Here are NBA Wired's regular season award winners:
Most Valuable Player
|LeBron James is seeking his third MVP award.|
Kevin Durant's frontcourt scoring and defensive rebounding are incredibly valuable, but Durantula's right-hand man, an improved Russell Westbrook, was healthy all year. CP3 lifting L.A. after the team struggled without Chauncey Billups made Paul a legitimate contender. He's arguably the second-best player in the league after James.
Defensive Player of the Year
Dwight Howard can usually sleepwalk his way to this award. Howard's late-season injury combined with Orlando's slip to defensive mediocrity (and perhaps some voter fatigue as well; I don't claim to be immune) opens the door for other star defenders.
Tyson Chandler and Kevin Garnett are the favorites. Andre Iguodala and Luol Deng are also contenders, and their plus/minus stats- specifically RAPM (regularized adjusted plus/minus)- give them legitimacy. However, those stats paint a positive picture for Tyson and KG, too. Both centers- yes Garnet plays center now- are elite defensive rebounders and shot-changers who also defend their position well. Garnett slowed the likes of Kevin Love and Al Jefferson, while Chandler locked down Howard a few times.
Boston has the NBA's second-best defense thanks to KG, while New York has the fifth-best defense despite playing Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony at the forward positions. Garnett may be the best per-minute defender in the league, but Chandler bridges the gap playing more minutes in more games. Tyson gets the edge based on playing with worse teammates, but KG is deserving as well.
Sixth Man of the Year
Rookie of the Year
Kyrie Irving helped the Cavs overachieve this year. He averaged 18.8 points and 5.5 assists per game on excellent percentages, and he showed a combination of poise, skill, and underrated athleticism that allowed him to get anywhere he wanted on the court.
Iman Shumpert and Ricky Rubio displayed great play and potential as rookies, too.
Most Improved Player
|Andrew Bynum and Greg Monroe|
Bynum edges out Monroe based on his transition into a big minutes/big responsibility player on the Lakers following the Lamar Odom trade.
Coach of the Year
Tom Thibodeau, Frank Vogel, Doug Collins, and Gregg Popovich are all deserving candidates. Thibodeau lost his star, Derrick Rose, for nearly half the season, yet Chicago played well and even improved on a few facets from last year. Collins was an early-season favorite, but Philly's play declined throughout the season.