The NBA: Awards Watch: 2nd Edition

So, the NBA schedule has reached the halfway mark of the season. Most teams have played 41 games already and the stretch run is about to begin. Some players have made their season debuts (Rajon Rondo, Greg Oden, Devin Harris) while others came back from injuries (Marc Gasol, Deron Williams). Still, the game is missing superstars from the West who have yet to return (Kobe, Russell).

Anyway, it's time to examine which players have performed very well for the first half of the season. The Top 5 players in each individual award category are listed.

If you missed the 1st Edition, CLICK HERE

Statistics used are from games until January 22, 2014.

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Kevin Durant has shot himself up to the top of the MVP list
(Image by: Larry Smith)


1. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder | Last Rank: 3
Kevin Durant is keeping the OKC Thunder among the elite in the West with his hot shooting and better all-around game. KD scorched the Warriors with 54 points (career-high) while he leads the NBA in scoring at 30 a game. In January, Durant has averaged 37 points without Westbrook and OKC is a solid 11-6 without him due to Durant's leadership.

2. Paul George, Indiana Pacers | Last Rank: 1
PG24 has slowed down a little bit offensively in the past 20 games but his defense has been consistent. His scoring is down to 21 ppg in January after averaging around 24 in November and December. His rebounds are higher so George is doing more on the court to help his team win. The Pacers still lead the NBA in wins and are downright unbeatable at home (21-1).

3. LeBron James, Miami Heat | Last Rank: 2
LeBron James is still posting very good numbers but Miami is not playing well as a team and the Heat is behind last year's win pace. They have lacked motivation and desire to win and their defense is struggling. Plus, Miami has played poorly without Dwyane Wade since they are a pedestrian 6-6 which is a far cry from how Kevin Durant has carried the Thunder.

4. LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trailblazers | Last Rank: 5
The Blazers are hanging around the top spot in the West after failing to make the playoffs last year due to a career year from LaMarcus Aldridge. LA has career-highs in points, rebounds, assists and FT shooting. He has 26 double-doubles (7th) which is on pace to break his previous high of 38. Aldridge has been a consistent double-double guy this year especially in January where 8 of 10 games have been doub-doubs.

5. Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs | Last Rank: Not Ranked
Parker is leading the way again for the steady Spurs who remain atop the Western conference. Although his numbers are down, Parker has been very efficient with his jumpers and floaters. The Spurs have managed to win games even with minor injuries to Danny Green, Tiago Splitter and Ginobili because Parker (and Duncan) have only missed 3 and 2 games respectively

The Utah Jazz are a half-decent team with rookie Trey Burke leading the way
(Image from: USA Today)

1. Trey Burke, Utah Jazz Last Rank: Not Ranked
Utah is 13-17 when Burke plays and only 1-11 without Burke. He is already their 2nd leading scorer after Gordon Hayward and Burke is the team's leading passer too.

2. Michael Carter-Williams, Philadelphia 76ers | Last Rank: 1
Minor injuries have removed the early momentum of MCW's positive impact on the Sixers. It does not help that the team has lost a lot of games lately after starting hot.

3. Victor Oladipo, Orlando Magic Last Rank: 2
Oladipo has played more games than Burke and MCW but his play hasn't been spectacular. Oladipo has been steady for the Magic but still not a lot of wins for the team to show for.

4. Ben McLemore, Sacramento Kings Last Rank: 3
McLemore was a starter for the Kings during the 1st Edition of the awards. Now, he is coming off the bench and struggling poorly. For January, he is averaging about 4 ppg.

5. Tim Hardaway Jr., New York Knicks Last Rank: Not Ranked
Hardaway does not have the same flair and swagger like his father but his athleticism could make him a solid role player. He has been one of the good stories coming from the Knicks. Actually, maybe the only one.

Jamal Crawford truly owns one of the best, if not the best crossover moves in the NBA
(Image from CBS Sports)
Sixth Man
1. Jamal Crawford, LA Clippers Last Rank: 2nd
Crawford started games due to injuries to JJ Redick and Chris Paul but that won't be enough to prevent him from qualifying as a sixth man. Jamal upped his scoring by 2 points and added 4 assists in January.

2. Nick Young, LA Lakers Last Rank: N/A
Nick Young leads the Lakers in scoring with Kobe Bryant still injured and Pau Gasol in and out of the lineup due to nagging injuries. SwaggyP has played well in stretches but he still takes way too many crazy shots.

3. Rodney Stuckey, Detroit Pistons Last Rank: 2
The Pistons are hanging around for a playoff spot in the East and Stuckey's play has been a big part of their mild success. Detroit is 15-18 when he plays plus he is 3rd in team scoring.

4. Reggie Jackson, OKC Thunder Last Rank: Not Ranked
Jackson has filled in nicely as a starting PG with Westbrook out with an injured knee. He has scored in double figures in 9 of their past 11 games.

5. Manu Ginobili, San Antonio Spurs | Last Rank: Not Ranked
Manu struggled in last year's playoffs but he seems to have found his rhythm again. He has only missed 3 games while averaging close to 13 points.

Isaiah Thomas has made the Kings exciting to watch again
(Image by: Nick DePaula) 

Most Improved Player

1. Isaiah Thomas, Sacramento Kings Last Rank: 2
Thomas won't win Sixth Man of the Year after being elevated to a starter role but he can still win MIP due to his overall improvement in points, assists, steals and FG shooting.

2. Terrence Jones, Houston Rockets | Last Rank: Not Ranked
Jones has played extremely well since becoming a starter. He scored a career-high 36 points vs the Bucks and he has 13 double-doubles. Jones is averaging 13 ppg as a starter, up from 3 ppg off the bench.

3. Reggie Jackson, OKC Thunder Last Rank: Not Ranked
His transition from backup PG to starting PG with Kevin Durant has been very good. The Thunder will survive Russell's injury for now because of how Jackson has been playing.

4. Paul George, Indiana Pacers Last Rank: 5
Paul George is better in almost all the offensive categories and his defense is much improved. His play in the clutch has taken another step higher. Quite frankly, PG24 is the 3rd best SF out there.

5. Evan Turner, Philadelphia 76ers Last Rank: Not Ranked
Turner was a former #2 pick of the 2011 NBA Draft, so his improvement and progression were warranted. If ET did not increase his production, there might have been some critics who would call him a disappointment.

Roy Hibbert is still on pace to win DPOY, as long as the Pacers keep winning 

Defensive Player of the Year

1. Roy Hibbert, Indiana Pacers Last Rank: 1
Hibbert is still 2nd in blocks and that will only boost his chances of winning this award. His "verticality" and Indiana's team defense will solidify his hold on DPOY. The Pacers are both #1 in least points allowed and FG shooting for opponents.

2. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans Last Rank: 2
Davis leads the NBA in blocks, is also top 10 in rebounds (once he qualifies) and tied for 13th in double-doubles. He has been a very good rim protector in just his second season. Once Davis improves with his pick and roll rotations, he will be the best center in the NBA.

3. Dwight Howard, Houston Rockets Last Rank: 5
Howard is quietly becoming a defensive presence again this season. He is 4th in rebounding and double-doubles. The Rockets are 22nd in points allowed but 5th in opponents FG shooting which is better than the Spurs, Heat and Clippers.

4. Paul George, Indiana Pacers Last Rank: 4
In some nights, George has been the best defender on the Pacers. He is able to suffocate opposing perimeter players with his length and athleticism plus his activity on the offensive end forces others to guard him and use up energy.

5. LeBron James, Miami Heat Last Rank: 3
It's hard to argue that LBJ can win a 3rd straight MVP with Miami simply coasting and not putting too much effort into games. The same can be said about James possibly winning DPOY. It will be nearly impossible especially with Miami giving up over 110 points to the likes of the Wizards and Hawks.

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2 Comment

seriously? no de andre jordan?


ah, good point about DJ! that was an oversight and I simply missed him. Jordan should be in both DPOY and MIP category. I will make sure to take note for the 3rd edition