Hello and welcome to first annual Fringe Awards! I’m your host, Brian’s self perception, which in this case, looks and acts an awful lot like Sam Rockwell as Chuck Barris.
*Awkwardly adjusts tie*
The purpose of these soon to be illustrious awards is manifold. First, to bring wholesale recognition to some of the guys I’ve been writing about the past few months. Second, to wrap up said writing in the face of the infinitely more important Playoffs, which are now fully underway. Third, to lighten the mood a bit after [insert point guard]‘s recent devastating injury. Fourth, and finally, to mock the seemingly arbitrary definitions by which the NBA and surrounding media seem to use to dole out their coveted awards.
The criteria for each award is simple: the player in question must NOT be a draft pick of the team he is currently playing for, unless he has been out of the NBA in the interim. The player can be a starter, but generally wasn’t a key guy coming into this season. He forced his way into a role, and since has become a mainstay in his team’s rotation. He doesn’t have to be an unknown, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. D-Leaguers get bonus points simply for having gone through what the committee likes to refer to as “proper channels.”
Most Valuable Fringe-r
First up on our ballot is…Fringe MVP!
Well this certainly was a heated category, full of familiar faces and established stars. There’s the rugged combo guard, the hyper athletic forward, the fearless sharpshooter, and the guy from the Knicks who likes to shoot.
Without further adieu, our winner, and first annual MVFer is…the guy from the Knicks who likes to shoot! Chris Copeland! Surely this is a major upset! At 29 years old, Chris is a bit of a neophyte on this Knicks squad, ranking as the 2nd youngest rookie and 114th youngest player on the team as a whole. Coming into this season, he was an afterthought in the minds of most fans, a Summer League invite who took advantage of an old team with a shallow forward rotation. Posting per 36 averages of 20.3 points and 5.0 rebounds, Copeland shot the proverbial lights out of Madison Square Garden (and boy did that upset Spike Lee!), finishing the regular season shooting .479 from the field, .421 from deep, .759 from the line. His efficiency numbers are even better than that, with a .583 TS% to go along with .557 eFG% and a 110 Offensive Rating.
Listed at six foot nine and 235 pounds, Copeland functioned primarily as a backup/emergency plan for Carmelo Anthony, until late season injury woes forced him into a frontcourt role. Defensively, he struggled, but he rebounded well, with 5 of his 11 5+ rebound games coming after March 1st. No one can be sure what the future holds for Chris Copeland, but his 2012-13 season is testimony to the determination that is so typical of these fringe-level guys.
Fringe Worker of the Year
This award goes to the guy who worked the hardest, on the court and off, to make his way into the NBA. I wanted to make this a defensive award, but so many of these guys are bad defenders, and defense is arguably the hardest thing to quantify in today’s NBA, that I just decided to make it a “hard work and effort” sort of award. If this were a real award, certain national writers would literally fight to the death to award it to their favorite tryhards. That being said, this is an incredibly difficult award to give out, since essentially all of these guys have plied their trade overseas and in the D-League for years. They’ve scrounged and sacrificed everything in pursuit of the singular, shared dream. To make it in the NBA. At the end of the paragraph, only one of them can get this award, and that someone is P.J. Tucker of the Phoenix Suns. Tucker, originally a 2nd round pick of the Raptors in 2006, flamed out of the NBA relatively quickly, and spent the next six years trying to make it back. He finally did, making the Suns out of camp this season, and on one of the worst teams in the NBA, gave everything he had every night, sometimes guarding power forwards, sometimes guarding point guards. He hasn’t been particularly good, but he’s done everything asked of him and never stopped playing his heart out, for a team that finished last in the Western conference, even.
Tucker’s per 36 numbers are pretty pedestrian, at 9.5 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 2.1 assists, on .473 shooting (.314 three point shooting, .525 TS%). He’s another guy who might not be in the NBA next season, or ever again, but no one can say he didn’t get his effort’s worth.
Fringe Rookie of the Year
In all fairness, this award should go to Chris Copeland, who is one of the best players in this crop and also a rookie, but it just feels weird calling a 29 year old “rookie of the year.” With that in mind, my attention is split between two disparate point guards: the explosive Patrick Beverley, and the clever Brian Roberts. At risk of alienating certain Brian Roberts fans I know, I have to give this to Patrick Beverley of the Houston Rockets. Beverley’s not the most popular player in the NBA right now, especially among Oklahoma City fans, he’s made the most of his opportunity with Houston. He posted 36 minute averages of 11.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.9 steals, and 1.1 blocks on .418 shooting from the field (.375 from deep, .829 from the line). These scoring numbers aren’t particularly impressive on their own, but combined with his .551 TS%, his low usage rate (15.4%), and his tenacious defense, he’s one of the more effective backup guards in the NBA over the past few months. His surge allowed the Rockets to be rid of the woeful Toney Douglas and spell Jeremy Lin for extended periods, culminating in Beverley making his first career playoff start in Game 2 against OKC, a game which he led in rebounds with 12. At a little over six feet tall. You might hate Patrick Beverley, but you can’t get rid of him.
C Jason Smith- New Orleans. 7-0, 240. (17.3 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.8 blocks Per 36)
C Greg Smith- Houston. 6-10, 250. (13.7 points, 10.4 rebounds, 1.3 blocks Per 36)
SF Chris Copeland- New York. 6-9, 235. (20.3 points, 5.0 rebounds Per 36)
PG Patrick Beverley- Houston. 6-1, 180. (11.5 points, 5.9 assists, 5.5 rebounds Per 36)
PG Brian Roberts- New Orleans. 6-1, 180. (11.5 points, 6.0 assists, 2.6 rebounds Per 36)
C Chris Johnson- Minnesota. 6-11, 210. (14.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, 3.5 blocks Per 36)
SF DeMarre Carroll- Utah. 6-8, 210. (12.7 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.0 assists Per 36)
SF Mickael Gelabale- Minnesota. 6-7, 215. (10.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists Per 36)
SG James Anderson- Houston. 6-6, 215. (13.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.9 assists Per 36)
SG Alan Anderson- Toronto. 6-6, 220. (16.7 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists Per 36)
C Greg Stiemsma- Minnesota. 6-11, 250. (9.1 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.7 blocks Per 36)
PF Jeff Adrien- Charlotte. 6-7, 245. (10.6 points, 9.9 rebounds Per 36)
SF P.J. Tucker- Phoenix. 6-5, 225. (9.5 points, 6.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists Per 36)
SG Garrett Temple- Washington. 6-6, 190. (8.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists Per 36)
PG A.J. Price- Washington. 6-2, 180. (12.4 points, 5.8 assists, 3.2 rebounds Per 36)
Author’s Note: Please don’t take this seriously, because it’s meant to be a joke. I respect and like these players, probably more than anyone, but this is not meant to be any sort of judgement on their validity as NBA rotation players. If this offends you, I suggest you only watch nationally televised games and only talk about LeBron James and Kobe Bryant.