NBA Insider: Selecting the regular-season award winners

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 12, 2014 - 7:39 PM

Here’s a look at one person’s ballot for the NBA’s annual regular-season awards:

MVP

Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City: Even LeBron James now admits it, delivering what amounted to a concession speech last week to the NBA’s leading scorer who never faltered a bit this season. His streak of consecutive 25-point games ended Tuesday at 41 games, third longest in league history.

Best of the rest: James; Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers; Joakim, Noah, Chicago; Goran Dragic, Phoenix; Kevin Love, Timberwolves; Paul George, Indiana.

Coach of the Year

Gregg Popovich, San Antonio: Stunningly, he has won the award only twice in his Hall of Fame-worthy career. Let’s make it two times in three years for a guy who manages his aging stars and just keeps making the pieces fit around his best three players, all the way to a franchise-record 18-game winning streak, the NBA’s best record and possibly a franchise record for victories.

Best of the rest: Jeff Hornacek, Phoenix; Tom Thibodeau, Chicago; Steve Clifford, Charlotte; Dwyane Casey, Toronto; Terry Stotts, Portland.

Rookie of the Year

Michael Carter-Williams, Philadelphia: A dashing talent on a truly lousy team, he has shown there was good reason to worry about his shooting, but his combination of size and athleticism has been a revelation in what became pretty much a runaway race.

Best of the rest: Victor Oladipo, Orlando; Mason Plumlee, Brooklyn; Tim Hardaway Jr., New York; Nick Calathes, Memphis; Trey Burke, Utah.

Most Improved Player

Goran Dragic, Phoenix: So much depends on your definition of this award, but this guy transformed from an excellent player to an All-Star this season (even if he wasn’t invited to New Orleans) and could carry his team unexpectedly all the way to the playoffs as well.

Best of the rest: Anthony Davis, New Orleans; Lance Stephenson, Indiana; DeAndre Jordan, L.A. Clippers; Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio; Markieff Morris, Phoenix; Gerald Green, Phoenix.

Sixth Man of the Year

Taj Gibson, Chicago: If he wins, it won’t be strictly for his scoring, as voters often prefer. Here’s a guy who should get himself into contention because of his heart, hard work and offensive game that might be overlooked. Gibson is one big reason the Bulls have kept winning after Derrick Rose went out again and Luol Deng was traded.

Best of the rest: Jamal Crawford, L.A. Clippers; Manu Ginobili, San Antonio; Markieff Morris, Phoenix; Reggie Jackson, Oklahoma City; Vince Carter, Dallas.

Defensive Player of the Year

Joakim Noah, Chicago: He’s got Houston coach Kevin McHale’s endorsement because of his determination and toughness. McHale knew a thing or two about defense back in the day, and he also coaches a guy named Dwight Howard. It doesn’t hurt that Indiana collapsed late in the season, which hurts Roy Hibbert’s chances, or that Howard sustained a late-season injury.

Best of the rest: LeBron James, Miami; Howard; Anthony Davis, New Orleans; Andre Iguodala, Golden State; Hibbert.

Executive of the Year

Masai Ujiri, Toronto: A back-to-back winner, in separate cities? The former Denver GM who shaped a Nuggets team that won 57 games a season ago should win again for two major moves that transformed the Raptors team from tank mode for Canadian Andrew Wiggins to playoff bound: He was able to trade Andrea Bargnani’s huge contract to New York and dealt Rudy Gay to Sacramento for a whole new bench.

Best of the rest: Portland’s Neil Olshey; Houston’s Daryl Morey; Phoenix’s Ryan McDonough; Golden State’s Bob Myers.

First-team All-NBA

F LeBron James, Miami

F Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City

C Joakim Noah, Chicago

G Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers

G James Harden, Houston

The 50-point club

Wolves forward Corey Brewer scored 27 of his franchise record-tying 51 points on the fast break in Friday’s 112-110 home victory over Houston. That’s the most by any NBA player in the StatsCube database kept for the past 18 years. Here’s the top six:

Corey Brewer, Wolves:

27 vs. Houston, April 11, 2014

Tracy McGrady, Orlando:

25 at Indiana, Jan. 6, 2004

Jerry Stackhouse, Detroit:

25 at Chicago, April 3, 2001

John Wall, Washington:

21 vs. Indiana, April 6, 2013

Mike Miller, Memphis:

21 at Atlanta, March 9, 2007

Stephen Jackson, Atlanta:

21 vs. Washington, March 12, 2004

Brewer is is also …

•  The third player on the current Wolves roster to have scored 50 points in a game, with Kevin Martin and Kevin Love. Brewer and Love now share the franchise’s single-game scoring record, but Love needed two OTs to do it at Oklahoma City in March 2012.

•  The fourth NBA player to score 50 or more points and get six or more steals, joining Allen Iverson, Michael Jordan and Rick Barry, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

• The fifth NBA player this season to score 50 or more points. The others: Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Terrence Ross and Kevin Durant (twice).

• The first player since Baron Davis in 2003 to record four steals in four consecutive games. Davis did so in seven straight.

• The first Wolves player to score 26 points in a first half since Michael Beasley scored 27 on his way to a 42-point night at Sacramento on Nov. 10, 2010.

Wolves’ Week Ahead

Sunday: 8 p.m. at Sacramento (FSN+)

Monday: 9:30 p.m. at Golden St. (FSN)

Wednesday: 7 p.m. vs. Utah (FSN)

 

Player to watch: Stephen Curry, Warriors

Ranked first in the NBA in three-pointers made, fifth in assists (8.5) and seventh in scoring (23.5), the game’s best shooter is just warming up for the playoffs.

 

Voices

« Everybody knows their secrets. It doesn’t do you any good, though. »

– Wolves coach Rick Adelman when asked if newly signed Othyus Jeffers would divulge any secrets about the San Antonio Spurs, with whom he signed a 10-day contract in January.

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