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My 2009-10 awards ballot

We recently announced the TrueHoop Network Awards. Here’s my ballot:

Most Valuable Player

1. LeBron James

Nobody else was even close.

2. Kevin Durant

His offense is better than it was last year, but his defense went to a whole new level. That’s why the Thunder were so good.

3. Dwight Howard

He’s a dominant defender, and although I was a fan last year, his offense is really gaining recognition.

4. Dwyane Wade

See the All-Defensive teams below for more, but his defense is the main reason I placed him this high.

5. Kobe Bryant

Want to criticize this one? Go for it. I was really unsure about who deserved this spot, so I went with the guy who has the best track record.

Rookie of the Year

1. Tyreke Evans

As Zach Harper (Cowbell Kingdom/ Hardwood Paroxysm) pointed out in the TrueHoop Network Awards, Evans’ magnificent production came against opponents’ best perimeter defender every night.

2. Stephen Curry

We all knew he could shoot, but his all-around game is so much better than I expected. How does he do it with such a small frame?

3. Brandon Jennings

I almost went with Darrenn Collison or Marcus Thornton from the New Orleans Hornets, but Jennings’ defense gave him the edge.

Defensive Player of the Year

1. Dwight Howard

Nobody in the league makes opposing offenses account for him more than Howard.

2. Gerald Wallace

Read Henry Abbott of TrueHoop’s account of Jared Jeffries. Multiply by 100. That’s Wallace.

3. Josh Smith

Smith can defend inside and outside, and that’s becoming increasingly valuable in a league that’s phasing out positional identity.

Sixth Man of the Year

1. Jamal Crawford

He scores at a great volume and efficiency. He provides exactly what Atlanta needs.

2. Anderson Varejao

He’s an excellent defender, and his plus-minus is great. A lot of award votes are based on scoring, but hopefully Varejao shows why you should buck that trend.

3. Manu Ginobili

The NBA only requires players to come off the bench in a majority of their games to be eligible for this award, so Ginobili qualifies. But it’s also for the player who plays best off the bench. Ginobili was better as a starter, so I bumped him down.

Most Improved Player

1. Kevin Durant

He went from good to great in one season. Don’t underestimate how tough that leap is.

2. Zach Randolph

He finally realized he could sacrifice some personal numbers for the sake of winning. And in ironic twist, his numbers were great, too.

3. Josh Smith

Bret Lagree of Hoopinion covers it: Smith stopped shooting 3-pointers, which allowed him to take advantage of his passing skills. And his rebounding improved for good measure, too.

Coach of the Year

1. Scott Skiles

Rookie point guard, finesse center, top player out for most of the year – and Skiles turned the Bucks into one of the league’s grittiest teams.

2. Larry Brown

He should get a vote for this award most years. The Bobcats have a talented, but flawed roster. Still, they’re “playing the right way.”

3. Scott Brooks

I like the job Brooks did. His team improved. All his players improved. He incorporated a bunch of rookies into the lineup. The circumstantial evidence is all there.

But I don’t know Brooks did a great job. What marks Scott Brooks’ style? You know the Bucks and Bobcats fit their coach’s vision. I’m not sure the Thunder’s success is due as much to Brooks as it is to their good players growing up naturally.

Executive of the Year

1. Daryl Morey

He’s on a different level. Without Yao, I was sure the Rockets would be terrible. Instead they were in the playoff race late. And he added a premier scorer, a talented, young big man and two first-round picks at midseason.

2. John Hammond

The Bucks remind me a lot of Rick Carlisle’s first Pistons team. It’s such a piecework roster, but Hammond ensured Milwaukee had enough ingredients to make it work. This team doesn’t have the talent to be great, but it has the pieces to be good – and that’s the first step.

3. Sam Presti

This is an example of why this award is tough to pick. He made a lot of good moves over the last few years that have made the Thunder good this year.


1. Grant Hill

Since he left Detroit for Orlando, I’ve wanted to root against Grant Hill. First, his injuries made it hard. And now, his class keeps me from booing him.

2. Al Horford

He seems like a class act. Plus, his brother is going to Michigan. So, that’s cool.

3. Luis Scola

I respect his workmanlike approach.

4. Antawn Jamison

He was the face the Wizards wanted fans to see. Unfortunately, his influence wasn’t great enough to outweigh his younger teammates’ blunders.

5. Chauncey Billups

I obviously like Billups, but he complains to the refs a little too much to match up with the others on this list.

6. Ray Allen

How did he make the cut? He’s constantly clawing at opponents to get an edge (not that there’s anything wrong with that). He just doesn’t scream sportsmanship to me. Although, to be fair, maybe it’s just the name on the front of his jersey.


1. Samuel Dalembert

He was the face of the NBA’s relief contributions in Haiti.


First team

  • G- Dwyane Wade
  • G- Kobe Bryant
  • F- LeBron James
  • F- Kevin Durant
  • C- Dwight Howard

See my MVP votes. They happen to stack up by position.

Second team

  • G- Deron Williams
  • G- Steve Nash
  • F- Dirk Nowitzki
  • F- Carmelo Anthony
  • C- Tim Duncan

You could make the case for Josh Smith over Melo, but these five players seem to fit here pretty perfectly.

Third team

  • G- Rajon Rondo
  • G- Manu Ginobili
  • F- Josh Smith
  • F- Chris Bosh
  • C- Andrew Bogut

Maybe I counted Ginobili’s late-season surge too much, as opposed to his entire body of work. But who else should’ve made it?


First team

  • Tyreke Evans
  • Stephen Curry
  • Brandon Jennings
  • Darrenn Collison
  • Marcus Thornton

Second team

  • DeJuan Blair
  • Taj Gibson
  • Ty Lawson
  • Jonas Jerebko
  • James Harden

I’ve already covered my All-Rookie thoughts. Nothing has happened in the last couple weeks to change what I wrote there.


First team

  • Dwight Howard
  • Gerald Wallace
  • Josh Smith
  • Dwyane Wade
  • Anderson Varejao

As John Hollinger pointed out in his All-Defensive teams column, the Heat have the NBA’s fourth-best defensive rating. Look at their roster. Wade has to be doing something right.

Second team

  • LeBron James
  • Andrew Bogut
  • Rajon Rondo
  • Ben Wallace
  • Luc Richard Mbah a Moute

I went back and forth on whether Varejao or LeBron should be on the first team. I still don’t know.

And it’s a shame Ben Wallace doesn’t get more recognition. The Pistons allowed nearly eight points fewer per 100 possessions with Wallace on the court than without him.


  • Apr 19, 20104:46 pm
    by Daniel


    How could you possibly rank Wade ahead of Bryant for MVP based on his defense????? Unconscionable. Hollinger’s logic made no sense to me — the Heat rank 4th in defensive efficiency, and the Lakers rank 3rd (or 2nd, not sure)….so that means Wade ranks ahead of Bryant??? Wade wanders on defense and leaves his man open and makes bad gambles more often than Kobe. He makes more highlight/statistical plays (steals/blocks), but these come at the expense of his team too, as he’s often leaving his man to do so. So he is rewarded in PER, but his team suffers.
    If you want to rank Wade ahead of Kobe, that’s fine, you could argue that Kobe has more help, or that he was injured this year, or any number of things, really. I’d probably disagree with you (in fact, almost undoubtedly I would), but at least they’d be credible. Saying that you did it because of their individual defense is not a credible reason, though.
    Perhaps the credit for Wade’s team being ranked high on defense should go more to Spoelstra, Haslem, the development of Joel Anthony, or any number of other reasons (just as the credit for the Lakers could go to Artest). Saying that the reason the Heat are 4th in defensive efficiency “has to be because they have a 6’4 guard who blocks some shots” doesn’t hold much water with me.

    • Apr 19, 20105:58 pm
      by Dan Feldman


      First, offensively, Wade and Bryant had similar seasons. Bryant scored a little more, but Wade was more efficient and had more assists and offensive rebounds. I’d argue Wade had a better offensive season, but you could call it a push at best.

      Defensively: in the end, Miami actually tied for third, and the Lakers tied for fifth. But that’s pretty meaningless. Few would dispute both teams had good defensive seasons.

      You already mentioned my two main rebuttals. Kobe had more defensive help, namely Artest.

      And in the limited time I watched the Heat this year — and I admit my commentary might suffer from small sample size — Wade wasn’t gambling like he had done in the past. He was keeping his man in front of him and still getting his steals and blocks.

      You’re right that the difference in their PER, about six, is too extreme. They’re not that different. But Wade had a better season, I think.

  • Apr 20, 20108:39 pm
    by Michael


    Anyone who says it “wasnt even close” for Lebron for MVP is smoking the Bron Bron stuff.    Durant was close, and a reasonable choice to beat him.   Durant won 50 games with the youngest, read that, youngest team (not just playoff) in the NBA.  Over a 20 game improbment.   He’s close enough that if he doesnt get at least 1 “1st place” vote on ballot I’ll be amazed.      Remember when knock on Lebron was he cant win MPV without winning 50 games, and people defended him look at Lebrons cast…. same look at Durants… look at thier age.

    • Apr 21, 20102:39 pm
      by Dan Feldman


      I never knocked LeBron for not winning 50 games. MVP is an individual award. Yes, a team’s performance can indicate how good a player’s performance was. But ultimately, it’s an individual award.

  • Apr 21, 201010:37 am
    by koz


     Nate McMillan for Portland has to be in the conversation for coach of the year, don’t  you think?

    • Apr 21, 20102:45 pm
      by Dan Feldman


      McMillan was a very tough omission, as was Jerry Sloan. But as Matt Moore of Hardwood Paroxysm pointed out, yes, McMillan excelled when the Blazers were ravaged by injuries, but he also underperformed when they were healthy (which admittedly, was a smaller portion of the season).

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