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Featured Gallery, NBA / Jan 26, 2011 / 11:00 am

Kobe Bryant for MVP, and the NBA’s Forgotten Award Contenders

Kobe Bryant (photo. Nike)

With the NBA set to announce its All-Star starters tomorrow, this is the time of year where blaming the game’s fans for ultimately meaningless travesties is at its peak. You’ll see what I mean once Yao Ming‘s name is revealed as the Western Conference starting center.

NBA fans are safe from blame, though, when it comes to the League’s regular-season awards. If we end up with the wrong MVP or Coach of the Year, that falls on the media members who vote. The idea is that those of us who cover the League for a living are more objective and know what we’re talking about, that we’re not going to reduce things to a popularity contest. But going back to picking our 5th-grade class president, when has any kind of balloting not just been a popularity contest?

The only difference between classroom elections and NBA award voting is that all of us media members can be our own form of campaign publicists. If we produce the right amount of hype for the right guy, in the end that guy (given that he produces) is rewarded for our creation. And then you look back, and things don’t make sense — like the fact that Shaquille O’Neal was the most dominant player in the League for about a decade but only the most valuable once, or that Jerry Sloan somehow made the Hall of Fame without ever being the best coach in the League. Every year there are deserving candidates who get overlooked and ignored. Who is in that class this year?

*** *** ***

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
Who’s winning: Derrick Rose
Who’s close: LeBron James
Who’s being forgotten: Kobe Bryant
He’s the best player on the best team, which still counts for something. No, the Lakers don’t have the best record in the League, and some other teams are playing better right now — but L.A. is still the last team anybody wants to see in a seven-game series. Kobe is sixth in the NBA in scoring at 24.9 points per game, to go with 5.0 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game. A few less Ron Artest bricks this season, and Kobe would be joining LeBron and Russell Westbrook as the only players in the League right now averaging at least 20 points, five boards and five assists.

But Kobe is the boring pick, which sucks for him because Michael Jordan racked up five MVP’s before becoming the boring pick. Kobe only has one. But in the YouTube, monster stat line, trying-too-hard-to-be-trendy era, D-Rose, Amar’e Stoudemire, LeBron … even a dark horse from the Spurs would be more interesting. And did you ever think, in a conversation involving Spurs, Kobe would be the one labeled boring?

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Who’s winning: Blake Griffin
Who’s close: John Wall
Who’s being forgotten: Greg Monroe
Barring some unforeseen injuries, there’s no way Monroe will catch up in time to win the trophy, but he’s at least making a solid case for the All-Rookie Team. It took him a while to find his stride in Detroit coach John Kuester’s ever-changing rotation, but in the month of January, Monroe is averaging 10.5 points (58% FG), 8.5 boards and 1.8 steals.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Who’s winning: Dwight Howard
Who’s close: Chris Paul
Who’s being forgotten: Emeka Okafor
The Hornets have the No. 1 defense in the League, and Chris Paul leads the League in steals. Why? Because Okafor is holding it down in the middle. His presence and production (10.4 rpg, 1.8 bpg) allows CP3 to gamble as much as he does for steals and create havoc on the perimeter, which disrupts the opposing offense. And when they do make it near the rim, Okafor gets in the way.

MOST IMPROVED PLAYER
Who’s winning: Kevin Love
Who’s close: Ray Felton
Who’s being forgotten: Tracy McGrady
Bear with me now. I’m not saying T-Mac should win the award, but he does deserve some votes. Here you have a player who was nothing last year — written off as done, and practically left for dead — who has come back to earn a starting job at an unnatural position on a deep and talented (albeit underachieving) Pistons team. The last time we saw something similar was Grant Hill in 2005, and he was being handed Comeback Player of the Year awards left and right before everybody realized the NBA doesn’t give out that award anymore; Hill had to settle for two first-place votes in the Most Improved balloting.

In 14 starts for the Pistons, T-Mac is averaging 10.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists, and has been the best player on the floor in wins over Orlando, Boston and Toronto (twice). In the case of some other popular MIP candidates — D.J. Augustin, Dorell Wright, Nick Young, J.J. Hickson, etc. — is it more a case of them actually improving, or just getting more playing time? T-Mac is better than he was last year, and he’s doing something no one thought he could do. That sounds like an improvement.

SIXTH MAN OF THE YEAR
Who’s winning: Jason Terry
Who’s close: Jamal Crawford
Who’s being forgotten: Glen Davis
Big Baby is doubling his career-best scoring average (12.5 ppg), as well as logging career-highs in rebounding (5.4 rpg) and free-throw percentage (76.4% FT). When the Celtics are in crunch time, Baby is on the floor (not Shaq) because they can’t afford to play without his mid-range jumper, offensive rebounding, screen-setting and positional defense. Through key injuries to KG, Rondo, Shaq, Kendrick Perkins and Jermaine O’Neal, Davis has been one of Boston’s most consistent contributors as they’ve kept the East’s best record. In the month of January, Davis has scored in double figures in 12 of Boston’s 13 games.

COACH OF THE YEAR
Who’s winning: Tom Thibodeau
Who’s close: Erik Spoelstra
Who’s being forgotten: Jerry Sloan
So what else is new?

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  • ASH

    MVP’s so Far: 1.Rose 2.Kobe 3.LBJ 4.Howard

  • Shakers

    I love that you mentioned Big Baby for 6th Man of the Year recognition. He’s having a really solid season. Bring on the fat jokes haters.

  • Bo Knocks

    Thaddeus Young for Sixth Man!

  • https://twitter.com/PoppiGEE POPPI GEE

    AB nice one. Specially on T-Mac. Couldn’t be prouder of dude. Gotta be impressed with the way he has come back and he has been injured less this year than his cousin (Vince) lol.

    AB someone should do an article about a statement you put in this article.
    “but L.A. is still the last team anybody wants to see in a seven-game series.”

    Not saying make the article about LA but more about teams that are built for 7 games.

    You have a lot of flashy teams that look good, some do good during the season, and some can even put two good games together.

    But isn’t the point to make a team that is built to win in 7. I think many fans forget that a lot. Sure your team might be great during the season but lets be honest in talking about winning in 7 it’s probably a contest of 5 teams if that.

  • neoy

    I actually think Spolestra did a better job than Thibodeau, i mean how mentally frustrating is it to deal with LeBron/wade/bosh all day and have Pat Riley looking over your shoulder

  • neoy

    and to have the media blasting at you for every breathe you take

  • K Dizzle

    Gotta cosign on what Gee said…and not just cuz I’m a Lakers fan. All truth tho: Finals should be a rematch.

  • 1-2

    With LO starting the season does he automatically get ignored from the 6th man talks? ever since bynum has came back and LO has gone to the bench he’s still been producing starting stats. Man deserves and allstar trip but probably wont, dont take away a possible award from him as well

  • superfreak6

    no mention of Eric Gordan for MIP? really? DJ Augustin, but not EJ?

  • Soopa

    Kobe isnt near the MVP this year. Dwight is #3 in my mind after Lebron and Rose. Id pick Durant before Kobe aswell, even tho Durant hasnt been as good as expected (which say alot).

    And can we stop messing around with giving DPOY to the guy with the best stats? Look what KG does to the Boston D. I mean Dwight deserves it aswell and i wont whine if he wins it. But still – I really hope KG wins it.

  • D

    well…I do agree that Rose is playing out fo this world…that may be the craziest crossover I have ever seen…as far as Kobe in the same league right now..I disagree…Kobe has not shot the ball well this yr…he has not played as well as he has in the past..the big change that has brought the lakers back into the west running has been Bynum. as for LBJ…I think we can see how valuable he was to the Cav’s…he is playing great for the Heat although so has Wade..Bosh so-so…I would have to say right now its pretty much a 50/50 toss-up between the 2 (simply cuz its LBJ).

    defensive…who cares..haha

    Most improved…I cant even say T-mac’s name anymore…the guy was just like his cousin…a quitting..he even admited it…dont even write about T-mac and lets concentrate on the incredible season K-Love is having…oh yah…he should be an All Star as well…

    6th man…Jason Terry should completely run away with this…his 4th quarters are crazy..he’s basically fillinf Dirk’s shoes in the 4th..

    Coach…I would have to agree and go with Spoelstra..it would have been like a media nightmare soap opera…

    As for meeting the lakers in a 2 game series…I think a healthy Dallas would have knocked them out…now with no Caron..edge goes to the Lakers…

    anyways…just my two cents…

  • D

    oops…sorry about the grammar… ;)

  • Soopa

    And for the MIP:

    Are starters becoming stars more deserving then bench warmers becoming starters who produce? Because Dorell Wright is ballin’ in GS and is my pick for the award.

    Love has improved so its fine if he wins it. But Felton? Couldnt ever other PG (besides Chris Duhon) do the same with in NY (you might notice im not high on Felton lol)?

  • Soopa

    And in my 3rd and final post id like to apologise for all my typos and bad grammar lol

  • 100K

    no Landry Fields consideration for ROY?

    Dude is putting up like 10 and 7 (leading SGs in the L in boards) and he’s a player who has “it”. His nose for the ball and ability to make the right play are amazing. Dude’s bball IQ is serious.

    Griffin is a force…but i dont think Wall is all that to be honest.

  • control

    I don’t know about Kobe for MVP. Everyone always throws Kobe’s name into the conversation because he’s Kobe and he has the media on his nuts…but the guy really hasn’t been playing that great. He’s shooting his team out of games and going into selfish mode WAY more than he should be with one of the best power forwards in the league on his team.

    Rose has been the best point guard in the game (helped by Williams falling off the last 2 weeks).

    DPOY might actually be…KG. I hate saying it, but he’s the best player on that team, he changes the game completely when he’s in.

    ROY is obviously Griffin, guy is doing shit that most players will never EVER do in their entire careers, and he’s a fucking rookie. Even if he gets a season ending injury right now, he’ll still probably deserve it.

  • http://www.mmajunkie.com rangerjohn

    no greg popovich mention on coach of the year?

    and george hill needs his hat thrown in on 6th man mentions too.

    and dime needs to stop with the chris paul is a good defender bs, while no PGs can slow him down, he doesnt slow any of them down either. he gets some steals but steals are not “good defense” they are a sign of a gamble the way he gets them. in other words if he misses the steal he gets burned.

  • jayson

    lamar odom for 6th man, and its not even close. 16 10 on crazy efficiency. even though he might not get in, no ones talking about crawford and terry as all stars.

  • yourite

    A little biased as a Hornets fan, but Monty Williams deserves some recognition as possible Coach of the Year for turning this team around so substantially in his rookie year.

  • Ric Hardwood

    Coach of the Year and Popovich and Doc Rivers aren’t mentioned? Popovich is making the Spurs look unbeatable and he doesn’t even have to strap the whole team on Duncan’s back.
    Doc Rivers found ways to win even when all their bigs were hurt. They were starting Erden and the only other ‘Big’ was an undersized Big Baby…

    Kobe isn’t MVP this year… it is between LBJ and Derrick Rose right now… Kobe is probably going to be better than both during playoffs, but as far as this season is concerned, he’s a good 3rd or fourth best…

    ROY – Engrave Blake’s name on the trophy… it’s over.

    Def. Player – KG deserves it. he’s carrying the Celts defensively and they’re winning games.

  • nizzio

    T-Mac already won the MIP. He’s doin great, but it’s nothing compared to KLove. As for the MVP, the Lakers will be the only team in the NBA that doesn’t have 3-4 guys averaging similar numbers, so Kobe will get the nod. The Bulls aren’t a top 3 team yet, so DRose wont win it this season.

  • A.R.

    All the people saying Kobe isn’t playing well must really not watch laker games

  • Ian

    mvp
    still dirk and give me manu over kobe also. 6th ill go with big baby with hill being my 2nd pick.
    coach of the year pop this one is no contest.

    most improved tmac?? wtf is this thing season to season? so if am in allstar and the next year i suck i can win it again by becoming the same allstar i was 2 seasons ago?? can i do this on and off and win most improved every 2 seasons??

  • Stunnaboy2K11

    Kobe aint top 5 in MVP, Rose, Amare, LBJ/Wade (pick one) Howard and Durant. As control said the only reason you guys put his name there is cuz, well he`s Kobe. He wants to average 5 assists (and win more games) then lob it up to Gasol more.

    ROY- baring Blake dying now way he doesn’t win it, Fields has a better shot than Monroe

    MIP- DORREL WRIGHT. Don’t know why Miami let him go so easily, but dude is ballin, he can shoot it and is athletic to boot. Great find.

    DPOY- KG, look at Celtics D with and without him. No question. Okafor is a good pick though.

    COTY- Hmm, gonna give Coach Spo some love, he stepped pass the Heats early problems and have them playing as a unit. Plus he’s managing Bron’s MASSIVE ego.

  • Ryan

    your a joke for mentioning spoelstra. the video programmer only gets it if they go 82-0.
    If not JET/BABY for 6th man, has to be LOU WILLIAMS (76ers). If you disagree, it means someone’s only watching games on TNT/ESPN.
    Until DRose becomes a REAL PG or they move him to SG, he deserves nothing from anyone ever. How can he win MVP if there are 3 people better at his own position?
    And stop talking about Kobe. Like, forever. No, really. Stop watching every Lakers/Celtics/Heat/Magic/Mavs game and tune into the rest of the league, everyone!
    Does anyone even realize how Z-Bo is killin it?

  • RustyT

    You want to pass on Kobe for MVP, its valid compared to Rose or Dirk.

    But 6th man, no Lamar Odom mention? Ridiculous. This guy has been a monster off the bench this whole season. 15 pts/game, shooting 57%.

  • s.bucketz

    you guys really really want wall to be roy..he is nowhere close to it right now..def behind Landry and probably tied wit or a lil behind DMC

    and no mention of Amare for MVP??Lemme find out JeBron Lames tricked you guys into the whole “awww…he said he can’t win the MVP award ever…so lets give it to him…yayyyy”

  • http://dimemag.com Austin Burton

    1. Odom isn’t eligible (yet) for Sixth Man. He has 31 starts in L.A.’s 46 games.

    2. I’m not saying Kobe is in 3rd place for MVP, or T-Mac is 3rd place for MIP. I’m saying they are the contenders nobody is talking about for the award who deserve consideration …

    3. … So by not mentioning Amar’e for MVP, or Gordon for MIP, all I’m saying they are somewhere lower than 1st and 2nd place. It doesn’t mean they’re not higher on the list than the “forgotten” candidate.

    4. Landry Fields should get more consideration for ROY as the 5th-best player on the Knicks when John Wall is the best player on the Wizards?

  • sadeye2507

    AB good points X2

  • Ian

    number 4 kinda doesnt make sense so evans is better than gasol cuz gasol is the second best player on his team and evans the best on his ??

  • http://dimemag.com Austin Burton

    @Ian — For the Tyreke/Gasol argument, you’re right. But Gasol isn’t the best player on his team because Kobe is on his team. On a lot of other teams, Gasol would be the top guy. I like Landry Fields, but tell me on which team would he even be the 3rd-best player?

    Fields getting 10 points and 7 boards with nobody designing their defensive game plan to stop him isn’t as impressive to me as John Wall’s 15 points and 9 dimes as the guy on his team defenses are geared to stop.

  • JerkishBehavior.com

    I see the world and media is finally realizing what Ive been saying from Day 1…DRose is the MVP of the league as he predicted during the preseason. I told you so…#GetFamiliar

    Fyi, The Bulls are the 5th best team in the NBA and played the 85% of the season w/o boozer & noah

  • WinDelRoj

    When it comes to PG’s that gamble for steals its always funny to see how it can get them in DPOY discussion however near the end of their careers people will label them as horrible defensive players for abandoning their man far too often just as they always did (see, Allen Iverson)

  • Ian

    i know austin hehe just messin

  • Superfly

    Yeah TMac’s having a good, solid year so far and I wish him nothing but love.

    Problem is, you can’t help but shake off the feeling of him getting injured mid-season.

  • Tiredof thefakers

    Kobe for MVP? Dime, get up off your knees and pull your skirts down. No way he is in the discussion for MOST VALUABLE player. Do you understand that without Dirk, the Mavs would be nothing? Without Rose the bulls would be nowhere. LA has more talent than both of those teams, even without Kobe. LA is also much deeper than those squads. Gosh, you dime fools don’t even understand the concept of what the award is about. Go write about tennis. You suck at b-ball.

  • http://dimemag.com Austin Burton

    Jordan took himself away from the Bulls in ’93-94 and they did pretty good without him. Does that mean MJ didn’t deserve his MVPs because there were other teams who would have been worse off if their star had left?

  • marcus the great

    i agree, big baby has been ballin. i really dont wanna like him but he always makes the right play. he always gets the rebound!!! and he gets buckets lol.

    i’d roll with Landry Fields as ROY though, behind Griffin obviously but ahead of Wall.

  • marcus the great

    but reading your post #31 @Austin, i guess that makes sense. nobody’s really checkin for Fields. i like him for all the little stuff he does on the court though. he’s almost like a guard version of Big Baby lol. its not just the points for me.

    i havent seen Wall play that much actually either…

  • Ender

    Bogut cant be behind Paul and Okafor for DPOY
    He’s right up there in blocks, rebounds and charges drawn.

  • Mo

    Chris Paul is great at reading the passing lanes. Yall need to stop with that gambling for steals stuff. CP is a serious ball hawk and puts a lot of pressure on the ball.

  • Mo

    Gambling for steals is what Rondo does when he lets his player get past him just so he can tap the ball out from behind.