Heat’s options without Haslem: More Juwan Howard or get another player. Yuck.

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More Juwan Howard?

If this were 1988, that might be a good call for a team, but we’ve all moved on from that year, something evidenced by the fact we no longer consider “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” good music. In 2010 both Howard and Bobby McFerrin should be used only in moderation.

But right now, the Miami Heat don’t have a choice.

The Heat are not a deep team, a truth born of the salary cap and the way the team was assembled. After a few core players Pat Riley could only offer minimum salaries, and while he may have gotten the best of that group we’re still talking about guys willing to play for the minimum.

So the news that Udonis Haslem will be out until the All-Star break or longer really cuts into the Heat depth and rotation. Haslem was the best rebounder the Heat have and was a steadying, physical presence inside on their defense. Both of those things will be missed.

So now what?

In the short term, it means more Juwan Howard, the 16-year veteran who has so far played just mop-up duty at the end of a couple games. He is the guy on the depth chart behind Haslem.

He doesn’t bring a lot, as Tom Haberstroh noted in a detailed look at ESPN. The good news is he still has a midrange game so you can run some pick-and-pop with him on offense. He can still score the rock a little.

But he does not bring much if any real rebounding. He is not a defensive presence in the paint. He doesn’t bring the things the Heat really counted on out of Haslem.

That means Miami could try to sign a free agent, something Riley admitted to ESPN.

“There’s a possibility we might need more rebounding,” Riley said. “We need more rebounding, and we need obviously somebody that is going to have a big body in the paint that can make a difference and have an impact. We will consider something like that.”

There are not a lot of free agent bigs out there right now. Erick Dampier remains the biggest name, he flirted with a number of teams including the Heat but has had a couple deals fall through. There have been rumblings of health concerns, but for whatever reason a guy who started in Dallas last season but can’t get a job may be the Heat’s best option.

Shavlik Randolph also was in the Heat’s training camp and they could bring him in.

However, the Heat have a full 15 guys on the roster, to bring anyone in means to buy out someone already in the locker room. Which is not something owners like to do.

Basically, there are no good options, just some that may be less bad than others. But after Haslem went down against Memphis the Grizzlies dominated the glass on their way to upsetting the Heat. If that remains the case, choosing the less bad may be Miami’s only option.

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.