Time sure is flying by fast in this shortened season. Believe it or not, more than 15% of the season has already been played by all teams. That’s still a bit early to be giving out any awards, but I am itching to talk about who has been the best up to this point so here it is.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER:
After watching Kobe somewhat limp through last season where he clearly wasn’t himself, people wondered if it was time to expect Kobe to go into decline. No one expected him to turn the clock back by 5 years. Through 13 games, Kobe leads the league in scoring with an average of 31.2 PPG and has scored 40 or more in 3 consecutive games, all wins. More importantly, he’s doing it with a wrist injury that would force just about anyone else to miss a few months. He has been a true warrior and leader of his team that currently has a 9-4 record, and is the number one MVP candidate thus far.
Honorable mentions: Lebron James, Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR:
2 seasons after being drafted, the sensational rookie has finally arrived in the States. Rubio has needed no time to adjust to the style and pace of the NBA. In fact, the NBA is still trying to figure out how to stop this phenom from passing the ball in any fashion he chooses. Rubio is currently tied for 8th in assists per game, tied for 12th in steals per game, and leads all rookies with 4 double doubles. His precise decision making, distinct court vision, poise and leadership makes it hard to believe that this is his first season in the NBA. For all the talk about his inability to shoot, his field goal percentage sits at 46% with 42% three point shooting. It wasn’t the easiest of decisions to give Rubio the award given what Irving has recently done, but no one has had a bigger impact on the entire team than Rubio thus far.
Honorable mentions: Kyrie Irving, Marshon Brooks, Iman Shumpert
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
No one is taking this award from Dwight Howard any time soon. Howard leads the league in rebounds per game at 15.2, tied for 4th in blocks per game with 2.2, and leads all centers with 1.6 steals per game. He sets every tone there is to make for the Magic as a one man defensive wrecking machine and no one changes/alters shots more than Howard, even if it doesn’t always show up in the stat sheets.
Honorable mentions: Marc Gasol, DeAndre Jordan, Andre Iguodala
SIXTH MAN OF THE YEAR:
It’s not even close. Harden comes off the bench averaging 16.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game and instantly changes the complexion of the game. His game compares very favorably to that of Manu Ginobili, another former sixth man.
Honorable mentions: Al Harrington, Louis Williams, Jason Terry
COACH OF THE YEAR:
This one is trickier because there are so many deserving candidates. I wanted to pick a certain coach that lost 3 key players to China, but Popovich gets the nod because conventional wisdom would tell you that your team would struggle gravely when you lose your best player, yet the Spurs have won 5 of their last 7 without Ginobili. Popovich finds a way to get it done whether it’s relying a bit heavier on an aging Duncan, or trusting in some guys named Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard to get the job done.
Honorable mentions: George Karl, Tom Thibodeau, Scott Brooks
EXECUTIVE OF THE YEAR:
No one has made a bigger splash than Neil Olshey with the Clippers. He’s acquired one of the best point guards in the league in Chris Paul, signed Caron Butler, won the bid for Chauncey Billups, retained defensive big man DeAndre Jordan after he signed an offer sheet with the Warriors, and signed rebounding machine Reggie Evans. He has essentially turned the Clippers into a brand new team, one that is a legitimate threat to be a contender and one that is likely enough for Blake Griffin to want to re-sign.
Honorable mentions: Dell Demps, Larry Bird, Josh Kroenke
MOST IMPROVED PLAYER:
Plethora of options to choose for this award, but Lowry takes the cake thus far. Many wondered if Lowry could sustain the level of play he displayed late last season with point guard friendly Adelman gone as coach. Lowry has more than answered the questions by averaging a robust 16 points, 7 rebounds, 9 assists, 2 threes and 2 steals per game. Those are insane statistical figures, and his playing time has only increased by a minute and a half from last season. He is top 3 in assists and steals, and by far the best rebounding guard in the league which is remarkable given his small stature (listed at 6’0). If he keeps this up, not only will he be the MIP, he will be in the discussion for top 5 point guard in the league as well.
Honorable mentions: Ty Lawson, Andrew Bynum, Greg Monroe