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Thursday, April 15th, 2010 at 2:21 pm  |  53 responses

Links: How I Voted

He walks away with the MVP…

by Lang Whitaker

First of all, on Tuesday night we aired our final episode of the season of The Beat on NBA TV. I had a great time working the NBA TV crew all season, and a big thanks to NBA TV for letting me invade their air and rep SLAM once a week. Shout-outs to Marc Fein, David Aldridge, Damon Fisher, Jeremy Levin, Tony Lamb and Jim Allen. Hopefully we’ll do it again next year.

I’m still waiting for my Suncatcher Awning, by the way.

Changing gears, yesterday I turned in my official NBA Postseason Awards ballot. Last week I posted some general thoughts on the awards, and let you guys have your say. I read all the comments, chewed on it over the weekend, then filed my ballot today. Here’s how I voted, and why I voted the way I did.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
MY VOTE: 1) Tyreke Evans 2) Stephen Curry 3) Brandon Jennings
MY REASONING: As far as Reke, the Kings put the ball his hands from day one and basically tossed him out there, and he managed to produce all season, even getting doubled throughout. In my mind, voting for the other two spots was much closer. We discussed this in the office this morning before I submitted my ballot, and Ben vehemently disagreed with my voting here, believing that Brandon should have been at least second. Ben’s thought was that while Curry had good numbers, they didn’t mean anything because he’s on the Warriors, where D-league guys are throwing up 20 points in a game. And I understand that. But I’ve watched a bunch of Bucks and Warriors games the last few weeks. Curry was unquestionably the best all-around player on the Warriors. He had defenses keying on him, and he averaged 17 ppg, 6 apg and shot 46 pct from the floor and 43 pct (!) on threes. Brandon was terrific, too, but he wasn’t as consistent from the floor (shot 37 pct) and he sat frequently in the fourth quarters of games. And as a fan, watching my team play against these teams, I found myself more concerned about Curry than Brandon. Brandon might end up being the best of all three of these rookies—I think he’s the most explosive of any of them—but this season, Tyreke was the best, Steph was second-best, Brandon was third. At least to me.

COACH OF THE YEAR
MY VOTE: 1) Jerry Sloan 2) Scott Brooks 3) Nate McMillan
MY REASONING: This could have gone about ten different ways, but here’s what I settled on. I went with Sloan for a couple of reasons. The Jazz started the season with a franchise player who didn’t want to be there. They gave away their starting two guard and their back-up point guard. They’ve had injuries to key players all season — nobody will finish the season having played in all 82 games. And yet they still won 53 games and finished tied with Denver for the best record in the Northwest Division. Brooks took a team that nobody expected much from and squeezed out 50 wins. While Portland had one of the most ridiculously injury-plagued seasons anyone could ever imagine, Nate McMillan overcame the injuries, front office issues, a screaming match with Andre Miller and a center posting nude photos of himself on the internet to win 50 games. It was only because the Blazers came into this with a stacked roster and Nate Dogg had a lot of depth at his disposal that I didn’t rate him higher.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
MY VOTE: 1) Dwight Howard 2) Josh Smith 3) Gerald Wallace
MY REASONING: Does this mean the Southeast Division is the most defensive? I thought this award was pretty obvious. I saw a couple of other writers reveal their ballots and say that they’d voted for Josh Smith. I watched pretty much every Hawks game this season, and as much as I like Smoove, he just didn’t have the consistent, dominant impact on games that Dwight Howard had.

MOST IMPROVED PLAYER
MY VOTE: 1) Andrew Bogut 2) Aaron Brooks 3) Marc Gasol
MY REASONING: I know Aaron Brooks had a significant jump in his PPG, but to me, if you’re a point guard playing 35 minutes a game who averages five assists and 16 shots a night, it’s not that difficult to have a jump in points per game. I really thought Bogut had shown a dramatic improvement this season, not just in putting up bigger numbers, but in having more of an impact on games and being a presence on the floor, no to mention the way he organized the Section 6 fans and was super-active on Twitter, uniting Bucks fans.

ALL-NBA TEAMS
MY VOTE:
FIRST TEAM: LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade
SECOND TEAM: Carmelo Anthony, Dirk Nowitzki, Amare Stoudemire, Deron Williams, Steve Nash
THIRD TEAM: Pau Gasol, Tim Duncan, Andrew Bogut, Joe Johnson, Brandon Roy
MY REASONING: I think these are all pretty self-explanatory, aren’t they?

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
MY VOTE: 1) LeBron 2) Kobe Bryant 3) Kevin Durant 4) Dwight Howard 5) Dwyane Wade
Working backward, I thought Wade was even better — more complete — this year than last year, and considering that roster he was given to play alongside, winning 47 games was incredible. Dwight quietly averaged 18 and 13, and he really was the anchor of the second-best team in the Conference. KD was KD, averaging 30 PPG and developing into a superstar way before most people expected. Kobe might not have had his most impressive season statistically, but I agree 100-percent with Dr. Jack Ramsay, who said Kobe “is the guts of the Lakers.” I don’t know how to show you numbers or a graph that proves this, but it’s true.

As for LeBron, there was a column on Monday by Fanhouse’s Tim Povtak that said LeBron owes fans in Orlando a refund for not playing on Sunday against the Magic. That didn’t bother as much as Povtak saying he wasn’t going to vote for LeBron for the MVP. Because…seriously?

LeBron sat out that game because it didn’t matter. The Cavs had already clinched home court advantage during the Playoffs. There’s the obvious “but fans bought tickets to see LeBron” angle. Maybe so, and it’s too bad for them that he didn’t play. But again, it’s just too bad. Stuff happens. There’s no guarantee any NBA player will play, injured or healthy, on any night. The Spurs have sat guys all season long when they need a rest.

Povtak writes “If James wants some rest, he should reduce his playing time significantly, and sit out the second half. It’s just not fair to the paying customers, who are too often forgotten by the me-first players like James.”

But if LeBron wanted to give the Cavs the best chance to beat Orlando, knowing that if he WAS going to play he wouldn’t be playing the entire game and if he did play, he wouldn’t be going all-out, then NOT playing at all was probably the best thing he could have done for the team. Isn’t not playing at all the most team-first thing he could have done? Wouldn’t playing limited minutes have been the MOST me-first thing he could have done?

Povtak also invokes Malone and Stockton, who frequently played all 82 games. Which is great. And how many titles did they win again?

It’s really a lose-lose situation for the teams and players. Sasha Vujacic sprained his ankle last night in a totally inconsequential game and is out for a while in the Playoffs. If that had been Bron or Dwight Howard or some other first-team All-NBA guy, writers would start in with the “Oh, they should have sat him” columns. If he played half the game and said he’d done it because the fans in Orlando wanted to see him play, people would write about how selfish he was being.

Look: LeBron isn’t is this to win a scoring title or any of that other stuff. He wants a ring and he wants it now.

That said, LeBron was by far the best and most complete player in the NBA this season, regardless of whether he played in 78 or 82 games.

He averaged more points per game than Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade or Kobe Bryant.

He averaged more rebounds per game than Mehmet Okur, Andre Iguodala or Jermaine O’Neal.

He averaged more assists per game than Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook or Chauncey Billups.

He averaged more steals per game than defenders like Ron Artest, Gerald Wallace or Corey Brewer.

He had the highest efficiency rating in the entire NBA.

The Cavs won more games this season than any team in the NBA.

To me, the only question is how anyone COULDN’T vote for LeBron.

You might not like LeBron’s personality or the way he carries himself, and that’s fine, that’s your choice. But there is no way any rational person can say LeBron was not the most valuable player in the NBA this season.

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  • Tommy Patron

    Looks pretty good, Lang! Can’t say I would argue with anything other than COY.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Introducing rational thought into an argument about sports is always a dicey thing.

  • WB30

    Come on, noboy can’t agree with this.

  • JB

    Imagine how Curry can/will be when he actually has some NBA players around him.

  • http://www.slamonline.com James the Balla

    Can’t argue with any of this.

  • http://www.yamahyouth.com Gerwin

    Like it Lang. Good work! Only one I’m missing is Nasty Nash in the MVP considerations, but I dig your argument of the other players.

  • http://www.slamonline.com/ niQ

    Who’s your 3 picks for 6th Man of the Year? Although it’s probably going to start with Jamal Crawford…

  • Garett

    Agree with all the picks.

    And on LeBron not playing, he was sat after Mike Brown and the Cavs saw firsthand what can happen to a guy on a fluke play – Bosh out for the season (technical term – f%&*ed up face) by an apparently harmless looking Jamison elbow. That scared them straight. And that writer just wanted his name out there, regardless if its due to ridicule, hoorrrribblle argument

  • http://slamonline.com Adam Fleischer

    Glad that you went in on Povtak’s extremely faulty logic. That column was a travesty. Ballot is well reasoned, too. Once all your lobbying works and you actually do get that awning, will you even have a place to put it?

  • http://slamonline.com Brad Long

    Corey Brewer’s gotta squeeze in that top 3 MIP list. Other than that, pretty much no beef with these picks, Lang.

  • http://slamonline.com Bryan Crawford

    Lang, no love for Joakim in the MIP category?

  • http://slamonline.com Lang Whitaker

    @Adam: I’m going to put it in the office.

  • http://slamonline.com Lang Whitaker

    @Bryan: Jo had a good year, but I didn’t have him in my top three.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Eboy

    Lang is conveniently not mentioning his 2000 word essay that said Kobe was going to have his greatest season ever at the beginning of the season, yet finished a DISTANT second in almost every prominent sports journalists eyes to Lebron in MVP talks. Well, that is, unless Bean averages about 50 in the playoffs, the Lakers go undefated throughout and he scores 100 in a Finals game. Just saying. Your voting picks are all good though.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Eboy

    “Does this mean the Southeast Division is the most defensive?” This is pretty accurate…..The Magic, Heat, Hawks and BETCATS all displayed great moments of defense throughout the season.

  • underdog

    Nice to show some love to Jerry Sloan, his consistency is waaay underrated. And, as you’ve said, I don’t like LeBron’s personality at all, but his MVP award is no question. The question is: will he be Finals MVP this year or not?

  • http://jayshealthycoffee.com Jay

    Closing argument for stephen Curry for ROY…..True that Evans’ 20-5-5 is synonomous with Oscar, Michael, and Lebron. However what is also true is Curry has more 25-10 and 35-10 games, and made more 3′s than any other rookie in NBA history. In the final game of the season last night in Portland, he once again put up numbers no other rookie has with 42-9-8. Evans’ was consistent all year with his 20-5-5. However he was JUST CONSISTENT. Curry has been DYNAMIC and EYE POPPING since the All-star break. A lot of people point to Evans’ 20 pts a game vs Curry’s 17.5 a game. Well, lets look closer. Curry leads all rookies in Assists, 3pt%, 3′s made, Steals, and FT%. In fact, Curry is in the TOP 10 in the LEAGUE in 3pt%, steals, and FT%. I like Evans and feel he is obviously a more physically dominate player, but with curry’s strong second half punctuated with 3 straight Rookie of the Month Awards gives him the edge. Final anaylisis…..Curry wins the NBA Rookie of year Award…..You simply have to give it him because his second half play clearly shows he decided to TAKE IT!!!

  • http://slamonline.com Lang Whitaker

    @Eboy: I’m glad that I’m wrong infrequently enough that when I am wrong, it’s memorable.

  • http://bleacherreport.com/users/42594-hoops4life Overtime

    Especially like the Coaching votes. Jerry Sloan doesnt get recognised cos this isnt his first season doing it. McMillan has had to cope with more than any other coach and hasnt faltered. And Scott Brooks has made a great core out of apprently ‘nothing’
    Although…Lang…hey!dont bring John and Karl on in this lol, low blow.
    Like the sentence at the bottom aswell, maybe you dont like how he carries himself, id prob agree with you, butas a player, theres no argument

  • KHALID SALAAM

    The list is pretty much spot on. I have Van Gundy in my top 3 for COY. I know he has Howard but that roster doesn’t scream to me “defense” so i have to give props for that.

  • http://www.slamonline.com/online/category/blogs/farmer-jones/ Ryan Jones

    LeBron losing MVP by a vote or two would be the most awesomest thing ever.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_eyY2_6_fbU SMK

    Good choices. The subhead should be “He crab-dribbles away with the MVP” though because he doesn’t walk.

  • http://slamonline.com Lang Whitaker

    @SMK: Good one.

  • http://idunkonthem.blogspot.com/ albie1kenobi

    somehow i knew eboy wasn’t gonna let Lang’s fearless pre-season prediction slide. to Lang’s defense, who knew mamba’s gonna have multiple broken fingers? those wild elbows he threw finally caught up to him.

  • Mitya

    Can’t be mad if Sloan gets it. Above all of your arguments he should just get it for doing this like forever. Besides, I don’t think he’s ever won it has he?

  • rashado

    jerry sloan is always deserving of COY consideration but seriously, this nonsense about him having to pull the team together when boozer didn’t want to be there is ridiculous compared to what scott skiles, nate mcmillan and scotty brooks have done. i think everyone wants to give sloan a lifetime achievement award and i don’t blame you, but seriously other coaches are much more deserving…the jazz are stacked and always well coached.

  • rashado

    + LOL @ SMK’s comment

  • David

    Nice votes. Not as Hawks-friendly as previous years, like back when Horford was a better rookie than Durant…

  • LA Huey

    I think Coach Sloan is one of the best coaches ever to walk the NBA sidelines but what Coach Skiles did this year with a rookie PG and a roster downsized by free agency (Sessions, Charlie V) and injuries (Redd) nets him the COY.

  • doyouwantmore

    I think Deron Williams on the up and hungry with not much help is more valuable than Kobe surrounded by all-stars and fading fast.

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Didn’t agree with every choice but much respect for the seriousness with which Lang takes his ballot, and always proud that SLAM has a vote!

  • g

    honestly i cant even lie Lebron does deserve MVP but last year i thought it was a fluke i thought Dwyane Wade deserved it nobody played harder than he did last year even though they won more games this year but cant even lie Lebron deserves it

  • Ansonpanson

    corey brewer a defender? reaaally?

  • Atrain

    Skiles needs to be in your COY, 2nd place AT WORST. Nobody thought the Bucks would be anything this season. WHile you gave Bogues some love for MIP, the coach got him and YungBuck to mesh with a changing cast all year without Redd

  • sp

    Why are you punishing McMillan for a stacked roster. The other two didn’t? No coach overcame more than Nate. He adjusted lineups, brought along youngsters, incorporated new players, dealt with front office issues, all year long. He’s the easy choice for COY.

  • mango

    Jennings isn’t your ROY? What? I don’t see the Kings or Warriors in the playoffs. Sure he had Bogut at his side but where do you think his improvement came from. Jennings makes players around him better like a pg should. And he did this all without the guy who was going to be their number 1 offensive option. Jennings is ROY

  • Sean

    Surely Joakim Noah deserves at least a mention for MIP…

  • Jackie Moon

    Funny how Eboy doesn’t ever mention that every day of the previous season he ragged on the Lakers, and they still won the title.

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com Joel O’s

    Eh, when you’ve made your case as logically as Lang has, it’s hard for us to do anything but “agree to disagree” – we commenters may disagree with some of his picks, but you can’t fault him for poor reasoning. Solid picks all around, and if the other voters were half as reasonable, we’d have a lot less controversy over players being robbed over the years.

  • http://Www.facebook.com Joe_king

    Whatever happened to thabeet? Hahaha
    3 reaaaal good pg rookies there

  • spit hot fiyah

    How come nobody is talking about KD for most improved, is it because he is allready considered a “super star”. He probably made as much of a jump as anyone.

  • TyMo

    I’m guessing Bosh isn’t on your All-NBA team because he didn’t make the playoffs, which is fine. Even though Bogut, Duncan, and Gasol are all playing center for their team.

  • http://www.twitter.com/NotebookNick NotebookNick

    Personally, I feel Brooks did a better job than Sloan this year, based on the Thunder’s road record. But, Sloan has never won the award and been robbed numerous times, so I’m really not going to argue.

  • http://djsfklf.com Jukai

    I think the all-NBA teams are a bit off (Look, either Nash or Deron deserves to be there. Wade took 2/3rds of the season off) but other then that, can’t really argue with anything else.

  • Sparty’s Law

    Chris Bosh will be on an All NBA team. He had a better year than Duncan and Gasol.

  • http://www.nba-basketball.org NBA Basketball

    How can Coach Skiles not get any mention??

  • http://slamonline.com JL

    love the all nba teams. just seems so right! can’t even think of any adjustments.

  • Irfan

    Agree on most things, though:
    - I guess Skiles should be in the COY discussion, but I don’t know who to remove. Maybe Brooks. But he did such a good job too… Man, that’s hard! How could Mike Brown win it last year while he just sucks?
    - DPOY: D12, never! But I know the NBA’s all about stats and freaks, and Dwight brings both. He is so athletic he can change the way players shoot, I know. But as long as he’s jumping on the first fake and taking fouls so easily, I don’t have him as the DPOY. Wallace is the leader of the best defensive team and has 10 RPG for a guy his size! And Sefolosha, Battier and others have to be in that discussion. I don’t have D12 top 3 right now, maybe 4 or 5. But that might be a small-guy-bias!
    - MIP: I read somewhere that a top pick couldn’t be MIP, as well as a MVP candidate (Durant in this case) and it’s true to me. As for Aaron Brooks, I’m with you, and therefore I put him behind Gasol & Noah but I don’t know which of both big euroguys first.
    - all-NBA: I don’t think Bogut is already here and I take Bosh over him even though I know Bosh is a PF more than a center to some people. Also, as much as I hate the Celtics, I think Rondo could be discussed for Roy, who was much injured this season and didn’t play at a stellar level when healthy.

    - MVP: of course! I’m a Kobe fan but I wouldn’t be mad if he were rated 3rd, or event 4th behind Durant & Wade. I know Kobe is the best baller of the League, but not the most efficient. LeBron is by far MVP but not best player, it’s different.

    (ps : excuse my English: I’m French, and it’s 2:30 am here)

  • http://slamonline.com tealish

    Good votes here. Not much one can truly disagree with.
    Personal preference: I would replace Wade on NBA 1st team with Deron. And I also don’t think Wade played better this year than last.

  • http://slamonline.com tealish

    I also respect how you listed Jennings 3rd, even though the kid’s “your story”. IMO, based on this season’s play (who knows what’s the story in 3 years), the gap between Evans and Curry is smaller than between Curry and Jennings.

  • John

    Most of y’all hyping up Jennings and Evans probably have barely even seen much Kings or Warriors games since they are on the West Coast. I’ve seen a lot of games for all 3 of these guys, and I’d have to give it to Curry. I kind of doubted this guy in the beginning of the season, but since December, he has really stepped on the gas, and never let up. I know Evans has the stats advantage and Jennings has the wins advantage, but Curry is simply amazing! This guy is doing everything, and doing it well – scoring, assists, rebounds, steals, and all of his %s are high. In the last month, this guy is close to triple doubles in so many games, even got close to a quadruple double. His court presence is far above and beyond both Evans and Jennings. This kid is like a magician out there on the court. Even after seriously doubting his abilities at first, I found myself in awe by the way he plays. I also thought he’d be bad on defense because of his size, but he actually is very good at moving his feet, and not letting his man get an easy score. Too bad he didn’t get much playing time in the beginning of the season, which hurt his stats a bit, or the ROY competition would have been a run-a-way in favor of Curry. Don’t let the babyface fool ya, this kid is cold-blooded!

  • http://minusthebars.blogspot.com don

    I disagree with Sloan as Coach of The Year. Over Brooks and the exceptional job he’s done with a young Thunder team? I just don’t see it.

    Tyreke Evans – Agreed.

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