Blog Entry

Baseline Award Predictions for the season to come

Posted on: February 27, 2012 6:36 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2012 8:10 pm
 
Derrick Rose will play big minutes in the second half and could steal a second MVP from LeBron James. (Getty Images)

By Matt Moore 

As the NBA catches its breath after a hurried rush to the season and a whirlwind All-Star Weekend, we turn our attention to the NBA's stretch run, the second half. We're at the point with the trade deadline looming two weeks away where teams will begin to make moves to either ramp up for a playoffs run or bottom out in rebuilding projects. Will the Heat keep up their pace? Can the Bulls finally get healthy and if so, how good can they be then? Are the Thunder legitimate title contenders? Are the Spurs "back" once again?

So many questions, so little time.

A huge element in the second half of the season is going to be minutes. The best teams will rest their players while desperate teams will have to play to the bone. The Bulls are somehow a great team and a desperate team. They want every advantage including homecourt advantage, and below we'll tell you how that could impact the MVP race.

So we present the Baseline Awards second-half predictions, focused on who will be taking the various trophies for the second half of the season.

Projected Eastern Conference Player of the Second Half: Derrick Rose

LeBron James is the runaway MVP leader, the best player on the planet, and was nearly flawless in the first half, despite the end to that All-Star Game. So why isn't he here? Because the Heat will have a top-two seed locked up by early April, and then you're going to see James take more and more games off as the Heat rest him for the playoffs. What he does between now and then will determine is MVP, but in the meantime, Tom Thibodeau plays his players 35 minutes a game even when they're hurt. Assuming that the All-Star rest helped Rose recover from the back and leg injuries that hampered him this season, he'll get the minutes, he'll get the production, he'll get the win. I expect big things from the reigning MVP in the second half.

Projected Western Conference Player of the Second Half: Kevin Durant

It's terrifying that a kid, a 23-year-old kid, can lead the league in scoring two years in a row and then make the leap. But that's what Durant has done. Everything is better. His efficiency. His productivity. His team. His leadership. His clutch play. And his defense. It's a phenomenal streak the kid's on and there's zero reason to think he'll slow down in the second half. The West is just competitive enough for the Thunder to keep Durant playing nightly and yet not good enough to challenge the Thunder for the top spot in the West (though San Antonio's making a good show of it).

Most-Likely to Succeed: Miami Heat

They have it together. They have no discernible weaknesses, outside of "Can LeBron James succeed in the clutch?" and that's not a regular season concern. The offense is clicking, their chemistry is good, they've had fewer distractions, they're playing at an elite level on both sides of the ball and their injuries haven't been significant. It may be sickening, but it doesn't change the fact that this is the baddest team in the land until further notice.

Least-Likely to Succeed: Charlotte Bobcats

Here's the worst thing about the Bobcats. They don't even have anything of value to firesell. Tyrus Thomas is having a terrible season, Corey Maggette has been injured, D.J. Augustin is just good enough to be their best player and not good enough to draw huge offers on the market. Gerald Henderson may be their best asset and he's too good to move. If they keep this team, they'll be horrible. If they sell off the parts for future components, they'll be terrible. If the lottery doesn't help this team, it's going to be classified as negligible cruelty.

Best Dressed: Indiana Pacers throwbacks

These jerseys are awesome. (Getty Images)


Those blues and yellows are just sharp as all get out.

Worst Dressed: Memphis Grizzlies throwbacks

This, not so much a crime against fashion as a crime against humanity. (Getty Images)


Let us never speak of these again.

Class Clown: JaVale McGee

Runs the other direction, denies things he's said into tape recorders, goes for triple-doubles in blowouts, makes ridiculous goaltends and has somehow failed to get better with John Wall on his team. McGee is funny. But someone really needs to get into his head and straighten things out or a world of potential is going to be lost.

Projected Defensive Player of the Year: Luol Deng

Andre Iguodala deserves it, but Deng may end up winning it simply based on reputation. If Deng is healthy, he's the best perimeter defender in the league. Dwight Howard has struggled at times and hasn't been as dominant. If the coaches really vote this one right, Deng should win as long as he continues to get healthy and Tom Thibodeau doesn't run him into the ground.

Smoke and Mirrors Award for False Relevance: Atlanta Hawks

Always a top-six team in the standings, never a top-six team in the conference. The Hawks have managed to survive a drop-off from Joe Johnson and the injury to Al Horford. The team is supremely in need of a complete makeover but none seems imminent. So they will continue to drift through the season, winning games and getting no credit, losing games and getting hammered, never going up or down. Consistency in this league is often heralded as success. But with the Hawks, it's always seen as evidence of either a mediocre student over-achieving or an excellent student never living up to potential.

Most Likely to Blow It Up: Boston Celtics

The holes have not been plugged. They have not rounded into shape. They have not righted the ship. The experience has not come through. The casual approach to conditioning has not yielded the results they want. They did not coast, they stumbled. They did not cruise, they crashed. They are alive only because of Rajon Rondo and the weakness of the Eastern Conference. The time has come to end this and move on. Sentimentality is not worth wasting time, because if the big free agents get re-aligned and the Celtics have nothing to move forward with, they'll be back in the stone age they were in before the Big 3 arrived.

Carmelo Anthony Award for MeloDrama: Dwight Howard

"I want a trade! But I love it here! But I want more input on decisions in the front office! But I'm just trying to play! I'm not talking about free agency! Except to talk to you about how much I'm not talking about it! I love my teammates! But I love Deron Williams! I love New York! But I love Orlando! I love my mom! But I make my own decisions!"

It's like watching a teenage girl decide between four boys while the one she's with can't figure out what he did wrong.

Projected Rookie of the Year: Kyrie Irving

Ricky Rubio's a nice story. Neat passes. Irving should have been an All-Star and is going to be an elite player in this league over the next decade. Cleveland's rebuild is on its way, just 19 months removed from "The Decision."

Most Likely to be Traded: Stephen Jackson

Steve Nash could go. Dwight Howard might go. Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Josh Smith, Rajon Rondo, Jose Calderon. But Jackson is owed a lot of money, the Bucks don't need him, and he and Skiles hate each other. He's a bad fit in the locker room and a bad fit on the floor. It's .50 cents on the dollar time in Milwaukee for CapJack.

The 2012 Version of the 2011 Memphis Grizzlies:

The Houston Rockets. I'm starting to buy into Houston as a surprise team. Memphis used team play, star power from Zach Randolph and a unique matchup with San Antonio to get into the second round. Houston has a Should-Be-All-Star in Kyle Lowry and world of versatility in lineups they can deploy. Throw in the work that Kevin McHale has done and the fact they're 4-4 this year against division opponents (three of which are likely playoff teams) and you've got a great shot at Houston making a surprising, if ultimately futile, run. Hurray, another mid-first-round lottery pick!

Most Likely to Hit the Rookie Wall:

MarShon Brooks. Brooks is going to be a terrific scorer in this league for a long time. He's got an elite set of offensive skills and tremendous length. He can play in an offense, too. But his game is predicated on shooting percentages and that's the kind of thing that can drop off when it hits the rookie wall. I full expect to have jinxed Brooks and he will now go out and win Rookie of the Year. His play in the win over the Knicks last week was superb.

Most Likely to Make Himself a Name by Season's End: Paul George

Should have won the dunk contest. Played Rose great last year. The Pacers are better than last year and are primed for a playoff run. Getting them out of the postseason is going to be a serious job, and George is going to be a huge part of it. More versatile on offense, better on defense, athletic, explosive, with range. George isn't going to score 40. But he's going to be a part of a lot of playoff wins for Indiana and is going to be that guy in the playoffs that make sports bars of opposing teams groan "Not that guy again!" time and time over. By the way, I've started calling him Mega-Man because it seems like every game he picks up a new ability he didn't have before.
Comments

Since: Aug 28, 2011
Posted on: February 29, 2012 3:18 pm
 

Baseline Award Predictions for the season to come

"Truth hurts eh? Lebron was better in all aspects of the game last year. Some voters never even had Lebron on their ballot. He wouldn't have been giuven the award if he scored 1oo a game.  Rose got a dose of the real MVP in the ECF."<br /><br />It seems that the definition of MVP has been lost. Do the Bulls get to the ECF without Rose? No. Do the Heat get their without Lebron? Quite possibly. They'd still have Wade and Bosh. Would the Thunder be a contender without Kevin Durant? No.<br /><br />The MVP isn't about the most gifted player in the NBA. It is about who is indisposable to their team. Sometimes that is the best player but often its someone who when removed sends a team from contender to fighting for a playoff spot. Plain and simple.<br /><br /><br />




Since: Mar 1, 2011
Posted on: February 29, 2012 1:33 pm
 

Baseline Award Predictions for the season to come

 D Rose is overrated as was given a gift MVP last year.
Truth hurts eh? Lebron was better in all aspects of the game last year. Some voters never even had Lebron on their ballot. He wouldn't have been giuven the award if he scored 1oo a game.  Rose got a dose of the real MVP in the ECF.



Since: Apr 22, 2008
Posted on: February 29, 2012 12:44 pm
 

Baseline Award Predictions for the season to come

I agree that Ibaka should be there but all of these categories are beauty contests and it is difficult to shine brighter than Durant and Westbrook when it is a offensive minded league. People don't see Ibaka as a star (especially this writer) and only stars shine in their eyes. Sports writers like to think they have better vision that the average fan, but to be honest their vision is just as clouded or more so than fans. This particular sports writer has East Coast colored glasses as indicated by his power rankings. No matter how well the Thunder does in a conference agreed by many to be tougher, as well as team records, he still is blinded by the stars of the East Coast. Consider how many times he mentions Western Conference compared to the Eastern Conference in this article:

Eastern Conference

Projected Eastern Player of the Second Half (Obviously)

Most Likely to Succeed

Least-likely to Succeed

Best Dressed

Class Clown

Projected Defensive Player of the Year (No WC player even mentioned)

Smoke and Mirrors Award for False Relevance

Most Likely to Blow It Up

Carmelo Anthony Award for MeloDrama (And we all know there is no Lake MeloDrama)

Project Rookie of the Year (I put this in both because he does mention Rubio)

Most Likely to be Traded (Again he does mention a few WC players but more EC players)

Most Likely to Hit the Rookie Wall

Most Likely to Make Himself a Name by Season's End.

Western Conference

Projected Western Player of the Second Half (Again obviously but put in to make the writer look less East biased)

Worst Dressed

Project Rookie of the Year (I put this in both because he does mention Rubio)

Most Likely to be Traded (Again he does mention a few WC players but more EC players)

 

So we have the WC mentioned in 4 and the EC mentioned in 13. If we take out the two WC and EC awards this writer mentions the EC and EC players four times as much as WC or WC players, and yet if you match the top 8 of each conference, the WC clearly has better teams:

OKC 27 - 7     &nbs
p;     &nb
sp;     &n
bsp;    Miamia  27-7

San Ant 24-10     
      
;     &nbs
p; Chicago 28-8

LA Clip 20-12     
      
;     &nbs
p;  Ind. 22-12

Dallas 21-14     
      
;     &nbs
p;   Phil. 21-14

Houston 21-14     
      
;     &nbs
p; Orl. 22-13

Lakers 20-14     
      
;     &nbs
p;   Atl/ 20-14

Memphis 19-15     
      
;      N.Y. 17-18

Portland 18-16     
      
;     &nbs
p; Bos. 16-17

 

And it only gets worse as you go down the line for the EC in the comparison, so obviously you write most about the worse conference. The EC is top heavy with the very good teams feasting on the bad teams. There are two more teams with winning records in the WC who will not make the play offs while losing record teams in the EC will be going. Still, I admit we will learn much more about OKC in the second half as their schedule is tough.




Since: Sep 1, 2006
Posted on: February 29, 2012 1:52 am
 

Baseline Award Predictions for the season to come

Derrick Rose has absolutely no chance of winning the MVP this year. He won't even finish top 5. He doesn't have the stats and he was injured too often and the team won just as much without him. Bulls would have pretty much the exact same record if Rose wouldn't have played a single game this year. Lebron James has the MVP won easily unless he totally dies in the last month. If that happens someone like Durant or Love will win it. Chris Paul even has a better chance of winning the MVP than Rose.



Since: Oct 11, 2009
Posted on: February 28, 2012 9:03 pm
 

Baseline Award Predictions for the season to come

Not even a mention for Ibaka for Defensive Player of the Year?  He completely changes the way teams play OKC


Agreed. He definitely deserves a mention. Ibaka is a big reason that even though OKC gives up 96 pts/gm, they are tied for 5th in the NBA in both defensive FG % (.423) and adjusted FG% (.458). I realize stats are not an accurate representation of just how good a defender is, but any player who legitimately puts up a triple-double with blocks is for real. Ibaka did just that against Denver on Feb 19th (14 pts/15 reb/11 blocks). He leads the league in blocks as well at 3.2/gm, which is over half a block better than 2nd place JaVale McGee. 



Since: Mar 20, 2008
Posted on: February 28, 2012 4:43 pm
 

Baseline Award Predictions for the season to come

@Green Fingers

See you on the court buddy. Pretty sure the Heat are 5-1 in their last 6 games against the amazing Bulls.



Since: Oct 22, 2007
Posted on: February 28, 2012 11:53 am
 

Baseline Award Predictions for the season to come

whitetrash, I agree with your comments about KG. I guess it comes down to what they want more: either something in return in the form of picks and a mid-level player or just to get the cap space to spend on (hopefully) a big name free agent. Keep in mind that any trade they try to work out, the dollar values have to match or be very close in the NBA (unless that has changed with the new CBA) and KG makes a LOT more than what his current production would indicate or justify. Also, if the T-Wolves are hoping to get Gasol for Williams, they'll probably want a bit more than KG for him. KG has had an incredible career, but Gasol is the better player these days and has a few more solid years a team could build around, whereas KG doesn't have any upside at this point for a team looking for a player. He'd be a rental for this year and then either retire or find a contender who wants him.



Since: Nov 10, 2006
Posted on: February 28, 2012 11:24 am
 

Baseline Award Predictions for the season to come

"Wouldn't that be more productive than trading one or more of them away for a band-aid to get a higher playoff position?"

It's not about this year, it's about the FUTURE...and if they're currently the 8th seed (ONLY 1.5 games ahead of the CAVALIERS, who have a brighter future with Kyrie Irving), the Celtics future doesn't look bright... I'll pretty much guarantee if they stumble out the gate after the All-Star break, they'll make a move..Why not trade current assets to procure a better future now, then having Garnett and Allen walk away this off-season and get nothing in return?  Ainge is a good GM, the Celtics window has closed...time to start working on the future....As a Knicks fan, the best thing the Celtics could do is ride it out this season. Just sets up an easier path for us in the future... ;)



Since: Feb 25, 2008
Posted on: February 28, 2012 11:00 am
 

Baseline Award Predictions for the season to come

Dude i agree about Pierce not wanting him to leave, after Bird and the late Reggie Lewis hes my fav Celtic, but with KG and his contract being up now is a grreat time to get somethingfor him either draft picks or even a decent young player in return, Allen has a team option for next year i think, but he has the most value for a trade. I read something about twolves offering  Derrick Williams for Gasol. I wold trade KG for derrick williams and hope he pans out 



Since: Jan 12, 2010
Posted on: February 28, 2012 10:51 am
 

Baseline Award Predictions for the season to come

LOL...Some idiot on here a few posts below said D Rose is overrated as was given a gift MVP last year. Lucky for most people on here, there isnt an IQ test pre-requisite for posting on these boards. Idiot.

And Deng wont win the award for DPOY. He doesnt have the flashy stats or the media hype like others. Howard will get it because he's 7 foot tall and grabs rebounds..go figure...And occasionally the clown will block a 6foot nothing guard. Keep up the great work Deng..Intelligent observers know how you lock down guys and are essential to the Bull's #1 Ranked NBA defensive unit.


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