Where Damon Stoudamire gets his pot.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Don't Watch Me Dancing

The NBA season thrives on award season speculation.

Last season Kobe Bryant took home his first MVP award under a newfound media-friendly rubric, much to the dismay of Chris Paul supporters (myself included). Since the awards are announced early in the playoff season, the outcome can often propel cheated players to higher levels of excellence, particularly against those awarded ahead of them. (I think we all remember what Michael Jordan did to Karl Malone in the NBA Finals after Malone was crowned the league MVP.)

Look, I love award season. It provides NBA writers with some of the game's finest debates. But it's way too early to make predictions when the regular season just entered double-digit game totals. The Rookie of the Year has at least five or six legitimate candidates thus far. The MVP has no clear front-runner and won't have any legitimate candidates until a third into the season.

But the Most Improved Player has kicked off to a nice start and it's not too early to speculate. Here are some players who will most definitely garner some votes:

Devin Harris has posted multiple 30-point-plus games and surpassed Vince Carter as the de facto scorer in New Jersey. Could the Mavericks have made a worse move last spring to bring a mid-30s Jason Kidd back to Dallas? Kidd has a decade on Harris, considerably less foot speed, and a crazy (ex-)wife. In 40 minutes of play today, against the Knicks no less, Kidd tallied 3 points on 1 of 7 shooting. Last evening, in fewer minutes, and against the upstart Hawks, Harris racked up 33 points and 10 assists on 9 of 15 shooting. Most impressive was that Harris took 14 free throw shots. Something tells me the Kidd deal might have murdered the Mavs franchise for the considerable future. Looks like Devean George almost did Dallas a favour.

I love the moves Bryan Colangelo makes and I'll always worship the throne of the NBA's foremost metrosexual general manager, but how did he pass up on Danny Granger in favour of Joey Graham a few drafts ago? Granger has developed into a go-to scorer in Indiana, averaging well over 20 points per game and filling up the score sheet in other ways. Not only that, but his tooth loss accident, and the fact that he came back to play looking like a much taller Dougie Gilmour, would have the Raps faithful smelling a deep playoff run.

I don't play fantasy basketball, but whoever nabbed Andris Biedrins in their drafts is counting their lucky stars. Just check his stats: 16.8 ppg, 14.9 rpg, 52.8 FG%, 1.5 bpg. Overnight the young Warriors centre has become the preeminent league-wide rebounder alongside Dwight Howard. Must be the ludicrous amount of hair gel.

This one feels a bit weird, yet Nate Robinson definitely deserves a couple votes. Every bench needs a gunner to throw in when the starting line-up gets a little stagnant. And Robinson has filled that role well with over 14 points per. Not only that, but he's averaging over 2 steals per game and up to 4 rebounds and assists.

A couple others deserve credit, including Jeff Green, Nick Young, Mickael Pietrus, and Aaron Brooks. Let the speculation begin.

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