The Awards Ballot | Magic Basketball



Apr 12

The Awards Ballot


Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

With the regular season winding down and the postseason just a mere six days away, I figured I’d do what other writers have been doing lately — reveal my awards ballot. I know that I’m not a member of the Pro Basketball Writers Association, which means I do not have a say in who wins which award but I still wanted to engage in this exercise.

Most Valuable Player

adj. +/- net +/- stat. +/- PER WARP Win Shares/48
Kevin Durant +17.58 +17.3 +7.40 26.0 16.5 .237
LeBron James +17.39 +14.6 +14.13 31.1 25.3 .301
Dwyane Wade +17.00 +16.0 +10.77 27.9 19.8 .224
Dwight Howard +19.36 +9.0 +7.22 24.0 18.6 .222

This is what transcendence looks like.

It may be common knowledge to some but it still needs to be stated because it might not be obvious to others, this is LeBron James’ award to lose for the foreseeable future. And like it or not, James is approaching Michael Jordan’s level of dominance when strictly looking at on-court performance. NBA titles notwithstanding, there’s no denying it anymore. What’s scary is that James can still improve, particularly on offense where his shot selection betrays him sometimes. The idea that ‘James’ and ‘improvement’ can be in the same sentence is, somewhat, ridiculous, when you consider the fact that he is already the best player in the world … but it’s true. At this point, the only way James doesn’t win the MVP award every year for the next few years is if voters get bored and choose someone else, he regresses, or he gets hurt. That’s it. It’s possible but highly unlikely that a player, whether it’s Kevin Durant or whoever else, can produce at a similar output to James assuming he maintains his current production. Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade were very close last year but not close enough. All in all, James may not be universally liked but it would be foolish not to appreciate his greatness, at the very least.

There’s a reason why he’s called “King James.”

Rookie of the Year

adj. +/- net +/- stat. +/- PER WARP Win Shares/48
Stephen Curry +4.23 +3.2 +0.69 15.9 4.9 .071
Tyreke Evans -5.43 -6.4 +2.82 18.3 6.7 .099
Brandon Jennings +1.10 +3.1 +1.58 14.6 4.4 .076

This is an prime example where the randomness of plus/minus stats rear their ugly head. Is Tyreke Evans as bad as his adjusted plus/minus and net plus/minus numbers suggest? No, not at all. At the end of the day, when looking at other linear metrics, it becomes clear that Evans is flat-out superior to his peers and when watching him play, he just looks like a superstar in the making. The same can’t be said for either Curry or Jennings. Not yet, at least.

As for Evans, he has — without a doubt — the tools to be a special player and it’ll be interesting to see him progress in the next few years.

Sixth Man of the Year*

adj. +/- net +/- stat. +/- PER WARP Win Shares/48
Jamal Crawford +3.89 -1.2 +0.98 18.5 4.3 .141
Jason Terry +1.56 -1.0 +0.55 16.6 6.6 .121
Anderson Varejao +8.61 +13.2 +1.95 15.9 6.4 .181

*I made Manu Ginobili ineligible on my ballot since he became a starter in early March.

Jamal Crawford is probably going to win this award and honestly, it won’t be an egregious choice. Crawford has been a magnificent addition to the Atlanta Hawks and is one of the main reasons why they are a 50-win team for the first time since 1998. However, this is a classic case where people place too much of a premium on scoring when picking a sixth man and not enough on the other aspects of basketball, like defense. There’s no doubt that Anderson Varejao is one of the best defenders in the league but unfortunately, aside from a few votes for Defensive Player of the Year, he’s not going to be properly recognized for his efforts coming off the bench for the Cleveland Cavaliers. A shame.

Defensive Player of the Year

Click here to read an in-depth take on why Howard deserves to win the award for a second consecutive season.

Coach of the Year

ORtg DRtg W-L Eff. Diff.
Scott Brooks (OKC)
2008-2009 102.9 109.4 23-59 -6.5
2009-2010 108.1 104.2 49-31 +3.9
Larry Brown (CHA)
2008-2009 104.7 106.1 35-47 -1.4
2009-2010 104.4 102.7 43-37 +1.7
Scott Skiles (MIL)
2008-2009 106.7 107.9 34-48 -1.2
2009-2010 104.6 102.8 45-35 +1.8

Did you expect the Oklahoma City Thunder to win 50 games this year?

Most Improved Player

adj. +/- net +/- stat. +/- PER WARP Win Shares/48
Aaron Brooks
2008-2009 -2.39 +0.5 -1.57 12.9 0.4 .086
2009-2010 -0.05 -0.4 -0.25 16.1 4.0 .094
Andrew Bogut
2008-2009 +3.70 +7.5 +0.25 16.2 3.3 .112
2009-2010 +4.90 +9.3 +3.07 20.8 11.1 .162
Kevin Durant
2008-2009 -8.62 -8.9 +2.32 20.8 8.6 .132
2009-2010 +17.58 +17.3 +7.40 26.0 16.5 .237

To be frank, Aaron Brooks doesn’t deserve to be on this list and the statistics clearly show that. That isn’t to say that Brooks hasn’t improved, he has. But there are a plethora of other more worthy candidates, like Josh Smith for example, that should receive some publicity but it is what it is. In any case, Durant is the clear winner but it seems like he’s going to get unfairly penalized because he crosses an imaginary skill level threshold in the minds of voters. In other words, Durant is too good to take home the hardware. The point is, improvement is improvement and this year, Durant has improved the most out of any player in the NBA. End of story.

Executive of the Year

John Hammond of the Milwaukee Bucks.

Eddy Rivera
Eddy Rivera


Brooks improved partly because he got more playing time. He went from playing 25 minutes per game in 2009 to playing roughly 36 minutes per game in 2010. Brooks' per game averages are going to look better, logically, because he's getting more opportunities to play. That being said, did Brooks improve? Yes, he did. But Brooks didn't improve to the degree that Durant did. You're looking at the wrong numbers. You criticize me for apparently knowing very little about the sport even though you don't openly acknowledge the linear metrics I used to support my argument that measure how good a player is overall. It's not about per game averages. Statistics have moved beyond that in basketball. It's not strictly about offense, either. Durant has Brooks beat on defense, too, but no one talks about that because everyone is enamored with scorers and players of that ilk. I'm all for having an educated discussion but criticizing someone else's knowledge without really knowing what you're arguing about makes little sense to me.


Didnt AB's stats improve more than Durants. I thought Durant only raised his by 4 or 5 points a game while Brooks raised his by 8. Durant's FG didnt go up as much as Brook's either. Brooks Assists went up higher as well, 3P% as well. Your logic makes no sense. Just because Durant is a better player? That doesnt make him a more improved player and you should feel stupid for saying AB doesnt deserve the award. Shows you know very little about basketball.

Eddy Rivera
Eddy Rivera

@Mike in Senegal

Thanks for chiming in with your thoughts. Yeah, a potential ECF rematch between the Magic and the Cavaliers would be an interesting series to watch. Without a doubt.

Mike in Senegal
Mike in Senegal

Hi. Huge Cavs fan here. Now, you must realize that I hate the Magic with every fiber of my soul after the amazing "Howard, Turkoglu, PIETRUS show" last year. That being said, I would just like to comment that DWIGHT HOWARD SHOULD WIN DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR every year until he retires. I cringe and scream at the Cavs every time that man is on the floor. His defense sends me into fits and palpitations. He has to be one of the biggest (pardon the pun) defensive monsters that has ever existed (and his offensive abilities aren't too shabby either).

Just wanted to let you Magic fans that our hate of your team is served with a healthy dose of respect, and that I am so glad that we have Shaq now. It might not be enough, but we shall see . . .