The fine fellows over at The Basketball Jones added it up the other day, in reference to San Antonio's record. Figured out that we're one-quarter of the way into the NBA season. Three more of these annoying things, and we get to the playoffs. All this snow melts, and everyone gets a working computer to call their own. Good times, in 4 1/2 months.
And because we're full of cheap gimmicks, why not hand out some NBA hardware for the first quarter of the season? Mind you, this isn't a declaration as to who we think will win all the major NBA awards this spring, but over the first 20 games of the season, we believe that these players above all have earned the vote. I don't know why I just wrote the last sentence, because 80 percent of you will ignore it in order to complain about ... something. You guys always find something. Save for a [comment redacted].
We're going heavy with the name-tossing and light with the analysis because we want you to ask questions about these awards later Wednesday, around 3 p.m. ET, in the Ball Don't Lie Hump Day Chat! So click the jump now, and click the chat box in an hour to tell me what's what.
Most Valuable Player
Other people are having better offensive seasons than Dwight -- the Magic center is just eighth in PER this year -- but given his impact on the third-rated Magic defense, I feel like he wins by a hair over Chris Paul(notes) and Russell Westbrook(notes). Paul's recent slippage late in winnable games also strikes me as odd, though I fully submit that his play early in games is the reason why New Orleans is winning as many contests as it is.
It's by a nose, and a small one at that considering Dwight's issues with technical fouls. Just enjoy the fact that, and this is no joke, something like eight or nine players are having MVP-caliber seasons right now, and that's not even including LeBron James(notes) and Kevin Durant(notes).
Rookie of the Year
Not only has he become an absolute must-watch for anyone with a League Pass subscription, Griffin has turned into an All-Star level big in his rookie season, which is no small feat. Especially considering his time spent on the court with a ball dominator in Baron Davis(notes), and a reformed college shooting guard in Eric Bledsoe(notes). Griffin is in the top 10 in rebound rate this season, which is a fantastic mark for any big, much less a rookie that is still figuring things out.
Defensive Player of the Year
Wait, didn't I just give the 20-game MVP to Dwight Howard for his defensive aptitude? Sure, but I think KG has just been more aptitudanal this year, y'know?
This isn't me trying to spread things around. When it comes to hedging, helping, showing, executing, and actually changing things on his team's behalf? I think KG has been better that Dwight at this end of the court so far.
Coach of the Year
Monty Williams, New Orleans Hornets
As is the case every year, there are several deserving candidates. But though many pointed to the Hornets as the "I have no idea how great or how terrible they might be" team entering 2010-11, the fact remains that those guesses still leveled out at around a .500 mark for this team, and Williams has his squad on pace for a 48-win season in spite of all the Sturm und Drang surrounding it.
Gregg Popovich has done just as fine a job, Jim O'Brien has those Pacers playing defense, and Tom Thibodeau has forged a more than impressive start in Chicago. But it's Monty, to me, by the slimmest of margins.
Most Improved Player
It's an easy go-to move, but he is the guy. And while his per-minute stats are right in line with what we should expect from someone with Hibbert's talent and youth, when a player turns per-36-minute stats into per-game stats, and not because the guy ahead of him in the rotation was traded or his coach finally got a clue? Then you have to hand it to the player.
Because Hibbert doesn't foul as much, and he's in shape. Which allows for major minutes, and as a result? Major impact.
Sixth Man of the Year
Easy choice? Sure. But it's the right choice.
There are too many candidates that are going in and out of the starting lineup, these days, like Wilson Chandler(notes) and Taj Gibson(notes) (who, if he continues this sort of play, will be in the discussion at years end while Carlos Boozer(notes) starts). Terry has started five times, two fewer times than Wilson, but his play has been slightly better, and his starts have been slightly fewer.
Want to rant and rave? Swing by the BDL Hump Day Chat!, at 3 p.m. ET, Wednesday.
- Dwight Howard