Bernucca: Handing out NBA midseason awards

A dozen teams have played at least half their schedule and another seven will join them today, when the most of the most significant holidays in this country’s history becomes the season’s unofficial midway point.

So Dr. Martin Luther King Day is as good a time as any to examine the current front-runners for the annual awards. Included are links to both our staff’s preseason picks and the current rankings.

And as always, we’ve included snide remarks if/when necessary.

EXECUTIVE OF THE YEAR: Last summer’s deep free agent market and the looming supertax seemed to force creativity among GMs and generate more candidates than usual. Atlanta’s Danny Ferry, Brooklyn’s Billy King, Boston’s Danny Ainge, Miami’s Pat Riley and New York’s Glen Grunwald still have the second half of the season for their already solid moves to have additional impact.

They are in a third tier behind Golden State’s Bob Myers, who added three rotation players through the draft and significant strength to his bench with veterans Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry; Oklahoma City’s Sam Presti, who showed huge cojones in coldly dealing James Harden and getting back a virtually seamless fit in Kevin Martin; and Houston’s Daryl Morey, who took an unreal trip down the rabbit hole of rebuilding but began climbing out by landing and locking up Harden.

And that trio should tip its collective caps to Gary Sacks, who wasn’t even officially the Clippers GM this summer when he signed Blake Griffin to a max entension – the biggest step toward keeping Chris Paul – and brought in Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes, Lamar Odom, Grant Hill and Ronny Turiaf to fill out the deepest roster in the NBA. LA’s bench would be a playoff team in the East.

PRESEASON PICK: Mitch Kupchak. Uh, not quite.

SNOTTY REMARK: Sixers GM Tony DiLeo says there’s no timetable for him winning this award.

COACH OF THE YEAR: There already have been four changes, and only one – P.J. Carlesimo replacing Avery Johnson in Brooklyn – is having the desired effect.

Until recently, Minnesota’s Rick Adelman was doing a terrific juggling act with serious personal matters, seven new players and as many significant injuries, including his top two studs. Mark Jackson has done a nice job of changing the culture in Golden State by getting his players to defend and rebound without their best big defender and rebounder. And Mike Woodson has thrived under the microscope in New York.

Right now, however, this looks like a two-horse race between Central Division foes Tom Thibodeau of Chicago and Frank Vogel of Indiana, both of whom are positioned for top-four seeds despite playing the entire season without their meal ticket.

Yes, Tibs’ guy is a bit more instrumental to his team’s success. But in the absence of Danny Granger, Vogel has overseen the development of Paul George, George Hill and even Lance Stephenson and kept slumping Roy Hibbert as the backbone of the league’s best defense. All this while maintaining a 50-win pace.

PRESEASON PICK: George Karl, whose team’s home-heavy remaining schedule keeps him a long shot.

SNOTTY REMARK: On, you can order custom seatwarmers with the likenesses of Bernie Bickerstaff, Kelvin Sampson and Terry Porter.


  1. Obert says

    I feel so bad for Jan Vesely.

    Last April he averaged 9+7 in 28 minutes per game while shooting 64% from the line. I think 13 of his last 17 games had him ending up with double digit points or boards.. He was fouling less than half as often and turning it over way less (most of Jan’s TOs are illegal screens) .. And in general, he was still every bit of a Euro rookie, but that vaunted basketball IQ and motor was on full display. The guy was an absolute pest, all elbows and knees playing great help D and looking solid at denying the ball. Yes, most of his points were on dunks but his defense and good passing skills / court vision really started to mitigate his utter lack of shooting. I was excited for him to eventually become a weird mix of Joakim Noah and (defensively anyway) Jared Jeffries a few years down the road.

    Then ths offseason happened. He rediscovered the J he had in Europe but he looked a step slow and alternately tentative or over compensatory . He looked like the guy who played his first few games here again. It was like all the decent adjustments he made in 60 games were thrown out the window. I still don’t know what happened. I’ve heard the Wizards plan was to spend all year bulking him up and not playing him much as they had a full front court and a desire to turn Vesely into a more traditional big.. And it seems like he just put on weight and got slow.

    Kids confidence is nonexistent. That wasn’t easy to see coming with his hilarious arrogant streak. I don’t think anyone could have predicted that a rough start would send him into a mental tailspin that left him virtually useless as a player, even those who thought he would be useless for other reasons.

    This seems like a typical Wizards move. Draft a guy and them try and turn him into a completely different guy. Why not just draft a player closer to what they wanted? It’s mind boggling. What’s the point of drafting Jan Vesely and then trying to make him traditional? He shot 3s in Europe. Better than Kawhi did in college. The competition isn’t the same but it’s not like they use a square ball over there. I think what they wanted was an Evolutionary Diaw, but it’s hard to even see the glimmers of Diaw in there now outside of some passive offense that looks like nice touch passes.

    IMO he’s salvageable. Elsewhere. Like Blatche and McGee, the Wizards inexplicably ignored their utter inability to develop a raw talent and now just get to sit around and watch his value diminish game by game. You can pop Kevin Seraphin and Chris Singletons name in there too.

    All I know is, they better get an amazing return on Okafor when they trade him, next season or this offseason. and this team better get a top 5 pick for our new GM and coaching staff to play with after we run these bums out of town. The sooner the better. This team is filled with guys who have shown they can do certain things well but never get tasked with doing them because Randy Wittman is so scatterbrained and flip floppy. Got 10 boards in 30 minutes playing against Amare? Other guy got 5 boards in 5 minutes vs Tyson Chandler? You can be damn sure Wittmans looking at that 10 rebound number and getting a chubby. Willie Loman’d.

  2. stepxxxxz says

    most improved…yes, JaRue……hon mention to a host of guys.David Lee for playing defense, and Vucevic deserves at least a mention. Jesus, the guy has been astoundingly good. Defensive player…CP3 is hard to argue with, really, but I think Chandler deserves second at least and Iguodala an hon. mention……..not sure why he always flies under the radar. Also…a n hon mention for larry sanders. MVP……..Durant, hands down.

  3. stepxxxxz says

    Well a couple disagreements. Vogel never comes close to getting my vote. Bad adjustments in games. A great defensive system and just as bad an offensive one. A high school offense in fact. He’s lucky he has paul george. That said, the pacers are playing very well…….so maybe that IS vogel. I dont know. I think Pop wins coach of the year. Mark Jackson second…or vice versa. Rookie is Lillard. (terrence jones WOULD be an impact player if McHale had a clue). Sixth man…well, crawford is the favorite, but I’ll take Jack. And right now Hayward in utah deserves mention. Exec of year is Presti. I personally still dont believe in the Clips………(only charles barkley agrees with me). I think OKC is hands down team to beat……..(and clips bench is overrated….watching today’s game one sees why)…….but these are minority opinions. Give it another month……..I say Memphis and Denver are going to come on strong. People forget its a long season. Pop and Karl always have taken the long view…….trying not to burn guys out, tinkering with rotations, and defensive schemes. Denver actually has shown what they are capable of………when they won that double OT the other night vs the Thunder.

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