Posts Tagged ‘COY’

What’s Next For Season’s Stretch Run?

Do either of these star-less teams have a chance to win big? (Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE)

Do either of these star-less teams have a chance to win big? (Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

Calling these “second-half storylines” would be both misleading and bad math, because All-Star Weekend didn’t exactly split the 2012-13 with Solomon-like equanimity. So we’ll go with “home-stretch storylines,” situations and people that NBA fans should keep their eyes on over the final two months of regular-season play. By dealing with trade-deadline drama separately on this site, we can limit this list to the five most compelling things to watch between now and the best-of-sevens:

1. Can the Lakers avoid making the wrong kind of franchise history?

It happened once in the “aught’s,” once in the 1990s, twice in the ’70s and then, continuing backwards, you’ve got to go back to their Minneapolis roots to find an NBA season that wasn’t followed immediately by a postseason for the Lakers. But math is beginning to loom large as a course this team will not pass in 2012-13.

Four games under .500 and 3.5 games out of the final playoff berth in the West wouldn’t ordinarily seem like a failing grade. But there is another team, Portland, wedged between L.A. and Houston that doubles the leap-frog challenge — and no suggestion that any of the clubs above them are headed downward in the conference standings. Then there’s the schedule: More intra-conference games for everyone means that one or more of the Lakers’ chief competition will be winning on many nights. And given their 9-18 road schedule, March looks tortuous with 10 of 15 away from Staples Center.

Stir in all the issues – coach-talent disconnect, miserable defense, fractious locker room – that have been part of the league’s No. 1 storyline to this point and it doesn’t look fixable. The passing of Jerry Buss as Lakers owner seems, sadly, like a clear sign this is not their year.

2. Can the Spurs’ regular-season success translate for a change?

OK, the “for a change” part is a bit snarky, given San Antonio’s four NBA championships since 1999. Yet it’s going on six years since the last one and even in 2007, there was a sense that the club’s window of contention was closing, based on its marvelously constant but aging core.

Coach Gregg Popovich and GM R.C. Buford have retooled in both precise and daring ways, shifting from the team’s old grinding defensive style to something sleeker, more offensive-minded and more democratic. Still, the Spurs’ three most important players are the same as a decade ago: Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.

All the controversial “resting” that Popovich practices and all the supposed advantages to old legs and big reputations that we see in the playoffs – no back-to-backs, slower pace, star whistles – haven’t paid off for San Antonio since before the Sonics left Seattle and Gilbert Arenas was a big NBA deal (for good reasons, that is). (more…)

MVPs, COYs rarely partner up

CHICAGO – The buzz around United Center in the hours before Game 1 of the Chicago-Atlanta series Monday – non-game-related, anyway – was all about when and where. As in: What time would the NBA’s Most Valuable Player Award be presented, and where would Bulls guard Derrick Rose actually receive it (practice facility, hotel ballroom, etc.)?

Nothing was official, of course. But Rose seems to be a lock from various straw-polling of media voters and thus would become the youngest NBA MVP in history. He was born on Oct. 4, 1988, making him 22 years, six months and 29 days come Tuesday.

But there’s more history in the making. If Rose wins, it will mark only the 12th time that the MVP and the Coach of the Year have been chosen from the same team. Chicago’s Tom Thibodeau was announced as the COY winner Sunday.

Considering that the awards will have co-existed for 49 years once the 2011 set is complete (the COY was first awarded in 1963, the MVP in 1956), that’s not a high percentage. The thinking by a lot of voters seems to be: If a coach has the MVP on his squad, his job might not be the league’s toughest. Or something like that.

Beginning with Boston’s Bill Russell and Red Auerbach in 1965, the MVP and COY partnered up five times in nine years: Wilt Chamberlain-Dolph Schayes, Phila., 1966; Wes Unseld-Gene Shue, Balt., 1969; Willis Reed-Red Holzman, N.Y., 1970, and Dave Cowens-Tom Heinsohn, Bos., 1973.

Then there was a mighty gap until the Lakers’ Magic Johnson and Pat Riley won the awards in 1990. Chicago’s Michael Jordan and Phil Jackson did it in 1996, the only season in which Jackson was deemed worthy by voters of a COY.

There has been a greater frequency lately, with four in the past 10 years – all in odd-numbered seasons. That pattern starts with Allen Iverson-Larry Brown, Phila., 2001, and continues with Tim Duncan-Gregg Popovich, S.A., 2003; Steve Nash-Mike D’Antoni, Phx., 2005 and LeBron James-Mike Brown, Cle., in 2009.