Welcome to NBA Awards Watch, where we cover the potential winners for each award throughout the NBA season. Now that the regular season is over, we have a complete list of the 2012-13 regular season award winners. Did the voters get it right?
LeBron James, Miami Heat
The only question here is how did Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe vote for Carmelo Anthony instead of James? There’s no doubt that James is the best player on the best team. Doesn’t that also mean he’s the most valuable? He deserved to be unanimous, but it just wasn’t meant to be. Look at those shooting percentages and realize that the early knock on James was that he couldn’t shoot. So much for that.
Rookie of the Year
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
There’s no real argument against Lillard for the award, but the forecast for his future is a bit cloudy. He was tremendous in spots and spotty in others, which is to be expected for a rookie. Will he end up being a stat-stuffer on poor teams or is he the real deal? That is the $1 million question.
Defensive Player of the Year
Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies
In one of the strange-but-true stories of NBA voting, Gasol won the Defensive Player of the Year award without making the All-Defensive First Team. This happens because NBA personnel vote for the All-Defensive teams while the media votes for the DPOY. Still, Gasol deserves some kudos. He lowered his defensive rating to a stout 98 this season, which is the lowest of his career. The Grizzlies are known as one of the best defensive teams in the league and Gasol is a major cog in that machine.
Sixth Man of the Year
J.R. Smith, New York Knicks
Smith stepped up huge when the Knicks were dealing with injuries during the 2012-13 season. He played 80 games and put up a respectable 17.6 PER. Still, his tattoo “My Time To Shine” must not refer to the playoffs, where he shot just 33.1 percent from the field. Smith is the ultimate gunslinger, where he’ll shoot his team into (and out of) a lot of games. He’s also underrated as a defender, when motivated.
Most Improved Player
Paul George, Indiana Pacers
If there’s a player that deserves to be labeled the next superstar, it’s George. He has the physical tools to be a dominant force (6’8″, 221 pounds). What we’re all waiting on is his mind to catch up. When he’s confident, he looks like he’ll win an MVP award. Then, he falls into a funk that just can’t be described. In Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, he looked much more like the heir apparent to LeBron James’ throne.
J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award
Kenneth Faried, Denver Nuggets
The J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award is for players who show “outstanding service and dedication to the community.” Faried wins this award, given by members of the Professional Basketball Writers Association, because of the work he does in many different communities. As a Muslim and a supporter of LGBT issues, Faried has had to withstand plenty of difficulties in his own life. It’s no surprise he takes such joy in giving back.
Executive of the Year
Masai Ujiri, Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets made a lot of excellent moves this season, a season in which they finished 57-25, their best mark since they’ve been in the NBA (they were 60-24 in 1975-76, their final ABA season). Ujiri spearheaded the trade for Andre Iguodala and the re-signings of JaVale McGee and Andre Miller. Instead of focusing on one superstar, Ujiri put together a team, the third-youngest in the NBA, which will be one of the most fearsome in the Western Conference for years to come.
Jason Kidd, New York Knicks
The easy joke would be that Kidd is such a great sport, that he didn’t want to make any shots during the playoffs to upset the other team. In reality, Kidd deserves this award for the camaraderie he shows with other players on the court. He’s the elder statesman of the NBA, so it makes sense that he’d be a lot more calm at this point in his career. Aside from an off-court incident before the season began, Kidd has been a consummate professional this year.
Coach of the Year
George Karl, Denver Nuggets
The video says it all. Karl understands coaching and what it puts his family through.
All NBA Team
The first name that sticks out as missing is Stephen Curry. Still, could he knock Paul, Parker or Westbrook off this list? Probably not. There just aren’t enough spots considering there are only six guard positions available on the list. He’ll be there sooner rather than later.
All NBA Defensive Team
The reason there are six names on the first team is because of a tie. It’s nice that the NBA decided to give out one extra award because of this. Otherwise, the Defensive Player of the Year could have been left off the All-Defensive team. That would have been something.
All Rookie Team
Out of the top 10, only Thomas Robinson (No. 5 overall), Terrence Ross (No. 8) and Austin Rivers (No. 10) missed out on these teams. If Drummond could have stayed healthy, he could have snuck his way onto the first team. Then again, if Davis were healthy all year he could have won Rookie of the Year.