It’s that time of year again everyone, the All-Star break. It is a little past the halfway point of the season but the All-Star break has always been looked at as the mid-season and for those teams who make deep postseason runs it still is. So catch your breath, gather yourself and lace your sneakers for the second half of the season.
There has been great basketball so far and it is only going to get better as teams fight for seeding and prepare for the road to the NBA Finals. Here are my mid-season awards.
Coach of the Year: Brad Stevens (Boston Celtics)- Last year Boston finished with a sub .500 record and only had 40 wins. At the All-Star break Boston is currently the 3 seed in the East and has 32 wins. Many believed they would be better but nobody expected them to be this good. Brad Stevens is doing a phenomenal job and has made the jump from college to the pros better than most.
Honorable Mention: Dwane Casey (Toronto Raptors)- The Raptors are currently the 2 seed in the East and improved some from last year. If they can catch the Cavaliers, Dwane Casey would deserve to be the Coach of the Year over Brad Stevens.
Most Improved Player: CJ McCollum (Portland Trailblazers)- CJ McCollum has seen a 20 minute per game increase in his minutes and he is flourishing because of it. His scoring has improved and he went from 6.8 points per game (ppg) to 20.7 ppg which is nearly a 14 point improvement. A big reason for that scoring improvement is, in part, due to his work ethic to improve his free throw shooting by nearly 10% from 69.9% last year to 79.7% this year. Along with his scoring he has improved his assists per game by 3.2 per game, and his rebounds are up by 2.1 per game. Nobody has come close to improving as much as McCollum.
6th Man of the Year: Enes Kanter (Oklahoma City Thunder)- Enes Kanter could start for most teams in the NBA but has found a role with the Thunder as the 6th man. He is averaging 11.9 points per game and 7.7 rebounds per game. He is the best player coming off the bench this season and if the Thunder want to knock off the Warriors Enes Kanter has to continue being a dominant force off the bench.
Defensive Player of the Year: Hassan Whiteside (Miami Heat)- Hassan Whiteside is the one of the very few players in the NBA capable of getting a triple double with blocks. The only other player who is capable is Anthony Davis. Hassan Whiteside is a terror inside and is blocking nearly four shots per game. What his stats don’t show is the amount of shots he alters. His presence on the interior is unmatched and he is the best rim protector in the NBA.
Honorable Mention: Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans)- Anthony Davis is close to becoming a superstar. Everyone loves how he plays and the potential he has but what a lot of people forget is that he is just as fun to watch on defense. He suffocates defenders and makes it miserable for whoever he guards. He could easily win this award but Whiteside has the edge.
Rookie of the Year: Karl-Anthony Towns (Minnesota Timberwolves)- Want to know what makes Towns the unanimous Rookie of the Year? When you watch him play you think he is a long time veteran. As a rookie he is averaging a double double with 17.1 points per game and 10.1 rebounds per game. He joined Shaquille O’Neal, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Lebron James and Chris Webber as the only players to have a game with 35 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks in a game under the age of 21. This is probably the easiest award to hand out.
Honorable Mention: Kristaps Porzingis (New York Knicks)- Porzingis was booed mightily on draft night and almost everyone said he would be a bust. Phil Jackson was ridiculed but is actually looking like a genius. Porzingis is already getting nicknames like Godzingis for his stellar play. He started off hot but has cooled down lately which is understandable due to the fact that he is 19 years old and only played in Europe. The NBA season is long and grinding and he will learn how to keep his body in shape for a full 82 game season. If he can find magic in the second half of the season he can close the gap between himself and Karl-Anthony Towns.
Most Valuable Player: Steph Curry (Golden State Warriors)- Reigning MVP, and NBA champion Steph Curry has nothing to prove and nobody to compete against for the MVP Trophy. There is no competition, the race is over. At the All-Star break the Warriors are an unfathomable 48-4. They are cruising towards the record set by the 1995-96 Bulls of 72 wins in a season and being the best player on the best team that breaks that record is guaranteed the MVP trophy. Along with his team accomplishments, Steph Curry leads the league in scoring with 29.8 ppg, which is even more impressive when he sits out of a lot of fourth quarters. He is also averaging 6.6 assists per game, 5.3 rebounds per game and his player efficiency rating (PER) is 32.18 which would be a new NBA record. The current record is held by Wilt Chamberlain with a PER of 31.82 in the 1962-63 season. No player holds a candle to this resume, nobody else is in the running.