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Posted at 2:52 PM ET, 01/27/2011

And the Whoopi goes to....

By Lee Friedman

It’s that time of year again. The NBA Mid-Season Awards season is in full swing, but who wants to hear another debate about whether Amare or LeBron should be MVP (my vote goes to Amare), or whether Blake Griffin or Kevin Love deserve the 12th spot on the All-Star Team (I go with Love, and not just because I want to see Brian Wilson get out of bed). Instead, these awards are for the unsung heroes of the 2010-2011 NBA season.

Dirk Nowitzki Award for Performance by a Big Man Behind the Three-Point Line: Kevin Love runs away with this one. It is a rare big man who has the ability to hit threes while dominating in the paint. Love is third among players 6-feet-10 or taller in three-point percentage (43 percent) and averages twice as many rebounds per game as the two people ahead of him average combined. While Channing Frye and Danilo Gallinari both shoot a lot of threes, neither of them is a particularly active rebounder.

Dwyane Wade Award for Best Jump in Performance from First to Second Year: Wes Matthews managed to make a bigger jump than Dwyane Wade did between his first and second years, especially if you consider where he started. Matthews went undrafted and was signed by the Jazz as a free agent before last season.  He was a solid role player and part-time starter for the Jazz last year (9 ppg, 12 Player Efficiency Rating) where he leveraged a strong second half and playoff performance into a lucrative free agent contract (five years/$34M) with the Trail Blazers. He has rewarded the Blazers by stepping up in the absence of Brandon Roy (16 ppg, 15 PER).

Best Performance in a Horror Movie: The fans of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Despite having their hearts broken by Sweet Baby James, despite having their already (very) modestly talented roster decimated by injuries, despite watching a team that has lost 18 in a row and 28 of 29, Cavs fans continue to show up. Amazingly the Cleveland Cavaliers are second in the league in average attendance per home game, averaging over 20,000 people per game, trailing only the Bulls. I don’t know if that says more about Cavaliers fans or about the leisure time activities in Cleveland during the winter, but it’s impressive.

Basketball Agents Association Appreciation Award (BAAAA): The New Jersey Nets pulled a Titanic and swept this category. They paid Travis Outlaw $7M per year for the next five years in what I can only assume was a misunderstanding by new Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov. GM Billy King needs to explain to him that unlike in Russia, when you sign a NBA contract here, you can’t just make someone disappear if you decide you don’t like the terms of the contract. Outlaw responded to his good luck by putting up a PER of 8.6, one of the lowest marks in the league for a player with his amount of playing time. The Nets' generosity wasn’t done. They paid Johan Petro $10M over three years, Jordan Farmar $12M over three years and Anthony Morrow $12M over three years, and while they are not bad contracts individually, taken together the Nets will have wasted $55M over just the next three years on players who probably would not be starting on any other team in the league.

Whoopi Goldberg Award for Worst Performance on the Basketball Court: If you saw the movie Eddie, you understand just how awful you need to be to win this award. If you haven’t, I'll just say it made Jumpin’ Jack Flash look like Shakespeare. Figuring out who has been the worst player in the NBA this season I considered several factors: offensive rating, defensive rating, true shooting percentage, PER, turnover percentage and fouls committed per 36 minutes. In order to win, you couldn’t just be bad at one thing. I took the 20 worst players in each category who played at least 20 mpg and appeared in at least 30 games this year, gave them 20 points for finishing in last, 19 for second to last, etc. And the winner is…Rasual Butler of the L.A. Clippers. Butler had the honor of being one of only two players to be among the 20 worst in the league in four of the six categories (T.J. Ford being the other). Butler had the second-worst PER, the sixth-worst true shooting percentage, the 10th-worst offensive rating and the 13th-worst defensive rating. Butler is statistically awful as an individual, and his team is awful when he is on the court. In recognition for his efforts, the Nets will be signing him to a long-term contract. 

By Lee Friedman  | January 27, 2011; 2:52 PM ET
Categories:  Lee Friedman, Wizards  | Tags:  Lee Friedman, Wizards  
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