Dylan O’Toole: NBA Awards 2013-14

By Dylan O'Toole, Sports Editor

It’s always fun to see how the NBA awards season plays out, but we are often surprised at some of the choices from sportswriters. Here are my picks for NBA awards:

First-Team All-NBA

G- Los Angeles Clippers- Chris Paul

Chris Paul has been the best point guard in the NBA for quite some time now, his domination of the league has continued this season. Paul averages 19.1 PPG while also leading the league in assists per game with 10.7 per contest. Paul missed 19 games midseason with a shoulder injury, but he fit right back in with ease and has led the Clippers to the three seed in this year’s Western Conference Playoffs.

G- Golden State Warriors- Stephen Curry

Curry has dominated the league with his dead eye from three-point range and his shifty ball handling. Curry is the only player that is in the league’s top ten in points, 23.9 PPG, and assists, 8.5 per game. Golden State’s high octane offense has helped Curry get off as many three pointer’s as possible, and Curry has taken advantage, shooting 42% from deep. He has made some unbelievably clutch plays at the end of games this year, and he can drop 45 on a team at any time. Curry has led the Warriors to the six seed in this year’s Western Conference Playoffs.

F- Oklahoma City Thunder- Kevin Durant

See MVP section

F- Miami heat- LeBron James

See MVP section

C- Chicago Bulls- Joakim Noah

Noah has single handedly carried the Bulls to contention in the Eastern Conference, posting averages of 13 PPG, 11 RPG and 5 APG. Noah has posted four triple doubles this season- good enough for second in the NBA. Playing in the high post has allowed Noah to show off his passing skills and hit Taj Gibson and Carlos Boozer inside for easy buckets. Aside being the Bulls biggest offensive weapon after the injury to Derrick Rose, Noah has anchored the Bulls defense and has led the Bulls to the brink of a three seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs.

Rookie of the Year

1st) PG Philadelphia 76ers- Michael Carter-Williams- The 2013 draft was weak, but the 76ers found a gem in MCW with the eleventh pick of the first round. Williams is averaging 16.7 PPG along with 6 boards and 6 assists. The 76ers are obviously in rebuilding mode and Williams was the perfect place to start as his ascent to the brink of stardom has been the Sixers lone bright spot this season. With the sixth pick of the 2013 draft, Nerlens Noel, set to return next season and a high lottery pick in this year’s draft, the Sixers are in good shape for the future.

2nd) PG- Utah Jazz-Trey Burke- The ninth pick of the 2013 draft, and former National College Player of the Year, has certainly erased all doubt from the Utah Jazz about their point guard of the future. Burke missed a good chunk of the early season, but once he came back he was terrific as a scorer and a distributor for the Jazz. Burke has averaged 12.6 PPG to go along with 5.6 APG. Another high pick in the 2014 Draft seems imminent for the Jazz, as they hope to rise from the NBA cellar next season.

3rd) SG- Orlando Magic- Victor Oladipo- Oladipo was the second pick of the 2013 Draft, and has shown tremendous upside for the Magic this season. Oladipo has premier athleticism and has the potential to be one of the top perimeter defenders in the NBA. Once paired up with a scorer Oladipo has the potential to become an offensive threat as well. Oladipo has averaged 13.9 PPG along with 4 points and 4 rebounds this season. The magic are headed for another top five pick in the 2014 Draft, and Oladipo is a high character guy for the Magic to build around.

Most Improved Player

1st) SG- Indiana Pacers- Lance Stephenson- Stephenson burst onto the scene last season when Danny Granger went down. Stephenson moved into the starting line-up and embraced his role, as he led the Pacers to a birth in the Eastern Conference Finals. This season Stephenson has taken his game to whole different level with his exotic style of play, leading the Pacers to the number one seed in this year’s Eastern Conference Playoffs. Stephenson averaged 13.8 PPG along with7 rebounds and 4.6 assists.

2nd) SG- Phoenix Suns- Gerald Green- Green has taken a roundabout route to NBA stardom, but he has finally arrived. After stints with Indiana and Boston, Green found his ideal situation in Phoenix in the fast-paced offense of newly acquired coach, Jeff Hornacek.  Green is one of the most athletic players in the NBA, but he can also fire away from deep, he shot 40% from the great beyond this season. With a stout 6’8” frame Green has the potential to grow into a scary defender on the perimeter. Green averaged 15.8 PPG along with 3 rebounds and 1.5 assists. The Suns are currently fighting for the eight seed in the Western Conference Playoffs.

Defensive player of the Year

1st) C- Indian Pacers- Roy Hibbert- The Pacers may be the best defensive team of all time, and Hibbert is the anchor of their terrific defense. Hibbert has averaged 2.3 blocks per game this season, and has cleaned up the missteps of the perimeter defenders of Indiana. Most importantly, Hibbert has mastered the rule of verticality, which allows defenders to jump in the air and make contact with the offensive player if they jump with their hands straight up. Hibbert has taken a beating because of this, but with his 7’2” and 290 lb frame you can’t go over him or through him. Hibbert has frustrated countless players with his ability to stay out of trouble, look for this as the Heat and Pacers will likely matchup again in the Eastern Conference Playoffs.

2nd) C- Chicago Bulls- Joakim Noah- See First-Team All-NBA

Sixth Man of the Year

1st) SG-Los Angeles Clippers- Jamal Crawford- Crawford has been one of the most dangerous sixth men in the league for years. This year was no different. Crawford demolished opposing team’s benches, en route to running away with this award. He has been a dangerous weapon off the bench for the Clippers, and brings a certain sense of swagger and when he steps on the court. Crawford is almost always on the floor late in important games, as he adds another offensive weapon to the already stacked Clippers offense. Crawford is averaging 18.4 PPG to go along with 3.2 assists and 2.3 rebounds. Crawford has helped the once decimated franchise to the top of the Western Conference this season.

2nd) SG- San Antonio Spurs- Manu Ginobli- Ginobli will find himself at the top of the Sixth Man of the Year voting yet again this season. He has lost some athleticism as he has grown older, but he has compensated with his smart and crafty play. Ginobli brings veteran leadership to the Spurs and brings the type of class you want from your star players. The Spurs have made a late surge late in the season to clinch the one seed in the Western Conference and Ginobli’s play has been a big part of that. Ginobli has played fewer minutes as he has grown older, but his numbers have not seen a significant drop this season. Ginobli averaged 12.4 PPG with 4.3 APG and 3 rebounds.

Coach of the Year

1st) Gregg Popovich- San Antonio Spurs- Popovich should win this award every year. There is no coach in NBA history that has figured out how to manage the regular season, but Popovich has mastered it. No player on the Spurs has averaged more 30 minutes per game this season. That includes the young Khawi Leonard. Even with his players sitting on the bench for long stretches Popovich has figured out a way to consistently finish atop the Western Conference. This is because the Spurs players buy into what Popovich is trying to do. With Popovich it’s about the system, not the individual. The Spurs will lose Duncan and Ginobli eventually, but don’t expect the Spurs to fall too far down the standings.

2nd) Jeff Hornacek- Phoenix Suns- The only thing most expected the suns to be fighting for at the end of the season was the number one pick, but Hornacek has the Suns fighting for a playoff spot in the wild Western Conference. Hornacek incorporated his fast-paced offense at the beginning of the season and the Suns competed from then on out. Hornacek got two scoring point guards in Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic to collaborate with each other, instead of clash with each other. At this point it doesn’t look like the Suns will make the Playoffs, but as this squad grows as a team, along with Hornacek as a coach, they will be a scary team to face in the future.

Most Valuable Player

1st) SF- Oklahoma City Thunder- Kevin Durant- Durant has always been known as the best scorer in the NBA, but this season he elevated himself to MVP status. Durant has led the Thunder to the number two seed in the Western Conference, even as they were without Russell Westbrook for a large part of the season. Durant carried the Thunder during that stretch, and kept them within reach of the top of the standings. You could argue that Durant is the best scorer of all-time. He brings a lethal jump shot to the table, along with a seven-foot frame, making it impossible to block his shot. Durant also has added passing to his offensive arsenal and has kept his teammates much more involved than in years past. Durant averaged 31.9 PPG along with 7.7 RPG and 5.5 APG.

2nd) SF- Miami Heat- LeBron James- LeBron James is the best player in the NBA, you cannot argue with that, but this season he has not been the most consistent. James has relaxed this season after making three straight Finals appearances, but if the Heat want to reach the peak again James will need to step his game up again in the Playoffs. He brings everything a basketball player would ever dream of to the table, but he isn’t always willing to expend all of his energy during the regular season. James is an elite talent on the defensive end, and brings the court vision of Magic Johnson to the offensive end of the court. James averaged 27.1 PPG to go along with 6.4 APG and 6.9 RPG this season. James doesn’t need to waste all of his energy during the regular season. Once playoff time rolls around expect to see the full wrath of LeBron James.