We are coming to the end of the 2004-05 NBA Basketball season, and it is nearly time to hand out the yearly awards. Let’s see who the front-runners for each award are.
NBA MVP Award
1) Steve Nash – This man, although Suns fans would call him more than just a man, has taken the Phoenix Suns to a whole new level. They went from 13th out of 14 teams in the Western Conference last year (14 games out of the playoffs) to first in the West with 51 wins and 15 games remaining. Sixty wins is not out of the question for this club, and Steve Nash is the catalyst that makes this machine go. Leading the league with 11.5 assists a game, pouring in 15.9 points a game and shooting at a 50% clip, Steve Nash is looking like the complete player this year.
2) Tim Duncan – Although he has had many nagging injuries this year, capped off with a sprained ankle to end his regular season, Tim Duncan has led his team to another top record in the Western Conference. Some try to say that his team is too good to consider Tim Duncan the best player in the league, but the critics will see how effective the Spurs really are without him for the last 15 games, and hopefully that will quiet the crowd. His numbers may be down this season, but that is because Gregg Popovich limited Duncan’s minutes in order to keep him fresh for the playoffs.
3) Shaquille O’Neal – We all knew that he was the most dominant force in the league. We all knew that the Lakers could not get equal value for him. But did we all know that he would lift the Miami franchise to championship caliber? He has also lifted Dwyane Wade from rookie sensation to one of the best guards in the league. He has even made someone like Udonis Haslem a double-double threat, and has given Eddie Jones the open looks he used to see when he was Shaq’s teammate in Los Angeles.
4) LeBron James – Rookie of the Year at age 19. First All-Star appearance at age 20. First MVP trophy at age 20? Let’s not go that far. Lebron James is one of two players in the league averaging 25 points, five rebounds and five assists (Dwyane Wade being the other), and has lead the lowly Cavaliers back to the playoffs for the first time in years. People are comparing him to Jordan and Magic. Paul Silas wanted him to be like Jordan and score, but we know this kid is a gifted passer and can make players around him better. If the Cavaliers could acquire a top-tier three-point shooter in the offseason, Lebron and the Cavs could be threatening 50 wins next year, which would leave little question that he could be the front-runner for MVP.
Rookie of the Year Award
1) Emeka Okafor – Emeka Okafor carried UConn to a National Title last year. Then he was drafted by the expansion Charlotte Bobcats, who do not have the word “title” anywhere near their name. Okafor has been very consistent all year long, breaking Shaquille O’Neal’s rookie record for consecutive double-doubles with 19 in a row. You knew what you were getting from him all year long, and some nights you would get the occasional three blocks a game. Okafor will be a cornerstone to build around for years, and he should be named Rookie of the Year.
2) Dwight Howard – In a draft day surprise, the Orlando Magic selected Dwight Howard first overall, leaving Okafor for the taking for Charlotte. Mark Jackson on ESPN says Dwight Howard is the Rookie of the Year because he is putting up numbers similar to Okafor, but on a playoff basketball team. I’m not exactly sold on Orlando in the playoffs just yet. Also, Howard has not been too consistent. He would have his montser 20-point, 20-rebound nights, but then could easily follow that up with a four-point, six-rebound performance. If he is on a better team, he should be able to have a little more consistency with the defense keying on other players.
3) Ben Gordon – Ben “Air” Gordon is being called the next Jordan in Chicago. He started only the first three games of the season and was then sent to the bench to be a spark to help a sputtering offense. He has dropped in 20+ points off the bench 19 times this season, and if my memory serves me correctly, the record is 20. But one downfall of Gordon’s game is that he scores, and that is it. Sure he will be in the NBA for 10+ years, but will never reach superstar status with points alone. He reminds me of a young Rip Hamilton: UConn alumnus, National Champion, great scorer. Nothing wrong with that.
All-NBA First Team:
PG – Steve Nash
SG – Kobe Bryant
SF – Lebron James
PF – Tim Duncan
C – Shaquille O’Neal
All-NBA Second Team:
PG – Allen Iverson
SG – Ray Allen
SF – Shawn Marion
PF – Kevin Garnett
C – Amare Stoudemire
All-NBA Third Team:
PG – Jason Kidd
SG – Dwyane Wade
SF – Tracy McGrady
PF – Dirk Nowitzki
C – Yao Ming
A student at UMass Amherst, Adam Rizzo has enjoyed the game of basketball since he was just six years old, and played for four years at Revere High School. You can catch him posting in the Cafe’s Forums as rhs_rizzo.
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