Happy New Year everyone. As of tonight, 2015 is now upon us. We’re over one third of the way through the NBA season and this is when many experts examine some of the awards races throughout the league. It’s always fun to debate which players are likely to take home these awards at seasons end, but I thought it would be more fun to pick who’s winning each award based on the complete antithesis of the usual qualifications. Welcome to the Bizarro NBA Awards race!
Most Valuable Player
Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
This award is not an indictment on the talent that Kobe Bryant possesses, because he is a first ballot Hall of Famer and the second best shooting guard to ever lace ‘em up. But Kobe takes home the award based on his awful performance thus far into the season. This isn’t entirely his fault because he is playing with the likes of Jeremy Lin, Jordan Hill, Ronnie Price, Wes Johnson, and others in the supporting cast who really have no business sharing the court with Kobe, let alone being in the NBA.
It’s like the Lakers are this huge Hollywood movie project. They’ve got all the greatest special effects, good editing and sound mixing, and the film sets are brilliant and massive. But the Lakers didn’t allocate enough in their total budget to make good casting hires. They signed on Mark Wahlberg, the star, but they didn’t have enough money left over to sign any other big names. So they had to hire Mark’s brother Donnie and a litany of other D-list celebrities to play fifteen different roles. The final product just isn’t going to hold up.
Ridiculous Lakers analogies aside, Kobe’s shooting percentage is way down (37% overall and 27% on threes). With his shooting percentage down, there is also a higher focus on his typically questionable shot selection. There have been many a night so far this season where Kobe will take around30 shots and have very little return in scoring. At this point it’s hard to argue that Kobe is helping this team more than he is hurting it (did you see the Lakers dominate Golden State without Kobe??). By having him out there on a nightly basis, the Lakers have a chance to finish outside the top five of the lottery at seasons end. This is a horrible thing for LA because their first round pick will be given to Phoenix if this comes to fruition. It’s not like Byron Scott or the Lakers front office are going to tell Kobe to sit out the season so they can keep their draft pick, but honestly that is the best course of action. Kobe is not only hurting this team with his overall performance, but he will be hurting the future of Lakers basketball if he is able to regain form and win pointless games for this team down the stretch. If Sam Hinkie was the general manager of the Lakers, Kobe already would’ve been dealt for a 2018 second round pick and the right to swap second rounders in 2019. Bob Dylan once said “the times they are a changing”. However, Ron Burgundy nor Mitch Kupchak ever heard that song.
I’m sorry Kobe, but someone has to take home this award and you’ve been pretty bad this year. But it’s not your fault…
Defensive Player of the Year
The entire Timberwolves team
It’s almost unquantifiable how awful the Timberwolves are on the defensive end; luckily for us sports are all about statistics and we can quantify exactly how awful they really are. The Timberwolves love not playing defense almost as much as ownership loves rehiring Flip Saunders to be their head coach. They’re letting opponents shoot over 49% from the field including over 37% from long distance, as well as surrendering over 109 points per game. You’re just not going to win many NBA games when your opponent is making half of their shots every night and you have to rely on Shabazz Muhammad to lead your team to over 110 points. The Timberwolves are like a hockey team who goes down 1-0 in the first period and then inexplicably decides to pull their goalie for the rest of the game to try and catchup. I mean this is the team that gave the Sixers their first victory of the season; they are no world beaters. The reason I couldn’t zero in on just one winner for this award is because the T’Wolves are so bad at defense collectively, I think it would be unfair to leave anyone out of the spotlight. Flip Saunders the president of basketball operations should tell Flip Saunders the head coach that this team needs to play a little more defense. Or the T’Wolves should just start playing defense like the guys from BASEketball…
Congratulations Minnesota you are the first team to win an individual award!
Rookie of the Year
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
It may be a slightly unorthodox move to give Rookie of the Year to a player that is inactive and hasn’t suited up all year, but this is the bizarro world and giving awards to unqualified recipients is not only accepted, it is encouraged. Normal statistics like points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks are overrated. We should be deciding awards races by how well a person tweets or does the Shmoney dance. Luckily, we have a rookie right in our midst that is absolutely stellar at both.
Andrew Wiggins will likely win the actual ROY award because he can do things like jump really high and occasionally score over 20 points in a game, but we need to measure ROY by more intangible attributes. Joel Embiid has been more entertaining so far from the sidelines than any other rookie has been on the court. Another reason why I personally want to give Joel this bizarro ROY award is because he is also acting as a beacon of hope for my beloved 76ers. He hasn’t even played in an NBA game and yet I can’t stop thinking of how amazing he is going to be. For example, I frequently wake up from nightmares induced from watching the previous night’s Sixers game. When this happens I always head over to my computer and watch Embiid highlights from his time at Kansas to calm me down and ease me back to sleep. This one is a favorite highlight of mine…Dream Shake forever y’all
We don’t know what the future holds, and yes there is always the possibility that he doesn’t live up to the hype. But right now he is carrying a tormented franchise every night while wearing a killer suit at the end of the bench. I think that is significant enough to garner him some credit for this fake award I’m handing out.
Stay Tuned for Part 2 of the Midseason Bizarro Awards. Follow me @jeff_berest for more of my NBA musings and general nonsense and follow @DRosesAndThorns for all your latest NBA/Chicago Bulls news and opinions.