Sheridan’s Postseason Awards Ballot: Durant is MVP, Thibodeau is Coach of the Year

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voterIn a break with tradition, I am casting my NBA awards ballot after the 81st game, not the 82nd. It’s a rarity, but this season I will not hem and haw and sleep on it until the afternoon after the final day of the season. You’re welcome.

I have been an official NBA postseason awards voter for nearly a decade, and it would have been longer if not for a rule at the Associated Press, where I worked from 1987-2005, forbidding beat from voting for postseason awards (It is OK for them to declare the national champion in college football, but it is not OK for them to vote in other sports. Does that make sense?).

It is a privilege that I do not take lightly.

Chris Bernucca’s Postseason Award Choices

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Image.AdamSilverTransparency is a two-way street.

For years, NBA media members – echoing the sentiments of its passionate fan base – wanted more transparency from Commissioner David Stern and his executive staff. Whether it was a lottery drawing, a suspension in the playoffs or a referee scandal, folks felt like they were entitled to an explanation. And they were.

Stern grudgingly came around. He arranged for the media to meet with referees prior to the season about rules changes. He allowed the media into the lottery drawing. He okayed press releases that admitted, Yes, we blew that call.

Since replacing Stern as commissioner less than three months ago, Adam Silver has taken the NBA’s transparency up a notch. He declared that there will be an open dialogue about officiating and is walking the walk by making internal memos available to the media.

But Silver is getting something back, too. At All-Star Weekend this year, the media presented the notion of transparency with regard to how its members vote on postseason awards, and the commissioner bought in. 

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Mark Heisler’s Postseason Award Choices

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Heisler_125Now for the annual post-season awards no one else has, by whatever means necessary.

Kill this page if you’re looking for the Blue Plate Special featured everywhere else with Michael Carter-Williams as Rookie of the Year, Gregg Popovich as best coach, DeMar DeRozan as Most Improved, Joakim Noah as Defensive Player of the Year, etc.

All are deserving… but it’s not as if the other candidates are chopped liver, as it seems these days when everyone compares picks over the internet and— Moooooo! –joins the herd.

All of these categories are close. In all of them, voters can use whatever criteria they choose.

In other words, it’s a meaningless popularity contest. How much good did the second of LeBron James’ back-to-back MVPs in 2010 do him after he flamed out in the postseason while playing hurt, then left Cleveland for Miami?

SH Blog: Carlisle says Nowitzki is one of 12 greatest of all-time, Cavs expected to offer Irving $80 million this summer

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Dirk-Nowitzki-Dallas-Mavericks-NBA-9-485x728Dirk Nowitzki recently moved past Oscar Robertson to take the 10th spot for all-time scoring in the NBA.

Think about that for a second. 10th all-time! It puts him ahead of legends like Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Jerry West, and the list goes on and on. It’s a surprisingly impressive feat, and it helped put into perspective just how great of a player the power forward has been to reach such a milestone.

So with his career somewhat starting to wind down at the age of 35 (about to turn 36 in a couple of months), is it finally time to start wondering where exactly he belongs when you talk about his standing in the history of the game? Is he in the conversation in terms of being a Top 10 Player of All-Time?  Top 20? According to his coach Rick Carlisle, Nowitzki is already in the Top 12, from Marc Stein of ESPN

Sheridan’s MVP Rankings, April 9 Edition: This Pick is Easy; Coach of Year is not

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magnifyingglassMy ballot will be e-mailed to NBA headquarters late at night one week from today, and I will then publish all of my picks for postseason awards — as is my standard practice.

But not every one of the 126 voters makes his/her selections public. At least that is the way it has been in the past.

But this year, transparency rules. The Pro Basketball Writers Association and the NBA media relations office have come to an agreement under which all of the voters’ picks in every single category will be made public. Too bad this didn’t happen a year ago, when we would have learned who had the gumption to vote for Jordan Crawford as Sixth Man of the Year. (The NBA even checked with the voter to see if he meant to select Jamal Crawford, and the voter responded ‘no.’ He actually felt the lesser Crawford was deserving).