Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
It’s awards season, so let’s make up a couple. Who’s your stud of the year, the player who most impressed you? And your dud?
Steve Aschburner: Another way to phrase the first part of this would be, “¿Quién es más macho?” based on my choice: Ricky Rubio. The pressure was on this kid, built up over the two years between his draft selection in 2009 and his arrival from Barcelona, finally, this season. Yet he proved to be far more NBA-ready than many people expected. His innate ability to deliver the ball transformed Minnesota offensively and his long arms and instincts kept him surprised those of us who thought he’d be overwhelmed defensively. He was “Linsanity” in flyover country, though for longer and more legitimately. Minnesota was 18-13 in the games Rubio started, 8-26 (with one game left) when he did not. Dud of the year? Ladies and gentlemen, may we present Mr. Dwight! David! Howard!
Fran Blinebury: He doesn’t have the classic, muscular stud physique, but Tony Parker put the Spurs on his back and carried them to the best record in the West, setting up for a realistic run at San Antonio’s fifth championship. And he does it all with that sly, knowing grin on his face. As for a dud, it’s hardly a race. I do believe Dwight Howard is Secretariat at the Belmont, running 31 lengths away from the field.
Scott Howard-Cooper: Most impressed? Probably LeBron James, because he played at an MVP level (again) while improving his image (for a change), even if he can partly thank Dwight Howard for setting a new high for player-movement lows. Speaking of my dud, Howard doesn’t win this prestigious award. At least he produced in a big way. But no one could have imagined Lamar Odom’s 2011-12. A letdown after leaving the Lakers, maybe. But to be told to stay away from the Mavs would have been unimaginable to consider in December.
Shaun Powell: Kevin Love wasn’t the best player in 2011-12, but I absolutely loved how he approached every game and the performance level he kept until he was injured. He really, really wanted the Wolves to be winners, if only to dispute the notion he was just a guy putting up impressive numbers on a lousy team. There aren’t many players willing to stick their nose in the paint to grab a rebound in traffic, and also possess the necessary skill to win the 3-point shootout. Plus, he’s an engaging guy. As for the dud, Andray Blatche would get arrested for stealing this many millions if he worked on Wall Street.
John Schuhmann: My Stud of the Year, the guy who impressed me most whenever I caught him on League Pass, is Paul Millsap. His numbers weren’t as good as they were last year, but he’s hit a lot of big shots for the Jazz and is a plus-195 for a team that has outscored its opponents by only 39 points overall. I never believed in the Jazz until last week’s Blogtable, but I’ll be the first to say now that Tyrone Corbin deserves some serious Coach of the Year consideration and that Millsap is the man. My Dud of the Year has got to be Lamar Odom, who we’ve already discussed extensively.
Sekou Smith: Can you pick an entire organization for Stud of the Year? I’m doing it anyway. The Chicago Bulls doing what they’ve done this season with and without reigning MVP Derrick Rose in the lineup is nothing short of remarkable. From the front office to the coaching staff all the way down to the end of the bench, the Bulls have made a mockery of the league’s age old formula that says a team doesn’t run properly without a couple of stars dragging the everyone else around on their backs. As for my dud of the year, well, this is a team game. And no one has made me cover my eyes more this year than the Charlotte Bobcats. The end of this season can’t come soon enough for that crew.