SCOWLEYS: LeBron James is NBA MVP. Who else could it be?
BY JOE COWLEY email@example.com April 5, 2013 9:05PM
LeBron James elbows Omer Asik in the chest. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Updated: May 8, 2013 6:38AM
No drama, no second thoughts, no controversies. If there’s a word to sum up the awards that will be handed out for the 2012-13 NBA season, it’s ‘‘clean.’’
MVP: LeBron James, Miami Heat — The all-around best basketball player on earth, ever. From last season to this season, he added a stronger post-up game and erased the perception that he didn’t have the clutch gene. James can legitimately play four positions, as well as defend four positions, and there are very few better passers in the game. Runner-up: Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers — Anthony Davis made an argument late in the season, but from start to finish, no rook did it better than Lillard. He is a scoring point guard who already has the pick-and-roll game mastered at the NBA level. He can break defenders down off the dribble and strike from outside the three-point line. Runner-up: Davis, New Orleans Hornets.
SIXTH MAN: Jamal Crawford, Clippers — An assassin off the bench who’s focused on one thing: making your defense look bad. Crawford is the closest the Clips have to a finisher from the outside and will have to be a factor in the playoffs if they want to challenge. Runner-up: Jarrett Jack, Golden State Warriors.
COACH OF THE YEAR: Tom Thibodeau, Bulls — Take James, Chris Bosh and Ray Allen away from the Heat for an extended period of time and see how they do. That’s basically the hand Thibodeau was dealt this season with all the Bulls’ injuries, and yet they are fighting for home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Runner-up: Mike Woodson, New York Knicks.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Andre Iguodala, Denver Nuggets — If George Karl is comparing Iguodala to former Seattle SuperSonics point guard Gary Payton, that says it all. Runner-up: Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City Thunder.
◆ Poor Jay-Z. One of the brightest minds in the rap game has to watch one of the dumbest teams in the NBA. Quite the Brooklyn story.
◆ What did we learn at the ceremony to retire Shaquille O’Neal’s number? Add 24 and 8 together and they’re still not greater than 34. Sorry, Kobe Bryant.
Player of the week
Carmelo Anthony, Knicks forward. Since getting his knee drained, Anthony has started to play more like the ’Melo of old, averaging 31.4 points over his last nine games entering Friday. But throwing up 50 against the Heat on Tuesday and then 40 the next night against the Hawks — that was special.
Team of the week
Knicks. Beating the Heat without Dwyane Wade and James was sort of empty, but the Knicks came back the next night and beat the playoff-bound Hawks in Atlanta to win their 10th consecutive game and take control of the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.
The big five
1. Heat. 2. Thunder. 3. San Antonio Spurs. 4. Nuggets. 5. Knicks.
90Combined points by Anthony in wins over the Heat and Hawks as he shot 35-for-53 (66 percent) from the field. Guess who’s preparing for the postseason?
Key games for week of April 8-14
Spurs at Nuggets, 9:30 p.m. Wednesday. The Spurs have been trying to dig in and keep the top seed in the West, but having to play in Denver won’t help their chances.
Knicks at Bulls, 7 p.m. Thursday. Considering the physical way the Bulls have beaten the Knicks twice in New York this season, expect an intense showdown.
Bulls at Heat, noon next Sunday. The Bulls spoiled the Heat’s chase of history by ending its 27-game win streak last month. The Heat could be looking to send a message before the playoffs start.