OpinionApril 20, 2006

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2006 NBA Awards Preview

By Adam Rizzo

Well, it is just about playoff time in the NBA and someone has to hand out the hardware, so I took it upon myself to play the spoiler. Check out who won, or should have won, these prestigious awards last year. Now on to the awards for the 2005-2006 NBA season.

Most Valuable Player Award

1) Kobe Bryant – Kobe Bryant has taken his game to another level this year and has carried the Lakers franchise on his back, leading them back to the playoffs. Kobe will be only the fourth player in NBA history to average 35 or more points in a full NBA season, including an 81-point performance against Toronto on January 22nd. It’s almost scary to believe what this team could be capable of if the Lakers actually gave Kobe a supporting cast.

2) Steve Nash – Nash would be well deserving of another MVP award this season if it weren’t for Kobe’s historic scoring pace. Nash once again led the league in assists with 10.4 per game to go along with 19 points per game. As if his performance last season of lifting the Suns from the bottom of the Pacific to #1 seed in the West wasn’t impressive enough, he has kept the Suns as the #2 seed this season without Amare Stoudemire, Joe Johnson, and Quentin Richardson. Steve Nash is the epitome of teammate.

3) Lebron James – It is scary to think that Lebron James is only 21 years old and seeing him as a top candidate for MVP. One of only three players in the league averaging 13 points, six rebounds, and six assists (James being the most impressive with 31.4/7.0/6.6), he has finally catapulted the Cleveland Cavaliers into the playoffs in his third season in the league. It is hard to believe that there could possibly still be some upside and potential to his game, making him a legit MVP candidate for many years to come.

Honorable Mention – Elton Brand

Rookie of the Year Award

1) Chris Paul – Many predicted Paul would win this award at the beginning of the season, but could we have imagined that it would have been this clear-cut? Paul has brought the Hornets from laughing stock of the NBA to playoff contender in just one season. Averaging 16.2 points, 7.8 assists, and 2.2 steals per game (tops in the NBA for rookies in all three categories), Paul has impressed from day one. I wonder how the Jazz feel about moving up to select Deron Williams instead of Chris Paul?

2) Charlie Villanueva – “With the seventh pick of the 2005 NBA Draft, the Toronto Raptors select Charlie Villanueva from the University of Connecticut.” I’m sure nobody expected those words to come from David Stern’s mouth, but it looks to be a great pick for the Raptors. Villanueva played in all but one game this season, starting the final 36, and showed great promise and potential to be a great building block with Chris Bosh. What makes Villanueva a great asset is his versatility, being able to step out and knock down the three-ball at 6′11″.

3) Raymond Felton – Many thought that Felton would not have much impact this season playing behind veteran PG Brevin Knight, but Felton is a winner and always finds his way on to the court. Starting 54 games this season, Felton has really come on as of late and filled in great when Knight has missed a game. His 5.5 assists and 1.25 steals rank second amongst rookies, trailing only Chris Paul. After a championship-caliber collegiate career at Chapel Hill, Felton looks to be a franchise PG for Charlotte’s future.

Honorable Mention – Andrew Bogut

Most Improved Player Award

1) Boris Diaw – A Cafe favorite, Boris Diaw is the Jack-of-all-trades. After averaging four points, two rebounds and two assists for the lowly Atlanta Hawks last season, Diaw has found a home in Phoenix and flourished. Along with Lebron James and Jason Kidd, Diaw averaged over 13 points, six rebounds and six assists, also recorded four triple-doubles, good for third in the league (behind only James and Kidd). Although there is much speculation on whether he will provide this production with Amare healthy for an entire season, Diaw will find his way on to the court as he can play all five positions.

2) David West – David West exploded onto the scene in his third season with the Hornets. After only playing 30 games last year, averaging 18 minutes per, West has appeared in 74 this season, starting in each and every one. He has also nearly tripled his scoring output from last season, jumping from 6.2 points to 17.1 with a 51.2 FG%. West looks to be a nice big man to compliment Chris Paul and should play a big part in getting the Hornets back into the playoffs.

All-NBA First Team

PG – Steve Nash
SG – Kobe Bryant
SF – Lebron James
PF – Elton Brand
C – Marcus Camby

All-NBA Second Team
PG – Jason Kidd
SG – Ray Allen
SF – Shawn Marion
PF – Dirk Nowitzki
C – Yao Ming

All-NBA Third Team
PG – Gilbert Arenas
SG – Paul Pierce
SF – Vince Carter
PF – Tim Duncan
C – Ben Wallace

Adam Rizzo is a moderator in the Cafe’s forums, where he has been posting since 2004.

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