NBA All-Star Break Lester Awards
The season is more than half over, but with the break in the action that the NBA All-Star Game has afforded us, I’ll take the time to hand out my “midseason” Lester Awards.
MVP - Chris Paul
It was Kevin Garnett’s award to lose, and he’s done just that. The Celtics have carried on without him. What I couldn’t imagine is New Orleans functioning without their floor leader. CP3 is second in the league with 10.9 assists per game and leading the league with 2.57 steals per game. You can’t ask for much more out of your point guard. Nevertheless, he’s giving more by chipping in with 20.5 points per game (24th in the league) and 4.0 rebounds per game. He’s shooting a respectable 47.6% from the field and 87.4% from the line.
Rookie of the Year - Kevin Durant
This one isn’t even close. Durant is leading all rookie in scoring with 19.4 points per game, which is almost nine points more than the any other rookie. I’d like to see him hit the boards harder (4.1 rpg), but that will come as he adds strength.
Most Improved - Jose Calderon
Rudy Gay is right up there, but Calderon’s improvement was a much bigger surprise. His scoring has increased by over four points per game, his rebounding has improved by 1.4 per game. The biggest jump is in his assists, going from 5.0 to 8.9 per game. What’s even more impressive though, is his turnovers have basically remained the same (1.4 to 1.6). His Field Goal Percentage increase from a solid 52.1% to an amazing 54.4%. His three-point percentage jumped dramatically from 33.3% to 47.2%. Even his free throw shooting improved from 81.8% to 92.3%. Hedo Turkoglu is right up there with Calderon.
Comeback Player of the Year - Peja Stojakovic
Peja played in only 13 games last year, mainly because of a back injury. However, he’s responded this year playing in 46 of the team’s 51 games. His shooting touch is still there (he’s made 47.8% from three, 93.1% from the line, and 46.2% from the floor), although his scoring is down slightly (16.3 ppg). He is sharing the load with David West, Chris Paul, and Tyson Chandler. Considering those three have been outstanding for their position on the boards, his 4.0 rpb isn’t bad.
Sixth Man of the Year - Manu Ginobili
Talk about a runaway. Manu is once again lighting it up with averages of 20.1 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.6 assists, and 1.72 steals per game. He’s shooting 45.1% from the floor, 41.2% from downtown, and 83.1% from the line. Plus, he’s helped San Antonio remain in the hunt while Tony Parker is out.
Defensive Player of the Year – Marcus Camby
Camby is once again leading the league in defensive rebounds with 11.1 per game and blocks with 3.86 nightly. Add 1.14 steals per game for good measure. He’s helped Denver to the sixth lowest field goal percentage against.
Coach of the Year - Doc Rivers
Byron Scott, Jerry Sloan (every year it seems), and Stan Van Gundy (who’s smiling now Riley?) deserve mention, but the job Rivers has done with Boston is incredible. Sure, they have great players, but their depth is limited, and they’ve been able to adjust to injuries to Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. They are 41-9 at the break (.820). Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the Celtics success has been on the defensive end. They are allowing a league-low 89.4 ppg and holding opponents to a league-low 42.18%.
NBA First Team
NBA Second Team
NBA Third Team
Those are my picks. What changes would you make?