2012-13 NBA Postseason Awards
2012-13 NBA Postseason Awards
Editor’s Note: The NBA continues to unveil its regular season individual awards throughout the postseason. As each award winner becomes available, Timberwolves.com will give a recap of the player’s season and voting results—culminating from sportswriters and broadcasters ballots around the league.
Kia Rookie of the Year: LeBron James (Heat small forward)
Awarded Sunday, May 5
This one wasn’t a surprise.
The NBA announced on Sunday that LeBron James is the 2012-13 Most Valuable Player. He accepted the Maurice Podoloff Trophy for the fourth time in five years thanks to perhaps the best all-around season of his career.
He did so in near-unanimous fashion. James collected 120 of the 121 first place votes, following in Shaquille O’Neal’s footsteps from 1999-2000 when he took home all but one first place vote as well. In 2000, Allen Iverson got the other first place vote. This year, it was Carmelo Anthony.
The fact that James didn’t get all 121 might be the only shocking thing about this year’s award.
James averaged 26.8 points, 8.0 rebounds and 7.3 assists this season while helping the defending champion Heat to a league-best 66-16 record. He did it while posting career bests in rebounds, field goal percentage (56.5 percent) and 3-point percentage (40.6 percent).
He is the fifth player in NBA history to receive the award at least four times, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six), Michael Jordan (five), Bill Russell (five) and Wilt Chamberlain (four). Russell is the only other player to win four in five years—James now has won the award in 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013, with Derrick Rose winning it in 2011.
James earned it from the outset. He looks more dominant now than he ever has, and he did it this year coming off of a championship as well as a summer playing for Team USA in London. It appears Miami has overcome all the obstacles it once faced when the “Big 3” of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh came together in 2010, and they now understand what it takes to win and how to handle adversity when it arises. James is a prime example of this, and he won back-to-back MVPs for the second time in his career as a result.
If he continues playing the way he is, Miami could be hoisting back-to-back banners after this postseason run.
Kia Rookie of the Year: Damian Lillard (Blazers point guard)
Awarded Wednesday, May 1
This one was a near no-brainer. Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard ran away with the Kia Rookie of the Year Award on Wednesday, snagging a unanimous decision with all 121 first-place votes and 605 points from sportswriters and broadcasters around the league. He became the first rookie since Clippers forward Blake Griffin in 2011 to snag a unanimous Rookie of the Year distinction.
From the start, you could see Lillard was primed for a special year.
He won the Summer League co-MVP award in Las Vegas this past July, doing so with a style of play that seemed more than ready for the NBA despite hailing from little-known Weber State. Lillard made the jump from sixth overall pick to starting all 82 games for the Blazers this season, averaging 19.0 points and 6.5 assists per game this season.
Among all first-year players, Lillard led the group in scoring, assists and minutes. He assisted on 36.5 percent of Portland's field goals and scored 23.9 percent of the team's points, according to NBA.com.
He won every Kia Rookie of the Month award in the Western Conference this season.
The scariest part of Lillard's game is how quickly he adjusted to the NBA level and how much room for growth he still has. Lillard is fast-paced, shifty to the hoop and can hit from the perimeter. He fuels a Blazers offense brimming with young talent, including talented wings Wes Matthews and Nicolas Batum. Add in LaMarcus Aldridge at power forward, and the Blazers have a solid young core. With Lillard at the helm as he continues to work on his offensive game as well as his defensive skill set, the Blazers have a talented young core in place heading into next season.
Hornets forward Anthony Davis, the No. 1 overall pick in last year's draft, finished second with 306 points, and Wizards guard Bradley Beal finished third with 94 points. Players were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote.
Kia Defensive Player of the Year: Marc Gasol (Grizzlies center)
Awarded Wednesday, April 24
The Memphis Grizzlies garner one of the NBA’s most daunting 1-2 front court punches in Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, a duo that not only is fierce on the offensive end but also combines for nearly 14 feet and over 500 pounds of defensive presence on the other end of the floor. And this season, the NBA acknowledged Gasol for his efforts.
The 7-foot-1 center from Spain received the Kia Defensive Player of the Year Award on Wednesday, an honor he earned thanks to his dominant defensive presence on a Memphis squad that allowed a league-best 89.3 points per game this season.
He received 212 points and 30 first-place votes, holding off Miami’s LeBron James (149 points, 18 first-place votes) and Oklahoma City’s Serge Ibaka (122 points, 14 first-place votes).
Gasol is the first Grizzlies player to win the award. His teammates Tony Allen (102 points, nine first-place votes) and Mike Conley (one point) also received votes.
According to the Associated Press, the Grizzlies are the first team since 2005-06 to hold opponents below 90 points per game for an entire season. That year, both Memphis and San Antonio accomplished the feat.
"I look at it as the whole team got acknowledged," Gasol said in Wednesday’s news conference, according to an ESPN.com report. "I think it's a team effort. It's a team game. There's no way around it. That's how we play basketball. We play as a unit. Defensively, you need five guys to play defense. If one of us is not playing defense, we can't do it."
Kia Most Improved Player Award: Paul George (Pacers small forward)
Awarded Tuesday, April 23
Paul George capped off a career year in 2012-13 by earning the Kia Most Improved Player Award. It’s a fitting end to the campaign for George, who was named to his first NBA All-Star Game (scoring 17 points in 20 minutes), helped the Pacers to the Central Division title and propelled Indiana to the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference.
He did it while essentially transitioning from shooting guard to small forward in the absence of injured star Danny Granger.
George received 311 of a possible 1,080 points, including 52 first-place votes, from a panel of 120 sportswriters and broadcasters. Hornets point guard Greivis Vasquez took second (146 points, 13 first-place votes) and Bucks center Larry Sanders took third (141 points, 10 first-place votes).
George entered the 2012-13 season with career averages of 10.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.3 steals. He upped all those categories this season, notching 17.4 points per game along with 7.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.8 steals.
He received the award less than 48 hours after notching a triple-double (23 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists) in the Pacers’ 107-90 Game 1 victory over the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
According to NBA.com/stats, in the 81 games in which George appeared, the Pacers had a plus-5.9 scoring differential when he was on the court and a minus-2.0 scoring differential when he was on the bench.
Kia Sixth Man Of The Year: J.R. Smith (Knicks shooting guard)
Awarded Monday, April 22
J.R. Smith locked down the Kia Sixth Man of the Year Award thanks to his incredible scoring punch off the bench throughout the regular season. He averaged 18.1 points per game for the Knicks’ second unit to go along with 5.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.3 steals in 33.5 minutes per game.
His aggressive style and ability to penetrate the lane while also showing a fearlessness from 3-point range was a perfect combination as the Knicks racked up a 54-28 record and the No.2 seed in the East.
Smith received 484 of a possible 1,084 points, including 72 first-place votes, from a panel of 121 sportswriters and broadcasters.
Clippers guard Jamal Crawford finished second with 352 points and 31 first-place votes. Warriors guard Jarrett Jack (170 points, 14 first-place votes) finished third.
In order to be eligible for the award, players had to have come off the bench in more games than they started. Players were awarded five points for each first place vote, three for second place and one for third.
Smith had seven 30-point games and 29 20-point games off the bench, leading all reserves in both categories. He is the first player with four 30-point games off the bench in the same month (March) since Ricky Pierce had four in Nov. 1990.
Most importantly, with New York already sporting a pair of NBA All-Stars in its starting lineup, Smith helped ensure opposing teams didn’t get a rest when the second unit came into the game.
For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter, and join the conversation at WolvesNation.com.