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Midseason awards

Garnett, Ginobili, Camby among first-half standouts

Posted: Wednesday January 23, 2008 11:11AM; Updated: Wednesday January 23, 2008 4:25PM
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MVP candidate Kevin Garnett has been instrumental in helping the Celtics become the NBA's top-ranked defensive team.
MVP candidate Kevin Garnett has been instrumental in helping the Celtics become the NBA's top-ranked defensive team.
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The All-Star break might still be three weeks away, but the NBA has actually reached its midpoint as most teams have logged around 40 games. It's a good time, then, to step back and take a look at the races for the various postseason awards.

Keep in mind, this is just how I would submit my ballot as of right now. There is still a lot of basketball to be played, including the all-important playoff home stretch. In other words, things could change significantly between now and April.

(The NBA asks voters to rank candidates on a 1-5 basis for MVP, and 1-3 for the other major awards.)

MVP

My pick: Kevin Garnett, Celtics

I went with Garnett in an early look at the race last month, and while LeBron James has narrowed the gap, I'm not yet ready to go away from the Big Ticket. He's the emotional and defensive anchor for a Celtics team that is flirting with history. LeBron has been sensational as well, but as of now I'm going with the guy who has sacrificed personal stats to make his team a much bigger winner. If Boston comes back to earth a bit in the second half, and LeBron (or some other player) just clearly separates himself from the pack as the de facto best player in the game, maybe I'll go in a different direction. But so far the Celtics have been a phenomenon, and KG has been their prime mover.

The rest of my ballot
2. LeBron James, Cavs
3. Kobe Bryant, Lakers
4. Steve Nash, Suns
5. Chris Paul, Hornets

Rookie of the Year

My pick: Kevin Durant, SuperSonics

Thanks to a fairly lackluster class, and Greg Oden's knee injury, this one is an easy call at this point. Durant entered Wednesday averaging 19.3 points per game, nearly nine more than the second-place rookie, Juan Carlos Navarro. Durant is shooting only 40 percent, but the slender swingman has had to undergo a baptism by fire while being the focus of opposing defenses all season. Al Horford has been solid and looks to be a future double-double guy for years to come, but he is no Durant. It's just too bad that Oden, the No. 1 overall pick for the Blazers, isn't around to make this a more compelling race.

The rest of my ballot
2. Al Horford, Hawks
3. Juan Carlos Navarro, Grizzlies

Coach of the Year

My pick: Nate McMillan, Trail Blazers

Despite having the youngest roster in the NBA, McMillan has taken a team that was 32-50 a year ago and transformed it into the league's biggest surprise. The Blazers have been amazingly poised in the fourth quarter of games, and the veteran coach's steady hand has been a big part of it. McMillan also kept his team together and confident after a 5-12 start. Phil Jackson has done a masterful job managing the soap opera in L.A. and developing his bench, but McMillan rates the edge right now.

The rest of my ballot
2. Phil Jackson, Lakers
3. Byron Scott, Hornets

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