For the first time, the NBA this season will reveal the ballots cast by media members for its annual postseason awards.
But even before they’re released, here are my selections for the 2013-14 season:
Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City
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• Rest of the ballot: LeBron James, Miami; Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers; Joakim Noah, Chicago; Stephen Curry, Golden State
• Comment: By any measure, Durant had a superb season. The league’s leading scorer carried the Thunder in a manner many doubted he could with Russell Westbrook in and out of the lineup because of a knee injury.
Coach of the Year
Gregg Popovich, San Antonio
• Rest of the ballot: Jeff Hornacek, Phoenix; Tom Thibodeau; Chicago
• Comment: It’s easy to give this award to a coach whose team is perceived to have overachieved, but it’s impossible to ignore Popovich. No matter who was injured, the Spurs rolled to the league’s best record.
Rookie of the Year
Michael Carter-Williams, Philadelphia
• Rest of the ballot: Victor Oladipo, Orlando; Trey Burke, Utah
• Comment: In a rookie class that lacks hoopla, Carter-Williams was the best of the bunch from the start of the season.
Defensive Player of the Year
Joakim Noah, Chicago
• Rest of the ballot: DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers; Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City
• Comment: Noah anchored the Bulls with his energy, hustle and spirit. He is the key to keeping them near the top of the Eastern Conference.
Sixth Man of the Year
Taj Gibson, Chicago
• Rest of the ballot: Markieff Morris, Phoenix; Vince Carter, Dallas
• Comment: Gibson was a key and versatile contributor to the Bulls this season. He closed out games alongside Noah and proved he could score, rebound and defend in pressure situations.
Most Improved Player
Markieff Morris, Phoenix
• Rest of the ballot: Gerald Green, Phoenix, DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers
• Comment: The Suns were one of the league’s big surprises, and Morris played a big role. He had career-high averages in points (13.8), rebounds (6.0) and assists (1.8) in becoming one of the league’s most reliable players off the bench.
• Guards: Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers; Stephen Curry, Golden State
• Forwards: Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City; LeBron James, Miami
• Center: Joakim Noah, Chicago
• Guards: Damian Lillard, Portland; James Harden, Houston
• Forwards: Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers; Carmelo Anthony, New York
• Center: Dwight Howard, Houston
• Guards: John Wall, Washington; DeMar DeRozan, Toronto
• Forwards: Kevin Love, Minnesota; Paul George, Indiana
• Center: Al Jefferson, Charlotte
• Guards: Mike Conley, Memphis; Jimmy Butler, Chicago
• Forwards: Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City; LeBron James, Miami
• Center: Joakim Noah, Chicago
• Guards: Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers; Klay Thompson, Golden State
• Forwards: Paul George, Indiana; Taj Gibson, Chicago
• Center: DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers
• Michael Carter-Williams, Philadelphia; Victor Oladipo, Orlando; Trey Burke, Utah; Tim Hardaway Jr., New York; Mason Plumlee, Brooklyn
• Ben McLemore, Kings; Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee; Kelly Olynyk, Boston; Hollis Thompson, Philadelphia; Steven Adams, Oklahoma City