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Thursday, April 16, 2009

How Amazing Will Happen This Year, Pt. 2

"Hip Hop is mine now mine what you gonna' do?
I can jump on any (expletive)'s song and make a Part 2."
-Lil Wayne, Intro to Da Drought III (disc 1)

Go ahead and substitute "Postseason basketball awards" for "Hip hop," "any of my own" for "(expletive)," and "Korked Bats posts" for "songs," and you have the basic principle for this post.

That's right!

"Postseason basketball awards are mine now, mine what you gonna do?
I can jump on any of my own posts and make a Part 2!"
-Jared Launius, Korked Bats NBA Season Awards Post, Vol. 2

In case you missed it, I'm in the middle of making my picks for NBA postseason awards. In Part 1, I set my criteria for what I base awards on and picked my defensive player of the year (sort of).

Parts 3 & 4 will be out tomorrow. Stay tuned!

As you're well aware, I don't like being too wordy with my introductions, so let's delve in my friend(s).

Most Improved

Everyone is going back and forth between the same 3 guys right now. One (Kevin Durant) went from an impressive rookie to one of the 5 most explosive scorers in the game (I rank them in this order: Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant). Another (Danny Granger) went from "That Small Forward That You Take In The Third Round Of Your Fantasy Draft Because He Makes A Lot Of 3's" to a clutch scorer that deservingly made the Eastern Conference All-Star team. The third (Devin Harris) usurped an 8-time All-Star in the Nets' hierarchy and became- arguably- one of the top 5 point guards in the NBA.

While tribute is due to these three guys (and the award will go to one of the three), I'm going to have to redirect you to criteria number 2. As impressive as these guys statistics are (and yes I know that each Granger and Harris hit some game-winners), all three of these guys' teams are on the outside looking in at playoff time.

So, while we laud Mavericks owner Mark Cuban for giving up Devin Harris for an aging, I'm-refusing-to-call-it-quits Jason Kidd last year, Cuban is the one laughing at us now as the Mavericks are in the playoffs in the tough West with Jason Kidd as their point guard, and the Nets are Lottery bound with Devin Harris. (Quick note: this is not me defending this trade for the future. Jason Kidd's run is all but over (you could argue it should already be). But he still brings a calm and leadership to the team that Harris doesn't have yet. So while Devin Harris will be good the next 5-7 years, at least the Mavs got out of Kidd what they were hoping: two straight playoff appearances despite the fact that they are on the decline. Don't worry though, we'll still get to laugh at Mark Cuban for the next 5-7 years.)

They've all been put in charge of their own respective teams and given offensive total freedom. Did they deliver? Statistically, yes. But what did their "great improvements" really accomplish?

Think of it like this. Three young wipper-snappers are named CEOs of multi-billion dollar companies. Individually, they ride this new position to great success. They date Victoria's Secret supermodels. They get to walk around their new mansions wearing only a velvet robe. They're in the news everyday. They even make some nice changes within their businesses. But, their companies still lose money. So sure, they've parlayed their positions into great individual success- and maybe even made some small gains within their business- but ultimately their company is still hurting.

So while LeBron James may have actually regressed some in statistical categories from a year ago, the only one I concern myself with is this one: LeBron has averaged over 40 minutes a game every year of his career except his first- this year he was down to 37.7. That's because he's improved so much that he's been able to sit out a lot of fourth quarters.

He's finally figured out how to use his inhumane size, strength and athleticism to dominate both sides of the ball- instead of just the offensive one. He's become a far better jump shooter and improved greatly his ability to set up penetration with his improving jump shot. He's starting to develop a post game. Oh, and then there's the fact that he's still improving his incredible court vision, ability to get into the paint whenever he wants, and his ability to be a lovable and incredibly coachable superstar/leader.

So what did all of this do for him? Not much, unless you're into having the best record in the league and going 39-2 at your home court. Did I say "not much?" OOOOOOPS!!!

Here's what I can't figure out though. Devin Harris, Kevin Durant and Danny Granger all went from nice young players to All-Star caliber. What has has LeBron James become? One of the top two players in the league to Jordan? One of the top two guys in the league to Teen Wolf? One of the top two ballers in the league to a Monstar? One of the best two players in the league to the blastocyst of Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Oscar Robertson and Scottie Pippen? God he's freaking scary.

Korked Bats' 2009 Most Improved Player Picks

My pick: LeBron
Davis' pick: Durant
Kyle's pick: United States Economy
Austin's pick: Granger
Zach's pick: Harris

Sixth Man

I don't really have a ton to say here. Jason Terry destroyed second units all year to the tune of 19.5 ppg. He was the Mavericks second unit. And- best of all- he took to the idea of coming off of the bench graciously (after starting for the Mavs on four consecutive 50-win teams) and logged arguably his best season as a pro.

There's a lot to love about this pick, but I don't have to convince anyone- he's going to win the award.

Korked Bats' 2009 Sixth Man of the Year Picks

My pick: Terry
Davis' pick: Daniel Gibson
Kyle's pick: Marlon Wayans (although I think he was going for Kadeem Hardison)
Austin's pick: Nate Robinson
Zach's pick: Terry


2 comments:

Erich Tamola said...

Loved the post.

btw I was wondering who you would pick to win an a matchup between Kobe's fetus vs. Lebron's fetus.

Jared Launius said...

i'm going with LeBron's, assuming it's a cloned one.

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