2012-13 NBA Mid-Season Awards
Can any of us believe that the 2012-13 NBA season is at the All-Star break? With the festivities kicking off in Houston this weekend, I would like to take some time to look into some interesting storylines that have come up to this point.
Preseason predictions are always fun, but the 2012-13 season by far has been unpredictable but incredibly fun to watch at the same time.
With that said, here’s what we know so far and what can we expect to see who will meet in June to battle for the championship.
MVP: LeBron James (F, Miami Heat)
I originally was going to name Kevin Durant for the sole fact he’s having one of the best offensive seasons in his young career (50-40-90), but consider that LeBron James is playing even better than he was last year, he has my vote for another MVP title. James is playing out of his mind, in the last seven games he’s the only player in NBA history to score more than 30 points while shooting lights out 65% from the field. That’s insane. His 30 points on 11-15 shooting against Portland was masterful, James is a totally different species of a player and is the best basketball player on Earth.
Rookie of the Year: Damian Lillard (G, Portland Trail Blazers)
Without a shred of doubt (and not to sound too much like a homer), Damian Lillard is running away with R.O.Y. and there really isn’t any chance for Anthony Davis to catch up. He leads all rookies in mostly every stat line; scoring, three-pointers, assists, steals and field goal percentage. He’s keeping the Blazers, thought to be rummaging through the basement of the West, into near playoff contention at ninth place. There hasn’t been a game where Lillard looks like a rookie with big eyes, he’s a true professional and is gaining huge popularity between superstars and the nation.
Sixth Man of the Year: Jamal Crawford (G, Los Angeles Clippers)
Coming off a deep bench for the Clippers, Jamal Crawford can become a very streaky shooter, but he’s been hot all year, leading the team in scoring (16.6 PPG) off the bench. That’s what a sixth man is supposed to do, and that’s what should’ve played out for the Blazers last season.
Most Improved Player: Paul George (G, Indiana Pacers)
As leading scorer Danny Granger rehabs from knee injury, Paul George has taken over in his place as the main scoring option and has become the Pacers new leading man, making his first All-Star selection. The Pacers are benefitting from George as he’s seeing career-highs in points (17.6 up from 12 last season), assists (3.9 from 2.4), rebounds (7.6 from 5.6), three-point field goals (.387) and free throws (.813) to propel Indiana to a 32-21 record and third seed in the East.
Most Surprising Player: James Harden (G, Houston Rockets)
You could say this is M.I.P. redux but actually this is who has done better than I originally thought this season. This brings me to James Harden who was traded from the Thunder to the Rockets in exchange for Kevin Martin. I thought the trade would benefit both teams but Harden is taking his new role extremely well. Without Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook demanding the ball and taking the new role as star, Harden has had several games for the Rockets that he’s been absolutely on fire. His stat line has surged and has set numerous Houston records, including scoring 25 points for the 14th consecutive game in a loss against the New Orleans Hornets. The previous record? Originally held by Hall of Famer Moses Malone.
Most Disappointing: Dwight Howard (C, Los Angeles Lakers)
I’ll admit it; I love the unnecessary negative drama that keeps unfolding in Lakerland. Who really thought that an aging Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash would gel together nicely with Dwight Howard, who became a villain after the disaster leaving Orlando. He can become a free agent at the end of the season but is making little effort to show he wants to stay in Los Angeles. He’s been slow both on defense and offensively and half the time doesn’t look too interested in giving in his all and doesn’t fit well with Mike D’Antoni’s system. Add in the growing list of injuries from back surgery in the offseason and a lingering shoulder problem that left Bryant questioning his toughness. Coaching changes, possible altercations in the locker room and a dismal 25-28 record and 10th in the West isn’t helping the cause.
Best Team to Reach Finals (East): Miami Heat
To keep things short and sweet, I don’t believe anyone in the East can match the firepower that can take down the defending champions. We’ve seen what Miami has done to the Knicks and Pacers and with the Celtics crumbling before our eyes and Chicago still without Derrick Rose, LeBron James and company are still a mighty favorite to win it all.
Best Team to Reach Finals (West): Los Angeles Clippers
This is a tough one because the West is stocked with talent up top, there’s a three-way tie with San Antonio, Oklahoma City and the Los Angeles Clippers. I’m picking the Clippers not because my heart tells me so, but if they can get some good mojo going their way, I don’t see why not. The biggest key for the Clippers is for everyone to stay healthy, they finally got Grant Hill and Chauncey Billups back. I also believe they have the strongest supporting cast in the entire league, even more so than the Thunder. The second half of the season might change my mind and lean towards OKC, but for now, I’m going with the Clips.
photos courtesy of static3.businessinsider.com, blazers.com, 5thquartermag.com and menterests.com