Heading to the hardware store
Sixteen games into the season and much of the talk has been about the Rookie of the Year (ROY) race between John Wall (18 ppg, 9 apg, 2.8 spg) and Blake Griffin (20 ppg, 11 rpg). By all measurements Griffin is having a great year. Since 1981 only five other rookies have averaged 20 ppg and 11 rpg -- Shaquille O’Neal, David Robinson, Tim Duncan, Hakeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson. That's pretty good company, and in any other year Griffin would win in a walk. But John Wall isn’t just having a great year, he’s on track to have an historic one. How many rookies in NBA history have averaged 18 ppg, 9 apg and 2.8 steals? Not a single one. Chris Paul, Allen Iverson and Isiah Thomas all came close, but they all averaged more than one assist less per game, fewer steals and Wall is averaging more points than either Paul or Thomas. In fact, in NBA history, only Chris Paul has ever averaged more then 18/9/2.8 for an entire year. I know Wall has missed some games and there is still a long season ahead of him, but he has the chance to have one of the greatest rookie years ever by a point guard. At this point, he has to be the favorite over Griffin. Plus, while the Wizards (5-11) have not been great as a team, the Clippers have actually been worse (3-15).
With the possibility that a Wizards player might win a ROY award for the first time since 1969, and with the recent inspired play by Nick Young and JaVale McGee, it got me to thinking about other possible post-season awards Wizards might be contending for this year.
MVP: No Wizard has won this award since Wes Unseld in 1969; while I’m sure Wall will get a few votes, he’ll probably have to wait a few years.
Sixth Man of the Year: No Wizard has ever won this award (although former Wizards Antawn Jamison and Mike Miller won it before they played here). No matter what your views on Nick Young are, he has been playing lights out for the last two weeks (this is the upside to his single-minded focus on scoring, when he is locked in, he is a scoring machine who gets baskets quickly, but when he is off, he keeps firing away like an overturned sprinkler). He’s scored in double figures in points in eight of the last nine games, including four games of twenty or more. He’s averaging 11 ppg for the year, which might not seem like a lot, but prior to 2007, the last twelve Sixth Man winners all averaged between nine and 15 ppg. As with so much in Nick’s career, it remains to be seen whether he can sustain this production throughout the year, but he’s earned his way into the competition. And there is certainly a lot of competition this year; Jason Terry, Jamal Crawford and Wilson Chandler are all putting up good numbers.
Most Improved Player (MIP): The MIP is to the Wizards what the Heisman is to Notre Dame. Three Wizards won this award in a five year period (Gheorghe Muresan, Don MacLean and “Never Nervous” Pervis Ellison) and another five future or former Wizards won the award on other teams (Ike Austin, Arenas, Kevin Duckworth, Bobby Simmons and Scott Skiles). I know what you're thinking: Austin, Muresan, Skiles and Duckworth…definitely not a beauty contest. JaVale McGee’s play so far has forced him into the conversation. Unfortunately, even if he keeps up this level of play for the year, he’ll face an uphill battle against voting trends -- recent winners have tended to be high-scoring guards or swing-men. Since Austin won it in 1997, only two post players have won the MIP. McGee’s points, rebounds, blocks, shooting percentage, steals and assists are all up. He’s also fouling less and playing smarter. He’s second in the league in blocks per game, fifth in offensive rebounds and sixth in field goal percentage. Beyond the numbers, the impact he’s had on opponents game planning is the biggest change. He alters shots and forces teams to think twice before driving on him. As in the Sixth Man Award field, the competition will be tough this year for McGee. Kevin Love, Roy Hibbert, Michael Beasley and Paul Millsap have all put up strong seasons so far. The years of Ike Austin winning hardware while averaging nine points and five rebounds per game are over.
| December 1, 2010; 5:04 PM ET
Categories: Lee Friedman, Wizards | Tags: Lee Friedman, Wizards
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Posted by: Goose5 | December 1, 2010 11:16 PM | Report abuse