The annual Bizarro Awards
Every year, with few exceptions, we come to near-unanimous agreement on everything, which means, by now, I'd have to poke at you with a stick every few minutes to keep you awake.
Instead of waxing poetically on each one. I'm just going to get it over with. Here's how my ballot would look for this year's postseason awards.
Rookie of the Year: Carmelo Anthony, Nuggets
Runner-up: LeBron James, Cavs
Commentary: James led on my ballot until the last week of the season. But as the Cavs petered out down the stretch, the young Anthony took the Nuggets on his back (much like he did Syracuse) and led them to the playoffs. He averaged 25 ppg on 44 percent shooting since the playoffs -- 26.5 ppg and 7.5 rpg in April. James' numbers were good (21.8 ppg on 43 percent shooting) but didn't have the same net effect as Carmelo's.
Sixth man: Manu Ginobili, Spurs
Runner-up: Antawn Jamison
Commentary: Tough call. Both guys gave up starting gigs to help their team's second unit. The Spurs started rolling when Ginobili agreed to the move. The Mavs never really got rolling all year. That gives the edge to Manu.
Most Improved: Andrei Kirilenko, Jazz
Runner-up: Michael Redd, Bucks
Commentary: The Jazz won 43 games this year -- many without Matt Harpring. If it wasn't for Kirilenko's development, the Jazz would've been the worst team in the league. With him, they almost made the playoffs. That should do it.
Defensive Player of the Year: Ron Artest, Indiana
Runner-up: Ben Wallace , Pistons
Commentary: Another tough call. The two best teams in the East had the league's two-best defenders. Artest gets the edge because of his versatility. On any given night Rick Carlisle can ask Artest to shut down the opposing teams best player, regardless of position. Big Ben has to stay in the paint.
Coach of the Year: Jerry Sloan, Jazz
Runner-up: Hubie Brown, Grizzlies
Commentary: The toughest call of all. Every year we in the media give this award to the coach whose team most exceeded our preseason expectations. It said here in October that the Jazz would only win 20 games. They more than doubled that win total -- largely without their best player. It also said here that the Grizzlies would be the seventh seed in the West. They not only made the playoffs, but are eyeing a fifth seed. My heart says Sloan. My head says Hubie. Both deserve it, but I'm going with my heart.
Executive of the Year: Jerry West, Grizzlies
Runner-up: Joe Dumars, Pistons
Commentary: West made most of his big moves last year, but that doesn't matter. His vision (which many questioned) has been remarkable. From hiring Hubie to surrounding him with players who will work hard and fit in a system, he's done a masterful job of rebuilding the worst team in the league in just two years. He barely edges out last year's winner, Dumars, who pulled off the trade of the year when he nabbed Rasheed Wallace for a bunch of expiring contracts. The Bucks' Larry Harris and the Nuggets' Kiki Vandeweghe also deserve mention.
With that out of the way . . . let's get on to more important things. It's time for Insider's third annual Bizzaro Awards, where we recognize the polar opposites of the gentleman we've listed above.
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