Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


2006-07 NBA awards ballot

With the NBA regular season coming to a close, I took it upon myself to fill out The Badger Herald's awards ballot this week. Unfortunately, the ballot came back with a big return-to-sender stamp — turns out it was turned in late … and the Herald doesn't actually have a ballot. Nevertheless, here are my picks:

MVP: Steve Nash, G, Phoenix Suns

Dirk Nowitzki is the sexy choice for Most Valuable Player this season, and rightfully so. Dirk's averaging 24.6 points and 8.9 rebounds per game while leading the Mavericks to a league-best 66-15 record.


Yet at the same time it's difficult to deny Nash his third-straight MVP. The Suns aren't that much behind the Mavs at 61-21, and Nash actually has better numbers this year than in the past two seasons.

While it's debatable as to whether or not Nash is the NBA's best player this season, it's hard to rebuff Air Canada of the award when looking at the numbers in his past two MVP seasons:

2004-05: 15.5 points and 11.5 assists per game and the Suns finished with a league-best 62-20 record.

2005-06: 18.8 points and 10.5 assists per game as the Suns had the Association's fourth-best record at 54-28.

This season, Nash has averaged 18.6 points and 11.6 assists per game, and his shooting percentage is the best it has ever been in his 11-year career (.532 from the field and .455 from 3-point range). How he isn't the consensus pick for MVP is just absurd.

There were other legitimate candidates the past two seasons Nash won MVP just as there are this year. Based on Nash matching his numbers from the past two seasons alone, he should be a lock for the award, but it's plain to see why he might be getting shunned.

If Nash were to win MVP this year, he would be only the fourth player in NBA history to receive the award in three consecutive seasons. Does Nash belong in the same class as Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell? Given Nash's lack of postseason success, probably not — but remember the MVP is a regular season award, and Nash deserves it this year.

Rookie of the Year: Brandon Roy, G, Portland Trail Blazers

This year's rookie class has been almost as disappointing as the 2000 class when Mike Miller won Rookie of the Year. Still, Roy's been this season's best first-year player, hands down.

Roy not only leads the rookie class in scoring (16.8 points per game) and assists (4.0 per game), he also is the leader of his team with the troubled Zach Randolph all but booted out of Portland.

Competing with Roy for the award is this year's No. 1 overall pick is Andrea Bargnani of Toronto. Bargnani, a 6-foot-10 forward, has drawn comparisons to Dirk Nowitzki with his outside shooting. The Italian import has connected on 37.6 percent of his 3-point shots while averaging 11.5 points per game off the bench for the Raptors.

Plus, Toronto has actually been good this season. At 47-34, the Raptors have wrapped up the Atlantic Division, meaning they will be the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

But Bargnani hasn't been the sole reason for the Raptors' improvement this year. Chris Bosh has developed into one of the association's best young forwards and T.J. Ford has given everything his 6-foot frame can this year. Plus, fellow rookie Jorge Garbajosa starts over Bargnani and has contributed just as much.

On the flip side, Roy is a regular starter and has done as much as he can to help the Blazers to a mediocre record. They could really be much worse than 32-49.

Roy for ROY.

Sixth Man of the Year: Leandro Barbosa, G, Phoenix Suns

This race has come down to Barbosa, San Antonio's Manu Ginobili and Dallas' Jerry Stackhouse. Put on any other team, Barbosa and Ginobili would be starters — it's hard to say the same for Stackhouse. Barbosa has higher numbers in most categories and practically plays the same amount as a starter at 32.7 minutes per game so the Suns earn another award.

Coach of the Year: Sam Mitchell, Toronto Raptors

While Avery Johnson has probably done the best coaching job by guiding the Mavs to the league's best record, this award typically goes to the head coach on a team that comes out of nowhere. Such is the case with Mitchell and the Raptors.

Nobody would've ever predicted Toronto to be the East's third-best team before the season, but now the Raptors are sitting in the spot and some experts are picking them as a surprise team in the playoffs.

To further make a case for Mitchell, just look at the Raptors' starting line-up: a superstar in Bosh, an injury-riddled point guard in Ford, a washed-up center in Rasho Nesterovic, a no-name rookie in Garbajosa and Candace Parker's older brother, Anthony.

Mitchell has had the most success in the NBA this season with not much to work with.

Defensive Player of the Year: Bruce Bowen, F, San Antonio Spurs

Bowen's been deserving of this award for a while, and this year is his chance to finally steal it. The Spurs are the best defensive team in the NBA, and Bowen is their lockdown defender on the wing.

Most Improved Player: Carlos Boozer, F, Utah Jazz

There are way too many worthy candidates for Most Improved Player this season so I literally pulled Boozer's name out of a hat. I can't say he was my first choice, but I'll stick with it. After all, Boozer has put his injury-filled career behind him to become an All-Star, playing to the tune of 21.1 points and 11.8 rebounds per game for the Jazz.

Michael is a senior double-majoring in journalism and communication arts. If you would like to pick your winner for Most Improved Player out of a hat, you can e-mail him at [email protected].

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