Steinmetz: Kobe's the midseason MVP

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.

» Coach of the Year: Byron Scott, New Orleans: Scott did a great job last season, keeping an injury-depleted team in contention until the final week of the season.

This season, the Hornets are healthy and battling for first place in the brutal Southwest Division.

Scott has done a masterful job of identifying and featuring his two key players — Chris Paul and David West — and turning the rest of the team into willing role players.

» Runner-up: Nate McMillan, Portland: Still waiting for the Blazers to wake up. Meanwhile, McMillan plays the sandman, trying to keep his team in dreamworld.

» 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.

» Runner-ups: Marcus Camby, Denver; Tyson Chandler, New Orleans: It would help if these guys had more talented centers to defend.

» 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.

Matt Steinmetz is the NBA insider for Warriors telecasts on Fox Sports Net.

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