Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Siopao Heaven awards NBA's best

The NBA's regular season is now coming to a close, and while fans, players, coaches and league officials get all pumped up in anticipation of the playoffs, Siopao Heaven takes a closer look at the NBA players who displayed their prowess all throughout 82 games and pays tribute for their exemplary performances.
Ladies and gents, I present to you, the awardees for the 1st Siopao Heaven Awards, NBA category.

Disclaimer: The Siopao Heaven Awards is not an official award giving body and is not sanctioned by the Siopao Master at all. In the lack of his interest towards the sport however, I took the liberty and initiative to name this unofficial award giving body to him since this post will appear in his blog. Feel free to blast me if you feel necessary Siops. Also feel free to delete this disclaimer if you're OK with this.

Most Valuable Player: Dwayne Wade (Miami Heat)
It's easy to overlook D-Wade's value when the Miami Heat is just a 5th seed in the Eastern Conference and Lebron James' Cleveland Cavaliers and Kobe Bryant's LA Lakers lead their respective conferences. In addition, Flash's 26.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg and 6.6 apg are pale in comparison to King James' 29.7 ppg, 7.3 rpg and 8.6 apg and Black Mamba's 27 ppg, 5.4 rpg and 5 apg.

However, Wade's importance cannot be measured by their playoff spot or by the numbers he's producing. Instead, we must delve into the context of his contribution to understand his value to his team.

If you ask me, below are the qualifications an MVP must possess:
1. His team must be winning (above .500 record and should make the playoffs);
2. He must be producing otherworldly numbers;
3. He's recognized as the leader and star of the team;
4. Must be considered as one of the Top 5 players in the league; and
5. His team will horribly suck without him.

Items 1, 2 and 3 should be out of the question, and with Charles Barkley being one of several people acknowledging Wade as a top 5 player, 4 is also a done deal. Now I'd like to put emphasis on item number 5.

Before you start enumerating Kobe's game winners and Lebron's highlights this season, take a good look at their supporting cast and compare them to the Miami Heat roster. You look at the Cavs, the Lakers, and other playoff teams, and you try taking away their star players and you see teams that could still make the post-season, theoretically, because they have players that could still produce big numbers on a regular basis outside of the star player. This, to some effect, lessens the value of the star on a team. In the Heat's case, you take Wade out of the rotation and I see a team only slightly better than the Golden State Warriors and the New York Knicks.

Outside Bryant, the Lakers have Bynum, Ka-Pau, Ron-ron, the husband of Khloe Kardashian and Fish. James on the other hand has Antawn Jamison, Mo Williams and an array of good role players that include Shaquille O' Neal. With Wade, it's Jermaine O' Neal, Michael Beasley and…and…well that's pretty much it.

I also give points to D-Wade for playing with grace under pressure. He's got a lot to deal with off the court - divorce, child custody issues, free agency - and yet you don't hear him talking about in the open. Instead, he keeps his mouth shut, gets his head in the game and helps the Heat finish the regular season strong. That beats Lebron's Slamgate Scandal and Kobe's sexual assault charges anytime.

Hands down, when talking about the best player in the world, the conversation only revolves around James and Bryant. But the best player isn't always the most valuable. And with an Atlas-like weight on his shoulders, D-Wade is not only Miami's, but should also be the NBA's MVP.

Defensive Player of the Year: Dwight Howard (Orlando Magic)
As much as I'd like to give this award to James Posey (photo shown above) for clogging Stephen Jackson's air passage, Howard has once again shown us why he is the league's Defensive Minister. For two years in a row, the former slam dunk champ has led league in rebounds and shot blocks and currently averages 13.3 rpg and 2.8 bpg. In a roster where Matt Barnes seems be the next best rebounder, Superman alone managed to wield his team into becoming the league's 5th best rebounding team. And if you want to talk about intangibles, when Howard clogs the paint, the sheer thought of his height, strength and athleticism can force most players to alter their shots.

Rookie of the Year: Tyreke Evans (Sacramento Kings)
After 2004, fans and even the media had very few reasons to watch the Sacramento Kings. Fast forward to year 2009 and Evans has the Kings creeping back into the limelight once more.

Evans leads all rookies in scoring with an average of 20.3 ppg. The 6'6" point guard has also done a decent job of sharing the ball with an average of 5.8 apg, only behind Stephen Curry who leads all rookies in terms of assists. Earlier in the season, Evans led the Kings to a winning record thanks to some late-game heroics. Unfortunately, injuries and inconsistencies will be keeping them out of the playoffs this year. But with two upcoming stars in Evans and Omri Casspi, the future looks bright for the Kings.

Both Curry and Evans are faring well, so I can't blame the NBA if the ROY award goes either way. But since I find Evans' ability to manhandle other point guards with his physique more appealing than Curry's perimeter game, the Kings' rookie gets my nod for ROY.

Sixth Man of the Year: Jamal Crawford (Atlanta Hawks)
Crawford has definitely spelled 'The Difference' for the Atlanta Hawks this year.

During the last two seasons, the Hawks didn't have anyone on their bench that can help them compete with the top dogs of the East. Enter Crawford and the Hawks now have a guy that can provide instant offense coming off the bench. Thanks to his scoring, Coach Mike Woodson has amother option on offense in case the starting backcourt can't get it going. Also, since Crawford's addition, the Hawks swept the Celtics in the their regular season series, and were also able to steal wins against the Cavs and Magic. With that said, it's safe to say that Crawford's addition has transformed the Hawks from playoff team to dark horse.

And seriously, can you think of any other reserve performing as well as Crawford?

Most Improved Player of the Year: Gerald Wallace (Charlotte Bobcats)
Dubbed 'Crash' by his teammates for his devil-may-care attitude, Wallace is finally making a name for himself and is doing a good job in pleasing his new boss.

From a benchwarmer on a powerhouse Kings team to a starter for an expansion team, it took Crash some time to adjust to his new role and environment. This season, Crash has learned to deliver the goods on a consistent basis. He has gradually increased his rebounding (10.2 rpg) and scoring (18.3 ppg) output which led to an All-Star selection and his team's first playoff appearance in 6 years.

And while Larry Brown expects Stephen Jackson to take and make shots, it's good to note that Wallace is in charge of the defensive end where he averages 1.1 bpg and 1.5 spg.

Coach of the Year: Scott Brooks (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Under his tutelage,
Kevin Durant turned into the league's leading scorer, the Thunder has more than doubled the number of Ws they got this year compared to last year, and they are currently in a three-way tie for the 6th spot of the Western Conference. And he has only served as head coach for two full seasons. Need I say more?

Some may argue that the Thunder's success should be attributed to Durantula, Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green, but you can't deny that these guys thrived in Brooks' system. Moreover, his principles have molded this young team to play well beyond its years.
So there you have it. What do you guys think? -Marlone Viardo

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