Last week I called the Coach of the Year award stupid. The problem with it is no voters really have time to investigate all the stuff a coach does—especially when most of a coach’s work goes on behind the scenes.
Well, I have a suggestion. The NBA should assign 30 voters for all the end of the year awards, 1 for each team. These guys get media access, and their job during the season is to identify everything the players and coaches are doing to warrant one of the awards. Then they write up a series of arguments for that team’s MVP, coach, 6th man, ROY, etc. Even better, the arguments should be posted on blogs or something like that. Then, these 30 people who spent all their time investigating what really makes an MVP, what a coach does to make the team work, etc.—these 30 guys go through all the info, and vote for who deserves it.
Would the wrong guys still get the awards? Sometimes. But at least the decision would be informed.
So anyway, I nomitate myself as an award Dude for the Jazz. Here’s their cases:
1. MVP: Deron Williams
picture via www.deseretnews.com
Nobody in the league matters more to his team and more to his fans than the Ninja. Some matter as much, but nobody more. How good is he? Jerry Sloan (yes, that Jerry Sloan) lets Deron freelance, do the behind-the-back passes and dribbles, and razzle-dazzle the fans into pandemonium.
Deron shoots well from everywhere, goes into "I’m taking over" mode at the right time (even if he falls up short at times*), yet doesn’t dominate the ball. He plays more without the ball and lets his teammates do their thing than any other star in the league. His teammates love playing with him and love hanging with him. He’s thrown birthday parties for scrubs and invited fans to come too.
There is no coaching system or set of teammates that would make Deron’s numbers go down, and dozens that would make his numbers go up. Though we won’t complain, because we’re talking about coaches who don’t know what to do except give the ball to their best player and hope something good happens.
He’s not perfect. He gets too many turnovers, forces at least 2 passes a game, and at least one fancy pass/dribble will go very, very wrong each game. He gets lit up by opponents who SHOULDN’T be lighting him up (George Hill, Johnny Flynn, Darren Collison, Ty Lawson, Derek Fisher, etc.). And while 80% FT shooting is decent, he sure bricks a lot more than he should. And when he gets sullen and frustrated, his play noticeably deteriorates—see his 5 games after the Ronnie B. trade for an example.
But hey, everyone has flaws. Even LeBron.
Despite the flaws, Deron’s been spectacular. He’s got the razzle-dazzle, he’s got the team-play, he’s got the fearlessness. The only reason he’s not in the top five of every MVP ballot in the universe is because people don’t watch him enough, so they believe all this idiotic crap that gets rehashed by people who don’t watch him play: Boozer’s just as important to the team’s success (buzz, wrong: AK’s most important after Deron), Deron just happens to fit well with Sloan’s controlled system, Deron’s big and crisp but not spectacular.
Bullcrap. Deron’s NINJA. He’s the most spectacular Jazzman I’ve ever watched. Jerry’s letting the guy freelance and do his Ninja thing.
So here’s the real question: Deron’s the team MVP, but how seriously should voters consider him for the league MVP?
I’d take LeBron this season over Deron. I’m not stupid.
I’d think long and hard about Kobe, Dwight Howard, or Deron. Kobe can do more, but every contribution gets negated a bit by his team poison. Dwight Howard’s really limited offensively, but is a beast on D in the paint. Watching Boozer and Memo makes me appreciate that sooooooooooo much more. A defensive beast in the paint is worth 3 offensive beasts in the paint.
But Deron’s Ninja.
Aw, hell I’ll say it: Lakers would be better this year trading Kobe straight up for Deron, and the Jazz would be worse (think about the damage Lamar and Pau would do with Ninja feeding them, rather than Kobe when the mood strikes him). Can’t tell who’d be better if Dwight and Deron were traded straight up—their positions and contributions are too different.
That puts the Ninja tied for 2nd with Dwight Howard.
I say Deron’s been better this year than the other guys everyone talks about: Melo, Brandon Roy, Dirk, Durant (his plays been overrated and underrated at the same time—I don’t know how he’s accomplished this), Duncan, Nash, etc., etc., etc.
And that means yes: this year I’d take Deron over Wade. Watch the Ninja play, and you’ll understand.
Ideal MVP ranking: 2-3
What will actually happen: 7-10
All because the voters don’t see what Deron Williams does night-in and night-out.
* By the way, Kobe doesn't get nearly enough crap for how often he's failed when trying to take over. Yeah, he's hit some awesome big shots, including a lot this year, but that's because he turns into an I'M THE MAN, EVERONE ELSE BOW TO ME yutz every freaking game.
In the same vein, Kobe was terrible during last year's finals. Remember games 3 & 4, when Kobe shot 30%, but still took 30 shots per game? Do you know who shot 80% over the same time? Pau Gasol. He got 12 shots per game. When Derek Fisher shoots 80% you reward him with a dozen shots per game. When it's Pau freaking Gasol, he ought to be putting up 25-30 shots. Seriously, Pau owned Dwight Howard. The Lakers won inspite of Kobe, not because of him.
And people say Kobe learned how to be a good teammate. What BS.
2. 6th Man: Paul Millsap
picture via spokenword.kall700sports.com
This is a weird award. It’s there to give some recognition to the guys who give up personal stuff for the good of the team (playing time, starting, touches, shots, etc.). Yet, it often goes to someone who happens to come off the bench, but doesn’t actually give up much of anything else. How many shots and minutes did Jason Terry give up last year? None. Yeah, he came off the bench, but … I don’t know. He didn’t seem like the 6th guy on the Mavs. He was more like their 2nd or 3rd.
Back to Millsap.
He scores double figures, gets rebounds, gets steals, leads the team in blocks—all while getting screwed by the refs night in and night out. How many times have we heard this: "Millsap gets hit in the head, but no foul called"? But here’s the most telling thing: he gave up his starting spot and minutes for Boozer, Memo, and AK. He gave up his role in the offense (from a primary dude when he starts, to a scrapper and hustle guy off the bench). What’s he like as a starter? 38 minutes, 17 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, 1 steal. The dude’s a freaking All-Star when starting, and he WILLINGLY gave all that up to be a hustle guy off the bench.
The Jazz heirarchy (not going by who’s good, but by who the team focuses on) goes like this: 1. Deron, 2. AK (he doesn’t score like Boozer, but I watched the team this year—AK was the 2nd guy), 3. Boozer, 4. Memo, 5. The three-headed-monster called CJ-KK-OMSW, 6. Millsap. He’s been relegated to that role because it best fit the team this year, and he’s willingly done it, done it masterfully, and without 1 complaint all year—even though his skill set could make him the 2nd or 3rd guy on the team.
That, ladies and gents, is what 6th man is all about.
So how seriously should Millsap be considered for the League’s 6th man award?
I won’t argue with Jamal Crawford, he’s a legit 6th man who has done wonders for the Hawks. And I really like how much Varejao is getting talked about. It shows how much people are watching the Cav’s, at least, and see what he means to the team outside of the box score.
Who else deserves to be there?
J.R. Smith. Lamar Odom. JJ Reddick. Probably some others, but I don’t watch enough of their teams to judge how important their contributions are. Actually, I'd love to know who else deserves it and why. I'd really love it if the NBA did their awards like I suggest--I'd read what the 30 official award dudes write about every freaking team. I'd love it.
(The Jet doesn’t count — the Mavs revolve around 3 guys: Dirk, Kidd, and the Jet. I don’t care if he comes off the bench, he’s not a 6th man. Shawn Marion is much more their 6th man.)
I’d put Paul right there. Maybe not THE 6th man of the year, but I’d say top 5.
And of course, nobody’s going to vote for him.
3. Rookie of the Year: Wesley Matthews
picture via cdn1.sbnation.com
We all know who this will go to: a rookie on a crappy team with big stats.
Really, what’s been more impressive: Tyreke’s 20 and 5 and 5 or that OMSW’s on the verge of double figure points, starting on a top-5ish team and been one of the Jazz best defensive players (by far), completely won the trust of both Deron and Coach Sloan, and made everyone eventually okay with the Ronnie B. trade?
Honestly, I don’t know. On one hand, it’s hard to be THE MAN (even on a crappy team) and score 20 night after night after night. It’s easier to be the 8th option and move up to the fourth or fifth. On the other hand, has Tyreke ever totally shut down Kobe? Does Tyreke’s 20-5-5 matter at all to the league this year? I’ll tell you what, Wesley’s 20-3-3 against the Hornets had a huge impact on the whole league.
Still, Tyreke’s role is a lot harder than Wesley’s. So has Stephen Curry’s. They’ve done really well. The Jazz traded Ronnie B. because OMSW has been that good. The Kings traded Kevin Martin because Tyreke’s been that good. Warriors have debated trading Monta Ellis, because Curry’s been that good. There is a difference.
So no, Wesley Matthews probably shouldn’t be the ROY. He probably shouldn’t be in the top-5 talk. But he should get a lot more recognition than he’s getting. Because he’s the main head of the CJ-KK-OMSW monster the Jazz have, and I have a feeling that he’s worth anointing him the Jazz 2-guard of the future.
4. Coach of the Year: Jerry Sloan (I know, I know: you're all wondering "Not Ty Corbin?" ~_^).
picture via nba4ever.unblog.fr
I already laid out my argument for him. Then I defended him when people freaked out over last week's Lakers game. My opinion is the same. I believe it’s been one of his best coaching years ever. He’s let Deron and AK run free. He’s trusted OMSW. He’s made the Boozer-Millsap headache work without any headaches. He’s made good decisions, both in-game and out-of-game.
Only down side, he was just as mediocre as the rest of the team during their 19-17 9th place in the West first 2 months.
Still, since then he’s been magnificent. Especially if you remember: Deron wouldn’t be the player he is today without Sloan’s coaching the past 4 years.
Just like Memo wouldn't be ... well ... uh ... I got it ... pretty good last year without Sloan’s coaching, either. Kachow!
Sloan should be at the top of EVERY coach of the year discussion. So, of course, he isn’t except as a worthy afterthought.
5. Defensive Player of the Year: AK-47
picture via cdn1.sbnation.com
I debated between AK and Wesley. I even pondered Deron and Millsap a bit.
But here’s what got me: AK’s defense completely transforms the team. Even with OMSW shutting down Kobe, the Lakers could spank the Jazz because Boozer and Memo are so weak in the front court. AK’s presence changes everything. Jazz are a top-5ish defensive team with AK. They’re mediocre without.
AK doesn’t get the blocks and steals he used to, but the crazy thing is he’s better defensively than he was back in the day. And his defense affects the Jazz more now than ever before. His hustle play disrupts opponents more than ever.
So should AK be considered a legitimate candidate for the league’s Defensive Player? If AK could just play a whole season I’d say yes. But he hasn’t.
So let Dwight take the award again.
But if AK plays like this next year, and if his back and calves and hamstrings don’t betray him, look out. I’ll be throwing a hissy fit every time his impact gets overlooked by the rest of the league.
6. Most Improved Player: CJ or Millsap. I can’t decide.
picture via www.jazzbots.com
CJ would be the hands-down winner if Smart CJ showed up every game. Sadly, he doesn’t. He does more than ever, but I can’t ignore all those awful "I hate CJ Miles" rants his play deserved.
Millsap’s jumper seems better than ever before. He seems to have better post moves than ever before. But it’s hard to say, because he’s been relegated to a secondary role. But watch out when he starts next year. I just have this feeling about him.
Do either warrant discussion on the league-wide level?
No. But watch out for Millsap and OMSW next year. We may be in store for some holy hell from those two.
7. Executive of the Year: Wesley Matthews.
picture via cdn2.sbnation.com
He decided he was going to make the team when he first showed up at Fall Camp. He made the Ronnie B. trade bearable. He made the Eric Maynor trade bearable (well, at least we still have our best rookie). And he did this all while making the league-minimum pay.
Isn’t that the hallmark of Executive of the Year? Maximum results for minimum expense, all while making sure the trades work out best for the team.
Congratulations Wesley Matthews, Utah Jazz Executive of the Year.
And congratulations to OMSW for being the only Jazzman to win two team awards.
And on a final note, the KOOF for president: 2012. Plus the V worship him as their god.
P.S. The KOOF lost his Dancer of the Year award to Fess. I know KOOF had an epic performance at the preseason open scrimmage. But 1 great show can't outdo the game-after-game performances by Fess during the timeouts. It's the consistency that matters, KOOF. It's the consistency.
P.P.S. Thanks again to Alexandria VA for the awesome OMSW and AK photos.