It’s time for another Hardwood Paroxysm Round Table Over Everything! HOO-AH! It’s the end of the year, and we’ve got awards to hand out. But not, like, the regular kind. The better kind. The ones that people in twenty, forty, one hundred years will really remember when thinking about these players. Don’t forget to sign the yearbooks of our voting panel on the way out! HAGS! KIT!
Most Likely To Succeed
Seerat: Anthony Davis’s trajectory is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Every time his game is pushed, he finds new ripples. He went from scoring primarily on cuts and rolls last season to filling up the scoreboard on his own accord: facing up in the post, isolation, a developing jumper among other things. Forget all that, though. Here’s the crazy part: His turnover ratio is lower this year that it was last year. Plus, the unibrow makes for a classic yearbook photo. It’s only fitting that AD would grow facial hair before everyone else.
Sean: Anthony Davis just turned 21 and he’s already basically a three-point shot away from being Kevin Durant with longer arms. The “if you were starting a team with any player” cliche is totally played out, but if you were starting a team with any player, he’d be the third guy behind Kevin Durant and LeBron James.
Scott Rafferty: Anthony Davis has already had a pretty successful basketball career. He won a national championship as a freshman at Kentucky and was the consensus college Player of the Year. Then he won a gold medal with Team USA before he even had a chance to play in an NBA game. Then the New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans selected him with the number one overall pick. And while he missed out on Rookie of the Year honors, he made up for it quickly, making his first All-Star appearance this season. And here’s the thing: Davis is only 21 years old, so he’s just starting to scratch the surface on how good he could be. I think he’ll be alright when it’s all said and done.
Eric: Two years into his career, Anthony Davis is everything that we wanted from him when he was selected as the #1 overall pick in 2012. He’s one of the most exciting players in the league, a legit Most Improved Player candidate, and the future of the NBA for years to come.
Derek: Everyone has said Anthony Davis, and I can’t disagree. He’s legitimate and has only increased his production in more playing time. My only concern comes with him missing so many games at a young age (18 and 15, 33 combined in his first two seasons), but that’s likely a fixable issue. Davis is going to be special.
Ian: Anthony Davis. Five years ago, a secret ritual was performed in the cavernous silver mines spreading out beneath the NBA Store on 5th Avenue. An ancient cabal of basketball mystics and oracles gathered to trace dangerous runes of power and invoke long-forgotten words of wizardry. The air crackled with energy operating outside the confines of common physics. The earth trembled before their might and intentions. When they were finished, the talent and drive of Anthony Randolph, Michael Beasley and Evan Turner had been sorcerously stolen, combined and refined, then gifted to a young and growing guard from the South Side of Chicago.
Kevin: Gorgui Deng
Jack: Anthony Davis. I mean, come on. It’s only a matter of time until we think of Davis the same way we do LeBron and KD, and it could come as soon as next season. That’s how good The Brow is. This is some pretty good company, right? And the scary thing is that Davis could end up better than every player on that illustrious list. Scary.
Robby: Anthony Davis. Lil Brow Wow’s going to be one of (if not the) best players in the NBA in a few years. He’s always been a terror on the defensive end and is becoming equally scary on the offensive end.
Jared: We should have just named this award the Anthony Davis Lee Daniels’ The Butler Mostly Likely to Succeed Award.
Bo: Anthony Davis. He just turned 21 and is already putting up 21 points, 10 boards, and three blocks a game with a 26.5 PER. The exciting part is that it looks like there is still a lot of room for him to improve, too.
Miles: Kawhi Leonard. While Davis strolls the halls and is summoned hither with so many blazing-hot, salacious looks from cleavage-brandishing cheerleaders, Leonard can be found bunkered behind a stack of textbooks, putting the finishing touches on his study guide. Come prom night, Davis will command the room at the after-party and the after-after-party with the date(s) of his choice — an evening that will find Leonard quietly laying on his bed, eyes closed but far from sleep, identifying deficiencies in his game as he scrolls through his mental catalog of game film. Oh, Davis will have the stats, commercials, All-Star Weekends. But who will emerge from this league having won more games?
Andrew: I am not picking Anthony Davis. I am instead going with the Big Lebrowski, the horrible nickname for Anthony Davis that only I use, because Anthony Davis is the only player in the league that ever makes me want to use the word “dude,” usually with mouth agape and an aura of disbelief worn like an incredulous Snuggie.
Seerat: Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin’s bromance is probably my favourite. Understated, genuine and adorable as all hell. Just look at those crazy kids, chumming it up on the bench and pretending to laugh at Dwight Howard’s fart jokes.
Sean: Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters. Any time you have to call a press conference to assure people you still like each other, it’s a relationship that’s clearly built to last.
Scott Rafferty: These two:
Trying 2 see a movie tonight I heard this 1 got good reviews, what do y’all think? pic.twitter.com/ujBmG4ERIH
— Isaiah Thomas (@Isaiah_Thomas2) September 3, 2013
Derek: Ricky Rubio and (insert teammate here). Rubio becomes genuinely excited over his teammates’ accomplishments, which shouldn’t be surprising since he’s the one who is usually setting them up for success.
Ian: Dion Waiters and Kyrie Irving. They’re the Burt and Loni of today’s NBA, a stunningly beautiful power couple, overwhelmingly generous and grounded, with impeccable decision-making skills and personal judgement.
Kevin: Gorgui Deng
Jack: Markieff and Marcus Morris. Phoenix’s surprisingly awesome season is owed mostly to the brilliance of Goran Dragic and Jeff Hornacek, but the Suns wouldn’t be where they are without the best twins in basketball.
Robby: Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe. What we thought would be a competition between the two has ended up being one of the best backcourt tandems in the NBA. Dragic and Bledsoe have been tremendous together and the two working together has been a big reason why the Suns are battling for the playoffs when everyone thought they’d be battling for the top pick.
Derek Fisher and Kendrick Perkins This is a two-way tie (or is it a four-way tie?) between Dragic and Bledsoe and the Morrii. Dragic and Bledsoe were the engine that powered the fun-n-gun Suns all year, with Bledsoe’s relentless defensive pressure mirroring Dragic’s not-quite-reckless abandon in attacking the rim. There weren’t many that thought the pairing would work preseason, but it was probably the biggest reason behind Phoenix’s success. And Morrii is just fun to say, and those dudes were pretty good, too.
Bo: Ricky Rubio and any teammate of his. For all intents and purposes, I’ll use this photo of Ricky and Corey Brewer to demonstrate:
Miles: Quincy Acy and Ekpe Udoh. Exile to Sacramento and Milwaukee cannot damage this college-forged friendship. The All-Star Break saw them leave their teammates behind in favor of their globetrotting bromance.
Andrew: I dare you to find an NBA couple more similar than Markieff and Marcus Morris. They can literally match each other’s outfits down to the genetic level.
Seerat: Chris Bosh. Popping on screen during Heat post-game sideline interviews has become a ritual for the Big 3, but Bosh has quintessential class clown properties: He’s knows who he is, he’s not scared to be himself and his weirdly unique tactics make for a good laugh all around, whether you’re laughing at him or with him.
Sean: Nick Young can celebrate a three-pointer before it goes in that doesn’t go in and nobody gets mad at him for it.
Scott Rafferty: Anyone who celebrates a three-point attempt prematurely by turning their back to the basket, throwing their hands up in the air while their shot rims out deserves the Class Clown award. I’m looking at you, Nick Young.
Eric: JR Smith’s spectacular Twitter account should give him this title alone. The fact that he tried to untie his opponents’ shoelaces on two separate occasions this year was merely a bonus.
Derek: Ronny Turiaf. On the bench, he’s the one who is laughing it up with someone– players, coaches, and even fans. Off the court, he serves as the locker room DJ and is capable of lightening the mood at any time. There’s also an old saying: When Ronny Turiaf leaves the room, it becomes silent.
Ian: Gregg Popovich. His is a subtle form of humor, silent, stoic, sarcastic; but no one in the NBA makes me laugh harder.
Kevin: Gorgui Deng
Jack: Joakim Noah. But this is the frightening type of clown.
Robby: Nick Young.
Jared: If you didn’t answer J.R. Smith for this, your answer is wrong.
Bo: Earl Smith III
Andrew: Adam Silver, for clowning all of us by repeatedly saying that he’s open to investigating various plagues of the league — tanking, imbalanced conferences, lack of free jet skis for fans — while we all know that actual change is less likely than the Knicks drafting in the first round.
Seerat: That LeBron James guy is still pretty decent, I think.
Sean: Giannis Antetokounmpo’s arms grew three inches in the time it took me to write this sentence.
Scott Rafferty: Due to his size, strength, speed and leaping ability, LeBron James is a sure fire winner here.
Eric: LeBron is the odds on favorite to be the most popular pick here, but Russell Westbrook is breathtaking to watch when he is at 100% *Obligatory #LETWESTBROOKBEWESTBROOK*
Derek: Gerald Green will be the most athletic in any league that he plays in. As an added bonus, he’s now doing stuff with that athleticism.
Ian: LeBron Gary James.
Kevin: Gorgui Deng
Jack: The obvious answer is obvious for a reason – it’s still LeBron. No other player in the world is capable of doing the myriad of things he does on a basketball court, and it’s a testament to his otherworldly talents that such a distinction could mean his skill-level as easily as it could his athleticism. There’s just never been anyone like him.
Robby: LeBron’s too easy, so I’ll say Gerald Green because I fell off my couch when he did this.
Jared: LeBron is unrivaled in this area. He’s Magic Johnson in Karl Malone’s body, with with both of their skill sets wrapped into one. Dude ain’t human.
Bo: That LeBron James guy seems pretty athletic, right? I choose him.
Miles: Rudy Gobert, rookie center for the Utah Jazz, is nothing but athleticism, a wild cyclone of limbs and joints, raw personified. At the end of his first year the game still moves very fast for Gobert, but there truly would never be a spot for him in the NBA if he did not, every so often, send his wiry frame triumphantly skyward.
Andrew: LeBron doesn’t count. Cyborgs aren’t athletic; they’re science. This question is best answered with a rhetorical question: “If your house were on fire and you needed one player to save everyone inside, who would it be?” And the answer is-
Seerat: Russell Westbrook was kind of like a high turnover, high potential point guard when it came to fashion earlier on — and when it came to basketball, I guess. There were a lot of swings, a lot of misses but the important part was that it’s easier to force a player to hone in and refine his craft than it is to teach the craft all together. Westbrook has shaped up nicely.
Sean: Also probably Nick Young. The swag overfloweth.
Scott Rafferty: I’m color blind, I only wear grey shirts and I have no fashion sense, so my opinion here holds no sense of credibility. But for what it’s worth, Chris Paul gets my vote because his suit game is always on point. He doesn’t go over-the-top, rather he keeps it simple, and he means business, which I can appreciate. Also, he found his way onto Vanity’s best dressed NBA players list last year and that works with me.
Eric: He doesn’t get the attention like Russell Westbrook. He doesn’t have the swagginess of Nick Young. But Tristan Thompson has reached “Got a bobble head of him dressed in his street clothes” level.
Derek: I didn’t snap a picture, but Shabazz Muhammad rocked an impressive blazer and purple corduroy pants combo earlier in the year. That’s not easy to pull off, but the rookie wore it well.
Ian: Raymond Felton wins for his sport coat-khaki cargo pants combo from earlier this year. Seventh grade me would have been super-proud.
Kevin: Gorgui Deng
Jack: The obvious answer is again obvious for a reason – it’s Russell Westbrook in a landslide. But it’s still a shame we saw him in those fabulous street clothes this season almost as much we did the Thunder’s hideous uniforms. Stay healthy, Russ.
Robby: Elton Brand. Don’t think anyone would know outside of the Hawks locker room, but Elton’s suit game is always on point.
Bo: I see Robby already went with Lord & Savior Elton Brand for this question, so I’m going to go with former Hawk Zaza Pachulia, who is always wearing something stylish and fashion-forward.
Miles: Raulzinho Neto. Always leave them wanting more, no? Neto was drafted 47th overall last summer by the Atlanta Hawks, dealt to the Utah Jazz, and then freed to return to his Liga ACB team in Spain to continue his development. But, wow, on draft night — so long the domain of sheep who awkwardly try to fill a haute wolf’s clothing — Neto was not doing an impression when he appeared as a suave, confident cosmopolitan. Shout-outs to two other basketball men who did not appear on an NBA court this year and looked sharp as a tack while doing so: Nerlens Noel and Dwane Casey.
Andrew: Tim Duncan, whose style will be retro-ironic cool in the year 2030, emulated by rising NBA superstar Chris Paul, Jr.
Seerat: See: first name in “Best Couple” section.
Sean: This category should get an asterisk this season because Andrew Bynum abandoned his Sixers-era greatness. I’m going with Robin Lopez, who has become a cult figure in Portland partially because he looks like Sideshow Bob, who is named after a street in Matt Groening’s hometown.
Scott Rafferty: I still don’t know what Jordan Hill is doing with his hair, but it’s interesting and I like interesting.
Eric: The fact that we were robbed of seeing Nerlens Noel’s glorious flat top on an NBA floor was by far the most disappointing part of this season for me.
Derek: I know he’s a contender for this every year, but James Harden for his fantastic beard and…mohawk-type thing on top. I think it’s a mohawk; is it a mohawk? I think if you have to ask, you know you have a winner.
Ian: Josh McRoberts. His hair is like a combination of Jesus and Fergie.
Kevin: Gorgui Deng
Jack: Chris Douglas-Roberts. How many players in the league have a hairstyle named after them? Runner up: CDR’s teammate and hair-favorite Josh McRoberts.
Robby: Jordan Hill. His dreads are magnificent.
Jared: I will first tell you who does NOT win this: Nick Calathes and Kosta Koufos. Those dudes need to accept reality and just shave their heads already. Those back-of-the-head bald spots are getting ridiculous.
I am still and will always be a sucker for Jo Noah’s ponytail/facial hair combo, so I will award this prize to him.
Bo: Am I allowed to answer Rubio for multiple questions? I am? Sweet, I pick Ricky.
Miles: Josh Childress, who managed to turn his iconic afro into a metaphor for his rapidly decelerating career. Once crisp and immaculate, the Childress ‘fro had fallen into a state of sad disarray during his brief cameo with the New Orleans Pelicans.
Andrew: Kyle O’Quinn. Hair is hair, friends, and O’Quinn’s beard is a majesty unto itself.
Seerat: Steve Nash is still in the league, right? His calculative play actually makes me switch for some reason. Spinning an injury-forced retirement into a sympathetic marketing campaign was pretty smart too, if you ask me.
Sean: To my knowledge, Ekpe Udoh is the only NBA player to start a book club with his Twitter followers.
Scott Rafferty: James Harden is smart. He’s done his homework. He got his masters in flopping. He takes nearly 10 free throw attempts per game thanks to some perfectly timed head jerks and screams that can be heard from the nosebleeds. Or he’s that kid who is able to sneak a piece of paper with all the answers on it by the teachers for the end of year exam. I can’t decide. Either way, he’s doing something right.
Eric: Ken Jennings’ Jeopardy record of 74 consecutive wins is one of the more unbreakable records of all-time, but if anyone could do it, I wouldn’t count out Shane Battier.
Derek: Ronny Turiaf, again. Despite his light-hearted nature, he has an altruistic quality about him and does a lot of work in the community. Reading his tweets it also seems that he has a profound sense about how to live life as well. In short: Ronny is the best.
Ian: J.R. Smith. The extended performance art piece that has been his entire career is clearly approaching it’s climax. It hasn’t always been pretty but it has challenged so many of my preconceived notions about what it means to be a human being in this media-drenched society and how the interaction of fame of elite physicality can distort the core of being. Perhaps no work of modern art has been as important as the creation of this “J.R. Smith” character and I can’t wait for the real J.R. to break down the fourth wall and share what it has been like to live inside this construction for so many years.
Kevin: Gorgui Deng
Jack: It’s Kevin Durant’s incredibly prolific and efficient scoring that people will remember most about his MVP season, but it’s his huge cerebral development as passer and defender that could bring Oklahoma City a championship. KD has never thought the game better than he did in 2013-2014, and it showed with every perfectly timed pocket or skip pass and defensive rotation.
Robby: Shane Battier. He went to Duke, always makes well thought out points in interviews, and was smart enough to go to Miami and collect a few rings.
Jared: Again, guys, I’m not going to sit here and not give this award to Mike Woodson. Mike Woodson is a big part of what we do here, and I’ve got to get him going. The East is big, man.
Bo: Got to go with Battier here.
Andrew: Sam Hinkie. To whom I somehow am indebted a second round pick just for saying his name.