcats
Paul: Emeka Okafor, Charlotte Bobcats

Anyone who debates this is nuts. Howard has been solid on Orlando and Gordon has won countless games (according to Paul) for the Bulls, but Okafor is a potential All-Star reserve in his rookie campaign. If this was baseball and each team got to send a player to the All-Star game who do you think would go for Team BET? The UConn grad has been phenomenal on both ends of the court all season: 15.2 PPG, 11.2 RPG, and 1.3 BPG. Name me a rookie in recent past with numbers like that. The number 1 pick, Howard, doesn’t score and is extremely inconsistent on D which frequently leads Coach Johnny Davis to sit him in the fourth quarter in favor of Tony Battie. If you had to start a team with one player from this year’s draft, who would it be? While Howard may end up averaging KG-type numbers, Okafor is of that invaluable Kirilenko mold, a guy whose team would undoubtedly do a 180 without him. Mek put up 18-19-1-3-3 in a game last week, a line that Howard seems in no way capable of producing at this stage. As for Gordon as ROY, give me a break. There’s hardly any pressure on the kid and he gets to shoot 15 shots every night without any repercussions. It’d be a shame if Okafor didn’t sweep the first place votes.

Runner Up:
Ant: Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic
Paul: Ben Gordon, Chicago Bulls

1st Team All-Defensive:

  • Bruce Bowen, San Antonio Spurs
  • Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
  • Kevin Garnett, Minnesota Timberwolves
  • Shawn Marion, Phoenix Suns
  • Ben Wallace, Detroit Pistons

2nd Team All-Defensive:

  • Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
  • Larry Hughes, Washington Wizards
  • Allen Iverson, Philadelphia 76ers
  • Andrei Kirilenko, Utah Jazz
  • Shaquille O'Neal, Miami Heat

Not sure how Shaq got Paul’s nod over Duncan since TD has better rebounding and block numbers playing alongside the 7-1 Rasho Nesterovic. Paul would then come back and argue that Udonis Haslem has better rebounding numbers than Nesto and then I would just say, “who cares.” Bowen and Wallace are staples on the first team, as is KG. Hughes, the NBA steal leader at 2.8, can be argued since he actually plays rather soft D, floating around the wings just going for steals. He’s like that NFL cornerback who has 8 or 9 interceptions but gets burned for TD’s twice as much. If you call that defense, fine, but 20 ticks left and Kobe’s got the ball in his hands, is Larry really going to stop him? I bet Marion’s got a shot.

Defensive Player of the Year:
Bruce Bowen, San Antonio Spurs
Paul: Bruce Bowen, San Antonio Spurs

The guy got NBA Player of the Week for playing sound defense. Isn’t that saying enough? Plus he’s the only player in the NBA named Bruce.

Ben Wallace and Kevin Garnett
Paul: Ben Wallace, Detroit Pistons

1st Team All-NBA

  • Kevin Garnett, Minnesota Timberwolves
  • Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
  • Shaquille O'Neal, Miami Heat
  • Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
  • LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers

2nd Team All-NBA

  • Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
  • Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
  • Amare Stoudemire, Phoenix Suns
  • Allen Iverson, Philadelphia 76ers
  • Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns

3rd Team All-NBA

  • Chris Webber, Sacramento Kings
  • Shawn Marion, Phoenix Suns
  • Ben Wallace, Detroit Pistons
  • Ray Allen, Seattle SuperSonics
  • Tracy McGrady, Houston Rockets

As you can see, my most notable change from Paul’s first five is Dwyane Wade replacing Steve Nash. How could Paul have Wade all the way down on the third team you ask? Well, if you knew what Paul did in his free time you would understand. Wade has put up spectacular numbers across the board and should be considered just as valuable to that Heat team as Shaq is. Since when are 23.8 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 7.6 APG, 1.6 SPG, 1.0 BPG not first team numbers? The counter argument of course is that without Shaq, Wade would be putting up far worse numbers, which is crap. Nash has been great offensively, but until he does it on both ends of the floor I’ll leave him on the second team. My only other notable change was removing Jermaine O’Neal from the list completely partially because I don’t like him and also because of his suspension. Marion is quietly is having one of his best (if not the best) seasons as a pro: 19.3 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 2.1 SPG and 1.5 BPG. Besides that, I agree with Paul’s selections completely. As for the other guys worth mentioning: either 1) Injuries (Kidd, Kirilenko, B. Davis), 2) Pouting (V. Carter, Pierce), 3) Drop off in play (Peja, Yao), or 4) Just missed out (S. Francis, Marbury, G. Arenas, L. Hughes), are the factors that kept these guys off the list.

Ant: ????????????????????
Paul: Shaquille O’Neal, Miami Heat

Honestly, I have no clue right now. I started writing my case for LeBron, but then everything Paul said about Shaq started to make sense. Then I thought, wait a minute, what about Wade? If Odom and Butler were back on the Heat I bet he’d still have similar numbers and the Heat would remain the team to beat in the East. Then I went back to LeBron because I have his shoes and they’re pretty sweet. Then I looked at Shaq’s numbers lately and decided I agreed with Paul again. Then I thought, nah, I’ll go with the underdog and write about Wade. Then I wrote this garbage paragraph that got me nowhere. Bottomline is, right now it’s a shear toss-up. The most amazing thing is that KG, Duncan and Kobe aren’t even being mentioned by the media right now. This in itself leads me to believe that whomever we decide on today will change tomorrow and most certainly change come June. The second half of the season should be one of the more exciting 41 games in recent memory.

Paul: LeBron James

Hottest Retro-Jerseys
Washington Wizards

I can’t believe I’m about to write this sentence, but that burnt orange uni looks fabulous. Arenas #0 may be the best jersey out there right now.

Indiana Pacers

I saw this dude at my gym with the J. O’Neal royal blue and gold the other day and it looked great. Speaking of seeing kids with jerseys on, I saw a 6’2” white kid with glasses (DORK) with an orange Amare jersey, baggy sweatpants and Tims on. Please stop doing this—you know who you are.

Most Underestimated NBA clothing:

Those big heads t-shirts from the 80s and early-90s. I had the Team USA one with Jordan, Bird, Magic, etc. and lost it. I’ve haven't been the same since.


At 2:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

good job. this sucks.

especially love your fashion review. you should make it a regular feature.

"The most amazing thing is that KG, Duncan and Kobe aren’t even being mentioned by the media right now. This in itself leads me to believe that whomever we decide on today will change tomorrow and most certainly change come June."

I agree. I think it has more to do with sportswriters always trying to come up with a NEW story -- shaq impacting a new team, lebron, nash -- rather than reporting something that everybody already knows, which is that kg, kobe, and duncan are three of the 5 best players in the game. i think that's also why a.i. isn't in the mvp conversation despite having statistically a better year than anyone in the league other than kg and lebron and having a larger impact on his team than probably anybody period.

i think the media is also full of a lot of morons, many of whom don't even watch more than a game or two a week, or that only watch the team they cover. just think about how many first- and second-place votes shannon stewart received a couple years ago for al mvp. the reporters obviously watched no twins games, because if they did then there's no way in hell they could have thought that stewart was ever the best player on the field. and the reporters looked at one easy stat -- record before and after the trade -- without bothering to look at other numbers that clearly showed numerous other reasons (eg, vastly improved pitching) that explained minnesota's late season success).

the same thing is going on this year. shaq is awesome, and lately his numbers have been awesome too, but look closer -- shaq is unreliable in the most important, final moments of games, and his team has played one of the easiest schedules to this point.

a.i., on the other hand has singlehandedly carried his team to first place (sure, it's a losing record) in the atlantic while being his team's regular go-to guy at the end of close games. and the sixers have played fewer home games than anyone in the nba.

kg has to play with spre, cassell, hudson, kandyass and wally z everyday (or at least on the days on which those guys feel like playing). he deserves some top 10 mvp votes just for showing up to the games. having that team in the playoff race is a huge accomplishment. writers who make it as though the team's lack of success is somehow due to kg's lack of "leadership" are dimwits and lazy and should be out of a job for not examining more closely what's really going on with the wolves this year. instead they just look at the lack of changes in the names on the roster and compare the team's record to last year and go with a groundless conclusion that saves them the trouble of actually having to think or investigate because the conclusion is one that can't be substantiated in the first place.


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