As the NBA passes the halfway point of the season this week, let’s give out some midseason awards.
» MVP: Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers: In case you hadn’t noticed, the Lakers entered Tuesday’s games at 26-11, tied for the best record in the Western Conference. The question heading into this season was whether Bryant could overcome his frustration with the Lakers’ non-activity over the summer and put together a productive season.
Not only has Bryant been productive, he’s been a model teammate. The Lakers were considered a fringe playoff team when the season started. Now, it’s not preposterous to envision them winning a title.
» Runner-up: Kevin Garnett, Boston: Yes, Garnett deserves consideration. But Ray Allen has a little something to do with the Celtics’ success, and though perhaps unfair, Eastern Conference candidates should get less consideration.
This season, the Hornets are healthy and battling for first place in the brutal Southwest Division.
» Rookie of the Year: Kevin Durant, Seattle: He is shooting under 40 percent from the floor, under 30 percent from the 3-point line and doesn’t rebound much (4.2 per game) for a player who is 6-foot-9.
Durant averages more turnovers than assists and he hasn’t made a dramatic impact on the Sonics, who are just 9-28. Then again, who is better?
» Runner-up: Al Horford, Atlanta: He’s not far from averaging a double-double (8.9 ppg, 9.8 rpg) and he’s doing it for a team that is actually hovering around .500 — even if it is an Eastern Conference team.
» Defensive Player of the Year: Bryant, Lakers: For the most part, Bryant’s defensive mentality duringthis summer’s World Championships has carried over.
It’s always enticing to select a big man for this award, but no one guards more talented players game in and game out than Bryant.
» Sixth Man: Manu Ginobili, San Antonio: Should be the runaway winner, assuming he stays healthy and stays a sub. Ginobili’s numbers are impressive (19.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 4.1 apg), particularly when you consider he’s averaging fewer than 30 minutes per game.
» Runner-up: Jason Terry, Dallas: One of the purest shooters in the league, Terry’s willingness to come off the bench helped set the right tone for a team still reeling from its first-round playoff loss to the Warriors a season ago.