Well, some teams have played 20 games, so that's good enough for me to declare the season 25% over, which is the only excuse I need to write an awards article.
At the risk of repeating myself though, I'm going to yet again say that 20-game samples are small. It's hard to put a real number on how big a minutes-played sample must be to be really trustworthy, but believe me, it sure isn't less than 1000. So, basically, most of this article is more-or-less meaningless. It's true. By the end of the season, I'll look back on this and call myself stupid for spinning a narrative out of such a small sample.
The 1/4-Way Rookie of the Year: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
This one was tough, and if the 1/4-way awards were worth anything at all, and I were Andre Drummond (or his agent), right now I'd be pissed at coach Frank for costing me this award. On a strictly per-minute basis, Drummond is simply destroying all other rookies. Look at these numbers:
What the hell does Frank want? He's above average at everything you care about in a center. Is he looking at Drummond's performance so far and thinking, "yeah, but look at those dimes"!? We all laughed at Detroit for wasting a lottery pick on "potential", and now that it looks they have actually won the metaphorical lottery, they're just keeping that winning ticket buried away in a coat pocket in their winter closet. What. The. Hell.
But, yeah, of course, I don't trust those minutes. If only each of Drummond's minutes had a buddy minute with similar stats, to stick up for it and say "Yes, these minutes are the real Andre Drummond's minutes!" So, with an Assist to Frank, MKG is our rookie of the 1/4-way-to-the-end-of-the-2012-13 season!
These numbers aren't shabby though. MKG appears to be living up to his promise: a capable, if not spectacular, offensive player and a defensive beast. An amazing rebounder and shot-blocker who won't hurt you on the offensive end. He's playing at an all-star level and is the primary reason that the Bobcats have improved so much (despite coming down to earth hard recently).
The 1/4-Way Most Improved Player: OJ Mayo
This one was pretty easy. I filtered out guys that played fewer than 1000 minutes last year or 500 minutes this year. Here's my top ten most improved:
I also added a couple of "rules", similar to the unspoken ones that the mainstream media uses:
- bounce-backs do not count. Tim Duncan had an off year in 2011-12 where he "only" posted a .181 WP48 as a power forward (less as a Center, hence the difference); we all chalked it up to age but it's beginning to look like that could be a mistake. If we compare this year to 2010-11 his improvement doesn't crack the top 10. David Lee is similar; if you treat him as a PF, his improvement from 10-11 also would not crack the list. I confess I don't watch enough Warrior games to know how much I trust his position assignment though. Ditto for Kevin Martin. He's having a great year, but 2011-12 was a bad year by his standards. Mo Williams kind of fits in this category.
- Sophomores don't count. Kemba Walker made a big leap, but 2nd year players often make big strides. That said, his is a little better then expected.
- Improving from "terrible" to "ok maybe not so bad" is not as impressive as improving from "average" to "good/great". Sorry, DeMar.
That pretty much leaves OJ Mayo in a landslide. I think it's clearer than JJ Hickson because we pretty much thought we knew who Mayo was, whereas Hickson is kind of on an expected growth path. I actually wanted to give this to Durant, who's been just insane this year, because I believe that it's way more likely Durant will sustain this improvement (his improvements are in less mercurial areas like rebounding, fouls, turnovers, and assists) and Mayo simply is not going to keep up this torrid shooting. Those of you who really think 52.7% from three is sustainable for a year...well, good luck with that.
But this is the 1/4-way award, not the "I think this guy's going to win it when we're finished" award.
The 1/4 Way 6th Man: Kevin Martin
Another easy one. Crawford made a play for it early on, but he is coming right back down to earth. Kevin Martin, on the other hand, is still shooting a rather ridiculous 65.9% TS (but unlike Crawford, he has a long track record of shooting well, so although he'll come down to earth a little, he'll stay above sea level).
Andre Drummond was sort of a contender in my mind but that was just me desperately trying to give him some award; he was never Frank's first man off the bench (sidenote: Pistons fan and Wages Of Wins contributor Ben Gulker has speculated that the only reason Frank has a job is that Dumars cannot afford the public backlash of firing yet another coach).
Another runner-up was Eric Bledsoe, but once again, I went with the guy who got more minutes. And you can't really fault Vinny for not getting Bledsoe more burn. In fact, I think the clips should trade Bledsoe. As good as he gets, he's never going to be Chris Paul, so it'll never make sense to give him more minutes. Why not trade him for a wing player that puts you in championship contention? Or you can just keep clicking your heels together and chanting "There's no Odom like 2009 Odom, There's no Odom like 2009 Odom," and see how far that gets you.
The 1/4 Way MVP: Kevin Durant
Another relatively easy one. Putting up career highs in rebounding, assists, and fouls while shooting ARE-YOU-KIDDING-ME 64% TS despite playing defenders who just spent the last 24-48 hours with a coach in their face yelling "DO NOT EVER TURN YOUR BACK ON DURANT EVER EVER EVER". The fact that he was in the conversation for MVP last year yet he also managed to crack the top ten most improved should tell you all you need to know.
The runner up here is Anderson Varejao. He's always been a solid rebounder but this year he is channeling his inner Moses Malone and grabbing an obscene 20 rb/48 (last year's winner was Marcus Camby at 18.8. Dwight had 18.2). (Aside #2: Kevin Love is right behind him at 19.8. Last year he had an off year with "only" 16. If he keeps this up, and his shooting touch comes back as his hand heals, holy hell the Wolves will be a nasty 7-8 seed in the playoffs for somebody).
The second runner up is LeBron James. I know. YAWN. I'm not even going to bother listing his stats. The only reason he isn't #1 is that he's played a lot of power forward. LeBron James is a top 5 power forward, and a top 1 small forward.
The 1/4 Way AllStars - Using the NBA's moronic Strategy of 2Gs + 3Fs, and with no write-ins (I had to give myself SOME boundaries).
|Rajon Rondo||G||+5.5||Chris Paul||G||+7.4|
|Ray Allen||G||+3.7||Kobe Bryant||G||+2.9|
|LeBron James||F||+7.2||Kevin Durant||F||+6.6|
|Anderson Varejao||F||+7.4||Andrei Kirilenko||F||+6.2|
|Tyson Chandler||F||+8.2||Tim Duncan||F||+6.1|
Joakim Noah loses out by being in the wrong conference, Zach Randolph loses out thanks to Timmy's fountain of youth. Kobe is having his best year in ages and squeezes out OJ Mayo despite the latter shooting like every day is his birthday. Love loses to Kirilenko because, again, this isn't the "who-I-think-it'll-be-later" All-Star team. Finally, Jason Kidd loses out because, inexplicably, he is not on the ballot. Seriously, who decided that DeMar DeRozan should be on the ballot but Jason Kidd shouldn't? Really? The guy who's currently playing below average ball in his career best year? Presumably it's the same guy who put Ricky Rubio on the ballot, even though we've known for 8 months now that he's not likely to play 400 minutes before the all-star break.
The 1/4 Way Coach of the Year - Rick Adelman
Maybe I'm biased. I am a Wolves fan. But .500 ball after losing Love with a broken hand AND Chase Budinger AND Brandon Roy AND with Andrei Kirilenko missing games with back spasms just after Love got back? I think that's pretty impressive. I thought the Wolves would be near .500 even without Love, but then losing Chase really hurt the chances of that a lot.
Runner up is Mike Woodson, who has done a fantastic job getting the Knicks so many 3-point shot attempts. They are on pace to break records in this category. Obviously their incredible percentage has a lot to do with their record, and the coach doesn't have that much influence over that, but installing the offense that leads to this many open 3s in the first place was a pretty bold move that has paid huge dividends.
And there you have the 1/4-Way Awards.
Bonus: The Non-Star Team (minimum 300 minutes)
|Norris Cole||G||-7.1||Eric Maynor||G||-5.9|
|Terrence Ross||G||-4.7||Austin Rivers||G||-5.7|
|Andrea Bargnani||F||-6.7||Michael Beasley||F||-6.7|
|Kevin Seraphin||F||-5.1||Jason Smith||F||-5.1|
|Rasheed Wallace||F||-3.9||LaMarcus Aldridge||F||-3.2|
Funny that Sheed gets so much credit for his work with the Knicks, even though he's clearly the kink in their armor. I kind of cheated here and didn't, for example, put two PGs or two Cs on either team, which saved guys like Darius Miles. Also, wow LMA is having a bad year. He obviously wouldn't be on this list if we didn't have the 300 minute limit, which saved Greg Stiemsma his dignity.