Howard The Dunk Season Awards

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Now that the postseason has officially started, it’s time for HTD to unveil their season awards.

MVP

1. LeBron James, Forward, Cleveland
2. Dwight Howard, Center, Orlando
3. Kevin Durant, Forward, Oklahoma City

This pick was easy. LeBron James is having a historically good season. He averaged 29.7 points, 8.6 assists, 7.3 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.0 block per game. Wow. It’s his award any way you slice it. Whether you choose to rely on traditional numbers, advanced statistics or team success, James has it all. And no one else is even close.

Defensive Player Of The Year

1. Dwight Howard, Center, Orlando
2. Gerald Wallace, Forward, Charlotte
3. Josh Smith, Forward, Atlanta

Howard has about as big of an advantage in this category as James does in MVP. Howard became the first player in NBA history to lead the league in blocks and rebounds for two consecutive years. Like James with the MVP, this award should be Howard’s to lose for years to come.

Rookie Of The Year

1. Tyreke Evans, Guard, Sacramento
2. Brandon Jennings, Guard, Milwaukee
3. Stephen Curry, Guard, Golden State

It was the year of the Point Guard – Darren Collison of New Orleans and Ty Lawson also had good rookie seasons, but no one put up better numbers or was more consistent than Evans. He averaged 20.1 points, 5.8 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game becoming just the fourth rookie to put up 20, five and five, joining elite company in that category – Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan and LeBron James are the other three.

Sixth Man Of The Year

1. Manu Ginobili, Guard, San Antonio
2. Jamal Crawford, Guard, Atlanta
3. Anderson Varejao, Forward, Cleveland

Crawford will win this award and deservingly so, he had an excellent season, but my vote goes to Ginobili. He did start 21 of the 75 games he played in, but since he came off the bench for the majority of the season, I don’t question his eligibility for the award. Ginobili was the most productive bench player and he really gave the Spurs a lift down the stretch.

Most Improved Player

1. Kevin Durant, Forward, Oklahoma City
2. Andrew Bogut, Center, Milwaukee
3. Marc Gasol, Center, Memphis

Many pundits would rather ignore this award and they have valid points. It’s very hard to judge the criteria for this award.

It seems like Aaron Brooks is going to win the award, but his per-36 numbers as well as several of his percentages (assist percentage, rebounding rate, true shooting percentage) haven’t seen dramatic jumps. His minutes are the only category that has seen large jump. I don’t want to completely put Brooks down because he has no doubt become a better player and is a better shooter but he has had not made the leap like Durant has. Durant has gone from budding star to absolute superstar. At just 21 years old, Durant lead the league in scoring, going for 30.1 points per game. Durant is the youngest player to ever lead the league in scoring. Durant’s ability to get to the free throw line and convert from the stripe (he was a 90% free threw shooter this season) helped his true shooting percentage climb to 60.7%. Durant also averaged 7.6 boards, 2.8 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.0 block per game.

Coach Of The Year

1. Scotty Brooks, Oklahoma City
2. Scott Skiles, Milwaukee
3. Nate McMillan, Portland

Brooks is going to win the award and I have no problem with that, but both Skiles and McMillan are worthy candidates. Skiles led a team that was projected to win about 25 games to 46 victories. The Blazers actually were four games worse than they were last season, but for McMillan to lose two Centers to season ending injuries (Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla both had knee surgery), make a move to bring in a new Center, Marcus Camby, while trading away Travis Outlaw and Steve Blake, have his best player, Brandon Roy, miss 17 games including very important games down the stretch due to a torn meniscus and still win 50 games is extremely impressive. Brooks led his team to 50 wins after the Thunder won just 23 a season ago. Brooks has also made the Thunder a good defensive team, which is even more impressive when you consider that the Thunder are the youngest team in the NBA.

All-NBA First Team

Dwight Howard, Center, Orlando
Kevin Durant, Forward, Oklahoma City
LeBron James, Forward, Cleveland
Kobe Bryant, Guard, Los Angeles Lakers
Dwayne Wade, Guard, Miami

There were a lot of easy decisions this year – MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, and Most Improved Player were no-brains. James, Howard, and Durant absolutely run away with those awards. Naming an All-NBA was pretty easy, if you bend the rules like the NBA does, picking two forwards and two guards rather than specifying you must have one Point Guard, one Shooting Guard, one Small Forward and one Power Forward.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger and a contributor on the Fansided Front Page and at Sir Charles In Charge. Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Twitter to follow him daily and you can get the HTD app here).