With the NBA revving up for what promises to be a great festival of NBA playoff games, make way for the latest batch of regular-season bests and worsts.
Check out The Ceddys, with a playoff twist.
All-NBA first team:Guards James Harden and Russell Westbrook; forwards LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard; center Anthony Davis.
Most valuable player:Westbrook. Some players took a few games off; Westbrook rarely took a play off. His record 42 triple-doubles don’t tell the full story. Westbrook should be the star of every training video for young players who think they can coast and still become great.
Defensive player of the year:Draymond Green. Day-Day was the first player since Dwyane Wade in 2009 to record 150 steals and 100 blocks. He led the league in steals and made defensive plays in the last minute to seal five wins for the Warriors, according to USA Today.
Best Texas ex not named Kevin Durant:Avery Bradley, Boston. He turned in a career year while averaging 16.3 points and 6.1 rebounds, plus he hit 39 percent of this three-point attempts for the East’s top seed.
Most improved player:Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee. The Greek Freak became the first player in league history to finish in the top 20 in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals. In addition, his player-efficiency rating went from 19.0 to 26.2, an astounding jump for someone who was already a good player.
Most overlooked:Hassan Whiteside. Has there even been a player who averaged 17.0 points, 14.1 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks over a season with less fanfare than the Heat center?
Worst winning streak:The Lakers reeled off five straight wins to finish with the third-worst record in the league, meaning their chances of getting the top draft pick took a real hit.
Best scoring performance:Golden State’s Klay Thompson scored 60 points against Indiana, a feat that was much more impressive than the 70 Devin Booker put up against Boston simply because Thompson did it in only 29 minutes and didn’t even play during the fourth quarter.
Coach of the year:Mike D’Antoni, Houston. He found his muse in James Harden, who like his coach, has usually been associated with instant offense on both ends of the court. D’Antoni has the Rockets rolling much like the Steve Nash Suns of the previous decade.
Sixth man:Andre Iguodola, Golden State. Houston’s Eric Gordon and Lou Williams turned in a great campaign, but Iggy gave the Warriors the perfect temperament off the bench and was their most consistent ball-handler with a 4.66 assist-to-turnover ratio. Better yet, he was money when the Warriors reeled off 15 wins in 20 games after Kevin Durant got hurt.
Worst gimmick:Tony Romo in a Mavericks uniform. Nice jumper but stay in your lane, Romo. And why haven’t you filed your NFL retirement papers yet? Could it be you’re planning on returning eventually?
Rookie of the year:Malcolm Brogdon, Milwaukee. Philly’s Joel Embiid was easily the best rookie, but he played in only 31 games. Brogdon averaged 10.2 points and 4.3 assists, and he was the only player to average those numbers plus one steal and fewer than two turnovers per game.
2017 champion:Golden State. This would have been a three-peat had Draymond Green been smarter during the 2016 Finals. Nothing stops the Dubs this time. Golden State over Cleveland in six.
Best first-round series:Oklahoma City vs. Houston. Let’s rebrand it as Russell Westbrook vs. James Harden. The two leading MVP candidates are battling to see which one can lead his team to a semifinal appearance against the San Antonio Spurs. Please let this series go seven.
Player to watch:John Wall. The Washington guard hasn’t gotten the respect he deserves over the past few seasons — in league or Olympic circles. Look for him to lead the Wizards to a series win over Indiana and an upset of Boston in the Eastern Conference semis.
On the decline:Tony Parker. His numbers were down across the board. At 33, he’s banged up and slowing down.Parker is due $15.4 million in 2018, and I’m thinking the Spurs will enter the Chris Paul sweepstakes this offseason.
Old man with gas left in the tank:Pau Gasol. He’s never been an elite defender but the 36-year-old is one of the best passing big men out there and a wizard on the block. Plus he’s added range to his jumper, having made a career-high 56 triples while converting them at a rate of nearly 54 percent. Look for his average of 25.4 minutes per game to go up in the playoffs.
Dark horse to win it all:Houston. They won’t stop anybody, but they can score in bunches with Harden, Gordon, Trevor Ariza and Lou Williams, plus they have a solid inside presence in Nene and 22-year-old Clint Capela. They’ll be a tough matchup for the Spurs and the Warriors if they can get past the Thunder.