Fifteen names that defined the ’09-10 regular season.
|ALL-NBA SECOND TEAM|
|Power Forward||PAU GASOL||Lakers|
|Small Forward||KEVIN DURANT||Thunder|
|Shooting Guard||KOBE BRYANT||Lakers|
|Point Guard||DERON WILLIAMS||Jazz|
Why they’re here…
ANDREW BOGUT | Milwaukee Bucks | Center
Chris Kaman, Al Horford and David Lee were all considered All-Stars by the NBA’s 30 Head Coaches and David Stern. Interesting. You know what, fine, give them their silver medals because when it comes to the only recognition that matters, Andrew Bogut has been invited to a party that doesn’t include the names Kaman, Horford or Lee anywhere on the guest list.
Bogut recorded a new franchise record of consecutive games with at least one block (38) shortly before he (literally) fell to his sickening injury. Andrew Bogut did two things well this season – 01. He played at a level fitting of a first overall Draft pick. 02. He indirectly made the Atlanta Hawks look like fools for taking Marvin Williams because he’s no longer consider a soft or wasted first selection.
As far as contribution to W’s go, since the All-Star break, in games that Bogut notched 20 or more minutes, the Bucks went 17-6, that’s without any other star talent, a rookie PG, well you know the rest. His most impressive outing also came in the form of a statement game. Bogut ripped the New York Knicks (and David Lee) apart for 24 points, 20 boards and five blocks, post All-Star weekend.
In fact, this season his game went crazy like it was Homer without beer and television. Bogut ranked 2nd in the L in blocks per game and enforced every facet of Coach Skiles’ defensive plan. The term anchor, last line, Clint Eastwood (aka The Enforcer) have all been thrown at Bogut this season as he became somewhat of a post menace and the most important ingredient in the Bucks brew.
His ability to finish with either hand and get to the rim, hard (just as Big Baby Davis who is still stumbling somewhere) is a reflection of the work dude put in. At times, Bogut appeared like he started speaking a new basketball language, one that’s only understood by the elite. Anyone who believes Kevin Durant was the only player to emerge from impressive talent to bona fide star didn’t pay enough attention to the pivot in Milwaukee – a team that was projected to finish near to last in their Conference.
Milwaukee featured the strangest collection of NBA talent the League’s has seen for years but with Michael Redd gone and with Andrew Bogut as their backbone, face and gorilla chest, the deer defiled experts and resuscitated pro hoops in Wisconsin on their way to becoming the feel good story of the season.
PAU GASOL | Los Angeles Lakers | Power Forward
The Spanish maestro averaged 18.3 points, 11.3 boards (including a career high 3.7 offensive boards per), 3.4 assists, 1.7 blocks and he did it without consistent help from stalwarts Lamar Odom, Derek Fisher and Ron Artest. More so, he had to deal with Andrew Bynum’s fluctuations and those fore-mentioned Kobe issues.
Aside from all the numbers, removed from all the storylines and subplots that hovered over the Lakers all season long (and again, minus the strangeness of Kobe’s complex) Gasol is here because of two reasons: 01. The Lakers won the West and thus are deserving of at least two players (out of the 15 who appear) on the NBA’s respective Team’s. See, the way I look at it, having two players from the same team (in this case on the Second Team) equals the individual contributions that one of the players made who’ve been listed on the First Team. Make sense? Good. Same goes for two players being listed on the third, it equals the value of one player on the second… anyways, because the Lake Show did win the West and because Kobe wasn’t always there, Gasol beats out a long list of standout players to fill this spot. Once again, his contributions aren’t showy, they’re more ornate. Some of you may hate on the fact that Amar’e Stoudemire, Zach Randolph, Chris Bosh and Carlos Boozer aren’t listed here but remember what Agent Kujan was told (after he took a sip of cold coffee)… you need to stand back from it, to try and make sense of the (PF) clutter.
KEVIN DURANT | Oklahoma City Thunder | Small Forward
Remember when Tracy McGrady went monsoonal with his offensive output in Orlando? Remember when he slammed Thor’s hammer down on everyone and then led the L in scoring? Remember how he played at a level that left us gasping, forcing us all to think he could be the kind of perimeter force that would equal Tim Duncan’s post play? Well, everything we hoped (and thought) T-Mac would be, that now appears to be what KD is. It never quite happened for T-Mac, injuries slowed to him to a crawl and now he’s that empty (and forgotten) shopping trolley, better known for his shaky wheel (contract) rather than his ability to carry a car load full of groceries (as he did in 2002).
Just like Deron Williams (almost) made us forget about how magical Chris Paul can be, KD leap frogged Melo in a similar fashion. In fact, Durant committed the biggest crime this season, pilfering the title of second best Small Forward (at least for this season) away from the once untouchable Carmelo Anthony.
Side note 1: How many Seattle SuperSonics fans out there now hate the Thunder more than ever? KD could have been their guy. He could have laced up every night in their arena, instead, he can only be in their lives through League Pass. Ouch.
Side note 2: Durant has now been added to “lock” status for the 2012 London Summer Olympics.
He racked up 32 straight games of 20 or more points. That’s almost as impressive as the fact that he scored 30 plus points 46 different times through the 82 games. The saying that his talent knows no ceiling is apt, accurate and astonishing all at once. He guided his team to 50 wins, wore some of the ugliest basketball kicks seen in an NBA game (yeah, that’s right, I’m not a fan of the creamsicles) and became everyone’s second favorite despite the fact we all still want to hate on the Thunder.
Thanks to Greg Oden’s forgettable season, every bucket Durant collected became another voodoo doll pinprick into the side of Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard. On that tip, it’s the sole (and real) reason why his job was in jeopardy – which makes complete sense when you look at the fact that he elected to passed on Durant. No matter what else he does, no matter how good his team plays, now matter what else he provides, he consciously passed on the one player who could redefine the modern game. Now that’s something you can’t ignore when reviewing his “five year” productivity. Not that this is the place to harp on about it but it’s not all that different to the situation that faced the Orlando Magic in ’04 when they were confronted with the choice of either Emeka Okafor or Dwight Howard. Lesson here: Take the most talented player available, the rest will sort itself out.
This past season KD was more than the L’s leading scorer. He enjoyed the kind of bump we’ve only seen from the players who’ve qualify contemporary giants, guys like Tracy McGrady, Chris Paul, Steve Nash, Tim Duncan, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Dwyane Wade, Shaquille O’Neal, Kevin Garnett and Jason Kidd. He had the kind of campaign those players have had at one point or another. The kind of season that instantly elevates your jersey to the best sellers list because of your play, not your market. Now, it appears like KD’s gearbox has no use for reverse.
KOBE BRYANT | Los Angeles Lakers | Shooting Guard
Yes, as a stand alone season, Wade’s was better than Kobe’s, we’ve gone over that, so this next part is just for Laker fans, you know, who think I’ve lost my freaking mind…
Did you know: Kobe’s team only won 10 more regular season games than Wade’s? Know that it could have been much closer than that had it not been for Bryant’s last minute heroics (on at least six occasions). In fact, those Kobe game winners often came against teams they should have walked all over – Milwaukee, Sacramento and yes, Wade and Miami – or at least would have a season ago when they chalked up more than 60 Ws. That fact tells me Kobe’s season was littered with freak bouts of hail but never a full-blown storm.
Here’s a truth: Kobe’s game winners have seen the Lakers finish first out West, true. Take away that miraculous banker over Wade and that absurd superstar (no)call in Milwaukee (when Kobe clearly charged into Bogut) and Sacramento’s final play defensive retardation and you’ll find that the Mavs would hold down the top seed. Shouldn’t Kobe, if he was a first Teamer have done what LeBron did, you know, win games in three quarters, save yourself the hassle?
The above Mavs-based scenario shouldn’t have enter the discussion, not if Kobe is a first teamer. It’s also why Pau Gasol is on the Second Team, he is also a reason why the Lakers have retained their elite status. Unlike a season ago, when they were a KFC family feat, they’ve shrunken. Rather than being Cleveland’s pizza with the lot (with LBJ being the base) or Wade’s chicken McNugget combo (complete with four dipping sauces but no other food/sides), the Lakers, this season were more a vegetarian stir fry – no real meat to speak of – but an honest meal, nonetheless.
‘09-10 didn’t give us the Kobe we’re used to seeing, the guys who often turns defenders into porridge. One final exhausting-to-the-point-of-nausea statement, Bill Simmons revealed his MVP candidates. They were, in order: LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, Deron Williams, Dirk Nowitzki, Carmelo Anthony.
Based on these picks, if you followed my ‘Tracer’ rules, Simmons and I would feature the exact same All NBA Teams. Kobe is sixth in Simmons’ MVP voting, that’s where he should fit in because that’s where he was this season. Know this, Kobe’s placement here, on the Second Team isn’t nearly as criminal as Melo being placed on the Third, so before you complain, remember, Nuggets fans have a bigger gripe with me than any Laker fan (who ended up with two Second Teamers) ever could.
DERON WILLIAMS | Utah Jazz | Point Guard
Underrated, underrated, underrated, oooooh, BAM! Just right, rated accurately for the first time ever…. Damn, I just hope we don’t all let history repeat, letting this Deron scale tip over so we start to overrate him. Fingers are crossed.
It’s funny because Deron appears to be equal parts playmaker and big time offensive talent. He’s never tipped the scale, never become an over passer or over shooter, never shrinking into a singular role. He could easily be Tim Hardaway or Stephon Marbury, a point guard who remains his team’s primary offensive threat and facilitator.
In what may turn out to be the best regular season contest from ‘09-10, Williams dropped a career high 42 points, dished out 10 assists, shot 14-23 from the field (.609), 4-7 from three (.571) and 10-11 from the charity stripe (.909) in 42 minutes with just one turnover. Of all the guys who have been selected for this final Team Tracker, alongside LBJ and Dwight, Deron was the easiest to place, he was the second best PG this season. Finished third in assists (10.5apg), seventh in double doubles (44), 24th in scoring (18.3ppg) and 32nd in swipes (1.26spg).
His career highs in rebounds (4 boards per) and steals aren’t the only items that pushed Deron to the near front of the checkout line. It was his ability to dominate the other big time guards that separated him from the over crowded pack. Against Chicago/Derrick Rose, Williams averaged 24.5 points and 11.5 assists. When facing off against Denver/Chauncey Billups, D-Will dipped them for 22.3 points and 10.3 assists per outing. New Orleans/Chris Paul? Try averages of 19.3 points and 12 dimes. Dallas and Kidd? That resulted in 20 points and 9.7 assists in their three contests. How about First Teamer Nash? 20.5 points and eight Stockton’s.
His game can described as some sort of Olympic motto, he’s bigger, faster, stronger than everyone else at his position (for the most part). He looks like the best candidate to hold down a place on the NBA’s mantle once Nash decides it’s time to hitchhike back to Canada.
That’s what has made his season so amazing, he joined Kevin Durant and LeBron James, and unfortunately for him, he also joined Steve Nash, in taking and making a significant leap. These four horsemen forced us to pause and contemplate re-writing contemporary history. Just know that Deron is as talented a point guard as the League has seen. You wanna know how I know this, lean in, I’ll tell you… Charles Barkley called him, “the best PG in the NBA”… and we all know Charles is never wrong, right? Seriously though, 2010 saw Deron’s game go out of its way and book out the penthouse that was supposed to be left vacant for Chris Paul’s returned. It seemed like when he was presented with an opportunity to take out the Hungarian himself, he did.