Well folks, its that time of year again. Actually, this is the first time What’s Left on The Floor will be giving out seasonal awards. About time, right? I know. But either way, its here. With another season in the books its time for reflection. What better way to do that than awards? Lets dig right in.
Note: Part one and part two will be released on separate days.
Most Valuable Player
- LeBron James
- Kevin Durant
- Chris Paul
- Tim Duncan
- Carmelo Anthony
There’s really no debate about this award and it should really be unanimous. LeBron James has had one of the greatest single seasons of all time this year. This is one of those seasons that we’re going to look back on in five years as being among the best of the best. James has taken efficiency to another level shooting 56% from the field and 40% from the three all season. There has literally been no weakness in his game aside from free throw shooting, but he gets to the line so much that that barely matters. He’s leads the league in most efficiency metrics like PER developed by Hollinger and PIE% developed at NBA.com. He leads the league in win shares and win shares per 48 as well. There’s no way around it. James is the best player in basketball.
Kevin Durant has improved greatly in most aspects of his game. Its a shame that James had to perform so well this season. Durant had an MVP season in any year that James doesn’t initiate cyborg mode. He’ll probably lose the scoring title to Carmelo Anthony, but he’s going to break the rules of efficiency by joining the ever-elusive 40-50-90 club while scoring over 28 points per game. He’ll join only Larry Bird and Dirk Nowitzki as the only members in that club to score over 25 points per game while doing it. He’s averaged a career high 4.3 assists and has become one of the better defenders in the NBA as well. his offensive rating of 122 is nothing to scoff at. But we just can’t put him over James at this point because he’s slightly less of a superhuman.
For the next three guys, Chris Paul was probably the obvious choice as a third wheel to Durant and James. Even though he hasn’t been able to stay healthy all season, Paul has been as efficient as ever. He leads the league in assist percentage and also has a turnover percentage of 14%. Once again, his assist to turnover ratio is .4. He knows exactly how to take care of the ball and what to do with it. He’s got a usage rate of only 22.6% which is the second lowest of his career, but his offensive rating is a staggering 127 which is a career high for him. He’s led the Clippers to their best season ever and clearly deserves to be in this conversation even off of the strength of narrative alone.
Duncan comes before Anthony on my list because of his efforts this season on both ends. Duncan has easily been one of the best–if not the best–defensive players this season. He’s the main reason why San Antonio is more of a contender than they were last season. Duncan has been one of the best rim protectors in the league blocking shots and changing shots ad nauseum. The problem is that he hasn’t played enough this season because of limited minutes and injury. If he had, he’d easily have a case for Kevin Durant’s spot right now. Anthony is a different story. He leads the league in scoring and has been the most efficient that he’s ever been. He’s taking and making more three point shots and has been a focal point for this New York Knick’s team. His ability to play the power forward position has been pivotal. He’s able to create different matchups and exploit them depending if they’re big or small. He has been the perfect hybrid player for the Knicks.
Most Improved Player
- Larry Sanders
- Greivis Vasquez
- Jeff Teague
- Jrue Holiday
- Jeff Green
Larry Sanders is in the conversation of defensive player of the year after barely being considered an NBA player for his first two seasons in the NBA. He’s second in the league in blocks per game and leads the league in block percentage. His PER is a solid 18.7 back from 13.3 last season and 11 the year before. Sanders has developed beautifully into the best rim protector in the league. Now all Sanders has to do is work on his attitude problem before he becomes the next Rasheed Wallace.
Vasquez was actually my pick for this award for a majority of the year until Kirk Goldsberry and Eric Weiss released their research on rim protection. Much like Sanders, Vasquez wasn’t a very good NBA player for a majority of his time at Memphis. We saw flashes of an average point guard last season in New Orleans, but this season he has proven that he is more than competent. Even though it took Vasquez a long time to learn the ins and outs of the point guard position, he now controls the pace of the game and gets the ball to his teammates. He assists on 44.8% of the Hornets field goals–that’s more than formidable and really what makes his case for winning this award.
Jeff Teague really just didn’t get it before this season. Teague had the same problem that a lot of young, athletic point guards have. They only play at one speed and have trouble decision making. Teague had this problem until recently this season. He’s developed into a good point guard that has worked well in Atlanta’s offensive system. He’s able to hit the three ball and has become patient in the pick and roll game. Though Atlanta asks him to do minimal tasks, he’s very effective and efficient when doing them.
Holiday’s case is very weird and straight forward. He wasn’t really that bad to begin with, but the chains were taken off of him offensively in a sense. Once Andre Iguodala was traded, the 76ers needed an offensive initiator. Though Holiday was allowed to do that last season, it wasn’t allowed as much as it has been this year. Now that he’s gotten the chance to show what he can do, he’s flourishing and it shouldn’t come as a surprise to us.
With Jeff Green, he really just came on too late. Early on in the season Green wasn’t really effective until after Rajon Rondo’s injury. In a piece where I examine if Green has lived up to his contract I looked through the 37 games that he’s played in since Rondo’s injury and found that he has been productive. Before that, he was really just a shell of what he has been. Because of that, Green doesn’t really have much of a chance for most improved player.
Sixth Man of The Year
- Jarrett Jack
- Matt Barnes
- Jamal Crawford.
- J.R Smith
Jarrett Jack is by far the best candidate out of this crop if you ask me. He’s essentially been a starter for this Golden State Warrior team. In only 29.7 minutes per game, he’s averaging 12.9 points per game and 5.6 assists per game. He’s shooting 45% from the floor and 40% from beyond the arch while taking 2.6 per game. His efficiency is really what sells me on his case, but his responsibility as the point guard in late game situations is a factor as well. He makes a lot of what the Warriors do possible. He allows the Warriors flexibility with their late game lineups and they’re allowed to slide Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson over a position in extremely small lineups. This makes for an extremely difficult matchup for the opposition.
Jamal Crawford makes a solid case for this award as well. Of course, he’s always going to score the ball, but he’s been pretty efficient with it this season. He’s shooting 44% from the floor and 37% from beyond the arch. His case differs from J.R Smith’s because Smith is only shooting 42% from the field. I wouldn’t choose either in this case because of the green light that they have and the fact that neither of them are two way players. But Crawford being slightly more efficient has to count for something.
Barnes has really been solid all season long for the Clippers in their extremely deep rotation. Of course, Crawford is the Clippers true sixth man, but Barnes has been the most effective. He’s provided them with perimeter defense off of the bench and is probably their best defender on the outside–though he tends to foul a bit much. He’s taken Caron Butler’s place as a spot up shooter when paired with Chris Paul. Paul and Barnes have a 112.7 offensive rating in 861 minutes on the floor together. His improved offense have given the Clippers a well needed boost on the defensive end considering where they came from last season.