This year, I got votes.
I won't say how or why, but save for a couple of examples that I will point out as this series moves along, my votes for the NBA's end-of-season awards count this year. And because one should never cast a vote that they're unable to defend, I'm going to be transparent and list each of my picks for the awards I voted on. Have at me in the comments, and in our Wednesday chats, where I answer questions from all comers.
Today, the Rookie of the Year.
It was this easy.
He might not end up as the best player out of his draft class, but Sacramento's Tyreke Evans(notes) was a bundle of all-around goodness that managed to sustain for the entire season. I had issues with his shot selection early on, but the Memphis product was the biggest reason Sacramento stayed out of the West's doghouse, remaining a competitive out despite the team's relative talent issues.
Did he have the ball quite a bit? Sure, but his usage rate (the amount of possessions he uses up) is right in line with Milwaukee's Brandon Jennings(notes), and I can't blame the man for dominating the ball with Kevin Martin(notes) injured for most of his final season with Sacramento, and with so few options beyond Martin to explore.
The late-season 20-5-5 push was a little distasteful to me, but my team got to make the playoffs. My team got to count, past January. I can never rip on a fan base for finding ways to entertain themselves in a season that means comparatively little. So cheer on, Sacto. You've got a great one.
Second place? I had to go with Golden State's Stephen Curry(notes), who was the very least Evans' equal over the last few months of the season. And the qualifier you just read is the reason he doesn't win a co-ROY.
Because the entire year counts. And while we'd be right to blame Don Nelson for jerking Curry around and Monta Ellis(notes) for acting a right pillock initially, the fact remains that Curry's early-season struggles were partially of his own making.
Not his fault, but a by-product of his rookie status. The guy just didn't know how to adapt early on. Put him in Evans' shoes in Sacramento, the Davidson product would have struggled just as much. He didn't deserve the minutes Nellie handed to him, or the way Ellis treated him, but when left alone (a la Tyreke), Stephen just wasn't as good.
This was over by the new year, mind you. When left alone in 2010, Curry was fantastic.
I should probably know better, and it might be a result of his late-season brilliance, but I don't know who I'd rather have on my team moving forward. Curry or Evans? Seems like a coin flip to me, at this point.
It was a close call, but as much as I respect Jennings' transition to the NBA, his youth, that 55-point game that I think I've watched four times at this point, and his defensive doggedness, I just felt like Collison was the better player this year.
Every time I flipped over to a Hornets game this season, following Byron Scott's miserable opening to 2009-10, it seemed as if Collison was keeping New Orleans in the game. The guy just seemed to make an impact that Jennings couldn't touch.
That said, I'd have no issues with the votes flip-flopping between the two, which is what happened when it came time to submit. All season I credited Andrew Bogut(notes) for the way the Milwaukee Bucks defended the screen and roll, but with Bogut out and Kurt Thomas(notes) (respectfully) slow to recover late in the season (and in the playoffs), it finally hit home that Jennings was just as impactful. What a fantastic season this kid had.
And what a year for the young ones. Blake Griffin(notes) of the Los Angeles Clippers might be the best of the lot. Curry will gain more confidence, Jennings will learn not to fade away on his jumper, and Evans will keep keeping teams close. The second round was littered with fantastic finds, and our game keeps getting better.
Works for me.
- Brandon Jennings