Living the Fantasy: Trimester Awards

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By NBA TV's Rick Kamla

January 5, 2007

I know I'm supposed to be talking basketball as we get back to Living The Fantasy on NBA.com, but I still can't believe Matt Leinart got caught grinding with Britney Spears at a nightclub in Phoenix on New Year’s Eve.

He's better than that. Isn't he? He knows the rules. Doesn't he?

Freaks, if you're going to lower your standards, you don't do it in front of God and everyone. You do it discretely.

I really thought Leinart was ticketed for greatness in the NFL, but with decision making like that, the jury is out.

Which brings us back to NBA orange, my favorite subject not dealing with jam bands. I've been away for a couple weeks, spending time with family and friends back in Minneapolis for the holidays, and the NBA landscape has changed since last we spoke.

The Sixers finally traded Allen Iverson and stuff to the Nuggets for Andre Miller and things, the Miami Heat's Big Three of Shaquille O'Neal, Dwyane Wade, and Pat Riley is currently MIA, the Grizzlies dumped Mike Fratello for Tony Barone and Mike Miller hasn’t missed since, Nenad Krstic tore his ACL, Gilbert Arenas became the hands-down Eastern Conference MVP, the Knicks started winning thrillers at the Garden again, Paul Pierce finally broke down after years of Iron Man service, Milwaukee became unbeatable at home, the Hawks turned back into the Hawks, Amare turned back into Amare, the Hornets lost their fourth major player (Chris Paul), Rashard Lewis had hand surgery, the Warriors lost Jason Richardson and Monta Ellis, and it is now clear to everyone that the basketball Gods do not want Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady to play together.

Yes, the times they are a changing...and we are back to take inventory of our beloved NBA with awards from the first third of the season—both fantasy and reality.

The regular season is split into three chunks: Halloween to New Year's Eve; New Year's Day to All-Star Weekend (Vegas, baby); All-Star Weekend (Vegas, baby) to U.S. Tax Day. As such, we will be back after All-Star and then the final week to update these awards.

Fantasy MVP

Please give a round of applause to our Fantasy MVP - Trimester Award winner: Caron Butler.
(Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty Images)
Caron Butler - Wizards: When judging the Fantasy MVP of the first third or the entire season, you can't just take the top guy (Gilbert Arenas) and automatically hand him the hardware. You need to weigh a player's preseason value against his up-to-the-minute value. No one has overachieved more brilliantly than Arenas' teammate, who was averaging 20.7 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.9 steals, 49 percent from the field, and 87 percent from the line heading into Friday's work. Arenas may be No. 1 across eight cats, but add another 1 to Butler's ranking. Yep, he's 11th overall...and the Fantasy MVP through the first third.

Reality MVP

Steve Nash - Suns: Nash has three things working for him in his quest to be the third player to go BTBTB in the MVP race. One, his numbers are even better than last season, when he won MVP. Two, when you're at the top of the heap, someone needs to knock you off and no one is more exciting (not even LeBron), no one is more clutch (not even Wade), no one is making teammates any better (not even Kobe), few are more productive (fifth in fantasy), and he's in the race for best record in the NBA (tied for second-most wins through Thursday). Lastly, in this, the Golden Age of Small-Ball, Nash is King...and he's the coolest ruler in the history of humans.

Fantasy Rookie of the Year

There isn't a Fantasy ROY through the first third because Dwane Casey has only recently started giving Randy Foye the minutes he needed all along.

Reality Rookie of the Year

Jorge Garbajosa - Raptors: I think Brandon Roy (or Foye) is going to win ROY for the season, but right now it's Garbo, who has been the most consistent and professional rookie to this point. He wasn't great while Chris Bosh missed 12 games (thank God he's back), but the 29-year-old Spanish forward had his moments and never hurt Sam Mitchell's club. Plus, Garbo has been solid all season, averaging 9.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.2 steals.

Fantasy Coach of the Year

Don Nelson - Warriors: Thank the Basketball Gods that Nellie is back in the NBA because he is the coaching equivalent of Magic Johnson with his Showtime style of play. Baron is Baron again, Monta Ellis is a rising star, and Andris Biedrins is a top-10 center, Mickael Pietrus is finally realizing his potential, and Matt Barnes has finally found a home. Willie Nelson's loss is our tasty gain.

Reality Coach of the Year

Jerry Sloan - Jazz: When it comes to winning Oscars, genius director Martin Scorsese has pitched an ooh-fer. And when it comes to winning COYs, Sloan has matched him bagel for bagel. But it's finally going to work out for Sloan this season because his Jazz are overachieving based on preseason expectations, they are going to win the Northwest Division, and they are going to win at least 55 games.

How cool would it be if Sloan and Scorsese could finally win the highest individual honors in their respective fields in the same year?

For Scorsese’s sake, here’s hoping "The Departed" finally earns him the emptiest piece of hardware in the world. Freaks, the Oscars are a traveshamockery for the simple fact that Scorsese has never hit "their" target despite a resume that includes “Goodfellas”, “Taxi Driver”, “Casino”, “Raging Bull”, “Cape Fear” (the remake), and “Gangs of New York” (on this list for Bill "The Butcher" Cutting alone).

Most Improved Player

Just for kicks, let's go with First- and Second-Team MIP.

The First Team through the first third looks like this: Deron Williams (Trimester Award Winner); Kevin Martin (very close second); Andris Biedrins (11-9-2); Monta Ellis (future All-Star); Maurice Williams (rock solid in seven of eight cats).

The Second Team is pretty sweet as well: Luol Deng (career high 18.1 ppg on .535 shooting); David Lee (10 and 10); J.R. Smith (2.8 threes); Luke Walton (12-5-4-0-1); Jarrett Jack (12.8-5.5-1.3).

Sixth Man of the Year

Ben Gordon - Bulls: I'm sorry but when a dude averages 20.8 points as a reserve, he's the Sixth Man of the Year. Period. BG, who's been scoring since 1983, is also averaging 3.3 assists, almost 89 percent from the line, and 1.5 threes, and leads the Bulls in scoring despite starting in only 28 percent of their games.

Fantasy Pickup of the Year

Andris Biedrins - Warriors: Nobody drafted Biedrins in fantasy leagues this year. No one. I don’t care if you were in a 16-team league, Biedrins was on waivers following the draft. Yet here he is, running 55th in the 8-cat rankings as we approach Friday’s work. Congrats to those of you who acquired your starting center on waivers. That’s like getting a free player at the toughest position to fill. Thanks again, Nellie.

Best News of the Year

Amare Stoudemire - Suns: I think we all thought—including the Suns—that Amare would return to rock-star form sometime after the All-Star break. However, and fortunately, Amare's game picked up as soon as Mike D'Antoni put him back in the starting lineup, and he's been a top-20 beast during the past month. The injury bug has besieged our league this year, but at least we got Amare back.

Worst News of the Year

A good buddy of mine at NBA TV, road warrior producer, Mike Dempsey, was rocking my league to the tune of first place thanks to the three-headed monster of Dirk Nowitzki, Yao Ming, and Rashard Lewis. I remember asking Mike how he got three first-round picks without making a trade, and I remember him saying, "That's how the Blingers do it."

I also recall trying to trade for Lewis for the better part of a week, with T.J. Ford being the centerpiece of a package that also involved Tyson Chandler and Danny Granger. But Mike dragged his feet on taking that three-for-one, telling me he wanted one more night to sleep on it. That was roughly 90 minutes before Lewis destroyed his shooting hand on the rim at Key Arena. No deal. Then, two nights later, Yao Ming suffers a hairline fracture just below his knee.

My heart goes out to Mike because no one deserves to have a nuclear bomb dropped on a first-place season. That said, I love the fact that Mike needed one more night to sleep on trading Lewis because I turned T.J. into Rip Hamilton later that same night.

Here's hoping the New Year bears fruit for you and yours in both fantasy and reality.

Peace!


Rick Kamla is NBA.com's resident fantasy expert. Rick Kamla will be here all season long to give you his insider analysis on the fantasy basketball world. Kamla is the heady host for "NBA Fantasy Hoops Presented By Toyota," a seven-nights-a-week, one-hour studio show that has become the ultimate guide for NBA fantasy basketball players.

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