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Mentz’s Minute: NBA midseason awards: Who wins what?

March 1st, 2012

It’s that time of year, folks. With the NBA All-Star weekend having just passed, it’s only appropriate that I now take the time to name my NBA midseason award winners, however meaningless it may be.

Most Valuable Player: Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder. The 23-year-old stud is having an excellent season, averaging 28 points per game, along with eight rebounds and over three assists. The Thunder have a league best 27-7 record this season, and there’s no doubt that Durant has meant as much to this team’s success as anyone. Other candidates: Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers and LeBron James of the Miami Heat.

Coach of the Year: Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs. San Antonio’s season ended early in 2011 as the top-seeded Spurs fell to the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the playoffs. With an aging roster and a closing window of an opportunity for the NBA championship, the Spurs have again proved that they’re still one of the best teams in the league this season, and much of that is due in part to Popovich. Despite injuries to guard Manu Ginobli as well as other troubles, the Spurs still stand pat with a 24-12 record and are certainly contenders for the NBA Finals this June. Other candidates: Doug Collins of the Philadelphia 76ers and Tom Thibodeau of the Chicago Bulls.

Rookie of the Year: Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers. To me, this award is a no-brainer. Irving is quickly healing the wound that LeBron James left on the heart of all Cavaliers fans with his spectacular point guard play for the Cavs this season. He’s averaging 18 points and five assists per game while shooting 47.6 percent from the field, including 41.5 percent from 3-point range. With additional pieces around him, Irving could soon be leading the city of Cleveland to the NBA Finals. Other candidates: Ricky Rubio of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Kemba Walker of the Charlotte Bobcats.

Sixth Man of the Year: James Harden of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Harden is a spark plug off the bench for the Thunder, and like Durant, is a large part of the reason that OKC is enjoying so much success this season. Off the bench, he’s averaging 16.8 points per game and is averaging nearly four rebounds and four assists per game. Pretty decent for a guy that doesn’t even start, isn’t it? Other candidates: Louis Williams of the Philadelphia 76ers and Mo Williams of the Los Angeles Clippers.

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