The Awards Show was great, and here are my reactions/criticisms.
This year's rookie of the year race was great, whether it was Simmons dominating the regular season, or Tatum ripping up the post season. While these two are clearly the most talented out of this rookie class, with Simmons on top, Spida fans kept on pushing with an array of myths and, although seemingly good, bad arguments. So here comes Tom to break them.
#1 The "True Rookie" Argument
Larry Bird, David Robinson, and Blake Griffin also weren't "True Rookies" and while the whole "True Rookie" thing was mentioned when Blake Griffin won over John Wall, it was never considered to be an actual argument in favor of Wall. And anyways, while sitting out a year while completely healthy would put you at a massive advantage, sitting out a year due to injury, not being able to play or practice is hardly any more of an advantage than staying in college an extra year, in fact staying in college might be more useful.
#2 The Donovan Mitchell carried his team myth
The Jazz win based on their defense, after the break they were the best defensive team in the league, Rudy Gobert was the DPOY, when he was out the Jazz were 11-15, Donovan Mitchell is an offensive player, Donovan Mitchell rarely guards the number one option, most notably in the playoffs where his primary jobs on defense were to hide in the corner guarding the likes of Corey Brewer and Trevor Ariza, don't believe me? Stop watching highlights and go back and watch the games then later. Donovan Mitchell didn't carry the defense, how the Jazz win, and he didn't carry the offense either. I direct you to BBALLBREAKDOWNS video on Mitchell, https://youtu.be/Ord7QpXYvvQ?t=43s , pay attention to how many of his shots come off of screens and plays from others, the Jazz are not a one man show, it is an incredibly well designed offense that is definitely not being carried by one person.
#3 The Sixers have a far better team myth
This one coincides with the previous, for some reason Mitchell and Jazz fans hate their own team and absolutely refuse to give them credit. Running down the roster the Jazz have, Ricky Rubio, one of the best playmakers and defensive guards in the league, Alec Burks, a solid scoring and athletic guard off the bench, Jae Crowder, a very good defender and spot up shooter, Dante Exum, a solid guard off the bench, Derrick Favors, one of the most consistent big men in the league, very good scorer, screener, and defender, Joe Ingles, easily the best "utility man" in the league, had one of the best 3 point percentages, great leader, very good defender and great playmaker, Royce O'neal, a great defender and solid offensive threat, oh and Rudy Gobert, a perennial DPOY candidate and a top 5 center in the league. So no, the Jazz aren't far worse, if anything the Sixers and Jazz are very comparable teams.
#4 The Scoring Argument
Most would argue that Mitchell is a better scorer than Simmons, personally I say he's a better wing scoring given his shooting, but better scorer as a whole? (Stick with me) Yes Mitchell scored more in total, but he also took a lot more shots and was waaaay less efficient, in other words, as volume increased, Mitchell's value slowly decreased, Simmons on the other hand rarely dropped below 50% no matter how many shots he took. The difference in their scoring comes down to inefficient volume vs. pure efficiency, and you can see this in how teams defend them. Both had good plus-minus' for the season, but if you look at Mitchell's in individual games you notice a lot of games where it appears he had little to no impact, whether it be wins with bad plus minus's or losses with good ones, whereas Simmons, when he has a good plus minus the Sixers win, when he's bad they lose. In other words, Simmons, while his total is less, has a much bigger impact. In my mind they are equals when it comes to scoring, and I'd much rather have a guarantee than boom or bust.
"But Mitchell averaged over 20 points per game, barely any rookies ever do that!" -Mitchell fans, people who don't understand statistics or NBA history
Yeah no, over 40 other rookies have averaged more than 20, and over 50 have averaged right at or over 20, it clearly is not that rare. You know what is rare? 12 Triple Doubles
#5 Mitchell is already an elite 3-point shooter myth
Yes he broke the rookie record for total made threes, and that is indeed very impressive, I'm not saying he's a bad shooter, he's definitely good, but don't fall for the hype. Mitchell shot 34% from 3, just below the rookie average and below the NBA average. He also only shot a few percent higher than Dennis Smith Jr., Lonzo Ball, De'Aaron Fox, and Frank Nkilikaiiakliak or however you spell his last name. All of which are widely considered very bad shooters, yet they are only slightly worse than Mitchell... Notable rookies that shot much better than Mitchell? Jayson Tatum, Luke Kennard, Josh Hart, Bojan Bogdonavic, Lauri Markkanen, Kyle Kuzma, Milos Teodosic, Royce O'neal, and even Malik Monk. Yes that's right, Malik Monk, who many immediately considered a bust because he wasn't shooting up to his standard still shot a better percentage than Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell made so many threes out of sheer volume of wide open opportunities because that just how their offense works, not because he's an elite 3 point shooter like Steph or Dame were right out of college.
Now I seriously wanna make it clear that I still think Mitchell is very good, I don't think he's really a star level player, I think he's more similar to a Joe Johnson/Bradley Beal level where he is most impactful as a role player but has been thrust into being a star player just because he scores well, but he is definitely very good. And if Simmons wasn't injured last year, Mitchell would've won. Oh and Tatum is better than Mitchell he just didn't get as many opportunities because of the talent at his position and around him.
The MVP race this year was... annoying. James Harden was already crowned the MVP at the beginning of the season, which is ridiculous by itself, Russ averaged a triple double again and wasn't even considered, and Lebron had perhaps the best season of his career and wasn't even talked about until the playoffs, when it was already too late.
Lebron James, just as he has been every year since his first, was easily the Most Valuable Player. Without Lebron, the Cavs are a low lottery team hoping they get the number 1 pick, without Harden, the Rockets are still a playoff team and easily still top 6 in the west. That should be it, end of discussion Lebron wins. But no, MVP in the NBA does not actually mean MVP. It means most outstanding or offensive player of the year. We, as well as the voters, have become so accustomed to Lebron's greatness that we refuse to vote for him now simply out of denial, and that is idiotic. The NBA needs to adopt the model the NFL has, yes thats right the NFL actually does something better than the NBA. That model is to have two different awards, Offensive Player of the Year, and MVP. This year OPY would've gone to Harden and MVP to Lebron. To give you a better picture let me run through the past 10 years to split the awards up.
2007-8 MVP: Kobe Bryant OPY: Kobe Bryant (Yes you can win both, crazy right) 2008-9 MVP: Lebron James OPY: Dwayne Wade 2009-10 MVP: Lebron James OPY: Kevin Durant 2010-11 MVP: Lebron James OPY: Derrick Rose (this one shouldn't be a debate) 2011-12 MVP: Lebron James OPY: Kevin Durant 2012-13 MVP: Lebron James OPY Carmelo Anthony 2013-14 MVP: Lebron James OPY Kevin Durant 2014-15 MVP: Lebron James OPY James Harden 2015-16 MVP: Lebron James OPY Steph Curry (unanimously still) 2016-17 MVP: Lebron James OPY Russel Westbrook 2017-18 MVP: Lebron James OPY James HArden
16-17 is the only season where Lebron wouldn't win MVP very easily, otherwise they all belong to him without question. This would leave Lebron with 9 MVPs and counting, and I'm sure if we did the same thing across all years, Jordan would have around 10 and so might Kobe. This needs to be done, especially as the talent level of the NBA keeps exponentially rising so that we can appreciate greatness without denying other players' greatness. Honestly, the NBA should implement this and retroactively give people MVPs and OPYs as I have done here.
Including the Playoffs
With the awards show occurring after the playoffs it is strange that the awards don't include the playoffs. To me, there are only two awards that should include playoff performances. Including the playoffs for ROTY, DPOY, MIP, and 6MOY would create a completely uneven bias towards players who qualify for these awards that are lucky enough to make the playoffs which would be incredibly unfair, especially to the ROTY award as rookies are generally drafted to awful teams, this year being a werid exception.
I don't think anybody would question that if playoffs were included Lebron would've won MVP this year, and that if you are an MVP caliber player your team is going to make the playoffs therefore your playoff performance should count. So I'm not going to focus on that, instead I'm gonna focus on the COTY award that Dwane Casey won. To me, based on the regular season the award should've been between Brad Stevens, Quin Snyder, Brett Brown, Mike D'antoni, and Gregg Poppovich. While yes the Raptors had a historic year, when you look at the roster, and how much they, as individuals and as a team have been progressing over the past couple of years, a big breakout year really wasn't that unexpected. What Brad Stevens and Poppovich were able to do with stars missing was incredible. Mike Dantoni completely switching up his system and creating an iso heaving contrarian offense and turning the Rockets into a very good offensive team was just as impressive. The system defense and offense that Snyder had in place is brilliant, and Brett Brown's turnaround of the Sixers was probably the most underappreciated story in sports. Hell, even how quickly Nate Mcmillan turned the pacers round is more impressive than the Raptors season. All of these coaches made the playoffs, and that has to be part of being coach of the year. So, given that making the playoffs is part of coach of the year, playoff performance should count two. With both of his stars missing, only one of these coaches really impressed in the playoffs and that is Brad Stevens. And honestly, is it really that absurd to say that Brad Stevens is already the best coach in the league?
The award show also just happens too late, but that's an easy fix, just put it the week after the Finals are over. But to fix all of the awards, I would have voters vote on ROTY, MIP, DPOY, and 6MOY the day the season ends. Yep that very day. This would ensure no media bias, and no lagging campaigns to sway the vote. As for COTY and MVP, I'd have them vote right before the Finals begin, so that they have the full scope of the playoffs, but without the influence of knowing who won the Finals or Finals MVP.
Other than that, I actually like the awards show. Sure it only exists to make more money, but the concept is good and its an interesting watch. Hopefully the NBA makes some of these changes.