SB Nation's 2010 NBA Awards: As Chosen By The Bloggers Who Know Them Best

It's that time of year again... Or, for the first time ever, on SBNation.com. AWARDS SEASON! Thanks to some awesome participation from SB Nation's writers, what follows is a breakdown of the NBA's biggest awards, as voted on by our basketball network. Click any of the links below to jump to a specific award, or just read 'em all.

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SB Nation's Rookie Of The Year: Tyreke Evans

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You come upon two bags of gold. One is about twice as large as the other. There's a note on a chair in between the bags which, in Gilbert Arenas's handwriting, reads "Pick 1." Do you take the smaller bag of gold or the larger bag of gold? If you take the smaller bag, you are not as smart as you think, and you are probably a weakling hipster who couldn't lift the larger bag anyways. If you take the larger bag, congratulations, you used common sense. Such is the choice between Tyreke Evans and Stephen Curry. Sure, Curry has been fantastic since, oh, January. But Evans has been every bit as good over that stretch. And also, Evans didn't suck in November and December. Of late, Evans and Curry have produced similar numbers. Evans has been doing it all year. Curry has been doing it since the midway point. Ergo, Evans is the larger bag of gold. Don't outsmart yourself.

— SB Nation's Kings blog, Sactown Royalty

2. Stephen Curry (7 Votes)

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If you need more than that photoshop to convince you (and who would?), SB Nation's Golden State of Mind goes all out in making the case for Stephen Curry as Rookie of the Year.

3. Brandon Jennings (0 Votes)

What a ride.

Jennings wasn’t simply one of the best rookies in his first full month in the NBA, he was legitimately one of the top players in the league during November. With the speed, style, and grace of a Ferrari straight from Italy (or Lottomatica Roma), the slight point guard memorably dropped 55 points on the Warriors – all after the first quarter. But what many don’t remember is that he preceded that game with 32 points and nine dimes in a win over the Nuggets and followed it with 25 points, seven rebounds, and eight assists night in a buzzer-beating loss to the Mavericks the game after.  This was no fluke. It really couldn’t have gotten any better.

And it didn’t. As Brandon began to misfire from long range, the shortcomings became more apparent – his struggle to finish in the lane foremost among them. But even as his personal numbers fell, the team wins kept piling up. And this wasn’t simply a case of tagging along on a good team. Throughout incomplete seasons from Andrew Bogut, Michael Redd, and John Salmons, it was Jennings playing and winning through it all. Young Buck started all 82 games and played hundreds more minutes than any other Buck. That certainly reflects well on his defense, considering he was on the floor much more than anyone else on one of the top-ranked defensive teams in the NBA. Whereas some tabbed him early as falling in the mold of stat-stuffing, me-first, team-second point guards, it turns out that Jennings not only wins, his numbers do anything but flatter him.

In all, maybe he's not yet a Ferrari, but certainly better than a Ford Edge.  

— SB Nation's Bucks blog, Brew Hoop

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WORST? Hasheem Thabeet (22 Votes)

Watching Hasheem Thabeet all season has been many, many things, but enjoyable is not one of them. Come to think of it, here are a few other words I would never use to describe the #2 overall draft pick’s rookie season: dominant, fundamentally sound, well-rounded, motivated, respectable, aesthetically pleasing, or even merely as-expected (and my expectations were low). Thabeet’s first half was so bad the Grizzlies tried to trade the rookie as a toxic contract to the Golden State Warriors. Even the W’s – while using two D-Leaguers as their frontcourt – knew better than to bankroll Thabeet’s ongoing development.

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If there’s any silver-lining, the 7’3" rookie has shown some promise lately, kinda-sorta imitating Samuel Dalembert while filling in with Marc Gasol injured. And Thabeet does block a lot of shots per minute, though he fouls practically twice as often. He’s still very much intriguing as a project.

But you just don’t take a project with the #2 pick. So sorry Hasheem, it’s tough, but until you make an impact you’ll be remembered for what you don’t do.

— SB Nation's Grizzlies blog, Straight Outta Vancouver

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SB Nation's Executive Of The Year: Milwaukee's John Hammond

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Can you improve a cash-constrained perennial underachiever while letting a big chunk of your talent walk out the door?  It sounds like a stupid question, but based on Hammond's last year in Milwaukee, the apparent answer is yes--if you're smart about it.  Over the course of the summer, Hammond unceremoniously dumped Richard Jefferson for expiring contracts, didn't even make Charlie Villanueva a qualifying offer, and sat on his hands after Minnesota signed Ramon Sessions to a far-from-outrageous four year, $16 million offer sheet.  That had more than a few torch-bearing villagers up in arms, and it wasn't just the impatient fans who were shaking their heads.  Nearly every expert under the sun seemed to take glee in ripping the Bucks' free agency moves, all the while heaping praise on supposedly savvy go-getters like Joe Dumars and Bryan Colangelo. 

Working closely with coach-of-the-year candidate Scott Skiles--his first and still most important signing--Hammond instead focused on financial flexibility and on-court discipline, re-signing RFA Ersan Ilyasova after two years in Barcelona, bringing Hakim Warrick in on a one year deal, and signing Carlos Delfino to a partially-guaranteed contract after a year of exile in Russia.  To provide at least some intrigue to the casual fans, Hammond also rolled the dice on high school stud-turned-Euro dud Brandon Jennings, but even that was a high risk/high reward gamble that few expected to pay dividends so quickly. 

Hammond also swallowed his pride and declined the 10/11 option of 2008 lottery mistake Joe Alexander, giving him another expiring deal that he was later able to use along with Warrick to acquire John Salmons at the deadline--a fleecing that also came with two future 2nd rounders and the right to swap picks with the Bulls in 2010.  Though Milwaukee was already exceeding expectations at the time of the trade, Salmons has subsequently taken them to another level, adding a capable wing scorer to a hard-working, defensive unit led by Andrew Bogut.  And while the Bucks will need to add more talent to the core of Jennings and Bogut going forward, Hammond has simultaneously managed to dramatically improve the team on the court without sacrificing long-term fiscal sanity.

— SB Nation's Bucks blog, Brew Hoop

2. Sam Presti  (11 Votes)

If this were a career achievement award, or an award that covered the past five years, Sam Presti's got it locked up. Not just because the Thunder are suddenly a playoff team--and look primed to remain in contention for the next decade--because much of the credit there has to go to Kevin Durant. But because, having been dealt a winning hand by the Gods of the draft lottery, Sam Presti hasn't panicked.

Instead of trying to appease Durant by adding a big name free agent, Presti just keeps adding low-cost, highly productive role players. Serge Ibaka, Thabo Sefalosha, trading for Eric Maynor... Hell, even drafting James Harden was a conservative play. And by building slowly, he's allowed his trio of young stars (Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Jeff Green) to come into their own naturally, within the framework of a roster that's built to win for the longterm. 

It sounds easier than it is. And now, after avoiding a bunch of spalshy moves in free agency or trades, Presti's Oklahoma City roster looks truly terrifying for the next few years. Durant, Westbrook, Green, Harden, Krstic, Ibaka, Maynor... The list of promising young players is truly terrifying, and yet, completely perfect within the larger framework of that team.

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After another year of expert stewardship from Sam Presti, the entire Oklahoma City roster is the splash. The Thunder have the brightest future in the NBA, and it's not even a debate. So, yeah: Sam Presti's had a pretty good year in Oklahoma City.

— Andrew Sharp, SBNation.com

3. Chris Wallace (3 Votes)

Yes, Chris Wallace did technically phone in the Hasheem Thabeet draft pick, but Grizzlies fans know that owner Michael Heisley made the call on Thabeet and the failed Allen Iverson signing. Much more importantly, Wallace also essentially traded a cardboard cut-out of Darko Milicic for Zach Randolph, who had his first All-Star season and quickly became a fan favorite. The less noticed offseason moves GM Wallace made – nabbing able backup Marcus Williams for cheap, drafting sixth man Sam Young in the second round, and getting Denver’s first round pick for nothing – had more impact on Memphis’s season then those failures combined.

Any time a team turns over half of the roster and improves by 15 wins, the executive has to be considered for this award. Had the fleecing of the Jazz for elite defender Ronnie Brewer worked out (Brewer had a season-ending injury in his first game), the Grizzlies might still be in playoff picture, which means Heisley probably won’t be passing on the Rookie of the Year again for awhile.

— SB Nation's Grizzlies blog, Straight Outta Vancouver

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WORST? Joe Dumars (17 Votes)

Joe Dumars, your genius shined at the worst of times, but fizzled at the best of times.  You brought Chauncey Billups, Ben Wallace, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Rasheed Wallace to the Pistons, and you were one failed play away from a true Dynasty in 2005.  You defied the odds by building an absolute monster out of table scraps, some of the decade's best players that the league forgot.  You were a genius, building an unparalleled champion out of hard-working, never-quit underdogs who got work done every night.

That was 2004. 

Since then, I hate to say it, but you've lost your mojo.  You overvalued a player in Rodney Stuckey that will never be a point guard-- and shipped one of the league's best point players to Denver for Allen "Practice" Iverson.  You built cap space, but spent it on two players who allow more points than the 20 a game they can put up.  Joe, you presided over one of Modern Sport's most amazing underdog stories.  That was six years ago.  Today, you've presided over one of the worst, most horrible turn-arounds in modern NBA history by committing one simple crime: you've out-smarted yourself.  You've out-smarted yourself and your roster nearly into the basement of the league's weakest conference.  Sooner or later, the world will forget 2004 and ask boldly, "what have you done for me lately?"

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via a.espncdn.com

— SB Nation's Pistons blog, Detroit Bad Boys

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SB Nation's Sixth Man Of The Year: Jamal Crawford

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If you think Crawford is not the sixth man of the year, you clearly have the wrong definition for the award.

At first glance, Jamal seems to do (with more flash and brilliance mind you) what any number of NBA players could do if given the opportunity. Volume score, dish out a few assists, and rebound the ball when it hits you in the chest. The difference is Jamal does not need to be given the opportunity. He has the confidence and charm to shoot you into or out of a game with a smile. It can be hated, it has been hated, but this year Jamal hit those shots. This year no one came off the bench like Crawford. He entered games with a killer instinct. Every game. If you find that during many second quarters of NBA games, let me know. 

Jamal was not the "we have five starters and happen to start one of them on the bench" situations. Crawford was, given positional requirements, the sixth best player, and from that position, he put games out of or back into reach in countless second quarters. He straight up won a few games in the fourth. If Crawford was shooting a career low from the floor instead of near a career best, would he be up for this award? Of course not. But he would still be a great sixth man, just one with a shorter leash. The fact remains though, a long leashed Jamal Crawford is a guy can drop 50 on you any night, and he believes it. I will save hustle for my ninth man thank you very much.

— SB Nation's Atlanta Hawks blog, Peachtree Hoops

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SB Nation's Most Improved Player: Kevin Durant

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Kevin Durant should, unquestionably, be the Most Improved Player of the Year. In short, he has not only risen almost every average he has by a significant margin, but he has also risen his level of game from that of a star to that of a super star. He is the first player since Michael Jordan to have 25 Points of more in 25 straight games. And he's accomplished that feat while on a highly successful team, not while hogging the ball while playing with a bunch of yardbirds.Durant has also improved his defense, going from a complete pushover to actually holding players like Carmelo Anthony and Paul Pierce to sub-par games later in the season.

In short, last year, Kevin Durant was a great scorer on a bad team who turned the ball over too much and had horrific defense. Now, he's a legitimate MVP candidate on a good team, and the league's leading scorer. Yeah, I'd say that's some pretty decent improvement.

— SB Nation's Thunder blog, Welcome To Loud City

2. Andrew Bogut (7 Votes)

Remember Andrew Bogut? Before this season, he seemed destined to go down in NBA History as one of those also-ran #1 Draft picks that never quite panned out. Maybe not a full-fledged Kwame Brown, but more of a Joe Smith, Kenyon Martin-type player. Good, but never mistaken for great.

Except... This year, Bogut was exactly the kind of foundational superstar you'd expect from a number one pick. He anchored the Bucks' offense with far more consistency than Brandon Jennings ever did, and more importantly, he was the catalyst for what turned out to be one of the best defensive teams in basketball this year. SB Nation's Bucks blog, Brew Hoop, outlined his expoits on defense during the year, and really, it's impossible to capture just how valuable he was. This is what we'd always expected out of Andrew Bogut, and just when the basketball world was ready to write him off, he made a leap that nobody imagined possible.

He's hurt now, so the Bucks enter the playoffs as heavy underdogs. But he'll back next season, and after this year's progression, Bogut and the Bucks will enter as one of the most promising teams in the league. That's a pretty big jump from what we would projected last year.

— Andrew Sharp, SBNation.com

3. Aaron Brooks (5 Votes)

It’s difficult to gauge, statistically, why Aaron Brooks should win the Most Improved Player award. Sure, look at his stats: they’re up from years past, and by a pretty significant margin. Scoring output is up by nearly 9 points per game, assists are up by 3 per game, three-pointers made are nearly doubled – it all looks fine and dandy from afar. But take a look at those increased minutes per game, too. Suddenly, the accompanying statistics look quite reasonable, if not merely average.

Consider, however, exactly what Brooks has had to do in order to keep those stats from being even lower. This is the first time that he has been an every-day starter, and from the opening tip of Day 1, he has been the "go-to" guy on offense, an enormous jump in responsibility. To make matters worse, the Rockets were without a reliable post presence all season long, shifting opposing defenses’ attention from the paint to the perimeter – in other words, to Brooks.

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The roster changes haven’t made things any easier on Aaron. He has been playing alongside statistical nightmare Trevor Ariza, and had to switch gears mid-season once longtime floor mate Carl Landry was swapped for Kevin Martin. Currently, there are nine players on the Rockets roster that weren’t there last season, and for a point guard, the floor general, that’s quite a difficult adjustment to make. But Brooks has done it successfully, and for that, he should be rightfully commended. On the other hand, Kevin Durant, a prime MIP candidate, has played with basically the same roster for the past three seasons, which is more than enough time to get comfortable.

That said, as Justin Kubatko of Basketball-Reference points out in an excellent statistical breakdown, Brooks hasn’t played to his expected value for the season. Conversely, Durant has doubled his, and from that standpoint, the Durantula should be the MIP. But remember, we’re not talking about who should get the award, but rather who will most likely win it.

Since the award’s inception in 1985, not a single winner was as established a player as Durant was entering this season. In nearly all cases, the award was given to a relatively unknown player who managed to raise his points per game from the previous season by a significant number. In that regard, who best fits the bill? Yup, it’s Aaron Brooks.

— SB Nation's Rockets blog, The Dream Shake

Least Improved? The New Jersey Nets

Really and truly, the Nets should have been better than 12-70. They lacked a bench, they had some injuries, and they endured a coaching change, but still. Brook Lopez, Devin Harris, Chris Douglas-Roberts and Courtney Lee were two promising second-year players, and... Well, everybody got worse. Or at least, every night, somebody was worse, and the Nets found a way to lose.

— Andrew Sharp, SBNation.com

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SB Nation's NBA Coach of the Year: Scotty Brooks

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Scotty Brooks should be named coach of the year. He took what was a severely flawed roster and made it work by putting every player in a certain place. His predecessor, P.J. Carlesimo, had the Thunder play and extremely slow paced game in which the Thunder had an extremely stagnant offense and shot 0 to 2 threes per game, all by Earl Watson. Carlesimo also valued experience over youth, giving players like Earl Watson minutes over clearly better talented younger players like Russell Westbrook.

Then, Coach Brooks stepped in. He played the young players, and had them develop a sense of team. He took players with flaws and had them play to their strengths while covering up for their flaws with over goodness. For example, he plays Thabo Sefolosha, who can hardly score at all but plays defense wonderfully, next to Kevin Durant, who can score well but plays below-average defense. This allows them both to play to their strengths and makes their flaws seem less significant. All in all, any coach who takes a team from the depths of the lottery and can put them on the playoff map with minimal roster change definitely deserves the award, hands down.

And that coach for the 2009-2010 NBA is Scotty Brooks.

— SB Nation's Thunder blog, Welcome to Loud City

2. Scoot Skiles (7 Votes)

Let's see... What has Scott Skiles done for Milwaukee this year.

  • Manage a roster full of young players? (check)
  • Get the most out of previously underachieving veterans? (check)
  • Have a roster that plays hard every night? (check)
  • Put together a winning strategy (defense first, inside-out on offense) and execute it flawlessly? (check)
  • Seamlessly integrate new players after the trade deadline? (check)
  • Take a team pegged for the lottery to the NBA Playoffs? (check)

Scotty Brooks did a great job in Oklahoma City, but it's hard to imagine anyone being more qualified for this award than Scott Skiles. He was phenomenal this year.

— Andrew Sharp, SBNation.com

3. Nate McMillan (5 Votes)

Let's get something straight from the start:  Nate McMillan is not your Coach of the Year.
 
He's not your coach of the year because you've heard more bad news than good coming out of Portland this season.  You heard about the over-publicized argument between McMillan and point guard Andre Miller as the Blazers tried to adjust to their new personnel early on.  You heard about Greg Oden going fetal on the court with a busted kneecap.  You heard about Joel Przybilla following suit a few weeks later.  You watched as every national telecast broadcasting Blazers basketball featured a CPR dummy with helpful arrows pointing to various team injuries:  Roy, Outlaw, Batum, Fernandez, the centers.  You've heard the story a thousand times of Portland being so short for practice players that Nate himself stepped in and promptly ruptured his Achilles tendon.  He couldn't even do that right.  Portland's aspirations this year were supposed to be paraded down city streets.  Instead they were wheeled out on a gurney.  Not all of this was Nate's fault, of course.  But you don't want to mention a cursed man's name, let alone associate with him, let alone rank him the best coach of the season lest the curse prove contagious, falling onto you.
 
Nate McMillan is not your Coach of the Year because even Portland fans spent the first half of their season reviling him.  The offense was too slow.  The defense was a mess of over-used switches and under-played interior defense.  Continuity gave way to confusion.  How in the world could a 3rd-string center, a 2nd-string small foward, a brand new point guard, a star power forward, and the 10th-13th players on the roster (the only guys Portland had healthy at the time) not look like a well-oiled machine 10 weeks into the season?  Worse, Nate was coaching a team with boundless potential!  On such a young team everybody's a superstar.  Nate must be blind not to see that young guys need more minutes.  Nate must have designed an ultra-crappy system to make those young guys produce so scarcely when they did get time.  Never mind that the youngsters McMillan has played consistently over the years--Roy, Aldridge, Batum, even Jarrett Jack--have flourished.  People are still plenty mad at the short shrift given Sergio Rodriguez, clearly a superstar point guard in Portland...or Sacramento...or New York...or whatever European isle he ends up playing on next.  Who would nominate a potential-sucking bum like that?
 
Nate McMillan is not your Coach of the Year because he's not at the helm of the surprise team of the season.  That honor would belong to Scott Brooks in Oklahoma City.  Never mind that McMillan's Blazers (without Brandon Roy) just beat the Thunder (with Kevin Durant) in the showdown game of the year for seeding position between the two teams.  We expected more from pre-injury Portland.  We suspected Oklahoma City was kind of lame.  Shocking beats predictable even when that predictability involves excellence, even when predictability wins.  You know what people used to say about Jerry Sloan before he got old enough to become an icon?  The offense is too dry, too repetitive.  Sure Utah wins a bunch but other teams made greater leaps.  That's why Sloan wasn't your Coach of the Year either.
 
No...all Nate McMillan does is wring out every possible victory from his team year after year, adverse circumstance after adverse circumstance.  The team's in a shambles after ditching Zach Randolph and losing Darius Miles.  They won 21 last year with those guys, they'll win 10 without.  Oops!  They won 32.  Now they've got Greg Oden but he's out for the season with microfracture surgery.  I guess we have to wait another year for progress.  Oops!  They won 41.  Now Oden's back but the West is so top-heavy with experienced teams that there's no way...oops!  They won 54, in the upper echelon of the seeding race.  Now half of their team is on crutches including two of three stars and the entire middle of the lineup.  This team is going to fall apart.  Time for the lottery again.  Oops.  50-51 wins and a 6th or 7th place playoff seed.  The guy just landed a jumbo jet safely on half of an engine.  In most other professions they'd be showing him to his corner office and handing him the keys to his own marble-coated restroom.  But remember this:  the Blazers could have done better.  The soda you had on that flight?  It was slightly flat.  The other airline's pop has more fizz.
 
So Nate McMillan is not your Coach of the Year.

— SB Nation's Trail Blazers blog, Blazersedge

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WORST? Eddie Jordan

It's hard to put into words the pain and agony Sixers fans endured during the Eddie Jordan era. It began in pre-season when he refused to play Jrue Holiday in an exhibition game, claiming Nate Robinson and Chris Duhon would "ruin his psyche". Things got a little strange when he used nothing but riddles during his press conferences. Seriously, what does "We believe in harmony and effort" even mean?

He continuously threw his players under the bus, and never accepted any responsibility. According to him, if the Sixers lost, it was because "[they] lost the passion to compete", "It's leadership, or lack thereof", or my favorite, "the other team just made shots". It was always someone else's fault.Eddiejordan_medium

The list of problems I had with Eddie Jordan goes on forever. Whether it was his lack of a set rotation or his mind games, I despised everything he did. I won't even get into the "Princeton Offense" he runs or his "defensive" system -- which helped turn an above average defensive team (14th) into a terrible defensive team (22nd).

Now that the Eddie Jordan era is finally over -- and he should be fired by the time anyone reads this -- I'm relieved and surprisingly thankful. I'll never forget the season I watched 75+ games of Eddie Jordan basketball. I'll always have my 'Fire Eddie Jordan' t-shirtthis picture as my desktop background, and countless riddles to impress friends and co-workers at Christmas parties. And without Eddie Jordan I'd be gearing up for another first round exit, a draft pick in the mid-teens, and a mediocre 2010-2011 to look forward to. But thanks to Eddie Jordan I have a 5.3% chance of watching John Wall in a Sixers uniform for the next decade. Thanks for the memories EJ.

— SB Nation's 76ers blog, Liberty Ballers
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