The NBA: Awards Watch: 1st Edition

It has been an amazing first quarter of NBA games. There's been multiple buzzer-beaters already and a major trade involving Rudy Gay. The Pacers and Heat are dominating the East while the surprising Blazers lead the ultra competitive West.

It's time to examine which players have performed very well for the first 20-21 games of the 2013-2014 season. The Top 5 players in each individual award category are listed including those who narrowly missed out on the first edition of the rankings.

Statistics used are from games until December 9, 2013.

Follow me on Twitter: @rollzter

The Indiana Pacers have the best record in the league due to
the exemplary play of Paul George who is a MVP candidate 
1. Paul George, Indiana Pacers | Last Rank: N/A
PG24 is the best player on the best team in the league. He is Top 5 in scoring (24.8 ppg, up from 17.4 last year) and 8th in PER. His shooting numbers are career-highs including a very solid 41% from the arc. His perimeter defense was already good last season but he is much improved this year. Is it possible for a player to win back-to-back Most Improved awards because George can win that as well?

2. LeBron James, Miami Heat | Last Rank: N/A
After LBJ's 2nd MVP in 3 years, critics wondered what else can the best player in the NBA improve on? So far, James has further improved his shooting percentages across the board. He is averaging career-highs on FG (59%), FT (79%) and 3PT (46%) percentages. His ability to play all positions is still unique to just him and BTW, he is first in PER as usual.

3. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder | Last Rank: N/A
Kevin Durant is tops in scoring (again) and is over three points ahead than the second-placer (Anthony). Durant has scored over 30+ points nine times (OKC 7-2 in those games) which leads the league. His shooting numbers are a little below than what he averaged last year but still efficient enough to be among the Top 5 in PER. KD is doing more this year with better rebound and assist numbers (career-highs).

4. Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers | Last Rank: N/A
Chris Paul has 17 double-doubles in 20 games played and that's second in the league. CP3 is the only guard in the Top 18 in that category. His 12 assists per game is almost 3 more than the next guy. Defensively, Paul is still a terror on passing lanes with his 2.4 steals per game (3rd in NBA).

5. LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trailblazers | Last Rank: N/A
The Blazers are leading the West and LaMarcus Aldridge's impressive play is a major reason for that. LA is averaging 23 and 10 which are career-highs. He has 11 double-doubles (6th) and is currently on pace to break the 38 he had last year. Aldridge has quietly developed an unstoppable turnaround jumper in the post and his mid-range game is almost as good as Dirk Nowitzki.

Honorable Mentions: Kevin Love (T'wolves), James Harden (Rockets), Tony Parker (Spurs), Steph Curry (Warriors)

Michael Carter-Williams is first in steals per game.
He is also first in the ROY race after 20+ games.
(Image by: Getty Images)

1. Michael Carter-Williams, Philadelphia 76ers | Last Rank: N/A
MC-Dub won Rookie of the Month for the East and that was much deserved. He is 2nd in team scoring, 1st in assists and steals for the Sixers. He also leads the NBA in steals. In 15 games played, the Sixers are 6-9 with him while 1-5 without him. MCW leads all rookies in points, rebounds, assists and steals.

2. Victor Oladipo, Orlando Magic Last Rank: N/A
Oladipo is trailing MCW in points among rookies while placing among the top 3 in points and assists. Oladipo also has one career triple-double which happened in the same game where MCW had a trip-dub of his own and a win for the Sixers.

3. Ben McLemore, Sacramento Kings | Last Rank: N/A
McLemore has been a decent starter for the Kings (10 ppg) but his shooting numbers need a lot of improvement. He is well below 40% from the field and below 35% from deep.

4. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Detroit Pistons Last Rank: N/A
KCP has been elevated to a starter role with the injuries to Billips, Bynum and Stuckey to start the season for the Pistons. His numbers are worse than McLemore but his defense is a lot better.

5. Nate Wolters, Milwaukee Bucks Last Rank: N/A
Wolters did a solid job filling-in for the Bucks early in the year when Ridnour and Knight were both injured. His numbers and minutes are down with the others back playing.

Honorable Mentions: None right now from a very weak draft class.

Isaiah Thomas does not start games but he certainly finishes them
Sixth Man

1. Isaiah Thomas, Sacramento Kings Last Rank: N/A
Thomas leads all bench players in points and is among the Top 3 in points scored during the 4th quarter. The recent trade of Grievis Vasquez might move him to a starter role very soon and thus, make him lose this award.

2. Jamal Crawford, LA Clippers Last Rank: N/A
Crawford is 2nd to Thomas in points off the bench. With the injuries to Matt Barnes and JJ Redick, Crawford is starting to get hot and play more consistently. He has scored in double digits in 6 straight games.

3. Rodney Stuckey, Detroit Pistons Last Rank: N/A
Stuckey is 2nd in scoring with the Pistons and leads all Eastern reserves in points off the bench. He is shooting career-highs from 3PTs and from the field.

4. Jeremy Lin, Houston Rockets Last Rank: N/A
Jeremy Lin was demoted to the bench due to Patrick Beverley playing better to start the season. Lin responded by averaging 15 points to go along with 50% shooting (both career-highs).

5. Michael Beasley, Miami Heat Last Rank: N/A
Beasley is only scoring 11 a game but his efficiency has been amazing. He is shooting 55% from the field in only 18 minutes of play. The best parts of his improved play are his willingness to play defense and team ball.

Honorable Mentions: Nick Young (Lakers), Manu Ginobili (Spurs), Reggie Jackson (Thunder)

The Suns have stayed competitive in the West due to Eric Bledsoe's leadership

Most Improved Player

1. Eric Bledsoe, Phoenix Suns Last Rank: N/A
Bledsoe has only played 14 games so far and the Suns are 8-6 in games he played. He has been the main reason why the Suns are close to a playoff berth early in the season. Bledsoe's role as a starter has resulted in career-highs in minutes, points, rebounds and assists.

2. Isaiah Thomas, Sacramento Kings Last Rank: N/A
Thomas is 2nd to DMC in team scoring but he often acts as the team's leader especially during clutch moments of the game. He has been explosive in fourth quarters including scoring 21 of 26 in the 4th against the Thunder in a losing effort.

3. Derrick Favors, Utah Jazz Last Rank: N/A
The Jazz are headed for the lottery and are definitely tanking. One bright spot for them has been the development of Favors who is averaging 13.4 points and 9.5 rebounds as a starter. He already has 8 double-doubles after getting just 9 last season (13 is his career-high).

4. Spencer Hawes, Philadelphia 76ers Last Rank: N/A
Hawes has improved his scoring, passing, rebounding and blocking which are all career-highs. He is also making a solid rate from behind the arc (35 of 80, 44%). He has thee games with 20-10 numbers and is in the Top 10 in double-doubles.

5. Paul George, Indiana Pacers Last Rank: N/A
If it is possible to win back-to-back MIP awards, then George should be a viable candidate to repeat. PG24 is scoring more than 7 points from last year and his shooting numbers are much improved.

Honorable Mentions: Trevor Ariza (Wizards), Reggie Jackson (Thunder), DeJuan Blair (Mavs)

Roy Hibbert said he wanted to win DPOY.
He is currently on pace to do so. 

Defensive Player of the Year

1. Roy Hibbert, Indiana Pacers Last Rank: N/A
Hibbert is 2nd in blocks and patrolling the paint for the NBA's best defensive team. He anchors their defense and alters numerous shots. His presence allows their perimeter guys to defend extra aggressive and gamble for steals since Hibbert will be waiting in the paint to help on defense.

2. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans Last Rank: N/A
The Unibrow leads the NBA in blocks and is in the Top 10 in rebounding. He had a dominating stretch of 17 total blocks in two games. Davis has outplayed notable big men like the Gasol brothers and Roy Hibbert in head-to-head match-ups.

3. LeBron James, Miami Heat Last Rank: N/A
LBJ can shutdown any perimeter player if needed. James has not allowed an opposing perimeter player score more than him since Evan Turner had 26 to his 25 points in the 2nd game of the season for Miami.

4. Paul George, Indiana Pacers Last Rank: N/A
George has been playing excellent basketball lately that he seems to be a realistic candidate in most awards. PG24 has elevated his defense all-season long with his versatility in defending all three perimeter positions.

5. Dwight Howard, Houston Rockets Last Rank: N/A
Howard is 4th in rebounding but just 11th in blocks. He is also 5th in double-doubles including having 5 games with at least 18 boards. The Rockets are starting to become a better team defensively (22nd).

Honorable Mentions: Chris Paul (Clippers), Serge Ibaka (Thunder), Tony Allen (Grizzlies)

Next Post »
0 Comment