Bernucca: Handing out NBA midseason awards

However, Davis and Beal are the only ones who have an agnostic’s chance in Kansas of overtaking No. 6 pick Damian Lillard in Portland, who is the runaway leader beyond his production. He plays the toughest position in the game and has his team firmly in the West’s playoff race.

Davis and Beal can’t win it. Lillard can only lose it.

PRESEASON PICK: Lillard. Hey, we got one.

SNOTTY REMARK: All along, Royce White’s devious plan has been to win this award next year.

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: With all due respect to Carmelo Anthony, just because he is having the best all-around season of his career does not mean we can start etching his name on the Maurice Podoloff Trophy. It says here he is a clear fourth behind LeBron James, Chris Paul and Kevin Durant.

James could easily win his fourth MVP in five years, a run of dominance only Bill Russell has achieved. He is the only player leading his team in points, rebounds and assists; his shooting is at a career high; and he defends superbly at multiple positions. Working against him is Miami’s midseason malaise, for which he must assume some responsibility.

Paul has had better seasons, probably because he never has had better teammates. But he has kept his customary spots among the top five in assists and steals, defends like the devil and scores when necessary. He also has infused the entire Clippers roster with his insatiable desire to compete.

I believe the current leader is Durant. He is the best player on the best team, always a plus. As mentioned above, he is working on a historic shooting season. He has shown commitment and results in improving his playmaking, rebounding and defense. And he has added a snarl that suggests this year’s NBA Finals will be different. Also, don’t overlook the fact that he is due, having twice finished second.

PRESEASON PICK: Durant. That makes us 2-of-7, or considerably better than what Jan Vesely shoots from the line.

SNOTTY REMARK: In a poll of players, James Harden, Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin voted for Leslie Alexander as Most Valuable Payer.

TRIVIA: Two players in NBA history have finished second in MVP voting four times. Who are they? Answer below.

THE END OF CIVILIZATION AS WE KNOW IT: Philadelphia 76ers center Andrew Bynum, who has not played this season and has said he would not return until after the All-Star break, nevertheless received 111,902 votes from fans. 

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Los Angeles Clippers guard Jamal Crawford, asking Washington Wizards guard Jordan Crawford about his recent ankle injury during Saturday’s game:

“Is your foot all right? If you want to keep it that way, don’t come guard me.”

LINE OF THE WEEK: Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City at Dallas, Jan. 18: 50 minutes, 13-31 FGs, 5-9 3-pointers, 21-21 FTs, nine rebounds, one assist, two steals, four turnovers, 52 points in a 117-114 overtime win. Durant had a league season high and career high. His 21 trips to the line had Mavericks forward Shawn Marion complaining that they were playing “five on eight.”

LINE OF THE WEAK: Ty Lawson, Denver at Oklahoma City, Jan. 16: 20 minutes, 1-4 FGs, 0-1 3-pointers, 0-0 FTs, one rebound, one assist, four turnovers, three fouls, two points in a 117-97 loss. Oh, yeah, and counterpart Russell Westbrook ran wild for 32 points in 28 minutes. Not exactly floor generalship.

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  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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