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Murphy3
03-31-2004, 09:29 PM
It's time to recognize

Jack McCallum, SI.com

The following awards are named for teammates Eric Snow and Glenn "Big Dog" Robinson, though neither Philadelphia 76er will be among this year's winners.

The "Let It Snow Award" recognizes underrated players who play pivotal roles on their team but aren't quite good enough to win any postseason honors. The "Dog Award" (we dropped the "Big") recognizes (maybe that's not quite the right word) players who for various reasons underachieve but have gotten away with it. It does not necessarily mean that they "dog it" in the strictest sense of that derogatory phrase.

Snow is not on this year's Snow team because, in the midst of a tumultuous Philadelphia season, he hasn't really been Snow-like. (If Allen Iverson is indeed traded this offseason, it will be interesting to see if Snow's production goes up or down. Snow, a defensive stalwart and great team guy, is still an offensive question mark.) Big Dog is not among this season's Dogs because injuries have curtailed his production, and injured players, by and large, shouldn't be considered Dogs. On an Iverson-less team next year, Robinson would be expected to play a major role and my suspicion is that he will once again go to the Dogs.

Anyway, in no particular order...


Carlos Boozer, Forward, Cleveland Cavaliers: Boozer was too good last year to win the Most Improved Player award this season, and he's not quite good enough to be all-league. But as LeBron James gets better and draws more and more attention, look for Boozer's numbers (15.4 points and 11.5 rebounds) to go up. This was a guy, remember, who was the 35th pick in the 2002 draft.

Erick Dampier, Center, Golden State Warriors: Man, this guy is a load, and at 6-foot-11, 275 pounds, he's the closest thing around to a Baby Shaq. He's good, too, with terrific low-post moves (12.4 points on .534 shooting), and a nose for rebounding and shot blocking (11.4 and 1.8.). In what will undoubtedly be known as The Kobe Bryant Free Agent Class, Dampier will also be coveted this summer. Still, it hasn't been a pleasant season in the Bay Area, where rumors say coach Eric Musselman will be fired after the year (a travesty, by the way, since he's going to coax 35 or 36 wins out of a team that isn't very good), and Dampier has been one of the guys to complain about Musselman. In fact, because he unfairly torched the coach we're going to make Dampier a reserve on the Dog team, too.

Damon Stoudamire, Guard, Portland Trail Blazers: As tough as it is to name a warrior to this team, it's even tougher to name a guy from the Jail Blazers, particularly one who in the past has contributed to the toxic atmosphere that swirls around the franchise. But Stoudamire has had an excellent season (13.6 points and 6.2 assists), and, furthermore, he's been at his best lately when the Blazers have made their playoff push. At times last season, remember, coach Maurice Cheeks had lost confidence in him, and Stoudamire deserves credit for his stout-hearted rebound.

Stromile Swift, Forward, Memphis Grizzlies: Somebody from the overachieving Grizz has to make this team, and backup Swift is my choice, partly because starting forward James Posey is a possible candidate for Most Improved Player. Nine Memphis players have gotten more minutes than Swift, yet the athletic LSU product (who some thought might be a bust after he was chosen second in the '00 draft) averages nearly double figures and is an underrated shot blocker, standing 19th in the league with 1.62 per game even though he plays limited minutes. The Grizzlies are 15-3 when Swift scores 14 or more points, and, in coach Hubie Brown's surprisingly wide-open offense, Swift has (almost) a green light to shoot.

Lamar Odom, Guard-Forward, Miami Heat: Because of injuries and drug suspensions, Odom played only 78 games for the Los Angeles Clippers the last two seasons, and recognizing him comes with peril. But this guy's ability to fill up a stat line -- 17.1 points, 9.9 rebounds, 4.3 assists -- is the biggest reason the Heat are, in my opinion, going to the playoffs.

Eddy Curry, Center, Chicago Bulls: He's 6-11, 285 pounds and, on a team that misses a lot of shots (Chicago's team shooting percentage of 41.8 is worst in the league) he grabs only 1.9 offensive rebounds per game, which makes him 50th in the league. (Keith Van Horn, who has been called soft more times than Alan Alda, has more offensive rebounds than Curry.) During a recent span when Curry shot 28.2 percent from the floor he blamed an eye injury that occurred when he was hit in the face by a pager thrown by a friend. Eddy, you're still only 21, but it's time to start growing up.

Jamal Mashburn, Forward, New Orleans Hornets: This is a rough one because Mashburn has been plagued by injuries, and I'm not about to suggest (as some, including teammates, have) that he could be toughing it out. But something is wrong with this guy, who has played 82 games only once in his 11-year career (last season). He drew criticism early in the year for rehabbing a knee injury in Miami instead of staying with the team and he drew more criticism when he said: "I know for sure they're not going to win a championship without me." He's a formidable one-on-one player but his greatest strength is also his weakness. He's a dribble-dribble-back-down-back-down guy who eats up the shot clock. And, oh yes: The Hornets are 8-11 this season with Mash in the lineup.

Jalen Rose, Guard, Toronto Raptors: What a joyless season it has been north of the border, and the unpleasantness may cost coach Kevin O'Neill his job. It's not completely fair to call Rose a dog, so this one comes with an asterisk. But his quickness, never his forte (he was more of a bull-like guard who used guile and an unpredictable smorgasbord of floaters and half-hooks), seems almost gone and he's shooting only .398 from the floor. As a vocal point guard, Rose has also been unable to take charge of this team and get it back in the right direction.

Antoine Walker, Forward, Dallas Mavericks: Early in the season, Walker blasted Boston general manager Danny Ainge for trading him. That's his prerogative. Later he criticized (albeit less harshly) Mavs coach Don Nelson for relegating him to the bench. His prerogative, also. But as the season has gone on, 'Toine's point production and rebounding have gone down, along with his good humor. As a volume 3-point shooter, he's made only 27 percent (lowest among the league's 50 top 3-point heavers) and, worse, hitting just 54 percent of his free throws, a number that is bound to hurt the Mavs in the postseason. In the two mega-deals that supposedly remade Dallas, Walker was penciled in as the solid starter and Antawn Jamison as the more volatile, off-the-bench guy. It hasn't worked out that way; Jamison is now outscoring Walker, despite taking far fewer shots.

Steve Francis, Guard, Houston Rockets: He's shooting a career-low 40 percent from the floor, averaging a career-low 16.8 points per game, and is on his way to an abysmal turnover performance, 3.65 per game -- fourth worst in the league behind Iverson, Gilbert Arenas and Paul Pierce, none of whom is a point guard charged with taking care of the ball. (Not that Iverson doesn't have it all the time.) Then, too, Francis lost his composure when he cursed at a referee on national TV, although, to his credit, he apologized almost immediately.

Ivan Chiriaev, Center, Canadian High School Player: (Honorable member). When the 17-year-old 7-footer announced that he will enter this year's draft, he said: "The NBA wants and needs Ivan Chiriaev." Dude, going third-person so soon is risky, and we have two words for you: Darko Milicic. He was better than you at your age, he's better than you now, and he's currently collecting saddle sores from riding the pine in Detroit.

MavsFanatik33
03-31-2004, 11:16 PM
Interesting, he should be mentioned though...no one is going to argue with that.

ddh33
03-31-2004, 11:53 PM
Never good to get compared to Glenn Robinson - despite his talent and ability.

bernardos70
04-01-2004, 12:43 AM
What about this Ivan Chiriaev guy, wasn't he the one that said he could be better than Dirk? "The NBA needs Ivan Chiriaev." He's a good entertainer, he is already making me laugh i/expressions/face-icon-small-happy.gif As for Walker..... there's nothing else to talk about him.