NBA Regular Season Awards Breakdown
The NBA finished up unveiling its year-end awards this week. Several Timberwolves players factored into the voting. Here's a look at all the winners and where the Wolves' personnel finished in the 2011-12 regular season awards.
Most Valuable Player: LeBron James (1,074 points —85 first, 25 second, 9 third, 1 fourth, 1 fifth)
- Miami Heat forward LeBron James won the Kia Most Valuable Player Award and became the eighth player in league history to win at least three in his career. James edged out Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant in second place (889 points) to win his third MVP in four seasons. James was a force this year for the Eastern Conference’s No. 2 seed, finishing third in scoring (27.1 PPG) while leading the Heat with 6.2 assists per game and tying for the team’s lead in rebounding (7.9 RPG). He finished with career-bests in field goal percentage (.531) and 3-point field goal percentage (.362). James won the Eastern Conference Player of the Month Award in January and February and won Player of the Week six times.
- Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love finished sixth in the MVP voting with 58 points, including four third place votes, six fourth place votes and 20 fifth place votes. Love took the next step in his development this season, not only maintaining his presence on the boards but also taking his scoring to the next level. He finished second in rebounding (13.3 RPG), fourth in scoring (26.0 PPG), second in minutes (39.0 MPG) and first in double-doubles (48). He had three games with 40 or more points, including a franchise-best 51 against Oklahoma City on March 23. Love garnered praise from players and coaches around the league throughout the year and was thrust into the conversation of the best power forwards in the game.
Coach of the Year: Gregg Popovich (467 points — 77 first, 24 second, 10 third)
- San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich ran away with the Coach of the Year Award after leading the Spurs to a league-tying best 50-16 record this season. Popovich, the four-time NBA champion coach who is in his 16th season with the Spurs, also won the award in 2002-03. The Spurs opened up the season with a 12-9 record through 21 games, and with an aging cast that includes future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan, questions arose about the Spurs’ ability to contend this season. But Popovich’s crew won 38 of their next 45 games to claim the top spot in the West, and much of that had to do with his maneuvering through the condensed schedule, giving his players rest when necessary, and using his well-known in-game adjustments. The Spurs held a league-high 108.3 points per game and a +10.8 point differential.
Rookie of the Year: Kyrie Irving (592 points — 117 first, 2 second, 1 third)
- Cleveland guard Kyrie Irving, the No. 1 overall draft pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, won the Kia Rookie of the Year Award. Irving ran away with the voting, snatching 117 of the 120 first place votes en route to 592 points. Irving became the second Cavs player to win the award—LeBron James won it in 2004—thanks to the dynamic presence he brings to the floor each night. He was first among rookies with 18.5 points per game, a .469 field-goal percentage and an .872 free-throw percentage. He was also second in assists (5.4 APG) and 3-point percentage (.399). Irving has an ability to get to the basket as well as score from the perimeter. He helped the Cavaliers increase their win total from a year ago from 19 to 21 while playing the shortened 66-game schedule.
- Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting, taking home 170 points on 49 second place votes and 23 third place votes. Rubio’s impact was felt from the very beginning, as he helped the Timberwolves become a must-see club to watch each night with his alley-oop passes and the energy he brought to the floor. Before missing the final 25 games with torn ACL, Rubio led all rookies with 8.2 assists per game and collected 2.2 steals per game. He had 12 point-assist double-doubles and finished with 10.6 points per game. Rubio became a starter in the team’s 11th game and held that role the rest of the season until his injury.
Defensive Player of the Year: Tyson Chandler (311 points — 45 first, 25 second, 11 third)
- Knicks center Tyson Chandler won this year’s Kia Defensive Player of the Year award, edging out Oklahoma City’s Serge Ibaka in second place. Chandler, who joined New York this year after winning the NBA title in Dallas a season ago, helped the Knicks become a steady force defensively in the league. New York was second in opponent turnovers per game (17.0), 10th in opponent field-goal percentage (.442) and 11th in opponent scoring (94.7 PPG). Individually, Chandler grabbed 22.1 percent of his teams’ defensive rebounds when he was on the floor.
Sixth Man of the Year: James Harden (584 points — 115 first, 3 second, 0 third)
- Oklahoma City guard James Harden took home the Kia Sixth Man of the Year Award, garnering 115 of the 119 first place votes in a landslide win. Harden came off the bench throughout the season but played 31.4 minutes per game, bolstering a back court that already includes All-Star Russell Westbrook and starting shooting guard Thabo Sefolosha. Harden averaged 16.8 points per game during the regular season while also chipping in 4.1 rebounds and 3.7 assists. He became the team’s third leading scorer behind Westbrook and Kevin Durant, and his spark off the bench helped the Thunder finish with a 47-19 record and the second seed in the Western Conference playoffs.
Most Improved Player: Ryan Anderson (260 points — 33 first, 27 second, 14 third)
- Orlando’s Ryan Anderson won the Kia Most Improved Player Award, topping the list with 260 of the 605 possible points. He had career highs in scoring (16.1 PPG), rebounds (7.7 RPG), field goal percentage (.439) and free-throw percentage. He increased his scoring by 5.5 points and 2.2 rebounds per game over last season. Anderson also showed off his ability to connect from 3-point range by hitting 166 shots from beyond the arc.
- Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic finished third in the Most Improve Player balloting, garnering 104 points from 10 first place, 15 second place and nine third place votes. Pekovic recovered from a groin injury and began logging significant time midway through January, ultimately earning the starting center spot. He became a fan favorite at Target Center with his bruising play and finesse touch, both of which translated into big production. Pek averaged 16.3 points and 9.7 rebounds per game in February, and followed it up with 17.4 points and 8.5 boards per game in March. He finished the season second in the NBA in field goal percentage at .564. Pekovic had a particular knack for grabbing offensive rebounds, with 52.3 percent of his 346 boards coming on the offensive end this year.
Executive of the Year: Larry Bird (88 points — 12 first, 8 second, 4 third)
- Indiana Pacers President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird won the Executive of the Year, making him the only person in NBA history to win the league’s Most Valuable Player (1984, 85, 86), Coach of the Year (1998) and Executive of the Year honors. Bird’s Pacers went 42-24 this season and earned the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. They are currently in the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Miami Heat. He’s helped carve out a brand of strong, physical basketball through the draft and free agency. Roy Hibbert, Paul George and Tyler Hansbrough are all draft picks under Bird, and David West signed during the offseason to bring a veteran presence.
- Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations David Kahn finished 10th in the voting for Executive of the Year, finishing with four points from one second place and one third place vote. In his third season with the Timberwolves, Kahn helped piece together a team that rivaled for its first playoff spot since 2003-04 and re-energized the Target Center faithful. His fifth overall pick in 2009, Ricky Rubio, joined the club this season and provided instant highlight reel passes and an immeasurable leadership presence in the locker room. Kevin Love signed a four-year extension in January, and the team flourished under first-year coach Rick Adelman. Minnesota increased its win total from 17 in 2010-11 to 26 during the shortened 2011-12 campaign.