Sunday, May 3, 2020

NBA Resurrection ???

Feelings of being unsure and worrying about unknowns is becoming all too common, it's hard with so many cultural norms having shifted. Uncertainty is bubbling up everywhere — public health and health care systems are shattering, financial markets nearing collapse and federal government appearing useless — there's so much heavy in the world right now. I need to remember to take a breath, to not be in a hurry.

Maybe this write-up can act as a brief escape from the news, statistics and daily press briefings. Creativity, reading, good music, puzzles, long walks, nature, delicious food, loving your loved ones, and preparing for whatever comes next will help us to focus on what truly matters. Because as O-Ren Ishii so boldly stated, "now's the fxcking time!"

Sports may not be the answer but it can be an elixir, even if we're all watching from home. I miss my favorite soap opera. Will basketball exist in 2020? Plenty of rumors swirl about the NBA returning. I hope there's a way to safely bring games back to life. Below are my thoughts on regular season awards and such. Thanks for checking in. Be safe and do your best.


All NBA
1st Team: Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, Nikola Jokic, Luka Doncic, James Harden

2nd Team: Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, Bam Adebayo, Damian Lillard, Chris Paul

3rd Team: Pascal Siakam, Jayson Tatum, Domantas Sabonis, Russell Westbrook, Kyle Lowry

The NBA stipulates that each team be comprised of two forwards, a center, and two guards. Thus my selections may not reflect the 15 "best" guys, but it does reward deserving players while assuaging the positional hooey. Prerequisites aside I favored winning over stats. For instance, a case could be made for Bradley Beal on third team with his robust numbers. I chose leadership and winning by selecting Kyle Lowry for the last guard spot. Lowry's numbers are solid on a Raptor's team with the third most wins. Another close call was whether or not to select Jimmy Butler (20.2pts 6.6rbs 6.1ast). I went with Jayson Tatum (23.6pts 7.1rbs 2.9ast). Tatum played in five more games than Butler plus the Celtics were ahead of the Heat in the standings. Gobert could easily be one of the centers; I rewarded Bam and Sabonis, assuming I can slot Sabonis in at center. I also think it's refreshing to see new names on this list.

COY
1. Nurse (TOR) 2. Donovan (OKC) 3. Jenkins (MEM) 4. Spoelstra (MIA) 5. Vogel (LAL)

This category was tough. My initial notes had eight viable choices. The five above plus Carlisle, Snyder and Stevens. Honestly a case could be made for any of these tacticians. I believe my top two coaches did the most with their rosters, especially when factoring in outside expectations versus on-court results. There was some masterful coaching this year and the talent of those calling the shots goes deeper than my list.

ROY
1. Ja Morant 2. Kendrick Nunn 3. Zion Williamson

Ja Morant as Rookie of the Year was the easiest award to give out. Memphis had the eighth spot out west. Morant draws most of the opposition's attention and Memphis relies on him to produce. I enjoy watching him attack, he's fearless. As amazing as he is athletically he also dissects defenses with his IQ. Ja's ability to make the right reads allows him to hunt opportunities and facilitate simultaneously. Speaking of playoffs, I put Nunn ahead of Zion because he started in 62 games for a Heat team that would have had home court in the first round.

6th Man
1. Dennis Schroder 2. Montrezl Harrell 3. Lou Williams

Schroder played in 63 games this year but started only once. He was on the closing unit that was clutch as hell. The Thunder had five winning basketball players and three of them were point guards. Their crunch-time lineup was winning games, OKC held the five seed. Schroder's numbers are equally impressive to that of the two Clippers and the Thunder have a lot less to work with. Hell, the Clipper's bench could probably grab a playoff spot in the east. This award goes to Dennis Schroder among a deserving list of elite reserves. 

MIP
1. Bam Adebayo 2. Brandon Ingram 3. Luka Doncic 4. Pascal Siakam 5. Malcolm Brogdon

Any one of the top four could win this award. I lean toward Bam and Ingram mostly due to the dramatic leap they took. Not to say that Luka didn't grow by leaps and bounds, he's an MVP threat. Siakam continues to grow his game year after year. How many times can a player win this award? Bam gets most improved in my book. Who had him on an all-NBA team at the start of the year? Adebayo took charge of his own destiny and in doing so he may have become Draymond 2.0. Should anyone doubt Bam's motor, defensive versatility, or play making skills, he'll be the first to shut that shit down. He's a glimpse into the future of the five.


DPOY
1. Anthony Davis (2.4b 1.5s) 2. Giannis 3. Gobert

Davis was the best defender I watched this season. He's a defensive cheat code who excels at erasing mishaps on that side of the ball. Not only is he athletically gifted with size, speed and strength, his instincts are uncanny as well. The economy of motion with which he wreaks havoc is unprecedented at his position. Steals, blocks, rebounds, clamping fools straight up, deterring shots, or being a help defender, the Brow is as good as anyone on the gritty side of the floor. Somehow Davis makes it look pretty.

MVP 
In my mind there were eight worthy candidates for MVP

Giannis - 29.6pts 13.7rbs 5.8ast 31.71 PER (1)

Harden - *34.4pts 6.4rbs 7.4ast 28.39 PER (2)

Davis - 26.7pts 9.4rbs 3.1ast 28.25 PER (3)

Luka - 28.7pts 9.3rbs 8.7ast 27.75 PER (4)

Kawhi - 26.9pts 7.3rbs 5.0ast 26.76 PER (5)

Dame - 28.9pts 4.3rbs 7.8ast 26.25 PER (6)

LeBron - 25.7pts 7.9rbs *10.6ast 26.08 PER (7)

Jokic - 20.2pts 10.2rbs 6.9ast 25.08 PER (8)

You may have noticed these players have the eight highest PER's (a cool coincidence realized after compiling stats). Harden led the NBA in *scoring, LeBron in *assists. I can safely say that these were/are the eight best players this year. Opinions will vary. Valuable became the key word in trimming my list down to five. The five players on my MVP ballot: LeBron, Giannis, Luka, Jokic, Dame.

There's an obvious and valid WTF no Harden argument to be made. His numbers continue to be video game-like. But is his team still his team? Kawhi's omission is due to two factors. First, he played in too few games (51). And second, the Clippers have perhaps the deepest roster and are really good even without him. Leaving Davis off was also difficult. AD leads the Lakers in every major statistical category except assists and is their leader on defense. LeBron's the engine that makes LA go — maybe they poach votes from each other — I went with LeBron.

MVP 
Let's examine the finalists.

LeBron, Giannis, Luka, Jokic & Dame 

Luka's the most unassailable choice other than the top two guys on everyone's list. His numbers are insane as the linchpin of the most potent offense (28.7pts 9.3rbs 8.7ast 27.75 PER). At 21 he's already proven himself to be a gift from the basketball gods. Face it Luka's an assassin, there's no telling how deadly Lone-star will become.

Jokic and the Nuggets had the third best record in the west. Who else takes Denver to these heights, the list would be small? Their roster is nice but it doesn't wow. The Nuggets without Jokic don't make the playoffs, period. That counts for something in my book.

Dame was on fire, as in, he was a human flamethrower unable to be extinguished by opponents. Lillard is probably the single most valuable guy to his team. The Blazers were mired by injuries all season and yet he kept them afloat and only three games out in the win column from the eighth seed. I relish watching Dame unload 35 footers in the face of his defender. He's a leader on and off the court, a good example for youngsters and adults. I was hoping he'd will this team into the playoffs. The Blazers could be mean next year when fully healthy.


Let's be real, the battle for MVP is a two man race. Giannis and LeBron are the only options. Giannis  is a deserving recipient, he had the best numbers on the winningest team.

How many less wins would Milwaukee have if they played in the west? A few things would happen; Milwaukee's point differential would go down, as would their winning percentage, and Giannis would play more minutes to account for a tougher schedule. His numbers could potentially go up in that scenario. It's perfectly fine if Antetokounmpo wins his second straight MVP.

How many more wins would the Lakers have in the east? LeBron's already doing what Giannis is trying to grow into. James controls entire games facilitating offense with maestro-like precision. The Lakers suffer far more when James is on the bench than when Giannis sits for the Bucks. LeBron had the Lakers in prime position to advance through the west. Maybe they'll meet in The Finals. Or maybe not. We might already have all that the NBA is capable of giving us this year. Crown the king. LeBron deserves MVP.

80choices

2 comments:

  1. Great article I can tell you know your stuff. I definitely agree with the part at the end about giannis growing into Lebron. A lot of people think Giannis is already just as good as Lebron but really he isn’t there yet. In my opinion the next Lebron is luka he is a leader just like Lebron I see a lot of traits in Luka that I see in Lebron. great job this article good read

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  2. Thanks for reading and giving feedback, much appreciated from one hoops fan to another. Stoked for the comment and hope to hear from you again. Be well

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