So without further delay, here are my selections:
Rookie Of The Year: With Greg Oden out, and no serious competition at the time, Kevin Durant was the front runner for this award. His being the top scoring option on the Sonics, coupled with the fact that the kid was going to jack up shots from any and everywhere with no repercussion, and you'd think he'd have no comp from this years rookie class. When out of nowhere, this guy appeared:
(Big Al sure does have a thing for Al's ya think?)
Al Horford has single handedly changed my opinion for who deserves rookie of the year. This kid is a animal. He already has a NBA body, can bang with the big men, and has managed to stay consistent in averaging 10.5 ppg, 9.7rpg and 2 apg. At this point in the season, he is currently out-rebounding: Shaq, Amare Stoudemire and Ben Wallace, while also shooting 50% from the field and 72% from the charity stripe.
I almost forgot to mention that he has been one of the much needed pieces in the Atlanta Hawks quest to return to the playoffs, you can argue that both the Sonics and the Hawks weren't on any one's pre-season lists to make it to the playoffs, which makes Horford that much more deserving. I believe he'll blossom into one of the league's premier double-double guy's and if Marvin Williams and Acie Law come around, this Hawks team will be dangerous in years to come. Durant may win the R.O.Y. but Horford will be too busy playing playoff basketball to worry about it.
Kay: Horford has been a beast, and contributing to a playoff team. But there's no way he beats out Durant for ROY. Not only does Kevin have the great numbers, but he's had the extra pressure of being the face of a floundering franchise. He's been put into a leadership role, and has to carry this young team on his back. In the last 20 games or so, he's shooting above 50% (a weakness that a lot of people have criticized him for). He's also close to hitting the 1-1-1 milestone: 1 3PG, 1 SPG and 1 BPG. That shows his great versatility. This kid is a star. Simple as that. Other honorable mentions go to Al Thornton and Luis Scola. Had these guys gotten solid minutes for the entire season, they would be up there in the ROY discussion.
Most Improved Player: This may sound crazy, but I'm giving this to Monta Ellis. And while I doubt he'll get the award two years in a row, he's done more than enough to be in serious consideration. And as a SG/PG he's currently averaging 20.2ppg, 4 apg, 5 rpg and is shooting a ridiculous 53% (FIFTY THREE PERCENT!!) from the field.
Another gem in Mr Ellis's crown is in February he became only the 9th guard in the history of the NBA to shoot 60% from the field in a month, joining only: John Stockton, Ricky Pierce, Earl Monroe, Jim Paxson (?!?!?), Fred Brown, Sidney Moncrief, Brad Davis and Steve Nash to do this. Some people complained that it was done in the month of February and it was a shorter span of time than the other players, but 60% is 60% no matter how you look at it. Give him props and stop hating.
When I watch Monta play, I'm amazed on a nightly basis at the stuff this kid's quickness allows him to do.(See Below):
His adding on a mid-range jump shot only makes him that more deadly, and if he ever becomes consistent from three point range, I really don't know how teams are going to guard this guy. Now that free agency is on the horizon, Mr Ellis is going to have quite a few people clamoring for his services, and will be in line for a well deserved pay bump.
Kay: There's no way I'm naming Monta Ellis as Most Improved Player for the second straight year. He's a good talent and has made some nice strides in his game, but I still think that a big part of his success is the system that he is playing in. With that said, my top picks would be Rudy Gay, LaMarcus Aldrige, Hedo Turkoglu, Chris Kaman and Danny Granger (in no particular order). Had Andrew Bynum not missed over half of the season, he would be in that equation, too. Gay and Granger have elevated themselves from inconsistent, underachieving rookies to franchise players for their respective teams. Turkoglu has become the go-to-guy in the clutch and play-maker for Orlando. And the Cave Man is putting up a ridiculous stat line of 16 PPG, 13 RPG and 3 BPG. Those numbers speak for themselves.
Coach Of The Year: Tough one here, I could go for the obvious and pick Byron Scott, or Doc Rivers even. But truth be told, there are several other coaches in the league that are legit options.....
Such as- Stan the Man!
All VanJeremy did was get ousted from Miami by Pat Riley in order to fullfill his selfish needs for one more championship, have to tell the press he was leaving to "spend more time with his family" (I love that one) and recycle his coaching career. All he ended up doing was coaching Orlando to a 51-30 record with one game left to play (best in the Southeast), a decisive turnaround of last years 40-42 record. And a homecourt advantage in the first round that they haven't had in years.
He'll most likely lose out to Scott, being that New Orleans is having a phenominal year and Byron Scott and the media are probably playing up the move New Orleans made from the East to Western conference as well as the season long chase they were in to try and secure first place in the west. Scott being named C.O.Y. is something I don't have a problem with, but Van Gundy really has done a great job this season, and as all great coaches do, they work with what they have.
Kay: The front runners for the award are Byron Scott and Doc Rivers. Both are deserving winners. But I'd like to pimp Rick Adelman and Phil Jackson for the award. Both guys had to overcome a ton of injuries and led their respective teams to 50+ wins. Props to Adelman for 22-0. While the Hornets came out of nowhere to win the division crown, they did not have to endure the injuries that the Rockets or Lakers had. Van Gundy is a solid pick, and underrated coach. But not in my top 3. My dark horse picks would be Eddie Jordan and Mo Cheeks. Eddie Jordan for the second straight year leads a injury-plagued Wizards team to the playoffs. Meanwhile, Mo Cheeks miraculously leads this young Philadelphia team into the playoffs.