Right on George.
It’s one of the thoughts that crossed my mind late last night as I knocked out HOOPSWORLD’s annual NBA award prediction list. See, I’m not big into lists. I’m not big into predicting awards. Yes it draws a readership and plenty of comments – some harsh, some smart – but I’d rather pen a story. What was I going to do? The job demands it – so does an Editor.
But since I ventured to pick and choose awards for around the league, allow me to play Nostradamus – using the same criteria and some new categories – Portland Trail Blazers style :
Sixth Man of the Year – Rudy Fernandez: Last year the award easily went to Travis Outlaw, but now with Rudy in the mix it’s hard to vote against him. Plus, had Outlaw actually been prepared to step-up into the starting lineup (how was Travis not ready?) the debate might have been between Rudy and Nicolas Batum. Even in that discussion, Rudy will be the man holding the “white unit” together and contributing the most to the starting five.
Most Improved Player– Sergio Rodriguez: Who would have thought the addition of Rudy Fernandez would have improved Sergio’s game this much? He looks so much more comfortable out there. The shot. Smart passing. Still needs to work on the “D”. Working on his shot this summer was the perfect move though. So was bringing over his fellow Spanish countryman. Those two combined help Sergio take home MIP honors.
Coach of the Year – Monty Williams: In an upset, Williams comes out of nowhere to take Nate McMillan’s given award. Not only has Monty been working diligently with Nicolas Batum on his shot – as he has done with Travis Outlaw and Martell Webster in the past – but Coach Williams can also be found working out Greg Oden in pregame drills. Batum is now in the starting lineup and G.O. is growing into game time shape. It’s the full Monty.
MVP – Brandon Roy: You just don’t mess with a good thing.
Rookie of the Year – Greg Oden: A couple weeks ago, my vote was for Rudy Fernandez. Then it moved to Nicolas Batum. But it’s just plain stupid to bet against G.O. on this one, so I’m not going to. If he can earn ROY honors around the league, surely he’s the best rookie on his own team.
Defensive Player of the Year – Greg Oden: This was another tough call. Had Martell Webster been healthy, his name would be in bold type here instead of the big fella. Also Joel Przybilla is going to give Greg a run for his money, but I’m still betting on Greg to have the most direct impact on the defensive end of things in Portland. Block party anyone?
Total Wins – 47: I’m totally flip-flopping here. The magic number has been 50, especially out West. But you take Martell Webster out of the lineup with a jacked-up foot and his absence is going to hurt Portland immensely – and their win total. A slow start – on the road and against the West – could drop the Blazers like Kimbo Slice throwing a fight. I’m going for 47. That’s my final answer.
Playoff Seed – 8th: See above. If Portland can stay healthy – now dubbed the Martell factor – the Blazers could sneak into the 7th spot out West. But with a core of Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, Greg Oden – tossing in the addition of Rudy Fernandez and the trusty veteran leadership of Steve Blake and Joel Przybilla – Portland should return to the postseason this year. Plus it helps that the likes of Denver, Dallas, and maybe even Phoenix will have slipped this season.
You gotta like those odds.
pic via: msnvideo.uk