Because nothing says “entertaining column” like a bunch of misinformed pop culture references!
As always, these awards are for the players in the “Rankings Academy” only, meaning they have to be in consideration for our table.
The envelopes, please …
Best Supporting Actor: Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors. I mean, come on. This is the easiest one on the board. Klay’s performance in “2015 NBA Season” has been captivating, and at times, he’s outshined lead man Stephen Curry and made you wonder whether or not he is actually the main character. Klay’s performance this year has made Oscar winner J.K. Simmons look like that guy who does those Farmers commercials.
Breakout Performance: Hassan Whiteside, Miami Heat. Like Mickey Rourke in “The Wrestler,” Whiteside has proven that comebacks can be moving and powerful. For Hassan to come back and average nearly a double-double at the washed-up, over-the-hill age of 25, well…it’s just inspiring.
Best Foreign Language Film: Giannis Antetokounmpo. He was the only nominee. His movie sounds like it would be a cinematic triumph involving an awesome musical score, horses, knights, swords and maybe talking animals or something. It would also be in 4-D.
Best Visual Effects: Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz. The man appears to be 12 feet tall with a wingspan approximately the size of Lithuania. There’s no way he’s actually that tall; he’s gotta be doing it with camera angles and staging, maybe some interesting lighting or something. Either way, fantastic production design.
Best Hair and Makeup: Dennis Schroder, Atlanta Hawks. That yellow streak on his forehead is both endearing and frightening, depending on the light you’re in.
Best Actor: Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls. I saw this dude play at Marquette. He couldn’t shoot, wasn’t a great ballhandler and generally wasn’t much of an offensive threat unless he was taking someone to the hole. There’s no way he’s this good. But with the Bulls, he looks like one of the best up-and-coming players in the league. What a tremendous actor. That’s why they call it show business, I guess.
Best Column Written at 3 a.m.: Kels Dayton, Sheridanhoops.com. Oh wow! I … I can’t believe it. Life is full of surprises. (music starts playing) Oh, come on! Really?! I just started talking. OK, I want to thank my mom–(music plays louder) … and Rudy Gobert … and my family back home … (John Travolta escorts Dayton off the stage)..
On to the rankings.
1. Klay Thompson, G, Golden State Warriors: Klay keeps the top spot here after averaging 30 points in two games since the All-Star break and keeping the Warriors afloat without lead actor Stephen Curry. Thompson is going to have to steer the ship while Splash Bro No. 1 rests his sore foot, and how the Warriors fare in this stretch of games could go a long way in determining whether or not Curry wins the MVP award. If Golden State falters without Curry, his case is strengthened. If they continue to roll through the schedule, voters might start to give Thompson more credit for the team’s 43-10 start. So far, the ‘Dubs are 1-1, with a loss at Indiana on Sunday. Keep an eye on ’em.
2. Jimmy Butler, G, Chicago Bulls: Take a deep breath, Chicagoans. Your team seems to have righted the ship after a red-alert, panic-filled January in which everything from the team’s practice schedule to Tom Thibodeau’s job security to whether or not deep dish pizza can be considered pizza (or if it’s really a casserole) came under fire. But now, the Bulls have won six of seven and still hold a one-game lead over the surging Cavs in the Central. The Jimmy has been terrific this month, averaging 20 points, five boards and four assists per game. He’s a real calming influence.
3. Hassan Whiteside, C, Miami Heat: Our Breakout Performance winner just keeps racking up double-doubles like he was being employed to do so. He’s now averaging 14 points and 12 boards for the month. Just for a little context, Whiteside was averaging 4 points and 3 boards for December. His best game that month was an 8 and 7 against the Magic. And look at him now! Just two months later, he’s Dwyane Wade’s best friend. The lesson there? Keep plugging away, kids. You’re never out of the game. Not even at 25.
4. Rudy Gobert, C, Utah Jazz: Ruudy!! Ruuudy!! Rudy Gobert picked the perfect time (the Oscars column) to crack the top five in the rankings, and not just because of the obvious classic movie references. His improved play is the biggest reason why Utah felt comfortable shipping Enes Kanter for a 2017 first-round pick, and he’s responded, pulling down 14 rebounds and blocking 3 shots in the Jazz’ 90-81 win over the defending world champs on Monday. He even sent back Tim Duncan twice. With Kanter gone, Rudy’s now got the opportunity to play 30 minutes a night, and there’s no doubt that his numbers are going to improve as a result.
5. Giannis Antetokounmpo, F, Milwaukee Bucks: There’s that picture again. It’s precious. Giannis was showing an improved jump shot against the Bulls on Monday, knocking down two straight right out of the gate. Unfortunately for him, he went 1-for-10 the rest of the night. That’s that Tom Thibodeau defense. The Bucks announcers sounded legitimately concerned that he might fall in love with the jump shot (also known as Josh Smith Disease), and that is an issue considering his “Greek Freak” nickname and accompanying freakish athleticism.
NEXT FIVE: Draymond Green, F, Golden State; Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, G, Detroit; Dennis Schroder, G, Atlanta; Marreese Speights, F-C, Golden State; Mason Plumlee, F-C, Brooklyn.