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NBA midseason awards

Steve Nash #13 of the Phoenix Suns drives

Steve Nash #13 of the Phoenix Suns drives against Amare Stoudemire #1 of the New York Knicks. (Jan. 18, 2012) Credit: Jim McIsaac

In just under two months, the NBA has managed to cram in 33 games of basketball. And in this lockout-shortened season, that means we're at the league's halfway point.

We've seen plenty of good (especially in South Beath), a lot of bad (lockout basketball, everybody), and some horrible (pretty much everything Javale McGee- and Charlotte Bobcats-related).

And with that, it's time for the Double Dribble's first NBA midseason awards. We've got 20 awards to choose, starting with your standard fare (Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year) and ending with the absurd (the year's worst sequence of basketball).

Envelopes, please:

Most Valuable Player: LeBron James, Miami Heat

James' 2011-12 season may go down as one of the best in league history. He's averaging a career high in points per 36 minutes (27.4 per game) and rebounds per 36 minutes (8.0 per game). His shooting percentage has shot up 3.8 percent points to 54.8 percent. James has been unguardable on offense, and impenetrable on defense. And most of all, the Heat have emerged as the best team in the NBA -- by far -- and look like they'll cruise to an NBA title.

Runner-up: Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs: Best he's looked on offense, has the hobbled Spurs closing in on Oklahoma City for first in the West.

Least Valuable Player: DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors

Does everybody on the planet but DeRozan understand that his forte is around the rim? DeRozan's athleticism gives him limitless talent, but he still insists on heaving close to two 3-pointers per game (he's a career 21.4 percent shooter from downtown) and settling for jump shots. With any discipline, DeRozan, just 22, could turn into one of the league's premiere offensive threats. Instead, it is taking him 13.7 shots per game to average 15.5 points per game.

Runner-up: Amar'e Stoudemire, Knicks: He has lost all of his explosiveness, and has seen his shooting percentage dip from 55.7 percent two years ago to 44.7 percent this season.

Rookie of the Year: Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers

No, a 12-17 record isn't anything to write home about. But look at the Cavs' roster. Irving is the only reason that Cleveland is still hanging on for dear life in the playoff race. He is averaging 21.7 points per 36 minutes after being labeled as one of the weakest No. 1 picks in NBA Draft history. On top of that, in his first season, at 19 years old, Irving is shooting 48.5 percent from the floor, 41.9 percent from three and 84.6 percent from the line. He's not your typical point guard, but Irving has stud written all over him.

Runner-up: Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves: Go on, head over to YouTube.com and search "Ricky Rubio assist." I'll see you in a few hours.

Sixth Man of the Year: James Harden, Oklahoma City Thunder

From last season to this season, Harden's improved his points, rebounds and assists per 36 minutes, is shooting a higher field goal percentage, 3-point percentage and free throw percentage, and is actually taking fewer shots per 36 minutes. He's been the epitome of efficiency this year, averaging 16.8 points per game on just 10.3 shots per night. And without him, Oklahoma City would be dangerously thin on offense.

Runner-up: Lou Williams, Philadelphia 76ers: Williams has taken on the difficult role as the Sixers' go-to scorer while coming off the bench.

Coach of the Year: Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs

Pop is again reminding everyone who the league's best delegator of minutes is. In a jam-packed schedule, you thought a veteran Spurs team would have trouble keeping its legs fresh. Popovich has managed to make that a non-issue.

Runner-up: Doug Collins, Philadelphia 76ers: Philly has cooled off since its hot start, but what Collins has done with a team that relies on scoring-by-committee is impressive.

Defensive Player of the Year: Tyson Chandler, Knicks

Andrew Bynum has scored at least nine points in every game this year but one: when he was held to three points on 1-for-8 shooting against Chandler. Chandler has been the one reliable cog in the Knicks lineup throughout the season, and when he and Jared Jeffries are in the paint at the same time, opposing teams have to find ways to score from the outside.

Runner-up: Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City Thunder: 3.3 blocks in 27.6 minutes per game. *Waves finger.*

Most Improved Player: Ryan Anderson, Orlando Magic

Anderson finally earned a permanent role in the starting lineup in his fourth season in the NBA, and hasn't disappointed. Now being relied upon heavily in Orlando, Anderson has upped his shooting percentage and 3-point percentage from last season. He is averaging 16.3 points per game, and could be looking at a nice payday in free agency.

Runner-up: Jeremy Lin, Knicks: If Lin keeps up what he's done lately, this will be his award. Sample size is just a little too small right now.

Least Improved Player: Shannon Brown, Phoenix Suns

Brown played me. I thought for sure, on a one-year deal in score-happy Phoenix, Brown would break out as a threat on offense. Instead, he's been in and out of the Suns' rotation, and is shooting an abysmal 38.8 percent from the floor. Now 26, the time is running out for Brown to figure it out and become a starting shooting guard.

Runner-up: Toney Douglas, Knicks: There was a point this year that Douglas was the Knicks' starting point guard. Now, him and his 31.8 percent shooting percentage are at the end of the bench.

Best Acquisition: Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers

It's because of Paul that the Clippers are one of the favorites to win the Western Conference. He's been the team's most reliable scorer (18.6 points per game), has mastered the offense, looks unconscious from three (44.2 percent), and has hit several late, clutch shots (18 in the last 5:00 of games within five points) that have either kept Los Angeles in the game, or given them the win.

Runner-up: Tyson Chandler, Knicks: With Chandler, the Knicks have all of the sudden turned into a defensive powerhouse.

Worst Acquisition: Eric Gordon, New Orleans Hornets

Yeah, if he was healthy, Gordon wouldn't be in this situation. But in the trade David Stern wanted for New Orleans, the prize part of the deal, Gordon, has played just two games, and failed to come to an agreement on an extension to stay with the Hornets.

Runner-up: Raymond Felton, Portland Trail Blazers: The Blazers are starting Jamal Crawford at point guard over Felton Tuesday night. That's all you really need to know.

Best Old Man: Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns

Nash clearly doesn't care that he is 38 years old. In his 16th NBA season, the veteran point guard again looks on his way to a 50-40-90 season. He is leading the league in assists per game (11.0), and alone has Phoenix with a (way) outside chance of making the playoffs.

Runner-up: Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs: Yes, Duncan started the season slow, but halfway through the schedule, he is averaging 17.9 points and 11.0 rebounds per 36 minutes.

Worst Old Man: Jason Kidd, Dallas Mavericks

I won't give Kidd any credit for Dallas being near the top of the West. The deterioration of his offensive game has hit a new low, as he is now shooting a career-worst 32.5 percent from the field. And for a guy who loves to chuck threes, 30.4 percent from downtown isn't going to cut it.

Runner-up: Jermaine O'Neal, Boston Celtics: At this point, I'd argue O'Neal is really just taking minutes away from promising rookie JaJuan Johnson.

Biggest Surprise: Minnesota Timberwolves

Did you see Nikola Pekovic averaging 12.4 points and 7.1 rebounds in 24 minutes per game? Or Kevin Love taking the next step and flirting with a 25-15 season? Or Ricky Rubio stepping in and displaying some of the best court vision in the league his rookie season? In the packed Western Conference, the Wolves have a real shot at sneaking into the playoffs.

Runner-up: San Antonio Spurs: Manu Ginobili goes down, and San Antonio turns into a wrecking crew? Nobody saw that coming.

Biggest Disappointment: Washington Wizards

John Wall hasn't been able to make the next step, JaVale McGee has continued to play like a knucklehead, the 6'11 Andray Blatche has managed to shoot worse than 40 percent from the floor, and everybody's favorite preseason darkhorse has the league's second-worst record at 7-25.

Runner-up: Boston Celtics: What is it about Rajon Rondo that has Boston and its fans itching to trade him? Rumors and distractions have derailed the Celtics.

Primed for a Second-Half Run: Knicks

New York got a head start here, winning nine of their last 11 games. As seen in Monday night's loss to New Jersey, the potential is there to be an incredibly cohesive offensive unit, seen in the game's opening minutes. But the last 36 minutes showed that it will take time. It's on Mike D'Antoni to minimize the learning curve.

Runner-up: Memphis Grizzlies: Zach Randolph is getting close to returning, and after some January struggles, Memphis is again hot.

Primed for a Second-Half Collapse: Boston Celtics

Boston can't even beat Detroit right now. That's how bad it has gotten. Offensively, it's like the Celtics have lost their identity. It's nice to see Rajon Rondo flashing the ability to score 35 points, but that's not how Boston will win. If they're not careful, Cleveland could sneak up behind them and steal the eight-seed.

Runner-up: Utah Jazz: The run was fun while it lasted. I'd be surprised if the Jazz touched 30 wins this year, though.

Nicest Uniforms: Nets ABA uniforms

There is nothing not to like about the "New York Nets" uniforms. Simple, classic, and clean. New Jersey should consider going to them full-time next year in Brooklyn.

Runner-up: Spurs ABA uniforms: The Chaps, baby!

Ugliest Uniforms: New Orleans Horents NOLA uniforms

I understand showing Mardi Gras pride, and incorporating it into the look. But when watching the Hornets, its hard not to think that there are three teams on the court. That's distracting, and uniforms shouldn't be distracting.

Runner-up: NBA All-Star uniforms: All right, I get retro. But it looks like your standard jersey top with a pair of YMCA sweatshorts. Nuh-uh.

Best Sequence of Basketball: Los Angeles Clippers' 3-point parade

On Jan. 30, Lob City hit the perimeter and drained four 3-pointers in 45 seconds against Oklahoma City. Let's just say my excitement was similar to that of the commentators.

Runner-up: Miami dunk contest: LeBron and D-Wade combine for 10 dunks in a win against the Knicks on Jan. 27.

Worst Sequence of Basketball: JaVale McGee's transition defense

The following video from Feb. 6, 2012, made both of the Wizards' announcers laugh, and proceeded to go viral. Easy to see why. 

Runner-up: Magic multi-game collpase: In a five-game stretch, Orlando was held below 70 games twice and below 60 points (below) once, going 1-4. Somehow, since then, the Magic are 9-3. Weird.

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