Bernucca: Handing out NBA midseason awards

TRILLION WATCH: Another fantastic week for the 15-zero crowd. Memphis’ Hamed Haddadi had a 4 trillion Monday vs. the LA Clippers and was matched by Milwaukee’s Tobias Harris on Tuesday vs. the LA Lakers. The best disappearing act of the week went to Denver’s Julyan Stone, who had a 6 trillion Wednesday vs. Oklahoma City. And Chicago’s Daequan Cook made a valiant late charge with a 5 trillion Saturday vs. Memphis. Congrats to everyone who makes playing in the NBA look effortless.

GAME OF THE WEEK: LA Clippers at Golden State, Jan. 21. This is the top of the triangle – the Clippers go to Oklahoma City on Tuesday, and the Thunder visit the Warriors on Wednesday – and there is some simmering hatred between the teams. The Clippers didn’t like the way the Warriors overtly celebrated a win at Los Angeles on Nov. 3, and Warriors coach Mark Jackson offered a death stare after three straight alley-oop dunks by the Clippers in a win Jan. 5.

GAME OF THE WEAK: Sacramento at New Orleans, Jan. 21. Other than the showdown between lackluster lottery picks Thomas Robinson and Austin Rivers, the best thing about this game is that it probably will be over by the time you read this.

TWO MINUTES: If the Lakers make the playoffs, they can thank the Rockets and Blazers, both of whom have tumbled back to .500 after quick starts and likely will regret squandering huge leads in the loss column. The Rockets were a .600 team (21-14) on Jan. 8 but have lost seven in a row. “I think we’re kind of in a fog right now,” James Harden said. The Blazers were a .571 team (20-15) on Jan. 10 but have lost five in a row, including three at home. … How do you feel after going to the dentist? Raptors guard Alan Anderson had dental surgery to fix a chipped tooth Wednesday afternoon, then matched his career high with 27 points that night against Chicago. … On Sunday, the Celtics resorted to intentionally fouling Pistons rookie Andre Drummond, a 39 percent free-throw shooter. Drummond foiled the strategy by knocking down 6-of-8 from the line. his best performance of the season. “You know you’re in the league when they do that,” Detroit coach Lawrence Frank said. … Tim Duncan was given another “DNP-Old” by Spurs coach Gregg Popovich on Saturday in Atlanta, and it was well-deserved. Duncan has at least two blocks in 16 straight games and 23 of the last 24 contests. During that span, he is averaging 3.13 blocks. For the season, he is at 2.78 blocks, third in the league behind spring chickens Larry Sanders and Serge Ibaka and his best norm since the 2002-03 season. … Where did Chicago’s suffocating defense that held Atlanta to 58 points Monday come from? “Early this morning, Tibs (coach Tom Thibodeau) was going crazy on us at shootaround,” center Joakim Noah said. “Just waking up early in the morning and having Tibs just screaming at you and screaming at you and screaming at you. We didn’t want that to happen to us again.” … Seven members of the Bucks and six players on the Suns had not been born the last time Milwaukee won in Phoenix on Feb. 21, 1987, a dry spell that ended Thursday. The longest current drought any team now has in one city is the 28 straight losses by the Warriors in San Antonio, dating to Feb. 14, 1997 – or four months before the Spurs drafted Tim Duncan. … The Nets are staying in the hunt for the top seed in the Eastern Conference – they are three games behind Miami entering today’s final East River showdown with the Knicks – simply by beating the teams they’re supposed to. Brooklyn is 15-0 against teams below .500 (at the time of the game) and 9-16 against everyone else. … The injury-ravaged Timberwolves ended a five-game skid – all by double digits – with Saturday’s home win over the Rockets that included a fourth-quarter surge led by D-League journeyman Chris Johnson and French import Mickael Gelabale, who signed 10-day contracts that morning and combined for 23 points in the final period. The signings were on such short notice that ESPN’s boxscore still says Gelabale didn’t play, even though he scored 11 points. But Minnesota has another problem besides missing eight players with injuries; it can’t make an outside shot. The Wolves are making just 29.3 percent of their 3-pointers. Since Denver shot 27.8 percent from the arc in the 2002-03 season, only one team has shot below 30 percent from distance for an entire season – last year’s Charlotte Bobcats (29.5 percent), the worst team in NBA history.

Trivia Answer: Larry Bird, who won MVP three times, and Jerry West, who never won it. … Happy 50th Birthday, Detlef Schrempf. … Inaugurating a black man for his second presidential term on the MLK holiday. Yeah, that’s more like it.

Chris Bernucca is the deputy editor of His columns appear Monday during the season. You can follow him on Twitter


  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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