We have reached the midway point of the NBA season where pretty much every team has played 41 games.
There’s nothing better to do then hand out the NBA Midseason Awards to recognize the NBA’s best and worst of the first half of the season.
January 21, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson instructs against the Los Angeles Clippers during the fourth quarter at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Clippers 106-99. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
With that being said let’s hand out our first award.
Coach of the Year: Mark Jackson, Golden State Warriors
This was a close race and there were more than a few deserving coaches, but Jackson gets the nod. The Warriors have exceeded expectations and they have beaten good teams, including the Thunder and Clippers recently in a three-day span. Once Jackson got a healthy team he has gotten everyone to buy in and has the Warriors looking like a legit playoff team. Runners-Up: Tom Thibodeau, Vinny Del Negro, Frank Vogel.
Most Improved Player: Paul George, Indiana Pacers
The Pacers are the best defensive team in the NBA but are 29th in the league in points scored. They wouldn’t be where they are though without George, who has improved more than any player in the NBA, averaging over 17 points per game and his rebounding and assist numbers are up at least one per game as well. George is finally playing to his talent level and has helped the Pacers ease the loss of Danny Granger. Runners-Up: Greivis Vasquez, Jrue Holiday
Least Improved Player of the Year: Jan Vesely, Washington Wizards
When handing this out, I was looking for a player who should have been taking the next step by now, but simply hasn’t. That made the choice easy as Vesely, the No. 5 pick in the 2011 draft, can’t crack a bad Washington lineup. When he does play it is often for 10 minutes or less and rarely produces. Can you say bust?
Sixth Man of the Year: Jamal Crawford, Los Angeles Clippers
Sorry Knicks fans. As much as J.R. Smith deserves this honor, Crawford deserves it just a little bit more. The former Knicks is a vital part of the NBA’s best overall bench and is third in the NBA in fourth quarter scoring. Like Smith, Crawford is averaging close to 17 points per game, but is a little less streaky and more efficient. Runners-Up: Smith, Jarrett Jack
Defensive Player of the Year: Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls
This is another tight race and Tyson Chandler is certainly considered, but Noah and the Bulls are a playoff team without Derrick Rose because Noah has anchored their defense and brings it every night. Noah is a spectacular post defender, but he also can get out and mix it up with guards on pick-and-rolls. He is a great rebounder and a huge source of energy for Thibodeau’s squad. Runners-Up: Chandler, Chris Paul, Larry Sanders
Jan 21, 2013; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard (0) drives to the basket against the Washington Wizards at the Rose Garden. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports
Worst Defensive Player of the Year: Steve Nash, Los Angeles Lakers
Nash wasn’t a good defender in his prime. Now he is hands down the worst defender in the NBA. On a nightly basis Nash makes Amar’e Stoudemire look like an All-NBA Defensive team member and that is hard to do.
Rookie of the Year: Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
Lillard is top 20 in the league in scoring (18.3 ppg), 13th in assists (6.6) and seventh in minutes played. Plus, his play is a big reason behind LaMarcus Aldridge’s consistently great play. The Blazers are even in playoff contention hanging around the .500 mark ad that is saying something. Lillard leads all rookies in scoring, assists and minutes played. Runners-Up: Anthony Davis, Bradley Beal, Andre Drummond
Worst Rookie of the Year: Thomas Robinson, Sacramento Kings
Remember when Robinson was saying that he should be the No. 1 overall pick in last year’s draft? Good thing the Hornets didn’t listen to him. The No. 5 overall pick is barely getting 15 minutes per game on a Sacramento team that is not loaded with frontcourt talent.
MVP: Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
Tough choice between Durant and LeBron James, but KD is the clear winner here. Durant has improved his scoring numbers from last season, while his rebounding average is down a hair, but assists are up almost a full assist, steals are up and blocks are up. The Thunder traded James harden, but Durant got even better and is a big reason why OKC is the best team in the NBA right now. He is averaging 29.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.3 blocks on the season. That’s not even the most impressive part. Durant is shooting 52.1 percent from the floor, 41.3 percent from behind the arc and 91 percent from the free-throw line. No one else in the league can boast those types of numbers. Runners-Up: James, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony
Least Valuable Player: Dwight Howard, Los Angeles Lakers
The last two years of Howard’s career have been nothing short of train wreck, which is mostly to his own doing. While Howard is not the sole reason for the Lakers’ struggles, he is a central figure in their demise. Howard has earned himself a spotty reputation and now his attitude has at the very least a negative impact on a dysfunctional Lakers group. His numbers aren’t bad, but the way he goes about his daily business certainly is. Runner-Up: Andrew Bynum
Biggest Surprise: Golden State Warriors
Before the season I felt the Warriors would be a playoff team, but they have exceeded expectations and have proven they can play with anyone in the NBA. They are 26-16 and are only two games out of the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference and home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Biggest Disappointment: Los Angeles Lakers
I don’t think much of an explanation is needed here, but calling the Lakers first half of the season a disappointment is being kind.
Best Offseason Move: Every Move Clippers Made
It’s hard to pinpoint one move that anyone else has made having more impact than anything the Clippers did in the offseason. They went from not having depth a season ago to adding: Crawford, Matt Barnes, Grant Hill, Lamar Odom and others. The Clippers are the deepest team in the NBA and everyone they signed is playing a role in them becoming legitimate championship contenders. Runner-Up: Houston acquiring James Harden
Worst Offseason Move: Sixers Acquiring Andrew Bynum
Hard to find anything worse at this point in the season than dealing Andre Iguodala for a guy that hasn’t played a game yet. The Sixers are a disappointing 17-25 and a lot of that can be attributed to dealing for Bynum, who will be a free agent at the end of the season.
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