As the end of the NBA season approaches, the topic of MVP (Most Valuable Player), DPOY (Defensive Player of the Year), ROY (Rookie of the Year), etc comes up amongst the conversations of many hoop fans like myself. Without further ado, I'd like to present my picks for individual recognition this season.
Rookie of the Year - Michael Carter-Williams
Most Improved Player of the Year - Anthony Davis
Sixth Man of the Year - Taj Gibson
Defensive Player of the Year - Roy Hibbert
Using the criteria that awarded Marc Gasol this award last year (anchor of the best defense in the league), Roy Hibbert deserves this year's honor for his defensive prowess. The Pacers are number one in the league in points allowed, keeping teams to an average of 92 points a night. Individually, Roy Hibberts blocks 2.4 shots a game in about 30 minutes of play. His defensive impact goes far beyond the statistical value of his blocks, as he alters countless shots in the paint on a nightly basis. Other worthy candidates include DeAndre Jordan of the Clippers, Anthony Davis from the Pelicans, Serge Ibaka from the Thunder, and Joakim Noah of the Bulls. Considering the Clippers, Thunder and the Pelicans aren't necessarily good defensive teams, that narrows down my choices to Noah and Hibbert. Although Noah does a lot of things that isn't credited on the box score (such as his pick-and-roll defense), his rim protection does not nearly match the impact that Hibbert does for the Pacers. If Hibbert gets a point for his rim protection and Noah gets one for his pick-and-roll defense, the .1 difference in points allowed per game (92.2 points allowed by the Pacers, and 92.3 points allowed by the Bulls) gives Hibbert an edge (even though minimal) because it is enough to have the Pacers ranked one above the Bulls. In addition, Hibbert's 2.4 blocks per game average is much more imposing than the 1.5 of Joakim Noah. With that being said, Hibbert gets my vote for Defensive Player of the Year.
Coach of the Year - Dwane Casey
Before we get into this category, let's give a round of applause for the great work of a lot of the coaches this year. From Greg Popovich to Steve Clifford to even a Mike Budenholzer, these coaches deserve a lot of credit for making the most out of the rosters that they have been assigned. Initially, Jeff Hornacek was my pick for Coach of the Year; however, I do not think that a coach can be rewarded for his work if his team does not make the playoffs, and it looks like the Suns have permanently lost the 8th seed to the Grizzlies. With that being said, Dwane Casey of the Raptors is my pick for Coach of the Year. Although the Eastern Conference is relatively weak, I do not believe that anybody (probably even Raptor fans) would have picked the Raptors to finish top 4 in the conference. Dwane Casey has made the most out of a young bunch, giving them the confidence to play at a level higher than even the players were probably aware that they were capable off. A lot of credit has to be given to the Raptors General Manager Masai Ujiri for putting together a well balanced roster with a group of young talented athletes and a solid veteran group coming off the bench to compliment them. Casey's ability to elevate the play of this group makes him worthy of the Coach of the Year honor.
Most Valuable Player of the Year - Kevin Durant
Finally, the cream of the crop. The best of the best players this NBA season (emphasis on THIS season). As a LeBron fan, it is very odd for me to make an argument for anybody besides LeBron when it comes to this award; however as an objective fan, it is my job to present the NAYked truth. Long story short, the MVP for the 2013/2014 season is without a doubt Kevin Durant. Although LeBron has made a late serge to reclaim what has seemingly been taken away from him, the MVP award is going to Oklahoma to Kevin Durant, unless something miraculous happens. Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma Thunder has had a phenomenal year to say the least. KD has always been known as a scorer; however this season he has taken that, as well as other parts of his game to different heights. Durant is averaging 32 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists while shooting 51% from the floor, 40% from three point land, and 87% from the free-throw line; outstanding. I don't know what's more impressive: the fact that his point average is the highest yet of his career, or the fact that a shoot first, shoot second player is somehow averaging 6 dimes a game. KD has done everything possible to propel his team to great heights, including scoring 25 points for 32 straight games (and counting), and 30 or more points for 12 consecutive games. No argument really needs to be made here (as hard as it is for me to say as a LeBron fan), KD is the clear-cut winner of the MVP award thus far.