Most Valuable Player: LeBron James, Miami Heat
At this point, how could you give the award to anyone else? The Heat have the best record in the NBA and have been the most dominant team in the league thus far. To top things off, LeBron James is putting up historically great stats. He is averaging a ridiculous 27.4 points per game, 8.1 rebounds per game, 6.8 assists per game, 54.7% shooting from the field, 41.3% from three, 1.8 steals per game, all in only 36.7 minutes per game. If he can maintain these numbers and if the Heat can finish with the best record in the league, there is no way that he will lose this award.
Coach of the Year: Doug Collins, Philadelphia 76ers
There is a great argument to be made that Bulls’ coach Tom Thibodeau deserves this award once again, but winning Coach of the Year two years in a row is a very difficult thing to achieve. However outside of Thibs, Doug Collins has been doing one of the most impressive coaching jobs in quite some time. After being a borderline playoff team, the Sixers have escalated themselves into a top four seed in the Eastern Conference even though they finished the pre-All Star weekend stretch on a five game losing streak. One of the greatest characteristics of a great coach is a team who puts forth energy on defense, and that is absolutely the mantra that the 76ers have taken on. If the Sixers keep this up, Collins will win COY.
Most Improved Player: Jeremy Lin, New York Knicks
Going into this article, I did not want to put Jeremy Lin in this spot. I’m an Asian-American and I love Jeremy Lin, but I thought it would still be a bit premature to call him the Most Improved Player in the league. He’s only been a starter for 11 games, and the amazing stretch has only gone on for 12 games. However when you think about it, it’s impossible to NOT give Lin this award. He has come in and averaged 14.4 points per game, 5.8 assists per game, and 1.5 steals per game. In his 11 starts so far, he has averaged 22.4 points per game, 8.8 assists per game and 2.5 steals. Those numbers are ridiculous. We’ll have to see if he can keep it up, but he has flat out earned it for the first half of the season.
Sixth Man of the Year: James Harden, Oklahoma City Thunder
At first I was going to give this award to Lou Williams of the Philadelphia 76ers. He’s the leading scorer on a top four seed in the Eastern Conference. But when I compared numbers and took into account the effectiveness of the Thunder this season, you HAVE to go with Harden. He’s been ridiculous this season, averaging a career high in points, field goal percentage, near his career high in three point percentage, rebounds, assists…basically improved across the board. And as he has improved, so have the Thunder. Especially with Russell Westbrook being a score first point guard, Harden plays as the distributor at the end of games, a special role for a shooting guard. Harden is turning into a special player in this league, and is clearly the best guy off the bench.
Defensive Player of the Year: Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic
There really isn’t much discussion about this one. Dwight is the best defensive player in the league bar none. As always, he is near the top of the league in blocks and rebounds, and singlehandedly leads his team to be a top of the league defense despite having terrible defenders like Hedo Turkoglu and Ryan Anderson on his team. He will win this award again, even if he’s traded.
Rookie of the Year: Kyrie Irving
I was skeptical about Irving, I really was. He only played I believe 15 games in college in his freshman season, but showed that he was an impressive player during that time. Now in the NBA, he’s actually IMPROVED his numbers! He’s averaging over 18 points per game, five assists per game, over 47% from the field and over 40% from the three point line, and has made Cleveland a better team than we thought. At this point, he is running away with the Rookie of the Year award.