Before the 2011-12 NBA season began in December, bloggers from the NBA branch of SB Nation chose their preseason picks for various awards. Now the NBA is rolling out their official announcements on the awards, so it's time for the SB Nation bloggers to again make their voices heard.
Eighteen of our 31 NBA bloggers voted this week on six awards. The absence of the seventh will be explained straight away.
MOST IMPROVED PLAYER
I did not present Most Improved Player for a vote, because the award does not deserve consideration. It's a sham award. No offense to Ryan Anderson, who is a fine young player I would love to see on my team. But this award is the Hologram Tupac of the NBA.
(Some wise guy did add the category to our group ballot, and three people voted on it, so let the record show that technically we had a three-way tie between Ersan Ilyasova, Kevin Durant and David Stern.)
SIXTH MAN AWARD
This one was unanimous, with good reason: James Harden swept the ballots, and there's a good chance he'll sweep the 100 or so NBA ballots in the official vote. There were plenty of strong bench performers this season, but none touched Harden, and our voters recognized that.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Kyrie Irving picked up 16 of the 18 votes for Rookie of the Year, and will almost assuredly win the official prize, too. The other two votes went to Kenneth Faried; only one of these votes came from our Nuggets blog, Denver Stiffs, which brings up the specter of bribery or hallucinogens for our other Faried voter. This is a dark day for SB Nation.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Tyson Chandler was named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year earlier this week; he'll be doubly proud to find out SB Nation bloggers gave him the same nod. (Our trophy is smaller and more esoteric than the NBA version. Sorry.) Chandler earned nine of the 18 votes. Kevin Garnett (my pick) followed at three votes. Dwight Howard and LeBron James each picked up two votes, and Andre Iguodala and Serge Ibaka (who nearly beat Chandler in the official ballot) earned one each.
EXECUTIVE OF THE YEAR
The award for the guy who doesn't wear sneakers or hold a clipboard was one of our most hotly contested. Here are the results.
Larry Bird, Pacers: 6
R.C. Buford, Spurs: 5
Kevin O'Connor, Jazz: 3
Neil Olshey, Clippers: 2
Masai Ujiri, Nuggets: 1
David Stern, NBA/Hornets: 1
Still the Legend! Bird, who reportedly won't return to Indiana next season, edged R.C. Buford for the SB Nation honor. For what it's worth, Olshey won the preseason award based on the Chris Paul trade and Chauncey Billups claim. He made two more strong moves at the deadline -- signing Kenyon Martin, trading for Nick Young -- but Billups' injury and the Clips' season-long defensive troubles made L.A. seem a bit underwhelming by season's end after all the preseason hype.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Our voters agreed with the official voters on Coach of the Year: Gregg Popovich did a damn fine job. We also passed some sugar to Ty Corbin of the Jazz and, of course, Tom Thibodeau. Here are the results:
Gregg Popovich: 9
Ty Corbin: 3
Tom Thibodeau: 3
Frank Vogel: 1
Lionel Hollins: 1
Stan Van Gundy: 1
Note: our Magic bloggers did not put Stan on their ballots. It was someone else!
And finally, the grand snickerdoodle: the ...
LeBron James ran away with the 2011-12 SB Nation NBA MVP award, earning 15 of the 18 votes. Tony Parker picked up two -- from the bloggers who also happened to pick Faried over Kyrie; this is starting to smell like the Salt Lake City Olympics all over again! Kevin Durant came up with one. Will official NBA voters agree? Stay tuned.
Loads of respect and love to all of our NBA bloggers, who provided excellent coverage and commentary on the 30 NBA teams, women's basketball and the D-League this season. Some have turned their attention to the playoffs; others are looking forward to the draft. But these guys and gals do it better than anyone else, and deserve a round of applause.