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GIVING IT ALL AWAY
Posted by Jeff Dengate on April 19, 2005 2 p.m. ET
AND THE WINNER IS ...
When mid-April rolls around each year, everybody wants to hand out annual awards to the most deserving NBA players.
Every writer and fan feels the need to let you know why their guy is a better choice than yours.
Sometimes the experts agree. Sometimes they don't.
Before the official ballots are counted, let's take a look at who's casting their votes in which direction.
Looks like Steve Nash has been shopping at Stein's Hardware Store.
-- [Mark Stein, ESPN.com]
Seems like Sports Illustrated's Jack McCallum agrees.
With McCallum clearing up the MVP debate, Marty Burns looks at the remaining award winners.
David DuPree has somebody slightly larger than Nash in mind.
-- [USA Today]
-- [Sam Smith, Chicago Tribune, Reg. req'd]
Best of the NBA
-- [Mitch Lawrence, NY Daily News]
Big Aristotle, Shaq-Fu or Diesel? Just call him MVP
-- [Mike Monroe, San Antonio Express-News]
Award choices become blue-ribbon puzzlers
-- [Jonathan Feigen, Houston Chronicle]
Here's one award-winning ballot for jobs well done
-- [David Moore, The Dallas Morning News]
Here's to the winners
-- [Joe Davidson, The Sacramento Bee]
Ben Wallace craves defensive honor
-- [Terry Foster, The Detroit News]
The winners are ...
-- [Ira Winderman, Sun-Sentinel]
Another NBA writer casts postseason award ballots
-- [Mike McGraw, Daily Herald]
Shaquille O'Neal is a proven winner
-- [Kevin Brewer, The Washington Times]
NBA's young guns: Who's the big shot?
-- [Dick Scanlon, The Ledger]
So, what are my picks? If I had a vote -- which I don't -- here are those I would give the honors:
Note: These thoughts are the view of one Click and Roll scribe and are not endorsements by the NBA.
MVP | Cast your vote!
Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns
It's about time somebody joins Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson and Bob Cousy as the only point guards to take top honors. Nash is the engine that keeps the league's top team running. Shawn Marion, Amare Stoudemire and Joe Johnson were all on the team which won only 29 games last season, but it's the off-season acquisition of Nash which enabled this team to play its brand of hoops and make such a dramatic turnaround.
In Contention: Tim Duncan, San Antonio; LeBron James, Cleveland; Allen Iverson, Philadelphia; Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas; Shaquille O'Neal, Miami
COACH OF THE YEAR | Cast your vote!
Scott Skiles, Chicago Bulls
While Mike D'Antoni puts all the right parts on the floor and lets them run, and George Karl clearly deserves the "Coach of the Half-Year" award, none are more deserving of the yearly honor than Chicago's Scott Skiles. After an 0-9 start, Skiles retooled the Baby Bulls, instilled toughness in the youngsters and found a way to win with four rookies getting more than 23 minutes per game. No matter what you say, you can't put that many young players on the floor and expect them to win this many games without some serious teaching.
In Contention: Mike D'Antoni, Phoenix; Eddie Jordan, Washington; George Karl, Denver; Nate McMillan, Seattle
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR | Cast your vote!
Emeka Okafor, Charlotte Bobcats
Okay, we've all heard the facts and figures. Okafor is Mr. Double-Double. Gordon lights up the fourth quarter. And as for Dwight Howard, all he did was start every game for the Magic right out of high school. But, since I'm handing out the awards, the top rookie honors go to Emeka Okafor. He's shouldered the load for the expansion Bobcats and consistently put up solid numbers. He leads all rookies in scoring and ranks fourth in the entire NBA in rebounds per game.
In Contention: Ben Gordon, Chicago; Dwight Howard, Orlando; Andre Iguodala, Philadelphia
SIXTH MAN AWARD | Cast your vote!
Ben Gordon, Chicago Bulls
This may help Bulls fans sleep a little easier. No rookie has ever taken Sixth Man honors, but if I had my say, Gordon would be the first. After getting the starting nod for three games early in the season, coach Skiles felt Gordon played his best when coming off the bench. Think the move paid off? Gordon ranks 11th in the NBA in points per 48 minues, ahead of other top reserve candidates Jerry Stackhouse and Ricky Davis. The explosive scorer became known for his fourth quarter heroics this season, scoring 10-plus points in the fourth quarter of 21 games.
In Contention: Earl Boykins; Denver; Ricky Davis, Boston; Jerry Stackhouse, Dallas
MOST IMPROVED PLAYER | Cast your vote!
Amare Stoudemire, Phoenix Suns
When you think of most improved, you likely picture a player who has come out of nowhere to put up solid numbers -- which usually corresponds to a significant increase in playing time. An alternate take on the award is to vote for a player who makes the jump from good to great. Stoudemire is in the latter collective, along with Miami's Dwyane Wade. Averaging less minutes per game than last season, Stoudemire is putting up better than five points per game more and has increased his shooting percentage to .559 this year, compared with .475 last season. Plus, he's upped his percentage at the charity stripe, too.
In Contention: Primoz Brezec, Charlotte; Drew Gooden, Cleveland; Bobby Simmons, L.A. Clippers; Dwyane Wade, Miami
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR AWARD | Cast your vote!
Bruce Bowen, San Antonio Spurs
Shawn Marion garnered serious consideration for the award as he's on pace to become only the second player in NBA history to rank in the top five in rebounds and steals for a single season (David Robinson accomplished the feat and won the top defender award in 1991-92). But, it's Bruce Bowen, an All-Defensive Team member the past four seasons, who walks away with the trophy this year. Bowen's a tough perimeter defender who has a knack of getting under your skin and taking you out of your game. Just ask the superstars around the league who have grumbled after going against him.
In Contention: Marcus Camby, Denver; Tim Duncan, San Antonio; Larry Hughes, Washington; Shawn Marion, Phoenix; Ben Wallace, Detroit
Now that you've heard my award winners, go vote for your own.
The Suns rise to the top of the NBA, claim home-court advantage throughout the playoffs
-- [The Arizona Republic
Dallas and Houston set to do a Texas two-step.
-- [Houston Chronicle]
It's a contact sport. Wear protection.
-- [New York Post]
There's a Junk Yard Dog loose in the Hall