As promised, here are our picks for the rest of the awards. Zee and I have switched roles in this entry. I'll be taking the lead, and Zee will chime in with any additional comments that he might have.
Defensive Player of the Year
Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic.
There's no denying superman's impact on the defensive end. He leads the league in both rebounds (13.9) and blocks (2.9) per game. And is the anchor for one of the top defensive teams in the league. Orlando ranks amongst the top 5 in opposing team's FG% (which I think is a good measure of a team's defensive prowess). The only teams that are ranked higher are Boston and Cleveland. They are also tied for 6th in opponent's points per game average and are 4th in point differential. And that is thanks to Dwight. He's a great intimidator and protector of the paint. He can cover up a lot of mistakes that his teammates make on the defensive end. Take away Dwight from this team, and they will be an average defensive team at best. None of the other members of Orlando's starting 5 are standout defenders.
Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs.
I'm amazed that Tim Duncan has never won a defensive player of the year award before. Part of my reasoning for selecting him is because of his legacy. The Spurs are perennially one of the top defensive teams in the league, and the reason for that is Tim Duncan. He's an amazing individual and team defender. And even though he puts up nice rebound and block numbers, his impact is beyond the numbers. The Spurs seem to always get the big stop when they need to in the clutch. Even more impressive is that the Spurs have maintained their defensive excellence despite the insertion of Bonner and Mason into the starting lineup for offensive purposes, and the demotion of Bowen to the bench. I'd like to think that's because of old reliable Duncan. Another candidate that deserves some mention is Dwyane Wade for his individual defensive stats. Like Zee mentioned before, Wade is the only player under 6' 4" to block more than 100 shots in a season. And he's also second in the league in steals with 2.3 per game. That's bonkers.
6th Man of the Year
Jason Terry, Dallas Mavericks.
Who else could it be? The Jet is averaging a shade under 20 points per game in arguably his best season ever. He has been instant offense for this Mavs team off of the bench, hitting over 2 3-pointers per game on excellent shooting percentages. The trade for Jason Kidd last season has allowed Terry to move over to the SG position, where he can just focus on putting the ball in the basket and not worry about setting up his teammates. And this has brought some necessary depth to the Dallas squad. Terry is a great pace-changer and provides great energy and scoring off of the bench. He is playing the role that the Pistons had hoped that Iverson would have accepted. Heh. Although he comes off of the bench, he is one of the key members of the Dallas team, and one of their most clutch performers; if not their most.
Nate Robinson, New York Knicks.
Playing for D'antoni has done wonders for Nate who is having a career year, as he has been given more freedom on the offensive end. He's averaging over 18 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists per game off of the bench, and has willed this Knicks team to a number of wins. Though he shows some signs of immaturity on occasion, getting technical fouls for showboating and turning over the ball too much, he has been an invaluable contributor to this team. He's a decent point guard in the mold of Stephon Marbury (for better and worse) and electrifies the crowd with his crazy hops and play making. He brings a lot of energy to the team and instant offense. Another player that I considered for the runner-up spot was Andrei Kirlenko from the Utah Jazz. He deserves some credit for taking the move to the bench well. And he's provided that squad with a little bit of everything, especially defense.
Executive Of The Year
Danny Ferry, Cleveland Cavaliers.
My reasoning for this pick is simple. He traded for Mo Williams, and that move has catapulted Cleveland Cavaliers to the top of the league. It gave Lebron James a legit second option finally; a player who can hit the big shot and share some of the ball handling responsibilities. In retrospect, it was a brilliant trade. He traded away Damon Jones and Joe smith to the Milwaukee Bucks for Mo Williams. And than they ended up getting Joe Smith back later in the season after he was waived. So it was basically trading Damon Jones for Mo Williams. Genius. I know that it'll cost them big bucks in the long-run, but it gives them a good shot at winning a title. And more importantly, a shot at retaining Lebron James. Which is priceless. In one move he might have single-handedly saved this franchise. Only time will tell, however.
Darryl Morey, Houston Rockets.
He is constantly looking for ways to improve the Houston Rockets team, and he has a great knack for finding talent. He signed Von Wafer over the summer, who has been a great role player for this squad. He's provided excellent scoring off of the bench. Prior to that, he was a journeyman who had played for 4 different teams in the last 4 seasons and struggled to get off of the bench. Second, Daryl traded Donte Green, Bobby Jackson and a future 1st round pick for Ron Artest. While a bit of a gamble, Artest has been an excellent addition to this team. He and Battier have formed a potent defensive duo on the wings. And when T-Mac inevitably went down, the team did not skip a beat because of the aforementioned acquisitions. In a low-key move, he signed James White to a multi-year deal. White not only is a crazy dunker, but has potential to be a great player in this league. That's a move for the future. Before the trade deadliine, he shipped Alston for Lowry and Cook. That gave Brooks some time to mature as the starting PG, and it gives them a defensive PG that adds some more toughhess to this team. This might finally be the year they get out of the first round.