Rose deserves top honors in leading Bulls to NBA-best record
Best player on the best team.
That's the only real criteria needed for NBA MVP, and that is why Derrick Rose deserves the award.
Of course, it's more than just that. Rose led the Bulls from 41 wins in each of his first two seasons to a league-best 62-20 record this year. Along the way, he improved his defense, passing and leadership.
What makes Rose most amazing is the fact he's not the league's deadliest perimeter shooter -- so defenders play off him. Then he drives past them anyway.
That is what you call quickness. It's what you call determination, the mindset of a winner, and a Chicago native who has a chance to lead the Bulls to their first championship since Michael Jordan flung Utah's Bryon Russell out of the way for the title-winning shot back in 1998.
Not to be lost in all this is the fact Rose turned the Bulls into everything Miami was supposed to be. At least, he did during the regular season. And with the No. 1 seed in the entire league entering the playoffs, this is Rose's chance to prove he and the Bulls truly are the best.
A look at all of my season-ending honors:
• MVP: Derrick Rose, PG, Chicago.
Was already pretty good, but made huge leaps between his second and third seasons. In other words, Rose could qualify for Most Improved Player award, too. All this, and he's only 22.
Others considered: Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City; Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers; Dwyane Wade, Miami; LeBron James, Miami; Dwight Howard, Orlando.
• Coach of the Year: Tom Thibodeau, Chicago.
Remember when the former Boston assistant interviewed for head coaching openings every off-season and couldn't land a job? The Bulls finally gave Thibodeau a shot, and man, look at what he has done with it. Few coaches get their players to buy into all-out D like this guy.
Others considered: Doug Collins, Philadelphia; Gregg Popovich, San Antonio; George Karl, Denver.
• Rookie of the Year: Blake Griffin, PF, L.A. Clippers.
No one this big should be able to jump so high. But Griffin does, looking like a locomotive with a basketball in his hands as he glides to the basket. With a little more consistency on his perimeter shooting (and defense), the Clippers will soon be the hot new item in L.A.
Others considered: John Wall, Washington; Landry Fields, New York; DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento.
• Sixth Man of the Year: Lamar Odom, F, L.A. Lakers
Now entering the latter stages of his career at the age of 31, but he's been nothing but rock solid and productive for a team that needs a steady hand off the bench. Without Odom, Lakers would have no shot at a third straight title.
Others considered: Jason Terry, Dallas; Thaddeus Young, Philadelphia.
• Defensive Player of the Year: Dwight Howard, C, Orlando
Name one other player against whom LeBron James hesitates to drive. Seriously. Howard is just that imposing underneath -- and the reason why the Magic always have a chance to emerge from the Eastern Conference.
Others Considered: Rajon Rondo, Boston; Gerald Wallace, Portland; Tony Allen, Memphis.
• Executive of the Year: John Paxson, Chicago.
Paxson and Bulls GM Gar Forman probably deserve co-executives for combining to orchestrate the hiring of Thibodeau and the signing of Boozer -- not to mention the additions of the likes of Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer and C.J. Watson. All of that is much more admirable than talking three All-Star buddies into signing with the same team (read: Pat Riley).
Others considered: Sam Presti, Oklahoma City; Pat Riley, Miami; Donnie Walsh, New York.
• Most Improved: Kevin Love, Minnesota.
He went from being just Kevin Love in his first and second seasons to Moses Malone this year. OK, Love may not be Moses, but Love did break Malone's consecutive double-double streak and does have a very effective style all his own. The next step is leading a team to the playoffs.
Others considered: Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City; LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland; Kris Humphries, New Jersey.
Awards You Don't Want
• Biggest Disappointment, Player: Jonny Flynn, Minnesota. Couldn't beat out Luke Ridnour and barely deserved time ahead of Sebastian Telfair. Hello Ricky Rubio, goodbye Flynn.
• Biggest Disappointment, Team: Milwaukee Bucks. Were supposed to contend for the Central Division title. Instead, just about everyone on the team had their worst season and the Bucks missed the playoffs. Yuck.
• Most Overrated, Player: Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas. Does anyone really believe the Mavericks can still go places with this guy as their top option?
• Most Overrated, Team: Miami. LeBron and Wade are phenomenal. Chris Bosh ain't bad, but nowhere near what he was supposed to be playing alongside two superstars. And everyone else on the roster should be retired or playing professionally in Argentina. Jeff Van Gundy predicted the Heat would finish something like 73-9. Instead, they failed to win as many games as LeBron's old Cleveland teams did in each of the past two seasons. A title, of course, would change all that.
• All-Old Timer Team: Steve Nash, Phoenix; Grant Hill, Phoenix; Jason Kidd, Dallas; Derek Fisher, L.A. Lakers; Marcus Camby, Portland; Antonio McDyess, San Antonio.
• All-Ballhog Team: Tyreke Evans, Sacramento; Ramon Sessions, Cleveland; Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee; Josh Smith, Atlanta; Vince Carter, Phoenix; Eddie House, Miami.
• All-Please Retire Team: Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Miami; Shaquille O'Neal, Boston; Juwan Howard, Miami; Kurt Thomas, Chicago; Joe Smith, L.A. Lakers.
• All-Nervous Coaches Team: Kurt Rambis, Minnesota; John Kuester, Detroit; Flip Saunders, Washington; Frank Vogel, Indiana (interim); Larry Drew, Atlanta; Jay Triano, Toronto; Paul Westphal, Sacramento.
Follow Sam Amico on Twitter @SamAmicoFSO