You Gon’ Learn Today (About Award Season)
I have found that a great number of the loudest babblers when it comes to sports (and specifically, for the sake of this post, NBA observers) fail to understand the spirit of the awards that given to players, coaches and executives annually.
Best player is not ANALOGOUS with Most Valuable (i.e. the Player who has been the most indispensable to the success of his team, while considering peripheral factors, in the year at hand.
Best coach is not ANALOGOUS with Coach of the Year (i.e. the Coach who has done the best job, with all factors considered, in the year at hand).
Best general manager is not ANALOGOUS with Manager of the Year (i.e. the GM who has done the best job, with all factors considered, in the year at hand)
For instance, LeBron James is indisputably the best player in the NBA. Anyone who disputes that is an idiot and has no credibility when discussing anything involving the NBA in any format. Your personal feelings toward him are irrelevant (and are most likely foolish and unsubstantiated, given that they are not first-hand accounts; same when Kobe Bryant was the best player in the league for a decade).
However, LeBron James plays with two current All-Stars and several players who were All-Stars for multiple years before joining the Heat. James puts the Heat head and shoulders over the rest of the NBA’s teams, but the Heat are a 55+ win team without him. Again, if you even attempt to dispute this, you’re a lackwit buffoon.
Kevin Durant plays with two All-Stars and a deep team, which, for the most part, had been completely healthy until Russell Westbrook’s recent injury. Durant’s ability puts the Thunder ahead of the rest of the teams in the Western Conference, but Durant benefits from playing off Russell Westbrook (and vice-versa), and Durant benefits from playing alongside Serge Ibaka (and vice-versa). There is no “argument” against this statement, because it is statement of fact, not who you “stan” for and refuse to give credit to (or who you heap superfluous amounts of credit upon).
Carmelo Anthony plays with a fringe All-Star (Tyson Chandler), another fringe All-Star who did not make the All-Star team in 2013 (JR Smith) and a ton of role players and specialists. The New York Knicks; unlike the Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat, who were both virtually and completely healthy (not considering the healthy scratches and made-up injuries for Heat players at times this season; which did not affect their ability to win, which FURTHER augments the validity of the aforementioned sentiments) all season, had massive injuries to nearly everyone on the team not named JR Smith. Anthony himself missed 10 games this season. At least six other players missed at least 10 games, and Amaré Stoudemire missed 53 games, while four others missed at least 40.
With a healthy unit and continuity (which both the Thunder and Heat have had for the past two-plus seasons), the Heat and Thunder won 66 and 60 games, respectively. The Knicks won 54 games, and very clearly lost a good 10 or 11 games due to a combination of Anthony, Raymond Felton, Stoudemire, Iman Shumpert, Chandler and Rasheed Wallace either all or joint and severally being out at the same time. The Knicks lost 10 games missing at least three of those players by fewer than 3 points. This is not to suggest that solely having those players would guarantee wins, but anyone with a functioning bulb can objectively take each of the previous 582 words in this piece and deduce logically.
In the 72 games that Anthony played, he led the Knicks to an Atlantic Division crown and the second-best record in the East with a less talented team than the Thunder and Heat possess. Talent level is somewhat (but not largely) subjective, but this is where peoples’ idiocy and
inability unwillingness to put their fandom/standom/biases aside and consider the context of the Most Valuable Player Award.
Based upon what is illustrated above, feel free to tell ME who the most valuable player is in the NBA for the 2012-2013 season.
The same guidelines are in place for Coach of the Year. Gregg Popovich is in a league of his own, as head coach of the San Antonio Spurs. And while you do not penalize him for his sustained and unwavering success over the past seventeen years at the helm of the Spurs, has Popovich done anything that was not expected or deemed capable of a coach who has never had anything close to a losing season since acquiring Tim Duncan in 1997 – and with a largely continuous roster over the past several seasons?
Same with Miami and Oklahoma City; their core pieces have been the same over the past three seasons.
New York, like the city that they represent, has had an ever-changing landscape of shuffled rosters, injuries, new insertions of personnel and lack of continuity all season, and still won 54 games. George Karl has routinely won 50 games in Denver (while choking every single time his teams have gotten close to winning NBA Titles, which, in part negates him from any serious consideration for the award, since he’s always had high powered teams that win at least 50 games nearly every season). Mike Woodson mixed, matched, adapted and inspired a M*A*S*H* unit to success unseen by the Knicks’ franchise in twenty years. The award is given to the most outstanding job done by a coach considering each of these factors; not the coach with the best players or the most wins. How the differentiation is not made by supposedly ardent fans, and seemingly arcane in many of their eyes is flummoxing to say the least.
Again, based upon the actual criteria of the award, feel free to tell me who the coach of the year is in the NBA for the 2012-2013 season.
General Manager is much, much more subjective, although team success, contributions made as a result of the moves conducted (nor moves that weren’t made) by the GM are the chief considerations before politics are involved (which is what the previous two awards are largely based upon). But without taking into consideration these factors, you should not be having any discussion about who should win this or that award, because most peoples’ assertions are slanted based upon who they like/don’t like and the team they are a fan of (or negated often times because of teams that they hate).
Objective reasoning will lead you to different results. Much like the 6th Man of the Year award, which was properly given to JR Smith of the Knicks, as he scored more, played better defense and had a larger win share (i.e. impact on the wins that his team achieved) than Jarrett Jack and Jamal Crawford. This should have been the least debated award, and yet fan biases have led people to become irrational in discussing awards.
I hate being pulled into these types of discussions, because what I have written in this piece is what I consider (that is, what the awards SHOULD be based upon), and too few people do the same, which is why I refuse to enter into dialogue most of the time.