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NBA Awards Fri 11/16/12

Thursday Night Activity
As is the NBA tradition, a light 3 game schedule for Thursday, with TNT televising two of them. Of course, as luck would have it, the game with the most drama was the non-televised affair – New York at San Antonio. The Knicks were down 12 with under 8 minutes to go, but outscored the Spurs from that point 27-11 to take the win and remain undefeated…Meanwhile, the Nets defended their home court against the visiting Celtics, earning a 102-97 victory behind 24 pts each from Lopez & D-Will as Rondo was out for Boston w/ a bad ankle…Finally, the Heat went into Denver on the heels of their loss to Clippers, played without Wade, built up a 19 point lead in the 2nd half, and then held off a furious, Andre Miller-inspired Nuggets rally to take the win, 98-93. More on Andre The Giant below…
The Akeem Olajuwon Award —  Andre Miller  —  19 pts, 5 rebs, 7 asst, 3 FTM, 1 stl, 0 blk, 2 treys, and 7-9 shooting in 26 minutes off the bench of vintage Miller-time gold. I watched the 4th quarter of this game last night and saw yet another Miller mini-epic…hitting 3’s (something he rarely ever does, so they left him plenty of space)…grabbing boards, posting up, passing out of the post…and basically doing most of the work to get the Nuggets back into the game. He had moments like this also in the playoffs vs. the Lakers last spring (11.3, 5.6 rebs, 6 asst, 1.3 stl in the 7 game series). It reminded me of the write-up I did in the Summer 2011 on Andre as I placed him at #145 on my NBA Top 150 All-Time list…here it is again:
145) Andre Miller – 6′ 2″ PG from 1999 – Today…Here we have yet another PG from Los Angeles (Compton, went to Verbum Dei) and from the 1999 draft (Baron was the 3rd pick, Miller 8th…quick aside, definitely one of the better drafts of the last 25 years – Rip Hamilton was 7th, Shawn Marion 9th, Jason Terry 10th, and the other top 4 picks were Elton Brand, Steve Francis, and Lamar Odom. Others in the top 24 were Kirilenko, Artest, Corey Maggette, and James Posey). But the similarities end there with Baron & Andre. Whereas Davis is was an explosive athlete with a large personality who loves to shoot from distance, Miller is an average athlete by NBA standards, a very low-key personality, and has only twice in his career made more than 20 three-pointers in a season. But that hasn’t stopped the 12 year veteran from carving out a very solid NBA career so far, a career in which he has missed only 6 total games. He was the best player on his team twice (years 2 and 3 with a pretty poor Cavalier team), and the 2nd best player 7 more times (definitely his 3 years in Philly behind Iguodala, in Den he was tied with Camby behind Melo, but Camby missed 10, 16, and 26 games in those 3 years, so the tie goes to the guy who missed exactly zero games those 3 seasons. Last year was 2nd best in Portland behind Aldridge). He was 3rd best on his team his other three seasons: Behind Shawn Kemp and Lamond Murray his rookie year, behind Brand & Odom his one year in L.A., and then behind Roy & Aldridge his first year in Portland. His career numbers are remarkably consistent: 4 times at least 15.8 pts (peak of 17.0 in 2008), never lower than 13.4 pts/gm in years 2 through 11, top 10 in assists seven times, peaking his 3rd year in the league when he led the NBA with 10.9/gm. He also had 9 straight years of at least 4 rebs/gm, and has been a steady pickpocket over the years with a career average of 1.4 stls/gm (#50 all-time) – never less than 1.0/gm, never more than 1.7. He is a rock solid floor leader, knows how to run a team, run the fastbreak, use a variety of crafty head fakes and shoulder fakes to drive to the hoop, and takes good care of the ball. He has only been over 3 turnovers a game three times in his career, and has been at 2.5 or under the last four seasons. Unfortunately, he has never made it past the first round in the playoffs, but his numbers are again solid for the 39 postseason games he has played – 16.5 pts, 5.1 asst, 4.3 rebs, 45.1% shooting. His career regular season numbers are 14.4 pts, 4.1 rebs, and 7.2 asst (#23 all-time). Andre Miller – the quiet professional who built a remarkable resume the last 12 years while no one was really looking. 
The Steve Stipanovich Award — Ty Lawson  —  0 pts, 1 rebs, 8 asst, 0 FTM, 2 stl, 0 blk, 0 treys, and 0-8 shooting in 36 minutes…Well if the hot-shot, super-quick youngster Lawson could have helped out old-man Miller, the Nuggets would probably have left with a win. Lots of hype surrounding Lawson in the off-season, people marking him as a big breakout candidate for 2012-13, but so far he has disappointed big-time: 12.0, 2.3 rebs, 7.8 asst, and 38.3% shooting (25.0% from distance) compared to last year’s totals of 16.4, 3.7 rebs, 6.6 dimes, and 48.8% shooting (36.5% on treys). Now in his 4th year out of North Carolina and recently turned 25, Lawson needs to emerge from this funk he’s found himself in to open the season if the Nuggets are to live up to their pre-season hype as a potential Western Conference finalist.

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