NBA Beat: The MVP? It should be LeBron in a landslide

Published: Sunday, Apr. 21, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 3C
Last Modified: Sunday, Apr. 21, 2013 - 8:06 am

Some decisions are easy. In the case of the NBA postseason awards, I can thank LeBron James.

Like him or not, James is the top player in the NBA. And barring some unique perspective from a voter for the league's annual awards, it's hard to imagine James not being the unanimous choice as the league MVP.

James is one of the league's best scorers, passers and defenders and has led the Miami Heat to the best record in the NBA during a season that included a 27-game winning streak.

As a reporter with a say in postseason awards, here's how I filled out my ballot:

MVP

• 1. LeBron James, Miami

• 2. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City

• 3. Carmelo Anthony, New York

• 4. Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers

• 5. Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers

James was a no-brainer, even against this star-studded cast of challengers. Durant had one of the best offensive seasons in history. Anthony won the league scoring title and led the Knicks to the Atlantic Division crown. Paul directed the Clippers as they won their first Pacific Division title. The Lakers finished seventh in the Western Conference, and Bryant, 34, had one of his best seasons before a season-ending Achilles' tendon tear.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

• 1. Damian Lillard, Portland

• 2. Anthony Davis, New Orleans

• 3. Harrison Barnes, Golden State

Lillard should be a unanimous winner. He was easily the best rookie, leading first-year players in scoring and assists. Davis, the top pick in last year's draft, might have had a chance to challenge if he hadn't been limited by injuries. Barnes' statistics might not be eye-catching, but he's a starter on a playoff team and doesn't shy away from tough defensive assignments.

MOST IMPROVED PLAYER

• 1. Paul George, Indiana

• 2. Greivis Vasquez, New Orleans

• 3. Omer Asik, Houston

With Danny Granger missing most of the season, George emerged as an All-Star, and he could be the key player the Pacers build around. Vasquez stepped up to become one of the league's best young point guards, and Asik became a starter and averaged a double double.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

• 1. LeBron James, Miami

• 2. Roy Hibbert, Indiana

• 3. Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City

James can defend any position. If an opposing player is hot, James takes on the challenge of cooling him off. Hibbert anchors one of the best defensive teams in the league, and Ibaka is a supreme shot blocker who often plays center when the Thunder goes small.

SIXTH MAN OF THE YEAR

• 1. J.R. Smith, New York

• 2. Jamal Crawford, L.A. Clippers

• 3. Jarrett Jack, Golden State

It's a toss-up between Smith and Crawford. I went with Smith because he held the Knicks' second unit together through injuries, plus he has a knack for making big shots. Crawford comes up big late in games, too, but Smith gets the nod. Jack was one of the most underrated pickups in the offseason, and he's a big reason the Warriors are in the playoffs.

COACH OF THE YEAR

• 1. George Karl, Denver

• 2. Erik Spoelstra, Miami

• 3. Mike Woodson, New York

There are a dozen ways to look at this award. I went with Karl, who seamlessly managed a team without an All-Star and led it to elite status in the West. Spoelstra's team followed up a championship with one of the most dominant stretches of play this season in winning 27 games in a row. Woodson made the decision to play Anthony at power forward and keep Amar'e Stoudemire (when healthy) on the bench, and the Knicks flourished.

ALL-NBA

FIRST TEAM

• Forwards: LeBron James, Miami; Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City

• Guards: Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers; Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers

• Center: Tim Duncan, San Antonio

SECOND TEAM

• Forwards: Carmelo Anthony, New York; Zach Randolph, Memphis

• Guards: Dwyane Wade, Miami; Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City

• Center: Dwight Howard, L.A. Lakers

THIRD TEAM

• Forwards: David Lee, Golden State; Paul George, Indiana

• Guards: James Harden, Houston; Stephen Curry, Golden State

• Center: Marc Gasol, Memphis

Follow The Bee's Jason Jones on Twitter @mr_jasonjones and read more about the team at www.sacbee.com/kings.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Jason Jones



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