Yeah, we've gone from head shaking and pleasant surprises to premature award evaluation.
Let's get to the Most Valuable Player contest. The choice here is Bryant, with this anti-Kobe caveat: the regular-season MVP hasn't played on the eventual championship team since Tim Duncan in 2003. Chew on that and be glad, fans of LeBron James.
Our Defensive Player of the Year is Shane Battier because chasing superstar perimeter players off screens and staying with them off the dribble is lot more challenging than blocking shots from the weak side or diving into the passing lane.
The early Sixth Man of the Year is another Houston Rocket ... take a bow, Carl Landry. Carl also is a candidate for Most Improved Player, but we'll reserve that honor for someone else who happens to be a starter. If Landry were to be our MIP, the sixth-man title could go to New York Knick Al Harrington, who doesn't play defense with the same dedication as Landry and has statistics that are slightly enhanced by his team's pace.
The actual MIP thus far is Indiana Pacers swingman Dahntay Jones, although the reality of his numerical climb may have more to do with far more minutes in Indy than he received as a Denver Nugget. Qualifier notwithstanding, Jones has gone from 5.3 points last season to 15.3 in Indiana.
Our quarter-pole Coach of the Year is Oklahoma City Thunder sideline boss Scott Brooks. As the leader of the league's youngest core rotation, Brooks has overcome turnover-producing inexperience on offense and developed the NBA's fifth-most-efficient defense without the luxury of a certified baseline bruiser or shot-blocker.
Kids who play team defense? That also makes Brooks eligible for the surprise list.
Play Basketball Hot Streak and win prizes!