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Hoopsmeister
04-09-2002, 12:58 PM
from ESPN Insider (http://insider.espn.go.com/insider/archive?sport=NBA)

With the regular season winding down and ballots due next week, here's a look at how I'd cast my votes for the NBA's annual awards. Wednesday we'll unveil the Insider "Bizzaro" Awards for the mirror opposites of these players . . .

MVP: Tracy McGrady, Magic -- The qualifications for MVP are never clear. I usually use some combination of best player in the NBA combined with the player who is most valuable to his team. I usually demand that the player be having an extraordinary year and that his team be doing better than we expected it to. There's no doubt that Shaquille O'Neal is the most dominant player in the NBA and probably the most valuable to his team. But he's having an off year and the Lakers are underachieving. Jason Kidd is the best point guard in the league and has led the Nets to an extraordinary season, but Kidd himself is having a mediocre year compared to previous seasons. Besides, it's tough to pick a guy who can't shoot a lick. McGrady seems to fit all of the criteria. He is the most skilled and versatile player in the NBA. The Magic would be battling the Bulls for the worst record in the NBA without him. With him, they'll likely have home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. He's having a career year and no one can take over a game quite the way McGrady can. Yes, he's only 22 years old and occasionally mails in a game , but he almost always steps up big when the Magic need him most.

Runnerup: Tim Duncan, Spurs -- Having a phenomenal year. The Spurs would be out of the playoffs without him and no one doubts his skills. He loses to McGrady by a hair.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Pau Gasol, Grizzlies -- Before the season, everyone thought the transition from Spain to the NBA would take Gasol a few years. Everyone thought that he'd need a few years to bulk up before he could be a real force down low. Forget about it. Gasol has turned in one of the most impressive rookie seasons in recent history and he'll only get better. He can do it all, rebound, block shots, score down low, shoot the mid-range jumper and handle the ball. To top it off, he is one of the most consistent players in the NBA. You think MJ is second guessing Kwame?

Runnerup: Shane Battier, Grizzlies -- There are enough haters to go around, but Battier was better than anyone expected. He has NBA three-point range on his jumper, plays great defense and acts like a veteran leader on the court despite the fact he's a rookie. Sure, he may not experience the dramatic improvements that Gasol or some of the high school kids will, but he'll have a long, productive career.

MOST IMPROVED: Steve Nash, Mavs -- This is a tough category and there were lots of candidates. Nash hasn't had the dramatic improvements that others have, but his steady improvement has pushed him from a bench player to All-Star. That's a tough threshold to cross.

Runnerup: Al Harrington, Pacers -- Went from a bench warmer to perhaps the most valuable player on the Pacers this year. When he went down with a season-ending injury, so did the Pacers. His energy, toughness and ability to score from anywhere on the floor convinced the team it could afford to dump Jalen Rose. What other candidate can say that?

SIXTH MAN: Corliss Williamson and Jon Barry, Pistons -- Another tough category. There are several second-year players who probably should be starting (like Quentin Richardson, Desmond Mason and Darius Miles) but are instead getting experience off the bench. Williamson, on the other hand, bounced back from an early benching to provide instant offense and defensive toughness for the Pistons. Barry didn't miss a beat after he was traded to Detroit from Sacramento. He's filled in at the point and seems to come up with the big shot when the Pistons need it. It's hard to believe that the Pistons would be were they are without these guys stepping up.

Runner up: Quentin Richardson, Clippers -- If the award went to best player in the NBA who doesn't start, it would probably go to Richardson. He's a sparkplug who can sink the three or go down low and post weaker shooting guards up in the paint. He's absolutely explosive and a big reason the Clippers challenged for a playoff berth this season.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Ben Wallace, Pistons -- The Pistons' most valuable player. A high energy player who intimidates just about everyone who ventures into the paint. A ferocious shot blocker, stellar rebounder and an All-NBA hustle guy. He'll probably own this award for the next five years.

Runner up: Ron Artest, Pacers -- Ask any small forward and he'll tell you that he hates playing against Artest. He's strong, quick, extremely aggressive and a little bit crazy. Racks up a huge number of steals for a big guy.

COACH OF THE YEAR: Nate McMillan, Sonics -- Another tough call. McMillan took a team that everyone thought was headed for disaster and found a way to lead it to the playoffs in a very competitive Western Conference. He found a way to get Gary Payton to tone down his act and become the leader we knew he could be. He got the most out of pedestrian players like Brent Barry, Jerome James and Desmond Mason while finding a way to cover for season-long injuries to starters Vin Baker and Calvin Booth.

Runner up: Rick Carlisle, Pistons -- You think the Pacers may be kicking themselves a bit? Carlisle has instilled a toughness to the Pistons that we haven't seen in a decade. He set the tone early in the season, benching better offensive players and starting guys like Michael Curry who are were willing to lock down the guys they guard. With that said, he loses to McMillan because, if this team was in the West, it'd be counting lottery balls right now.

EXECUTIVE OF THE YEAR: Geoff Petrie, Kings -- Has he made a bad move in the last five years? Everything he touches, from trades to free-agent signings to draft picks, turns to gold. Now he has the Kings perched for what should be their first real shot at an NBA Championship. Convincing Memphis to swap Mike Bibby for Jason Williams seals the deal.

Runner up: Kiki Vandeweghe, Nuggets -- What looked like a terrible deal for the Nuggets starts looking better and better every day. The Nuggets, in one fell swoop, cleared over $80 million in cap room while retaining their best player -- Antonio McDyess. If they find a winner in the draft and make a strong move in free agency in the summer of 2003, the Nuggets will be poised to be a sleeper out West.

All-NBA First Team
C -- Shaquille O'Neal -- the most dominant player in the NBA.
F -- Tim Duncan -- the most skilled big man in the NBA.
F -- Tracy McGrady -- the most complete player in the NBA.
G -- Jason Kidd -- the best floor leader in the NBA.
G -- Paul Pierce -- phenomenal all around season


All-NBA Second Team
F -- Dirk Nowitzki -- the most versatile player in the NBA.
F -- Chris Webber -- the luckiest guy in the NBA (say hi to Tyra for us)
F -- Kevin Garnett -- will he remain stuck on the second team forever?
G -- Kobe Bryant -- still awesome, but seemed to slip just a bit this season.
G -- Gary Payton -- most remarkable turnaround in the NBA.


All-NBA Third Team
C -- Ben Wallace -- would take a bullet for his teammates.
F -- Elton Brand -- consistently solid.
F -- Peja Stojakovic -- showed he could carry the Kings without CWebb.
G -- Allen Iverson -- the only player who can stop him is himself.
G -- Andre Miller -- the best young point guard in the NBA.


All-NBA Fourth Team
C -- Jermaine O'Neal -- another few years and he'll be pressing for the first team.
F -- Rasheed Wallace -- did Mo Cheeks slip him some Prozac?
F -- Antoine Walker -- what happened to all to the Boston boo-birds?
G -- Ray Allen -- disappointing season, but still butter.
G -- Steve Nash -- most improved player.


All-NBA Fifth Team
C -- Alonzo Mourning -- the most courageous player in the NBA.
F -- Karl Malone -- he keeps going and going and going.
F -- Shareef Abdur-Rahim -- quietly put together another All-Star season.
G -- Steve Francis -- unstoppable, but those headaches are downright scary.
G -- Baron Davis -- second best young point guard in the NBA.


All Rookie Team
F -- Pau Gasol -- will be an All-Star for years to come.
F -- Andrei Kirilenko -- can do it all, suddenly there's hope for the future in Utah.
F -- Shane Battier -- nothing flashy, but does whatever his team needs.
G -- Jason Richardson -- will be the most dynamic player in the draft.
G -- Jamaal Tinsley -- showed that intangibles still matter in the NBA.

reeds
04-09-2002, 05:11 PM
wont happen...Duncan going away....

TheKid
04-10-2002, 10:11 AM
I don't know people seem to agree with Nash being most improved player, but I don't. When a player gets most improved it's the same in my eyes as saying the MOST SURPRISING player. The level of play by Nash this year in my eyes was expected. He has done nothing that I didn't expect him to do this year OTHER than make the all-star team. He played at a high level last year and why did anyone expect him not to this year. LAST YEAR I thought he deserved it but not this year. Just my opinion.

Drbio
04-10-2002, 10:48 AM
I like Duncan for the MVP as well. Although Dirk will steal it from him soon.

Murphy3
04-10-2002, 11:15 AM
i simply can't see pierce on the first team..or mcgrady as the mvp.

i don't see mcgrady on the first team either

TheKid
04-10-2002, 12:26 PM
I agree about the Pierce thing, and I don't think McGrady should or will win MVP, but I can see him on first team though.

Murphy3
04-10-2002, 12:46 PM
well..mcgrady is a little more debateable..i had him second team.. but, i'm sure it's a close call with him.. kinda splitting hairs when you get down to some of those players..

but pierce, ..i don't see it

TheKid
04-10-2002, 05:03 PM
Here's another writer's perspective on the MVP award.
__________________________________________________ ________________________

And the MVP goes to ...

by Marty Burns, Inside the NBA

When it comes to the MVP award, the criteria should be simple: Give it to the best player, period. After all, the league awards a championship to the best team. It ought to have an honor for the top player.

Sounds simple.

Except ... it gets boring picking the same guy every year.

As Danny Ainge noted on TV recently, if the MVP went to the best player, then Michael Jordan would have won it every year he laced 'em up from '87 to '97. Thankfully, voters decided to let Karl Malone, Magic Johnson and Charles Barkley get to hold it for awhile.

This season, Shaquille O'Neal would likely be the first player picked by coaches if they had to choose one guy around which to start a team for a playoff series. But Shaq, the '00 MVP, never really brought his "A" game this year, because of injuries and so forth, so it's hard to reward him with another MVP trophy. Like last year, he might have to settle for a Finals MVP.

So in an effort not to be boring (my friends say it's too late), I'm going to go against my normal policy and vote for the guy who, along with being a top player, also made the biggest difference to his team.


MVP: Jason Kidd, Nets
Kidd's numbers aren't eye-popping (15.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, 10.0 assists), but if there were a stat for leadership, he would be off the charts. Acquired in an offseason trade with the Suns, he turned around the Nets franchise with his unselfish play at both ends, transforming them from a laughingstock that won 26 games a year ago to a 50-win squad that claimed the franchise's first division title since joining the NBA in 1976. He ranks second in the NBA in assists and third in steals (2.16), hit myriad clutch shots and led his team in rebounds despite standing just 6-foot-4. Most important, he got everybody involved. Not even the EPA could have done a better job cleaning up the toxic atmosphere in the Swamp.


Tim Duncan, Spurs
Like Kidd, Duncan deserves nearly all the credit for keeping his team among the NBA elite. The Big Fundamental ranks in the top 5 in scoring (25.5), rebounding (12.8), blocks (2.42) and minutes (41.0) while shooting 50.2 percent from the floor. Despite an aged supporting cast, his overall effort at both ends has carried San Antonio back to the top in the Midwest Division.


Shaquille O'Neal, Lakers
Still the game's most dominant player, O'Neal ranks second in the NBA in scoring (26.9), seventh in rebounds (10.6), sixth in blocks (2.35) and first in field goal accuracy (57.7 percent). Nagging injuries and the presence of superstar teammate Kobe Bryant will prevent him from winning this award, but he's just too darn productive to leave off.


Tracy McGrady, Magic
Another player who does it all for his team, almost single-handedly. Despite losing Grant Hill to injury, he not only kept the Magic afloat but he also carried them to the upper division of the East. He ranks fifth in scoring (25.4), just behind Paul Pierce, but he grabs more rebounds (7.7), dishes more assists (5.3) and is slightly better defensively than his Boston wing counterpart.


Gary Payton, Sonics
Despite nearly being traded in the offseason, Payton has come back with one of the best overall seasons in his 12-year career. He scored (22.1 points), dished (a career-high 9.0 assists) and played his usual Glove-like defense while leading the surprising Sonics back to the playoffs. Perhaps most impressive, he curbed his temper and became a true team leader.

Hoopsmeister
04-10-2002, 08:57 PM
More from ESPN Insider (http://insider.espn.go.com/insider/archive?sport=NBA)

On Tuesday I chimed in with my picks for the traditional season-ending awards in the NBA. Today, I'd like to recognize their polar opposites. That's right, it's time for the annual Bizzaro Awards. We'll start with the biggie, the Least Valuable Player Award.

LVP: Marcus Camby, Knicks -- Sure he has talent, but is anybody better at wrecking a team's season? He plays just enough games to tantalize you, then misses just enough games to wreck your entire season.

Runner-up: Penny Hardaway, Suns -- We know Penny, it's all Stephon Marbury's fault. Just like it was Jason Kidd's fault before that. And Bob Hill's fault before that. And Shaquille O'Neal's fault before that. He's given a whole new meaning to the nickname "Little Penny" this year.

ROOKIE FLOP OF THE YEAR: Kwame Brown, Wizards -- Maybe we're being too hard on the kid. But as far as No. 1 picks go, he's been a disaster. While other high school kids like Tyson Chandler and Eddy Curry seem to be slowly getting it, Kwame is still lost. Yes, he has a wonderful set of skills, but seems to lack the requisite aggressiveness and desire to overcome his lack of experience.

Runner-up: Rodney White, Pistons -- Many pegged him early on as a Rookie of the Year favorite. Instead, he's gotten into a whopping 14 games all season and is averaging 3.5 ppg. His lack of defense has gotten him into Rick Carlisle's doghouse. Given the Pistons' sudden leap in the standings, will he ever get out of it?

LEAST IMPROVED: Larry Hughes, Warriors -- Went from shooting guard of the future to point guard of the future to DNP-Coaches Decision in the course of about 18 months. No one questions his athletic ability or his talent, but his decision-making skills are so poor, he makes the Grizzlies' Jason Williams look like an All-Star.

Runner-up: Courtney Alexander, Wizards -- Went from MJ's hand picked Air Apparent to MJ's whipping boy in a matter of months. He seemed to deflate before our very eyes the minute Michael stepped on the floor.

12TH MAN: Shawn Bradley, Mavs -- Signed a big contract before the season, yet is averaging only 14 mpg this year for the Mavs. Don Nelson has begged and pleaded with Bradley to get his act together, but he seems content having the best seat in the house.

Runner-up: Austin Croshere, Pacers -- A major disappointment, Croshere seems to get time only in garbage minutes despite the fact that some of the Pacers' key frontcourt players have been down with injuries. Is he that bad or does Isiah Thomas hate him that much? It's a combination of both, but blame Thomas for his 17.5 mpg this year.

WORST COACH OF THE YEAR: Isiah Thomas, Pacers -- Chalk this season up as another chapter in Thomas' book "The Fundamentals: Eight Plays for Winning the Games of Business and Life." Despite having talent at every position, the Pacers are free falling during crunch time in an already weak Eastern Conference. For some reason, Thomas has been unable to apply those "eight plays for winning" to his team. GM Donnie Walsh pulled off a major mid-season trade just to ensure that the Pacers made the playoffs but Thomas has been unable to integrate Ron Artest and Brad Miller into the team. Add on the fact that he's managed to alienate just about everyone on the team, and we have a winner.

Runner-up: Pat Riley, Heat -- His most grievous sins were committed while he was wearing his executive hat, but as a coach, he should've known that bringing in a bunch of hired guns for a season to play Pat Riley-style of basketball wouldn't be pretty.

ENRON EXECUTIVE OF THE YEAR: Garry St. Jean, Warriors -- He overpaid for Antawn Jamison, absolutely bungled the whole Marc Jackson situation, is in the process of destroying Larry Hughes's trade value, and has put together a hodgepodge collection of talented players who just don't fit well together. If the NBA had a three strikes and you're out rule, he'd be locked away for life.

Runner-up: Scott Layden, Knicks -- You can blame some of the mess Layden is in on Dave Checketts, but why he overpaid for Allan Houston, Shandon Anderson and Clarence Weatherspoon and traded for Howard Eisley is mind boggling. He made a bad cap situation much, much worse. If he ever digs himself out of this mess, he'll be the Executive of the Decade.

All NBA Buyer's Remorse Team
"The Juwan Howard Award"

C -- Shawn Bradley -- gives awkward seven footers a bad name
F -- Antonio Davis -- too much money, too many years for a guy who is already applying for his AARP card
F -- Antawn Jamison -- Warriors could've had him for half the money and they'd still be overpaying
G -- Allan Houston -- replaces Juwan Howard as the most overpaid player in the NBA
G -- Derek Anderson -- spent half of the season injured, the other half pouting. Who could've seen that coming?

All-NBA Buyer's Remorse Second Team

C -- Calvin Booth -- learned a lot playing half a season with Bradley
F -- Clarence Weatherspoon -- again, what was Scott Layden thinking?
F -- Shandon Anderson -- ditto
G-- Michael Dickerson -- do the Grizzlies even want him now?
G -- Jason Williams -- settled down just enough to ink that extension then went back to chucking shots from half court

All-NBA Jack Squat Team
AKA "The Golden State Warriors"

C -- Shawn Bradley -- eligible next year for the Lifetime Bizarro Nonachievement Award
C -- Kelvin Cato -- hording jack squat in case of a famine
F -- Austin Croshere -- still living off that one good playoff game
F -- Juwan Howard -- on year and counting . . .
G -- Shandon Anderson -- earns his money in the pre-game shoot arounds


All-NBA HMO Team
"The Zydrunas Ilgauskas Award"

C -- Marcus Camby -- a lemon if there ever was one
F -- Vin Baker -- always comes up a few donuts short
F -- Grant Hill -- will he ever be the same?
G -- Tariq Abdul-Wahad -- does anyone even care anymore?
G -- Terrell Brandon -- hasn't played a full season since 1993


All-NBA Retire Already Team
Renamed this year to the "Patrick Ewing Award"

C -- Patrick Ewing -- Doc Rivers is ready to call Jack Kevorkian
C -- Hakeem Olajuwon -- still thinks he's 25
F -- Charles Oakley -- if only his body worked as well as his mouth
G -- Mitch Richmond -- hopefully a title will satisfy him
G -- Mark Jackson -- maybe you can coach the Knicks


All-Rookie Stinka Team
"The Yinka Dare Award"

C -- DeSagana Diop -- didn't see that one coming, did you?
F -- Kwame Brown -- not sure the kid has a clue
F -- Rodney White -- all hype, no D
G -- Jeryl Sasser -- drafted ahead of Jamaal Tinsley and Tony Parker
G -- Joe Forte -- may spend all three years on the IL

MavsFanFinley
04-10-2002, 11:10 PM
LOL, thanks for posting that Hoopmeister.

Very funny.

However, there's one name I don't agree with on the list and that's Shawn Bradley...HAHA, only kidding.

Seriously, I think they got it wrong on Antonio Davis. Maybe he is overpaid, but he's getting the job done, imo.