Now that the dust has settled after a chaotic and condensed regular season, I thought I’d throw some fantasy awards out there. And with the news that the Beastie Boys’ MCA passed away today, I probably need something else to put my mind on anyway. I first saw the Beastie Boys in March of 1987 in the Louisville Gardens, with Fishbone as the opener. I’m not going to go into details here, but it was on that crazy, first headlining tour they did where they were arrested nightly for various things involving sex, drugs and booze. And I can honestly say I’ve never seen a show quite like it since. If you’ve ever heard rumors about bad things happening on stage at a Beastie Boys show that year, they were all true that night, and it was glorious. R.I.P. Adam Yauch.
Kevin Durant SF Thunder
I was fully prepared to drop LeBron James into this award, but have decided to go with Durant instead. Here are the stat comparisons:
Durant: 66 gms, 28.0 ppg, 8.0 reb, 3.5 ast, 1.3 stl, 1.2 blk, 2.0 3s, 49.6% fgp, 86% ftp
LeBron: 62 gms, 27.2 ppg, 7.9 reb, 6.2 ast, 1.9 stl, 0.8 blk, 0.9 3s, 53.1% fgp, 77.1 ftp
Durant gets the nod in scoring, rebounding, blocks, threes and free throw percentage, while LeBron takes assists, steals and field goal percentage. I’d say that Durant’s extra 3-pointers were canceled out by LeBron’s assists, and that this race is basically a dead heat. Until you look at games played.
Durant didn’t miss a game in this condensed season, including down the stretch when he easily could have chilled out and kept his scoring title intact by not risking a 22-point game. LeBron missed one game with a real injury when he sat out against the Hawks way back on Jan. 5 with a sprained left ankle, and then missed three of the Heat’s final four games in the regular season in order to rest for the playoffs. I’m not going to pass judgment on whether it was right or wrong for Bron to rest up on those three nights, but I will say this. There isn’t a single Kevin Durant owner out there who can claim that Durant cost them a championship over the final few days of the season. And the same is simply not true for the owners of LeBron, who had to fill in the gaps with unreliable players like Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green in hopes of barely hanging on without LeBron in the final week of the season. Had they played the same number of games, I would have named LeBron the Fantasy MVP.
On a side note, most of my leagues wrap things up with about 10 days to go in the regular season, chopping off the last full week, as well as the short week at the end of the season. But this year was different. Many of us had the mindset to get as much hoops in as possible, so we played out all 18 weeks. It also didn’t help that most of the managerial websites made playing the whole season the default option, if not the only one. But next year, if you’re running a hoops league, do everyone a favor and make sure it’s in the books by the end of Week 23, and skip the final two scoring periods. They are a mess every year, but I’m pretty sure 2012 takes the cake as far as guys being shut down, sitting out, and not showing up over the last two weeks of the season.
Fantasy Rookie of the Year
Isaiah Thomas PG Kings
This one was also a tough call. Kyrie Irving put up the big numbers and was a stud until his shoulder injury ruined much of his second half of the season, limiting him to just 51 games. Kawhi Leonard started in 39 games for the Spurs and played well for them all year. But the problem was, he was never really a huge difference maker in fantasy, and chances were you had a better veteran to start each week, meaning Leonard was more of a luxury to own, than a guy who was plugged into your lineup every night. Which leads me to Isaiah Thomas and Klay Thompson.
Thomas wasn’t a reliable fantasy starter until the middle of February, but from then on, he attained must-start status, averaging 14.2 points, 3.0 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.5 3-pointers after the All-Star break, while not missing a single game down the stretch (he missed just one all year). He was also capable of blowing up for a big game on any given night, making him a must-start for those of you lucky enough to get ahold of him off the waiver wire.
It took Thompson a little longer to get going, but he still averaged 17 points. 3.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.0 steals and 2.0 3-pointers after the break. He didn’t miss a single game all season, but given the fact Thomas was the guy more available on waiver wires, was taken with the last pick in the NBA draft, and became a starting NBA point guard on a team that already had Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton, I’m giving him the award. But it really is a coin flip.
Fantasy Sleeper of the Year
Ryan Anderson PF Magic
According to Basketballmonster.com, Anderson was the eighth-most valuable player in nine-category leagues and played in 61 of 66 games. He finished the season averaging 16.1 points, 7.7 rebounds, 0.8 steals and 2.7 3-pointers, while shooting it well from both the field and the free throw line. He was taken in Round 14 in one of my deep expert leagues, went undrafted in Rick Kamla’s League Freak and was taken with the 138th overall pick in my 30-team league. There were plenty of other nice sleepers this season, but Anderson was the clear winner in my mind.