Although the 2011-12 season was shorter than usual, the lockout-shortened NBA season was exciting nonetheless. With the end of the regular season, comes the distribution of hardware. We’ll give you the names of who we think should win some awards.
Coach of the Year – Gregg Popovich
The San Antonio Spurs finished as the best in the Western Conference for a 2nd year in a row. That has a lot to do with Coach Popovich. It’s no secret that Tim Duncan is nearing the end of an amazing NBA career, and Manu Ginobli is getting older as well. Popovich has done an excellent job during this abbreviated season, managing his roster, and maintaining the health of his star players. Having your best players healthy at this point of the season, and finishing the season with the best record, says volumes about the man who is leading the team.
Honorable Mention: Tom Thibodeau of the Chicago Bulls. Leading the Bulls to the best record in the Eastern Conference for the 2nd year in a row, without the reigning league MVP for a good portion of the season, was no easy task.
Rookie of the Year – Kyrie Irving
A year removed from playing at Duke, and having to come into an organization looking to fill one of the biggest voids in NBA history, Kyrie Irving made a big impact in Cleveland this year. Playing 51 games, averaging 18.5 points and 5.4 assists in 30.5 minutes per game, Irving shows some glimpses of why he was taken first overall. He was a solid defender, with a tremendous upside.
Honorable Mention: Ricky Rubio of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Had Rubio not gotten hurt, the award may have been his.
Most Improved Player – Andrew Bynum
The mystery that is Andrew Bynum became much clearer this season. Averaging 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds per game, Bynum was much more consistent than in years past. Although he had his moments this year where he looked very young and immature, he began to develop into a more mature player who is really beginning to understand that once he “grows up,” he can be the most dominant force on the court. Bynum turned into the second option for the Lakers this year, earning the start in the NBA All-Star game. Also, another big factor in his emergence this season: NO INJURIES
Honorable Mention: David Lee of the Golden State Warriors
Defensive Player of the Year – Dwight Howard
Having only played 54 games this season, Howard led the league in rebounds, and was third in blocks. No other player changed offensive plans like Dwight Howard in 2012. This year Dwight posted a career high in rebounds per game, and also posted the lowest personal foul per game total since his rookie year. He also posted a career high in steals per game with 1.5.
Honorable Mention: Tyson Chandler of the New York Knicks
Sixth Man of the Year – James Harden
James Harden started 2 games this year for the Oklahoma City Thunder. That didn’t stop him from averaging 16.8 points per game in the 62 games that he did play this season. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are the stars of the Thunder, but Harden is emerging as a star as well, even though he isn’t a “starter.” On the defensive side of the ball, Harden is making a name for himself, averaging 1 steal a game, and has earned himself the reputation of being a “pesky” defender. No other role player has had as big of an impact as Harden this year.
Honorable Mention: Lou Williams of the Philadelphia Sixers
NBA MVP – LeBron James
This year’s MVP race wasn’t clear cut, but these numbers jump out at you.
27.1 points per game – This number doesn’t seem that huge, after all, LeBron has has higher averages. But, he’s playing alongside another superstar in Dwyane Wade, and high paid big man in Chris Bosh. That makes this number a much more impressive feat.
.531 Field Goal % and .362 Three Point % – What does this mean? This means LeBron isn’t just relying on charging through the lane for the dunk. Both of these numbers are CAREER highs, and are examples of where is career has progressed to.
7.9 Rebounds and 1.5 Personal Fouls per game – Both of these numbers are career bests. What does this mean. LeBron is becoming more balanced on BOTH ends of the floor.
There’s not much of a question that this year was the year of LeBron. Without Wade, LeBron took over South Beach, and set the tone for the Heat to finish the regular season with the second best record in the Eastern Conference, but still the favorite to reach the NBA Finals.
Honorable Mention: Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers