SBNation.com 2010 NBA Awards: Rockets Get Shunned

Each of SB Nation's NBA bloggers participated in a survey this past week to decide which players and executives should win awards, such as MVP, MIP, Coach of the Year, etc. To my surprise, Daryl Morey didn't make the top three in the GM of the Year voting, and Aaron Brooks fell behind Andrew Bogut in the MIP voting. I'll have more on Morey later, but for now, here's what I wrote for the awards piece to support Brooks for MIP:

It's difficult to gauge, statistically, why Aaron Brooks should win the Most Improved Player award. Sure, look at his basic stats: they're up from years past, and by a pretty significant margin. Scoring output is up by nearly 9 points per game, assists are up by 3 per game, three-pointers made are nearly doubled - it all looks fine and dandy from afar. But take a look at those increased minutes per game, too. Suddenly, the accompanying statistics look quite reasonable, if not merely average.

Consider, however, exactly what Brooks has had to do in order to keep those stats from being even lower. This is the first time that he has been an every-day starter, and from the opening tip of Day 1, he has been the "go-to" guy on offense, an enormous jump in responsibility. To make matters worse, the Rockets were without a reliable post presence all season long, shifting opposing defenses' attention from the paint to the perimeter - in other words, to Brooks.

The roster changes haven't made things any easier on Aaron. He has been playing alongside statistical nightmare Trevor Ariza, and had to switch gears mid-season once longtime floor mate Carl Landry was swapped for Kevin Martin. Currently, there are nine players on the Rockets roster that weren't there last season, and for a point guard, the floor general, that's quite a difficult adjustment to make. But Brooks has done it successfully, and for that, he should be rightfully commended. On the other hand, Kevin Durant, a prime MIP candidate, has played with basically the same roster for the past three seasons, which is more than enough time to get comfortable.

That said, as Justin Kubatko of Basketball-Reference points out in an excellent statistical breakdown, Brooks hasn't played to his expected value for the season. Conversely, Durant has doubled his, and from that standpoint, the Durantula should be the MIP. But remember, we're not talking about who should get the award, but rather who will most likely win it.

Since the award's inception in 1985, not a single winner was as established a player as Durant was entering this season. In nearly all cases, the award was given to a relatively unknown player who managed to raise his points per game from the previous season by a significant number. In that regard, who best fits the bill? Yup, it's Aaron Brooks.

I stand by my statement that Brooks will win the award, because I can't see the NBA giving it to Durant given its past voting history. Thoughts on this? Agree / Disagree?

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