With the NBA regular season drawing to a close, it’s time to take a look at the top players this year and decide who deserves to be rewarded for an outstanding season. There are a number of great candidates for each prestigious award (and a couple not-so-prestigious ones that we invented here at The Best Sports Blog) so let’s take a look at each award and name the winners!
Most Valuable Player (MVP): Derrick Rose
Derrick Rose’s third season was absolutely outstanding. His relentless work in the offseason helped him develop a respectable outside shot and become at least league-average on the defensive end. Those improvements were critical because, in 2010-2011, teams were unable to sit back on Rose and let him shoot long jumpers, which meant that his ability to blow by defenders was all the more potent. Although he did not have the very best statistical season (that recognition goes to LeBron James) or the biggest numbers impact on his team (Dwight Howard), Rose combined his on-court skills with absolutely outstanding team leadership and an unrivalled killer instinct that won the Bulls the Eastern Conference regular season title.
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LeBron James and Dwight Howard were also worthwhile MVP picks. James, the two time defending MVP, was outstanding in Miami but his Heat finished with a worse regular season record than the Bulls and he played with two All Star sidekicks. It is also not clear if James is the locker-room leader; Wade may still maintain that role in Miami. In Howard’s case, while his season was extraordinarily impressive, his killer instinct is not there yet and he is still not a factor late in games because of his horrible free-throw shooting.
Offensive Player of the Year: LeBron James
Derrick Rose may be the NBA’s Most Valuable Player but LeBron James remains the world’s most skilled basketball player. His Player Efficiency Rating remains off the charts and he was the focal point of his team’s offense on most plays. He also chipped in over seven rebounds and assists each for statistical versatility and was no defensive slouch. His one weakness, which likely cost him an MVP, is his continued inability to close out games.
Defensive Player of the Year: Dwight Howard
This two time defending winner will keep his crown. Howard is a defensive phenomenon; easily the best rebounder and defensive frontcourt player since Dikembe Mutombo and maybe the best since Bill Russell. His rebounding and block numbers are phenomenal and his impact is so spectacular that the Magic are a top five defensive team even though all their other starters are weak defenders. However, Howard still needs to learn how to block to teammates rather than just out of bounds and improve his free throw shooting to become a factor later in games.
Most Improved Player: Derrick Rose
Derrick Rose developed quite a bit in his second season but his leap this year was the most dramatic of any player in the NBA. He added to his scoring, assist, and steals totals while maintaining a good true shooting percentage and improving from the free throw line. He also developed into a true team leader and showed his commitment to becoming the best basketball player in the world. If he improves this dramatically again in his fourth season….there won’t be a measurement for his impact.
Least Valuable Player: Gilbert Arenas
What a fall. Arenas has gone from superstar, to injured star, to suspended player, to contract albatross. The Orlando Magic thought they were trading for an X Factor when they sent Rashard Lewis to Washington to acquire Arenas but the former star seems to have forgotten how to play basketball. Even worse, his obscene contract could stop the Magic from improving the team. If Dwight Howard walks because of that, he may become the least valuable player in NBA history.
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Fifteenth Man of the Year: Brian Scalabrine
He doesn’t play in a real game but his teaching skills have been crucial; now every Bulls player really understands Tom Thibodeau’s defensive system. Credit to him for staying relevant in this league.
Worst Free Agency Signing: Travis Outlaw
If they had saved that money, the Nets could have added two impact players this summer. Whoops.
Well that’s the list. Let us know what you think by posting on the Best Sports Blog basketball Forum! Enjoy the playoffs!
Who should be the NBA MVP? Check out 2011 NBA MVP Prediction.
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