The NBA regular season is nearing its conclusion and many have now turned their attention to the hotly contested end of season awards.
Here at TFPP, for this edition of our Four Thought Roundtable we’ve taken a slightly different spin on the traditional NBA awards. We’ve created our own “Unofficial Awards” in order to highlight a few of the more under-the-radar stories, good and bad players and teams from season 2016/17. A season recap with a twist, if you will. Listed below are the six awards, which are all a slight variation on the real ones handed out at the end of the regular season.
Most (Disappointing) Valuable Player
“Played Like A Rookie” of The Year
Coach (On The Hot Seat) of the Year
“Extra” Defensive Player of the Year
Sixth Seventh Man of the Year
Each of us will nominate from within our roster of teams. If you need a reminder of who we all have, you can find it here.
MDVP – Most Disappointing Valuable Player
This one will be awarded to the player who is considered a star on their team, but has been a huge disappointment in 16/17 due to their substandard play. Who are your nominations?
DN: Does Derrick Rose count? I mean he is a previous MVP winner and called the Knicks a super team before the season started. He has been pretty poor (even though most expected it) and the Knicks have been a basket-case with him as the floor-general. Have another MVP Derrick. This time you deserve it.
SE: Maybe tough, but I’m gonna go with Chris Paul. CP3 is regarded as one of the top point guards in this league, however I can’t help but feel his lack of leadership is showing this season. The Clips look out of sync, and that they know their time together is about to expire. I’ll be shocked if CP3 doesn’t get a 1st round bounce once again, leaving the door open for a fresh start somewhere else.
JN: Dwyane Wade for similar reasons that David gave for Derrick Rose. The Bulls decided to bring in Wade and Rondo to help bring leadership and experience to a Chicago Bulls team that had started to flounder in NBA no-mans land. Instead, the Bulls have been bad, and will finish with a worse record than last year. Wade is having his worst statistical season in recent memory, and was the subject of internal calls to practice more. Don’t be surprised if Wade opts out this off-season and looks to go somewhere else.
XHR: Andre Drummond. The Pistons have descended into an ungodly funk at precisely the wrong time. Drummond wears a lot of the burden and responsibility after backing his breakout 2016 campaign with a dismal 2017. Drummond looks like he spent the season counting his paycheck instead of worrying about defensive assignments. A complete shamozzle.
And the winner is……Derrick “I want the max” Rose! Not even PJax is that stupid/high….well, maybe high…
PLARTY – “Played Like A Rookie” Of The Year
Awarded to an established player who has played like this is his first NBA season. Who you got?
DN: Dennis Schroder. The Hawks shelled out a 4 year, $70mil extension to Dennis and were no doubt hoping he would end up being a bargain. They were also relying on Schroder for the team to take a big step. Millsap has been good and even Howard has been sneaky good, despite the questionable fit. Schroder has not. Someone noted recently (think it was Bill Simmons with Lowe) that Dennis will likely be the worst of 16 PGs when the playoffs begin. Ouch. His pure numbers are fine (18/6/3 on 45%) but he has had ZERO impact.
SE: JR Smith. Wow, what a horrendous season from JR – his season was derailed due to a thumb injury in the early going, and he has never got on track. 8 points per game on 33% shooting, it’s getting to the point where slumping Cleveland might have to consider starting Shumpert and giving JR’s minutes to Kyle Korver. Part of his struggle has been the premature birth of his daughter Dakota, who was born 5 months early. Here’s hoping she can continue her amazing recovery – and JR can find his game, or Dan Gilbert will be comic sans raging over that luxury tax bill real soon.
JN: Chandler Parsons. When a player signs a four year, $94 million contract you expect more than 6 points a game on 27% 3pt FG and 39% FG and to play more than 20 minutes a game. Injuries have hampered Parsons’ year, and will miss the rest of the season but when he has graced Graceland, he has been bad. We are rapidly approaching Albatross contract territory!
XHR: Reggie Jackson – HE’S BEEN A DUMPSTER FIRE! Reggie has come back from injury looking as stunned as Reggie from the Nutty Professor after Buddy Love tears him a new one on stage. Detroit have played so much better with Ish Smith on the floor it’s not funny. At this rate, I think SVG would much prefer an actual rookie PG from the upcoming crop more than keeping Jackson as his lead guard.
And the winner is……Chandler Parsons, who came into camp looking like he was on that Elvis diet! A coincidence that all these players got PAID last off-season? I think not.
MIT – Most Improved Team
Instead of a player, this award is for the team that has shown the most growth from season 15/16 to now. A pool of strong candidates but you can only nominate one team, so who will it be?
DN: Houston Rockets. Like the real MVP race, this one could be tight between OKC & HOU within my teams. But the Rox have become a really fun team again built solely around Harden and I’m not sure anyone expected it. Hell I even kinda predicted it in my Houston Off-Season Report but still sat on the fence when it came to the crunch.
SE: I’m gonna give this to the Utah Jazz. The Jazz are finally relevant once again, and despite being 5-5 in their past 10 games – have clinched a playoff spot for the first time since 2012. The Green Goblin (aka Coach Snyder) has developed one of the leagues stingiest defences, while Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gobert have taken the leap to stardom. For their sake, I hope they can keep the gang together.
JN: Denver Nuggets. How can a team that will likely finish with a negative record (though is in the fight for a playoff spot in the West) be nominated for the Most Improved Team? I’d go into an in-depth argument, but David has already done it for me. The Nuggets are off the treadmill, have a great young core to build around, cap space and multiple first round picks in the deep 2017 NBA draft. The rosy fortunes of the Jokic led Nuggets is enough to get the nomination.
XHR: Easy call here for Washington. They started the season 2-8, and now are locked into a top 4 seed and could finish higher than Cleveland at this rate. John Wall is a dark horse MVP candidate, Scott Brooks is proving he is more than Durant and Westbrook, Beal is an elite (and healthy) 2 guard and Otto Porter is the NBA’s top sniper. The Wiz are proving that their 2017 play is not fake news.
And the winner is……a tie between Houston and Washington! A pool of strong candidates! Both teams have come out of nowhere to be among the top in their respective conferences. Led by their All-NBA Guards, the Rockets and Wiz will be looking to upset some of their more highly fancied conference rivals in the playoffs.
COTHS – Coach On The Hot Seat
The Award given to the coach who could (or perhaps should) be out of a job this Off-Season. Who are you turning the temperature gauge up on?
DN: Jeff Hornacek. This one is two fold. There is really only 1 coach on my roster that COULD be fired before next season. Also, my #ozwoj from earlier in the season was that Hornacek wouldn’t last in the Big Apple. I think I might still be right. Keep a sneaky eye on Earl Watson too. His seat isn’t hot but he might get itchy feet if UCLA come calling.
SE: This is tough, as there isn’t a real candidate on my roster of teams. I will say that Doc Rivers could well decide to step away from the coaching gig if his team goes from pseudo contender to the lottery, assuming they flame out once again in the postseason and Griffin and Paul look elsewhere. Yes, this would mean Doc fires himself.
JN: Fred Hoiberg. When you replace a coach like Tom Thibodeau who went 255-139 over five seasons, and made the playoffs every single year, the pressure is on from day dot. It was clear that Hoiberg was brought in to push Chi-town onto the same plane as the Cavs, but has failed miserably, with the Bulls missing the playoffs for the first time in 8 seasons in 2015/16, and potentially finishing with a losing record this season. To make matters worse, there has been a growing consensus that Hoiberg has lost the Bulls’ locker room. I can’t see Hoiberg making it through even half of his five year contract.
XHR: Alvin Gentry. He has one of the top 5 players in the league (Davis). He has one of the top 12 players in the league (Cousins). He has a perpetually underrated point guard, and…. hmmm, not much else. Nola went into the summer with the agenda of improving it’s defence. Whilst it has achieved that with the now 5th ranked D in the league, the offence is literally worse, ranked 26 and an overall net rating of -1.4. Gentry has been unable to build off the success of the team when he joined, and although injuries have played a MAJOR role, his dismissal might be the only option for a shake up.
And the winner is……Fred Hoiberg! Not only does his star player dislike him, his FO has constructed a roster that is completely against his coaching philosophy. We know how this story ends, Fred.
The Salty Award – “Extra” Defensive Player Of The Year
The Award given to the player or team who mouthed off the most throughout season 16/17. So many candidates, but which guy is your creme de la creme?
DN: The Golden State Warriors franchise. I had a couple of other choices here but I’d already nominated Rose previously and Russ has been so damn good that he can be as salty as he wants, when he wants. So you’re up, Warriors. Where do I start? The JaVale McGee whinging to TNT, the Kevin Durant whinging about OKC, Steve Kerr ejections, Steph Curry hissy fits and everything in between. Plus let’s be honest, Draymond Green could win this award on his own for the way he carries on. Salt is at an all time high already but watch out if they don’t win it all.
SE: He’s already on the Mount Rushmore of Salt, but Jae Crowder stepped his salt game up just a little more after Devin Booker’s 70 point eruption. I can’t wait to see his Twitter/Instagram rage when Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens are flirting with Gordon Hayward this off-season. Stay tuned.
JN: LeBron James. The King of Strategic Saltiness. He called out the Front Office for not putting enough play-makers on the roster (the Cavs by the way, will pay out $128 million in salary, the most in the NBA, and that doesn’t include the $28 million in luxury tax that the Cavs will pay this season). The result? Deron Williams and Andrew Bogut (for 58 seconds), and a feud with Charles Barkley. He has recently called out the Cavs’ toughness. The result? Who knows, but I’m not ruling out the East’s number one seed and back-to-back Championships.
XHR: The starting point guard of the All Salt team, and Captain of my Western Conference Snubbed All Star Team…Damian Lillard. D.O.L.L.A. looks for slights everywhere he goes, so it’s no surprise he ends up on this list. He has beef with not making the All Star Team (again), he has beef with being in trade rumours, he has beef with D’Angelo Russell (who doesn’t)…the list is endless. As as an unashamed Blazer fan, I believe these are all justified. Dude gets no love from the refs at all.
And the winner is……Lebron James! Among some stiff competition, King James reigns supreme.
7MOY – Seventh Man of the Year
The winner of this award will the best player who has played the 7th most or fewer minutes on a team. The “Unsung Heroes” of the bench crews around the league! Nominations?
DN: Kyle Korver. Another shameless plug here but KK is doing everything most (including me) people thought he would for the Cavs. Interestingly he is essentially the same player that left the Hawks with one key difference. Korver is scoring essentially the same amount (10PPG) on the same shots (8FGA) & efficiency (50% from inside arc, 89% at the line) and with the same secondary stats (2.7RPG, .5SPG, .3BPG & 1TO). Where things differ are in three point percentage and assists. His % from beyond the arc is back up to near career best at 48% and his assist numbers down to near career lows at 1.1APG. He is there to shoot and shoot only.
SE: Gotta give a shout out to James Johnson, who has come out of NOWHERE (and I mean nowhere, he was just about out of the league) to be one of the top bench players in the league this year. A perfect storm of Chris Bosh and Justise Winslow being out for the season left Johnson as the man with minutes – and boy has he made the most of them. Flashing an all-round game few knew he could consistently deliver, JJ is gonna get paid!
JN: Jamal Murray. I really wanted to nominate both Will Barton and Jamal Murray. My reasoning is that I have actually zero idea from game-to-game exactly whom is the 7th guy, but as Barton plays the fourth most minutes it’s pretty hard to justify. Murray has been on a rookie tear of recent, scoring in double figures of 19 of 26 games since February. Along with Gary Harris, Murray has demonstrated the potential to be a huge cog in the Jokic-led Nuggets moving forward.
Meyers Leonard Richaun Holmes! This guy has been in and out of the rotation more than people at In-N-Out Burger. Through the Embiid rest, the Noel/Embiid/Okafor injuries, the Noel Trade, the Embiid shutdown…Holmes has done exactly what is asked of him and done it better than anyone could have imagined. 9 points, 5 boards and a block in 19 min per night on 56 percent shooting (12.8, 6.6 and 1.4 in 25min per night on 60.8 percent shooting since All Star!). Just another feather in the slain Hinkie’s Cap.
And the winner is……James Johnson! Seriously, where the hell did this come from!?