We’re back with more of the 2011 RotoRob Awards, today handing our the hardwood hardware. Enjoy! By the way, hoops fans, the NBA version of the Wire Troll will kick off next Saturday.
Fantasy Stud of the Year
LeBron James’ talents shone through in South Beach.
LeBron James, SF, Miami Heat: This was a very close call, but given that Kevin Durant was unable to build on his superb 2009-10 campaign, we opted to hand the hardware to the man who took his talents to South Beach, King James. All LeBron did was set a new career high by sinking 51 per cent of his looks from the field and average nearly 27-7-7. Oh, and he also showed a little something-something on D, averaging a career-best 1.5 blocks and reaching two steals per game for the first time since his sophomore effort way back in 2004-05. Don’t let the fact that he’s now surrounded by stars blind you to the fact that LBJ is still the supernova.
Kevin Durant, SF, Oklahoma City Thunder; Chris Paul, PG, New Orleans Hornets/Los Angeles Clippers; Derrick Rose, PG, Chicago Bulls; Pau Gasol, PF, Los Angeles Lakers.
Fantasy Dud of the Year
Former ROY Brandon Roy’s career got off to such a promising start.
Brandon Roy, SG/SF, Portland Trail Blazers: I know the pain inflicted by Roy on Fantasy teams last season as well as anyone, having spent my second round pick on a player I expected to anchor my scoring and contribute in several categories. Um, it didn’t work out that as Roy’s knees sidelined him on multiple occasions, finally forcing most owners to cut bait. It’s a shame that this once-promising star’s career was cut short, but at least he had the decency to retire before my draft this season.
Vince Carter, SG/SF, Phoenix Suns/Dallas Mavericks; Andre Iguodala, SG/SF, Philadelphia 76ers; Joe Johnson, SG/SF, Atlanta Hawks; Brandon Jennings, PG, Milwaukee Bucks.
Fantasy Rookie of the Year
Blake Griffin made the wait worthwhile.
Blake Griffin, PF, Los Angeles Clippers: Well, Griffin’s debut was delayed a full year because of injuries, but damn – was it ever worth the wait! He was able to log heavy minutes and stay completely healthy while putting up a much better than expected 22.5 points and 12.1 boards per game. Oh, and then there was the non-stop highlight reel dunks Griffin treated us to. Sure, there’s work to be done with his FT shooting, and he’s not a shot blocker, but it’s been quite a while since such a dynamic talent descended on the league. And, holy fuck, is Griffin ever in good shape; good enough to hop over a freaking car! This pick was literally and figuratively a slam dunk.
John Wall, PG, Washington Wizards; DeMarcus Cousins, PF/C, Sacramento Kings; Greg Monroe, C, Detroit Pistons; Gary Neal, SG, San Antonio Spurs.
Fantasy Comeback Player of the Year
Elton Brand finally paid some dividends for the 76ers.
Elton Brand, PF, Philadelphia 76ers: Remember when Brand was a no-brainer first round Fantasy pick? He regularly put up 20-10 and was among the top shot blockers in the game. And then he blew out his Achille’s Heel early in the 2007-08 season and has never really been the same player since. Last season, however, Brand stayed healthy enough to tie his career high in games played and substantially upped his scoring, rebounding and blocks after looking lost during his first two injury-plagued seasons in Philly. Brand’s never going to be a real Fantasy stud again, but the first overall pick from 1999 sure turned the clock back a few notches in 2011.
Tracy McGrady, PG/SG, Detroit Pistons; Paul Pierce, SF, Boston Celtics; Manu Ginobili, SG, San Antonio Spurs; Kevin Martin, SG, Houston Rockets.
Douchebag of the Year
Josh Powell doesn’t give a crap if you need medical attention.
Former Atlanta Hawk forward Josh Powell doesn’t get a lot of ink, given that he’s spent most of his career sitting near the end of the bench. But in March, his off court exploits earned him some headline love – unfortunately it wasn’t exactly the good variety of press. Powell was arrested for refusing to move his car for an oncoming ambulance, which is ironic, because I have a friend who recently did the exact same thing, except in his case, he pulled out from traffic to block the ambulance – probably because he’s deaf and didn’t hear the siren.
But I digress. Powell was asked several times by the police officer that was directing traffic to move his vehicle, but he refused. In the meantime, the ambulance couldn’t get through the intersection because Powell was blocking the way. Who knows? Maybe someone died because they didn’t receive medical attention in time. It’s one thing to be denied medical attention by a Hawk star like J-Smoov or Joe Johnson, but Josh Powell? I’m not dying for that fool. Powell has since headed to China to continue his career. Hey Josh, if you’re reading this, here’s a tip: don’t try a stunt like that in China; they execute people who kill white tigers… what do you think they’re going to do to people that screw with ambulances?
The 11th Hour Award
David Stern’s nuclear winter was cut short.
Commissioner David Stern predicted the NBA was about to enter a “nuclear winter” when labour talks broke down in late-November. We seemed to be days away from having the entire 2011-12 season wiped out, but out of the blue, a secret negotiation session paved the way for an agreement to end the lockout and allow the association to salvage its season, albeit in a rushed and condensed matter. But a partial season is better than none, so thanks for coming to your senses, NBPA, Stern and all those hard-ass owners. Not a moment too soon, either.
Boat Rocker Award
Deron Williams sure caused plenty of upheaval in Utah.
Jerry Sloan had more or less become an institution in Utah, coaching the Jazz for 23 seasons and becoming the current leader as the longest serving coach among the four major professional sports in North America. But Utah’s star, Deron Williams, had other ideas. The two clashed repeated, ultimately resulting in Sloan resigning (read: shown the door) in mid-February. Rumours were rampant that D-Will essentially forced him out, which seemed to suggest that Jazz management decided that it was Williams’ team. But here’s where it gets weird. Just a little more than two weeks after Sloan’s departure, Utah traded its star point guard to New Jersey, thereby ridding itself of both issues. And now – shock of shocks – Williams doesn’t want to sign an extension with the Nets. Yes, Deron Williams, you are a boat rocker of the highest magnitude.
Rumour Monger Award
It was rumour city for Carmelo Anthony (right) and his wife Lala Vazquez.
Of course, one of the reasons the D-Will trade was so surprising was that everyone was too focused on the Carmelo Anthony trade rumours to notice that anything else was going on in the world of the NBA. When Melo demanded a deal last offseason, and the Nuggets dragged the process through almost the entire 20110-11 season, it spawned a new rumour seemingly on a daily basis. Aptly named the Melodrama, this situation was gold for those that love to speculate, but honestly the whole ordeal started to grate on me after a while. And now we get to deal with it again this season thanks to Dwight Howard. Gotta love these superstars that are bigger than the game.
King of Treys Award
Ray Allen is the man from downtown.
Congrats to Ray Allen of the Boston Celtics, who in mid-February cemented his status as a future Hall of Famer by becoming the NBA’s all-time leader in 3-pointer made. By breaking Reggie Miller’s record in three less seasons and 300 fewer games, Allen has truly earned his long-time nickname, Jesus. He’s definitely got a better touch from downtown than a carpenter.
Mutiny on the Bounty Award
John Kuester had a Captain Blight moment.
A mostly veteran and definitely stagnating Detroit Pistons last season clearly wasn’t responding well to second-year coach John Kuester. Constant squabbling and internal conflicts between Kuester and his players were indicative of another losing season in Motown, but things really boiled over in late-February. Kuester had already been on the outs with long-time Piston Richard Hamilton, burying the veteran on the bench for weeks, but when seven Pistons boycotted shooutaround on February 25, Kuester responded by benching them all for that night’s game. Only six Pistons appeared in the game as Detroit got molested by Philly. Kuester was tossed from that game while Tracy McGrady, one of the vets that blew off practice, had a good laugh at his coach. Jeez, you think Kuester had lost the room by that point? Shockingly, Detroit waited until after the regular season to finally end Kuester’s tumultuous run as head coach.
The Last Laugh Award
Mark Cuban may be annoying, but he’s an annoying dude with a ring.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has always rankled a lot of fans, what with his bad haircut, boisterous cheerleading, outspokenness, joining team huddles during timeouts and his celebrity status, most evident in his guest appearances on Entourage. But whether you love him or just love to hate him, there’s no denying that Cuban has always been an owner that was fully invested in his team and someone who clearly love the game. So when Dallas finally earned its first NBA title in 2011 after years of being in contention, you couldn’t help but be happy for a dude that – while annoying at times – is so passionate about his team. So congrats to you, Mark, even if your team is going to struggle this season.
Make Mine a Double
Kevin Love is the NBA’s new Mr. Double-Double.
To say Kevin Love had a breakout season in 2011 is a bit of an understatement. The dude became a double-double machine, and by machine I mean automatic. In fact, he did it for 38 straight games to break Kevin Garnett’s Timberwolves record. But that wasn’t enough. Love just kept putting up nightly double-doubles, running his steak to 53 games, the longest since the ABA-NBA merger in 1976. Just think about that for a moment. Small wonder Love was a slam dunk first round pick at drafts this season.
Breakout of the Year
Dorell Wright got plenty of practice signalling his trey ball.
Dorell Wright had occasionally flashed potential during his years in Miami, but did anyone see his brilliant breakout campaign coming last season? Given a chance to be a full time starter on the free-wheeling Warriors, he thrived, developing into a major deep threat, becoming an integral part of Golden State’s attack, and putting up decent rebounding and nice steal totals. Wright’s nearly double-digit jump in scoring average was the biggest leap taken by any NBA player last season. He’s struggling from the field in the early going this season, so let’s hope he’s not regressing, but no one can take away what he did in 2010-11, providing phenomenal value relative to his draft position – or possibly even off the wire.
The Big L Award
Byron Scott would go grey if he had hair.
We all knew that the Cleveland Cavaliers would suffer after LeBron James took his talents to South Beach, but I don’t think anyone quite expected the implosion that occurred last season. An 8-19 start was pretty ugly, but things were about to get downright brutal for the Cavs as they proceeded to lose their next 26 games, setting a new NBA record in the process. The streak also tied the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ mark of futility as the longest among professional sports teams for North America’s four major leagues. Coach Byron Scott has run some bad teams, but nothing had prepared him for the post-LeBron era in Cleveland.
Set Me Free Award
Marcus Thornton escaped from the Hornets with a flourish.
There are always a few players in the league that flash mad skills, but can’t seem to get the PT because they are either buried behind a star, or can’t play D, or perhaps the coach just doesn’t see what everyone else can. Marcus Thornton was a perfect example of just such a player last year as he was seeing inconsistent PT in New Orleans and then became one of the waiver wire plucks of the year after a late-February trade to Sacramento. He went from just over 16 MPG off the bench for the Hornets to a starting role and over 38 MPG with the Kings and the results were off the charts: Thornton averaged over 21 PPG with two treys and 1.7 steals once he landed in Sac-Town. He had been under 8 PPG, with 0.8 threes and 0.4 SPG in Nawlins. A close second for this honour goes to centre Marcin Gortat, who got next to no burn as Dwight Howard’s understudy in Orlando, but then took off in almost double the PT after a trade to Phoenix, finally fulfilling his potential as a double-double machine.
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