The Inaugural Baller Awards: The NBA Edition

Our inaugural Baller Awards will now turn to the best basketball in the world – the NBA. 2013 was a really interesting year for NBA basketball, mainly because of several things: Miami won its second straight title, Dwightmare moved from LA to Houston, the Cavs made yet another bone-headed move by picking that Bennett kid at #1, and, well, Derrick Rose returned and then got injured again. Sigh.

The guys whom we’ll feature here are those who did really well in the Association this past year, though we will also take a look at how they may have fared in other fields like the FIBA Subzone tournaments. Were these players able to lead their teams to new heights? What milestones did they or their teams achieve? What kind of mark did they leave on the NBA as a whole in 2013?

What award will Tony Parker get in our inaugural Baller Awards?
(image by Jeff Chiu/AP)

And the BALLERS go to…

The Best NBA Point Guard of 2013:
TONY PARKER – San Antonio Spurs and Team France
Sure, Chris Paul is the better shooter and the better playmaker. Sure, Chris Paul has more highlight reels and has better numbers. Chris Paul, however, also didn’t win the West in 2013. He wasn’t one defensive stop away from the NBA title, and he didn’t win the Eurobasket. Tony Parker, despite being a little less, um, “marketable,” did all those things this past year. The fiery Frenchman is our PG of ’13.

Other nominees:
Russell Westbrook (OKC), Chris Paul (LAC), Kyrie Irving (CLE), Steph Curry (GSW)

The Best NBA Shooting Guard of 2013:
JAMES HARDEN – Houston Rockets
Remember when D-Wade got pissed because of KD’s tweet about Harden being more deserving of being one of the ten best NBA players right now? I’ve got a theory – Wade got pissed because deep inside he knows it’s true. He knows that, from this point moving forward, the best SG in Earth is not named Kobe or Wade. James Harden, beybeh. Fear his beard.

Other nominees:
Dwyane Wade (MIA), Kobe Bryant (LAL), Klay Thompson (GSW), JR Smith (NYK)

The Best NBA Small Forward of 2013:
Armed with his second O’Brien, LBJ really is the undisputed King of the basketball world right now. He’s living the dream he should have lived in Cleveland, and he doesn’t care if you hate ‘em for it. One day, like all villains, he’ll get his due, but, at least for now, he has his day. Oh, and, should projections hold true, James is set to surpass Michael Jordan’s PER at the end of the current season.

Other nominees:
Kevin Durant (OKC), Carmelo Anthony (NYK), Josh Smith (ATL), Paul George (IND)

The Best NBA Power Forward of 2013:
LAMARCUS ALDRIDGE – Portland Trailblazers
Yes, it sucked that Aldridge and his Blazers missed the Playoff bus for the second season in a row, but nobody can really lay the blame on the Dallas native, right? Aldridge was a legit 20-10 threat in 2012-2013, and, well, he’s basically making a mockery of opposing defenses on a nightly basis in the current season. He strikes me as a feistier, more athletic version of Dirk Nowitzki (not as good from beyond the arc, but just as good from 15-20 feet out), and since he’s in his late 20s, we should expect him to reach his prime right about… now.

Other nominees:
David Lee (GSW), Blake Griffin (LAC), Zach Randolph (MEM), David West (IND)

The Best NBA Center of 2013:
TIM DUNCAN – San Antonio Spurs
Some will argue that TD is more of a PF. Well, yes, perhaps, but in 2013 he actually played as a center more often than he did at the 4 spot. The result? Well, ALMOST another NBA title. Who knows what would’ve happened if he wasn’t taken out in the last 30 seconds of regulation in Game 6, right? TD was just awesome in 2013, averaging 18 and 10 plus 3 blocks per game in the regular season and doing about the same in the postseason. Oh, and he’s also about to turn 38 in April. Effin’ crazy.

Other nominees:
Dwight Howard (LAL-HOU), Al Horford (ATL), Roy Hibbert (IND), Brook Lopez (BKN)

TD was one stop away from his fifth NBA ring.
(image by Eric Gay/AP)

The Best NBA Coach of 2013:
Look at all the other “super” teams in the league – New York, Brooklyn, and the Clippers should come to mind – and try to see where they are right now. Both NYC teams are outside of the East’s top eight, while the Clips are not exactly the most feared squad on the planet. Miami, however, remains a constant beast of a team. Despite all the talent and all the egos (and crazy personalities – Beasley, Birdman, Lewis) that are on this team, the Heat have found a way to win. Credit that to coach Spo, who seems to be the perfect kind of coach for a team so loaded in every possible way.

Other nominees:
Frank Vogel (IND), Gregg Popovich (SAS), Mark Jackson (GSW), George Karl (DEN)

The Best NBA Foreign Player of 2013:
TONY PARKER – San Antonio Spurs and Team France
TP9 could have pocketed two major titles in 2013, but being second in the NBA and champs of Europe is enough to make him our Best Foreign Player anyway. He normed around 20 points, 7 assists, and 1 steal in ’12-’13 for the Spurs, and then followed that up by averaging 19 points, 3 assists, and shooting 57% from the field for France in Eurobasket 2013. The French went on to win 8 of their 11 games, including wins over powerhouse teams like defending champion Spain and second round tormentor Lithuania, on their way to their first ever Eurobasket crown.

Other nominees:
Dirk Nowitzki (DAL), Al Horford (ATL), Luol Deng (CHI), Nikola Pekovic (MIN)

The NBA Breakthrough Player for 2013:
JAMES HARDEN – Houston Rockets
Following his best season in OKC (2011-2012), Harden surprised a lot of people by jumping ship and moving to Houston. As the Rockets’ leader in 2012-2013, Harden blossomed not just into an All-Star or Superstar, but into the best shooting guard in the world. He upped his scoring by nearly 10 points, and averaged career-highs pretty much in every other stat-cat. He really broke through, and broke free – from being #3 in OKC to top dawg in Houston. Wow.

Other nominees:
Al Horford (ATL), Steph Curry (GSW), Brook Lopez (BKN), Jrue Holiday (PHI-NOP)

James Harden blossomed in his new team last year.
(image by Bob Levey/AP)

The Best NBA Newcomer of 2013:
DAMIAN LILLARD – Portland Trail Blazers
Kinda wanted to give this one to Anthony Davis, but Lillard won ROY in ’12-’13 and, well, he is having a superbly sensational ’13-’14 season, too. His Blazers have morphed into one of this season’s elite teams, and Lillard has hit a slew of game-winners to boot! Davis continues to be a phenomenal big man, but Lillard has the potential to be this year’s best PG.  

Other nominees:
Anthony Davis (NOP), Bradley Beal (WAS), Dion Waiters (CLE), Andre Drummond (DET)

The NBA Player of the Year for 2013:
Yes, it’s still him. James takes the cake by leading Miami to a repeat and becoming the MVP yet again. Whether we like it or not, he’s just the best all-around baller in the universe right now, and, at 29 years old, he might still get better. Three-peat for the most hated player and team in the league? Just might be.

Other nominees:
Tim Duncan (SAS), LaMarcus Aldridge (POR), James Harden (HOU), Tony Parker (SAS)

Yes, LBJ is still the best out there.
(image by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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