January 7, 2011

2010: NBA Team of the Year



2010 is over, and I feel I missed an important window of listing year-end lists, New Year's resolutions, and 2010 best ofs. No worries. With the NBA All Star Game coming up in a little more than a month, I decided to create my own All-Star Team - a team featuring the best NBA players from 2010. It started with an idea of a starting five, and when I realised I was leaving many more important players out, I decided to make a 12-man roster.

Unlike what the NBA does with All-Star voting, I'm not going to divide the players too strictly on their natural position and then choose a team depending on the best fit. These players are chosen for their performance in the last 4 months of the 2009-10 regular season, the first two months of the 2010-11 regular season, but most importantly, on the basis of their performance during the 2010 Playoffs and Finals. The better a player performed at the big stage, the more respect I give him.

So, on to my 2010 Starting Five:

PG: Rajon Rondo: Rondo has been a beast all year and this selection has been indisputable for me. Not only did he dominate all last season, he has begun this year on fire, getting on pace for the highest assists average since the Stockton years. It doesn't hurt that he led an ageing Celtics squad to the NBA Finals and was perhaps one of the top two players in the Playoffs.

SG: Kobe Bryant: Again, no question here. The other best players of the playoffs, the Finals MVP, NBA champion again. Doubt on his regular season performances all you will, Kobe lit it up when necessary in 2010.

SF: LeBron James: Forget about the decision, the ego, Game 5 vs the Celtics, and the fact that he is sharing his success now with Dwyane Wade. LeBron James was once again the best basketball player in the world this year, winning another MVP award, quitting on his Cleveland team, joining the Heat, and helping them become one of the league's best.

PF: Kevin Garnett: Probably my most questionable pick, and I welcome the questions. I have left out a great big player from my starting five to make space for KG, but after his resurrection in the playoffs and his continued dominant play early this season (before the recent injury), he deserves to be a starter in my 2010 team. Forget the statistics, KG got results.

C: Pau Gasol: I could've easily slid Gasol to PF and put Dwight at C, but Gasol plays half his time as center anyways. And damn, he deserves to be starting! Gasol has established himself as the best big man in the league, dominating KG in the Finals, and continuing his good play this season. Coming to India didn't hurt his image, either.

These are the players who will be riding by '010 bench:

C: Dwight Howard: 6th man of the bench. Would've been a starter but I've been harsh on him since that epic conference finals meltdown.
F: Kevin Durant: Led the league in scoring, propelled himself into top-3-in-the-league status.
G: Dwyane Wade: Wade had another good but not great year. Heat failed to go beyond the first round but he played well. Early in the year, he won the All-Star game's MVP, helped the Heat go on a long streak to end the season, and this season has been the team's best player. There, I said it.
F: Amar'e Stoudemire: Amar'e was good in Phoenix, helping an unfavoured side surprise everyone and even get as far as the Western Conference Finals. And now, with the Knicks, Amar'e has been one of the best players this season, even vying for an MVP award.
G: Steve Nash: Another Suns player who had a great last season, although his stock has fallen considerably in the last two months. He dominated the playoffs, especially in the Spurs series.
G: Derrick Rose: Rose has grown into a bonafide superstar this past year, from featuring in the 2010 All Star team to becoming an early MVP candidate for the 2010-11 season.
F: Ron Artest: Yeah, Ron Artest. He's my 12th man. Based on his 2010, I will only be featuring him for occasional awesome defense, buzzer-beating put-backs, and the occasional big performance in the most important game of the year (check NBA Finals, Game 7 for reference).

Honorable Mentions: Paul Pierce, Deron Williams, Jameer Nelson, Lamar Odom, Dirk Nowitzki, Carmelo Anthony.

And my 2010 player of the year? Drumroll... Kobe Bryant. LeBron might have won the regular season MVP and the off-season limelight, but Kobe's consistent performances in the season, the playoffs, and the Finals, all the way up to the championship (despite that awful Game 7) make him the NBA's 2010 hero of the year.

So there, that's my All-2010 squad. Who's in yours?

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