Well, it appears as if we’ve beaten the NBA in handing out awards for a second straight season. Now, if any of our awards coincide with the Association’s awards, I’ll be able to claim the league as a loyal Razzball reader when I solicit companies to advertise on the site. Yes, I know the voting for the NBA’s awards ended weeks ago (such as it is in a crippling, Lockout-shortened year), but did you know that the voting for these awards ended weeks ago, too? Exactly. The defense rests, your honor. How would the NBA have known about the awards weeks ago if they were only just published today? Advanced screeners, man. How do you think two animated bug movies, or two Truman Capote movies, or two crappy cinematic re-tellings of Snow White were all released within months of one another? One studio put a lot of heart and soul into its production and the other rushed it, released it first and hoped for the best. Not that that’s what we did. Anyway, here’s hoping for the best. Let me know down in the comments if you think I missed anything. I know you will. You’re good like that.
Here are your 2011 Fantasy Basketball Year-Ends Awards:
Most Valuable Player – Overall, this goes to Kevin Durant and I’m not convinced it’s as close as others would lead you to believe. That said, Durant, Paul and James were all ranked in the top five in most pre-season draft lists anyway. Everyone knew he was valuable. Water is wet. The Arctic is cold. Rihanna is a handful. These are not surprising factoids. I’m unhappy with the wording of this category. I’d be more unhappy, but I named the damn thing and I save my self-loathing for the weekends in my cry closet. It should have been called the MsVP (Most Surprisingly Valuable Player). Think of it like the MVP award for the romantic languages, one in which a gender is attached. My Ms. Veep Award goes to Paul Millsap, a player widely grabbed in the third or fourth round, but who returned more fantasy value than any other power forward other than Love and Gasol the elder. Paulie Tallnuts averaged 17/9/2, with above-average percentages, a whopping 2 steals, a block, low turnovers and one three every 10 games. Ain’t no skillcap on Paul … whatshisname. (Note: Don’t come at me with Jeremy Lin chatter. Let him play 2/3 of a season and we’ll talk. Those of you who got a bump in Lincome for 20 games, a salut. Note2: Feel free to come at with Ryan Anderson chatter. He was my runner-up.)
Least Valuable Player – The obvious suspects here are your Horfords, your Randolphs, your Lopezes, maybe a Billups thrown in for good measure, but I’m going a different way with it this season. Especially THIS season in which, if you lost a top three stud early (or Billups), you were resigned to having to replace him and it proved to be fairly easy to do with any number of off-the-radar guys. The guys that ultimately hurt teams were the ones that were never really hurt or never hurt badly enough that owners felt the need to find a permanent replacement. Guys holding onto Horford never counted him as an option past February. Guys holding Stephen Curry did. And while I’d much rather slap Curry’s teammate Dorell Wright upside the head with this award, I have to hand it to Curry: the leagues most fragile player on whom many wasted a top 15 draft pick … for the second year in a row. I look forward to dropping him three rounds in my draft next season so I can watch him play 82 flawless games and become one of three premiere PGs in the league.
Most Improved Player – We all saw James Harden coming, we just didn’t realize the force with which he’d arrive. By playing just five extra minutes a game he jumped from 12/3/2, with 2.7 3ptm+stl+blk per game in 2010 to 17/4/4, with 3.0 3ptm+stl+blk per game. His PER jumped from 16.4 to 21.1 and he surpassed Chris Andersen as the Most Colorfully Accessorized Player That Little Kids Love. That’s worth a lot. Just ask 2004 Johnny Damon.
Most Constantly Rotated On Your League’s Waivers – I personally spent the bulk of my winter swapping Lamar Odom for J.J. Hickson again and again. That was fun. I journaled about it. Then I went to sleep and dreamed about it. Then I woke up and wrote in my Dream Journal about all of it. Then I contacted my psychiatrist about why he has me keeping different journals. He said he hadn’t been keeping track and that he was too distracted by whether or not to play Gordon Hayward or Kawhi Leonard. Doc knows best, so I’m going with either of those two. If you had told me that at the end of a 66-game season, Razzball would have written 21 posts blurbbing (<– not a word) about Leonard and 19 posts blurbbing (<– still not a word, but getting closer!) about Gordon Hayward, I would have called you a damn dirty liar and then attempted to kick you out of my office. Then I would have been reminded that I was in my psychiatrist’s office and escorted out by security.
Lifetime Achievement For Being Constantly Rotated On Your League’s Waivers – J.J. Redick‘s fake basketball career is hugely abnormal. He’s almost never drafted in the top 130, but he’s always an option and almost always plays a big part in fantasy lineups multiple times a year. Jarrett Jack and Drew Gooden found permanent residence in most fantasy leagues, but Redick? Not really. Nope. He’s like the world’s best substitute teacher. Good enough to always be subbin’, but not quite good enough to work toward tenure. And here’s the thing about really great subs, schools don’t really have any intention of giving them a real job because then who would fill in for him when he gets sick? That’s why I’ll be ranking J.J. no. 131 with a bullet next season.
Player You Should Have Dropped Sooner – It’s gotta be Lamar Odom. And as a big fan (formerly) of the guy, I’m as guilty as anyone of gripping him with white knuckles when it was time to blow him a kiss. My theory is this: Odom, never accused of being overly rational or terribly dedicated to his job, adapted too easily to his wife’s gain-fans-by-doing-nothing lifestyle. He’s well-paid to sit around talking. Hell, he’s more famous now than he was three years ago. Why bother with the practice and the drudgery and the injuries? He lost what little motivation he had to play basketball by being traded. Life is easier without basketball. Eff it.
Player You Should Have Held Longer – Serge Ibaka, I was in three leagues this year. Wanna know how many leagues I drafted him in? None. Wanna know how many leagues I ended up owning him in? Three. Wanna know why? Because sometime in mid-January he was averaging 7/6 and 2.5 blocks in limited minutes and people were getting antsy. He’d end the season having played every game and averaging 9/8 and 3.5 blocks. I think I gave up Scola in one trade, Varejao and Shumpert in another and Rondo in one other.
Most Surprising Player That You Rostered For Most of the Season – Al Harrington. I’m too lazy to go back and review where I originally had Harrington ranked in the pre-season, but I remember distinctly having the thought that I may have underrated him. Then I thought, nah. He might have a brief spell, but he won’t be worth owning all season. He doesn’t play a strong team game or pass as often as he should. His defense is suspect and so is his shot selection, but … he has the knack for taking over a game quickly. He’s in the Maggette/ Sugar Nate camp of guys no one wants to own unless their suddenly killin’ it. Harrington, for his ADP killed it all season averaging 14/6, with 1.6 3ptm and a steal each game. If you told me in December that Harrington would return top 100 value despite largely being drafted somewhere around 140, I would have assumed Denver had traded away any worthwhile big without getting an equal return and had to settle for him. Then you would have nodded and said they had pretty much done exactly that. Then we would briefly stare at one another. Then I would have excused myself quietly and locked myself in the nearest bathroom until you left.
Player That Turned It On After The All-Star Break And Probably Won You The League – Goran Dragic. He started the season averaging 8/2/3. After the All-Star Break, he was averaging 16/3/7 and was a favorite among the Razzball set. We knew he had it in him. Now we know he has it, um, out of him, too. I’d also tip my cap to Isaiah Thomas for essentially making the same post-All-Star Game leap Dragic did, going from 9/2/3 per game to 14/3/5.
Player You Traded Away Just In Time – JaVale McGee. Let’s face it, if you were able to trade him away at all for anyone, it was just in time.
Player You Traded Away And Immediately Regretted – Again, I’m going with Ibaka. Unless you traded away LeBron, after like, the first week or something. You probably regretted that.
Player You Can’t Believe Seemed Like a Good Idea on Draft Day – Omri Casspi. He seemed like a good idea to me, anyway. No one else ranked him as high as I did. I caught hell in the preseason for being up on Casspi. So this is me eating crow. I mean, not really. I’m actually eating Apple Jacks. But metaphorically, total crow. Crow tastes like apples.
The Good Player You’ll Most Likely Avoid Next Draft Day – We both know you’re not touching Ersan Ilyasova next year, unless you owned him this year. He’s on a mid-market team with an injury history and doesn’t get the same kind of eyeballs that crappier players on larger teams might get. Heck, a third of you still might not know how to pronounce his name. Come draft time, you mumble out what you think the correct pronunciation is, then you’re told that “Andre Iguodala” was already taken. So then, embarrassed, you just settle for David West.
The Bad Player You Most Likely Won’t Avoid – JaVale McGee can jump over you and two of your friends sitting on your shoulders without getting a running start, yet only averaged 11/8/0.5 and shot .461 from the free throw line. Yeah, but Adam, the blocks!! All those blocks! He averaged 2.2 bpg (his average drooped on the Nuggets), which is only slightly more than you could have gotten by drafting DeAndre Jordan 50 spots later in your draft or Bismack Biyombo 150 spots later.