Carmelo Anthony and the wonders of threat construction

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Carmelo Anthony feels wronged. It fuels him in practice, keeps him hungry, and serves as a constant reminder that he has to hit the court every night in an effort to prove someone wrong.

Wronged by whom, you ask? Why, the ever-ambiguous media bogeyman, of course. From Chris Tomasson of NBA FanHouse:

Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony still claims his team isn’t getting any respect. “We still feel disrespected,” Anthony said after the latest dispatching of an NBA heavyweight, 114-105 Sunday over Boston at the Pepsi Center. “We still go out there with a chip on our shoulder. That chip is not going anywhere.” Wait a minute. Who’s disrespecting the Nuggets these days? “You guys that write,” Anthony said, referring to the media, although he didn’t have any specific examples to offer.

Forget the fact that the Nuggets have been considered the only non-Laker contender in the Western Conference all year long, and stand as the nearly-unanimous #2 in the conference hierarchy. Never you mind that Carmelo Anthony was generating legitimate MVP buzz at the start of the season, or that Denver had two representatives in the All-Star Game. Everyone on the planet is out to get the Nuggets, and they don’t like it one bit.

Players and coaches use all kinds of motivational tactics to give themselves the strength to face an 82-game regular season. Plus, regardless of what you think of Anthony’s assertion, it’s hard to argue the results; the Nuggets have been rolling all season long despite injuries to prominent members of the rotation, and most recently they bested the Boston Celtics on national television.

If you look hard enough, you can find a media member to represent just about any perspective. I’m sure there are writers out there who don’t believe the Nuggets to be an elite team, and have written as such, just as you could find writers who genuinely believe that the Lakers aren’t good enough to win the West, LeBron James isn’t the MVP, or that the Cavaliers trading for Antawn Jamison was a mistake. There are countless voices out there with just as many perspectives. But hey, if Carmelo needs to use the big, bad media as a reason to play some beautiful and effective basketball, just as the Nuggets have all season long, then that’s just fine. 

The Greek Freak has arrived, Giannis Antetokounmpo wins NBA MVP

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Mike Budenholzer came in with a plan — an offense built around the fact no one man on the planet can guard Giannis Antetokounmpo.

It worked. The Bucks won 60 games and had the best record in the NBA. Budenholzer picked up Coach of the Year hardware for his efforts.

Now Antetokounmpo has won the NBA MVP award, edging out James Harden (who chose not to attend the NBA’s awards show in Los Angeles Monday). He was emotional in thanking teammates and family for helping him reach this point.

Antetokounmpo averaged 27.7 points and 12.5 rebounds a game, but it was his ability to destroy any defender one-on-one that made the Bucks offense work. Either the Greek Freak got to the basket and finished, he drew a foul, or he drew so much attention the shooters that surrounded him on the floor had clean looks of their own. He also was the Bucks best defender, a guy tasked with tough assignments nightly.

Antetokounmpo was the best player on the best team.

James Harden — who averaged 36.1 points, 7.5 assists, and 6.6 rebounds per game — finished second in the voting, Paul George of Oklahoma City was third. Harden has finished first or second in the voting for four of the past five seasons. Harden believed he deserved to win.

The last player from Europe to win the MVP award was Dirk Nowitzki in 2007.

 

Rudy Gobert wins NBA Defensive Player of the Year for second straight season

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Rudy Gobert owns the paint for the Utah Jazz.

And he owns the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award.

Gobert won his second straight DPOY award Monday night, beating out the other 2019 finalists Giannis Antetokounmpo and Paul George.

The Jazz had the second best defense in the regular season and it is completely built around Gobert and his abilities in the paint, which is what separated him for this award. Utah’s defense was 20.1 points per 100 possessions better when Gobert was on the court and gave up less than a point per possession with him as the anchor.

This was a deep field with players such as Myles Turner of the Pacers, Joel Embiid of the 76ers and others getting votes as well.

Bucks’ Mike Budenholzer named NBA Coach of the Year

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Mike Budenholzer unleashed Giannis Antetokounmpo and from the start that made him the Coach of the Year favorite (and maybe Antetokounmpo MVP).

It was a wire-to-wire win for Budenholzer, who was the frontrunner for this award from early on and was named the NBA Coach of the Year Monday night, the second time he has won this award (Atlanta in 2015).

Budenholzer was the favorite with good reason. The Bucks won 16 more games than the season before and had the best record in the NBA, they improved their net rating by +10.1, and became a top-five team on both ends of the floor. To be fair, part of Budenholzer’s success was a contrast to how poorly the previous coach handled this roster, but give Budenholzer credit for utilizing players well.

He beat out Doc Rivers of the Clippers and Mike Malone of the Nuggets in what was a very deep field for this award.

Clippers’ Lou Williams won second-straight, third overall Sixth Man of Year Award

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The Clippers bench play this season was the reason they made the playoffs (and pushed the Warriors to six games in the first round). Montrezl Harrell blossomed into his own as part of that.

However, it was Lou Williams who made it all work, which is why he won his second straight (and third overall) Sixth Man of the Year Award on Monday night. He garnered 96 of the 100 first-place votes.

Williams spoke from the heart about second chances and his faith in himself.

“Four years ago, I thought I was done, like I was coming to the end of my career,” Williams said.

Williams averaged 20 points a game and he is still one of the better bucket getters in the NBA, an isolation master. What he did better this year, however, was playmaking, dishing out 5.4 assists per game. His teammate Montrezl Harrell — the NBA’s best energy big off the bench last season who finished third in the Sixth Man voting — was the biggest beneficiary of those passes.

Indiana’s Domantas Sabonis came in second in the voting, with Spencer Dinwiddie of the Nets third and Terrence Ross of Orlando fifth. Here is the voting breakdown.