Tuesday, April 17, 2007

06-07 Reg Season Awards (Part II)

In Part II, we're dealing with the 6th Man & All-Defense awards. The 6th Man can always be a little tricky to gauge because guys can change roles throughout the season due to injuries, trades, or coaching decisions. The best example is with Manu this year: is he really a true 6th man? He technically qualifies for the award, and actually plays 5 fewer minutes a game than Barbosa. So if people don't have qualms with Barbosa as a 6th Man, you really shouldn't with Manu either. Manu actually plays fewer minutes a game than Lee & Maggette as well.

6th Man: Manu Ginobili

1) Ginobili
--It was a difficult decision but I gave him the nod barely over Barbosa. Both guys' offensive production is pretty equal but I gave Manu the slightest edge because I feel he's a better all-around defender. He is actually one of the more productive players in the league. In only 27 mins per, Manu's averages 16.5 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 3.6 apg, 1.5 spg, 46% shooting, and a career best 39.7% from 3pt. Very underrated defender, just a totally disruptive force on the defensive end.

2) Barbosa--Brazilian Blur has taken his game to the next level and could easliy be a 2nd option on most every other team. Extremely hard to contain off the dribble, and has turned himself into a deadly outside shooter the last 2 years. I remember when he was entering the draft, his key weakness was his shooting, but he seems to put those worries to bed. Barbosa's numbers are very similar to Manu's--18.1, 4.1 apg, 2.6 rpg, 1.2 spg, 47.6% & 43.5% from 3pt.

3) Maggette--Probably should have been starting all season, but he played the majority of the season coming off the pine. I have mentioned many times Corey's Jekyll & Hyde-type game but I think the positives outweigh the bad. Might not be anyone better in the NBA at getting to the foul line more than Corey (8.2 fta per is ridiculous in 30 mpg) and he hits them at a nice 82% clip. Also a very good rebounder from the SF position (5.7 rpg). Just have to deal with the dubious decision making--bad shot selection & mindless turnovers--and easily could be a shutdown defender if he wanted.

4) Stackhouse--His scoring support off the bench is invaluable to the Mavs. Instant offense when he comes in, reliable mid-range game and has been hitting from deep surprisingly well this year--39%, which is by far the best 3pt. output for this career 30.5% shooter. Underrated defender.

5) D. Lee--Mr. Efficiency. Had to knock him down this list some because of too many missed games. Great energy off the bench which helps him be a force on the boards. Understands his role offensively and does not try to force things he can't do, which is evident in his 60% shooting. Nothing special on defense.

Honor Mention: C. Atkins; J. Calderon; J. Childress; Harpring; L. Head; Korver
M.H.'s Picks
1. Leandro Barbosa, Phoenix
2. Manu Ginobili, San Antonio
3. Jerry Stackhouse, Dallas

I don't have much commentary for this one - Jay Aych makes a good argument re: Manu, but I dunno, he still feels like a starter in 6th man's clothing, whereas Leandro is more of a classic 6th man, who comes in and changes the pace of the ballgame entirely. It amazes me how quickly Barbosa's gone from a freakishly fast/quick young player with potential to a guy on the cusp of stardom at 24. The Suns' staff has done a great job developing him, with D'Antoni's brother Dan being a big part of that.

Defensive Player of Year: Tim Duncan

1st Team:
--Basically can just pencil him onto this list every year if you want. Quietly changes/blocks shots as good as any in the league. Never really swats the ball, always seems to just block shots that are still in the shooter's hand. Has an innate ability of what I like to call poke-blocking the ball then securing the shot in the same sequence. 5th in the league in blocks. It was a tough choice between him Bowen for DPOY, but I gave the slightest tiebreaker to Duncan for being a superior rebounder & mental safety blanket for the perimeter players.

Bowen--The defensive demise of Bowen has been greatly exaggerated. I think a lot people (one certain internet pundit comes to mind) just have a knee-jerk reaction where they see Bowen is 35, and they just assume he will not be as good, instead of actually watching carefully; we have been in his corner all season. If he has lost something, it ain't much. With Battier, probably the most fundamentally sound defender in NBA--great balance, good knee bend. Maybe the key to why he is still successful (besides desire & smarts) while not being a tremendous athlete is choppy feet. He puts down & picks up his feet very quickly, always keeps them moving, sort of like a good running back who takes quick, small strides. Bowen still continues to consistently challenge shots as well as any perimeter defender in the league.

Camby--Marcus does absolutely everything he can to help Denver defensively; it's not his fault the perimeter defense is severely lacking. Always felt this guy was underrated, it's not just his shot-blocking ability, but the league leading 3.3 bpg do help his case. Personally, I think he guards Duncan better than anyone. 2nd in the league in defensive boards helps his cause.

Battier--Mr. Fundamental. Combination of great technique, smarts, & dogged determination. Tremendous on-the-ball or as a team defender--one of the best in the league at taking charges. Constantly beats his man to the spot. A player like Battier is an absolute necessity for every team.

Okafor--Don't know if there is a laterally quicker center in the NBA; the amount of the area he covers is amazing. His help & recovery is good as any big in the league. Simply a force in the painted area, and has erased any lingering doubts if he can guard centers. Non-stop action on the defensive end.

2nd Team:
--Another guy you can just pencil onto this list every year. Cleans up a lot of the messes that are left from some his teammates' lackluster effort. Best defensive rebounder in the league, to go along with 1.7 bpg & 1.2 spg.

Josh Howard--The best defender on the Mavs. A great individual defender, but also a tremendous help defender as well. Basically, the Mavs' version of Scottie Pippen who will guard multiple positions & patrol the defensive end like a free safety. Love those long arms.

Hinrich--This guy usually gets the assignment of defending the opposition's best guard. Works his tail off every nite. No one guards Wade better in my estimation, and that in itself, is huge. Uses great balance & his underrated athleticism to his advantage.

Marion--A lot of a push for Shawn to be DPOY. Sorry, don't think he's that good. Yes, he gets some steals & blocks, and rebounds very well for a SF, just not amazed with his on-the-ball defense. It's not bad, it's just not as good as Bowen's or Battier's. Maybe it's a case of Shawn having to guard bigger guys, but that's what D'Antoni wants, so Shawn is force to suffer a little bit too much in the post. So if Marion wants to blame anyone for not getting recognized for his defensive prowess, he should start with his coach.

T.Prince--He needs a nickname like Terradactyl or Albatross. Sorry for the aside, but he just reminds me of a terradactyl or albatross. Perennial defensive stalwart. Versatile defender who can guard 2s & 3s, and even some 4s & 1s in certain situations. Like a good defensive back, has great closing ability: an opponent will seemingly be by him, but Prince will close ground as well as anyone with the help of his supernatural reach.

Honor Mention: Ginobili; Brand; G. Wallace; D. Howard; J. O'Neal; D. Stevenson; Dalembert; Kidd

M.H.'s Picks:
1. Tim Duncan, San Antonio
2t. Shane Battier, Houston
2t. Bruce Bowen, San Antonio

Jay Aych nearly convinced me to go with Bowen after telling me about this remarkable number: the PER for the shooting guards of San Antonio opponents is 11.8 [you rock, 82games.com] - that's a remarkably low number (remember the league avg is 15.0).

Of course, a good chunk of that is Manu, but Bowen guards plenty of 2's, too. And the end of the day, I still think that S.A.'s perimeter D is fueled by the fact that Timmy's back there to erase any mistakes. He's my pick.

Kirk Hinrich and Marcus Camby round out my All-Defensive First Team along with the three guys above. And Zo is still my 6th man on D, with his 5.4 blocks per 48 min. A lot of noise for Marion to be in the mix - he's underappreciated and an All-Star overall, but I don't know how you judge him better than Battier or Bowen on D.


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