I honestly like McDermott if they end up getting that last lottery pick.
You ready for Broussard's award picks?Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
One of my favorite parts of the NBA calendar is upon us. The playoffs? Well, yes and no.
Yes, because of course I love the NBA playoffs. But no, because that's not what I'm talking about. Instead of the postseason, I'm talking about Awards Season. With just a week left in the regular season, it's time to reward those players and coaches who did the best job of putting in work. What follows is the official ballot I sent in to the NBA.
Let the debates begin.
Most Valuable Player
5 -- Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls: Outside of his 11.1 rebounds per game, seventh-best in the NBA, Noah's statistics aren't eye-popping. But with his defense, his passing, his energy and more, he impacted the game more than almost anyone else and enabled the Bulls to remain strong without Derrick Rose and Luol Deng.
[+] EnlargeLeBron James
Layne Murdoch/NBAE/Getty Images
LeBron James has the Heat once again in contention for the Eastern Conference's No. 1 seed.
4 -- Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors: I thought about going with one of the Rockets' superstars, James Harden or Dwight Howard, but they've got each other and still finished with only a few more wins than Curry's Warriors. Curry is the league's only player to finish in the top 10 in scoring (7th) and assists (6th).
3 -- Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers: As great as he was before, Griffin could legitimately be considered for the league's Most Improved Player award. A better jump shot and a huge leap at the free throw line turned Griffin from a celebrity dunker into a legitimate superstar. With Chris Paul out midway through the season, Griffin carried the Clippers to a 13-6 record in the rugged West.
2 -- LeBron James, Miami Heat: Another terrific season, of course, but his Heat have been up and down. Several teams out West have played better basketball against much sturdier competition.
1 -- Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder: It's appropriate that he broke Michael Jordan's streak of 40 games with 25 or more points because Durant is the best pure scorer the league has seen perhaps since Jordan. James still is the better player, but if Durant leads the Thunder to the championship, the title for greatest in the game could be up for grabs.
Most Improved Player
3 -- Goran Dragic, Phoenix Suns: Many players make a jump in scoring during losing seasons, but he has improved his scoring by six points per game over last season while taking the Suns -- a team that, except for Eric Bledsoe (who missed half the season due to injury), is full of reserves, also-rans and previous underachievers -- to playoff contention in the mighty Western Conference.
2 -- Gerald Green, Phoenix Suns: He wasn't quite Kwame Brown. But if not for his outstanding performances in the Slam Dunk Contest, Green -- once a highly touted preps-to-pros prospect -- would be viewed as a bust. But with a wildly improved jumper, Green has averaged 16 points per game and nearly 19 PPG over the last 2.5 months.
1 -- Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans: He was very good as a rookie last season, but this year he's reached the cusp of superstardom. One of just five players to average at least 20 points and 10 rebounds a game, the league's shot-block leader also gives you what many of the NBA's great power forwards don't -- stellar defense.
Rookie of the Year
3 -- Trey Burke, Utah Jazz: The Jazz improved dramatically once Burke returned after missing the first 12 games of the season due to injury. Without him, Utah was 1-11.
2 -- Victor Oladipo, Orlando Magic: One of the few bright spots for the Magic since Superman left the building.
1 -- Michael Carter-Williams, Philadelphia 76ers: Led rookies in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals. Don't blame him for the Sixers' historically inept season.
Defensive Player of the Year
3 -- Dwight Howard, Houston Rockets: His image has declined so much that he no longer gets credit for how good he is. He practically single-handedly transformed Houston's defense from mediocre (17th last season) to top-notch (fifth) this season.
2 -- Roy Hibbert, Indiana Pacers: For all the Pacers' struggles, they will still finish with the top-ranked defense in the league, and Hibbert is the undisputed anchor. I almost removed him from my ballot after his blabbering to the media about "selfish'' teammates exacerbated Indiana's problems. But the bottom line is that he's been big (no pun intended) this season.
1 -- Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls: No one likes playing the Bulls, and no one likes playing against Noah. He leads the grittiest, grimiest, toughest, smartest, most hard-nosed team you'll ever see. With Noah at the helm, the undermanned Bulls are capable of beating everyone in the East not located in Miami.
Sixth Man of the Year
3 -- Reggie Jackson, Oklahoma City Thunder: Call it a hunch, but this guy will be starting elsewhere soon. He's a poor man's Russell Westbrook.
AP Photo/Matt York
Taj Gibson has done a little bit of everything for the depleted Bulls this season.
2 -- Taj Gibson, Chicago Bulls: I love this guy's game. Brings a lot of the same intangibles to the game as Noah and never fails to throw down a monstrous, spine-tingling jam on somebody. If the Bulls find a way to keep Gibson and add Carmelo Anthony, the Heat's stranglehold on the East will be snapped.
1 -- Jamal Crawford, Los Angeles Clippers: I know he doesn't play defense, but so what? Dude pours in points and, for all the new metrics and analytics, etc., buckets still count for something. Once again, he is one of the top fourth-quarter scorers in the league, joining the company of superstars like Durant, Curry and Harden.
Coach of the Year
3 -- Tom Thibodeau, Chicago Bulls: Simply put, he is a phenomenal coach. The loss of Rose -- and then the trade of Deng -- could have destroyed this team not just physically but psychologically. After playing 82 Game 7s last year with no hope of winning the East, he somehow got his team to do it again -- again, with no hope of winning the East.
2 -- Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs: Like Thibodeau's teams, it seems as if it doesn't matter who's on the court. No matter the player, no matter his past, the Spurs win. I say the following selfishly -- the only thing Pop needs to improve is his post-quarter interview etiquette.
1 -- Jeff Hornacek, Phoenix Suns: This guy has been unbelievable. On paper, this season's Suns roster actually looks worse than last season's. But last season, the Suns were 15th in the West. This season, they are battling with much more talented behemoths for a playoff spot.
All-NBA First Team
F -- LeBron James, Miami Heat: Still the best player on earth.
F -- Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder: While everyone focuses on his scoring, he's become a tremendous all-around player.
C -- Dwight Howard, Houston Rockets: Still the best big man in basketball.
G -- Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers: Still the best point guard in the world.
G -- Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors: Still hard to believe this guy played at Davidson.
All-NBA Second Team
F -- LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trail Blazers: The jump he's made this late in his career is remarkable.
F -- Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers: Now he plays as well as he acts (in commercials).
C -- Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls: A winner, pure and simple.
G -- James Harden, Houston Rockets: He'll have to start going deep in the playoffs by next season or the haters will begin to swarm (ask Melo).
G -- Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers: Still hard to believe this guy went to Weber State.
All-NBA Third Team
F -- Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks: It was hard to leave off Carmelo Anthony, but Nowitzki has the Mavs poised to make the playoffs in the West. Anthony had difficult keeping the Knicks even in postseason contention in the weak East.
F -- Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves: The numbers are astronomical, but at some point my man has to reach the postseason. Then again, for all those thinking this spot should belong to Anthony, the Timberwolves would be battling for the sixth or seventh seed in the East.
C -- Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs: I was tempted to go with Al Jefferson (apologies to Big Al), but Duncan still produces on both ends of the floor and remains the engine that pushes the Spurs.
G -- Goran Dragic, Phoenix Suns: We have to give this dude some love. Amazing season.
G -- Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs: The co-engine (with Duncan) that makes the Spurs go. And just for the record, a first-ballot Hall of Famer, as well.