Award races head into stretch run

By Fran Blinebury, NBA.com

Four weeks from today the regular season is over. All eyes will be on the playoffs. And that means the final push is on for the 2013-14 awards.

The duel for MVP honors has been a match race all season between Kevin Durant and LeBron James. Michael Carter-Williams jumped out of the pack early as the one to beat for Rookie of the Year. But the other races have been wide open.

Here’s one man’s view as we head into the home stretch:

Most Improved Player

Anthony Davis, Pelicans — This is why the Pelicans were so happy to make him the No. 1 pick in the 2012 Draft. This is what coach Monty Williams says Davis probably could have shown last season if the coach hadn’t kept a tight rein on his prized rookie, limiting his minutes and his exposure to getting overpowered while he built up his slender body. When Davis erupted for 40 points, 21 rebounds, three assists and three steals against the Celtics, it was the culmination of a spectacular sophomore year. He’s been steady and breathtaking at both ends of the court all season, enough to beat out the likes of worthy candidates Goran Dragic and Lance Stephenson in a crowded field of contenders. Also getting votes: DeAndre Jordan, Trevor Ariza.


VIDEO: Anthony Davis was nominated for Kia Player of the Month for March

Sixth Man of the Year

Manu Ginobili, Spurs – Following an injury-plagued 2012-13 season that saw him enter the playoffs last spring looking bedraggled, the player who puts the jolt into the Spurs attack is back playing like a live wire in his 12th season. His field-goal percentage is up and his he’s back to doing all the things at both ends of the floor that make him a disruptive force and a difference maker. Jamal Crawford is the closest contender and has done many of the same things for the Clippers. The deciding factor has to be overall team performance. L.A. is in the top half of the Western Conference standings, but that’s once again the Spurs at the top. The return of Manu to his old form is a prime reason. Also getting votes: Reggie Jackson, Markieff Morris.


VIDEO: Manu Ginobili talks about the Spurs’ season and his play

Rookie of the Year

Michael Carter-Williams, Sixers — He was the sixth guard selected (11th overall) in 2013 and wasted no time showing he never should have lasted that long. He’s put up big numbers even as the Sixers have suffered through what is a historically inept season. If all of general manager Sam Hinkie’s decisions turn out so well, the pain will be worth the price. The fun could just be starting when MCW gets to team up with a healthy Nerlens Noel next season. It’s a long way back to the No. 2 man in the voting for this category, but we’re jumping the more likely pick and going with Tim Hardaway Jr. His hard-charging style has been one of the few reasons to watch the Knicks all year. Also getting votes: Victor Oladipo, Trey Burke. Kia Rookie Ladder


VIDEO: At the All-Star break, Michael Carter-Williams talks about his season

Defensive Player of the Year

Joakim Noah, Bulls — The Pacers spent the early part of the year polishing their reputation as the league’s top defensive team, with center Roy Hibbert starting to clear room on his mantle as the pre-eminent rim protector in the game. But it is no coincidence that the Pacers’ struggles fit with a slippage in Hibbert’s game. The truth is, when you get him just a little bit away from the basket, he’s not so dominant. Meanwhile the Bulls have shrugged off the loss of Derrick Rose and Luol Deng because Noah simply won’t let them stop working and scrapping and competing. He’s the heart and soul of the team, especially that ferocious defense as Chicago charges late and the Pacers try to regain their equilibrium. Also getting votes: Serge Ibaka, Dwight Howard.


VIDEO: Rachel Nichols talks with Joakim Noah about his surge in play of late

Coach of the Year

Gregg Popovich, Spurs — The first instinct is to say that Jeff Hornacek has taken a Suns team that everyone assumed was diving for the lottery — and the Las Vegas wise guys had pegged for 21.5 wins — and turned them into an uplifting story and playoff contender, and that’s worthy of consideration. The next instinct is to say that Tom Thibodeau is like the Black Knight in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”, virtually getting limbs chopped off and yet ignoring the wounds and keeping right on with the fight. But when you get right down to the meat of things, it’s all about winning games and some how, some way, Popovich keeps doing that better than anybody else. Never mind that Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili are practically senior citizens. Never mind that an assortment of injuries has forced the Spurs to use two dozen different lineups. Never mind all of those lingering mental scars from The Finals last June. Popovich expects the best and his team keeps producing it. Excellence should be recognized and rewarded. Also getting votes: Frank Vogel, Dwane Casey, Steve Clifford.


VIDEO: GameTime delves into how deeply Gregg Popovich’s influence is felt around the NBA

Most Valuable Player

Kevin Durant, Thunder — It’s been a two-horse race between Durant and LeBron James almost from the opening tip. You can almost never go wrong picking James, who still reigns as the league’s best player with his ability. It looked like James might be making a late charge for an MVP three-peat with his 61 point game a couple of weeks ago. But an ensuing slump by both LeBron and the Heat took the steam out of that charge. Durant responded and has raised his game even higher over the past 1 1/2 weeks. We also have to go back to Durant’s body of work without Russell Westbrook for 30 games — and counting — as he keeps the Thunder in the hunt for best overall record and heads toward what should be the first of multiple MVP wins. Also getting votes: Joakim Noah, Blake Griffin. Kia Race to the MVP Ladder


VIDEO: Chris Webber and Greg Anthony debate and discuss the MVP race

67 Comments

  1. c man says:

    mvp Durant 6th man j Crawford{whatever role is needed he does shtg guard pt grard starter bench he helps his team}

  2. SpursFan says:

    Thought bubble over Durant’s head, “Don’t get me started.”

  3. Tobey says:

    Kendall Marshall for mip

  4. MVP: Kevin Durant or Lebron( either one is deserving)
    DOPY: Anthony Davis BC he deserves something for the way he played and if not him then Noah
    MIP: Gerald Green or Lance Stevenson BC they are both way better than last year
    6th man: Markieef Morris or Jordan Crawford
    ROY: MCW no question
    COY: Steve Clifford BC he turned the bobcats into a playoff caliber team

  5. @tharealk9 says:

    MVP= KD
    DPOY= NOAH
    COY= GREG P. (every year his “quote on quote old team” in the west is always, always!! getting 50+ victories every year and advancing to the 2nd round if anything) give him his respect. im chicago all the way i would of said Tibs but POP deserves it for once.

    ROY= MCW by default no one else sticks out
    MIP= Goran Dragic or Isiah Thomas
    6th Man= Taj Gibson

  6. Noit says:

    6th man needs to be Taj Gibson and everything else is ok.

  7. War Machine BR says:

    MVP: Kevin Durant. Hands down.
    6th Man: Manu is the obvious pick here.
    MIP: Green or Dragic. Kyle Lowry was already a household name. Anthony Davis was expected to be this good.
    DPOY: Joakim Noah. Hands down. Again.
    COY: Jeff Hornacek
    ROY: Michael Carter-Williams

  8. Rangers says:

    MVP: Durant
    6th man: taj Gibson
    MIP: Anthony Davis
    Dpoy: joakim Noah
    Paul George, Anthony Davis, Hubert are close though
    COY: thibedeau
    ROY: oladipo

  9. James baker says:

    This is Durant year he deserves it more than anyone this year and he carried his team the WHOLE YEAR and stl is

  10. Antwon says:

    What about Isaiah Thomas? He has improved the most.

  11. Aaron Lint says:

    Urs is irrelevant bc ur an okc fan lebron will win mvp he’s more dominant. Kevin Durants unguardable but so is lebron and lebrons D is the best on the team he can guard 1-5

  12. Skylar says:

    Ice09 the pacers lost Paul George and thunder lost Durant those teams would collapse but Noah and the bulls keep grinding

  13. KaashMoneyy94 says:

    MIP= Kyle Lowry. Others: Dragic, Gerald Green, Stephenson. No way AD should get it. He was the No.1 pick, won a Gold Medal, and was an NBA All-Star. We expected this from him. MIP should go to guys who weren’t expected to but really improved.

    6th Man= Taj Gibson. Best big man off the bench for any team I might dare say.

    ROY= MCW. He barely gets it over Oladipo. Just barely.

    COY= Jeff Hornacek. *If they make the playoffs he should get it. Otherwise Frank Vogel should get it despite their recent slump.

    DPOY= Joakim Noah. He can guard Forwards and Centers. Extremely versatile defender. Hibbert cannot guard a SF out on the perimeter.

    MVP= LeBron James. KD is so young and will win plenty when LBJ begins to decline which could be coming rather soon. But LBJ has been carrying the team with Wade sliding in and out of the starting lineup. While Westbrooks return seems to mess with KD’s game a bit. Sure the numbers are similar but LBJ is consistently great despite who’s been playing with him. It seems that KD can only be an MVP without Westbrook.

    • Blaine MacMillan says:

      You’re blind as a bat….Amazing…Have you looked at KD’s numbers since Westbrook came back? If so, can you read data…NOT!!!

    • James baker says:

      MIP: kyle lowry
      Runner ups: demar derozan, goran dragic, andre drummand, and Anthony david

      MVP: kevin durant
      Runner ups: kevin love, LeBron James, Paul George, Tony Parker, johkiam noah, Blake Griffin

      DPOY: Anthony Davis
      Runner ups: andre Drummond, noah, Roy H., Tim Duncan

      COY: Greg pop,
      Runner ups: jeff, scott brooks

      SMOY: Jordan Crawford
      Runner ups: manu G, taj Gibson, Tony wroton

      ROY: Victor O
      Runner ups: MCW, AND TREY BURKE

    • jay says:

      Dude, I know that is ur personal view of mvp but there is no way on earth that lbj wins mvp this year, NO WAY!!! You must be dreaming or probably high on something to say stupidities like that.

  14. okc2014 says:

    MIP: Blake Griffin
    6th Man: Reggie Jackson
    ROTY: MCW
    DPOTY: Joakim Noah/Serge Ibaka
    COTY: Tom Thiboduea/Popovich

    No matter what, Kevin Durant should be the winner over Lebron James. He and the Heat are not demonstrating like they have in the past. Kevin Durant has been more consistent and he elevated his game even more when Russell was hurt. Go Kevin Durant! Go Thunder! OKC2014!

  15. topjonestotheworld says:

    steve blake for mvp….. kendrick perkins for dpoy…mike d’toni for coty… thats real

  16. #&*@! says:

    MVP: Kevin Durant
    COY: Dwane Casey
    DPOTY: Lebron James
    6th man:Taj GIbson
    MIP: Anthony Davis
    ROY; MCW TIm Hardaway Jr

  17. J K Rich says:

    For the MVP of this season I think that Kevin durant should get the award. Sure, Lebron scored 61, sure he’s gone without Dwyane, but his stats have all decreased accept for shooting percentage and ppg. But Kevin Durant has been constantly consistent, so to speak and has gone for more than 30 games without Russell and his team has still been on pace for a 60 win season. He’s the guy who deserves it and shows it every night.

  18. Thunderfan says:

    MVP: Durant
    ROY: Co rookies, Oladipo/MCW
    MIP: Reggie Jackson, Anthony Davis, Demar Derozan, or Goran Dragic.
    DPOTY: Joakim Noah
    COY: Frank Vogel

  19. Thunderfan says:

    Reggie Jackson for sixth man/mip

  20. ice09 says:

    I dont get it shouldn’t DPOY go to a guy who’s in a winning team (since we all know defence = Wins.) Such as Serge Ibaka or Roy Hibbert where both of their teams have only lost 18 games this whole season. Compared to Joakim Noah’s bulls who have lost a whopping 30 games this season. Lets imagine the bulls were in the west, they would not even be in playoff contention! They would be coming 10th! 10th! There would be no hype around the bulls what so ever. Everyone is acting like the Bulls are playing amazing when the fact is that the eastern conference is just weak.

    • J K Rich says:

      Amen to that! That is an excellent point because defense does equal wins. Don’t get me wrong, I love joakim but he doesn’t win enough.

    • James baker says:

      Your right I never thought about that

    • SkyHooook says:

      You’re right about one thing… you “dont get it”. DPOY stands for the defensive PLAYER of the year, not TEAM. I’m a Clipper’s fan and yeah we usually beat them but the Bulls have beat some of the best teams in the West and are consistently beating the best in the East. For all what has happen to their team it’s amazing they haven’t lost more – and that’s because of Noah’s D

  21. Eli says:

    MIP: Lance Stephenson or Gerald Green
    6th Man: Jamal Crawford or Taj Gibson
    ROTY: MCW
    DPOTY: Joakim Noah or Serge Ibaka
    COTY: Gregg Popovich, Frank Vogel, or Tom Thiboduea

    MVP: Kevin Durant
    I feel like he has been getting the short end for the last couple of seasons, No one can guard him, he has had 33 games with more than 25 points, Jordan holds the record at 40 games. LeBron did have a 61 point game, but it was against the Bobcats, one of the worst defensive teams in the league. Also LeBron is not “unguardable”. Jimmy Butler shut him down last time the two teams met 7-22. Plus LeBron and the Heat are starting to look a little sluggish right now. The only reason why Durants FG% is that much lower is because there was no Westbrook for the first 30 games of the season, so obviously he has to take more shots that he’d probably would, like to take. If you take Durant out, and leave Westbrook there, IDK if the team would perform as well as they have been.

  22. camel says:

    DOC RIVERS FR COY!!!!!!!!!!

  23. PartyMarty says:

    Those saying Jamal Crawford is the clear 6th man need to look at more than just points. Crawford plays starter minutes, over 30 minutes a game, and has started over 20 games which has inflated his stats. Even before adjusting for minutes, Ginobili leads Crawford in every stat other than points. Crawford is mainly an inefficient volume scorer while Ginobili does so much more on both ends of the court. Right now Taj Gibson and Manu should be the front runners for 6th man.

  24. kev says:

    steve clifford should def get more respect in the COY argument

  25. Shawn Kemp no. 1 says:

    i absolutely love Manu and the Spurs, but Jamal has to take this

  26. Most improved : Goran Dragic or Anthony Davis
    Sixth Man: Taj Gibson or Jamal Crawford
    Rookie of the year: Michael Carter Williams
    Defensive Player: Joakim Noah
    Coach of the year: Tom Thibodeau
    MVP: Kevin Durant or Noah

    • Jermile Rogers says:

      That’s what I’m saying Noah is my MVP not only does he protect the rim but he is the best on ball defender of all big men he rebounds and he generates the offense he’s like a point center and without him they’re a 25 win team the sixers have more talent

  27. SROB3 says:

    KD SHOULD WIN THE MVP. KD HAS TAKEN HIS GAME TO A NEW LEVEL WITH THE WESTBROOK INJURY. PLUS HE IS IN A MUCH HARDER CONFERENCE.

  28. Stephen says:

    No mention of Gerald Green? Dumb.

  29. Watches Things says:

    MVP: Kevin Durant
    MIP: Goran Dragic
    6th Man: Jamal Crawford
    DPOY: Joakim Noah
    COY: Jeff Hornacek
    ROY: Michael Carter-Williams

  30. Pootngnimono says:

    How is Gerald green not even in the category for most improved?

  31. daddycardona says:

    No way these are all wrong.

    * MIP: A.Cardona
    * 6th man: A. Cardona
    * ROTY: A. Cardona
    * DPOTY: A. Cardona
    * COTY: A. Cardona, best coach watching the game
    * MVP: Of course it s A. Cardona again that’s me. I played the other day with 3 young guys and we switch teams so I played with them all 2 on 2 with a different player. I lost one game but got my revenge on the 4th with that same team mate. Best scorer, best defender, best coach and MVP of all 4 games even the one I lost :)

  32. Deano says:

    DeRozan should be up there for most improved

  33. danny says:

    Pop is hands down the best coach in the NBA, deserves it anyday over Casey or any other coach. And i agree with everything else. I’m.a spurs fan so i’d root for ginobli but CRAWFORD has been great, i’ll agree with this choice for now.

  34. ARE YOU SERIOUS ? says:

    6TH MAN FOR MANU ? OMG ARE YOU CRAZY? JAMAL CRAWFORD NUMBERS ARE WAY MUCH BETER THAN MANUS

  35. Emurph413 says:

    No Gerald green for mip?!!

  36. ლ(ಠ益ಠლ) says:

    Someone please tell me why Jamal Crawford, who has been starting with the Clippers for 20ish games and improved his stats over that period, is still considered for 6th Man of the Year.

  37. Nick says:

    Damn, they’re not going to even mention taj Gibson or Dj Augustine for 6th man?

  38. eastbrook russell says:

    Goran Dragic should be taking most improved all day. he led his team to a near-playoff record in the scary West. He is a 28 year old who just broke free, Anthony Davis is a beast but only in his Sophomore year. Yes his monstrous performance goes to show he can be a superstar, but it is who he was, with a weaker body last year. Dragic became a player noone predicted him to be, with consistency that makes you itch

  39. foereem says:

    Everything is right but I think Anthony Davis should be consider for DPOY and Reggie Jackson should win Sixth man ofthe year

  40. Russell Eastbrook says:

    Jamal Crawford has to be 6th man. The Clippers bench was horrendous for the majority of the season besides Crawford and he is dominating every other bench player in stats. I’d also vote Dwane Casey for COTY. The Spurs improved in the offseason by getting Belinelli and using Mills instead of Neal. No one expected the Raptors to be 3rd in the east. I agree with everything else you said.

    • Russell Eastbrook says:

      Also, Belinelli and Mills coming off the bench have a tremendous impact as well. The Clippers, until recently, only had Crawford

      • Larry says:

        Manu “is” the 6th man of the year for the ability he’s shown at an age NO ONE close can compare to, while Pop is always the Coach of The Year despite who they pick. He’s always making average to star players better by instilling a system and work-ethic unmatched. Hate all you want, but this is the real!

  41. clips its time says:

    i agree with these but the mvp should be kd by a landslide

  42. BlowOUT!!!!! says:

    Lebron Still Strategist , Durant is a shouter. Lebron has more skill to win a difficult game

  43. * MIP: A.Davis is a good choice but I’m going with Lance S. on this one
    * 6th man: No way for Manu. This one should be Jamal C
    * ROTY: yep MCW it is. I like Oladipo but MCW has a better overall performance
    * DPOTY: yep J. Noah or Ibaka
    * COTY: Frank Vogel should be the winner
    * MVP: KD all the way!!!!

    • Larry says:

      Yes, way for Manu. Look at the true epitome of basketball and how it’s played. It’s not about shooting alone, which is all Jamal Crawford does. Trust me, I’m in Atlanta — I seen it many times. He plays little to NO defense and a fragile frame keeps him from being solid all year long…

  44. cramerica66 says:

    I would have guessed that the most improved player would have been Blake Griffin. Sounds like he can do more than dunk now, I think that is worth consideration.

    • CB32 says:

      Completely agree with @cramerica66. Of course he was already an all-star which is why he’ll never win. But Blake has improved his game at every point on the floor. Better shot, better rebounder, better defensively. He’s been amazing.