March 08, 2010
With a whole lotta yelling.
Sixth Man of the Year
I'm not sure how I feel about this. Because Landry has clearly come off the bench for the last time.
How I feel about his candidacy thus far is clear, as he's still at the top of the list. The guy came off the pine for 51 games as a Rocket, and averaged 16 points, 5.5 rebounds and 55 percent shooting in only 27 minutes per game, sparkling numbers. His work as a Rocket means he should head this list, for now.
By the end of April? When it's time to vote? When he'll have started nearly 30 games? Harder to tell. For now, I'd like to celebrate this guy's 2009-10 accomplishments as a sixth man, because he clearly brought it in Houston.
He's started just seven games out of 62, and though his box score stats aren't much (about nine points and eight rebounds with a block in 29 minutes), just about every advanced-statistical metric, combined with out-and-out viewing of this guy working all over the place defensively, tells you that A.V. belongs.
This is where people get upset, and they're just going to have to deal with it.
Jamal Crawford(notes) seems like a good step ahead of Manu, but he also plays a few more minutes. Per-minute, Ginobili destroys Crawford in rebounds, assists, doubles him up in steals and blocks, and scores 1.8 fewer points per 36 minutes than JC. It's not by much, but when he's been on the court, Manu Ginobili plays better all-around basketball than Jamal Crawford. I don't know how any non-Hawks fan could deny that.
Coach of the Year
My typical caveat. Not because I'm trying to deflect criticism, but because I'm right as rain. Ten coaches deserve this award right now, and if you take my rankings (the overall 10 or just what you see here) and flip them, I couldn't dispute your flippings for an instance. Not one of these candidates is more deserving than the next.
1. Scott Skiles
The Bucks are third in defensive efficiency, and Skiles has cobbled a winning team together without Michael Redd(notes), with two point guards who should be the worst (on paper) defensive point guards in the NBA and with a starting point (kid) shooting 36.6 percent.
2. Jerry Sloan
Amidst the trade nonsense, the injuries, the weirdness that is that team, Sloan's Jazz have been on absolute fire lately and their defense has improved.
3. Scott Brooks
Has a proper superstar, sure, but he's also in the midst of a rebuilding project - a team that merely moved from one town to another but was made to look like an expansion team - and the Thunder are way, way ahead of schedule.
Executive of the Year
Last summer, the general manager of the youngest, cheapest and most exciting playoff contender in the NBA drafted James Harden(notes), his team's solid sixth man, ahead of Tyreke Evans(notes). He added Serge Ibaka(notes), a sound backup C/F, traded for the little-used Etan Thomas(notes), signed Kevin Ollie(notes) and extended the contract of Thabo Sefolosha(notes). Mostly moves designed to set up salary relief in the future and keep his options open while adding to the rotation. In spite of oodles of available cap space. Earlier this season, he traded for Matt Harpring's(notes) expiring contract and picked up Eric Maynor(notes) as a reward.
And the Oklahoma City Thunder are 38-24. They're two games out of having home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, GM Sam Presti has this team both packing its home stadium while working a few million under the salary cap, with all sorts of salary flexibility and draft picks yet to come. Save for the assumed knowledge that the ownership group molests collies, this is the ideal NBA franchise.
But he didn't really do anything last summer. Waited out a rather poor group of free agents, tinkered, bided his time. Which is why I can't stand this award in most years. Because you have 30 teams with one goal (yes, even the most skinflint of operations wants to win the championship because it would make them money) and 30 different ways of getting there. Winning now. Protecting for later. Building slowly. Blowing it up now. Cashing in because another team needs to blow it up now. You've seen them all before.
So for me to go all in on one executive? I can't. I'll write a nice piece this spring on who I think should be the Executive of the Year, but woe is the NBA follower that thinks this thing gets done in a year or that one executive's 12-month turn is in any way comparable to another. The Lakers are on top right now mainly because Jerry West convinced Stu Jackson to take Anthony Peeler and George Lynch off his hands back in the summer of 1996, and scared John Calipari into talking himself into Kerry Kittles a month before that.
This is a long haul, and for an award to recognize the best of the last 12 months? I have a hard time with that. So we'll have to talk again on the subject this May.