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NBA Award Predictions: Who Has Earned Hardware This Year?

This is the last week of the regular season and it is time to start thinking about the award-winners for the 2012-2013 season. Here are my predictions for each major award category:

MVP: Lebron James
Lebron has put together another masterful season. He is averaging 26.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 7.3 assists, while shooting an astounding 56.5 % from the field. Let’s not forget that Lebron has led his Miami Heat to a 64-16 record, which is the best in the entire NBA. Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony can battle for the scoring title but there is no question that Lebron is the obvious choice for MVP.
 (photo by: gamedayr.com)
Coach of the Year: George Karl
 George Karl has done a marvelous job of coaching the Denver Nuggets this season. As a matter of fact, the Nuggets were able to go on a 15-game winning streak earlier this season, which was the second-longest streak in the NBA this year. Of course there  are other well accomplished candidates for coach of the year, such as Spurs’ coach Gregg Popovich and Rockets’skipper Kevin McHale but George Karl might just have the most shocking resume of the 2012-2013 season. Karl has coached his Denver Nuggets squad to a 55-25 record and the third spot in the Western Conference. The Nuggets do not have a star player but Karl has used each and every one of his talented weapons to create a lethal squadron of three-point bombers and high-flying daredevils!
(photo by: www.zimbio.com)
Rookie of the Year: Damian Lillard
This was by far the easiest award to choose. Damian Lillard is a flat-out baller! He is the best rookie in the league because he simply dominates the game  at such a young age. At 22 years old, Damian Lillard is averaging 19.1 points, 6.5 assists and 3.2 rebounds per contest. If you are not a statistician or a big follower of college basketball, then you probably did not know who Damian Lillard was until… now! At Weber State, Lillard finished second in the country in scoring in 2012 but many people did not notice because he was at such a small school. Now that Mr. Lillard has brought his talent to the NBA, everyone knows who he is. He has torched a number of good point guards this season and has outplayed every rookie in the league. This young man has game!
(photo by: espn.go.com)
Defensive Player of the Year: Serge Ibaka
 They don’t call him “Iblocka” for no reason! Serge is the only player in the NBA that is averaging at least 3 blocks per game. His blocks per game average is 3.06. That is pretty darn impressive for a guy in a league full of athletic players flying right at him on a nightly basis. Defenders such as Marc Gasol, Chris Paul, Joakim Noah, Tim Duncan and Lebron James are all great on the defensive end but Ibaka is just a downright terror down in the post. You can almost guarantee that if Ibaka is anywhere near a guy trying to score a bucket and that player does not dunk it down, then Ibaka is sending that ball either off of the glass or into the eighth row, right into the lap of a guy eating popcorn! The paint is Serge’s territory and he defends it well on every defensive trip. He’s the #1 fly swatter in the league and does his best to lock down his matchup.
(photo by: dfw.cbslocal.com)
Most Improved Player: Paul George
Paul George is a very good choice for the most improved player of the year. Sure, there are guys that have improved tremendously over the last year but none of them have made the jump from role player to superstar like Paul George. After Danny Granger was sidelined with an injury for the majority of the season, Paul George decided to replace Granger as the ‘superstar of the Indiana Pacers. George’s numbers tell all. Last season, George averaged 12.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists. This season, George increased his numbers by averaging 17.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game Not only are his numbers impressive but he has helped Indiana capture the third spot in the Eastern Conference. Many people were not sure if the Pacers would do well without Danny Granger but luckily, Paul George came to the rescue by becoming an extremely versatile game-changer.
Sixth Man: J.R. Smith
J.R. Smith puts up points in a hurry when coming off the bench for the Knicks. Smith averages 18.1 points and provides some solid rebounding with 5.3 boards per game. He can light any defender up from anywhere on the court. Sometimes people say a player can score from any part of the court but with J.R., that is the absolute truth. Smith is not afraid to pull the trigger from deep, deep range. At times, he will pull up from about 5 feet behind the 3-point line as fans probably say,”Oh God no!” but when the ball slices through the net, all you can here in Madison Square Garden is applause and excitement! This guy is completely out of his mind but that is why he is such a magnificent scorer. His step-back jumper is unstoppable. He has an uncanny ability to hunt for buckets and it leaves the defense helpless. I love Jamal Crawford’s game as well but since Crawford only averages 16.5 points and J.R. averages 18.1 points, I had to give it J.R. Smith. Besides, Smith has all those crazy tattoos and has an unlimited range from deep. He has to be the sixth man of the year!
 (photo by: ebengregory.com)
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