NBA 2006: Winners And Losers

By L.A. Batchelor
Updated: April 24, 2006

HIGH POINT, NC. — The NBA 2005-06 regular season is officially over and I thought I would give out my own L.A. Batchelor “Hoop Awards” to individuals and teams whether they’ve been a success or a bust! There were some surprises and exciting basketball and I hope these winners and losers reflect the regular season.

There will be lots of winners and losers and I’m sure you’ill disagree and debate about but just understand that my winners are not based on stats so much that they are based on “intangibles” or the other thing that a player may contribute to their team.

Lets get started……

Rookie of the year: Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets: 16.2 ppg, 7.8 apg and 5.20 rpg. Ranks #7 in the NBA in Assists Per Game (7.8) Ranks #17 in the NBA in Free-Throw Percentage (0.847) Ranks #3 in the NBA in Steals Per Game (2.25) Ranks #17 in the NBA in Free Throws (393.0) Ranks #6 in the NBA in Assists (604.0) Ranks #1 in the NBA in Steals (173.0)

Ranks #6 in the NBA in Assists Per Turnover (3.36) Ranks #8 in the NBA in Steals Per Turnover (0.96) Ranks #4 in the NBA in Triple-doubles (2.0) Ranks #16 in the NBA in Free Throws Per 48 Minutes(6.78) Ranks #6 in the NBA in Assists Per 48 Minutes (10.4) Ranks #2 in the NBA in Steals Per 48 Minutes (2.98) Ranks #15 in the NBA in Efficiency Ranking Per 48 Minutes(28.4).

In my opinion, a rookie of the year candidate must not only possess the staticstical numbers that are really impressive for Paul, they must show leadership, confidence and natural ability for the game plus an ability to control and dominate or take over a game.

Sort of like Earvin “Magic” Johnson did in the early days of “Showtime” for the Los Angeles Lakers in the 80′s and 90′s. Chris Paul has those attributes and that tangible “something” you can’t put your finger on, he just has it along with his God-given talent(s).

Honorable Mention: Raymond Felton, Charlotte Bobcats: 11.9 ppg, 5.6 apg, 3.30 rpg. Some of you may be surprised that Mr. Felton is mentioned in this article especially if you followed him throughout this season. Mr. Felton went from being characterized as erratic, wild, lacking discipline on the court and lacking leadership and control as a point guard to poised, under control, a take charge player and leader on the floor and a guy who can make plays.

Let’s see if the Tarheel alumn can continue to make teams and coaches pay for drafting him later than others at his position as well as keeping him out of the Rookie game at the All-Star Break.

Defensive Player of the Year: Marcus Camby, Denver Nuggets: 3.29 bpg(led the league) 11.9 Rpg(3rd in the league) and even averaged 1.41 steals per game. I know most of you were expecting Ben Wallace to be my choice for Defensive Player of the Year choice and you can make an argument for “Big Ben” to take home that trophy for yet another year.

The key to winning this award is not only to be a dominating force on the defensive end of the court for your team but the reflection of your teams win loss record if the player is not in the line up for whatever reason. The Nuggets record without Camby is a losing one and I think the Nuggets are squarely in the playoffs not only because of Carmello Anthony but because of Marcus Camby as well.

Honorable Mention: Gerald Wallace, Charlotte Bobcats: Ranks #1 in the NBA in Steals Per Game (2.51), Ranks #11 in the NBA in Blocks Per Game (2.09) and Ranks #11 in the NBA in Steals (138.0). I think most people are surprise at the defensive prowess of “the other Wallace” displayed throughout the year for the Bobcats.

Mr. Wallace showed the energy, talent and athletisim that is needed to help the Bobcats get to respectibility next year. With his offensive improvement, defensive skills and a healthy Emeka Okafur, the Bobcats should be set on the front line for years to come.

Sixth man of the year: Antonio McDyess, Detroit Pistons: 7.8 ppg, 5.30 rbg and 1.1 apg. I know staticstically, McDyess does not match up well against other six men across the league but again it’s that word “intangibles” that he brings to the Pistons that is impressive.

Giving the Wallace boys (Rasheed and Ben) a breather 21 minutes per game and defending the opponents best low post scorer at times as well as providing some scoring off the bench and defensive rebounding should help lead the team from the “Motor City” back to the NBA Finals for the 3rd straight year.

Honorable Mention: Ronald “Flip” Murray, Cleveland Cavaliers: 11.2 ppg, 2.0 rpg and 2.6 apg. Murray showed the ability to be a spark for the Cavaliers and also showed that he is not afraid to take a big shot with the game on the line as he displayed on a few occasions this year for the play-off bound Cavaliers.

Most improved player of the year: Boris Diaw, Phoenix Suns: Ranks #17 in the NBA in Assists Per Game. Ranks #8 in the NBA in Field-Goal Percentage (0.526). Ranks #12 in the NBA in Assists (503.0) Ranks #13 in the NBA in Assists Per 48 Minutes (8.4). Throw out all of the stats and you have a player in Diaw who many thought was erractic and wasn’t ready to play on the NBA level after being a dominating player for France in international basketball league play.

With the loss of Amarie Stoudamire and the departure of Joe Johnson to Atlanta, the Suns needed some scoring from another source to help out league MVP Steve Nash and the Matrix Shawn Marion. Mr. Diaw did just that for the Suns this season.

Honorable Mention: Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs: Not only did Parker lead the Spurs in points(18.9) and assist (5.8) per game but he was the leader, spark and catalyst on the Defending Champion Spurs team that were plagued with chronic injuries to perennial all-star Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili most of the season.

Not many points and assist but leadership and maturity in late game sitiuations and the understanding of playing within himself should be the reasons that Parker will help lead the Spurs back to the NBA Finals this year once again

MVP: Chauncey Billips, Detroit Pistons: There are a lot of great players and scorers that many fans, coaches and critics can make cases for as the Most Valuable Player of the league this year. Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Allen Iverson, Dewayne Wade and others certainly have the stats, talent, flair and pizazz to be worthy of the award all players in the association would love to take home.

To me, it takes a special player, a special floor general to direct an orchestra of success like the Detroit Pistons have had over the last few seasons. 18.5 ppg, 8.6 apg and 3.10 rpg are servicable numbers but not what you would call MVP numbers in terms of the guys who score a bunch of points, rebounds and assist. But the theme of my award winners is “intangibles” and Mr. Billips definitely has those to get the job done plus he has shown and ability to make the “BIG SHOT”, “BIG PASS” or “BIG PLAY” to lead the Pistons to victory time and time again. “RIP” Hamilton gets the points, Ben Wallace gets the rebounds and the defensive accolades and Rasheed Wallace gets the publicity with his antics but Billips is the consistent floor general who keeps the team grounded, in control and confident. Confident to a 3rd straight NBA Final.

Honorable Mention: Lebron James, Cleveland Cavaliers: No one can ever say that “Michael Jordan part 2″ aka Lebron James can’t lead his team to the playoffs anymore. 31.4 ppg, 7.0 rpg and 6.6apg for “King James” really do not tell the story. Showing the maturity, desire, tenacity and leadership as well as making players better around him really tells the story of how Lebron has improved in his personal game and team game.

Teammates with James expect to be involve in the game from start to finish and James has finally got a feel for when it’s time to get teammates involved and when it’s time to take over a game. Something James hasn’t shown in the past but has this year in leading the Cavaliers to the playoffs for the 1st time in 8 years.

Most improved team of the year: Los Angeles Clippers: The Clippers have shown signs of life in the past but nothing can compare to this year’s team. Led by MVP Candidate Elton Brand who you can also make a case for as Most Improved Player of the year and led by veteran guard and former NBA Champion Sam Cassell, the Clippers finally and legitimately can claim to be the best pro basketball team in Los Angeles based on their record (47-35) and their winning record against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers. The Clippers have a legitimate chance to make it to the Western Conference Finals this year and I wouldnt be surprised if they did.

Most disappointing team of the year: New York Knicks: The New York Knicks. What can you say. 23-59 on the season. Arguably the best coach in basketball coaching them, a host of talented and all-star players on the roster, a hall of fame player now General Manager making player personnel decisions for them in the number one market in the country and they are one of the worst teams to step on the NBA court this 2006 season.

Why? Bad personnel decision by Isah Thomas, a stubborn coaching style by Larry Brown or just selfish players like Stephan Maubury that are the cause of the Knicks demise? How about a combination of all. A mixture of all the wrong things, people, players and coaches that makes for a formula of failure not only for this year but for the immediate future.

Projected NBA Champion for 2006: Detroit Pistons: There’s not much that separates the Detroit Pistons from the Defending Champion San Antonio Spurs this season. One thing that separates these 2 gladiators is health. The Pistons set a record for most games played by starters this year with 73 and could have added to it if they wanted to but decided to rest some players the last 9 games of the regular season.

The Spurs however, have had injuries from key players like Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili this year that has raised questions about how durable they will be when and if they make it to the NBA Finals to defend their crown. I think with the question of how healthy the “Big Fundamental” Tim Duncan is and the 3 D’s for the Pistons (Desire, Defense and Depth) is an ingredient to crown a new champion for 2006. A champion however who has tasted victory and wants that taste back in their mouths once again.

Coach of The Year: Mike D’Antoni, Suns: The Phoenix boss had no Amari Stoudamire (injury), no Joe Johnson (loss to free agency), plus last year’s MVP Steve Nash has been playing hurt most of the year. D’Antoni has had to implement guys off the bench into new roles like Sixth Man Award candidate Boris Diaw.

Honorable mention: Avery Johnson, Mavericks: The Southern University product took a talented team and maintained their excellence while adding a defensive philosophy that could land them a trip to the Finals. If nothing else, at least the Western Conference finals. He’s also the fastest coach to reach 50 wins in NBA history.