'07-08 Reg. Season Awards (Part I)
Howdy, Jay Aych back after a brief hiatus from the bball blogging game. Might be a little rusty so try to bear with me until I get my blogging sea-legs back under me.
We'll begin our regular season awards presentation off by rolling out the Defensive All-Stars and the Rookies. So pull up a chair & hold your applause until all the winners are announced.
We're not a slave to positions when picking our teams, so take that into consideration.
DEFENSIVE 1ST TEAM:
K. Garnett: (DPOY) Was the main impetus in turning the Celtics into the most dominating defense in the NBA. Has the sway to motivate his teammates to defend that's similar to Jordan's sway. He's like an extra defensive coach on the floor, an extension of Tom Thibodeau. As well-rounded as any defender in the league, never a liability in any situation. No traditional post player gets more steals (1.4 spg).
S. Battier: Probably has usurped Bowen as the NBA's premier perimeter defender. Along with Bowen, no other player is so consistently in place to contest shots on the perimeter. Fights through picks. Anticipates well, which helps him beat his opponent to spots on the floor & leads to charges. His 1.14 bpg places him only behind J. Moon & AK47 for primary perimeter defenders.
B. Bowen: For the second year in a row, the demise of Bruce's defensive prowess has been greatly exaggerated. Still challenges shots as well as any perimeter defender, maybe only Battier is better. Great footwork--choppy feet that he puts down & picks up very quickly, always keeps them moving, sort of like a good running back who takes quick, small strides. Combines this with a balanced defensive stance & veteran tricks-of-the-trade (some dirty tricks thrown in) to excel at 36/37 years old.
M. Camby: More than just a devastating roving shot snuffer--his on-the-ball skills are not too shabby either. Also, handles himself as well as any center when forced to defend on the perimeter, solid pick-n-roll defender. 2nd in the NBA in defensive rebounds, 10.3 per. Big reason Denver's defense was above-average--cleans up a lot of the messes that are created by Melo & Iverson's gambling and general indifference to defense.
T. Duncan: Basically doing the same thing he's been doing for 10 years. Think we effectively summed up Timmy's defensive acumen last year:
"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."
R. Bell: Similar to Battier & Bowen, just not quite as long which makes him slightly less effective. Fights thru screens and is usually is great position to challenge shots.
D. Howard: Still needs to focus more on the defensive end, definitely will float occasionally. But simply is a physical force who covers a lot of space, and if there is a missed shot anywhere near him, it's his rebound--11 def. rpg, #1 in NBA.
Kenyon Martin: Moves his feet laterally as well as any big in the league. The multiple injuries/surgeries have not slowed him down too much. Can legitimately still guard many 3s in the league, not phased at all roaming on the perimeter. Alongside Camby & Najera (very active), Kenyon helps somewhat neutralize the issues that accrue from the lax perimeter defense.
T. Prince Like his teammate below, easily could have made room for him on the 1st team. Mentioned this last year--has great recovery ability like a good cornerback. Versatile defender that can handle either wing spot, and can be thrown on point guards for limited minutes to give them different looks.
Rasheed Wallace: Easily could have put him on the 1st team. As well-rounded as any post defender--On-the-ball, help, or P-n-Rs, Sheed is excellent. Alongside Garnett, the best big covering pick-n-rolls. His help & recovery ability is superb. Versatile defender who can handle 4s & 5s, and could handle a fair amount of 3s in a pinch. One minor knock: always has underachieved on the boards, this year no different, 5.6 def. rpg.
Honor Mention: Kobe; R. Brewer; Chandler; Dalembert; Dampier; Ginobili; J. Howard; Kirilenko; Pierce
1) Kevin Durant-(R.O.Y.): Averaged 20 ppg & was Seattle's #1 scoring option since opening day. His shooting percentages were subpar, but his shot selection has improved as the season progressed. Not rushing his shots as much. Wish the rebounds were higher (4.2 rpg), especially after his gaudy reb. numbers at Texas.
2) Al Horford: Nearly averaged a double-double for the year--10 ppg & 9.6 rpg. Already solid defender, probably the top defensive rookie & holds his ground well. Underrated passer. Offensive skills are still a work in progress--he's a bit mechanical in his moves, but does possess an effective drop-step, something he showcased at Florida.
3) Luis Scola: Definitely has advantage over other candidates because of his age & extensive professional experience. Started off the year a little ragged, but finally fell into a groove mid-season & took hold of the starting 4-spot. 10 ppg & 6.3 rpg in 24 mins, not to mention he brought over his usual high shooting percentage from Europe (51%). Loves working in pick-n-rolls with T-Mac or Alston-- looking to set the high screen at all times. Gets a lot of his offense off the roll--can hit the 15-footer & is crafty with footwork--uses spin moves well to create separation from longer defender. Runs the floor hard, just like he does on Team Argentina.
4) Jamario Moon: Sort of a super-senior rookie like Scola (Moon is 27). Adds a much needed jolt of athleticism on the wings of the Raps & loves to work along the baseline. Nice all-around performer, whose quickness leads to steals & blocks (Only AK47 is better shot-blocker for perimeter player). Great rebounder at the SF spot.
5) Al Thornton: Came on strong as the season wore on, has been one of the hottest rooks since the All-Star break. His 12.7 ppg 2nd only to Durant for rookies. Has had a handful of 20-10 nights in the last few weeks.
Honor Mention: Thaddeus Young; J. Navarro; Jeff Green; M. Conley; R. Stuckey; C. Landry; Y. Jianlian