Today is February 11, 2016 and tomorrow signifies the start of the All-Star Break. That also marks the middle of the NBA season. So with that said, usually mid-season awards are given out. I have decided to give my own opinion on the mid-season awards for categories like; MVP, Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and Most Improved Player. Let’s debate! Read my opinions and comment below on whether you agree or disagree!
Most Improved Player
C.J. McCollum (Portland Trail Blazers): After the terrible offseason the Blazers had, everyone expected them to be one of the worst teams in the NBA. I did. They lost 4/5 of their starters. That is not the case. At the All-Star Break, the Trail Blazers are sitting at 27-27 and are sitting at #7 in the Western Conference. Who would of guessed that they would be in the playoffs? Damian Lillard is a huge part of that success of course but an under-appreciated part of the Trail Blazers success is shooting guard C.J. McCollum. Last season, McCollum played in sixty two games and started in three of them, playing 15.7 Minutes Per Game. He posted averages of 6.8ppg, 1.5rpg, 1.0apg, 0.7spg while shooting .436% from the field, .396% from the three point line, and .699% from the free throw line. With Wesley Matthews out of the way, he was given the starting job and has run away with the opportunity. This season he has upped all those previous numbers except three point shooting. His minutes went from 15.7mpg to 35.0mpg and as a result, his points per game went from 6.8 to 20.7. His rebounds per game and assists per game have gone from 1.5 to 3.6 and 1.0 to 4.2 respectively. His steals have increased from 0.7 to 1.2 while his shooting has gone from .436% from the field to .442%, .396% from the three point line to .392%, and .699% from the free throw line to .797%. With all those factors, I think he is quite deserving as the Most Improved Player.
Defensive Player of the Year
Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio Spurs): Kawhi is the face of the Spurs. Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker are still on the team but Kawhi is the face of this franchise. He does it all. He will lock you down on the defensive side and score buckets on the other. He makes things tough for whoever has to go up against him. Spurs hold their opponents to 91.8ppg. Second place belongs to the Miami Heat who hold their opponents to 96.3ppg. The biggest reason for the Spurs being a well oiled defensive machine is Kawhi Leonard. He is easily the best defender on the Spurs and is arguably the best defender in the league. His wingspan is terrifying and his hands are humongous and he is quick and athletic. He steals almost twice a game. There is a good chance that at the end of the year when the awards are handed out, Leonard would be getting Defensive Player of the Year for two years in a row.
Coach of the Year
Gregg Popovich (San Antonio Spurs): A second person apart of the Spurs organization is getting this award. Gregg Popovich is getting my vote for Coach of the Year thus far. Luke Walton does not get credit for the wins when he took place for Steve Kerr, so in my mind he should not get voted for Coach of the Year so far. Kerr has not been around in the season long enough so that eliminates those two, leaving the future Hall of Famer head coach that has his team sitting at #2 in the league with an incredible 45-8 record. Everyone loves Pop. His interviews are comedic, his coaching is tremendous, and he finds the way to get the most out of every player that is at his disposal on the roster. They are a threat year in and year out to win the Larry O’Brien trophy. Duncan, Parker, Ginobili, and Pop are all towards the end of their careers. Let us enjoy them all while we can.
Rookie of the Year
Before I start dropping names, let’s compare these two stat lines. Points Per Game: 17.1 vs 13.9. Rebounds Per Game: 10.1 vs 7.7. Blocks Per Game: 1.8 vs 1.9. Player Efficiency Rating: 23.22 vs 18.35. Just by those comparisons, the first set of numbers wins three times out of four. The first set of numbers belongs to Minnesota Timberwolves rookie Karl Anthony-Towns while the second set of numbers belongs to New York Knicks rookie Kristaps Porzingis. All the hype and excitement revolves around Kristaps Porzingis and rightfully so. He plays in a huge basketball city in New York and throws down nasty putbacks and puts up highlights on what seems like a nightly basis. We should not downplay what Towns has been doing just because he does not play in New York and get thrown into the spotlight like Porzingis was able too. In my eyes, Towns is the Rookie of the Year and should be named so at the end of the year. Minnesota fans, it may not show up in the regular season record for this year but with Towns and Wiggins leading the way, the future is quite bright.
Most Valuable Player
Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors): This is a no brainer and should not be a surprise to anyone. One of the catalysts to the Warriors exploding to a 48-4 is Stephen Curry. Curry has been absolutely unreal this season, putting up averages of 29.8ppg (leads the league even though he has sat out about 15 4th quarters), 5.3rpg, 6.6apg, and 2.1spg while currently being in the 50-40-90 club. If you do not know what that club is, it is when you average at least 50% from the field, 40% from the three point line, and 90% from the free throw line. So far, he is apart of that exclusive club shooting .508% from the field, .454% from the three point line, and .912% from the free throw line. No one has had an answer for him thus far as he has been absolutely destroying every team he faces. He should continue his magic into the second half of the season and go on to be named Most Valuable Player two years in a row as his team looks to repeat.
*All stats come from ESPN