By Kevin Sawyer
It’s 2008, which is the perfect opportunity to hand out meaningless awards. I’m bad at writing introductions, so let’s get rolling.
Top Team – Detroit Pistons
Apologies to: Boston Celtics, San Antonio Spurs
The Celtics have a gaudier record, but I’m giving the edge to the Pistons because:
1) The Pistons beat the Celtics on their home turf.
2) The Celtics have not registered a win against the Spurs, Suns, Mavs, Hornets or Pistons. Right now, they’re the NBA equivalent to a really good mid-major.
3) The Pistons are on a 64 win pace WHILE resting their starters.
4) The Pistons essentially just added a top 5 rookie to the mix.
MVP – Chris Paul
Apologies to: LeBron James, Kevin Garnett
The MVP award had Garnett’s name engraved on it before the season began, and James has marginally better numbers. But Paul has outplayed Garnett thus far, and is carrying a supporting cast every bit as weak as the LeBron’s to a 50+ win pace. Appropriately, New Orleans is 20-11, which is what they get every night from the best Point Guard in the league. Chris Paul is shooting the lights out and averaged 24.6 ppg in December. Deron Who?
LVP – Jamaal Magloire
Apologies to: Jason Collins, Jarron Collins
Say what you will about Collins Inc., but they are both solid defenders. The same cannot be said for Magloire, who boasts the second worst Player Efficiency Rating in basketball. Remember, they signed Magloire on the merits, not his expiring contract. In fact, the Nets currently have the two worst rotation players in the NBA (though Magloire seems to have finally played his way out). Perhaps this somewhat explains their inability to, you know, win?
ROY – Kevin Durant
Apologies to: Sean Williams, Yi Jianlian
I said before the season that Durant might lose this award if he isn’t able to shoot 40% from the field. He’s cutting it close, but he has improved and will almost assuredly continue to do so as the season progresses. Besides, the chairman isn’t exactly setting the bar all that high. Williams has actually been the most effective rookie, but the Nets are taking a wait and see attitude, just in case Williams might turn out to be the worst player in the entire NBA, which he would literally have to be to merit the lack of minutes he now receives.
MSP (Most surprising Player) – Hedo Turkoglu
Apologies to: Richard Jefferson, Jamario Moon
The ugly bastard of Istanbul has elevated a career that had been mired in mediocrity, and has been a major component of the Magic’s success this year. He has gotten off to hot starts before (he has a fantasy reputation of being a waiver wire tease), but Howard’s offensive dominance seems to be generating more open looks for everyone. Jefferson’s season seems to be a function of his taking more shots (from Jason Kidd), and Moon, while a nice story, isn’t really earning the minutes he is getting
Hottest Trend – Resting the veterans.
Apologies to: Point Guard tandems. Trading with Isiah Thomas and Michael Jordan.
The Spurs set this trend in motion by resting their big three en route to a championship last year. Now the Pistons and Suns are finally getting in on the act, and we can look for other surefire playoff squads to follow suit. Veteran resting narrowly edges out the stupidest trend, namely point guard tandems. If you have two starting-caliber point guards, trade one (preferably before Al Horford can end their career). If neither is starting caliber, trade both, or play the youngest one. Splitting minutes between floor generals makes no sense.
Best offseason moves – Boston Celtics
No apologies necessary
I mean, the Jason Kapono pick up was nice for the Raps and all, but…
Worst offeseason moves – Cleveland Cavaliers
Apologies to: Memphis Grizzlies, Seattle Supersonics
The Sonics should have kept one of their two veteran wings to tutor Durant, and the Grizzlies dropped millions on Darko Milicic, but the Cavs committed the cardinal sin of staying pat when they are clearly a player or two away from a championship. Competent shooting guards are NOT that hard to find.
MIF (Most Incompetent Franchise) – New Jersey Nets
Apologies to: Minnesota Timberwolves, Chicago Bulls
The Nets could be a legitimate contender in the East if they ceased to award playing time to some of the worst players ever to don an NBA uniform. They have been doing this for years. And then Vince Carter (whose production has been consistent throughout his career, contrary to popular belief) gets all the blame. One of the smart GMs is going to fleece the Nets for Carter sooner than later.
MISJ (Most Irresponsible Sports Journalism) – Bill Simmons
Apologies to: David Thorpe, Chris McCosky
Thorpe is utterly insipid, and McCosky helmed a weird anti-Blog crusade, but Bill Simmons is altogether more disappointing. He is a savvy writer. Sardonic, but relatable, knowledgeable, and certainly readable. An unabashed homer, Simmons seems to have lost his edge now that Boston is the king of all things sports. His jaded fan commentary has devolved into cheerleading accompanied by mediocre analysis, a fact which culminated (for me) in his assertion that the Pistons were second-round fodder in the playoffs.