|I'm predicting one of these players to win a major award in 2011-12. Which one may surprise you.|
My point is not to rehash the awards voting of last season, but to simply revisit the point that you never really know what will catch the eye of voters, and it's hard to make predictions that rely so heavily not only on production, but on voter influence. Still, I'm going to try, so let's run down my predictions for 2011-12 season-ending awards
Rookie of the Year - Kemba Walker, Charlotte Bobcats
I know I projected Charlotte to have the worst record in the East, but I think Kemba is going to take the league by storm and won't be punished by the voters for the poor team surrounding him.
Most Improved Player - DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers
Let's just go ahead and chalk this one up to the Chris Paul effect.
Coach of the Year - Frank Vogel, Indiana Pacers
I've got Indiana finishing in the top six in the East, and possibly even higher. If that happens, expect former interim coach Vogel to get a lot of the credit.
Sixth Man of the Year - Lamar Odom, Dallas Mavericks
Odom is a contender for this award every year, and I think he takes it home for the second consecutive year by providing a big boost to Dallas's bench (also, I think James Harden will end up starting 33+ games, making him ineligible for the award. But I could be very wrong on that).
Defensive Player of the Year - Tony Allen, Memphis Grizzlies
It's extremely hard for a perimeter player to win this award, but I think Allen began to lay the groundwork for it last season. Plus, voters will be looking for a reason to vote for anyone besides Dwight Howard, if only because of repeat winner fatigue.
Most Valuable Player - LeBron James, Miami Heat
I keep going back and forth between LeBron James and Chris Paul for this award, especially because both of them have a teammate who could split votes (as does Kevin Durant, with Russell Westbrook). I just think the Heat are going to put up a really good regular-season record, like in the 54-56 win range (which translates to 67-70 wins in an 82 game season), and LeBron will be the most likely candidate to be rewarded for that success.