The regular season is over. The best part of that is playoffs. But it also means the league will soon hand out trophies to those people who had the greatest regular seasons.
None of us here at 8 Points, 9 Seconds has an official vote for any of the awards, but if we did, this is how we would vote.
1. Most Valuable Player
Shane Young: Kevin Durant. I’m of the mindset that he has taken over the reigns as the best player on the planet, and the number of 40+ point bombs he’s dropped on Western Conference foes this season proves it. Without his sidekick for half the year, Durant propelled OKC to 59 wins. Not in the weak East! Not only will we be talking about this cat in future MVP races, but he’s going to be the Greatest scorer to ever touch a basketball. Write that down.
Jon LaFollette: Kevin Durant: Yes, I understand LeBron is the better player. In a microcosm, however, Durantula had the better individual season. He casually flirted with what would have been back-to-back 50-40-90 seasons, set scoring marks we haven’t seen since MJ, and dutifully carried his team on his scrawny frame in the absence of Westbrook. Remember when we all thought Paul George might be better than KD? Yeah, Durant did too.
Josh Dhani: Kevin Durant. LeBron James has already won four of them, with all of them coming within the last four years. Although James is still the best player in the league, Durant most definitely had the better season. The stats say everything and he led the Thunder to a No. 2 seed like James’ Heat did. Plus, OKC had a better record. Durant’s amazing streak of 25 or more points in a game that lasted half a season puts the icing on the cake for his case as the Most Valuable Player.
Jon Washburn: Kevin Durant. LeBron James is still the best player in the world and no team asks any player to do as much as what Miami asks out of LeBron. Still, no matter how you slice it, Kevin Durant put together a better individual season. It’s not voter fatigue, he actually deserves this year’s MVP.
Avi Friedman: LeBron James. I think his impact on the Heat was still greater than Durant’s was on the Thunder this season.
Tim Sartori: Kevin Durant. There’s not much to it, KD had an incredible individual year. The absence of Westbrook at the beginning of the year certainly inflated his numbers a bit, but that’s not to take anything away from Durant – this season, he was the best player in the league.
Jalen Bishop: Kevin Durant. I thought he was the MVP in December when he dropped a 50 piece on the Warriors. He was playing terrorizing on and off ball defense like a focused LeBron would. When he starts at the top at the three point line and receives a screen from Serge Ibaka consider yourself toast.
Scott Stewart: Kevin Durant. KD has epitomized the dominant player in the league this year. Scoring champ, team leader, incredible athlete. Despite LeBron’s tears, KD deserves the crown.
Will Rettig: Kevin Durant. KD is an unstoppable offensive force for a contending team in the tougher Western Conference. He led the NBA with 32.0 points per game despite his partner in crime, Russell Westbrook, shifting in and out of the lineup due to injury. It’s Durant’s time to dethrone LeBron.
Kyle Grand: Kevin Durant: Kevin Durant has been better than LeBron James this year, plain and simple. He led the league in scoring, improved his defense, while James’ took a dive and even had a higher PER than James. Yes, James was without Wade at times this year, but there was a period when Durant was without Westbrook. Durant deserves the award this season.
(GIF: Ron Artist)
2. Defensive Player of the Year
Young: Joakim Noah. Although Chicago is full of defenders that buy in to Tom Thibodeau’s principles, Noah has taken over the voice of the locker room and even on the court. Without D-Rose on hand, someone has to be an extension of the coach on the floor. He’s done that, and while his game on both ends has improved, his defense has this superstar-less team in home court advantage.
LaFollette: Joakim Noah: This was Roy Hibbert’s award to lose, and so he proceeded to do just that. Hibbert is still an elite rim protector, but the Pacers’ recent funk, and the big man’s inability to grab any rebounds since the All-Star break, has vastly diminished any hopes of individual honors. Noah not only epitomizes the resilient spirit of the Bulls, but embodies Tom Thibodeau’s tenacious and pulverizing style of defense. Fun fact: Noah has more triple doubles (4) than Hibbert had boards in a recent loss to the Heat (1).
Dhani: Joakim Noah. He may have gotten a much more expanded role in the Bulls offense this season, but his defense never went away. Noah finished out the season strong and could have even made the case for being an MVP candidate himself. I would give it to Roy Hibbert, but his late-season slump makes Noah’s case more credible for DPOY. Noah was just a force defensively, holding his opponents to under 47 percent shooting only near eight attempts per game under the rim. Along with that, the Bulls finished second in defensive efficiency even with Luol Deng getting traded. Noah was just a huge factor.
Washburn: Joakim Noah. Roy Hibbert and Paul George both deserve to finish in the Top Five, and I feel I could probably make a stronger case for PG than Roy considering he guards the other team’s best player on a nightly basis. Still, Noah is just a little better than both guys. Joakim doesn’t have the luxury of playing next to four above average to great defenders at all times in Chicago. Rather, he’s often playing behind DJ Augustin, Mike Dunleavy, and Carlos Boozer. The fact that Chicago’s defense is still so potent really lies entirely on the shoulders of Noah and Thibs. Take out Roy or PG and Indy still has an above average defense. Take out Noah…and the Bulls are a mess.
Friedman: Roy Hibbert. He’s been horrid offensively post all star and sub-par defensively but I think the whole body of work is still much more impressive than Joakim Noah’s. Pacers’ opponents barely shot above 50% in the restricted area when Roy was on the court this season.
Sartori: Roy Hibbert. It feels like people have been turning away from him with their votes due to the Pacers recent struggles, and Roy certainly didn’t look as focused on the defensive end throughout that time, but the job he did as a rim protector throughout most of the season was just too impressive to give this award to anybody else.
Bishop: Paul George. Why can’t a perimeter player win this award? It’s accepted that a front court player is more important than a perimeter player because they protect the most sacred part of the court. But what about a player who blitzes passing lanes and locks down other wings? On-ball defense remains underrated because there isn’t one statistic that can quantify how good someone is at defense,
Stewart: Roy Hibbert. While Hibbert hasn’t been on the defensive tear in recent games compared to early year, he still remains a great choice for DPOY. In early games, Hibbert has established a dominant post presence as a consistent shot blocker and no one to mess with.
Rettig: Joakim Noah. Close call between Noah and Roy Hibbert, but in this case, I give Noah my vote. Hibbert is great around the rim, but his shot-blocking began to dip mid-season and his defensive rebounding is poor. Noah defends very well on the perimeter, in the post and around the rim. He can also read passing lanes, record steals and handle the ball on a fast break going the other way.
Grand: Roy Hibbert: I know the sexy pick right now is Joakim Noah, but that is just because of Hibbert’s recent struggles. We tend to live in the now, but the award is for a full season, therefore the first 3/4 of the year, where Hibbert was the league’s best defensive player, has to be accounted for. Despite all the offensive and rebounding struggles, the defense has been top-notch throughout.