2013-14 Regular Season Final Awards: MVP, ROY, DPOY, and more

Is LeBron MVP run finally over? (USATSI)
Is LeBron's MVP run finally over? (USATSI)

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The 2013-14 NBA regular season is finally over, and the Eye on Basketball staff gives out their award winners for the season.

Rookie of the Year

Matt Moore: Victor Oladipo, Orlando Magic

I have maintained this race has been over for some time. This isn't to say it's a runaway. Just that Oladipo cemented himself for about the last two months in ways that Michael Carter-Williams could not overcome. MCW is on a team that is quite simply allergic to winning. Oladipo is on a team at the next evolutionary step. They don't know how to win, but they're figuring out the body movement involved, like a baby learning to crawl before it can walk. 

And Oladipo has contributed more to winning. If that sounds like triteness, here's this. Victor Oladipo ranks as the 10th best shooting guard in "Real Defensive Plus Minus" via ESPN.com, while Michael Carter-Williams is the 57th best point guard in the same metric. I love MCW's game. He's going to make a great pro, even if the jumpshot doesn't take leaps and bounds. But Oladipo shot a little better, lead his team a little more, made a few more plays, and is a more impactful player at this point. There's no shame in that. 

There is shame in this rookie class, though. Woof.

2. Michael Carter-Williams, 3. Steven Adams

Royce Young: Michael-Carter Williams, Philadelphia 76ers

Picking Rookie of the Year this year isn't really all that fun. Nobody had an obviously excellent season. So I'll go with Carter-Williams, who had the best stats. Plumlee is a contributor on a playoff team, but Carter-Williams led rookies in scoring and assists, which means something. I guess.

2. Victor Oladipo, 3. Mason Plumlee

Zach Harper: Michael Carter-Williams, Philadelphia 76ers

It's hard to have a strong opinion on such a low-registering rookie class. This isn't a good class and while I think Victor Oladipo is the best player from the class and will be in the future, I'm fine with thinking MCW is the top rookie. The recency bias with Oladipo isn't strong enough for me to forget the warm and fuzzy feelings MCW gave basketball fans early in the season. Sure, he was part of a horrible team but even pace-adjusted numbers seem to favor him. 

2. Victor Oladipo, 3. Steven Adams

Sixth Man of the Year

Matt Moore: Taj Gibson, Chicago Bulls

Gibson closes for one of the toughest teams in the league and unlike most 6th man candidates, he does it on both ends. He's not just a scorer. He sets screens, defends, passes, blocks shots, and makes hustle plays that determine a game. When we look at the spirit of the award, why wouldn't we consider those things more valuable than pure bench scoring? 

2. Markieff Morris, 3. Manu Ginobili

Royce Young: Taj Gibson, Chicago Bulls

What's the criteria for Sixth Man of the Year? Most impactful? Best stats off the bench? Because if we're saying who the most impactful bench guy was this season, it's Gibson who was part of all of the Bulls' top lineups, particularly their closing ones. His offensive rebounding was critical all season and he plays game-changing defense.

2. Manu Ginobili, 3. Jamal Crawford

Zach Harper: Taj Gibson, Chicago Bulls

The fact that some people even have the discussion of whether or not Joakim Noah is the best defensive player on the Bulls should be reason enough to give the award to Gibson. He's been so good this season in helping account for the loss of Derrick Rose and the re-gifting of Luol Deng that his low point total (for a Sixth Man winner) shouldn't even be considered.

2. Jamal Crawford, 3. Markieff Morris

Most Improved Player

Matt Moore: DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors

I went with DeRozan for these three reasons. 

1. He went from "Oh my God did they actually give him that contract" to "Hey, that's pretty good value."

2. He took the step from skilled player to "winning player" and when I say that, I'm not just talking production and efficiency, I'm talking he is now a guy I trust with the ball in a crucial stretch of the game. That's huge. 

3. He went from a meh player on both ends to a very good player on both ends. Almost none of the candidates can claim improvement on both ends like he can.

2. Blake Griffin, 3. Anthony Davis

Royce Young: Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans

Most Improved is typically a nice way to say, "You sucked pretty bad last year, and now you're better." We don't like to give it to a guy that we expected to be good already, but I don't care. Davis might've been the top pick two years ago, but he made the biggest leap this season.

2. Gerald Green, 3. Blake Griffin

Zach Harper: Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers

It's harder to make the leap from star in this league to superstar than it is from being a decent role player or good rookie to a good role player or really good second year player. Griffin handled every bit of criticism thrown his way and improved upon it. He's a much better defender than he's been, and he's a complete playmaker on offense. The only thing really missing from his game is a 3-point shot.

2. Anthony Davis, 3. Gerald Green

Coach of the Year

Matt Moore: Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs

It kills me not to give it to Jeff Hornacek because I think the total amount of work he had to do in taking the Suns and turning them into a one-game-shy-of-the-playoffs-in-the-western-freaking-conference is incredible. He inspired that team. He made them play basketball the way it's meant to be played, a way that to me is fundamentally more pleasing to watch than the Spurs. 

But, sigh... Pop's the best. There's just no getting around it. Resting players for the long haul, inspiring them to be great every night, holding everyone including himself accountable, tactical adjustments, player development, the works. I find it to be an uninspiring choice, a simple payment of the tax man Popovich, auditing basketball with precision and detail. But you know the old saying. The only things certain in life are death, taxes, and Spurs. 

2. Jeff Hornacek, 3. Terry Stotts

Royce Young: Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs

We often award Coach of the Year to a guy that's in charge of a team we all underrated in October, and seemingly surprised us and overachieved. But it's not about the most surprising team. And while Hornacek did awesome work with a rugged Suns roster, Popovoch masterfully reset the Spurs from that soul-crushing Game 6 loss in Miami to go on to win the most regular season games in franchise history. Amazing.

2. Tom Thibodeau, 3. Jeff Hornacek

Zach Harper: Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs

I've already written my thoughts on why it should be Pop and my reasoning hasn't wavered. I just don't think lowered expectations for a team should boost another coach's status when this guy is doing the best job.

2. Rick Carlisle, 3. Jeff Hornacek

Defensive Player of the Year

Matt Moore: Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City Thunder

I get the arguments for Noah. I do. But to me, DPOY should be a player who makes plays that drastically alter the game on the defensive end. That doesn't mean blocks. That means plays. And Noah swallows up possessions and does everything right. But for my money, I think Ibaka is a more destructive force. 

I was outraged for years at his inclusion on these lists when he would fall for any pump fake that batted its eyes at him. But he's gotten over that. He can guard in space, patrol and recover, swipe, swat, deflect, deter and disrupt. He's the most disruptive force in the league at this point, and while Oklahoma City's defense has wavered in part due to shooting percentages regressing to the mean in some cases, Ibaka remains the weapon that makes one of the best units go. 

2. Joakim Noah, 3. Roy Hibbert

Royce Young: Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls

Tom Thibodeau is a defensive mastermind, but it seems like a lot of what he's running only works because Noah is such a force. He defends all five positions well -- his favorite thing to do is step out on point guards, it seems -- and changes games with his high energy. The Bulls finished in the top three in defense again, and were better at all times Noah was on the floor.

2. Roy Hibbert, 3. Serge Ibaka

Zach Harper: Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls

As much as I'd love to give it to Roy Hibbert for the impact he has on the top defense in the NBA, the Bulls' defense isn't that far behind and you can add stellar perimeter defense to the equation. In today's NBA, being disruptive at the rim just isn't enough for me. The last two DPOY winners were able to suffocate pick-and-rolls on the perimeter as well. Noah is that guy too.

2. Roy Hibbert, 3. Andre Iguodala

Executive of the Year

Matt Moore: Ryan McDonough, Phoenix Suns

I've written about this before. He's not only put together a roster that came one win shy of the playoffs, but has three first-round draft picks (and maybe a fourth), and a coach that brought a style of play that makes fans want to get involved in the team. He has turned around a moribund franchise and set them up for the future. The now is great. But as we saw with the Knicks last year, there's often a price to the now. McDonough has won for now and later with Phoenix.

2. Masai Ujiri, 3. Jason Levien

Royce Young: Masai Ujiri, Toronto Raptors

New team, but back-to-back for Ujiri in my mind. His shrewd deal of Rudy Gay was seen as a tank move, but it turned out to have the opposite effect, opening the door for a breakout season from DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry to take over as a league star. Offloading Gay removed a so-called star from the roster, but installed a more team-oriented mindset and allowed a rag-tag Raptors roster to take the three-seed in the East.

2. Sam Presti, 3. Doc Rivers

Zach Harper: Masai Ujiri, Toronto Raptors

Sometimes the best moves are the ones you don't make, and Ujiri not trading away guys like DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry once he shed Rudy Gay's contract was huge. He trusted that the valuable draft pick he could try to tank for wasn't quite as good as the experience a run like they had would be. Plus, he got a first round pick for Andrea Bargnani in 2013.

2. Ryan McDonough, 3. Daryl Morey

Most Valuable Player

Matt Moore: Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder

Three individuals since 1980, the modern era of the NBA, have averaged more than 30 points, seven rebounds and five assists per game. That sounds like a really complicated series of levels, but put it this way. 

Only two other people in the last 25 years have done what Kevin Durant has done this season. The other two were Michael Jordan (1989) and LeBron James (twice, in 2008 and 2006). You may think that Durant's use of the three-point shot mitigates this (Durant has shot five more per game than Jordan, 1.3 more than James), but to me, it just speaks to his unbelievable range. He has shot 39 percent from three. He's going to miss leading the league while averaging 50-40-90 by a combined 3.5 percentage points (he would have done so last year if not for Carmelo Anthony's blistering April). 

He is unguardable. He is unstoppable. You don't shut down Durant anymore. You just try and live with what he does. He's a better defender this year, a great one. He's a better rebounder. He sees the floor better. He knows the veteran moves. He leads his team and talks to the young players to make them better. 

LeBron James is the best player on the planet. Kevin Durant had the best season, and is your MVP.

2. LeBron James, 3. Blake Griffin

Royce Young: Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder

When it comes to winning MVP, you need numbers, and you need narrative. Durant has the numbers, dear god does he have the numbers. Led the league in scoring at 32 a game. Just the fourth player ever to average 32-7-5 in a season, joining Wilt, MJ and Elgin Baylor. Topped Jordan scoring at least 25 in 41 straight games. Led the league in Win Shares and PER. On and on you can go.

But it's the narrative that sets him apart. The way he elevated himself when his team needed him most is what MVP campaigns are really made of, and Durant's play in January and February is what really cements it. He averaged 35 a game during a 26-game stretch without Russell Westbrook going on an offensive binge unlike we've really ever seen. He's been second to LeBron in MVP three times, and if it weren't for that ridiculous guy in South Beach, Durant would be ready to claim his fourth. Instead, it's just his first of what might be many, and he earned it.

2. LeBron James, 3. Joakim Noah

Zach Harper: Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder

He's been really, really good. Like exceptionally good. 

2. LeBron James, 3. Joakim Noah

All-NBA First Team
Matt Moore Royce Young Zach Harper
G- Chris Paul G- James Harden G- Chris Paul
G- Stephen Curry G- Stephen Curry G- Stephen Curry
F- Kevin Durant F- Kevin Durant F- Kevin Durant
F- LeBron James F- LeBron James F- LeBron James
C- Joakim Noah C- Joakim Noah C- Joakim Noah
All-NBA Second Team
G - Goran Dragic G- Chris Paul G- John Wall
G - Kyle Lowry G- Kyle Lowry G- James Harden
F - Paul George F- Carmelo Anthony F - Blake Griffin
F - Blake Griffin F- Blake Griffin F - Kevin Love
C - Kevin Love C- Dwight Howard C - Dwight Howard
All-NBA Third Team
G - Mike Conley G- John Wall G- Goran Dragic
G - James Harden G- Russell Westbrook G- Kyle Lowry
F - Anthony Davis F- Paul George F- Paul George
F - Dirk Nowitzki F- LaMarcus Aldridge F- Dirk Nowitzki
C- Al Jefferson C- Al Jefferson C- Al Jefferson
All-Defensive First Team
Matt Moore Royce Young Zach Harper
G- Andre Iguodala G- Mike Conley G- Mike Conley
G- Tony Allen G- Andre Iguodala G- Andre Iguodala
F- Paul George F- Paul George F- Paul George
F- Serge Ibaka F- Serge Ibaka F- Serge Ibaka
C- Joakim Noah C- Joakim Noah C- Joakim Noah
All-Defensive Second Team
G - Mike Conley G- Patrick Beverley G- Patrick Beverley
G - Jimmy Butler G- Kyle Lowry G- Kyle Lowry
F - Marc Gasol F- Jimmy Butler F - Jimmy Butler
F - Andrew Bogut F- Roy Hibbert F - Taj Gibson
C - Roy Hibbert C- Dwight Howard C - Roy Hibbert
All-Rookie First Team
Matt Moore Royce Young Zach Harper
Victor Oladipo Michael Carter-Williams Victor Oladipo
Michael Carter-Williams Victor Oladipo Tim Hardaway Jr
Tim Hardaway Jr. Tim Hardaway Jr Michael Carter-Williams
Mason Plumlee Mason Plumlee Gorgui Dieng
Steven Adams Steven Adams Steven Adams
All-Rookie Second Team
Nick Calathes Trey Burke Trey Burke
Trey Burke Ben McLemore Mason Plumlee
Cody Zeller Pero Antic Cody Zeller
Pero Antic Cody Zeller Giannis Antetokounmpo
Gorgui Dieng Gorgui Dieng Pero Antic
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