On Monday, the NBA kicked off its awards season with the announcement that Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls had won the Defensive Player of the Year award. On Tuesday, the league awarded Gregg Popovich with its Coach of the Year award. On Thursday, Goran Dragic won the Most Improved Player award.
Imagine my surprise when not a single Buck (player or coach) received a vote.
In fact, the Bucks aren’t going to show up on any one of these lists.
COTY? I don’t think I need to answer that.
Most Improved Player? Nah.
Sixth Man of the Year? No.
MVP? C’mon now.
Rookie of the Year? If only…
No, to add insult to the grievous injury that was this season, no player on this team was anywhere close to any sort of season award. But far be it from us to just let awards season fly by without taking the opportunity to create and award our own trophies to the Bucks for their exploits on, off, and around the court this season. They may not be getting votes for the awards that do exist, but here are the awards they would win:
The “Bringing Shame Upon Your Family” Award for Most Negative Attention Brought to the Team: Larry Sanders
You know how to tell when you’ve had a bad year? When you’re accused of (alleged) animal abuse and it’s still only your third-worst news story of the year. Bar fights, marijuana suspensions, and spending a majority of the season not playing basketball tend to bring on the kind of attention that you just don’t want. Much like the teenager that just can’t stop picking up speeding tickets or school suspensions for fighting, Sanders couldn’t seem to sit still long enough to let the heat die down.
The Biggest Drop from Marquee Free Agent to DNP-CD Award: O.J. Mayo
“Marquee” might actually be exaggerating a bit. But numerically speaking, Mayo was the Bucks’ biggest free agent pickup and was expected to shoulder a significant portion of the scoring load for a young team. And for the first few months, he did….kind of. For a while. Then opposing announcers began commenting on his conditioning. And then he had “the flu”. And then he had “conditioning issues”. And then he was “I dunno, just not playing”. And we were “wondering what happened to O.J. Mayo”. And I was “using excessive quotation marks”.
At the end of the season, there he was, firmly glued to the bench. For the last eleven games of the year, Mayo saw no playing time. And that’s spelled D-N-P-C-D.
The “Just Wait ’til You See Him in Five Years” Award for Potential Shown: Giannis Antetokounmpo
The casual observer may look at the stats from Giannis’ rookie season and say to himself, “I don’t see what the big deal is! He only averaged like 7 points and 4 rebounds!” But we are not just casual observers, no sir! We watched this and that and a little bit of this and stopped to remind ourselves that we’re watching a 19-year-old (not even old enough to drink!) do these things in the NBA against some really grown up men. Taking the flashes of incredible play we saw from Giannis at his age and level of experience and projecting them appropriately to his third or fourth year in the league is so unfathomable that my mind simply refuses to calculate it.
The “We’re So Happy You’re Not Brandon Jennings” Award: (tie) Brandon Knight and Khris Middleton
These two dudes got exchanged for Brandon Jennings and ended up not being Brandon Jennings in attitude or swag or indifference or anything. That means more to me than any basketball thing could have. As Jennings fluctuated wildly in Detroit, the two new Bucks went out and competed and said all the right things and were generally just so much less of a headache. Plus they made way less than $8 million combined and are both still 22 years old, which is pretty dang exciting from a future growth perspective.
The Andy Reid Award for Timeout (Mis)Use: Larry Drew
At one point it became a running gag amongst Bucks bloggers and other writers to wait for Drew to call his first timeout. Would he make it three minutes into the game? One minute? Twenty seconds? Anything was possible. Night after night LD watched his team do something bad in the early going and thought to himself, “You know, Larry, I’ve got just the thirty seconds worth of adjustments to turn this game around! Let’s get after it!” And then he called a timeout. And he gave instructions and gestured around to demonstrate to his team what they should do. And they went back out and made largely the same mistakes they had made before the timeout.
I would be more offended at this behavior, but I could probably count the number of times an extra timeout would have helped the team later on in the game on one hand. So it really didn’t matter all that much.
Speaking of things that didn’t matter that much, Drew also liked to use all of his timeouts at the end of games that were certainly out of reach, remarking at one point that he “couldn’t take them with him”. I get that this team needed a lot of work in timeout situations, but those timeouts with seven seconds left in an eight point game … I could live without those.
The “I Wish I Was a Little Bit Taller” Award: Jeff Adrien
When he came over in a trade from Charlotte along with Ramon Sessions, Adrien established himself as a guy who would hustle for rebounds and play with energy. As we found out, he also had a tremendous propensity to grab offensive rebounds and score in a few different ways. Sounds like the kind of power forward you want on your team, right?
The only problem for Jeff is that he’s generously listed at 6’7″. As such, he’s at a tremendous disadvantage guarding seven-footers in the NBA. When he matches up against opposing forwards, what he gives in terms of effort is often overshadowed by the fact that they can see clear over him to the basket. He can battle in the paint with the best of them, but this happens:
I would be really interested to see what Adrien could do with his current skill set if he were suddenly 6’10” or 6’11”. I imagine that it would probably be pretty cool.
The Left Handed Hooks Award for Players that Shoot the Most Left Handed Hooks: John Henson
Throughout a tumultuous year for his team, his health, his team’s health, and myriad other factors, Henson stuck with the one dependable factor in this entire season: his lefty hook. Game in and game out, he worked tirelessly for a chance to throw up the move that represents 70% of his offensive arsenal, the lefty hook. He spun, counter-spun, passed up on other post moves, and pirouetted back and forth to free up space to drive left for his most treasured shot. His admirable dedication to the craft of the hook shot earned him this award, which comes with a complimentary plea to please please please work on other post moves in the offseason.
No, the Bucks did not win any real awards this season, unless you count a top draft pick as an award. But maybe around this time next year we’ll have an opportunity to seriously talk about a most improved player or a rookie of the year. More importantly, we may also have a better view of a bright future as young players grow into a team that we can all believe in again. And that’s what we call ending on a positive note.