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Who makes the cut?

As the season draws to a close, NBA awards are soon to be given

By Bradley Hartsell
On April 23, 2012

There are two to three games left in the regular season, and a lot of starters are sitting anyway, so let's look at my awards predictions.

First Team All-NBA

G­­ - Chris Paul: The best point guard in the league had a wonderful all-around season.

G - Dwyane Wade: Kobe will probably win the scoring title, but Wade has been much more consistent and efficient.

F - LeBron James: James had one of the best regular seasons ever.

F - Kevin Durant: Durant improved his all-around game, and still was just one-tenth of a point away from his third straight scoring title.

C - Dwight Howard: Howard had a season everyone would like to forget, unless you like hating Dwight Howard, which is cool, but he was still the best center this year.

Second Team All-NBA

G- Russell Westbrook: Westbrook's awesome year was marked by continued improvement with his shooting.

G- Kobe Bryant: Kobe struggled with his percentages, but the likely scoring champ deserves recognition.

F - Levin Love: He absolutely deserves first team honors, but Durant and LeBron exist. Love had a great year and I don't even feel like he's near his peak yet.

F - Blake Griffin: The first really hard choice, because there's a whole mess of power forwards who were really good but had some obvious flaws. Griffin will win by default.

C - Andrew Bynum: This was a terrific year by Bynum despite the punk attitude stuff he pulled.

Third Team All-NBA

G - Tony Parker: The steadiest force all season made his team the West's likely top seed.

G - Derrick Rose: Rose only played in a little over half the games, but he was almost just as good as last season. Had he been there all season, he'd definitely be higher up somewhere.

F - Dirk Nowitzki: Early season troubles tanked Dirk's numbers, but by mid-season, he was rolling.

F - Tim Duncan: He was still really good this season despite the obvious slowing of his game. Duncan is just a really special player.

C - Al Jefferson: Technically a center, so I couldn't bump him above Blake or Duncan, but he had a great year and got a bad Utah team into the playoffs.

Sixth Man of the Year­ - James Harden: I had Harden in Rose's spot before remembering Derrick Rose played basketball. He deserves it. He's the most efficient volume-player in basketball, is good at everything, and gets his all while waiting his turn behind Durant and Westbrook. He's so damn good.

Rookie of the Year - Kyrie Irving: He missed almost 20 games, but Irving is clearly a superstar in the making. He's tremendously skilled for a one-and-done college player. He doesn't have Rose's athleticism, but Irving is way ahead of where Rose was as a rookie.

Most Improved - James Harden: Counting out second year players (because, of course, they improve), Harden went from shaky fourth option at the start of last year to a bona fide rock and playmaker for this team. Considering we couldn't quite find a place for him on the All-NBA team, he deserves an extra piece of hardware.

Defensive Player of the Year - Tyson Chandler: I don't think Dwight was quite as dominant, and Tyson led the Knicks to a top defensive rating. Howard's won three years in a row, and had a horrible PR year, so voters are probably looking for excuses to vote for someone else. It's the perfect storm for Chandler.

MVP - LeBron James: He shot 53 percent from the field, 36 percent from 3 (both career highs), played Defensive Player of the Year-caliber defense (has a chance to win it, too) and led the Heat in points, rebounds and assists. As a basketball player, he was awesome.

Narratives aside, just know that if the Heat win the title this year, nobody can say anything about LeBron's lack of fortitude and then, we can fully appreciate this sterling season of his. Fickle preconceived story lines are the worst part of sports; watching greatness is the best.


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