By Kenneth Teape (@teapester725)
The NBA season has officially hit the midway point as multiple teams have started their second half of 41 games. This season has been one of the craziest so far as some teams have risen to the top quicker than expected, others have bottomed out and some are riding roller coasters that would make the people of Six Flags blush. There have been almost as many individual surprises throughout the NBA as some youngsters have burst onto the scene and fans around the world are beginning to take notice. Check out the midseason award winners, losers and biggest surprises, both positive and negative, of an exciting first half of the NBA season.
MVP – LeBron James, SF,
James has put together one of the best seasons statistically in the history of the NBA. His efficiency is through the roof, as only one of the most dominant players in NBA history in Shaquille O’Neal shot more efficiently; keep in mind O’Neal takes almost all his shots from within three feet of the basket, James averages double-digits feet on his shot attempts this season and is still shooting 58 percent from the field overall and 37.2 percent from the three point line. Thus far King James leads his team in scoring, rebounding and assists, averaging 26.2 points, 6.7 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game. James is still the best player in the NBA but he will not run away with the MVP award easily this season.
Others in Consideration: Kevin Durant, SF, Oklahoma City Thunder; Paul George, SF, Indiana Pacers, LaMarcus Aldridge, PF, Portland Trail Blazers; Carmelo Anthony, SF, New York Knicks
LVP – J.R. Smith, SG,
New York Knicks
|Anthony Gruppuso/USA TODAY Sports|
Smith is the reigning Sixth Man of the Year but you wouldn’t know it from his play this season. Smith has been abysmal for the Knicks throughout the first half, making more headlines for his on and off court antics than his play on it. Smith had off-season knee surgery only after he obtained a contract extension from the Knicks, pushing back his off-season training schedule and missing nearly all of training camp. He was then suspended for the first five games of the season because he violated the NBA’s Drug Policy. Since returning he has been nothing short of disappointing and a headache. Smith recently made headlines for his shoe untying antics, which resulted in a $50,000 fine from the NBA and subsequent benching from head coach Mike Woodson. He then got into a verbal altercation with Woodson over playing time and was benched again. The cherry on top is the Knicks handed him a contract extension worth three years, $17.95 million in free agency, giving the Knicks a player not worth the trouble and another toxic contract which they already had enough of.
Others in Consideration: Deron Williams, PG,
Brooklyn Nets; O.J. Mayo, SG, Milwaukee Bucks; Ricky Rubio, PG, Minnesota Timberwolves
Rookie of the Year: Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Philadelphia 76ers
Carter-Williams is having one of the best rookie seasons in the history of the NBA, averaging 17.5 points, 5.9 rebounds, 6.7 assists and 2.5 steals per game. The only players to finish with those types of numbers in a rookie season are Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson. He leads all NBA rookies in the stats mentioned above and is in the running for NBA lead in steals per game, which would make him the first rookie to ever lead the NBA in steals. Carter-Williams has had a great season for the 76ers, making them fun to watch but continuing to lose enough games to keep them in the running for the top pick, exactly what their front office wants.
Others in Consideration: Victor Oladipo, SG/PG,
Orlando Magic; Trey Burke, PG, Utah Jazz
Defensive Player of the Year: Roy Hibbert, C,
|D. Clarke Evans/Getty Images|
Hibbert had a coming out party or sorts against the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals last season and he has carried that confidence over to this season. Hibbert has been an anchor and stalwart in the middle for the best defense in the NBA, averaging 2.6 blocks per game and altering many others throughout the season. Hibbert’s shear size makes it tough for opponents to score around him but his improved agility and foot work have made him much more of an intimidating force on the court.
Others in Consideration: DeAndre Jordan, C,
Los Angeles Clippers; Serge Ibaka, PF, Oklahoma City Thunder
Coach of the Year: Jeff Hornacek,
Hornacek runs away with the COY award with what he has done with the Phoenix Suns. Coming into the season, the Suns were looked at as one of the worst teams in the NBA, with a roster stocked with young but untapped potential that was destined and playing for a top pick in the loaded 2014 NBA Draft. But Hornacek and the Suns had different ideas, as they currently sit with a 24-17 record, seventh seed in the Western Conference, and are the surprise of the first half. What makes this record even more impressive if they have done it for the most part without Eric Bledsoe, who has played in only 24 games this season and could potentially miss the remainder of the season because of a torn meniscus. It would not be the worst thing for the Suns to fall out of the playoffs and into the lottery but it is hard to imagine them tanking much with the effort they have put in during the first half.
Others in Consideration: Terry Stotts, Portland Trail Blazers, Tom Thibodeau,
Chicago Bulls, Frank Pacers Vogel, Indiana
Biggest Surprise: Up-And Coming Teams
The NBA is full of up-and-coming players that are on the rise but there are also some teams on the rise and will look to be quick outs in the playoffs. In the Western Conference the Phoenix Suns are the surprise of the NBA, holding down the seventh seed in the Western Conference. Another surprise is the Portland Trail Blazers, who to the surprise of many are sitting at third place in the Western Conference; it helps being the top scoring and rebounding team in the NBA. The Eastern Conference has been abysmal but there are still some surprises there, such as the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors have been playing great since trading Rudy Gay to the Sacramento Kings, going 15-8 since. The Washington Wizards are also fighting to play .500 basketball for seemingly the first time in forever and it is nice to see John Wall finally healthy and playing well.
Biggest Disappointment: Injuries
The NBA has loads of young talent that fans of any team enjoy watching. The only thing that keeps the fans from seeing these players is injuries, and unfortunately there have been plenty of them this season. The point guard position has been ravaged, as Derrick Rose was lost for the season again, Russell Westbrook re-injured his knee, Chris Paul separated his shoulder, Jrue Holiday fractured his leg, Steve Nash with his back and Bledsoe with his ankle. Kobe Bryant suffered an injury just six games into his comeback campaign and Dwyane Wade has been in and out of the lineup because of knee problems. As a fan of the NBA injuries are the worst thing to happen as it keeps you from seeing the best of the best on the court every night.
Others in Consideration: The Eastern Conference;
New York Basketball