Kobe Bryant won his first MVP award last season and could be primed for another one in 2008-09.
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7 postseason honors
Most Valuable Player: Kobe Bryant, Lakers
The rivalry between Bryant and LeBron James for the title of world's best player gets even hotter, but thanks to his team's superior record, Bryant retains the crown.
Runner-up: James, Cavaliers
Rookie of the Year: Michael Beasley, Heat
A matter of supply and demand: Beasley provides scoring to a team that desperately needs it. Runner-up: Greg Oden, Trail Blazers
Defensive Player of the Year: Kevin Garnett, Celtics
At 32, KG continues to set the standard for the league's top defensive team. Runner-up: Ron Artest, Rockets
Sixth Man Award: Lamar Odom, Lakers
Reluctant to accept this new role, the versatile Odom quickly finds that he thrives in it.
Runner-up: Ben Gordon, Bulls
Most Improved Player: Andrew Bynum, Lakers
To restore its defensive backbone, Los Angeles turns to a 21-year-old 7-footer -- and he delivers.
Runner-up: Rodney Stuckey, Pistons
Coach of the Year: Nate McMillan, Trail Blazers
Portland makes a big jump in the wins column, earns a playoff spot and develops a D that can key an eventual title run.
Runner-up: Rick Adelman, Rockets
Executive of the Year: Kevin Pritchard, Trail Blazers
The 41-year-old GM has overhauled not only the roster but also the team's image -- with cap space left to sign a major free agent next summer.
Runner-up: Daryl Morey, Rockets
6 major storylines to follow
The Artest Experiment
The Rockets are asking Mr. Volatility, Ron Artest, to provide championship chemistry and be the reliable third star they need to match up with the Spurs' and the Celtics' Big Threes. But who on this roster will coax Artest back in line if he acts up?
Argentine Ankle Watch
A healthy Manu Ginóbili is the key to the Spurs' extending their streak of winning every other championship, dating to 2003.
The Cavaliers have to continue to build a roster compelling enough to entice their own star to stay past the summer of 2010.
Sad Days in the Desert
While coach Mike D'Antoni takes his exciting Seven Seconds or Less attack East to the Knicks, Suns starters Steve Nash (35 in February), Grant Hill (36) and Shaquille O'Neal (37 in March) set in the West.
With Tim Donaghy in prison, the NBA is finally promising fundamental reform in its oversight of officials, including posting assignments on the morning of games. But this has to be more than a p.r. initiative; fans have already grown too cynical about the refereeing to be satisfied with anything short of substantive change.
Will any owners be forced to sell their money-draining teams because of cash flow problems?
8 coaches with a big challenge
Mike D'Antoni, Knicks, and Lawrence Frank, Nets
Each must improve his team while the front office reshuffles the roster, laying the groundwork for a run at LeBron in 2010.
George Karl, Nuggets
He has to convince his defense-challenged players that they can stop teams without longtime stopper Marcus Camby.
Marc Iavaroni, Grizzlies
He was rumored to be in trouble when he had Pau Gasol and Mike Miller. How can he survive with the West's least-talented roster?
Scott Skiles, Bucks
He wants his shoot-first team to make D the priority. Unfortunately, he has no lockdown defenders.
Larry Brown, Bobcats
He seems curiously drawn to difficult situations. At least this job will go more smoothly than his last one, in New York.
Eddie Jordan, Wizards
What could he do if his guys stayed healthy? We may never know, as Gilbert Arenas begins the year on the sideline.
Mike Woodson, Hawks
He earned some goodwill during the playoffs, but with a poor start he'll be feeling heat again.