The 2013-14 NBA Playoffs are here. Which means two things: 1) we get to wish unspeakable things on our home team’s playoff rivals, and 2) we can start picking the to-be brass winners of the season. It was certainly a tough year for individual success as there were broken bodies everywhere. But the mighty stand tall even in the face of certain doom and a handful of individuals did just that. Without further sermon, here are XN Sports’ NBA Year-End Awards.
Most Valuable Player (MVP)
We’ve made the case plenty. LeBron has made the case plenty. Durant’s otherworldly numbers have made the case plenty. KD, the Slim Reaper, has been reaping the benefits of being Jordan in a Na’vi’s body.
He’s this year’s leading scorer, posted an assist percentage of 26.9 which is a major jump from last year’s 21.7, is now the owner of the fourth-highest career Points Per Game (PPG), won the most Win Shares at 19.0 which makes him only the eighth person to ever do that, and carried the Thunder a good deal of the year without Westbrook.
SportsCenter’s Twitter account summed up this particular place in Durant’s career rather convincingly:
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 17, 2014
Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY)
NBA.com’s John Schuhmann makes a convincing case for Golden State’s Andre Iguodala winning this year’s DPOY. But the glaring issue with going with either him or Andrew Bogut, another Warrior and leader in advanced defensive metrics, is their major drop-off in minutes played. Both just missed too much time during the season to qualify for a win of the award. Even bench players like Taj Gibson, also a nominee for the defensive prize, logged many more minutes (2,216) than either Iggy (1,976) or Bogut (1,688).
In the other nominees that did log consistent playing time–like Paul George, Roy Hibbert, DeAndre Jordan, Marc Gasol, and Serge Ibaka–Noah is a clear frontrunner in being a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to defensive grit. He’s third in opponent field goals attempted in the restricted area when he’s on the floor, fifth in opponent field goal percentage at the rim, third among DPOY bigmen in points per possession allowed when helping on the pick-and-roll, 6th in rebounds, 5th in steals among centers, 12th in blocks, and is the anchor of the league’s No. 2 defense (not to mention that he only elevated his game throughout the season as people like Roy Hibbert reduced theirs). Lastly, just from an eye-test standpoint, he always looks to be the greatest impact defender of all mentioned.
Most Improved Player (MIP)
Since the MIP award is traditionally reserved for guys like Lance Stephenson, Gerald Green, and D.J. Augustin–guys once considered to be lost causes who considerably turn it around in a season–XN almost went with one of the three. But Davis, despite having a strong rookie year, just defied expectation, projections, record books, and physics through his 2013-14 campaign. He’s already an eyebrow-crowned king amongst men and he’s only a sophomore in the league. This will be the first token in AD’s coming haul of brass.
6th Man of the Year
Gibson doesn’t boast Jamal Crawford‘s scoring numbers, Markieff Morris‘ 20-10 flirtations, or Tyreke Evans‘ triple-double claims, but he’s certainly been the league’s most impactful bench player. Unlike the other three chaps, Gibson is a high-grade player on both ends of the floor. To boot, he’s remained healthy throughout the year, has been a starter much like Crawford and Evans have, boasts the fourth-best team record among 6th Man candidates (if one counts Crawford, Reggie Jackson, and Ginobili), and represents a model for bench stars that is simply more important in today’s defense-minded game.
Rookie of The Year (ROY)
Michael Carter-Williams was the frontrunner for most of the year but Philly’s record pace for losing and his many bouts with tanking-friendly maladies gives Oladipo a slight edge. Both have red-hot futures but Oladipo was just the more consistent presence, which, of course, wasn’t entirely MCW’s fault. Still, the voting field will most likely give the award to the Philly point as he and the once-Cinderella 76ers started the year with an exclamation point.
Coach of the Year
Done, sunken, dejected, on the ropes, out of time. The Spurs suffered one of the most heartbreaking championship losses in all of sports, which is what spurred pundits to question their morale and tenacity going forward. The same Spursian success might still show its head in the coming year, but there was no way the team that gave away a trophy like they did in Game 6 would bounce back to be contenders in 2013-14. And here we are. The Spurs are the league’s best team. They’re healthy. Are deeper than they were last year. Pop is the voice of reason in Spursland and is largely responsible for the continued San Antonio pedigree.