As the NBA nears its annual All-Star Weekend, it is time to review the first half of the season. There really have only been a few surprises this year, namely the Lakers' implosion and Dallas' mediocrity.
My half-season MVP is an easy choice - LeBron James. There really isn't a debate, although my All-Star team below will highlight some of King James' competition. James is averaging 27 points a game, on a blistering 56.5 percent shooting from the floor. In addition, he is connecting on 42 percent of his three-point attempts. He's one of the league leaders with a little over seven assists per game and is grabbing over eight rebounds. As I stated in a previous post, James has bumped his overall game up a notch higher than anyone in NBA history.
In many seasons, Kevin Durant would be a runaway MVP choice. The 6-11 forward is leading the league in scoring at a 29 points per game clip, while shooting a career-high 52% from the floor. He's also connecting on 42% of his threes and 90% from the line. If he finishes the season with 50/40/90 while averaging at least 20 points a game, Durant would be the first ever in NBA history to accomplish that.
Joining James and Durant up front is Knicks' forward Carmelo Anthony, an explosive scorer and one of the game's best players. He is second to Durant in scoring and has shown improvement in his all-around game, especially on defense. Anthony's squad is second in the Eastern Conference, behind only James' Heat.
My backcourt is filled by explosive second-year star Kyrie Irving, of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Chris Paul. Easily one of basketball's most exciting players, Irving is nearly unstoppable with his variety of moves and shots. He's scoring at a 24 points a game clip, hitting on 43% from long-range. Irving is a great building block to rejuvenate the Cavs.
Paul, of the LA Clippers, is the game's best point guard, and at 27, is just entering his prime. Known for his intelligence and leadership abilities, Paul has his young squad sitting at the break with the league's third-best record. He's second (behind Rajon Rondo) in assists (9.5) and is averaging 17 points a contest. He led the Clippers to an amazing 17-game winning streak in December.
My pick for Coach of the Year is Golden State's Mark Jackson, who has created a winning atmosphere at one of the league's traditional also-rans. The Warriors have cooled a bit lately after a red-hot start, but are still in the playoff race with a 30-22 record. Young stars like Stephen Curry (my second-team guard), David Lee, Klay Thompson, and Harrison Barnes have matured quickly under the demanding Jackson.
The easy choice for mid-season Rookie of the Year is Portland point guard Damian Lillard, who is scoring over 18 points a game and dishing out nearly seven assists. The 6-3 former Weber State star has surprised many NBA experts by playing with so much maturity in his first season. Other impressive rookies include Anthony Davis (New Orleans), Bradley Beal (Washington), and Dion Waiters (Cleveland).