Tag Archives: Kobe

My NBA Awards Ballot

Last Wednesday night was absolutely ridiculous. Two record-setting performances occurring side-by-side on national television at the close of the regular season—that’s what we hope for when we watch basketball.

Anyways, after an exciting end to the regular season, as the playoffs begin, it’s time to dole out awards, most real and some made up. Let’s get started!

MVP: Stephen Curry

This was the easiest decision of all. Curry had a season for the ages, set records left and right, and led the best regular season team in the history of the NBA. There’s nothing more to say.

Best of the Rest: (2. Kawhi Leonard 3. LeBron James 4. Russell Westbrook 5. James Harden 6. Draymond Green 7. Kevin Durant 8. Chris Paul)

ROY: Karl-Anthony Towns

This was an easy trophy to award. Nikola Jokic was solid and Kristaps Porzingis was exciting, but the #1 overall pick had an exceptional all-around season for the up-and-coming Timberwolves.

Best of the Rest (2. Kristaps Porzingis 3. Nikola Jokic

LVP: Kobe Bryant 

It’s challenging to become the least valuable player in the NBA. It’s not enough to simply be bad; to win, a player needs to derail his team’s season due to his sheer awfulness.

Bryant doesn’t quite fit that mold; the Lakers weren’t expected to compete this season, so Bryant’s poor performances didn’t really affect anything. However, the pomp and fanfare surrounding his departure from the NBA hindered his team in accomplishing its goal for the season.

Kobe shot 35.8% this season on 16.9 attempts per game. Those seventeen inefficient shots each game could have gone to one of the Lakers’ many young players who need to gain NBA experience to reach their full potential.

Sure, Ty Lawson’s arrival threw a Rockets team that was expected to contend for a title completely off-kilter, and Derrick Rose’s high-volume, low-efficiency approach hurt the Bulls, but those two only affected this season. Bryant’s hideous campaign could hurt his team for years to come.

Best of the Rest: (2. Ty Lawson 3. Derrick Rose)

COY: Steve Kerr

This was the toughest category to choose. There are so many worthy candidates that picking just one feels like I’m doing a disservice to the others. At least six coaches deserve recognition for their performances this season.

Brad Stevens led a group of overachievers to forty-eight wins, carefully crafting effective lineups out of a variety of players.

Charlotte’s coach, Steve Clifford, turned the Hornets into a top-10 team by efficiency on both ends of the floor, one of only five teams to accomplish that. The other four? Golden State, San Antonio, Cleveland, and Los Angeles. Not too shabby.

Rick Carlisle took a Dallas team devastated by DeAndre Jordan’s betrayal to the playoffs, with superstars like 37-year old Dirk, Wesley Matthews coming off tearing his Achilles, and Chandler Parsons leading the way.

All Gregg Popovich did is turn in one of the best regular seasons in the history of the NBA while resting key players often in preparation for the playoffs.

Terry Stotts managed to get the Trailblazers the fifth seed in the West after losing eighty percent of the previous year’s starting lineup.

Meanwhile, Steve Kerr, after missing the first half of the season due to a back injury, helped the Warriors reach a record seventy-three wins.

These six coaches each are worthy of being the coach of the year, but since there can only be one, the record-setting individual is the best choice.

Best of the Rest (1A. Terry Stotts 1B. Gregg Popovich 1C. Rick Carlisle 1D. Steve Clifford 1E. Brad Stevens)

Best Game: Warriors 121, Thunder 118, OT, Feb. 27

This was another tough category to decide. Kobe’s final game was dramatic, with his push to end his career with sixty points a marvel. The marathon Pistons-Bulls game from December, a contest that went into four overtimes, was riveting. However, neither can compare to the exhilarating game between the Thunder and Warriors in late February.

That game had it all: Big deficits and big comebacks, clutch free throws, and what might be the season’s most thrilling play:

Ridiculous.

Best of the Rest: (2. Pistons 147, Bulls 144, 4OT, December 18 3. Lakers 101, Jazz 96, April 13)

EOY: Danny Ainge

Ange put together a loaded roster overflowing with young talent. His trades have given the Celtics one of the brightest futures in the league.

Bob Myers did little this past year, but his drafting over the preceding few years gave the Warriors their best players. R.C. Buford made his usual solid moves on the periphery, but landed LaMarcus Aldridge in free agency, changing the Spurs from one of the best teams in the league into one of the best teams of all time.

Myers and Buford both had customarily excellent years, but Ainge’s overall body of work is overwhelmingly spectacular.

Best of the Rest: (2. R.C. Buford 3. Bob Myers)

Best Hair: Jeremy Lin

This was a hotly contested competition this season, but in the end, there was no other choice.

Sure, Joakim Noah has a serious case for the trophy:

joakim-noah-letting-his-moppy-hair-flow_original_crop_north

And Elfrid Payton does too:

NBA: Orlando Magic at New Orleans Pelicans

But no one can compare to Lin’s magnificent spiked mohawk:

jeremy-lin-hair

Not only is Lin’s hair awesome-looking, it has plenty of practical applications as well. Here’s Lin’s hair stabbing Jerryd Bayless in the eye while driving to the basket:

Lin-Jeremy-spiked-hair-pokes-face-of-Bayless

This pointy, menacing mop of hair sent Bayless reeling, giving Lin a clear path to the rim.

hair3.0.0

That’s a nearly unprecedented combination of wonderfulness and utility, similar to Jacob DeGrom’s flowing mane, giving Lin the prized Dr. J Memorial Trophy.

MIP: C.J. McCollum

Best of the Rest: (2. Isaiah Thomas 3. Kemba Walker 4. Stephen Curry)

SMOY: Jamal Crawford

Best of the Rest (2. Enes Kanter 3. Andre Iguodala)

DPOY: Kawhi Leonard

We finish off this awards ballot with our dear friend, the Sharktopus:

kawhisharktopuscarivanderyacht

Out of players who played in at least forty games, Leonard ranked 8th out of 325 in FG% difference, at -5.7%. That means that players that he defended shot 5.7% worse than they did against the rest of the league.

Draymond Green, Leonard’s main competitor for this award, ranks 6th, at -6.2%. How does Leonard have an edge?

Leonard is a great offensive player, but on defense, he’s able to shut down the best players in the NBA. Green’s defense is most valuable because he plays passable defense against centers, which gives the Warriors a big edge on the offensive end. However, when determining the DPOY, candidates should be judged solely on their defensive merits, not how their defensive flexibility creates an unstoppable offense.

Best of the Rest: (2. Draymond Green 3. Paul Millsap)

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Welcome to the Suck Bowl

The NFL has the Super Bowl. The NCAA has countless bowls, covering an eclectic array of classics like the Cotton, Orange, and Rose, and shameless advertisements including the GoDaddy, Hyundai Sun, and Nova Home Loans Arizona. The NBA? Well, it has the Suck Bowl.

Tonight in Philadelphia, two team with a combined record of 2-32 will square off. In one corner, there are the Lakers, whose Stone-Age coach’s stubborn dismissal of common sense has them at 2-14. In the other, there are the Sixers, whose New-Age general manager’s continued plea to “trust the process” has the team at a dismal 0-18.

These are two teams heading in similar directions, but it’s always intriguing to map out how each got to where they are.

Let’s begin with the Lakers, a team that is dysfunctional enough that it allows Kobe Bryant to airball at least four shots a game and whose coach, Byron Scott, recently said: “Our guys get along. They just don’t trust each other”. And no, I’m not sure how that makes any sense, but remember, this is the same guy who seemingly believes that two and three are equal, based on his insistence that his team not shoot too many threes.

Anyways, way back in 2012, the team traded for stars Steve Nash and Dwight Howard. The team was expected to be great; however, Mitch Kupchak, the team’s general manager, apparently forgot that defense is as important as offense en route to a disappointing 45-37 season.

Despite their final record, the Lakers were still in the playoffs as the seventh seed, so there was still hope for their season. Then they got whipped by the Spurs by an average scoring margin of 18.75 over a four game sweep.

In the offseason, Howard fled to Houston, ending the team’s hope that he would be its bridge from Bryant into the future. Instead, the Lakers extended Bryant’s contract by two years for 48.5 million dollars, condemning the team to mediocrity or worse for the foreseeable future.

The next season, Los Angeles went 27-55 and Bryant played in a mere six games due to injury. There was a bright side to the team’s awfulness: a high draft pick resulting in Julius Randle, a power forward out of Kentucky. In addition to Randle, the Lakers nabbed Jordan Clarkson, a guard, at 46th overall.

In the 2014-15 season, the Lakers went 21-61, the franchise’s worst record throughout its entire history. Adding to the dismal display, Randle broke his leg in his NBA debut, immediately ending his season, and Bryant again suffered through various injuries, playing only 35 games. However, Clarkson had a sparkling rookie season, excelling in March and April once he received playing time, with averages of 17 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 5.7 assists over the last two months of the season.

Another ugly season led to another high draft pick, and with the help of some luck in the lottery, the Lakers were able to draft D’Angelo Russell, a star point guard, at #2 overall.

That’s where the team stands. It’s got an aging star who’s not a star any more (and is retiring after the season) and a couple of young studs. The team sits at an ugly 2-14, but there’s plenty of hope for the future.

In Philadelphia, there’s also hope, but the team took a far different path to get it.

The story of the present-day 76ers team began in 2013, when Sam Hinkie tore down the team to tank for a high draft pick. The team finished 19-63, but only got the third pick in the draft, with which they took Joel Embiid. Later on in the first round, the Sixers traded its 10th overall pick to Orlando for the 12th pick and a 2017 first rounder (which led to some hilarious awkwardness as I discussed here), and selected Dario Saric, who can’t come to the US until at least 2016.

After another horrific season at 18-64, the Sixers again had the third overall pick, and again took a big man, this time taking Jahlil Okafor out of Duke.

As Philadelphia stands now, it has a ton of solid players on its roster, from Nerlens Noel to Robert Covington to TJ McConnell to Nik Stauskas to Tony Wroten to Isaiah Canaan to Jerami Grant. It has a wealth of future draft assets (as Business Insider details here). It even has a couple of 2014 first-rounders coming in the future when Embiid finally makes his debut and Saric comes over from Turkey.

It’s clear that Hinkie is pushing all his assets into the future while imploring the team’s fans to “trust the process” and, despite the agonizing state of the present-day team, the plan is nearly guaranteed to work. Zach Lowe wrote over the summer that “if Philly is really willing to do this for five, six, or seven seasons, it almost cannot fail. It will either land a superstar or draft so many good players that they will gather a solid NBA team.”

Until that glorious future, however, Sixers fans are stuck with the current team. Despite its numerous quality players, it’s winless at 0-18. The team isn’t as bad as it record shows, though, as Philadelphia has had a lead in the fourth quarter of each of its last five games, only to fritter it away, resulting in agonizing loss after agonizing loss.

Tonight’s game against the Lakers is especially important, because, if the Sixers lose, they’ll set a record for the worst start to a season in NBA history. Luckily, Philadelphia is favored by 1.5 points, but if they lose again tonight, another shot at a victory may not come for a while.